9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Bt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce), by leave, agreed to -
That unless otherwise ordered, this House shall meet for the discussion of business at 3 o’clock on each Wednesday afternoon, at 2.30 o’clock on each Thursday afternoon, and at 11 o’clock on each Friday morning.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce), by leave, agreed to -
That on each Thursday, unless otherwise ordered, general business shall take precedence of Government business until 6.30 o’clock.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) on the ground of urgent private business.
Motion (by Mr. Charlton) agreed to-
That leave of absence for three months be given to the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Charles McDonald), on the ground of illhealth.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is correct, as reported in New South Wales, that the bulk of the money voted by the Commonwealth Parliament for the improvement of main roads has been spent in his electorate?
– I regret to say it is not.
The following papers were presented : -
New Guinea - Report by A. S. Canning on Forced Labour and Flogging of Natives.
Ordered to be printed.
The following papers were presented pursuant to Statute: -
Arbitration (Public Service). Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c__
No. 7 of 1924 - Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
No. 8 of 1924 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans* Association.
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1923-24, dated 2nd April, 1924; 9th April, 1924.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 51, 65.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 39, 40, 48.
Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 38, 47.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 62, 68.
High Court Procedure Act - Rules of Court -Statutory Rules 1923, No. 70.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired at-
Barham, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Clarence Park, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
East Brunswick, Victoria - For Postal purposes.
Hurlstone Park, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Unley, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 59, 60, 61.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1924-
No. 9- Expropriation.
No. 10- Supply (No. 8) 1923-24.
No. 11 - Pharmacy and Poisons.
No. 12 - Auctioneers.
No. 13 - Prisons.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 8- Justices’ Appeals.
No. 9- Debtors.
Patents Act - Regulations Amended - Statu tory Rules 1923, Nos. 79, 139.
Post and’ Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 53, 54, 64.
Public Service Act- Appointment of J. W. Fielding, Department of Health.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1924 -
No 2 - Trespass on Commonwealth Lands.
No. 4 - Provisional Government.
No. 5 - Fire Brigades.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regula tions Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 58.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Willoughby, New South Wales (2).
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question about the action . of the Commonwealth Shipping Board in compelling the workmen at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard to take a day off without pay for the reception ofthe visiting British Squadron. Will the right honorable gentleman see that these men, who were compelled to take a day off to welcome the visiting squadron, receive their pay, just as Ministers themselves received their pay for the days they spent in entertaining the Fleet?
– I remind the honorable member that by the deliberate vote of this House the control of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard was handed over to an independent Board, over which the Government has no control at all. I suggest that he should make his representations to the members of that Board.
– Will the Prime Minister ask the members of the Board whether they took their salary for the day spent in entertaining the Fleet?
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information for the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Prime Minister has he seen the announcement of President Coolidge that he favoured another world conference for the purpose of relieving the world of military armaments? In view of President Coolidge’s statement that the question of submarines, aircraft, and land forces is still unsolved, will he, before committing Australia to a heavy defence expenditure, bend his energies in the direction of having this conference arranged?
– I saw the statement made by President Coolidge, and I need hardly say that, in common with other peoples, we very much welcome any action in the direction suggested. The honorable gentleman has no doubt observed that this matter has received the consideration of the British Government, and has been mentioned in the Imperial Parliament.
We are keeping in close touch with events, and will most certainly co-operate in any way we can, and assist at such, a conference, should it he deemed advisable to hold it in the interests of lie world’s peace.
Operation of Volstead Act
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question based on a serious statement made in a Sydney daily newspaper of yesterday’s date, wherein it. is pointed out that Canadian trade agents have purchased. 25,000 gallons of Australian wine, and, owing to the operation of the Volstead Act, difficulty has been experienced in inducing shipping .companies whose vessels call at American ports to take the wine for transport. Is any action contemplated with a view to inducing the United States Government to permit Australian wine to be taken in bond via American porta to panavia?
– My attention has not been called to the paragraph to which the honorable member refers, but I would remind- him that the regulations applying to British shipping generally in American ports, and to the carriage of liquors in bond into those ports, were very fully considered at the Imperial Conference. The very difficult situation which has arisen because of action taken in American Courts with regard to liquor on British ships was, I think, completely overcome by the arrangement now made for the extension of the limit of territorial waters to 12 instead of 3 miles. I can assure the honorable member that the whole question is very much in our minds, and in the minds of the members of the British Government also.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether it is a’ fact, as alleged by men working at Garden Island, that three large guns, which had never been used were taken out of the workshop, placed on the Australia, and sunk with the vessel?
– All the guns belonging to the Australia were sunk with her.
– Is it a fact that the Labour Government in Great Britain, assisted by a section of Free Trade thought, or “ Little Englanders,” have decreed that importations from Australia shall not be permitted, except in competition with goods from countries outside the Empire? If so, is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement concerning the action of the British Government, and will he give this House an opportunity to discuss this very antiImperial decision?
– I would remind the honorable member that no decision has yet been come to with regard to Empire preference or the proposals embodied in the Budget speech, recently delivered in Great Britain. Those questions will be considered by the House of Commons, and I think the honorable member will agree that it will be time enough for us to consider them when finality has been reached there.
– Recently an Australia© seaman was murdered on H.M.A.S. Brisbane by a fellow seaman. At the coroner’s inquest some very strong remarks were made by the coroner regarding the conduct of the officers of the vessel. The impression created in Sydney is sufficiently serious to justify an inquiry being held. Will the Minister institute an inquiry by some authority other than the Naval Board?
– I have already given instructions for a departmental inquiry to be held. If any other action is considered desirable the necessary steps will be taken.
– Recently I asked the Prime Minister if he would furnish a return showing the names of the members of all Boards, Commissions and Committees in existence since January, 1923, with particulars as to the cost of each inquiry to date. The right honorable gentleman stated that he would do so, and I now ask him whether the information is available?
– It is taking a considerable time to obtain the necessary information, which is not yet available. So soon as it is, the honorable gentleman will be informed.
Committee of Inquiry
– Can the Minister inform the House whether any’ arrangements have been made in respect to the Committee appointed by this House to inquire into pension matters affecting returned soldiers? In this connexion, I desire to explain that I have had before me what I believe to be a deserving case, which has been standing over for six or eight months. Recently I received a communication from the Department to the effect that the matter had been placed before the Committee, but that the Committee had not functioned. Can the Minister inform the House when the Committee will function, so that these matters may be finalized?
– The Committee which was appointed consisted of three members, one of whom considers that no good purpose would be served by his acting on it.
– Will the Treasurer consider the advisability of adding to the powers of the Committee, so that its members may be able to perform some useful work?
– This matter was fully discussed about a month ago on a motion for the adjournment of the House. I shall bepleased, as always, to consider any representations which may be made.
– Recently, I asked the Prime Minister if he could give the House some information with respect to the debt of about £92,000,000 owing to Great Britain by Australia. The right honorable gentleman promised to make a statement to the House so that members might be acquainted with what had taken place in respect to the heavy interest charges on this amount. When does he expect to make that statement ?
– I am anxious to make a statement to the House at the first opportunity respecting the amount owing to the British Government which has been funded. If a suitable opportunity does not present itself within the next week or two, I shall ask leaveto make a statement.
– Having regard to the recent successfulflotation of loans in London for the Queensland Government and the municipality of Sydney, can the Treasurer explain why the last Commonwealth loan floated by him was such a failure ?
– The last Commonwealth loan floated in England was doubly subscribed within twenty-four hours.
– When will the Prime Minister be able to announce the decision of the Government in regard to the representation made by the interstate conference of representatives of the dairying industry that a Commonwealth organization should be established for the marketing of butter, cheese, and other dairy products ?
– The proposals of the Dairy Council of Australia are under the consideration of the Government, and I hope to be able to indicate in the near future the Government’s views thereon.
– Will the Minister f or Defence explain why the syndicate, headed by a prominent Nationalist, Dr. Kent Hughes, which obtained the contract for the dismantling of the Australia, was granted an extension of time in a secret way, thus depriving other persons of an opportunity of tendering upon the same conditions ?
– No extension of time was given to the contractors.
Sale of Australian Fruit
-Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn tothe complaints made by the Federation of Fruit-growers regarding the lack of business methods in the display and sale of Australian fruit at the Empire Exhibition? Can anything be done to ensure that better methods will be employed in future?
– I have seen various statements that have emanated from different quarters in regard to this matter; but I remind the honorable member that the Commonwealth Government is participating in the Empire Exhibition only for the purpose of making known and advertising the products of Australia. The responsibility for meeting any demand that may arise for those products as a consequence of such advertisement rests upon the producers, and it is for them, not the Government, to arrange for their commodities to be available for sale.
– I have received from Mrs. E. D. Millen a letter acknowledging on behalf of herself and family the resolution of this House expressing sympathy with them on the occasion of the death of her husband, the late Senator E. D. Millen.
FORMAL Motion of Adjournment.
– I have received from the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) an intimation that he proposes to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the imposition by the Customs Department of a dumping duty on British wire netting imported into Australia.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- I desire the House to clearly understand that I am submitting this motion, not for the purpose of making an attack upon the Government, but in order to plead with it to adopt a different policy. If honorable -members opposite have any knowledge of the enactments of this Parliament a couple of years ago, they will realize that the Government is confronted with difficulties in connexion with this matter. The importation of wire netting into Australia is of such importance that I urge the Government to use the powers which I believe they possess under the
Act to give the concessions for whicli wc ask. I shall give a short history of the decisions of the House in connexion with the duty on wire netting. When the Tariff was being considered in this Chamber, I moved that British wire netting should be admitted into Australia free, and that we should pay a bounty to Australian manufacturers of wire netting to enable them to compete with the British manufacturers. I received a good deal of support. Six of the members of the present Government voted for free netting. Ono of my most ardent supporters was the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman). He realized how important it was that wire netting should be made available to the producers. He said on that occasion that we should never lose sight of the fact that the rabbit is the greatest curse Australia has experienced. He also said that unless we had a prosperous and contented yeomanry the industries of Australia must suffer, and we should have grass growing in the main streets of our cities. I ask honorable members opposite to reflect on those words. It is a fact that if we do not look after the interests of the men in the back country we may find gras3 growing in our city streets. Mr. Austin Chapman also said that my arguments were an appeal to common sense.- I hope that he will feel to-day that my arguments are an appeal to his common sense and to that of the Government. I trust that other honorable members will feel that I am using common-sense arguments. Unfortunately the majority of the House voted against free netting. Afterwards the Government were induced to bring forward <a proposal for free importation of wire netting from Great Britain, a 10 per cent, duty on foreign netting, and a bounty for local manufacture. I am sorry that members of this party received that measure in the spirit they did. I can say on behalf of the producers of the country that they appreciated that action of the Government. But the Customs Department have kept on taking advantage of the provisions of what we know as the Anti-Dumping Act, but which i3 on our statute-book as the Australian Industries Preservation Act. That Act should not be allowed to remain on the statute-book for a single moment longer. It is the most preposterous and easily- abused enactment on our statute-book. Honorable members always contend that Parliament should be supreme, and I 3ay that no Minister should be able to alter the Tariff at his own sweet will. When Parliament fixes a Tariff the Minister should be obliged to give effect to it. In December of 1922, after Parliament had declared that British wire netting should be free of duty, some consignments of netting came to Western Australia from Great Britain.. The circumstances respecting one small consignment came under my notice. That parcel was valued at £113. The Customs Department put a duty of £45, or nearly 40 per cent., on the consignment. They said that the home consumption price of the netting was “£158, and that therefore they must put a £45 duty on it. In consequence of representations made to the Minister for Customs, he ordered that the duty should be refunded, and that a dumping duty should not be imposed on British, netting. In April of the next year, something of a like nature happened, and again we got the Government to remit the duty! All through the Tariff debates in this House it was clearly shown to be essential to Australia’s best interests that wire netting should be made available to the producers at the cheapest possible price. Figures quoted revealed that huge sums of money had been spent by both the State and private individuals in purchasing wire neeting. In Western Australia alone we have a fence which runs from the south, near Esperance, to the north, at Port Hedland. That fence and subsidiary fences cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Their up-keep cost alone is enormous. A photograph printed in one of the Perth Sunday newspapers last week showed a number of men returning from a morning’s shooting tour in good wheatgrowing; country which had vermin -proof fences on either side. These men had 86 rabbits between them. I know, of course, that there are places in which millions of rabbits collect, but the country to which I have referred is good wool and wheatgrowing country, between two wire-netted fences.
– Did the men shoot the rabbits between the two fences ?
– They did. Last time I was in South Australia I made inquiries about their vermin-proof fences.
They have hundreds of miles of wirenetting fences. I was shown one plan which gave the position of a fence 400 miles long. It runs between New South Wales and South Australia, and is 5 ft. 6 in. or 6 ft. high. That indicates the enormous expense which these fences involve. I ask honorable members to read the speech made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook)” in the debate on the Tariff. He showed that tens of millions of money had been expended and lost in Victoria and New South Wales through the ravages of the rabbits. He also quoted statistics to show that a rabbit industry had been built up in Australia. The greatest curse of Australia has been made the basis of an industry. I think he said that over £1,000,000 worth of rabbit skins had been exported in. one year. Australia has two. great industries - wool and wheat, but she also has two curses - rabbits and dogs. A paragraph which appeared a few days ago in one of the morning newspapers stated that quite a large number of men had gone out night after night, and day after day, at a place in New South Wales to catch one dog, which had killed some hundreds of sheep. These losses surely show how necessary it is that cheap wire netting should . be made available to the producers. I wish to discuss the reasons which caused the Government to take the action they have taken; and I shall ask them to look at this question from a different aspect from that from which it has been viewed so far. I understand that the Minister for Customs has declared that the Act which he is administering is so specific that it leaves him no option but to do as he has done. He says that when it has been pointed out to him that netting has been sold for export to Australia at a lower price than it is sold for use in England, he must put into effect the dumping sections of the Australian Industries Preservation Act. I hold, first, that that is not the case. Parliament having declared, by a special vote, that British wire netting should bc admitted free, it should be so admitted. Of course, the Minister has certain duties under the Anti-Dumping Act, and he must discharge them. If persons elsewhere manufacture goods in quantities beyond the capacity of the home market to absorb; and sell the surplus cheaper in this country, action must be taken to protect our manufacturers. I am not in sympathy with any movement for assisting the dumper. But to assume that dumping of wire netting is taking place within the meaning of the Act is absurd. The position of the wire netting manufacturers in Great Britain to-day is comparable with that of a large businesshouse which does both a wholesale and a retail trade, charging different prices for wholesale and retailpurposes. The Act says thatthe Department must find out, first, whether goods are being sold more cheaply in Australia than for home consumption. I assume that the information an the possession of the Customs Department is to the effect that wire netting is being sold more cheaply in Australia than in the Old Gauntry. English manufacturerstake 65 per cent. off their list prices for consumption in England, and 70 per cent., plus 21/2 percent. for export to Australia. Therefore, they are selling netting cheaper for exportto Australia than forhome consumption. Forthepurposeof complying with the Act, however., the Minister has to consider the “ fair market value “ of the goods. The Act says -
The “Fair MarketValue “ of goodsmeans the fair market value of the goods, or of goods of the same class or kind, sold in the country of export in relation to which the expression is used,for home consumption in the usual and ordinary course of trade.
There is no “ ordinary course of trade “ in wire netting in the Old Country. A little netting may be sold for the manufacture of bird cages and trap s for rats and other pests, Tout the trade in it is almost entirely an export trade. An amusing incident occurred some time ago.. A man ordered in England some “ squizzers,” which are toys used at entertainments, and found that the Customs Department classified them as “ musical instruments.” The Department is handling wire netting in an equally absurd way. There is nothing like a wholesale trade in wire netting in England. The quantity used in that country is almost negligible. I believe the Department hasbeen advised that a large amount of it is consumed in Great Britain. Can any one confirm that statement? Has any one seen that netting in use? I have made careful inquiries with a view to testing the accuracy of the statement, but have not been able to discover where the netting is used. Has any one seen the countless miles of wire netting fences that must exist in England if thestatement be true ? Other kinds of netting may be used in that country for thepurpose of reinf orcing concrete roads, but they do not come within the same category as netting for fencing. Apart from the fact that the consumption of wirenetting in England is very small, this House was given clearly to understand that the powers of the Minister under the Act were not mandatory. Questions were asked on this point when the Bill for the Act was before us. I take -the following extract from Mansard: -
– … It does not necessarily meanthatthe Minister mustfollow the reportofthe TariffBoard,but he must get a report before he acts.
