9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker. (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
– As several honorable members have made representations to the Government on behalf of the growers of grapes used for the purpose of manufacturing spirit for the fortification of wines, will the Prime Minister make a statement in the House in regard to the steps the Government have taken in the matter, so that honorable members may not be dependent on newspaper reports of speeches made elsewhere?
– A communication has been forwarded to the State Governments concerned, informing them that the desperate circumstances of the growers of Doradilla grapes have been brought under the attention of the Commonwealth Government, and that after the fullest investigation by excise officers and the Tariff Board, the fact that a very serious position has arisen has been established beyond all question. While we have indicated that the responsibility for the situation that has arisen and for any remedy that may be applied rests with the State Governments, yet, in order to afford some relief to these growers, we have offered to share with the State Governments on a pound for pound basisin the payment of a bounty to the growers in respect of the past season’s crop. A bounty of £2 a ton will be paid on grapes grown on irrigated areas for which the grower has received not more than £3. If the grower has received more than £3 for his grapes the amount of the bounty will be correspondingly reduced, so that the total amount received by the grower shall not exceed £5. For grapes grown on non-irrigated areas the bounty will be paid on the same principle, except that the total receipts of the grower will not exceed £4. I am not in a position to say whether effect will be given to our suggestion by the State Governments. The matter has not yet been advanced beyond the suggestion we have made.
– I desire to submit a question without notice to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. By way of explanation I should like to say that this morning I received a letter containing the following description of the position of letter carriers in Geelong : -
Things are very much the same here. There is no sign of vacancies being filled, and, the postmen’ s section being depletedin consequence, it is very hard on the few permanent men left to do all the work. I am afraid these men will collapse under the strain. One man dropped out a fortnight ago suffering from nervous breakdown, and has got two months’ leave. Nothing has yet been done with regard to the recommendations of Mr. Thomas, the inspector, that two additional men be appointed, consequently overtime has still to be paid every fortnight.
I should like the Acting PostmasterGeneral to make immediate inquiries into this complaint, and see if it is not possible to give effect to the recommendation of the departmental inspector.
– That is hardly in the form of a question.
– I shall submit the honorable member’s remarks to the Acting Postmaster-General and furnish him with a reply at a later date.
Mr.WEST. - I have received a communication from Sydney, where many people are doing a lot of unnecessary work, because they do not know the position of the Government.
– Is the honorable member submitting a question?
– Yes. I want to know whether it is a fact that the Government do not intend to fix up any matter until they have the Estimates passed, when Parliament will not be able to interfere with their actions?
– I do not know what answer the honorable member wishes me to give him; but if he doubts the existence of a government, I say to him that there is a government in office. It is now carrying on, and it proposes to continue to do so.
– If it is true, as reported in the press, that the Prime Minister recently informed a representative of the New South Wales Government that, bo far as the Commonwealth is concerned, there will be no voluntary pool this year, unless the four wheat producing states combine, will the right honorable gentleman say whether the Government has come to a definite decision on the matter, and if so on what grounds?
– On several occasions I have answered questions dealing with this matter, and have publicly stated the attitude of the Commonwealth Government. When representations were made to us asking us to guarantee a voluntary wheat pool, I indicated that, as it was contemplated to have four state pools, the proper course for the representatives of the state pools who mct me was to approach the governments of their respective states, and I understand that my suggestion was carried out. At any rate, I recently saw representatives of the four state governments concerned and explained to them the attitude of the Commonwealth Government. The matter is now under discussion by the pool representatives in the different states and the state governments concerned.
– Did the Treasurer notice in the Melbourne Age this morning a report headed, “ Farmers betrayed : Federal Pact against Interests of Country.” It says, “ While the leaders of the Nationalist and Country parties “-
– It is not usual to allow a question to be founded on a newspaper report.
– Well, I ask whether the Treasurer is aware that it has been published broadcast throughout Australia to-day that the farmers have been betrayed, and that the action of the Treasurer and other members of the
Country party in scheming with the Nationalists to keep the pact in operation is a betrayal of the farmers, and against the interests of the farmers who at their conference last month roundly condemned the action of their so-called leaders 1
– Before I call upon the Treasurer to reply let me refresh the memory of the honorable member for Dalley that it is laid down in parliamentary practice that in asking a question neither argument nor opinion should be offered. I ask honorable members generally to observe’ that rule.
– I saw the advertisement referred to by the honorable member, and noticed that it was headed by a statement that is almost identical with one which has been circulated throughout New South Wales by the Deputy Leader of the Labour party there. I congratulate honorable members opposite on their method of propaganda, and hope that they will get full value for the money they are spending in this direction.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in connexion with the statement just made by the Treasurer. I wish to explain that I am not conscious of having made any statement whatever in connexion with the relations of the two parties sitting on the Government benches. Personally I am not in the least interested in them, because I realize that no arrangements which they may make can affect the ultimate issue.
– I understand that the honorable the Treasurer referred to statements which had been made by the Deputy Loader of the Labour party in New South Wales.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation. I said that the beading of the newspaper article corresponded very much with a letter which has been distributed throughout New South Wales by Mr. Loughlin, the. Deputy Leader of the Labour party in that state.
– Will the Minister take into consideration the advisability of having the Standing Orders amended to prevent the rather degrading example of the House of Commons in Great
Britain, where a government which has been defeated ten times still clings to office, being followed here?
– The suggestion of the honorable member will receive the most careful consideration.
– Will the Prime Minister at the same time take into consideration the degrading conditions which exist in this House, where the Government ought to have been defeated ten times ?
– I am not responsible for the lack of power on the part of the Opposition to defeat the Government.
– Is the Minister in possession of the information for which I asked nearly a fortnight’ ago, as to the total amount paid by the Commonwealth Government to the patentees of the automatic telephone system ? If the informaation is not yet available, will the Minister have it supplied as early as possible ?
– I am not yet in possession of the information asked for by the honorable member, but shall try to obtain it for him as soon as I can.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– In view of the negotiations pending with, the South Australian Government the whole of this matter is at a confidential stage when it is not considered desirable to publicly discuss it. As pointed out in reply to a question in this House on the 17th instant the consent of Parliament will be sought before the matter is finalized.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained and furnished as early as practicable.
Waterside Workers v. Shipowners.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Traffic and Customs Conventions
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
– On the 17th July the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) asked if the rifles used by the Australian Bisley team were made at the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow. In reply I. stated that the whole of the rifles taken to England by the members of the Australian rifle team competing at Bisley were made at the Lithgow factory. On making further inquiries into the matter, however, I find that, although the rifles taken to England by the members of the Bisley team were all made at the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, and specially selected special match rifles were also purchased in England for members of the team. I am, therefore, unable to inform the honorable member definitely whether the rifles used at the Bisley meeting were of Australian manufacture. The press (reports state that J. S. Eastmon, of Western Australia, used a Lithgow rifle tight through the competitions.
– (By leave.) - I had no intention of asking theHouse to permit me to make a personal explanation respecting the statement of Mr. Theodore on the claims of Mr. Spahlinger for his treatment and cure of tuberculosis, but the questions, of the honorable members for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), and Reid (Mr. Coleman), and the number of private inquiries I have had from other members of this House, and of another place, lead me to believe that it is the desire of honorable members generally to hear something further about this vexed question. Mr. Theodore recently informed the people of Brisbane that he had received a definite promise from Mr. Spahlinger to forward a supply of vaccine to him, and that he intended to have it used under the observation of skilled physicians, and later, would report the results to this country and to the world. In October, 1923, I also was promised a supply of lymph or vaccine by Mr. Spahlinger, and I then assured him that it would be used under the care and observation of the Director of Public Health. I understand, too, that other persons besides Mr. Theodore and myself have been promised supplies, but, so far, they have not come to hand. Mr. Theodore in his statement quotes two letters - one from Mr. Spahlinger and the other from Dr. Watts. The letter of the former contains three statements, the first of which is as follows : -
I invited Sir Neville Howse to come to my institute. It was only just before leaving Geneya, where he had remained during four weeks, that he came. I wanted to explain to him all the details of the technical work, but he objected. He was not a bacteriologist, and would not understand it.
If honorable members had read the report which I made to this House on the 3rd April last, there would have been no necessity whatever for the questions which have recently been asked. On that occasion, I very carefully, and I believe, lucidly, placed before honorable members the whole situation, pointing out that I was not a bacteriologist, and that, even if I had been, it would have been necessary to spend at least six months working with Mr. Spahlinger before I could have given a definite opinion about his methods.
– Then Mr. Theodore’s statement is correct.
– Perfectly correct. The second statement in Mr. Spahlinger’s letter to Mr. Theodore was that I “glanced through the institute.” The fact is that I spent a great number of hours there, and if honorable members desire confirmation of my statement, I refer them to the honorable member for
Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), -who takes a very keen interest in this question, and accompanied me on my inspection. Having inspected the institute, I reported that I considered that the laboratory was magnificently equipped. The second statement is, therefore, not correct. The third statement in Mr. Spahlingers letter is that I declined to meet the doctors who had used the treatment, or to examine any of the patients, saying that I was not a lung specialist, and that my opinion, therefore, would be of no value. I ask honorable members to refer again to my report of the 3rd April, wherein I said that I had examined some of the cases in London, and that they showed no evidence whatever of tuberculosis at that time. But I called the attention of the House particularly to the fact that I had no knowledge of the condition of the patients at the time when their treatment was commenced, as no data were made available to me. I was, therefore, able to speak only as to the condition of the patients when I examined them, and not when treatment was commenced. Dr. “Watt’s letter to Mr. Theodore contains the following statements : -
Surely there must ho some extraordinary error to account for such a statement, which I cannot help thinking may inflict grave injury to many sufferers in Australia. Sir Neville Howse (who was one of the Australian delegates at the League of Nations) was staying at the same hotel in Geneva as I did. I told him of the wonderful results that my brother had seen at Mentone, when in medical charge of the sanatorium there, in patients treated with your partial sera. I further explained to him that after full inquiry the medical committee of the House of Commons had unanimously decided that your method was the most hopeful treatment for all forms of tuberculosis. I asked him to visit your laboratories, and meet. Dr. Cuphani, Mr. Treadle, Dr. Leonard Williams, and other medical men who used your sera and vaccines, and to examine some pf the cases treated.
That statement is correct. But the report which I made was based on definite evidence which I had before me - the evidence of experienced bacteriologists and expert physicians, and I think that the House recognized that I had reviewed the situation very carefully, and had drawn up a report upon the evidence available. Iri my statement of the 3rd April, I referred to the action taken by the Federal Government. In 1921, it placed itself in communication with Mr. Spahlinger, and ever since has been in close communication with him, and also with the British Ministry of Health, and the British Red Cross Society. When I left London on the 1st November last, I asked that I might he supplied with any further information which might become available. The treatment of tuberculosis is not the concern of any one particular country, but is of international importance. That this is so is evident, seeing that in 1922, there were 50,000 deaths from this disease in England, and that, in Australia, with its better climatic advantages, better housing, and other advantageous conditions, which one would expect would reduce the number of cases of tuberculosis, there were over 3,000 deaths from the disease in the same year. It was estimated that, in 1922, 20,000 persons in Australia were under medical treatment for this disease, and that 250,000 similar sufferers were under treatment in England. When I made my report to the Prime Minister in London, he asked the Minister for Health’ (Senator Wilson) to continue the wor-k which I -had begun. Senator Wilson wrote to me to-day as follows: -
The Prime Minister of Kew Zealand, Mr. Massey, brought the Spahlinger treatment question under the notice of the Imperial Conference, when it waB discussed by all representatives present, who evinced the greatest interest in their desire to procure this treatment on behal’f of the various parts of the Empire represented. The matter was submitted to a Committee representative pf Great Britain and all the Dominions, upon which Sir Joseph Cook and myself represented the Commonwealth. After a very full discussion the committee ad: journed pending the getting into touch with Spahlinger by the British authorities, who were instructed to invite him to be present at the committee’s next meeting to make available the details. Every effort possible was made to get him to attend, but in this they were unsuccessful.
La my speech of the 3rd April I mentioned that the greatest difficulty was to get in touch with Mr. Spahlinger, and, if one succeeded so far, to get anything definite from him. The man who is preventing this treatment being made available to the people of the world is not the representative of the Commonwealth, or of any other Government, but Mr. Spahlinger himself. He would not meet the scientists of the world, he would not lay his cards on the table, and there was rib hope of learning -what was in his mind.
I wrote to the Prime Minister -
Mr. Spahlinger is a very elusive person, and I am- assured by practically everybody who has attempted to enter into an agreement with him that he is what may be called tres difficile.
The French expression means more than “ very difficult “; the meaning it conveys is “ almost impossible.” In April, 1921, the British Red Cross Society, after an exhaustive inquiry, not by unqualified men like myself, but by skilled bacteriologists and physicians, made available to Mr. Spahlinger £10.000, which was supplemented by £10,000 given by Lord Cowdray, and £10,000 contributed by the public, and Mr. Spahlinger was asked to give in exchange for that £30,000 a certain supply of lymph and sera, that can be made in six months, and of vaccine that takes two years to develop. He repaid the money at the end of one year because he was unable to fulfil his contract. The British Government wrote asking him to send a supply of sera to England, or to visit England to inoculate 50 cases selected by himself, and the results of which were to be observed. To that communication he never replied. I wrote to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth -
I cannot conceive the reasons why Spahlinger preserves such secrecy, as I feel sure that if he took the scientific world into his confidence he would get all the assistance required to enable him to continue his work if he showed any likelihood of achieving or justifying the success he claims.
I regret very much, as must many others, the action taken by Mr. Theodore, because I fear he is raising false hopes in the minds of many people in Australia who are suffering from this terrible disease. A violent controversy in connexion with Spahlinger’s treatment has continued for a number of years. Of that Mr. Theodore must have been aware when he lately visited England, where he could have examined for himself all available data either at the British Ministry of Health or at the British Red Cross Society. In fact, I understand that an official report has been written for the Queensland Government by a well-known Brisbane physician, who confirms in every detail my report to the Prime Minister. I have no evidence in support of that statement, but if I am able to obtain it at a later date I shall submit it to tha House. The action of the New Zealand Government has been mentioned repeatedly in the press, in this House, and in discussions between other honorable members and myself. The Government of the Dominion was very anxious to come to some arrangement with Mr. Spahlinger, and Sir James Allen saw me in London, and asked me the result of my investigations. I told .him the reasons why I was not able to recommend the Commonwealth Government to finance Mr. Spahlinger; but I understand that later, the New Zealand representative in London, being convinced of the efficacy of the treatment, practically made an agreement in behalf of his Government, to which he submitted the evidence upon which he had acted. I am told that the New Zealand Government, after considering the evidence, has been reluctantly compelled to refuse to pay a penny towards financing the Spahlinger treatment. This is purely hearsay information. It reached me, first, through the press, and ‘ secondly, from one of the New Zealand legislators who occupied a seat on the floor of this House yesterday. I have no means of verifying the accuracy of the statements. Since I left London I have kept in touch with every move that has been made in connexion with the Spahlinger treatment, and I can assure the House that, although I arn extremely desirous of seeing some remedy discovered for the treatment of this malady, and, still more, of hearing of some means by which it could be wiped out, no information has reached me which would suggest that I should change my opinion, which was based on sound evidence, and arrived at after a mature and unbiased consideration of all the facts available. Not one bit of evidence supports the claims that have been made; at least, no evidence beyond that which was in existence in October, 1923. I sincerely hope that Mr. Theodore will not join, if he has not already done- so, that coterie of laymen, well meaning, but ignorant of the first principles of scientific hygiene, with whom Mr. Spahlinger has surrounded himself. His supporters include also a number of medical men who are either not competent or unwilling to weigh evidence. To-day there are few reputable physicians who are prepared to substantiate the statements of Mr. Spahlinger in reference to. the treatment and cure of tuberculosis and I can hold out no immediate hope to the numerous sufferers so far as the discovery of a curative vaccine is concerned. The evidence adduced every day, however, does offer some comfort, for it shows clearly that tuberculosis, unlike cancer, is a disease which tends to cure itself, and every year the mortality decreases, and the number of new cases reported rapidly diminishes.
Debate resumed from 23rd July (vide page 2397), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Mahony had moved, by way of amendment -
That after the word “That” the following words be inserted: - “any sum spent in naval construction should bc expended in Australia, thus relieving the distress caused by unemployment, and helping to develop Australian industries.”
– I had mentioned on Wednesday night, before I obtained leave to continue my remarks, that the President of the United States of America had indicated his willingness to convene another conference to consider the further limitation of armaments. I attach great importance to that, because I believe that it suggests a possibility of relief from the burden of taxation which the people have to pay on account of naval armaments. The Washington conference decided to limit the tonnage of new warships to be built by the Pacific powers to cruisers of 10,000 tons. I hope that another conference will further reduce the tonnage, so that ultimately we shall attain, in respect of the Pacific Ocean, an agreement similar to that between the United States of America and Canada, whereby the tonnage of gun-boats employed on the waters common to both countries may not exceed 110 tons. In conformity with the provisions of the Washington Treaty, the Commonwealth has sunk its only capital ship, the Australia. I regret that the building of ships of even 10,000 tons is still permitted, and that Japan is building a number of such vessels. But I hope that wiser counsels will prevail, and that gradually the nations will agree to the entire elimination of armed cruisers from the Pacific Ocean. Honorable members opposite contend that it is necessary for Australia to protect its trade routes in time of war. .If that is their purpose, they must face the possibility of heavy taxation. Australia already carries a debt of £400,000,000 in respect of a war that we were told was to end war, and the outlook for our people will be rather hopeless if they are to be burdened with further heavy taxation at a time when they are entitled to expect some relief. It is impossible for Australia to provide a navy strong enough to protect its coastline and trade routes. Some honorable members have mentioned the possibility of war with one nation bordering on the Pacific with which we are, and hope to continue, on friendly terms. Of course, there are in every nation jingoes who imagine that a nation deteriorates unless it goes to war. There were such people in Great Britain prior to the last war who said that Britain was deteriorating; and that charge was levelled against Australians particularly, because of their fondness for sport. To such critics, nothing short of a war in which thou- - sands are killed and maimed will convey conviction of the virility of their own race. Those men are continually harping on war, and they get no enjoyment out of life except when the troops are marching, the flags are flying, and the wardrums are beating. In the event of a conflict between the United States of America and Japan, Australia would not be at war with either of the combatants if Great Britain remained neutral. Both countries are big buyers of our wheat and wool, and the demand for those commodities would be even greater in time of war. That being so, the trade routes would be theirs rather than ours, and theirs would be the responsiblity of protecting them. If we disposed of our products f.o.b. at ports in Australia, the onus of safely conveying them overseas would devolve upon the purchasing nation. That is the reply to those people who say that in the case of war between, say, Japan and the United States of America, it would be necessary for us to provide convoys for our produce overseas. In the event of any dispute arising between a member of the British Commonwealth of nations and a foreign nation’ in the Pacific, it would be impossible for us, without placing an intolerable burden upon the people, to provide sufficient cruisers for the protection of our trade routes from enemy raids. In the same way as the people of Australia in Great Britain’s hour of trial willingly gave ner the assistance of their navy, so the people of Britain would not see Australia left at the mercy of an enemy. “We flatter ourselves that we are a free and independent nation; but a declaration of war upon one section of the British Commonwealth of nations means that every other section is ipso facto at war. For instance, if Canada were attacked, and proved that her cause was just, I have no doubt that Britain and the other dominions would go to ner assistance. Since there is invested in Australia upwards of £500,000,000 of British capital, there is no doubt that if we were menaced by an enemy, the resources of the British Navy would be placed at our disposal. That is putting the position from the commercial point of view only, but commerce plays a large part in the affairs of the world. The best that we can do is to study the welfare of our people. Any additional taxation imposed upon them must be justified, and the best results must be obtained from any expenditure on Australia’s defence. I am surprised and disappointed at the attitude taken up by honorable members opposite, more particularly those in the Corner. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) told a very doleful tale on Wednesday night last ; in fact,- he put forward some very illogical statements that only by the greatest stretch of the imagination could be attributed to a good Australian. He said that it is necessary to make Australia self-contained, to have our own industries, and to make this nation strong and self-reliant. The way he proposes to do that is to send to Britain, 13,000 miles away, for work that can be done equally well in this country. The honorable gentlemen in the Corner, with their freetrade tendencies, imagine that to build up great industries and to make Australia self-reliant they need only to sow a few seeds, and industries will spring up in a night like mushrooms. They appear to ignore the human element. If a person is loyal and patriotic enough to invest money to establish industries here, his point of view must be taken into consideration. We have laid down for the white race of Australia a certain standard of living, which is higher than that existing in any other part of the world. Honorable members opposite have referred to the fact that wages are higher in America; but they must remember that tine conditions of labour there are not so good as they are here. Conditions of labour affect the standard of living more than wages. During my experience, spread over many years in- the industrial world, I have always considered that it was far more important to obtain good conditions of labour than high wages. We must encourage the Australian capitalist, financier, or captain of industry to invest his money in Australian industries, and in return protect- his commodities from unfair competition with goods made in’ low-wage foreign countries. Honorable members opposite argue that the proposed cruiser should be purchased from Great Britain because it will be built more cheaply there than in Australia. If that is their only argument, I suggest that they come into the open and say, “ We must get this cruiser from the cheapest place; why not build it at Hong-Kong, where the labour conditions for shipbuilding are the cheapest in the world ?” I very much regret that a large shipping firm in New South Wales was so disloyal to the interests of this country, and so regardless of the welfare of its people, that it let two contracts to shipbuilding firms at Hong-Kong. I have received information regarding the conditions of labour there. The works are closed only two days in the year. The artificers and engineers work shifts of twelve hours a day, the best paid workers receive about 4s. and 5s. a day, as compared with the rates of wages for Australian engineers outlined the other day by the’ honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). If our policy is to obtain goods from the cheapest market, then we might just as well place contracts with firms at Hong-Kong. If that is the desire of the honorable members of the Country party, they should make it known to the people of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) said that the cruiser could be built in Great Britain for £1,900,000. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) said that the price had been considerably increased.