– The question is whether it is for the Board or the Minister to determine.
– It is for the Minister to determine.
– But whohas to be satisfied?
– The Minister mustbe satisfied. Under the old Act we had to prove intent, andthat is rather different from a provision that the Minister mustbe satisfied.
The Minister must be satisfied, first, that there is a legitimate home trade in wire netting.I contend that there is no such trade. Thedemand forwire netting in England is sosmall that it is negligible in relation to prices. Netting is sold there a few coilsor a few yards at atime. In Australia the demand is for hundreds of miles. Certain phases of this question which have been brought under my notice have not yet beenplaced before the Minister. I wish to quote from a letter written by one of the biggest Arms in Australia,upon whose truthfulness I feel I can implicitly rely,although I admit that their knowledge ofthe facts may not be complete. The letter shows, first, that there is a large demand fornetting in Australia ; secondly,that the priceof English netting atthetime the letterwas written was higherthanthat of netting in Australia.; and,thirdly, that the Australian -manufacturer was notable to execute the ordersofferedto him. The letter, which deals with an application by a large pastoralist taking up country in Western Australia, says -
He will probably require about 100 miles of netting in the first twelve months. His first order was for 40 miles, and we asked the New South Wales manufacturers to quote for this order, but they could not give delivery of the whole quantity in anything like the time required. We ordered a portion from them, but were obliged to order 25 miles from England.
No financial advantage was gained from this step., as the English netting cost 5s. a mile more than the present price of Australian netting, and we think you will agree that it is inflicting undue hardship on the settlers of this State in re-introducing this Dumping Act clause when there is really no justification for it.
As you are no doubt aware, the sale of sheep netting in the Old Country is so trifling to what it is compared with Australia, that to take the retail price of a single roll from a retail hardware store as a basis of comparison with an order for 100 miles is absurd.
The letter further points out that in the great area north of Kalgoorlie - Lawlers, Leonora, and Menzies - South Australian people are settling in large numbers. They look upon it as wonderful sheep country. The letter says that “ one of the most satisfactory features of the new development is that the country is being taken up by men of long pastoral experience in other portions of the State, and we venture to say that no better body of men could be found in Australia to open up this far-back country.” The firm also says that a new province is being added to the State, and that it will carry an enormous number of sheep. These are matters of very grave importance. When we consider, first, that when this wire was required the Australian manufacturer was not able to supply the whole of it, and, secondly, that the price was higher in England than in Australia, we must admit that the imposition of a dumping duty was without justification. I believe netting is cheaper now. There has been a big reduction in the price of wire. At the time of the Ruhr trouble the cost of wire jumped in England owing to industrial troubles increasing the cost of coal, and the price of wire in Australia rose with the English price, although we were paying a subsidy for the manufacture of it. The Tariff Board might have informed Parliament of these facts. Apart from that aspect of the matter, I believe that the cost of wire has been decreasing, and the circumstances now may bc different from what they were when the gentleman to whom I have referred wrote his letter. The suggestion that there is a wholesale trade in wire netting in Great Britain is, to my mind, absolutely preposterous. We cannot regard the matter in that light.
– What percentage of the production would the honorable member consider to be a reasonable thing?
– I have not gone into those figures. I believe that certain representations have been made, that I cannot discuss, but in view of the doubt that exists in regard to the quantity of wire netting used in the Old Country, I urge the Minister (Mr. Austin Chapman) to defer the taking of any action, and to have fuller investigations made. I would be satisfied with that for the time being. We desire to have the matter placed on a settled basis, because those who import netting want to be able to quote prices some little time in advance, and it is unfair to place them in the position of not being able to ascertain the prices at which they can supply the article. It is unfair also to the purchaser I sent a long telegram to the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) asking if he would cable to his Agent-General in England to find out the value of the Home consumption. I stated to Mr. Collier that it had been represented that that consumption was very large, but that I regarded it as negligible. I also sought the assistance of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). That information is not yet available, but I hope to have it in my possession later.
– The Customs Department can supply the honorable member with that information.
– I want to obtain information which will enable me to put up a bigger fight than I could with the figures supplied by the Tariff Board. The Government should realize the difficulties attendant upon the settlement of new country, and the vicissitudes with which every settler has to contend, such as fire, flood, drought, and exorbitant freight by sea and rail. He never knows in advance what price his produce will realize, and often after many years of hard workhe finds himself in a deplorable condition.
Mr.West - How can the honorable member expect people to go upon the land when he paints such a miserable picture of the conditions?
– If every settler in the back country were frozen out, I do not think it would worry the honorable member. Some persons are so stupid that they cannot realize that it is the wealth which is being produced in the back country that enables the inhabitants of the cities to enjoy their present good conditions.
– Yet the honorable member supports a Government which is responsible for this state of affairs?
– The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) knows perfectly well that I am quite justified in my statements. While as a Protectionist he desires to see big protection given to secondary industries, at the same time his common sense tells him that the wealth created in the back country makes possible the good conditions enjoyed by the people in the cities. Not one secondary industry would exist for a day were it not for the market provided by the primary producers of the country. Therefore, why do honorable members talk such arrant nonsense? I hope that the Government will earnestly consider the difficulties and privations with which the men in the back country are faced. This wire netting is required, not for those resident in and around Sydney and Melbourne, but for those who have their farms and pastoral areas 200 and 300 miles from the centres of population.
– Do not forget that if it were not for the people in the city the primary producers would not have a market for their produce.
– I wish I could send the honorable member back to the Northern Territory. To show how little he knows about the country, I might say that I understand that when he was travelling by train through the Northern Territory he was told that certain white ant hills were statues erected in memory of some of the old aboriginal chiefs, and he said that when he got back to Melbourne he would complain bitterly of the extravagance of the Government in erecting them. I hope that the Government will defer the action they propose-, and will endeavour to give relief to the struggling settlers.
– I indorse what has been said by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and urge the Government to reconsider this matter. I shall have a good deal more to say to the Government later regarding the administration of the antidumping legislation. In thisparticular case, I regret exceedingly that the Government have in so inconsistent a manner sought to benefit one industry - practically a new industry in Australia - to the serious injury of one of our oldest and best industries. In South Australia the State Government has advanced no less a sum than £3,000,000 on long terms to enable settlers to secure dog and rabbitproof fences, and thus enclose enormous areas of outside country. This work has been going on for 25 years. The wool from the big stations in South Australia provides an immense amount of wealth. Had it not been for the wool production of Australia, I do not know how we would have fared during the last year or two.
– Tell us about the country that Kidman has ruined.
– I am not talking about Kidman at the present time.
– I ask the honorable member to be good enough to disregard interjections.
– I am talking about sheep country. The breeding of sheep is an enterprise which, if properly encouraged, will bring into use the greater part of what the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) calls Kidman’s country. That will greatly benefit Australia, and will prove advantageous to the shearers and working men who are supposed to be represented by honorable members opposite.
– It was under sheep when he took it and ruined it.
- Mr. Kidman has nothing to do with the question before the Chair. Although South Australia has immense areas in full production, there are large tracts of country which have to be exploited by a further enormous expenditure of public money. The Darling country of New South Wales is to-day overrun with rabbits and dingoes, sheep having been driven out entirely. There are enormous areas in New South Wales, and a considerable range of country in. Queensland and in Western Australia, in a, similar plight. Is there any consistency in endeavouring to prop up unduly one industry in Australia, and by that action wiping out permanently a bigger and infinitely more important industry ? The value of the wool clip of Australia should not be overlooked when considering the action of the Government. I do not believe that the Government will do what is proposed, but I ask it to remember that the biggest of all our industries is the wool industry. It cannot be preserved if shackles are to be put upon it in the way indicated by the action of the Minister for Trade and Customs. I join with the honorable member for Swan (Mr, Gregory) in the view he takes of the matter. I cannot help referring to the fact that there must have been some recognition of the great need for wire netting when last session the Government brought down a measure to provide for the loan, free of interest, of £250,000 to the States to provide wire netting. In view of that fact, it is strange that we should have this kind of treatment of primary producers outback. I ask the Government, in the interests of the primary producers of the country, and in its own interest, not to proceed with this inconsistent action of applying a dumping duty to imports of wire netting. The honorable member for Swan has clearly explained that we in Australia have for a long time been amongst the very best customers of those engaged in the. manufacture of wire netting in the Old Country.
.-It was only upon my arrival from Sydney this afternoon that I learned that it was intended to. move the adjournment of the House to call attention to the imposition of an anti-dumping duty on wire netting. I saw from the newspapers that it had been imposed. I am one of those who have never approved’ of bonuses for the assistance of any industry. I was against the removal of the duty originally passed by the House in this case, and the substitution of the bonus system. With regard to the man on the land, one would think from the utterances of the two honorable members who have spoken from the other side that members on this side of the House are utterly regardless of the interests of the man on the land. I think it will be found that the history of politics in this Parliament, and in the New South Wales Parliament, of which I had the honour to be a member before I came here, shows that the true friends of the farmers have always been the Labour politicians. Perhaps in support of this statement I need do no more than mention the fact that recently in Western Australia and in South Australia, representatives of the parties’ opposite nave been practically obliterated by the farmers whom honorable members opposite claim to represent. We, on this side, have always believed in helping the farmers, but at the same time we wish the farmers to realize that there are some other people in this country, and that if its future is to be what we desire, secondary industries must be given a fair show, and. reasonable opportunities must he afforded to build up and maintain them. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) has stated that this Parliament gave £250,000, free of interest, to the States in order that they might provide wire netting for the farmers. No member of this House objected to that. I might further say that the first proposal of the kind was made from this side of the House. There is evidence of a general desire to help the farmer. I wish first of all to deal with the letter to which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred, pointing out that the wire netting industry in Australia could not supply orders. The honorable gentleman did not give the date of his letter.
– I received it only yesterday:
– Does the letter say when orders were refused?
– I do not know at what date the order was issued, but the letter was written only a week ago.
– After the war, when as every one knows, trade was disturbed for a considerable time, the big steel works of Australia closed down for something like twelve months. At that time 7,000 or 8,000 men were thrown out of employment, but we heard no special pleading on their behalf from members of the Farmers party. I believe that the honorable member will find that it was at that particular time that farmers’ orders for wire netting could not he supplied. The position to-day in Newcastle, Sydney, and Melbourne, where wire netting is produced, is that the manufacturers can supply more than Australia’s require- . incuts.
– That is what they inform me, and they ought to know. If the honorable member had been at Newcastle recently with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman), and had seen big storerooms full of wire netting of all descriptions because orders cannot be obtained for it. he would hold a different opinion.
– There are plenty of orders. 1 -,
Mr- WATKINS- Members of this House have seen great quantities of wire netting in the stores which the manufacturers cannot obtain orders for. The honorable member for Swan says that he is in favour of genuine antidumping legislation, but he says that, in this case, British manufacturers do not manufacture for local requirements as much as they do for export.
– There is no comparison whatever.
– I have not the exact figures by me, but the Minister for Trade and Customs informs me that 70 per cent, of the output of the industry in Britain is consumed in that country. There is a more important matter to be considered. I have referred to it before, and it will shortly have to be considered again in this House, and that is the preference which we give to Britain in respect of articles only 25 per cent, of the manufacture of which is carried out in that country. This preference is operating in such a way at the present time that British steel producers are not reaping any benefit from it at all. If we are in favour of a truly British preference, we should say so. At the present time many of the rollers of iron and steel, and drawers of wire are obtaining, through Belgium, no doubt, German wire rods, as they obtained German steel through Belgium in the same way some time ago. I remind honorable members opposite of this fact, because they were going to stop trading with Germany for a period of ten years.
– Who was?
– The Nationalist party, when led by Mr. Hughes.
– That is the kind of wire netting that honorable members opposite want !
– That is what we are importing to-day. It is not the genuine producers of steel and iron in Britain who are benefiting by our preference today, but the drawers of wire who import their wire rods from the Continent. Because the British manufacturers are exporting a large proportion of their output to Australia honorable members opposite claim that they are not dumping, but let us consider the prices of netting in Great Britain and in Australia. For a mile of wire netting the price in England is .47 10s., and in Australia £30 17s. 6d. They are selling their manufacture here, for about £17 less per mile than they charge in their local market.
– - The honorable member’s figures are wrong.
– Wire of what gauge and mesh ?
– Wire netting is made of so many gauges and meshes that it is difficult to obtain detailed figures. I have quoted ait average figure. I remind honorable members opposite that on this side we have some concern for the conditions which operate in different industries whether here, in England, or anywhere else. The wire drawers, with other iron workers in England, to-day receive 33s. lOd. per week of 47 hours, whilst here the average wage in the industry is £4 7s. 6d. per week of 48 hours.
– Is the subsidy of no use to the industry then? Tell us what the subsidy is per ton?
– The honorable member asks me what the subsidy is per ton, but I told him at the beginning of my remarks that I am against subsidies.
– That does not matter. The manufacturers get a subsidy.
– I may tell the honorable member that I am informed that the steel sheeting bonus is not as good as the duty was for the assistance of the industry. Whilst Labour members are at all times prepared to do justice to the farmer, we want them to realize that their very best market is going to be their home market for most things they produce. If we are to have in Australia the population at which the immigration schemes of the Government aim, we must keep our secondary industries going, or there will not be work for the immigrants. I stand to-day where I have always stood in connexion with these matters, and shall do all in my power to enable Australia to produce and manufacture all articles which she is capable of producing or manufacturing.
– This question is of vital importance to Australia. I regret very much the action of the Government in imposing a dumping duty on wire netting. No man in this House realizes more than the Minister the absolute necessity for a plentiful supply of cheap wire netting being available to combat the rabbit pest. The Act quoted by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) is perfectly justifiable, but in matters of this kind an exception should be made. If it is not possible under the Act to make exceptions, the Act should he altered to give the Minister that power. The honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) have instanced what has been done in large areas. But it is not only the holders of large tracts of land who require wire netting; it is quite as essential to many of the smaller landholders. I can speak from experience, and I say unhesitatingly that the figures quoted by the honorable member for
Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) were absolutely misleading. I do not know the present price of wire netting, but the Australian-made article has always been dearer than the imported material. There is no question, however, that the wire netting manufactured in Australia is of better quality than the imported article, and for that reason I have always been prepared to pay a little more to obtain it. Owing to the necessity for conserving space in the ships, imported wire netting is rolled very much more tightly than that made in Australia, and, consequently, it does not give such good results. If it is necessary to protect this Australian industry, protection should be given by increasing the bounty already existing, rather than by the imposition of a dumping duty. The western division of New South Wales is to-day carrying about 16,000,000 sheep less than before the rabbits invaded that territory. Under existing conditions an additional 16,000,000 sheep would be earning for that State £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 a year. At the present time New South Wales is only carrying 50 per cent. of the stock she could carry if we had no rabbits. Without the rabbits the value of our wool and the amount of wages paid would be doubled, whilst the carrying capacity of the country would be increased very considerably. In one part of my electorate, owing largely to the influence of one man, the small landholders have gone in for wire netting and theeradication of the rabbits to a much greater extent than formerly, but if the price of netting is raised it will act detrimentally to their interests. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) spoke as if the shortage of netting existed only during the war period, but a little more than a year ago I ordered a supply for my holding which was not delivered for months. By the time I obtained it, damage in excess of the total cost of the netting had been done to a crop of wheat. If the Minister finds that under the existing Act he is compelled to impose this dumping duty on wire netting, he should give Parliament an opportunity to amend the Act as early as possible.
– I congratulate honorable members on the reasonable way in which they hare presented their case, but to a certain extent they have misconceived the issue. It is not a question of the price to the farmer, as Australian-made wire netting is cheaper to-day than the material imported from England. The Act, which is very clear, reads -
If the Minister is satisfied, after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board, that goods exported to Australia, which are of a class or kind produced cr manufactured in Australia, have been or are being sold to an importer in Australia at an export price which is less than the fair market value of the goods at the time of shipment, and that detriment may thereby result to an Australian industry, the Minister may publish a notice in the Gazette specifying the goods as to which he is so satisfied.