– I said that any alteration of the plans would mean an increase in price. We do not know whether any alterations will be necessary.
– The honorable member for Dalley has received information by cable from Great Britain that the price of the cruiser would be £2,250,000. We invite the Minister for Defence to contradict or verify that figure. We have not received very much information from the Government respecting the cost of the cruiser. We are told that it is to be a 10,000-ton vessel, but there are many different types of cruisers of that tonnage. We should know the length, beam and draught of the vessel, its horse-power, type of engines or turbines and boilers. We should know the thickness of the armour belt and deck-plating, and the number and size of guns.
– Even if we had that information, the majority of us would not know what it meant.
– We know what is included in the estimate of the Shipping Board. We have men in Australia on the job prepared to give us full details of the construction of a cruiser. We should know whether the value we shall get from Great Britain will be equivalent to that obtainable in our own shipbuilding yards. We should know the number of torpedo tubes, the speed and cruising radius of the vessel, whether oil fuel or coal will be used, the number of tons of fuel to be carried, and the complement. All these things will be essential if we are to compare the relative merits of the cruisers and the value that will be given for the money expended. We have come to associate honorable members opposite, particularly those of the Country party, with an anti-Australian attitude. They decry our workmen, because we have set a standard of living for them which is higher than that existing in other countries. It is regrettable that a section of the people should endorse those views. I do not know why the members of the Country party adopt that attitude, except that they themselves, as keen business men, always try to drive the hardest bargain. The Australian workman does not fix his own rate of wage. It is fixed for him by a court of this country to conform with a reasonable standard of living. Employers who have had experience in other countries, state that the Australian is one of, if not the best workman in the world. A friend of mine, Mr. Jeffreys, was in charge of the construction of the White Bay silos at Sydney, and the class of work in that building is unexcelled. This contractor has had considerable experience in the United States of America, and is considered one of the greatest silo builders in the world. In conversation with him I said, “ What do you think of the Australian workman?” He replied, “ He is the best workman that I have met.” That is proved by the fact that in the building of these silos a world’s record was established. The walls were built up 108 feet in ten days. I might add that Mr. Jeffreys told me that the Australian workman was all right, but that the bosses did not know their jobs. He gave me numerous instances in which he had let contracts to various firms, to enable him to complete his work within a certain period. When the time came for delivery, many of these firms had not even started on their contracts, and consequently the work had to be carried on without them. If any one is to blame in these matters, it is not the Australian workmen. I direct the attention of honorable members to what was done at the Cockatoo Island dockyards during the period of the war. I refer them to the report of a royal commission consisting of Senators Reid and Wilson, and the late Mr. T. J. Ryan, Mr. Marr, Mr. Marks, and Mr Mahony of this House, in which a list is given of works carried out at the dockyards at a time when the Government could not get this class of work done in England, because this country was in the throes of war. I think that the work done at the Cockatoo dockyards at this time should be put on record for the information of gentlemen who are always decrying Australia. I quote the following statement of work carried out at Cockatoo Naval Dockyard from 1913 to 1920 : -
Light cruiser - Brisbane.
Torpedo-boat destroyers -Huon, Torrens, and Swan.
The main machinery and boilers were manufactured and fitted in the Huon, Torrens, and
Swan, and also in the Brisbane; except that for the last-named vessel the turbines were manufactured in Great Britain.
I may say that to-day we can manufacture in Australia turbines equal to any manufactured in any other part of the world. The English Electric Company is to-day carrying out a contract for the manufacture of two turbines of 20,000 horse-power each. The only part of these machines that is not being made in Australia is the core. The reason for this is that cores for such machines are manufactured from single blooms of steel weighing 27 tons each, and it would not pay to import the machinery required to handle such heavy pieces of steel. It is cheaper to import these cores from manufacturing centres, where, because a great number of them are turned out, it pays to set up the necessary machinery for their construction. The report of the royal commission goes on to say -
A large number of electrical fittings were also manufactured for these vessels, together with many patterned articles.
In addition to the above, the H.M.A.S. Warrego was reconstructed at Cockatoo before the dockyard was taken over from the state by the Federal Government in 1913.
Warships under construction -
Light cruiser Adelaide.
Coal hulk Mombah.
The Adelaide is continually held up as an example by those who wish to decry Australian workmen, because a considerable time was occupied in its construction. The delay was due to the fact that it was impossible to obtain plates and other material from Great Britain for the completion of the vessel, because at the time the material was required for construction being carried on in that country. It should be stated that, with respectto the construction of the Adelaide dependent upon Australian workmen, from the laying of the keel to the launching of the vessel, it was carried out in nine months, which is practically record time for the work. It should be remembered that in the case of the great shipbuilding yards of the Old Country, such as Vickers limited, at Barrow-on-Furness, great numbers of workmen are available, and may be drawn from other shipbuilding yards for a rush job. The completion of the Adelaide was delayed because of matters over which those charged with the building of the vessel had no control. I quote again from the report of the royal commission -
Two bucket dredges.
One passenger ferry.
One naval collier.
Two Isherwood ships for the Commonwealth Government Line, and motor launches, steam lighters, steam tug, steam launches, and many others.
From the outbreak of the war the fitting and refitting of transports was of an extensive nature. In addition to the fitting up of accommodation for troops, horses, &c., the overhauling of machinery was carried out, and additional pumps, disinfectors, and sterilizers were made and fitted. The electrical installations were also overhauled, refitted, and extended, and many Lloyds surveys were carried out.
Transports refitted were 112 in number, and the number of occasions in which individual ships were refitted varied from one to nine. The immensity of the work may be judged by the fact that the transports were arranged to carry in the total: - 4,459 officers, 5,900 noncommissioned officers, 112,500 men, 1,800 munition workers and navvies, and 17,100 horses.
From 1913 to 1920 vessels have been docked on 538 occasions consisting of -
Battle cruisers 3 dockings.
Cruisers, gunboats, and armed merchantmen, 91 dockings.
T.B. destroyers,67 dockings.
Submarines, 13 dockings.
Mine sweepers, 7 dockings.
Vessels of other types, 357 dockings.
During docking, in addition to coating of bottom, underwater fittings were examined, and necessary repairs and renewals effected, and on some occasions spare propellers and shafts were fitted.
Five hundred and twelve in number small craft were overhauled, repaired and fitted. Small craft and launches were slipped on 302 occasions.
This shows the magnitude of the work which it is possible to carry out in the Cockatoo Dockyards. The report from which I have quoted was presented by a commission representative of all parties in this House and in another place. The commission reported that the evidence placed before it was that the fittings and machinery at Cockatoo Dockyards are the most up-to-date in the world. The gentleman in charge of the dockyard to-day, Mr. Farquhar, helped to build the first submarine constructed in Great Britain. Men from the top to the bottom of the staff of the dockyard have been engaged in all the big yards in Great Britain.We have received information from a gentleman who was employed by Vickers Limited at Barrow-on-Furness, in reply to statements made by the Minister for Defence. This gentleman writes in the following terms: -
In answer to publication in Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Guardian newspapers issue of Srd April, 1924, in which Mr. Bowden, Minister for Defence, is stated to have referred, in Melbourne, to impossibility of constructing submarines in Australia, Mr. Bowden is misinformed or making wild assertions when he announced that Australia has not the workmen with the’ highly-technical ability and training -to build such intricate naval vessels as submarines. Cockatoo Island is equipped with all the necessary, machinery that can cope with any typo of submarine that has been built in Great Britain. The design of submarines we admit must be obtained through the Admiralty, and certain important constituents of the installation, as in Great Britain’, have to be purchased from the manufacturers, such as periscopes, gyroscopes, torpedoes, range finders, telemotor mechanism, &c., but other than the above-mentioned pieces of machinery all can bc manufactured in Australia.
I might say in regard to machinery made under patent rights, dockyards in Great Britain would have to purchase the patent rights just as we should have to do. The letter continues -
The propelling machinery is no more intricate in construction and design, if necessary, than the Australian-built machinery installed in H.M.A.S. Adelaide, which is doing excellent work. There is only one yard in Great Britain, not excluding Naval dockyards, that built the hulls and propelling machinery of submarines entirely, that is Vickers Limited, Barrow-on-Furness. The old established Naval dockyards built the hulls, and private firms built the propelling machinery and installed ‘ same. But these Naval yards are not so well equipped for the construction of machinery of diesel or turbine principle for submarines as Cockatoo Island Dockyard is. Mr. Bowden evidently forgets, or is not aware, that Cockatoo Island thoroughly refitted J.I, one of the gift submarines, from the bare hull into an efficient submarine, some three and a half years ago, and, during the period since that refit the vessel has been doing service, and is still in running condition without overhaul. Such refit was carried out with workmen previously inexperienced in submarines and diesel engines, except in case of supervision. Any design produced by the Admiralty can certainly be handled by Cockatoo up to the capacity of the building slips, and any propelling machinery manufactured, once the design is tabled. If Mr. Bowden wishes to be enlightened on the question of submarine construction, he can be, instead of asserting libel against the submarine students that were sent to Great Britain at the taxpayers’ expense, and assimilated all the valuable information necessary pertaining to the construction of any class of submarine. We have the technically and skilfully trained and experienced men to supervise the construction of submarines, and it only remains now for the Australian workmen to be given the opportunity to construct the submersible fighting units to assuredly refute the wild assertion that Mr. Bowden makes.
With reference to the students who were sent to Great Britain, I may point out that, owing to the attitude of our unAustralian Government in sending work out of this country, a number of those students ‘have been snapped up by shipbuilding yards in America, and we have lost their services, probably for ever. The United States of America will have the advantage of the skill acquired by these men through the expenditure of Australian money, owing to the fact that the Government is not prepared to give Australians a chance in their own country. I hope that the people of Australia, and particularly its primary producers, will remember that the Government is sending work out of this country which should be done here.
– There is not a member of the Country party present.
– They are all too busy putting ice-packs on the pact to worry about having work done in Australia so as to provide markets in this country for Australian producers. I would prefer to see the money which the Government proposes to spend on these cruisers spent in the construction of “Bay” liners. By the time the cruisers are placed in commission they are likely to have become obsolete. After the war which was to end war, it is not very likely that we shall be again at war for, perhaps, the next ten years, and probably the cruisers will before then meet the fate of the Australia. They will be towed out to sea and sunk, and the money expended upon them will be wasted; or they will probably have become obsolete before they have fired a shot. I remind honorable members that we give a protection of 40 per cent, to manufacturers of motor bodies in Australia to enable them to compete with the makers in foreign countries. Accepting the figures as to cost of construction submitted by the’ Minister, if we gave the same rate of protection to the Cockatoo Dockyard, we might secure cruisers of better construction in Australia at less than the amount for which we could obtain them from overseas.