Although the word !’may” is used, it practically means “ shall.” Honorable members have asked whether a, reasonable amount of the wire netting manufactured in England is used in that country. I have ascertained that 70 per cent, of it is deposed of in Great Britain. That should be considered reasonable.
– Did you say ‘ 70 per cent. ?
– That, is the information which has been furnished, to me by my officers. The question has also been asked what quantity of wire netting is required in Australia. I ais advised that Australia requires approximately 25,000 Ions, which also is the quantity she is capable of producing.
– What quantity does Australia produce?
– I do pot know, but it is nothing like 25,000 tons. When I was in Newcastle recently I saw thousands of miles of wire netting for which there was no market. The price to-day for Australian wire netting of the gauge most used is £43 17s. 6d. per mile, and the English invoice price, c.i.f. and e., Melbourne, for the same material is £41 19s. 6d. per mile. But the price at which that netting is sole’ in England is £19 5s. 7d. per mile. The dumping duty is the difference between those two amounts. That shows that there is some reason why one-third of the netting manufactured .’n England is invoiced out here at such a greatly reduced price. The wages in England are £1 15s. lOd. for 47 hours, while in Australia £4 7s. 6d. is paid for 48 hours.
– How much do you think the men driven off the interior country are getting a day? They are ruined.
– I know as much about that as does the honorable member, but their position is not affected at all. It is not a question of the price, but of the brand of the netting. We are giving the bounty in order that employment may be found for our own people. Honorable members are aware that if 25 per cent, of British labour is employed in the manufacture of imported goods, such goods are classed as British. I am advised that most of the materia! for the imported wire netting does nob come from Great Britain. Such a state of affairs is not satisfactory; but the action of the Government has placed the farmer at no disadvantage, as his wire netting is no dearer.
– The price of netting today is absolutely prohibitive.
– I admit that the district represented by the honorable member who moved the adjournment is at a disadvantage because of the difference between the freight from Great Britain and the freight from Newcastle. The policy of this Parliament is one nf Protection, in order that our own people may find employment. That is the reason for the dumping duties. Although the. Act uses the word “ may,” a common-sense interpretation makes action by the Minister mandatory.
– The Minister must judge the intention of Parliament.
– That is so. If an attempt were made to take advantage of any Act on the statute-book to make the price of wire netting greater than it should be, it would be reprehensible, and the Government would soon he brought to task for it. The disparity between British and Australian wages in the wire netting industry is striking, and illustrates the sort of competition against which the dumping duty was designed to protect us. We must consider, not only those men who are engaged in the manufacture of wire netting, but also the men who mine the limestone, coal, and iron. The decision to admit British wire netting free of duty was arrived at simply in order that we might give some advantage to the users of that commodity. It is a great pity that the wire netting has not been more freely utilized.
– Wire netting was admitted free in order to protect a far more important industry than the manufacture of wire.
– Parliament decided to admit wire netting from Great Britain free of duty, but, unfortunately, the provision regarding 25 per cent, of British manufacture often acts injuriously to Australian industry, because it enables the product of foreign labour to be admitted into this country upon conditions which Parliament intended to be enjoyed- by the manufacturers of Great Britain only. The Government’s action has been determined, not by considerations of price, but by the principle at stake. Australia is a Protectionist country, and is paying high wages fixed in a scientific way.
– Is there no protection for the pioneer who is blazing the track?
– There are many pioneers in my own electorate, and I sympathize with them. The pioneer is getting good Australian wire, and when he is paying for it only about the same price as is charged for the imported article he will be delighted to know that he is using Australian steel manufactured by Australian workmen instead of the products of the Ruhr.
– If that is so, why is any wire netting imported?
– Why do people import articles from abroad when then can get local manufactures ?
– The producer cannot get the Australian wire netting.
– He can, for I have seen in Newcastle sheds stacked with excellent wire netting that can be supplied at a price which compares favorably with that of the imported article.
– Why do not the manufacturers sell those stocks?
– They do, but the honorable member knows that if a trader can get from overseas the pro.duct of cheap labour he will import it in order to keep down the price of the local article.
– But in connexion with wire netting the trader is the Government.
– gome State Governments show a remarkable disinclination to avail themselves of the £250,000 granted by this Parliament for the provision of cheap wire netting, and amongst those Governments is that of the State which the honorable member represents. The facts show that the Australian wire netting is better and cheaper than the imported.
– Does the Minister say that people are such idiots as to import an inferior article at a higher price ?
– I have given the House facts and figures. What is the reason for the importation of mamother things if it is not to cause competition, and thus depreciate the price of local articles? Protection of local industries means more employment, higher wages, and general prosperity in the country. Surely it is good for Australia that men should be mining its ore and converting it into steel.
– And growing wool.
– Yes, and if the wool-grower can purchase Australian wire, made by Australian workmen at the same price as he would “have to pay for the imported article, he will prefer it to wire imported from the Ruhr.
– What duty has been imposed ?
– The dumping duty is the difference between the English wholesale price and the price at which the article is invoiced to Australia.
– The difference is £7 per ton?
– Yes. I recognise that the Government has a duty to prevent restraint of trade. If it were proved that the manufacturers of Australia were taking advantage of this protection to increase unduly the price of their products, it would be the Government’s duty to take action. The Government did not impose this dumping duty without a full appreciation of the facta. The policy of the country is Protection, one of our Statutes provides for the imposition of a clumping duty in certain circumstances, and when the Tariff Board created by Parliament reported that those circumstances existed, I, as Minister, had no option but to act upon the Board’s recommendation.
– Mr. Massy Greene, when piloting that Statute through the House, made it clear that the Minister’s power to act upon the recommendation of the Board was not mandatory.
– I think the course I adopted was the only one that was open to me. There are still a few Free Traders in this Parliament, but whatever may be the fiscal opinions of honorable members, all will agree that, other things being fairly equal, it is desirable that we should give employment to our own people, and use the products of our own factories, especially when they are better than imported goods. If as a result of that policy trade were restrained, and the price of wire netting became -extortionate, the Government would have power to act, and I have not the slightest doubt it would do so.
.- Many people are not aware that rabbit flesh is a good and healthy food, and that the fur, weight for weight, is frequently of the same value as that of wool. But people complain because the rabbits eat the grass that would otherwise be available for sheep. I noticed that, in Western Australia, rabbit flesh was sold at from 9d. to ls. 6d. per lb., which compares favorably with the price of meat, so that, from a producer’s point of view, there is something to be said for the rabbit. It has been stated that the number of sheep in New South Wales has been considerably reduced by the depredations of rabbits. Is not the reduction due to multi-millionaires of the Kidman type endeavouring to get rid of Australian workmen, rather than give them fair conditions of living on the sheep stations? As a boy I picked up wool in a shearing shed, and I remember the dis*gusting conditions in which shearers had to live fifty-five years ago. The improvement which has taken place is something of which Australia should bc proud. Kidman’s cattle, no less than the rabbits, are eating the grass that would support sheep. Kidman changed from sheep to cattle because he did not wish to give Australian workmen a fair chance. The Australian Labour party will stand or fall by the policy of the new Protection, which .gives fair play to the producer , the consumer, and the men and women who are engaged in manufacturing, and I believe it will be indorsed by the Australian people when they thoroughly understand it. What ground for complaint has Great Britain in regard to duty imposed on wire netting imported into Australia? The English product has a 10 per cent, preference over that of other countries, but Britain is not just to her own workers. I speak with knowledge gained from five years’ residence in Londo’n, with all its , misery and wretchedness. I hold in my hand one glove of a pair presented to me by my daughter. I refused the first pair that was offered to me because I found that although the name “ Fownes, London,” was on the button, the glove itself was made in Czecho-Slovakia. That English firm of Fownes tried to injure its own English workers by pretending that the glove made in Czecho-Slovakia was made in England. The Only thing that was made in England was the button. I have been informed that the firm was heavily fined for its conduct. A fine is no good in a case like that. Gaol is the only preventative. The duty on English netting was 68s. a ton, and on foreign netting it was 105s. No man in this House would say, either On the platform or in private conversation, that he preferred to help the foreign rather than the Australian workmen. Our policy is to build up Australian industries. Australia, is now self-contained with respect to wire netting. Twenty-five thousand tons could be manufactured here, and the work would support three primary industries. Is not our iron ore industry a primary industry? And are not our coal and limestone mining industries primary industries? The infernal system which has operated in England for so long with such injustice to the English people has banished the splendid type of Englishman of years ago. It has resulted in the English people being herded together in cities, and in attempts to raise men and women on bread, tea, and what they call butter. The British Parliament will have to adopt protective duties sooner or later. The present cost of wire netting to the farmer in Great Britain is £49 5s. 7d. per mile. The price of Australian wire notting is £43 7s. 6d. But the British manufacturers wish to prevent the manufacture of wire netting in Australia. Therefore, while they charge their own English farmers £45 5s. 7d. per mile, they will send netting out to Australia at £41 19s. 6d., which price includes commission, insurance, freight, and exchange. No industry in the world, let alone our Australian industry, can stand undermining of that kind. It is unfair competition. The object of the Australian Industries Preservation Act is to prevent Australian industries and workmen from being injured by unfair competition. That is the object of all our protective duties. The wonderful commercial rise of Germany was brought about by the adoption of a protective policy by Bismarck. I am surprised that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) did not ‘speak of the infamous way in which the Mitchell Government prevented the Western Australian farmers from getting cheap wire netting. The Federal Government made a splendid offer to the farmers of Australia by which, through the State Governments, they could have obtained wire netting free of interest for ten or twenty years. The Mitchell Government in Western Australia prevented the farmers of that State from taking advantage of the offer. I accuse both the last Western Australian Government and the last South Australian Government of not helping their farmers by making this netting available. This is a matter on which we need some straight speaking.
– The netting that was offered was only as a drop in the ocean.
– Why wa3 not the drop taken ?
– To the credit of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) I will say that he did try to get the Mitchell Government to act, but that Government said it wanted security, and when steps were taken to provide security it said that it wanted better security. The
Federal Government left the matter in the hands of the State Government, and nothing was done. The conditions offered to the Australian farmer’s were better than have been offered in any other part of the world. I hope that the honorable members representing Western Australia will scan the answer to a question which I shall ask to-morrow. If New South Wales has been treated as scandalously as Western Australia in the matter to which my question will refer, I hope that the answer will be scanned, too, by honorable members representing that State. The answer to the question may give some enlightenment to honorable members representing South Australia also. I stand always for Australian manufactures, and I ask honorable members whether they do not think that the iron industry is of great importance to this country.
:- The intention of the last Parliament respecting wire netting was very clear. It decided that wire netting from within the British Empire should be admitted into Australia free, and that a 10 per cent, duty should be imposed on foreign netting. To make up for the removal of the then existing duty, the Australian manufacturer was to be given a bonus. The Australian consumers were quite clear on what was the intention of the Government. In July last this Government showed by a reply given to questions that its intention at that time was that British wire netting should be free. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) asked the following questions: -
The reply he received from the Right Honorable the Prime Minister was 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 wire netting which is now admitted free of duty if of British manufacture, and 10 per cent, duty foreign manufacture.
That declaration showed that the Government was quite clear on the position. The people of Australia, as well as this Parliament, understood that British netting was to be admitted free, and I think that the Minister for Customs should have taken due cognisance of that fact. Reports from America and Great Britain show that a big fall has occurred in the price of plain wire, and that there has been a sympathetic fall in the price of wire netting. It appears to me that the manufacturers of wire netting in Australia desire to prevent the price from falling here. The manufacturers want to hold all the advantages of the position. In 1914 vermin -proof wire netting cost from £24 to £28 per mile. To-day the cost is over £40 per mile. That increase is a decided obstacle to the progress of Australia. We are asking new settlers to come to this country. If we place them on a 640-acre block, they immediately have to face the expenditure of £400 on wire netting to make the block verminproof. That is a huge handicap on a new settler. Unless such a block is verminproof fenced, it is useless. I ask the Minister for Customs which is the more important - the development of our great natural resources, or the development of an industry of far less value to the country ? ‘ The Minister has been too prone to listen to reports from Rylands Limited, of Australia, about Rylands Limited, of England. I feel that there is a Combine in this business working in Australia. The Minister should have taken pains to ascertain the sentiments of thousands of men who are struggling to fence their blocks; then he would have learned another side of the question. As a matter of fact, he has no definite information from England.
– What about taking a vote ?
– Let us have a vote.
– Remarks have already been made about the limited quantity of wire netting used in Great Britain. The Minister stated that something like 70 per cent. of Britain’s wire netting was used in that country. But although I have some knowledge of both England and Scotland, I never saw a wire netting fence until I came to Australia. If a man went into an English iron monger’s shop and asked for 50 feet of wire netting, the proprietor would think that he was in a big way. If he asked for 100 yards, the shopkeeper would be astonished; and if he asked for a mile, the shopkeeper, unless he had a strong heart, would drop down dead. ‘ If 70 per cent. of the netting manufactured in the Old Country were used in that country, and 30 per cent. exported, it would be reasonable to suppose that manufacturers could dump that small quantity; but I am convinced that only a very small portion of the netting manufactured in Great Britain is used there.
Debate interrupted under standing order
Reductions of Staff - Closing of Kalamunda Convalescent “Farm.”
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
In all cases in which the termination of an appointment is in view, the practice is to give ample notice, so that the officer concerned may have an opportunity of securing another position. The Department also co-operates in every possible way to secure a suitable position for him. Where salaries have been reduced, such action has been necessary because the duties of the position no longer warranted the payment of the higher salary. In regard to the term additional duties,” the position is that, “With declining activities, it naturally became necessary to consolidate the duties of various positions. It may be pointed out that, in a number of instances where resignations had taken place, and it was found necessary to fill the positions, promotion of officers remaining on the staff resulted. There has been no discrimination between lower-paid and higherpaid officers at any time.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to close the Soldiers’ Rest Home at Kalamunda, Western Australia ?
– It is the intention of the Repatriation Commission to vacate the Convalescent “ Farm “ at Kalamunda during the coming financial year. The experience in all States is that the continuance of this class of institution is not necessary for the type of patient now available, and the “ farms “ are being discontinued. The purpose for which they were originally intended has disappeared, and those patients at present in Kalamunda are in course of being dealt with in other ways as part of a well-considered and comprehensive scheme. The vacating of the institution will not prejudice the case of any of them.
forfeiture of holdings.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Appointment of Acting Deputy Commissioner
asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
Bell to the position of Acting Deputy Commissioner of Invalid and Old-age Pensions in South Australia?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Regarding the Canberra competition that was postponed owingto the war.-
Will he arrange for the competitive designs that were sent in tobe exhibited, so that the citizens may see the efforts made by the architects who competed?
Will he give the House particulars as tothe compensa tion to be pa id to the architects who competed?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Importations from Great Britain.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are asfollow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he obtain a report from the Picture Film Censor setting out -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Purchases of CopperWire.
– On 4th April, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), forthe honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), asked the following questions of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) : -
The Postmaster-General promised that the information would be obtained, and I now submit the following replies: -
Importation of Marble - Manufacture of Playing Cards
– On the 2nd April the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following questions: -
Is it a fact that, since the importation of Italian marble assumed what may be called normal proportions, the market for the Australian marble has disappeared, thus throwing a Dumber of Australian workers out of employment.
I promised that the information would be obtained, and now furnish the honorable member with the following particulars : -
– ( By leave).- The honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) recently moved for the printing of certain papers, and in the course ofhis speech dealt with the Spahlinger treatment for consumption. The report which he had prepared for the Prime Minister was not then available for printing. In orderto make it: available; I present it formally and move: -
That the paper be printed.
I suggest that the motion be allowed to stand over and be discussed in conjunc tion with the speech, of. the honorable member for Calare. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned’.