We have never had a failure with vessels built in Australia for the Commonwealth Government, whereas we have scarcely had a success with vessels built for us overseas. The Fordsdale, which was built in Australia, has just made a record passage to Great Britain and back again, and is ready to make another trip without being overhauled. When vessels bought overseas by the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), came here, they all required overhauling. I am anxious to let the workers know what they will lose by not having the money to be spent in the construction of cruisers circulated in Australia. The estimate of the Shipping Board as to the probable cost of building one cruiser in Australia is £2,898,000. Of this amount the cost of imported material would represent £985,320, and the cost of material secured locally, £318,000, leaving a balance of £1,594,680 to be spent on labour. But to this balance the £318,000 to be spent on local material should be added, so that if one cruiser were built locally, at least £1,912,680 would bo circulated in Australia. We say that the amount would be £2,250,000, and when the final cost of a cruiser as delivered from Great Britainis ascertained, we shall remind the House of our estimate. But the Government declare that this money is not to be circulated among the workmen of Australia. One cannot fail to support the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Dalley, in view of the fact that one of the first acts of the new Labour Government of Victoria has been to provide beds for 111 homeless unemployed men in the magnificent and glorious city of Melbourne, where, according to the Commonwealth Government, there is so much prosperity that it is unnecessary to provide work. Among the men for whom these beds were provided were returned soldiers. Now thai the pomp of war has gone, now that the drums have ceased to beat, and the flags are no longer waved, it remains for a despised Labour Government to provide beds forhomeless wandering soldiers who fought for their country. In spite of this state of affairs the Government propose to tax the people and send money away to. afford work to men 12,000 miles away. I believe that a great deal of the armour plating used in these cruisers will be made in Germany. Ministers cry, “ The Empire for ever,” and declare that they will not trade with the enemy. They may not be actually trading with the enemy, but they may possibly be trading with men who are trading with the enemy. It is just as well to remind Ministers of a few facts. They are always referring to the grand and glorious conditions—–
– Of the Empire.
– No, of Australia. I claim to be as loyal as any other man to the British commonwealth of nations, and to my fellow Britishers overseas, but I believe in charity beginning at home. When we are taxing the people of Australia to raise the money for the building of cruisers, the least we can do is to put it into circulation in Australia, so that Australian workmen may be provided with the necessaries of life. The honorable member for Dalley, who has obtained his information from the best possible sources, assures us that a cruiser cannot be obtained from Great Britain under three and a half years, because the slipways of Great Britain are already occupied by the vessels which are being built to carry out the British Government’s programme of replacing the obsolete cruisers of the British navy.
– This cruiser is now on the slips.
– Is that so? Have the Government decided to buy a cruiser already built?
– The honorable member has let the cat out of the bag.
– I do not know where the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) has obtained his information, but he has spoken as if he had it from an authoritative source. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) should at least tell honorable members whether the statement of the honorable member for Oxley was misleading or not. I do not think that that honorable member would wilfully mislead anybody. My opinion is that certain information has been given to a party meeting that has been denied to honorable members generally. It would certainly be very reprehensible for the head of the Government to decline to give information on the floor of the House and leave it to be inferred from remarks like that of the honorable member for Oxley that it has been supplied at secret party meetings. The honorable member for Dalley has assured us that a 10, 000-ton cruiser can be built in Australia in two and a half years at a cost of £2,750,000, and that two cruisers can be built in four years at a cost of £5,000,000, or a reduction of £250,000 each. The reduction would be brought about by the fact that the overhead charges would be less if two vessels were built, and that with move extensive buying, material could be obtained at cheaper rates. The honorable member also told us that we could build two submarines at the same time. Notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary by the Prime Minister, submarines will eventually form one of our main lines of defence. As the cost of building a submarine is about £300,000, we could have ten submarines for the money that would be spent in building one cruiser. We have excellent harbours around the coast to afford shelter to submarines. It is understood that methods of destroying submarines have been found, but there is no reason why these vessels could not do very effective work cruising within short distances’ of their bases. According to Brassey’s Naval Annual, the latest submarine to be developed by the British Admiralty is of the X class. The details of its construction have not yet been made public, but it is understood that these vessels will have a cruising range of between 8,000 and 12,000 miles, and an underwater speed of 16£ knots an hour. They are designed to operate as warships. I hope that the Government will see that the latest information with regard to this type of submarine is obtained, so that the House may be able to keep abreast of the times. If shipbuilding is continued in Australia, the necessary appliances should be obtained, so that our shipbuilding yards may be able to deal effectively with the repair problem should war ever occur. One essential is a floating dock. On this point, the royal commission which, in 1921, inquired into the shipbuilding operations at Cockatoo Island dock, submitted the following recommendation : -
Evidence is before ns that Cockatoo Dockyard compares most favorably with the best equipped dockyards in the British Empire as regards machinery and appliances. Notwithstanding this fact, we are of opinion that the dockyard is handicapped by the want of a dock’ capable of taking the largest capital ship at present in the Royal Navy, or such a ship as is likely to be built and may visit these shores.
It is to be remembered that, apart from repairs to hull, the question of cleaning ships of war every six months has a vital bearing in this regard. The nature of the Island does not permit of enlarging the present graving dock, or the construction of a new one. This is a matter of most urgent and vital importance, and the only solution appears to be a large floating dock of some 55,000 tons at one of the places suggested in the proximity of Cockatoo Dockyard. -Evidence was tendered to the Commission by naval experts who were of opinion that with a modern floating dock of this description, having a life of approximately twenty-five years, in conjunction with the present equipment at Cockatoo Island, the Commonwealth would be in- possession of one of the most capably equipped .naval and mercantile dockyards in the British Empire.
It would appear from this that the only thing necessary is the construction of a floating dock, which could be built at Walsh Island while the cruisers were being built at Cockatoo Island. Tn view of the fact that the Government intend to em- bark upon a naval defence programme, I suggest that they should have given consideration to the report of this royal commission. The investigations of the commission occupied a considerable time, and I believe that the late Hon. J. T. Ryan laid the foundation of the illness from which he subsequently died while he was a member of that commission. The sacrifice was largely in vain, because, only now are the recommendations made in 1921 being talked about. Such treatment gives very little encouragement to men to render public service. If a private individual had done this work, his fees would probably have been 40 or 50 guineas a day; but Mr. Ryan’s professional services were given free for the benefit of the people of Australia. This Government is so unpatriotic that when a cruiser is required, it sends 12,000 miles for it. That is an insult to the workmen of Australia, which I hope they will remember when next they have the opportunity to decide who shall govern them. The primary producers of Australia should realize that Australia is the best market for their products. If we had 100,000,000 people here- and we cannot get them here if we send our work overseas - there would be no necessity for protecting our trade routes. To-day, there is a large surplus, and I hope that the result will be to relieve taxpayers from the present burden of taxation. In framing its scheme of defence, the
Government should have regard not only to naval matters, but also to the fact that roads are as essential as railways or naval equipment. If there are no arterial roads along .which to travel, an army is restricted to a limited area. I trust that the Ministry will, at the earliest opportunity, give consideration to the construction of proper strategic roads throughout Australia. Money spent in that direction would provide something which would be of benefit to the people of Australia for many years, and would not need to be scrapped after a time, as I anticipate these cruisers will, if they are obtained. In view of the peace gestures which have been made, and the forthcoming meeting of the League of Nations, it is unfortunate that we should contemplate embarking on this naval programme at the present time. The Government should, at least, hold its hand until after the meeting of the League of Nations. By so doing the hands of our delegates would be strengthened immeasurably. Our representation there is of a non-party character. Let honorable members contemplate what it would mean if our delegates could stand among the representatives of the other nations of the world and say, “ We in Australia have called a halt in respect to weapons of war. We are doing nothing, and are not contemplating spending even £1 in the construction of naval cruisers for the purpose of destruction.” It is only by giving a lead to the other nations that we can hope to get them to see from our point of view. Our position is different from that of Great Britain, which has always been one of the great leaders of the world in naval construction. For that reason., and because of her geographical position, there is more .’justification for her maintaining a certain naval strength. Australia has never been required to engage in a war because of any act of aggression against her territory. The wars in which this country has been engaged have been entered into by us of our own free will. Our people have been engaged in three wars only - that in the Soudan, the Boer war, and the recent great war. The shores of Australia have never been menaced as have those of the older countries of the world, because Australia is an island continent. There mustbe a deliberate act of aggression before she can be invaded. We have engaged in no naval construction for many years, yet, just when our delegates are leaving to attend the Assembly of the League of Nations, the Government proposes to lay down a naval construction programme. Let honorable members picture the position if our delegates .could say to those of the other nations, “Australia has acted strictly in accordance with the spirit of” the Washington Conference. We have destroyed the only effective naval unit we possessed, even to the extent of sinking guns which had never been on board that vessel, and had never fired a shot.”
– They did not know how to take them off.
– The guns were never on the ship. I do not know what influence Australia has among the other nations of the world, but I do not anticipate that there will be a brass band waiting at Geneva to meet our delegates when they arrive. Probably the great majority of the delegates who will attend the meetings of the League have not heard of Australia at all, so far as her being a force, either for peace or war, is concerned. I say that without intending to reflect on the distinguished gentlemen who represented Australia at previous meetings of the League. . I have no doubt that the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse), who was one of Australia’s representatives at the last meeting of the League at Geneva, did all that he could in the interests of peace. The figures quoted by the honorable. member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) were not refuted by the Minister. I remind honorable members that a duty of 40 per cent, is imposed on imported motor car bodies. That is done to enable local manufacturers to compete with the imported article. Information received by cable from Great Britain by the honorable member for Dalley is that the cost of constructing a cruiser there will be about £2,250,000. If to that sum we add the same duty as is imposed on imported motor car bodies there will be a big margin in favour of building the cruiser in Australia.
– Add to that also the cost of bringing the vessel to Australia.
– We may set’ that- cost against the cost of importing the plates in other ships. The difference in cost is not due to the price of materials, or to the cost of construction, but is solely due to the policy of Australia under which we maintain here a higher standard of living than in any other country of the world. Those who advocate the purchase of these cruisers from Great Britain are deliberately flying in the face of the established policy of our people.
– If the vessels are on the stocks, it is evident that the Prime Minister committed us to them when he was away.
– The Government is adopting a very cavalier attitude towards Parliament. The interjection made by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) shows that, instead of Parliament being a deliberative body, it is being flouted by the Ministry.
– That is an inference which the honorable member has drawn from my remarks.
– I have drawn no inference. The honorable member said that the vessel was already on the slips. We are supposed to be discussing a measure to authorize the construction of a cruiser. Should Parliament reject the proposal, where would we stand? We should probably become engaged in a law suit, because of the breaking of a contract signed without the knowledge of Parliament. For the Ministry to act in this manner is to treat the representatives of the people of Australia in an unfair manner.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- From the discussion which has taken place it is difficult to form a conclusion as tothe purpose of this bill, but on referring to the bill itself, I notice that it is to authorize the expenditure of £2,250,000 for certain purposes, among which are the building of a cruiser and the survey of the Great Barrier Reef. I desire to deal first with the survey of the reef, which is of paramount importance. There is no more dangerous part of the Australian coast than that within the Great Barrier Reef, running from Facing Island to, and beyond, Thursday Island. Within the last few days the cruiser Brisbane ran aground off Papua, arid” from the meagre information available we gather that the accident occurred on one of the many uncharted reefs which abound in that sea. Those of us who have travelled down the Queensland coast must have marvelled at the skill and the intimate knowledge possessed by the pilots who bring overseas boats from Thursday Island to Brisbane, as well as that of the captains of our coastal vessels, in navigating uncharted waters by night along the worst-lighted portion of our coast. In surveying the reef, I hope that the Government will not continue the practice which has prevailed in the past of relying solely upon survey ships. We have in the survey ship Fantome a vessel which is well equipped, but work of this nature is very tedious. The fact that it is estimated to cost £200,000 to carry out the survey of this reef and the waters between the reef and the Queensland coast shows the nature of the work to be performed. I ask the Government to consider the utilization of aircraft and seaplanes for that purpose. It is well known that far more can be done by the aid of seaplanes and aircraft in the location of shoals and reefs than could possibly be done by a survey ship. A survey carried out by observers in an aeroplane or seaplane must necessarily be cursory; but, aided by such observations, the commander of the survey ship would be able to conduct a detailed examination with greater expedition than if he had to rely wholly upon continuous soundings. The thorough charting and adequate lighting of our coast is essential for defence purposes. Every day the lives of travellers are jeopardized through the neglect of this work. I hope the Government will press ahead with these surveys. The sum of £200,000 may be inadequate for the purpose, but I feel sure that the Government will achieve more with that money if seaplanes or other aircraft are used for survey purposes. In regard to the £500,000 which we are asked to vote to the Defence Reserve Trust Account, I would not be surprised to learn that the bulk of that money has been already spent. I regret that the House is called upon at this stage to vote an amount of £2,000,000 for naval armaments, independent of other defence measures. Naval defence cannot be separated from a general defence scheme more justly than can land defence or air defence. Therefore,
Parliament should be asked to consider the defence policy of the nation as a whole; and the Minister for. Defence would have been better advised had he submitted a comprehensive scheme for all services, and sought the opinion of the House upon it. In the past, defence has been dealt with in a somewhat cursory manner. Last year, a total amount of about £5,700,000 was placed on the Estimates for defence. I should have preferred the Treasurer to tell the Minister for Defence how . much money he could spare for defence purposes each year. It is of little avail to place an amount for defence on the Estimates for one yen only; and I invite the attention of the House to one sentence in the report of the Public Accounts Committee upon munitions -
A policy, once decided upon, should proceed systematically from year to year, and should not be departed from unless the international situation creates entirely new conditions.
That recommendation should be applied to the defence problem as a whole. The Government has seen fit’ to adopt that policy in regard to the plant required for the supply of munitions. A six years’ programme has been outlined, and an amount of £500,000 will be placed on the Estimates each year for the purpose of carrying it out. If a comprehensive and continuous policy can be evolved for one branch of defence, why cannot it be done for defence generally? If the Treasurer would tell the Minister for Defence that he is prepared to allocate, say, £7,000,000 per annum for defence purposes, the Minister would then be able to invite the recommendations of the Council of Defence as to how the money should be spent. The Naval Board would draw up a scheme in which the naval requirements and their estimated cost would be stated. The Military Board and the Air Board would act similarly in their respective spheres. When the three reports were available, it might be found that they involved more money than the Treasurer had agreed to provide. In that event, it would be necessary for them to consult, weigh the pros and cons of each proposal, and evolve a co-ordinated scheme of defence within the country’s financial capacity. The submission of defence proposals piecemeal is unsatisfactory. I hope that when next the Government asks the House to vote money for defence purposes, it will bring forward a comprehensive scheme relating to defence on land and sea, and in the air.
– That will be done when the Estimates are submitted to the House.
– I am glad to have that assurance, but I regret that the House is not able to consider the proposal in this bill in conjunction with the general Estimates. However, I shall support the second reading.
– We knew .the honorable member would do that.
– The interjection reminds me that when the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) was speaking, he quoted a statement by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) that it would take at least three and a half years to construct a cruiser in the ship-yards of Great Britain. I interjected that there were cruisers on the slips at the present time. The honorable member for Gwydir and the honorable member for Dalley, not being angels, rushed in with an inference from my remark that the Government had already placed an order with some shipbuilding firm in Great Britain. I am not responsible foi what those honorable members inferred from a plain and straightforward remark that there are cruisers on the slips in British shipbuilding yards, which will be completed well within the three and a half years mentioned by the honorable member for Dalley.
Sitting suspended from 12.55 to 2.15 p.m.
– The measure before the House is a proposal to build a cruiser in Great Britain, and to that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) has very rightly moved an amendment affirming that if a cruiser is to be built,’ it should be built in Australia. The Government’s opposition to this amendment is just as anti-Australian as was its opposition to the previous amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). On both occasions the Government failed to interpret in the amendments what I regard as the true Australian spirit. It seems to be actuated purely and simply by motives of imperialism, and is not concerned about the defence of Australia. As the honorable member for Oxley (Mr.
Bayley) pointed out, the Government has not yet brought down to this House any general scheme for the defence of Australia. Even its present proposal is to build a cruiser to be a unit of the Imperial navy. This proves that the Government has learnt nothing from the war and subsequent happenings. The same imperialistic spirit that animated the Government during the war and caused it to divide this country on the great conscription issue, is manifesting itself in the opposition to these amendments. That spirit animated a minister of the Crown at the time of the conscription issue when he said, “ Even if Australia is ruined by conscription, we must have it.” The then honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Joseph Cook) said that Australia should burn her boats. Sir William Irvine, another minister, said, “What does it matter if the wheat is not garnered and the wool not shorn ; let the wheat rot in the fields and the wool rot on the backs of the sheep, but send men away.” We hear to-day from the other side insinuations against and criticism of a neighbouring power, Japan. In the days of the conscription issue to criticize Japan was to get six months in gaol. One could criticize and condemn Australia, as she was then condemned upon public platforms, as a funk-hole and a land of shirkers; yet to criticize Japan was to be imprisoned. That nation is spoken of by honorable members opposite as the potential enemy of Australia, and it is that kind of thing that stirs up war and unnecessarily drives our youth to the battlefields. The Government’s opposition to the previous amendment was as much contrary to the spirit of Australia as is their opposition to the amendment now before us. The issue then was whether the building of the cruisers should be post’poned until we knew the outcome of a conference similar to that held at Washington, and also the result of the discussions at a meeting of the League of Nations. Ours, surely, was a very sensible proposition, yet it was turned down. We are faced with the possibility that, after delivery, these cruisers will be sunk as was the Australia. We are a remarkable people. Only a few weeks ago tho Australia was sunk while bands were playing and flags waving. The reason for this, as stated in this House and abroad, was to carry out our part of the agreement entered into at the Washington Conference. We all rejoiced in it as a step towards peace and general disarmament. Yet during the discussion on the proposal to build a cruiser the Government refuses to listen when we ask that the matter be held over, awaiting the decision of further conferences, in. the hope that it will not only save this country money, but help in spreading the general peace propaganda which is flooding the world to-day, in spite of the cynic and the military class. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Dalley asks that if money is to be spent on the building of a cruiser it shall be spent in Australia. If we are to waste money on the building of a cruiser, let us waste it in our own country and not in others. I wish to refer to some remarks made the other night by the Minister for Defence. He said that it was sound policy not to build one of these cruisers in Australia, but he gave not one sound argument in favour of such a policy. The amazing feature of the Minister’s speech was that although the Government contemplated the expenditure of £2,000,000 on the construction of a cruiser in Great Britain, it did not actually know what it would get for its money. The Government do not know what type of cruiser will be built. It has no plans or specifications, and no tenders have been called for the construction of the vessel. Yet we are told that it will cost £1,000,000 more to build the cruiser in Australia. How does the Government know that? These great Australians who were thus proclaimed a year or two ago when they formed what was termed an all-Australian Government, are the most an ti- Australian persons hi the world. They come down to this House and say that the cruiser cannot be built in Australia because of the enormous extra cost; yet, on the admission of the Minister for Defence, they have not asked one shipbuilding yard in Australia to tender for this work, and have not presented the local shipbuilders with plans and specifications on which to base their price. One surely would imagine that before any government sent money out of this country, it would prepare plans and specifications for submission to shipbuilders in Australia and abroad, to enable us to obtain prices for purposes of comparison. The Government is doing none of these things. It is giving no opportunity at all to Australian shipbuilding yards to submit tenders for the cruiser. How lightly it treats the millions of money entrusted to its care! An offer has been received from the British Admiralty to build the cruiser, and without further argument the vessel is to be constructed.
– Not out of Treasurer’s Advance this time !
– Not on this occasion. The Minister for Defence stated that the Government has received a firm offer to build the cruiser at £.1.900,000, but he admitted, when cross-examined subsequently, that the price might be altered if the plans were changed. Any one who knows anything about contracting knows that changes can be made to bring about alleged improvements, and these alterations cannot be made without extra cost. If the price of the cruiser is very much higher than what the Minister stated, the excuse will be made that the plans- had been changed in order to effect improvements. The same offer, with extensions and privileges, should be made to the shipbuilding yards of Australia. I refuse to accept the mere statement of the Minister that the Government has a firm offer of £1,900,000 for a cruiser, which if built in Australia would cost £2,800,000.
– Wc do not even know the name of the builder.
– We do not know where the cruiser is to be built. The Government should have definite tenders from the different builders in the various parts of the world. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) in endeavouring to controvert the statement made by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) that it would take three and a half years to build a cruiser in Britain, said that the boat was already on the slips. When he was asked to explain his statement, he said that a wrong inference had been drawn from his remarks, and that what he said was that there were on the slips in Britain at the present time, boats of that description : but that honorable members opposite had rushed in and drawn their own inference. I listened to his explanation, and I think that it requires a further explanation. If he did not mean that this boat was on the slips, what did he mean? What was the point of his interjection, or even his explanation that boats of that description were already on the slips? There is to be drawn only one inference, namely, that the cruiser could be obtained in a quicker time, because it was on the slips. The Government has already made up its mind, the contract for the vessel is let, and it now comes’ down to the House for authority for the expenditure. It might just as well take the money out of the Treasurer’s Advance. We can come to no other conclusion than that the contract has been let and the boat is on the slips.
– The Government, too, is on the slip.