Debate resumed from 3rd April (vide page 334), on motion by Mr. Austin Chapman -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.-. As the fruit has been delivered and the bounty on it has been paid, there is only one thing left for honorable members to do, and that is to support the Bill: In the first speech that I delivered in this House I tried to make my views clear regarding: the Government entering into competition with private enterprise. I am strongly opposed to the Government doing any such thing, and after hearing the debate: on this Bill, I am still more convinced of the soundness of my views. It is dangerous for any Government to pay bounties) because the benefit is not distributed equitably to those who should receive it. The fruit bountyis not paid to the fruit industry, as awhole, but to a limited number of growers. To pay a bounty to a section of growers is unfair to others who- do not share the advantage. Many fruit-growers have been worse off than those for whom we are asked toprovide assistance. The growers of apricots, peaches, pears, and pineapples will benefit to: the extent of £130,000. Other fruitgrowers ought to share equally in any assistance the Government may give. That is why. I am opposed to the Government; entering into competition with private enterprise. This action of the Government’ seems to verge on class legislation of the worst type. There are many otherways in which, a Governmentmay* help the fruit-growers. The giving of;bounties only causes trouble’ with those who do not participate in them; it is one of the quickest means of landing a Government in trouble. What we want is less: Government in business and morebusiness in government . The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scul- lin) advocated, more co-operation, organization,, and. Government control. With his first two points I entirely agree; but I am totally opposed to Government con- trol. I have never yet seen an instance of a Government having made a success of any business which it has taken over. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman.) has stated on the floor of this House on more than one occasion that the Government will assist cooperative companies.. I have in mind two co-operative companies which commenced operations in Southern Tasmania. The growersraised the money, erected: their factories, and were prepared to treat their own fruit - apricots. That was prior to the granting of this bounty. When the Government announced that it intended to give a bounty, those growers, considering that they had as much right to a share as had other apricot growers who were not in a co-operative company, approached the Government; but were turned down. Thatwas manifestly unfair.
– Were they canning for sale ?
– Theywere dehydrating their own apricots for sale, and theGovernment refused to help them: in their enterprise, notwithstanding that assistance was being given to other growers. In his second-reading speech, the Minister stated that the Government had lost £618,000 in Pools and bounties. I accept those figures- as being correct; but:I contend that the Minister did not put’ the case as- fairly as lie should: The fruit-grower supplied’ good fruit, the canner didhis workwell, but the Governmenfmade a shocking failure on the business side of the Pools. The outside public believed that the growers received the benefit, of the £618,000. The truth is that that moneywas lost by the Government in the sale of the fruit. The first. Pool started in. the season. 1921-22.. In Tasmania, something like 2,000 tons of apricots, and plums, were pulped. . I- understand that much of that pulp is still stored in: thebonded stores in Hobart under Government, control. It hasbeen allowedto remainsolong that ithasbeen found; necessary to give away for pig food, or to destroy nearly at thousand tons. Is it anywonder, then, that the Government has last money? It cost £20, a tonto pulp thatfruit, and practically thewholeof itwillbe lost. It will be a difficult matter to sell any of that fruit. We were told ,further, by like- Minister, that the: market was practicallyclear of all old, stacks of fruit. In 1921-22, 30,000 eases of apricots, pears, and plains.were canned. Of that quantity, 20,000 tins were destroyed. There are to-dayover 4,000 dozen tins of canned pears in Hobart. The Government could1 have said those time and again, but for some unexplained reason it is still hanging on to them, and before very long theywill have to be thrown out. Governments; as a rule, are not in a position to carry on a business as well as an ordinary business man. In l923, about 50,000 cases of apricots- and pears were canned in Hobart, and there are 20,000 dozen still unsold. Yet Ave arc© told’ that the market is bare of the old fruit. Unless that fruit is. moved quickly, it will have bo be thrown out, because the acid; eats’ the tin away, and the moment ahole appears in the tin the fruit becomes’ bad’.
– That is the reason why I want the date stamped on’ the tins.
Mr.SEABROOK.- It is experiences such as these that make me object to the Government coming into competition with private enterprise.
– Will the honorable member explain in whatway the Government came into competitionwith private enterprise under the bounty scheme?’
– I am referring to the Pools, inwhich the Minister stated that the Government had lost £618,000. I. remind; the Government, also, that there were 1,000,000 cases of canned fruits in. Australia in 1922. For that fruit the publicwere asked, originally, to pay from 14s.to 15s. per dozen. Then the Minister embarked on an “ Eat More Fruit” campaign, and reduced the price to 101/2d.per tin retail. Thatwas a very good scheme, and it resulted in a large quantity of the fruit being sold’ in Australia. The bulk, however,was sent to England,where,we are told by the Minister-, it realized 7s. per dozen. The honorable gentleman did not inform tfee* House what were the expenses incurred in the consignment of that fruit to England: The freight, insurance, cartage, storage; and commission on sale, wouldnot amount tolessthan 3s 6d. per dozen. Therefore, instead of realizing 7s. per dozen, the net returnwould be only 3s. 6d. per dozen). The Government engaged the services of a meat salesman,abutter salesman, and an American firm to sell our Australian? canned fruits in England. There were many Australians, as well as other fruit merchants, who would have handled that fruit to a great deal better advantage. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said that if grapes were sold in Melbourne at 3d., instead of 6d., per lb., a great many more would be bought. I do not think it requires much intelligence to realize that. One might say’ that if they were sold at 1 1/2d per lb., the quantity disposed of would be larger. But what would become of the producers of those grapes ? He is bound by law to pay certain costs for the production of grapes, and I claim that if the Government passes laws imposing fixed conditions of production upon a producer, it should also fix the retail selling price of the commodity he produces. If the Government is not able to fix the price of an article, it has no right to fix the costs of its production. This is another reason why I am against Government interference with private enterprise. It is all very well to ask the grower to sell his grapes at a low price, but it is not possible for him to do so if a high cost of production is fixed by law.
– I think the honorable member is putting a wrong construction upon what I said. I said that, in my opinion, the Government should take action to bring about a better method of marketing fruit, and that if it did so the grower would get a better price, and the consumer would obtain fruit at a lower price than he is paying now.
– I am quoting what I read in Hansard,, and the honorable gentleman said that if grapes were sold at 3d. instead of 6d., there would be a greater quantity of grapes sold.
– May I remind the honorable member that under this Bill, which I suppose most of us are supporting, the grower will receive only a little over Id. per lb. The honorable member should not forget that, when he says that this measure will be of advantage to the grower.
– If the grower is to get only Id. per lb. for grapes sold in Melbourne for 6d. per lb., what will he get if the grapes are sold in Melbourne for 3d. per lb. ? It is all a question of the cost of production.
– With a proper marketing system in operation, the grower ought to be able to get a little better price for his fruit, and the consumer should get it very much cheaper than he does to-day.
– That is all very well in theory, but it will not work out in practice. The law of the land prescribes that a man growing grapes, or other fruits, shall grow them under certain conditions, and if the cost of production is high, the grower cannot sell his fruit cheaply. I repeat that if the Government passes laws which make the cost of production high, they should fix the price of the commodity produced. We should pass no laws to hamper industry and the man on the land. I was struck by some of the remarks which were made by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). He said that the two industries, sugar and fruit-growing, worked together. I agree with that statement, but lev me try to show honorable members the difference between the growers of fruit and of sugar. The grower of sugar has the retail price of his commodity fixed for him. He knows exactly what he will get for his cane when he takes it to the mill. He knows what it will cost him to grow it, and what his profit will be. Now let us consider the position of the fruitgrower. He knows what it will cost him to grow his fruit, and he has to pay for the materials he requires practically 100 per cent, more than he had to pay in prewar times. Does he know what he will get for his apples when he grows them? He does not, aud very often they have to be allowed to drop to the ground, and are an absolute loss. It is very unfair that in the case of two people producing commodities from the earth, one should have the price of his commodity fixed, and the other should. have no fixed price for his production. The honorable member for Capricornia told us that we are getting sugar in Australia to-day which, plus duty, is cheaper by £12 per ton than sugar grown outside Australia by black labour. I think that the Minister concurred in that statement. I ask whether we really are getting sugar at the world’s parity. Why are those who support the sugar industry in Australia so pronounced about keeping the embargo on the importation of sugar if what the honorable member for Capricornia has stated is correct^ If sugar produced in Australia is cheaper than sugar produced outside of Australia, surely the embargo upon the im- portation of sugar is of no use to Australian sugar producers. If any person can obtain sugar in Australia more cheaply than he can obtain it outside he will not go outside for it, and therefore the embargo is of no use. “What I ask the Government to do is to remove the embargo on the importation of sugar. Although the honorable member for Capricornia submitted a lot of figures to show that the price of sugar outside is greater than the price inside Australia, his figures really proved nothing. If the Government will lift the embargo I will guarantee that in two months sugar will be sold in Australia for 31/2d. per lb. If the Government lifted the embargo I fancy the honorable member for Capricornia would squeal like a whipped pup. Money is the tiling that counts, and not figures. The honorable member went so far as to quote all the profits which Jones and Company have made in Tasmania out of jam, and he spoke of the company as a profiteering firm. The honorable member was very clever in refraining from saying anything about the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and its profits. I have here the Australian Sugar Journal of the8th June, 1923, and the figures I am about to quote are figures relating to a period when sugar was under Government control. I find this statement appearing in the Journal: -
The 137th report of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company covering the half year ended 31st March, shows that the profit made during that period on the work of the mills and refineries, after providing for depreciation and other charges, amounted to £187,123, which, with the earnings from other investments subject to Federal income tax, gave a total of £237,105. From this sum the Board proposed to place £50,000 to reserve fund, and from the first amount to pay a dividend of 15s. per share, and from the second amount a dividend of 5s. per share, absorbing in all £212,500.
When the honorable member talks about other people making big profits, here is a concern that made £237,000 in six months, or twice as much as the honorable member accused Jones and Company of making in a year. I want to know now where are the profiteers. If there are any greater profiteers than those in the sugar industry I want to know where they are. I say without hesitation, andfrom knowledge I gained while in Queensland, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is the greatest scandal in Australia to-day. If Australia is to keep her place in the world by the success of both her primary and secondary industries, the course of the Government is clear. It should repeal a great many of the laws on the statute-book, which at present are hampering both primary and secondary industries. The Government should look into the matter, and see whether legislation may not be introduced to prevent the industries we have in Australia being penalized by such legislation as the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I have very much pleasure in supporting the Bill now under consideration
.- The honorable member who has just sat down made a considerable mouthful of what was said by the Leader of the Opposition. If he had read the whole of the speech he would have found that it is questionable whether any speech delivered in this House was more favorable to the producers than that which the Leader of the Opposition delivered on this Bill. In the passage to which the honorable member referred, the Leader of the Opposition was following up statements he made indicating the great difference between the price paid by the consumer and the price paid to the producer of fruit. Every member of this House is aware that neither the producer nor the consumer in the fruit business gets a fair deal. There are intermediaries who mop up most of the profit, and it was to that which the Leader of the Opposition was referring when he said that the producer might secure a fair price for his fruit if there were not so many intermediaries between him and the consumer. The honorable gentleman argued that if the marketing of fruit was conducted in a more efficient manner, the consumer would obtain fruit at a cheaper rate, and the producer would secure a better price for his fruit than he gets at the present time.
– That is a position easily attainable.
– I believe it is. It is a matter of organization among both the producers and the consumers. Those two sections of the community should work hand in hand, politically and otherwise. If they coalesce the country will benefit.
The granting of this money is only a stopgap action on the part of the Government. I am inhearty accord with the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney). Instead of trying to interfere with the tariffs of other countries, whether the Mother Country or not, we should arrange for the better conveyance of our ‘products to other countries. I have received no communication from the British ‘Government, but I believe that, apart from the tariff issue, they will do all they can to provide facilities for the t ransit tothe Mother Country of the products of Australia and the other Dominions by the granting of cheaper freight rates than at present exist. If our fruitgrowers could obtain areduction of £3, £4, or £5 in the freight to England it would mean a great advantage to them, and it certainly would be a great benefit to the consumers on the otherside of the world.Sofar as this Bill is concerned, the money has been paid and the whole transaction practically closed. To that there is no objection, except that it is time we ended these stop-gap actions and had a continuous policy which would enable producers and consumers to know exactly where they stood. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr.Seabrook)spoke of Government interference, but God only knows what would have happened to the producers of Tasmania iftheGovernment had not stepped in on many occasions. In war time thehonorable member railed againstthevariouspools, but ‘Government control wasthe only thing possible under the conditionswhich existed; and it was a veritable Godsend tothe primary producers. The honorable member’s remarks do notexpress the sentiments ofthe primary producers whom he is here to represent. The only thing which can save the producer and help the consumer is proper organization on cooperativelines. It will then be not only “hands across the sea “ but “ hands across the House “ and “ hands across the country.”We on this side of the House - and I do not desire toraise the question of party unduly - claim to be as much the real friends of the producers as thosesitting opposite.Can any one point to a constituency where the primary producer is more in evidence than the district of Hume, represented by Mr. Parker
Moloney, a Labour man? Or, going further north, let us take the district of Capricornia, where sugar-growers abound and primary producers flourish, andwe find their representative in this House a Labour man. When honorablemembers say that we on this side arenotthe friends of the primary producer, they are talking with their tongues in their cheeks. I am glad that the electors of Australiaare realizing who are theirtrue friends. All the seats won by the Labour parity inthe recen t South Australian elections were in country districts, and when the Victorian elections come round we shallfind that the same thing will happen. The House will be wise to allow this Billto pass, although, in respect tosome of its details, theremay be differences ofopinion. I shall support it generally, but reser veto myself the right to suggest alterations in regard to details. I conclude byreiterating that the primary producers Shave as many friends in theLabour party as in any other party in this House.
.- I am more than ever convinced that there is need for more business-like action on the part of this Government. As the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) referred to the various Pools and bounty schemes, I feltsurethathe had good ground for his statement thatthere is need of “more business in Government.” While he was speaking I could not help asking myself what the position of thefruit-growers of Australia would have been if they had been lef tentirely to the tender mercies of private enterprise. Even the person who thinks that Government control in business is unwise must admit thatthe actiontakenby the Government was in the best interests of ‘the primary producers. There is no need to talk at length on this Bill, the canning season having finished. I hope, however, that the Government is not considering the interests of the peach, apricot, and apple-growers only, but those of the grapegrowers also.
– Does the honorable member want help for the growers of grapes.
– Yes; justice shouldbe meted out to those -engaged in the grape industry also. Ihave a letter here from Mr. E. Naughton, secretary of the Fruit- growers and Market Gardeners’ Association of South Australia, in which he says -
No doubt you are aware that the grape- growing industry is in a parlous condition. Prices paid for grapes this season are as low as £2 7s.6d. per ton in the vineyard in the south, and 35s. per ton in the north.
Whatever may have been the position of the peach, apple, and plum-growers, it was never worse than that. I hope that the Government, which has assisted other primary producers, will not forget the needs of the grape-growers, and that something will be done in the near future for these men. The Minister thinks I should not be interested in grapes because I do not drink wine, but I represent the greatest grape-growing district in South Australia. The electors there had sense enough to place me here as their representative, and also to elect two Labour men to represent them in the State Parliament, turning out two Liberals to that end. Such electors are worth battling for, and I shall do my best for them. If the present Administration cannot do justice to all sections a change of government cannot come too quickly.
– Although I represent a city constituency, I desire to see the people of the country doing well, but every piece of legislation introduced by the Government is simply a bribe and a sop to the Country party, in order to keep the present combination together. Before the adjournment, we had a proposal before us for an increase in the duty on imported brandy. That was equivalent to a bounty to the grape-growers.
– It was tomake more money for the Government.
– I am almost ashamed to be a citizen of this country. Land can be obtained in Australia as cheaply as anywhere in the world, the country is blessed with climatic conditions which enable almost anything to be grown, yet the producers are crying out for cheaper transit, both on land and water, and for bounties on everything they produce. Theyshould be ashamed to ask for bounties or for preference. Australia should be able tocompete with older countries, whose producers are handicapped by difficulties greater than ours. ‘The granting of preference will mean an increase in the cost of living in the Old Country. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr.
Seabrook) desires to repeal the Navigation Act, because he wants cheap freight for the apples from Tasmania. He does not consider the conditions of the men working on the ships carrying those apples. I would strenuously oppose any attempt to scrap the Navigation Act. which is in the best interests of humanity. This measure is another dole to Tasmania. One of the greatest monopolies in the Commonwealth is that of Henry Jones and Co., and that firm, which already gets cheap sugar, is now to be given a bounty for sending fruits and jams overseas. The more fruit we send abroad the higher will be the price charged to the local consumer. I am opposed to the proposed bounty, because I believe that the fruit-growers of Australia can successfully compete in markets abroad, and they can also do much more to encourage local consumption. At the present time they make no attempt to place their products before the local consumer. By granting bounties on this and bounties on that, the Government is engaged in a policy of feeding sops to the Country party, and I am convinced that that party, wheal it has squeezed the Nationalists dry, will kick them out of office.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Appointment of inspectors).
– Were new inspectors appointed to do the work in connexion with this bounty, or did the Government utilize the services of the existing State and Federal officers?
Mr.austinchapman. - We avoided making any new appointments.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Appropriation).
.- This clause provides for the appropriation of money for the payment of a bounty on the production of. canned fruits inaccordance with schedule1, and on the export of canned fruits according to schedule 2. A reference to the schedule shows that in respect of canned apricots the grower will receive about 1.2d. per lib., and in respect of clingstone peaches less than1d. per lb. I draw the attention of the Committee to the inconvenient way in which the schedules are drafted, the first two fixing the bounty at so much per dozen tins, and the third schedule the price to be paid per ton of fruit. One has to work out an arithmetical sum before he can arrive at the effect of the rates. Having done that, he finds that the grower will receive less under this Bill than will the exporter. It seems ridiculous that a man who is purchasing fruit for export shall be paid by the Government more than he will pay to the grower. In effect, the canner will obtain his fruit for nothing, and will get in addition a fraction of a penny per lb. for the fruit that he cans. That provision does not appeal to me.
– The canners’ costs are heavier than those of the grower.
– That may be so. but is the honorable member satisfied with a proposal that will give the grower less than1d. per lb. for his fruit?
– I am not satisfied with the Bill, but I have to support it because the bounty has been already paid.
– The second reading of the Bill was agreed to without a division because we desire to help the fruit-growers, bub not at unnecessary expense to the taxpayers. Whilst we are desirous of encouraging primary production, we should make sure that the bounty we give reaches the man for whom it is intended, namely, the grower. I cannot believe that a man can profitably grow fruit at less than1d. per lb: If he cannot do so, why does the Bill propose to give the canner . 3d. per lb. more than the canner will pay to the grower?
– Because the canners’ expenses are greater.
– That statement may be correct, but to the layman it sounds ridiculous. I do not think anybody will agree that it is more costly to can fruit than to grow it. I desire to help the fruit-growers and primary producers generally, but I do not intend to hand out the public money to people who are nob entitled to it. This Bill will cost the taxpayers from £130,000 to £140,000 per annum, and if an undue proportion of that amount will go into the pockets of the canners without assisting the growers, we are proceeding on wrong lines. We have not yet been informed of the reason for the difference in the payments to the canners and growers respectively.
– The can alone costs practically as much as the fruit it contains, apart from the cost of processing.
– I do not know whether or not that is a fact, but the Committee should be given fuller information in order that members may be convinced that they are justified in agreeing to these provisions. Whilst it is our duty to do everything possible to encourage development, we must safeguard the public purse, and in Committee, members have a right to demand detailed information.
.- I did not intend to speak again on this measure because I thought all that it was necessary to say had been said ; but, as the representative of a great sugar-producing district in Queensland, I feel that it is necessary for me to reply to some remarks that have been made by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook), who is a Nationalist. We representatives of sugar-producing districts in Queensland are not opposed to assisting the Australian fruit industry. A while ago a Country party member spoke about “the sugar industry. He know nothing about it. Then the misrepresentation was by a member of the Country party, and to-day it is by a Nationalist member. Both sections of this composite Government, therefore, have vilified and misrepresented the sugar producers of Queensland. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) wants the sugar embargo lifted, so that sugar produced in Java by black labour may be imported into this country. He knows nothing about the position, or he would not have spoken as he did. The sugar-producers are willing to help the fruit-growers, but they object to assistance intended for the growers going to the canners, who are fleecing the fruitgrowers of Australia. The honorable member for Franklin says’ that if the sugar embargo were lifted everything would be all right. As a matter of fact, the jam makers of Australia are getting their sugar for the manufacture of jams for export at world’s parity when it favours them. World’s parity is £30 18s.7d. per ton, and the Queensland price is £27 per ton.
– If the embargo were lifted, sugar would be retailed at 21/2d. per lb. within three months.
– Nonsense ! The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. Australian sugar is £12 10s. per ton cheaper than Java sugar, plus duty. If Java sugar, which costs £30 18s. 7d. per ton f.o.b., were admitted free, and the freight, refining charges, and other costs were added, the price of the sugar would’ be £35 per ton. The Australian cost is £35 13s. The jam manufacturer, however, is given a rebate of 13s. per ton, so that he may have his sugar at world’s parity. That being the case, he has no cause for complaint. If the honorable member for Franklin does not know that, he does not know anything about the position. He desires to get black-labour sugar from Java without giving any consideration whatever to the 100,000 people who are depending on the sugar industry in Queensland. If those people were given no consideration whatever, and the Java sugar were admitted as he wishes, the jam manufacturers would be no better off. For the last ten years the average retail price of sugar in Australia has been 4Ad. per lb. In that time it has been as high as ls. and ls. 2d. per lb. in Loudon, 9d. per lb. in France, and 8d. ‘ per lb. in South Africa. Even to-day Australian consumers are getting their sugar at 4Ad. per lb., while the people in England are paying 7d., the people of South Africa 5(rd., and the people of New Zealand 5d. per lb. I challenge the honorable member for Franklin to refute these facts. Under our present arrangement we are building up a great Australian industry, and yet giving the jam manufacturer his sugar at world’s parity. Is the honorable member for Franklin a patriotic Australian ? Does he wish to build up an Australian industry which is supporting 100,000 people and helping secondary industries? It appears that he favours a black-labour policy, and that there are black labour advocates amongst the Nationalists in this Parliament as well as in the State Parliaments. We should not be setting one section of primary producers at the throat of another section, but we should be turning our attention to the wealthy jam manufacturers and canners who provide funds for this composite Government and for Nationalist members opposite.
– What clause is the honorable member dealing with?
– The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has never put up a fight for the sugar growers, and now that I am trying to refute statements which have been made in this House, he does not want the facts stated. I point out to the honorable member for Franklin that the wholesale price per dozen of 30-oz. tins of peaches is Ss., and the retail price is 12s. The value of the sugar content of a dozen tins of those peaches is only 9d., orJd. per tin. If the sugar ‘were obtained for nothing it would make very little difference in the price of the peaches. The price of sugar i3 not responsible in any way for the slump in the fruit industry.
– Lift the embargo and see.
– The honorable member for Franklin wishes to admit black labour sugar, without giving any consideration to the Queensland sugar workers and farmers. That is the kind of thing we get from dig composite Government. If honorable members opposite do not support the sentiments of the honorable member for ‘Franklin, let them stand up and say so. The canners are the people to whom we should be turning our attention and criticising on their exploitation of the fruit-growers and consumers. Immediately a subsidy was granted, the wholesale price of canned clingstone peaches was increased by ls., and in some cases by ls. 6d. on a dozen tins. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman) knows that profiteering is being carried on by these canners. Some honorable members on the other side want to wipe out the Queensland sugar industry, remove the embargo, and abolish the Arbitration Courts. I fell them that the fruit-growers would be no better off - in fact worse off - if that were done than they are today. ‘ The fruit-growers have been, and are being fleeced by jam manufacturing and canning companies, like Henry Jones and Company Limited. That company has made a profit of £500,000 in the last five years. I advise the fruitgrowers of Australia to devote some attention to the Tory politicians who are trying to exploit them. They should work out their own destiny, evolve a fruit marketing scheme for the whole of Australia, and control the marketing. of their own products. Marketing should not be in thehands of the middlemen, exploiters; market riggers, and canners, who are entrenched behind honorable members opposite.I welcome lite measure before us, because it will tide the fruitgrowersover a very trying period, but I refuse to listen quietly to honorable members condemning, maligning and misrepresenting the sugar producers, as has been done to-day. Both sections of this composite Government have joined in the attack on the sugar industry. The honorable member for Franklin. (Mr. Seabrook) cannot refute the facts I have put bef ore the Committee. He has made a lot of general statements which really mean nothing. He should not be setting one section of the primary producers at the throat of another section.. “We should be much more tolerant and considerate towards one another, and should bend our best energies to help Australia to develop both her primary and secondary industries, so that we may become a much greater country than we are, with the best of all markets - a home market - for our producers.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) will remember, because he took a very active part in this matter; that the canners and growers were consulted regarding the price to be paid for fruit. He will also remember that the growers at Leeton, when the whole’ matter Was settled, held a public meeting at which were passed resolutions expressing satisfaction at the price fixed. Those resolutions were afterwards conveyed to the Government, whichwas thanked for the action that had been taken. No one knows better than the honorable member that we had, to bring the canners in because just then we were in a very difficult position. This arrangement was the result of a joint agreement between the canners, the growers, and the Government, and it has worked very satisfactorily. Matters look more promising for the future, as we have practically been enabled to provide a market for our fruit.
.- I am” disappointed with the explanation that the Minister has just given; he has not compliedwith the request which I made. It may be that the growers are perfectly satisfied with the amount they are to receive under this Bill; but the question. I asked was-, whether there was any justification for the granting of a bounty to the canners greater than the amount that they paid for the fruit. In the case of peaches, the canners are to receive 3 of a penny mouse from the Government than they pay to the grower.
– That is for the export portion only.
– I am dealing with export. Under the first schedule a bounty of1s is paid on. every dozen tins of canned peaches. If the. fruit is exported, we pay an. additional amount, asset out in the second: schedule, which is 1s. 9d. If the fruit is exported the canner gets l-.3d. on account of fruit for which ho pays the grower a fraction under1d. per lb. Accepting, the stater ment that the growers are satisfied with 1d. per lb. for their fruit, what we want to’ know is- whether public money should be given to the canners to an amount greater than that which they pay the man who produces the fruit? The Minister has not endeavoured to answer that point; he has contented himself with saying that the canners and growers have come to an agreement, and that the growers are satisfied. I quite realize that if the growers are guaranteed a certain price, which they regard as satisfactory, they will be prepared to accept it. Thisscheme will cost the taxpayers of Australia from £130,000 to £140,000 per annum-. Should we give such an amount for the purpose of insuring the canning and disposing of the fruit ? The honorable member for Echuca (Me. Hill), by interjection, has stated that the canner pays more for the tin. than ho’ gets’.from the Government. He may, or he may not, but even if he does, he sells the fruit- in the tin and it is a question whether the consumer does not pay for the tin.
– Recently they have reduced the size of the tin.
– The whole point is, whether we should give more to the man who cans; than to the man who grows.
Mr.prowse.-That is done with everything that is processed.
– I gravely doubt thatwe are justified in doing it. All I ask is that £he matter should be made clear, so that we may not afterwards find that we have given these people more than they are entitled to receive, thereby adding considerably to the profits they derive from the canning.
– I am sure they are not getting more than they are entitled to on this particular pack,
– I am not saying that they are or that they are not. What I do say is that we should not be expected to vote public money blindly.
– The Minister can tell the honorable member exactly what was paid.
– That is my trouble -the Minister has not told me. The fruit-grower may be satisfied with Id. per lb. To me it seems a very small sum, but he knows his business better than I do.
– It is a bare living wage.
– ,J should say it is less than a living wage. But even though ho is satisfied, are we justified in giving to the canner .3d. more than he gives the man who grows the fruit ? In Committee the opportunity presents itself to make any amendments deemed necessary. I do not desire to amend the measure if it is satisfactory, but I want to have roy mind made easy on this point. If any honorable member can clearly show that this does not mean the making of an undue payment to those who are canning the fruit I shall be perfectly satisfied. In these days, when we are giving away so much of the public money in the shape of bounties and in other directions, we should at least be careful to see that it is not being wasted. If the canners are getting £30,000 to £40,000 more than they arc entitled to receive we ought to amend the schedule. In common with every other honorable member, I want to assist the man who is producing the fruit, and to see that he gets a fair deal ; but in doing that I do- not want to give to other persons a greater amount than they are entitled to get. The meagre information that has been placed before us does not justify us in passing the clause. If the Minister will give us that information I shall support him. It is all very well to talk about the expense incurred by the canner in providing the tin. What about the expenses of the man in the orchard ? He has to purchase his plant, employ labour at current rates of wages, put up with all the risk of frost, drought, and other hardships. Year after year we have passed Bills for the making of certain grants, in some cases without having proper information to guide us. Subsequently some of us have regretted the vote which we have given. I do not want to be placed in that position in this case. Every one is desirous of assisting those who are growing fruit. The industry is necessary in the interests of our country. At the same time we want to protect the taxpayer and to see that he is not unduly burdened because some people are given more than they are entitled to receive. I am more inclined to give the grower a greater amount than the canner. The honorable member for Echuca states that Id. per lb. is a bare living wage, and I quite believe him. I doubt very much whether it will provide a bare living ; that will depend upon whether the grower it? fortunate in having good seasons and good crops.
– Because of the intimate connexion I had with the matter, I am glad to take advantage of this opportunity to say something regarding the charges made in connexion with the processing of fruit and their relation to the payments made to various sections of the fruit industry. Before doing so, I should like to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mi1. Charlton) upon his expression of opinions in connexion with this matter, because- it may be aptly recalled when the Prime Minister comes down with proposals to assist the primary and secondary industries in the way he has suggested. I am glad to know beforehand that the Leader of the Opposition is going to support those proposals. It has been suggested that the payments made to the canners are greater than those made to the fruit-growers. That is not so, except in regard to certain kinds of fruit canned for export. I take, first of all, the ‘figures relating to apricots. Under the arrangement, the price to be paid by the canner for fresh fruit at the orchard is £10 per ton. The average number of dozen ‘30-oz. tins of canned fruit obtained from each ton of fresh fruit is 106. The cost of fresh fruit in each dozen 30-oz. tins of canned fruit is therefore ls. 10£d. The cost of canning, which, of course, *h.q canner has to bear, is 5s., which is less by 3d. than the amount which was given under the Fruit Pool last year. The year before that, and before the processers were approached at all, they said it was necessary that they should have’ ‘7s. 6d. to cover their expenses. Honorable members will see that in this case the cost of processing has been cut down to bedrock. It is interesting in this connexion .to detail what actually took place at the conference at which this matter was settled.
– Is this Sir Henry Jones’ statement?