– I believe that that is correct. The further statement was made by the Minister that the Australian cost would be £2,800,000, and .that it would not be sound policy to build a cruiser in this country. He then gave some reasons, which I certainly do not regard as sound. He said that out of that sum of money £980,000 would be spent in the purchase of imported material. I take it that the principal difficulty is to obtain armour plates. Even taking the figure of £9S0,000, it still leaves £300,000 for local material, and £1,500,000 for Australian labour. Surely that expenditure would be of some advantage to us. I do not pretend to be an expert in shipbuilding, but the argument that cheapness is the principal reason why the cruiser should not be built in Australia, is also an argument against the protection of every article that is manufactured in this country. If we preach the gospel of cheapness, then we must carry it out to a logical conclusion, by wiping out our industries and making this a purely freetrade country. The Australian people will not stand for that policy. One further argument advanced why this cruiser should be purchased from abroad was that it would be built there in a shorter time. Are these vessels required so urgently that the work cannot be done in Australia? The Prime Minister, in introducing the bill, stated that the money now proposed to be appropriated was provided for out of last year’s revenue but its expenditure was postponed pending the sitting of the Imperial Conference. I submit that there is greater reason for postponing the building of warships pending the decision of another peace conference than there was for postponing it pending the decision of .the Imperial Conference. The very fact that the Government provided the money last year, and was quite prepared to postpone its expenditure until a year later, proves that the construction of these vessels is not urgent, and, therefore, the argument as to the extra time it would take to build them in Australia goes by the board. There are some things, however, which are very urgent, and amongst them is the expenditure of money in Australia at the present time for the building of roads and railways, and the building of ships in our own country to provide work for our own people. This expenditure is not only urgent, but it would be in keeping with the true defensive policy of this country. The Government is not only importing work, but it is importing workers as well, and is leaving them stranded in this country. I have been in touch with the unions representing workers engaged in shipbuilding. They tell me that /’in Melbourne and Sydney 50 per cent, of the shipwrights are unemployed, and that 20 per cent, of the boilermakers in both these cities are also unemployed. When we were carrying on shipbuilding in Melbourne, a large number of men were brought here from the Old Country, but there is not one in the yards at the present time. During last year, 100 tradesmen engaged in the shipbuilding industry were brought to this country expecting to find work in the industry, and many of them have returned to Great Britain disgusted with the conditions in Australia. Whilst the Government advocates immigration and the introduction of workers from abroad, it sends work which they might do to other countries. I can conceive of no more stupid and insane policy. I am told by those whose fingers are on the pulse of the industrial position that, so far as shipwrights, boilermakers, and workers in iron generally are concerned, the position was never worse than it is at the present moment. Yet this is the time which the Government selects to send shipbuilding work out of Australia. The Government cannot deny that this work pan be done here. It has been proved that the workmanship put into boats constructed in Australia is equal to the best in the world. It is not merely my opinion, but the opinion of experts, that the work done in our dockyards will compare favorably with work done in similar yards in any other part of the world. I suggest that the money proposed to be expended on these cruisers would be much better spent on liners and merchant boats than upon vessels of destruction; “but, if the money must be spent on such vessels, it should be spent in this country. We listened last night to a very patriotic speech oy the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), when he was giving a caning to some honorable members in the corner. He stood for work being done here, and not by workers in other parts of the world. But the honorable gentleman had no answer when I asked him whether he would apply that policy to the building of cruisers. The Government dares not fly in the face of the accepted policy of Australia, which is protection. It makes speeches outside in favour of the protectionist ideal, but when it comes to giving effect to that ideal by its administrative action, it is a freetrade government. The week before last I asked a series of questions in this House, and for a return of imports by the Navy Department. This is the department that advises the Minister that it will cost an enormous sum of money to build a cruiser in Australia. We know the mind of the officers in charge of this department. It is not Australian at all, but imperial. The return for which I asked showed that various articles to the value of hundreds of thousands of pounds are imported for the Navy Department. I mention one item to indicate the mind of the gentlemen who control the Navy Board, and advise the Government that these vessels could not be economically built in this country. I find that upon uniforms and clothing the Navy Department spent £57,000 in eighteen months. Looking into the details of this expenditure, I found that 27,000 pairs of socks were imported to Australia. In the last twelve months 36 knitting factories have gone out of existence in Australia. There is hardly one such factory in this country that is to-day working full time. Thousands of workers have been thrown out of employment. There is a number of these factories on the border of collapse, . and yet these representatives of imperialism at the head of the Navy Department are importing socks from another country.
– Are they “ hot socks?”
– It must be said that the action of the Navy Department is pretty hot.
– What has the Minister to say to this?
– Not a word. From what I have stated, one can understand that such officers when asked to give advice to the Government on the question of what it would cost to build a cruiser in Australia, would not give a reply favorable tothe carrying out of the work in this country.
– The honorable member might repeat what he has just said, for the benefit of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– The Minister is well aware of the position of the knitting industry in Australia, but, so faras I know, he has taken no action to protect it. Although he made a very fine protection speech here last night, he has shown no anxiety to protect the hosiery industry, although he must be aware that 36 knitting factories have been closed up in this country.
– The Minister is sound in theory, but weak in practice.
– The difficulty is that at the present time the honorable gentleman has a composite mind, which is a very different class of mind from that which he had when he sat in the corner. I recall the fact that some time ago the Government was looking for locomotives for the Oodnadatta line. The lowest Australian tender was much higher than those of British or foreign manufacturers of locomotives, and the Minister in charge of the Works and Railways Department was prepared to accept a tender from abroad. Had it not been for the agitation which then took place in this country, the work of constructing those locomotives would have been carried out abroad. The Government saved its face at the last moment on that question, but not without greatly irritating its supporters of the Country party, who stand for cheapness in everything but the articles they have to sell, and for these they want the highest price they can get. The condition that the cruiser shall be built abroad is a part of the composite pact entered into by honorable members opposite. Because the Government decided to have the locomotives we required built in Australia, the cruiser is to be built abroad. Honorable members opposite raise the question of cost against the building of a cruiserin Australia, but when the war was on they did not raise the question of cost against the sending of Australian soldiers abroad. They could very much more cheaply have sent other fighters abroad, but they wanted Australian fighters to be the spear-head of the army and to bear the brunt of battle in the hottest fights. Apparently those men now that they have returned to Australia are not good enough to carry out in their own country the work which is necessary to give effect to our defence policy. The action of the Government in this matter recalls to my mind a description of certain people by an eminent statesman of his time, the late Mr. Alfred Deakin. He said that the treasury bench was raided by the forces of freetrade, and he described these as “ the wreckage of the cheap-labour party, the wreckage of the Free Trade party, and the wreckage of the anti-Australian party.” That description by Mr. Deakin might be fittingly applied to the present Government. What do some honorable members opposite care if workers in this country are left to starve? The honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) had occasion recently to refer in this House to the miserable percentage of the men called up who could be declared fit for active service. We know that, in most cases, their unfitness was due to the social conditions under which they had had to live. Nothing renders men more unfit than unemployment. Lack of employment makes men unfit physically and mentally. Yet to-day, in the shipbuilding industry, men are left out of employment, although the Government proposes to spend money on the construction of cruisers. Our workmen in the shipbuilding industry will be given no opportunity to do this work, though they will have to assist in paying for it if it is done abroad. The present is not an Australian Government. It is a Government without vision. I believe that the attitude adopted by the Opposition earlier in this debate was wise. We proposed to make a gesture of peace.
We proposed to say to people in other parts of the world, “ We are prepared to stay our hand; to wait and see what you are prepared to do for disarmament and peace.” The amendment now submitted from this side is that if money is to be spent in the building of cruisers - and, I add, if it i3 to be wasted - then it should be “ spent - or wasted - in this country. At this very moment we are sending delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations. For the first time, all Australian opinion is to be represented at a meeting of the League. I regret to think that before our delegates have left Australian waters, we have the Government proposing to build cruisers which can be used for aggression as well as for the defence- of. the country. This is entirely contrary to the whole spirit of the League of Nations and the peace ideals for which this country should stand. Surely the sufferings of the last war have sufficiently impressed upon the people the horrors of warfare. The people of this country bore the horrors and sufferings of the war with patience and fortitude, upheld by the belief that they or their sons were engaged in a war to end wars for ever. I ask, is that suffering to be in vain ? Are the heroic efforts of the men who left Australia, buoyed up with the thought that they were engaged in a war to end war, to be in vain ? Is the spirit of anti-militarism and world’s peace to be buried in the graves of the 60,000 Australians and of millions of other nationals who died in that awful war? Even at this stage the Government should stay its hand, and await the decisions of world conferences? This far-flung outpost of civilization might very well hold up a beacon-light of peace to the world. If these instruments of destruction are to be built and the money expended upon them wasted, then I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that they should be built in this country, as, by the adoption of that course, at least work would be provided for our own people.
– I think the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) is treating the House very unfairly in connexion with this most important matter. He has not indicated what would be the difference between the cost of building the cruisers in Australia and their cost if built overseas. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) has made a mo3t serious state ment in this connexion. That statement was made upon information supplied in reply to a cablegram which he had sent to the Old Country. The Minister’s suggestion - and it can be called only a suggestion - that each of the cruisers, if built abroad would cost only £1,900,000 is said by the honorable member for Dalley to be absolutely misleading. The honorable member says, on .reliable authority, that each of these ships, if constructed in Great Britain, would cost £2,500,000 at the present time. I am aware that the Minister for Defence has said, in reply, that his information was based upon inquiries which the Prime Minister had made when he was in Great Britain, seven or eight months ago. But there may have been a considerable alteration in costs in the interval. There is something sinister in the Minister’s statement that the Prime Minister made inquiries in Great Britain seven or eight months ago, and nothing he says will allay our suspicion that the right honorable gentleman actually arranged then for the construction abroad of these cruisers. Our suspicion in that regard was confirmed this morning by an interjection made by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley), who, evidently with some inside knowledge, declared that one of the proposed cruisers is already on the slips in Great Britain. When the Minister was asked the perfectly fair question - What steps had been taken to ascertain the present-day cost of building cruisers in Great Britain, he replied that he had cabled for the necessary information, but so far had not received any advice in answer to his inquiry. Surely on a matter of so much importance to the people of Australia the Government could have waited until that advice had been received. We. know from the honorable member for Dalley, who sent a cablegram to Great Britain, that to build one of these cruisers will take at least three and a quarter years, and will, cost £2,500,000. It will be necessary to add another £150,000 to cover the cost of sending to Britain a crew to bring the cruiser out to Australia. Thus, by the time the vessel reaches Australian waters its cost will not be far short of Mr. Farquhar’s estimate that these cruisers could be built in Australia for £2,800,000 each, and that one of them could be delivered in two and a half years.
– What was the authority of the honorable member for Dalley for the statement he made in regard to the probable cost of building a cruiser in Great Britain?
– My information came from the manager of one of the largest shipbuilding yards in Great Britain, and I challenge the Prime Minister to produce cablegrams to contradict it.