– No, it is my statement. The negotiations took place in public. They were carried on between representatives of the growers, of the processers, and of the Government. The growers were insistent - and the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) who introduced deputation after deputation, will confirm my statement - ihat some arrangement should be come to, because they knew that unless the processing of fruit took place they would be in a hopeless position. At the Conference there were representatives of the co-operative canning concerns, and also of proprietary canning concerns. There was there as well the Victorian Commissioner of Irrigation, Mr. Cattanach. The whole matter was discussed at very great length. We informed the Conference that the proposal submitted was the outside proposal to which the Government could consent. The proprietary canners said that they would not accept the proposal because they could not possibly work under it. The only canners’ representatives to remain to discuss the proposal were the co-operative canners, who in all cases have the State Governments behind them. They said that the only reason they could look at the Government’s proposal was because they would be dealing, not with their own money, but with public money. The Henry Jones and other proprietary companies absolutely refused to have anything to do with the proposition, because they said that they could not possibly pay wages under it. They stood out altogether. It was not until the fruit was actually coming in, and they found that the co-operative canners and certain small proprietary canners had decided to go on with the proposal, that the big proprietary canners ultimately decided to accept the Government proposition, which, as I have said, represented from the point of view of the canners 3d. per dozen less than they received last year, and 2s. 6d. less than they received two years ago. On apricots for home consumption I have said the cost of canning would be 5s.; the cost of casing and labelling, lOd. ; cost of freight and cartage from orchard to cannery, 3d. That is to say that apricots cost the canners £6 per ton at the orchard for home consumption. In the case of export, I point out that the essential part of the Government’s scheme was that the canners should not be permitted to pick and choose the fruit they would can. They had to take all the fruit offered at their factories that was in a good condition. They were responsible not merely for the canning, but for the sale of the fruit overseas. In the case of apricots, the cost per dozen f.o.b. at Australian ports would be 8s. 2d. ; the total cost, duty paid, ex store, in England, 7s. 6£d. This allowed for the bounty per dozen of 2s. 5d., and the rebate for sugar contents’ which the Imperial preference permitted. In the case of apricots the bounty will represent to the canner free fruit, plus 6M. per dozen 30-oz. tins. We found that because of the intensive advertising campaign of the Government during the last few months it was not necessary, as we thought it would be, to export 30 per cent, of the fruit. Eighty per cent, was consumed in Australia, and only 20 per cent, was sent overseas. So that for four-fifths of the fruit the canner has had to pay for apricots £6 per ton, which, as I have shown, is the price which the fruit cost the canner for home consumption. Under the arrangement, the price to be paid by the canner for pears was £10 per ton, which is £3 per ton more than was paid to the growers of pears under the first Pool of 1920. At that time the growers were paid only £7 per ton. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that the price paid for the fruit is not a high price, taking into consideration existing conditions in the fruit-growing industry. The price has to cover the cost of cases, tins, freight, cartage, manure, and sprays, and it does not represent more than a mere living. It covers practically the bedrock cost of fruit growing. I have said that the price to be paid for pears was £10 per ton at the orchard. The average number of dozen 30-oz. tins of canned pears obtained from each ton of fresh fruit is 70. The cost of fresh fruit in each dozen 30-oz. tins is 2s. lOd. ; cost of canning, 5s. 3d.; casing and labelling, lOd. ; and freight and cartage from orchard to cannery, 3d. The total cost per dozen 30-oz. tins, after deducting the bounty, is Ss. 5d. In this case the bounty will represent -per ton of fresh fruit, £2 15s. ; and the fruit will cost the canner at the orchard £7 7s. per ton. When we consider the position with respect to the export of canned pears we find that the cost per dozen f.o.b. at Australian ports is 9s. 6d. ; the bounty per dozen, 2s. 3d. ;. sugar rebate, 3d.; and the bounty will represent to the canners fruit at £2 ls. per ton. Pineapples for export will represent to the canner £2 5s. Cd. per ton. and for consumption in Australia £4 15s. Id. per ton. In the case of cling peaches the price to be paid by the canner for fresh fruit at the orchard is £9 pelton. The average number of dozen 30-oz. tins of canned fruit obtained from each ton of fresh fruit is 100. The cost of fresh fruit in. each dozen. 30-oz. tins of canned fruit is ls. 9£d. ; cost of canning, 4s. 9d. ; cost of casing and labelling, lOd. ; freight and cartage from orchard to cannery, 3d. Total cost per dozen 30-oz. tins, after deducting bounty, 6s. 7id. ; cost of fruit at the orchard to the canner, £4 per ton. That is for home consumption. In the case oi cling peaches for export, the cost per dozen f.o.b. Australian ports is 7s. lOd. : bounty, per dozen, 2s. 9d. ; sugar rebate, 3d. ; total cost, duty paid, ex store in England, 6s. 10£d. So that the bounty will represent to the canner free fruit plus ll£d. per dozen 30-oz. tins. What made the real problem of the fruit industry in Australia was the over-production of peaches. Honorable members have to remember that in these cases the canner has to take the risk of the loss of 5s. 7d. of his own money to cover wages and material, as well as what he has to pay for sending the goods overseas.
– But all these expenses are included in. the cost of the article.
– From the terms in which the Leader of the Opposition spoke one would think that the processers are being paid more for their fruit than the grower. I am pointing out that in the case of export the processer has to run the risk first of all of having to pay 5s. 7d. of his own money, as well as the bounty he receives, on what he exports. The agreement that we insisted should be drawn up provided that the processer had to take all the fruit offering. We said to the processer, “You may not choose merely what you think can be disposed of. You must take all the fruit available that passes the Customs test regarding quality, and is offered in good condition.”That is the reason for the exceptionally liberal terms iri respect to exports. Had the surplus not been exported, prices would have been forced down in Australia, and no more could have been sold, as the prices were already reasonable. I hope the Committee will accept the clause and the schedule. The arrangement is much worse from the canners’ point of view - and therefore more beneficial from the point of view of the public - than at any time during the four years in which the Federal Government has had anything to do with the fruit business. When honorable members recollect that in the second year of the Fruit Pool, when there was a loss of £300,000, the total amount received by the growers was £120,000, and that the Government, which was paying for the processing and marketing of the fruit, lost £180,000, they will understand that the canners are taking a considerable risk, and no one will begrudge them their success if, by satisfactory marketing arrangements and the excellence of their products, they have been able to make a profit. The cooperative companies, especially the factories at Shepparton and Kyabram, which have been doing good work for several years, will be enormously heartened if they can make more than ‘a bare existence. It is to be hoped that they will be able’ to extend their operations, and thus be in a position to absorb the surplus of fruit which will increase from year to year.
– What has the Government done to see that the canners give full quantity?
– The Government will inspect all the tins for which bounty will be paid, and Customs officers will see that the fruit processed is according to schedule.
– The Treasurer stated that it was due to the advertising scheme of the Government that such a considerable quantity of fruit was disposed of. He should give credit where credit is due. I hold no brief for any particular individual, but the Railways Commissioners of Victoria did splendid work in connexion with the disposal of much of that fruit. The Treasurer should not have the unblushing effrontery to take the credit to his Government.
– The Railway Department only dealt with fresh fruit.
– That relieved the market. The consumers of Australia came to the rescue of the man on the land’. Australia is the best market for Australian fruit, and the best buyers of the products of the primary producers are the families of the working men in the cities of Australia. Yet these are’ the people whom the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) and others -would throw out of employment to-morrow. The canning companies fought for better conditions. They asked for more than they expected to receive, and said in effect, “We want half-a. loaf. but we ask for a whole loaf.” They are the people who have benefited from the granting, of- this canning bonus. We on this side of the House object to the unhappy tendency of the Government to “ greasethe fab pig.” We object to firms like Henry Jones and Company and others receiving a great deal of this money - money which the taxpayers of this country can ill afford to pay. This party has no objection to assistance being given to any of our primary producers, whether in respect of wheat, beef, fruit, wool, or other products. The Government belie their words by their actions every day of the week, and almost every hour of the day. They pretend to push off Socialism with the right- shoulder, while at the same time accepting it on the left. The Prime Minister of Great Britain said, “ We do not believe in playing with- Socialism ; we are going for it outright, and intend to do- the honest thing in the eyes of the public.” What is good for one section of the community in this country is good for another, and we on this side a-re prepared to support, this Bill, even though we may not understand the elaborate explanation given by the Treasurer.
.~It’ is remarkable that most of the legislation introduced by the Government is in the interests of the monopolists of Australia. The masters- of the Government- the people who masquerade as those who represent the primary producers - are falling over themselves in their efforts to assist the monopolists, but we do not find them coming to the assistance of the fruitgrowers of the country.
– Why did you object to the Prime Minister helping them in Great Britain ?
– I have never objected to any one assisting the primary producers, but I do object to the Prime Minister and the Government refusing me an opportunity to show my appreciation of the people on- the land. The Government come along with legislation which is solely in the interests of the monopolists’ of Australia-, and when we attempt to discuss it they either apply the “ gag “ to members of this party, or close down the House. We can make no effective protest against their action in assisting the monopolists, or their inaction in not assisting- the people whom their masters who- sit in the corner - the so-called Country party - pretend torepresent. It is said that the primary producer plants everything, and I have no doubt that the Leader of the Country party-be being a medical man - has planted his mistakes well and effectively. In company with several of the members who sit behind the Government,. I recently had the opportunity of travelling through the fruit-growing districts of Australia. Throughout we were struck with the appalling conditions confronting the fruit-growers. “We came into contact with settlers who bitterly complained of having spent their money and the best years of their lives toiling day after day to develop the fruit industry, yet receiving no relief. The Government, although supposedly representing country interests, are doing nothing to help these people, who are compelled to sell their farms and fruit blocks owing to the lack of financial assistance. But, on the other hand, we find that Henry Jones and Company, and other such firms, are living on the best of the land, and waxing fat. There is no doubt about how those gentlemen live, but there i’s a great deal of doubt about the living conditions of the fruit-growers of Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania. The apple-growers of Tasmania are, as it were, being squeezed to a pulp, as are their apples, by the very gentlemen whom this measure proposes to help. Into whose pocket will this subsidy be paid? Is there in Australia one f ruit-grower who to-day is reaping any benefit from it?
– We have received letters from almost every fruit-growing association in Australia thanking us for the subsidy.
– From the so-called fruit-grower of Sussex -street, Sydney; from the middleman of Victoria who manipulates the market, and, at the expense of the consumer, wrings huge profits from the primary producer. Those are the men who stand behind this Government. They are the masters controlling the destiny of the country, while this Government is in power. They rob not only the producer, but the consumer as well. I have no desire to “ stone-wall “ the measure, but merely place on record my opinion., and my advocacy of the producer and consumer of fruit in Australia. Well we know the tactics indulged in by Henry Jones and Company, Taylor Brothers, and the O.K. people to catch the poor unfortunate consumer. Henry Jones and Company, not content with the ordinary method of advertising, induced the people to use their jams by offering prizes for successful competitions in limericks. Taylor Brothers also advertised right and left that a prize would be given for the best limerick supplied by users of their jams.
– And the consumer paid for it.
– Yes. A £50 prize was eventually given for a verse of mere doggerel that was sent in by one of their own friends. The verse that should have taken the prize was something like this -
Mother likes it, so dowe:
We have it every night for tea.
But father, he would not give a damn
For a bucketful of Jones’ jam.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and7 agreed to.
Clause 8- (1.)If a canner purchases aless quantity of fruit than that directed by the ComptrollerGeneral in pursuance of sectionsix of this Act the camier shall not be entitled to be paid bounty in respect of any of the fruit canned by him. (2.) I fa canner does not use, for canning or in the preparation of an article for human consumption, the whole of the fruit purchased by him in pursuance of section six of this Act and passed by an inspector as suitable for canning, the canner shall not be entitled to be paid bounty in respect of any of the fruit earthed by him. (3.) If a cannerhas been paid bounty to which, by virtue of either of the last two preceding sub-sections, he is not entitled, the bounty shall, upon the Comptroller-General being satisfied that the conditions specified in those sub-sections have notbeen complied with and notifying the canner to that effect, within fourteen clays of the date of the notice, be repaid by the canner to the Comptroller-General, and the amount of the bounty shall be a debt due by the canner to the Comptroller-General who may recover that amount in any court of competent jurisdiction. (4.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, where thecanner satisfies the Minister that compliance with the conditions specified in sub-sections (1.) and (2.) of this section was not in the circumstances practicable, the Minister may direct-
Penalty : One hundred pounds or imprisonment for six months.
Mr.CHARLTON (Hunter) [8.49).- This clause sets out the conditions as to purchase of fruit and canning. It provides that the Government can pay bounty on the quantity of fruit purchased from the orchardist, and in the event of the fruit not being canned, that the canner shall refund the amount of bounty received. Then, provision is made that, notwithstanding any contained in the clause, in certain cases the Minister may direct that there is no need to refund the bounty paid. There might be circumstances that would warrant the Minister in exercising his prerogative in regard to the refund of portion of the bounty, but as the clause stands. I am not sure that it does not go too far. I quite agree that bounty should be paid on fruit that is canned; but in the event of a man having canned only half the fruit purchased by him,it wouldbe fair to require him to refund half the bounty be had received.Under this provision, however, the Minister could allow him to retain the whole of it. This clause might lead to a person obtaining bounty on a large quantity of fruit that he did not can.
– If the honorable member examines sub-clause 2 he will find that the canner would then run the risk of losing the whole of the bounty.
– I am aware of that; but my argument is that ‘under sub-clause 4 the Minister, on representations made to him, could direct that the canner retain the whole of the bounty.
– The whole or any part of it.
– That means that if a man purchased 100 tons of fruit, canned 50 tons, and disposed of the other 50 tons as fresh fruit in the open market, the Minister, if satisfied, could say that the bounty paid on the whole quantity of fruit purchased should not be refunded. Prom the point of view of equity, that should not be the position. The clause needs amendment. Paragraph a of subclause 4 should be amended to provide that the Minister might direct that noncompliance with the conditions specified in sub-clauses 1 and 2 should not disentitle the canner to receive bounty on the quantity actually canned. I ask the Minister to submit an amendment in’ that direction. Otherwise, I shall be inclined to do so.
– I think the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton is under a misapprehension as to this provision. The clause provides that if a. canner purchases a less quantity of fruit than that directed by the ComptrollerGeneral in pursuance of clause 6 of the Bill, he shall not be entitled to be paid bounty in respect of any of the fruit canned by him. That means an absolute forfeiture of the whole of the bounty. Then the clause goes on to provide that if a canner does not use, for canning or in the preparation of an article for human consumption, the whole of the fruit purchased by him in pursuance of clause 6, and passed as suitable for canning, he shall not be entitled to be paid bounty in respect of any of the fruit canned by him. The first object is to see that the canner does not purchase a less quantity than is directed by the Comptroller-General. Then the clause proceeds to make sure that the fruit which is purchased is canned. It provides that if the canner has been paid bounty to which, by virtue of either of the two preceding sub-sections he isnot entitled, the Comptroller- General may notify the canner that he is not satisfied that the conditions have bean complied with, and may require the canner, within fourteen days of the notice, to repay the amount of the bounty, which shall be a recoverable debt. It is conceivable that conditions might ariseu nder which it would be impracticable for the canner to have used all the fruit for canning purposes, and in that event relief should be afforded him. Sub-clause 4 therefore provides that, where the Minister is satisfied that it is not practicable for the conditions to be complied with, he may relieve the canner of the liability to repay the whole or any portion of the bounty.
– If the canner sold half of his fruit in a. fresh condition in the ordinary way, he should not receive the bounty.
– Bounty is paid on the fruit canned. Suppose he received the bounty on the whole of the fruit he has canned, and there was a small portion purchased which he could not possibly can, it would be penalizing the canner not to allow him in those circumstances the whole of the bounty on the fruit canned.
– Do not paragraphsa and b of sub-clause 4 empower the Minister to relieve the canner from refunding the bounty, even though half the fruit may not have been canned?
– No. The Minister must be satisfied that it is impracticable for the canner to comply with the conditions laid down in sub-clauses 1 and 2.
– If the canner sells the fruit, why should he receive the bounty ?
– The canner must comply with the conditions of clause 6 before he can get any bounty.
– Clause 8 provides for certain contingencies. I object to the provision that if the Minister is satisfied that compliance with certain conditions is not practicable he may direct that the canner shall be relieved of his liability to refund the bounty he has received on fruit that he has not canned.
– He gets no bounty except on fruit he has canned. This clause deals with the whole of the season’s output. The canner gets a bounty on what he cans during the season. Circumstances may arise which will prevent him from canning the whole of the fruit that he has purchased. If the provisions of sub-clause 4 of clause 8 were not inserted he might, in such a case, lose the whole of his bounty. To avoid that position the Minister is given a discretion. If he is satisfied that compliance with the conditions specified is not practicable he may relieve the canner of the obligation to repay the whole of the bounty, but the canner will only receive bounty on the amount of fruit that he actually cans. It would not be equitable to compel a canner to refund the whole of his bounty because circumstances make it impossible for him to can the whole of the fruit that he has purchased. The object of the clause is to make him purchase a certain quantity of fruit, and to can all the fruit he buys, but the provision of sub-clause 4 is a necessary and equitable protection.
– In the circumstances described by the Minister I do not see that there is any necessity for sub-clause 2 of the clause.
– The reason for that sub-clause is that the canner must buyall the fruit that is offering of a suitable quality, which he is directed to buy. There may, however, be some good reason for not canning it all. For instance, the fruit may become unfit for consumption. In that case it would be unfair to compel him to forfeit the whole of the bounty. As the clause is drafted it provides for equitable treatment for all. The arrangement which the clause seeks to cover has worked quite smoothly and well.
– Has all the money been paid yet?
– No, some claims have yet to be made.
– I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has drawn attention to this clause, otherwise the Bill might have been passed without any discussion. The crux of the matter as it concerns the fruitgrower is in schedule 3 of the Bill, which makes it obligatory for the canners to pay the fruit-growers a certain minimum price for the fruit they buy. If the canners do that the Government will pay a certain bounty, first in respect of fruit for home consumption, and secondly in respect of fruit for export. The clause under discussion is fairly framed to give effect to the intention of the Government. When this bounty schemewas formulated it was considered that much more fruit would be produced than could be consumed locally, but I understand that the crop has not been of the volume that was anticipated. Consequently, hopes of a very large export trade will not materialize. I think that the Government should have protected itself in this respect. There is now no necessity for the protection because the anticipated very large crop did not materialize, but it should have been provided by compelling the canners, in order to get the bounty, to buy even more fruit than they wanted.