– The honorable member for Dalley has given his authority, and I am sure no one will question the reliability of the estimate given by Mr. Farquhar. If there is any doubt attaching to the information supplied by the honorable member for Dalley, the least the Government should do is to make the position clear, instead of tossing the matter aside as if it were of no importance. Will the Minister say whether, in building these cruisers, he proposes to follow the usual procedure of issuing plans and specifications, and calling for tenders ? In other words, will things be done in a business-like way ?
– Perhaps the Government will find it necessary to bring some one from Great Britain to draw the plans.
– The Government seem to be in such a hopeless position that the only thing they bother about is to see how they can patch up an agreement, which they call a pact, in order to keep in office.
– And that is not a watertight agreement.
– If the receipt of a cablegram from Great Britain was a matter of life or death to this composite agreement, I venture to assert that we should not be compelled to- plead with the Minister to get it. But as only the building up of the industries of Australia is affected, Ministers are so unconcerned-that the securing of information - which is really the kernel of the -whole matter - is treated as of no consequence. I wish to point out to honorable members opposite, particularly those who are sitting in the corner, the result of their cavalier treatment of Australian industries. A little while ago the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart), backed up by the Corner party, was anxious to send abroad a contract for engines. Let me remind honorable members in the corner of the fate of a State Government that for a number of years assumed the same anti-Australian attitude. During its last eighteen months of office the last South Australian Government sent £1,500,000 abroad for the purchase of railway material, but when the people of the state had an opportunity at the .ballot-box to express their opinion of the action of that Government they consigned it to that oblivion to which every other antiAustralian Government should be sent. Ministers will be ill-advised if they bury their heads ostrich-like in the sand, lulling themselves into the belief that the people do not care whether work of this kind is done in Australia or abroad. Last night we. all listened to the dirge of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). It reminded me of the mournful utterances one hears at the open graveside. The honorable member is never more dirgeful than when he is putting forward his freetrade opinions.
– He was merely quoting the words of the leader of the Labour party in another place.
– From his interjection I gather that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) stands with the honorable member for Forrest. Both honorable members may console themselves with the belief that they are speaking for the primary producers of Australia, but, as one who represents a country constituency quite as important as those they represent, I claim that they do not voice the true opinion of the primary producers. The honorable member for Indi may be deceived into thinking that the primary producers are not very deeply concerned as to whether a contract is placed outside Australia or not, but in order that he may not give a vote under any misapprehension, I shall refresh his memory with a few facts. If I am not the worst judge in the world of the opinions of the primary producers, nine out of ten of the men on the land are anxious to see secondary industries developed, in order to provide them with the best market in the world, that is, with a good local market. If our industries are killed, that good local market will be lost to fae primary producers, and it is only logical to suppose that the producers are anxious to have local industries built up. Instead of the great bulk of our primary produce being consumed within Australia, as would be the case if our secondary industries were better developed, a great percentage of it finds its way abroad. As much as 74 per cent, of Australia’s wheat has to find a market overseas.
– We should be producing three times as much as we produce to-day.
– More would be sent abroad if the honorable member succeeded in his endeavour to stamp out our secondary industries. Of the beef produced in Australia, 76 per cent, only is consumed in this country.
– Does the honorable member propose to connect his statements with the question ?
– Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am advocating the fostering of our home markets, and I know of no industry which will do that better than the shipbuilding industry. I am endeavouring to show how important such a policy is in the way of employing, our own workmen and building up the local market. Of the mutton and lamb produced in Australia, 88 per cent, is consumed locally. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. R,. Cook) is interested in butter, but he may be surprised to know that only 56 per cent, of the butter we produce is consumed here. We are dependent upon the overseas market fox the disposal of the balance. It is much the same with cheese, 58 per cent. only, of Australia’s production being consumed locally. With preserved milk, the percentage is 54, with barley” 95, and with oats and jams, 84. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) stands out among his fellow Ministers as one who is against constructing anything in Australia which can be obtained abroad. He showed that in connexion with the contract for the railway locomotives. As he should be interested in dried fruits, I inform him that only 39 per cent, of the raisins and 62 per cent, of the currants grown in Australia are consumed locally.
– And we in Australia pay twice as much for such fruit as the Britisher pays.
– Those figures are not only reliable, but they are up to date, having been taken from the report of the Bureau of Science and Industry. I quote them for the purpose of showing honorable members in the Corner that when they tate up an antiAustralian attitude, and try to stamp out our industries, they are doing a grave injustice, not only to the workmen of Australia, but also to the very people whom they claim to represent in this chamber - the primary producers. I challenge the right of those honorable members to speak for the man on the land when they give expression to such sentiments. Their views are not held by the primary producers, of whom it is only fair to say that they do not endorse such utterances which are so often made in this House. One cannot but be struck with many of the statements made by the anti-labour forces in this country. They promised the manhood of Australia that there would be a new world for labour when the world war was over. The present Minister for Defence and other members of the Ministry, as well as many of those now sitting behind the Government, gave expression to similar sentiments ; but if the “ new world for labour ‘’ is postponed very much longer it will not be of much benefit to those who fought in the great war. The attitude of the Government can only leave one impression, namely, that while it was - and, I presume, still is - good enough for the manhood of Australia to fight as crews of our naval vessels, they are not good enough to construct them. They were told that they were the best fighters in the world, but those who said that now decry their own kith and kin as being the least worthy, and the least able, to build these vessels. Boiled down, the kindest thing that can be said is that it is an insult to the manhood of this country to build these ships - or anything else for that matter - outside of Australia. It is nothing short of a crime against the working men of Australia, and against all engaged in our primary and secondary industries. If this work is sent out of Australia, it will mean that £2,000,000 which otherwise would be distributed in wages among the workers here will be spent abroad. To build the cruisers here -would mean that the people of Australia would have increased purchasing power, and, consequently, there would be more money for the development of our industries generally.
– I should like to see more money spent on roads.
– Then why does the honorable member not vote for the amendment?
– Notwithstanding that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) desires an increase in the amount to be spent on roads, he cannot get away from the position that if he votes against the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), he stands for sending outside Australia at least £2,000,000 which should be circulated among our own people.
– I am not going to vote for it.
– While the honorable member would like to see more money spent in the construction of roads, when it comes to giving employment to our own workmen, and distributing money among our primary and secondary producers, ne says that he will vote to spend .that money abroad instead of in Australia. _ Apparently, the honorable gentleman sees no wrong in his contemplated action.
– I see a lot of right in it.
– The honorable member stands for employment being given to working men abroad rather than to those of his own country. The Labour party stands for the building up of our primary industries, but in order to do that successfully, we must build up our secondary industries also. The honorable member should not claim that he is speaking for the man on the land when he adopts that attitude. The best market for the products of Australia is the local one, and the best way to destroy that market is to take up the anti-Australian attitude adopted by honorable gentlemen sitting in the corner.
– The honorable member would show more courtesy if -he spoke for himself, and not for others.
– Honorable members in the corner, including the honorable member for Swan, look at these matters only from the point of view of cost. That is important in itself, but the matter does not end. there. We should view the subject from all angles. We cannot calculate in £ s. d. the value of having this work performed in Australia, even if the additional expenditure in volved were £500,000. We cannot compute in terms of money the ‘value of .any industry in Australia. This policy affects the very foundations of the industries of this country. The attitude of the Labour party on this matter is -well known, and I need not further emphasize it. Honorable members on this side have shown, by their vote that they believe that this proposal for the building of cruisers should be postponed until the decisions of the peace conference are known. By proposing to construct these cruisers, the Government is, to a great extent, tying the hands of the delegates Australia has sent to the meeting of the League of Nations. When those delegates arrive at Geneva they will be told that Australia is adopting an inconsistent attitude by advocating, peace, while at the same time spending money for the construction of additional cruisers.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the construction of armaments will be suspended in the meantime t
– We can only speak and act for ourselves. I do not know what attitude will be adopted by other countries. I am endeavouring to show that Australia’s attitude will be regarded as inconsistent. We are sending two representatives to the peace conference, but they will be confronted with a difficult position when reminded that Australia is building additional weapons of war. To say the least, it is distinctly unfair tothe Australian delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations. But as the Government is determined to proceed, then our contention on this side of the House is that the work should be done in Australia. The local construction of the cruisers - if we. must construct them - would give a fillip to the shipbuilding industry, the engineering trades, and all allied industries, and employment would be provided for Australian workmen. Instead of doing that, the Government is proposing to send money abroad in order to relieve unemployment in another country. Some honorable members opposite have said that the bulk of the steel required for the construction of the cruiserswould have to be imported. One honorable member said that there was no firm in Australia that could produce such steel; and that the necessary mills to roll armour plates would cost about £1,000,000. The Government has claimed from year to year to have a shipbuilding programme, and if it intends to continue spending money on cruisers, the expenditure of £1,000,000 on the erection of rolling mills would be undertaken upon definite assurances of a continuous policy. But the Government endeavours to convey the impression that only two cruisers will be built, and that therefore the expenditure of £1,000,000 upon a plate-rolling plant would not be justified. From what I have personally seen and read, I believe that the establishment at Cockatoo Island is well able to build cruisers. Its resources are augmented by the huge steel and engineering plants of such firms as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company at Newcastle, Hoskine and Company at Lithgow, and Thompson and Company at Castlemaine. They’ would provide all the steel required if the Government would stand four square for local construction.
– Even the shipbuilding yards in other parts of the world buy their plates.
– Of course; but Ministers speak as if there were no great steel works in Australia.
– The plant at Newcastle is the most complete in the world.
– I understand that it is. In respect of both’ plant and workmen, Australia is second to no country in the world; but the interpretation to be placed upon the attitude of honorable members opposite is that they do not give Australian workmen credit for being as good sis workmen elsewhere. I expected that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) would realize his responsibility to justify the action which the Government proposes. If the Government has no defence to offer for its anti-Aus- tralian policy, it should, in fairness, postpone’ this proposal until the Minister is able to furnish the House and the country with comparative costs of construction in Australia and abroad.
– Even if construction in Australia were cheaper, the Government would send the work abroad.
– I believe it would; but it has not been able to tell the people definitely that it will cost a quarter or half a million pounds more to build these ships in Australia. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr.
Mahony) has quoted information to the effect that it will cost very little more to build the ships locally, and I challenge the Minister to contradict that statement.
– Mr. Farquhar stated that the Australian cost would be 50 per cent, above the English cost, plus the cost of bringing the ships to Australia.
– That is absolutely un- ‘ true.
– That is the first definite statement that we have been able to drag out of the Minister.
– I made that statement three days. ago.
– I ‘ have already quoted Mr. Farquhar’s statement that these ships could be built in Australia in two and a half years for £2,800,000 each. If the Minister says that they could be built more cheaply abroad, he should tell the House his authority for that statement.
– Mr. Farquhar’s ‘ estimate of the cost of construction in Australia is based upon the overseas price of £1,900,000, plus the cost of bringing the cruisers to Australia.
– The Minister is trying to bluff. I ask him to produce proof that Mr. Farquhar said that the cruisers could be built abroad for £1,900,000 each.
– He said that, if they were built abroad at that price, the cost in Australia would be 50 per cent, higher.