– To take all that was offering.
– That is the position - to take practically all that was offering. It was to be the duty of the Customs Department to ascertain what was offering, and then allocate that quantity among the various canneries, in order to ensure the consumption of the whole of the crop.
– That was done.
– That is provided for in clause . 6.
– That is also the intention of the clause under discussion, and it clearly does it. The other points of interest to me are when, where, and how this money is being paid. The obligation was entered into by the Government without the approval of Parliament, in the pious hope that Parliament would give its approval after the event. I do not know what would have happened if Parliament had not doneso. However, I have already expressed my general concurrence with the scheme. It is my hope that this Bill will clear up the very grave muddles and losses that occurred in connexion with previous fruit pools. There is a very marked distinction between the objects of this measure and the administration of previous fruit pools, which were carried out under ‘Government supervision. In their case the Government carried the whole of the load and accepted the Whole of the risk. Now, however, the Government have got rid of their controland responsibility, and have placed it on the canners and fruitgrowers themselves. This is all to the good in connexion with the administration of public affairs. I have already expressed my approval of the main principles of the Bill. I understand now that the bounty upon fruit canned for internal consumption can be claimed immediately the fruit is canned, but that the bounty upon canned fruit for export cannot be obtained until the export has been con- summated. In such circumstances the third schedule is obsolete, because the fruit-growershave already received the minimumamount of moneyto which they are entitled,as set outin that schedule. Altogether, inspite of the fact that the Government tooktookvery grave risk of hawing this Bill rejected by Parliament, seeing that its purpose is to clear up a very sad and tragic muddle, and to put the fruit trade on a very much better basis, particularly in regard to export. I am glad that it has been received with a greatmeasure of approval by both sides of the House, and I hopethat it will have thedirect effect of building up a big export trade in canned fruit, that will not only prevent the glutsof the past, but also give very much more hope for the future.
.- The observations of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) were not distinctly relevant to the argument submitted by the Leaderof theOpposition (Mr.Charlton), which remains intact notwithstanding what has been said by the Attorney-General (Mr. Groom). Criticism has been addressed to the general principles of the Bill, but I must not now concern myself with those general principles more than to give them a passing refer ence on the ground that this is one of the numerous instances in which a nonsocialistic Country party has compelled its non-socialisticspouse, the Nationalist party, to bring forward advanced Socialistic proposals for the specialbenefit of the constituents of some of the wealthiest of our country friends. The point raised by the Leaderof the Opposition consti tutes sound criticism. Although the first; part of the clause -contains elaborate provisions laying down the conditions under which the bountymay be paid, and as to the amount of fruit that must be purchased and the quantity that must be canned, in the latter part of the clause, as my leader has rightly pointed out, the wholeof these precautions are wiped out and everything is left to the discretion of the Minister for the time being. The members of the Labour party never object to a wisely considered scheme of State enterprise, and they have always endeavoured to be consistent and honest incarrying out that policy, but they also like, in thesematters,to be logical. Theyrealize that a certain measure of discretion is necessary in administration, but in this case there is a very wide opening forgrave abusein thefact that, although nominally -conditions are made under which certain things may be done, the door is actually left open for all sorts of secret influences to be brought to bear upon the Minister for the time being. The bounty is to be paid secretly for reasons and under conditions and under influences of winch the public generally is totally unaware. If there is anything in the arguments to which honorable members of theCountry partyhave given publicity in the press about the abuses that creep in where there is Government interference with private enterprise, I remind my honorable friends that in this Bill they are opening ‘the door very wide fortheMud of abuses they are constantly deploring. I know the difficulties confrontingthe Government. I knowthat they have tomake concessions to their friends in the comer, and that in their -turn honorable members in the corner have to make compromises with their own consciences, but I am aspproaching this matter in a spirit of Christian f orebearance, and I leave the issue to them to settle for themselves.
.- It seems to me that the words “ article for human consumption “ are rather ambiguous. Perhaps the Minister can tell me what these words mean. An “ article for human consumption “ may be jam or tomato sauce. It only shows that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is right in saying that the door will be left very wide open if the Minister is permitted to side-step any of the little obstacles that may occur.
I have no objection to the stabilization of our fruit industry, orof primary production of any kind, by legislative action. I believe that when we reach the stage of governing our industries, both primary andsecondary, in the interests of the whole of the people, there will not be such a great outcry against the -socialization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. Whenever any section gets into a hole it has to come to the Government to spoon feed it. Whether it be primary production, secondary production, or finance, the Government in the last analysis has to be the sheet anchor of those who are employed when difficulties are encountered. Here we are endeavouring to make the fruit industry more profitable for those who are engaged in it. I shall have no objection to that if it means the conferring of a benefit upon all the people. I was in Sydney a week or more ago, and my wife was astonishedat the price which was being asked there for fresh fruit. Apples were being retailed at 6d. each. If any honorable member were to go through the districts in which apples are grownhe would find the orchards strewn with a carpet of apples that have fallen from the trees. How muchof this bounty will reach the consumer ? I invite honorable members of theCountry party -to say how this measure will affect the big body of consumers, who would furnish the best market for the producers if they could only be reached without the intervention of the big man. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) made a speech which I know was prompted by ‘his practical knowledge of the canning industry. It is up to us to say a word for the hard worker, who has to buy the fruit. In what way will the canning of this fruit assure to the householder a cheaper or a better class of canned or fresh fruit ? There is no assurance in the Bill. I hope that action similar to this will be taken in dealing with the workers, when the opportunity presents itself, in order that the cost of commodities shall not be raised to such an extent as to make ineffective an increase of a few shillings a week inwages. The Bill lays it down that the producer is to be given a minimum wage. That is a principle which did not find favour when we first enunciated it.
– The canner is limited in regard to his charges.
– I am glad to learn that; the Bill does not say so. If the consumers cannot obtain apples more cheaply than 6d. each - and not very good ones at that - they will not derive much advantage.
– The Bill does not provide for the protection of the consumer.
– It is part of my duty to see that the electors who returned me to thisHouse are protected when Bills of this description are beingconsidered. This measure will provide us with a justification for dealing similarly with the consumer and the worker in the big cities. I am pleased to know that the primary producer is being protected.
– I rise to assure the honorable ‘member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) that the Bill contains adequate safeguards for the consumer and producer alike. The bounty on home consumption was devised specially to permit of the sale of the fruit in Australia during this year at the reduced price of 101/2d. per 2-lb. tin. The definite agreement was arrived at among the canners that they would continue to sell to the retailer at such a rate as would enable him to carry on at that price. I am pleased to see that the action of the cannershas led to arrangements being made for the consumption of a greater quantity of fruit . in Australia thanwas expected. Apparently, 80 per cent. of this pack will be consumed in Australia, and it was thought that only 70 per cent. would be so consumed.
– The amount of money to be paid under this measure will then be less than was anticipated?
– That is so. The consumer in Australia will be further protected in that only 30 per cent. of this pack will be allowed to be sent outside the country, except with the definite consent of the Minister for Trade and Customs, so as to insure that thereshall be an abundant supply in Australia. The consumer isalso protected under clauses 6 and 8, which provide that, as a necessary condition to his receiving the bounty, the canner shall accept and can practically all the fruit presented at his cannery. There will not, therefore, be any possibility of an artificial shortage being brought about, with a consequent raising of prices.
– Is that provided for iu the agreement?
– Yes. In those three ways special provision has been made that the consumer shall benefit, because the Government felt that on this occasion it should use the money that is being spent to popularize Australian fruit in Australia and make it as widely used as possible. This is no more a socialistic proposal than any other scheme for giving a bounty. Whatever tendency towards socialism it may have, it is a long step from the socialism of previous Pools, which consisted of Government purchase and control from the time the fruit came off the tree until it was placed in the various homes.
– The Government did did not take any care of the purchaser of the fruit by having a list price.
– We took care of the purchasers to this extent, that the canners are selling the fruit to the grocers at 8s. 6d. per dozen, and the grocers are selling it at 10s. 6d. per dozen.
– Has not some of the canned fruit been sold in England at a price much less than that?
– That was portion of the previous packs. The present Australian pack on the English market is actually bringing more than is being received here. That is the result of the efforts of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) while in England,. in disposing of the big surplus that existed there. He managed to insure that it would be distributed through 4,000 shops, in order to give us a good advertisement. Reference has been made to the amount that has been paid. At the present time by way of bounty on home production £40,000 has been paid, and an additional £35,000 has been passed for payment. No money has been paid on fruit exported, but I understand that an account has been sent in for £6,000. It is anticipated that the total amount which will be payable will be between £115,000 and £125,000.
. -I hope the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) -will persist in his proposed amendment. I am not satisfied with the explanation given by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) of paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 4. If the object of this Bill was to lay down a prin ciple for a number of years, the cancellation of the more or less mandatory pro-, visions of sub-clauses 1 and 2 would perhaps be justifiable. On the Treasurer’s figures fully two-thirds of the bounty of £150,000 has been paid, or passed for payment. The Minister ought to know, and it would appear from the Treasurer’s statement that he does know, what amount will be claimed for bounty. He should also know who will come under the provisions of sub-clause 4. The facts could be ascertained, and if that were done there would be no need for the sub-clause. The object desired could be achieved by some clearer and more definite method. Parliament ought to know to whom the sub-clause refers and what amounts are involved. The sub-clause is inserted, I submit, to meet specific cases, which must be known to the Minister. Practically all the bounty for home consumption has been paid, and a large part of the bounty for export has been submitted and passed for payment. We were told in the Minister’s second-reading speech that this Bill would finalize the matter; that it did not seek to provide any further bounties, but dealt only with specific cases. I am inclined to look upon the sub-clause with a certain amount of suspicion. There is just a chance that it is inserted to meet special cases which the Minister or the Government does not wish to disclose to the House. I hope the amendment foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition will be moved and carried, because it will clarify the position, and show us exactly where we stand.
-In this debate there is evidently something wanting. I would like to know the Government’s real intentions. I have never heard a more lame reply to criticism than that which was given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman). The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) suggested that there was a hidden motive in this subclause 4, and it appears to me that something is being smothered, and that the real purpose of the Bill is not being disclosed. Everything necessary for human consumption can be produced in abundance in Australia, but we have not yet ascertained from the Government how the good things provided by Providence can be distributed. The Labour party’s platform lays, down cardinal principles in that connexion. Unfortunately, the abuse of that policy by followers of the Government, and the opposition of self-interested persons, prevent its realization, but until we can get the socialization of the means of production, Bills of this character will be brought regularly before us. Large bounties were passed during the last Parliament. All kinds of bounties have been proposed to meet circumstances as they arise. Thus an attempt is made to obscure the necessity for socializing the means of production. I am satisfied that until we take the step proposed by the Labour party we shall not get out of our difficulties. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) referred to the price of fruit in Sydney. In the last two years it has been very difficult to buy good fruit in Sydney. The best quality is very scarce. A lot of the best fruit is shipped from New South Wales, for it does not pay to export anything but the best. Even second rate fruit, however, is not readily obtainable. Good quality grapes, which are greatly enjoyed by women and children, have not been obtainable for two years. I am sorry that the Government has not tried to do something for the Australian consumer. The Bill gives me an opportunity to refer to a speech delivered by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) in a suburb of Melbourne a few weeks ago. He said that the handing out of bounties to the third party in this House would have to stop. The practice has become a disgrace to the Government of this country. I do not intend to vote against this Bill becauseI quite recognise that the speeches that have been made by honor- able members opposite were merely some of the electioneering speeches to which we shall continue to listen if this Parliament . lasts for another twelve months. The speech which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) made this afternoon, in moving the adjournment of the House, was nothing more nor less than an electioneering speech. Politicians quite understood that. This Bounty Bill is only an electioneering squib, which has afforded honorable members opposite an opportunity to express their concern for the poor man on the land. It makes me very wrath to listen to the way in which some honorable members speak of our country people. The statements they make are sufficient to prevent any one going upon the land, and if read in. the Old Country would be sufficient to pre vent persons coming to Australia in order to settle upon the land. We should put a stop to this kind of thing. If men on the land are faced with difficult conditions, they should come to honorable members on this side, who will find some relief for them. I hope that the explanation which has been given by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) is correct, but I can scarcely believe it. The Bill is fax too loosely drawn. Bills of this character should be drawn in such a way that ordinary individuals can understand them. I guarantee that not one-half of the members of the Committee know what is contained in the clause now under consideration. We should have much less trouble in passing measures in this House if they were clearly drawn. Honorable members opposite have reason to be grateful for the criticism of this measure by honorable members on this side. It has induced the Attorney-General to explain what the Bill really means. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) told us about an agreement, but has any honorable member seen the agreement? When we are asked to pass a Bill which covers an agreement, we should be told what is in that agreement. Whether it is in accordance with the Bill or not may depend on the person who drew it up. I still doubt whether the agreement in this case is consistent with the statements which have been made by the Treasurer and the AttorneyGeneral.
– Has the honorable member seen the agreement?
– I have not. Has the honorable member seen it?
– Yet the honorable member proposes to pass a Bill which covers the agreement, although it may be contrary to his opinion. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) will persist in securing information upon measures submitted in this Chamber, so that before a Bill is passed into law we shall know what it contains. I know what happens when one has’ to make application to a Government Department. I know that if he has the ear of the Minister he will have no difficulty in securing what he desires. This makes me anxious to know what we. are passing in this Bill. We should be careful with the ex- penditure of public funds because, airthough, we are receiving a greater revenue through the Customs than we should receive in that way, money is not as plentiful as it used to be in the old days when, in the State which I represent, if the Government was a little short of money, it sold land. In these times,., when we have to obtain revenue by taxation, we should be particularly careful to know what we are doing when Ave are called’ upon to pass measures of this character.
..- I cannot understand why honorable mem. bers opposite should object to the clause. I should like to- see them a little more consistent.- In connexion with Customs legislation, they have passed measure after measure containing a similar provision, enabling the Minister for Trade and Customs to give to one person what he will not give another. In the past, honorable members- opposite have supported, such provisions with great con.sistency. In the circumstances,. I am greatly surprised that now, when we have before us a clause enabling the Minister for Trade and’ Customs, to tell one man that he will receive the bonus and anr other that he will not receive it, honorable members opposite should be found opposing it.. They have often supported similar legislation before, and I cannot understand their opposition in this case.
– I wish to move an amendment, but I do not wish to- take up time discussing it. The discussion which, has so far taken place has confirmed the view I put to the Committee. Even the- Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) has admitted that the contention I put forward was correct. There’ is no escaping the interpretation, to be- placed on the clause as drafted;. We are not, as the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has said, against the clause, but we do wish to protect the public purse, and the honorable member should be with us in that. Sub-clause 2 of clause 8 provides that -
If a canner “does not use, for canning or in tlie preparation of an article for human consumption, the whole of the fruit purchased by him, in pursuance of section 6 of this Act, and passed by an inspector as suitable for canning, the canner shall not be entitled to be paid bounty in respect of any of the fruit canned by Lim.
That provides: that on the inspector, being satisfied that the canner purchases the fruit - and ifr is admitted by the. honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) and two Ministers that it is intended to buy all the fruit grown-
– All’ the fruit offered.
– All the fruit offered has to be bought. The inspector then certifies, and the bounty is paid. It is paid before the fruit is canned. I am asking that the public should be protected, and that the bounty should only be paid’ on the fruit canned.
– That is all we are paying.
– If all the fruit offered must be bought and. bounty paid on it,, whether or not that fruit is canned, dishonest practices may creep- in. There is absolutely no protection to the public purse. Any tale can be told to th> Minister,, and if he has a mind to accept it,, the- canner- may be permitted to retain the bounty paid!. The canners are entitled only to bounty on the fruit canned, and there should be no loophole for fruit to be disposed of in some other way after the bounty is paid.
– They cannon do that.
– -It is marvellous, what can be done-. I am only a layman, but two out of three legal men will agree with my contention. The draft clause as it stands, makes it possible for dishonest practices to creep- in. It is our duty to pass legislation which contains no loophole, by which any one cantake advantage of the Commonwealth. I only want to- do what is- just and equitable. There should be an amendment of sub-clause b. I move -
That Hie words, “ the whole or any,” paragraph fa, be left out and that the words “ on the quantity canned,,” be inserted after the. word.’ bounty.”
The paragraph, would then read -
That the canner be relieved of his liability to repay portion of the bounty on the quantity, canned. and the position would be that if a man canned the- fruit he would get the bounty,, whereas if he bought, a lot of fruit that was not canned, but disposed of in some’ surreptitious manner, he would not get the bounty. Unless some good reason cart be given to the contrary, the Minister should be prepared to accept the amendment. I do not want to divide the Committee upon it, but merely desire to protect the public. The drafting of the clause is anything but satisfactory. It is not sufficient to say that the Minister has, to decide the matter, for we all know how skilful some people are when dealing with the Government, and it is possible for the Minister, even with the best of intentions, to give a wrong decision. In connexionwith meat, we were careful to pay only on the quantity exported; and in this Bill we should provide for the bounty to be paid only on the fruit canned”.
– Clause 6, sub-clause c, provides for that.
– It does not; it only provides for the manner in which the bounty shall be paid in accordance with the schedule.
– Is it not paid on the certificate?
– I am not denying that, but the certificate is granted before the fruit is canned.
– The honorable member is wrong in that contention.
– The Bill provides that the . money received need not be returned to the Treasury. If the bounty is paid only after the fruit is canned, what is the meaning of that provision? The thing is self-evident; it is there in black and white, and in argument to-night it has been admitted that payment is made on the fruit bought. If it is the intention of the Department to protect the public, and to pay only on the fruit canned, I can only say that that intention is badly expressed in the drafting of the clause.
– Paragraph a of subclause 4 of clause 8 provides - that non-compliance with those conditions shall not disentitle the canner to receive bounty.
– The honorable member should look at sub-clause c of clause 6.
– That provides that the bounty shall be payable to the canner if he - cans, to the satisfaction of the inspector; the fruit’ in respect of which bounty is claimed pur chased by the canner in accordance with this section and passed by the inspector as suitable for canning.
That means that if the fruit is passed by the inspector as suitable for canning the canner may be paid the bounty. The whole thing is so clear that I am surprised that honorable members cannot see that the wording does not convey what is in- tended. The clause provides that, after the fruit has- been- inspected and passed, payment may be made, and that if certain things are not done in respect of canning at a subsequent period, the canners may be called upon to remit the- bounty they have already received. I want to make quite sure that no loop-hole is left whereby the fund’s of the Government can be obtained improperly.
– If the Leader of the Opposition. (Mr. Charlton) will follow me for a moment, I shall show him that: he’ is under a-‘ misapprehension. The object of sub-clause 1 is to insure that a canner shall purchase all suitable fruit offering, which he is directed to purchase. The object of sub-clause 2 is to insure the canning of all suitable fruit purchased by him for canning.
– That is not the exact language used in the clause.
Sir: LITTLETON GROOM. Subclause 1 reads : “If the canner purchases a less quantity of fruit than that directed by the Comptroller-General. . . . “ That is to insure that the canner purchases the fruit. Sub-clause 2 provides that if a. canner does not use, for canning or in the- preparation of an article for human consumption, the whole of the fruit purchased by him and passed by an inspector as suitable for canning, then he is liable to a penalty, namely, the forfeiture of the bounty paid in respect of any of the fruit canned by him. No bounty is paid at all except for fruit that is absolutely canned, and no bounty is paid upon fruit being canned until the canner receives the certificate of an officer that the conditions have been complied with. This is one of the claims -
I hereby claim bounty in respect of canned pineapples- or whatever- it may bemanufactured by me at my factory on a certain date.
That claim is made in respect of canned fruit, for which the officer certifies -
I certify that to the best of my knowledge and belief, after due inquiry, the particulars and statements declared to in the above claim for bounty are true and correct, aud that the claimant is entitled to bounty on the goods’ specified in the claim.
The bounty is paid only on fruit absolutely canned. Sub-clause 4 provides that, notwithstanding the forfeiture, if the canner can satisfy the Minister that compliance with the conditions specified in sub-clauses 1 and 2 was not, in the circumstances, practicable, the Minister may remit the penalty of forfeiture of the whole of the bounty the canner is entitled to upon the fruit already canned, or any portion of the bounty. The Minister cannot remit, or allow a canner to claim, a bounty for fruit which he has never canned.
– If the canner does not fulfil the conditions, will he be compelled to refund the bounty paid to him?
– If a canner does not fulfil the conditions, and if he has already received part of the bounty, under sub-clause 3 the bounty paid is a Crown debt, and the canner is liable to refund the whole of it.
– A penalty is provided in on.e case, and taken off in another.
– Nothing of the sort. The penalty is remitted under certain circumstances.
– The canner pays the grower.
– The canner whether he gets the bounty or not has to pay the grower. Under these circumstances the Leader of the Opposition will see that his amendment is unnecessary. The Bill is clearly drafted, meting out just and equitable treatment to canners under all circumstances.
– The honorable gentleman’s explanation makes these later provisions all the more bewildering.
– The provisions are perfectly clear. Where the canner does not fulfil the conditions of the clause he forfeits the bounty upon fruit already canned. It would not be fair to compel a forfeiture - simply because, for justifiable reasons, a canner could not purchase the quantity of fruit directed by the. Comptroller-General.
.- The Minister (Sir Littleton Groom) has made confusion worse confounded. He has told us that the bounty is not paid on any fruit until it is canned. Sub-clause 3 provides that if a canner has been paid bounty to which by virtue of either of the two preceding sub-clauses he is not entitled, the amount of bounty shall be a debt to the Crown. In the first place, how would the canner obtain the bounty?
– Read the preceding sub-clauses.
– The Minister has just told us that no canner is paid bounty until he has a certificate to the effect that he has canned the fruit for which he is asking a bounty.
– The object of sub-clause 1 is to compel the . canner to buy the offering fruit, and if he fails to do so, although he may have canned a certain quantity, then the bounty upon the fruit which he has canned is forfeited.
– The Minister read for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition a certificate to show that no money is paid until the fruit has been canned and inspected. How is it that it is possible for a canner to be paid a bounty to which he is not entitled? The Minister has produced a certificate to prove that a canner cannot be paid the bounty until he has canned the quantity, of fruit certified by the inspector ; yet the Bill provides for payment, which is not to be made until the fruit is canned.
– A man might have canned 50 tons and refused to take another 50 tons.
– Does the honorable member for Echuca (Mr.. Hill) suggest that, if the canner was ordered to buy 100 tons, and only took 50, the inspector would give him a certificate for 100 tons, knowing full well that he had not carried out his contract 1
– This is a business that runs on from day to day.
– I fail to see why a man should have money paid to him until he has completed his contract. The Bill is loosely drawn, since sub-clause (3) stipulates that the canner is, in certain circumstances, to return some qf the money that has been paid to him. I wish to know how a man can obtain money for the recovery of which there is a claim at law. The Minister has not yet explained the position to my satisfaction.
– There are progress payments.
– Are progress certificates issued on quantities canned?
– I think so.
– The Minister nods. I therefore take it that the suggestion of the honorable member for Echuca is correct. How does the canner reimburse himself? The grower’s interests are well protected, because if half the fruit goes rotten, the grower will have already obtained the higher price paid by virtue of the bounty. I am inclined to think that the Leader of the Opposition has placed his finger on the weak spot in the Bill. Apparently the money has been paid, and as the numbers are up, the Minister is disinclined to listen to the words of wisdom falling from the Opposition. Perhaps some of the money that has been paid by way of bounty has not been earned, and the canners who have secured it are disinclined to refund it. It may be that some of the canners have not fulfilled their contracts. If so, this measure is typical of the actions of the Government in spending the taxpayers’ money.
– I cannot understand why the Government do not accept the amendment. If the intention is as the Minister (Sir Littleton Groom) has stated, there should be no hesitation in agreeing to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), who desires to have it definitely stated in the Bill that the bounty shall be paid only on fruit that is canned.
– The relief given in this clause is in respect only of bounty paid in accordance with subclauses (1) and (2).
– I can quite understand that some canners may not be able to comply entirely with the conditions of sub-clause (2), but the very fact that members of the Ministry are not prepared to accept the amendment shows that they do contemplate paying the bounty on fruit that has not been canned.
– No: that cannot be done.
– If that is the intention of the Ministry, what is their objection to the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition? The clause finishes with the word “bounty.” According to the Minister’s statement, I am sure that he has in his mind in association with the word “ bounty “ the words “ paid in respect of the quantity of fruit canned.” If that is so, why does he object to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition ? Do the Government contemplate paying the bounty on fruit that has not been canned?
– Then why not accept the amendment by the Leader of the Opposition, which states definitely that no bounty shall be paid in respect of fruit that is not canned? I suppose the Government are not absolutely wedded to the verbiage of this Bill, though, on the other hand, they may think it is perfect. In any case I compliment them upon bringing in the measure. It is a step in the direction of Socialism which we are very glad to see them take. We must, however, commiserate with honorable members opposite upon the failure of private enterprise to stand alone. They admit now that private enterprise in conjunction with Government enterprise is a good thing. In the early days of this Government many gibes were heard about fig-leaf Socialism. The only difference that I can see in the Government now is that they propose to exchange the fig-leaf for the apricot-leaf, or the peach-leaf. Even the pineapple-leaf is mentioned. I do not think that the Government are showing much discretion. The first tailoress in the world selected the figleaf as the best form of armour against nakedness, and I do not think that the Government would be wise to discard the fig-leaf, especially for a pineapple-leaf. I am sure that they would not find the pineapple-leaf any more comfortable. However, we congratulate them upon recognising the principle that Government enterprise is not a bad thing.
.- I believe that the intentions of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and other honorable members opposite who have spoken on this matter are honorable. They desire to safeguard the public purse. I consider, however, thatthe acceptance of the amendment movedby theLeader of the Opposition would defeat thevery purpose he has in mind. Clause 6 of the Bill provides that if the canner purchases the fruit offered bythe grower, pays the grower for the fruit, and cans it to the satisfaction of the inspector, he shall be paid a bounty. Clause 8 provides that ifhe does not canthe whole of the fruit to the satisfaction off the Minister he may be obliged to refund thebounty that has been paid in respect to the fruit that he has canned. He may be relieved of that liability if he satisfies the Ministerthat compliance with the specified conditions is not practicable. The Leader of the Opposition,with the best intentions in the world, wishes to relieve the canner of all liability to repaythat money. That, at anyrate, willbe the effect of his amendment if itis adopted. I do not think he intends that the canner should berelieved of any responsibility to refund money that has been paid when the conditions underwhich the money was paid are not fulfilled.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to15 agreed to.
Schedules agreed to.
Preamble andtitle agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended. Bill read a third time.
. - On behalf of the Postmaster-General (Mr.Gibson) I move -
That, inaccordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921, the following work beref erred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for their report, viz. : - Provision of a telegraph cable between Sydney and Newcastle, and Newcastle and West Maitland.
In accordance with the provisions of the Act I lay on the tableof the House a statement setting out the nature of the work,together with plans and specifications and other necessary papers. The volume of traffic between Sydney and Newcastle and Newcastle andWest Maitland necessitates a large number of additional wires. The provision of these by open wire and poles is impracticable since the space available along the railway route, where the existing wires are erected, is inadequate for the number required. Moreover, the estimated cost of erection of the required lines and strengthening existing pole : routes is £858,600. In order,therefore, to meetthe Department’s requirements, it is proposed to provide a cablebetween Sydney and Newcastlecontaining 200 wires, and between Newcastle andWest Maitland a cable containing 100 wires immediately, and another cable containing 100 wires in ten years’time. The number of wires providedwill allow forthe ultimate provision between Sydney and Newcastle andNew- castle and West Maitland of 150 telephone circuits. The existing and required circuits are as follow: -
Cost will be spread over a number ofyears. Bulk of it will full in initial stages.
Sydney-Newcastle. - Present. £20,000; estimated in 20 years’ time, £120,000.
Newcastle-West Maitland.- Present, £5,000; estimated in 20 years’ time, £22,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Access of PublicServantstoCommonwealth Arbitration Court -visitof Special Service Squadron to Sydney:Holiday Pay for Cockatoo IslandEmployees - Shipbuilding Tribunal : Publication of Awards.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
Thatthe House do now adjourn.
.- I have been asked by a number of Public Service organizations to ascertain, if possible, f rom theGovernment its intentions with regard to the question of’ State instrumentalities and their claims to the right of access to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. This is a matter of very great concern to many organizations with which I am in touch inNew South Wales, and unless the Government announces its intentions considerable expense will be involved by those organizations in making applications to the Court. The attention of the. organizations has been directed to the fact that negotiations are proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Attorneys-General of New South Wales and Victoria. That fact, of course, lends colour to the general opinion inNew South Wales that this Government proposes to legislate to exclude public servants from the Federal Court. I should like to hear a statement from the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) on this very important matter.
Mr.MAHONY. (Dalley) [10.47].- Wo have had a visit from the Special Service Squadron for the purpose of working up the patriotic fervour of the people of Australia. We found thatthe great leaders of the movement occupied a place right in the foreground,togive a deserved welcome to these kinsmen of ours from across the seas; but we also noticed that these so-called leaders of patriotic fervour were not prepared to suffer any hardship.
– Was not the honorable member present at the Ambassadors’ dinner?
– I confess that I was there. Does the honorable member object to my having been there?
– Oh; no.
– While we go out and wave flags; and beat drums, and talk about our patriotic fervour, the Government compels workmen who are upon the basic wage- a wage which was fixed merely to cover the bare cost of living - to take a day off at the expense, not of the patriotic Government, but of their wives and children, That was the experience of the employees at Cockatoo Island, on the occasion of the visit of the fleet to Sydney. The Prime Minister told me today that the Government had no power over the Commonwealth Shipping Board’, but I say that the Government has every power. It cannot shelter itself behind that excuse. If it wished to act fairly it could reimburse the Shipping Board for the payment of the money.. For years it was the practice to pay these men for public holidays, but not since the advent of the Shipping Board. I appeal to the Prime Minister to see that the grievance is removed. If- the Board will not pay the money, let the Government make a special grant for the purpose. I believe that Parliament would readily acquiesce-. If the Government is as patriotic as it would have us believe, it will take steps to see that the workmen do not suffer by being compelled to lose a day’s work to honour our visiting kinsmen.
I wish to refer to another matter in connexion with the Shipbuilding Tribunal. That Tribunal has been in existence for many years. It was formerly under the chairmanship of Mr. Connington, M.L.C., of New South Wales. When he was chairman the decisions of the Tribunal were always made public, but recently Mr. Connington resigned, and Mr. Sinclair, who is also a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, was appointed in his place. Since that change was made the awards have been kept secret, and officials of the unions concerned have not been able to obtain copies. I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), whose Department controls this matter, to look into it, and have the awards of the Tribunal made available to the secretaries and officials of the unions directly concerned.
– I do not understand the anxiety that is felt at the present moment on the subject brought forward by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman). It will be within the honorable member’s knowledge that the question of the relation of State instrumentalities to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has been constantly raised by the State Governments for a number of years. I also point out to him that the Government can hardly be expected to make a declaration of its policy in reply to a question raised on a motion for the adjournment of the House. I can only say to him that at the moment there is no statement I can make, or that I desire to make, on the matter.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr: Mahony) addressed to me this afternoon a question regarding the holiday granted to certain workmen in connexion with the visit of the Special Service Squadron. I pointed out to him then that this House deliberately took from the Government the control of the conditions of work in the Cockatoo Dockyard and placed it in the hands of a Board, which is entirely responsible for the position in which the men find themselves. If it is desired to submit a special case, and representations are made, they will naturally be considered. It is entirely for the Board to determine the conditions under which the men are employed, since the. Government - by, I again remind the honorable member, the expressed determination of Parliament - has had removed from its control all questions relating to these men.
Regarding the alteration in the practice relating to the publication of awards of the Special Tribunal- for Cockatoo Dockyard, I will have the matter looked into, and will let the honorable member know the exact position.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 May 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240507_reps_9_106/>.