– The Minister’s interjection shows that he is in a fog. It is evident that this proposal should be postponed in order that he may have an opportunity to inform himself of the facts. Mr. Farquhar has stated what the ships would cost in Australia. It is the duty of the Government to ascertain the probable cost of construction abroad. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) has quoted information he has received regarding the cost in England, and the period which would be occupied in construction; and, if the Minister cannot refute that statement, he and every member who supports this bill will stand condemned in the eyes of the people.
.- I shall support the second reading of the bill, because I consider that these cruisers are part of a co-ordinated defence policy adopted by the Imperial and Commonwealth Governments, and that the expenditure is largely for replacement. We had a bitter experience during the last war of the need for a policy of insurance of our overseas trade. These cruisers are a form of insurance. Many of us do not pay very willingly our ordinary insurance premiums, but we prefer to pay rather than take the risk of complete loss. This is a form of inexpensive insurance compared with the cost of transporting during war time our products overseas. At that time we sold to the British Government 5,000,000 tons of wheat. The price received here was 5s. 2d.- f .o.b. at Australian ports, as compared with 9s. 3d. f.o.b. at port of ship- ment paid for wheat by Great Britain to other countries. On wheat alone, owing to the great risk of transport, the freight was up to 6s. per bushel. In the event of the Motherland being again engaged in war, which I trust will never happen, a. similar position may arise. Owing to the high freights during war time, the Australian producers suffered a loss, on wheat alone, of something like £22,000,000. Quite a number of cruisers could be built for that amount. What then applied to wheat applied to our other products. It is essential that Australia should have her trade routes protected. What is the use of producing if our markets in war time are liable to be cut off? A good deal has been said respecting the Singapore naval base. I regret very much the decision of the Ramsay MacDonald Government, supported by a number of Asquithian Liberals, to abandon this project. A base at Singapore would protect the trade routes of the East. . It is the gateway of no fewer than 50 trading routes. In that particular zone our products would, in the event of war, be at the mercy of enemy raiders. Such a base is just as essential to a dreadnought as are a rifle and ammunition to a soldier. The following extract is taken from The Times, weekly edition, 6th March, 1924: -
It would be wrong to assume that Singapore is only needed if this country becomes involved in war in the Par East. Other countries may become involved in war - and British shipping may be the greatest sufferer. No country that has such interests in Far Eastern waters can afford not to be in a position to defend them. The value, of British (and Dominion) hulls and cargoes carried on any one day on the waters between India and the Eastern shores of the Pacific is estimated at £180,000,000. The total annual value of the trade carried in the area protected from Singapore is £800,000,000. All this merchandise as well as the ships is insured. _ Insurance rates vary directly with the risks. Security means the saving of thousands of pounds. There is not a merchant engaged in trade with China, Japan, the East Indies, Australia, and even India, who will not give unstinted support to any scheme for the proper protection of British trade. The following extract from a speech made by Lord Beatty in respect to the building of. cruisers is taken from The Navy, 20th December, 1923:-
The approximate length of the British trade routes is 80,000 miles. At any given moment there are over- 1,000 British merchant ships scattered over these routes, and, as attack may be made at any point of the 80,000 miles, it will be realized what a gigantic task is the protection of shipping in war time, and how impossible it is to carry it out without an adequate number of cruisers. Owing to the need for economy, however, our cruiser-building programme has not kept pace with our needs. The older vessels are wearing out, and they must be replaced by new and up-to-date ships.
It is hard to understand . the reason for the Labour party’s opposition to defence measures. I am pleased, indeed, that some of them adopt . a reasonable attitude, and in that respect I refer to a statement made by the Leader of that party at a banquet in Sydney given in honour of Admiral Field. He . stated that the Labour party would protect Australia, and, if needed, would cooperate with Britain. That is a sentiment which we all appreciate, and is the lie direct to honorable members opposite who speak differently. The MacDonald Government is composed of pacifists holding the same opinions as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). They are entirely opposed to any scheme of defence, such as is proposed in this bill. But as soon as Mr. Ramsay MacDonald - came into office he made a complete volte face. This pacifist, who was going to scrap defence, and do nothing to bring about’ war, actually increased the estimates of expenditure on defence. Under the Baldwin Government’ the estimates for the Army were £43,500,000, Navy £52,500,000, and the Air Force £9,500,000. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald’s estimates for the Army were £45,000,000, or an increase of £2,500,000 on the previous estimates; for the Navy, £55,800,000, or an increase of £3,500,000; and for the Air Force, £14,500,000, or an increase of £5,000,000. The total increase recommended by this pacifist was £11,000,000.
– Is the honorable member quoting from the War Cry.*
– That is a cry more suited to the honorable member. We hear a lot of humbug from honorable members opposite about their doctrines of peace, but if ever the Labour party gains the treasury bench, in order to retain office, it will need to follow the lead given by Mr. Andrew Fisher during the war - “ The last man and the last shilling.” A great deal has been said about the disposal of the Geelong Woollen Mills. I voted for the sale of that mill. I am associated with co-operative mills at present. At Geelong there is now a mill run by returned soldiers, who are trying very hard to make headway. It is financed to a large extent by this Government.
– They make very good material.
– I am glad to hear that. The Labour party by its opposition to the sale of the Geelong Woollen Mills endeavoured to crush out of existence the returned soldiers’ mill. That is the kind of patriotism they show towards returned soldiers. The Geelong Woollen Mills did magnificent work during the war, and fulfilled all our requirements. When the war was over its usefulness had passed, and we could not expect Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth, and Adelaide to send their orders for cloth to Geelong. The institution would be paying no insurance or land tax.
– The honorable member will realize that the matter to which he is referring has already been debated extensively in this chamber, and it cannot be debated extensively on the motion or amendment now before the chair.
– I do not disagree with your ruling. I have not spoken previously on the bill, but L thought that as previous speakers have traversed these matters, I also would be privileged to touch upon them. It was a question whether the mills should -be closed or should be carried on by private enterprise. The Federal Government advanced many thousands of pounds to start woollen industries in various parts of the country, and it would have been neither right nor just to keep a huge Government institution like that going when to do so would wipe out private undertakings thathad received Government assistance.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to continue further with that argument.
– It has been stated that the difference between the cost of building a cruiser abroad and in Australia would amount to £1,500,000. I am a protectionist. The votes I gave during the consideration of the last tariff prove exactly where I stand on the question of protection. But when the difference between building a cruiser in Australia and abroad is- so huge a sum as £1,500,000, I cannot justify a vote for such a large increase, because it would be waste, or it would be tantamount to that. Let me inform honorable members that £1,500,000 would purchase 24,000 miles of wire netting, which is urgently required in the country districts at the present time. That would keep factories in the district of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) going, and would make those employed in them happy for a very considerable time. I should like to help the honorable member’s constituents in that way. The sum of £1,500,000 would pay for the construction of 300 miles of roads. I waited upon a Minister only the other day to ask for grants for roads, and here by the saving of £1,500,000 on the construction of one of these cruisers we should be in the position to carry out the construction of 300 miles of roads. This work would give employment in the construction of tipdrays, at the Portland cement works, and to blacksmiths and others. It would mean material assistance to industry all round. The same amount of money would be sufficient to build a railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory. A vast amount of steel would be required for this purpose, and employment would.be provided for bridge-builders, and. for workers in a great many industries. The sum of £1,500,000 would be sufficient to duplicate 150 miles of existing railway, and there are many railway routes along which duplication is: very urgently needed. That amount of: money would enable us to provide a. uniform gauge over 300 miles of line. That work would create a vast amount of employment. I cannot possibly consent to the spending of £1,500,000 more than is necessary upon the construction of a cruiser when the money might be otherwise expended to so much advantage. Many references have been made during the debate to unemployment, which is largely the result of high costs. There would be room in the country districts of this state for every unemployed man in Melbourne if those engaged in primary industries could pay wages up to Arbitration Court awards. They cannot do so. I was speaking only two days ago to a young, able-bodied man for whom I could have secured a position at 25s. per week and his keep until conditions improve. He laughed’ at the offer. He has been idle here for three months, and he would prefer to remain idle for another sis months to accepting work at what, I admit, is a small wage, but which is as .much as the producer can afford to give. I could mention a score of instances in which workmen are receiving more than is received by the farmers. I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that a great many farms in Victoria are not to-day paying 6 per cent, on the value of land, improvements, implements, and stock. The owners of these farms could sell out and live in luxury in Melbourne by putting their money into war loans and drawing interest upon it.
– Why do they not do so?
– Many of them have done so, and many more will probably yet do so. I had yesterday to perform the lamentable duty of introducing a deputation seeking relief for returned soldiers who .are unable to pay rates. They have been unable to pay last year’s or this year’s rates. There are two shires in this state in each of which the rates are behind to the extent of £700. Men are producing butter at half its cost, and I am afraid that people in the cities would like them to produce it for nothing, so scant is their sympathy for the soldier on the land. These soldier settlers are raising calves which cost them well up to £4 per head, and are selling them at from £1 to 25s. per head. The basic wage in the city is £4 12s. per week, and it is absolutely impossible for such wages to be paid in the country districts. So the difficulty will continue, and unemploy ment will also continue. If honorable members opposite will assist honorable members on this side, and especially honorable members in this corner,’ against whom we hear so many gibes, in pushing on with the construction of roads and railways, and in reducing railway freights and providing markets, unemployment will rapidly pass away, and our overcrowded cities will be relieved of congestion by the employment of many of their people in the country districts, where they are very badly wanted. The truest and best way of defending Australia is, in my opinion, to. develop its resources.
Debate (on motion by Mr. FORDE) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
The following paper was presented : -
CO-OPERATIVE Estates Limited, Hobart.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I should like to reply to certain remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) with reference to an order for socks by the Navy Department some fifteen months ago.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman proposes to adopt a course which is scarcely regular.
– Perhaps I may say what I desire to say as a personal explanation.
-The honorable member has moved the adjournment of the House. I suggest, for his consideration, that at a later stage of the session, and possibly next week, he will be able to avail himself of an opportunity to say what he desires to say.
– Last week, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe) moved the adjournment of the House in connexion with certain payments required of the Co-operative
Estates Limited, Hobart. In response to a general request from all sides of the House, I agreed to place the matter of these payments before the Public Works Committee for inquiry. On proceeding to take the necessary steps to do so, I found that under the Public Works Committee Act that body has no power to make such an inquiry. I have since seen the honorable member for Denison, and have informed him that I propose now to take steps to have the matter placed before the Public Accounts Committee for inquiry and report.
– There is a precedent for that.
– Under the Public Accounts. Committee Act, that committee has full power to inquire into such a matter, and I propose to take the necessary steps to put this matter before it for that purpose.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe), who has had to leave to catch the Tasmanian boat, I wish to express appreciation of the action which the Minister proposes to take. I understand that the honorable member had a conversation with the Minister, and was informed of the procedure to be adopted. He asked me to thank the Minister on his behalf for the action he proposes to take.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 July 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240725_reps_9_107/>.