House of Representatives
31 July 1924

9th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2696



Medical Research


– I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that an effort is being made by the Sydney University to establish a department of medical research, and if so; will the Government favorably consider the granting of financial assistance for an undertaking which will be of benefit to the whole of the Commonwealth?

Minister for External Affairs · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · NAT

– A statement on the question of public health, in which medical research is dealt with to some extent, will shortly be made. I therefore suggest that the honorable member repeat his question to-morrow.

page 2696



Wages Paid fob Coloured Labour.


– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories. In order to make my question intelligible, it is necessary that I should make the following quotation from a statement read by the Minister to the House last night : -

Mr. Nelson’s allegation that the Administration is attempting to coerce coloured people into the acceptance of wages lower than the ruling rate, by a threat of discontinuing their supply of rations, has no foundation in fact. The principle has been laid down that no man who refuses an offer of work at current rates is to be retained on relief works or issued with rations. Explicit instructions have, however, been issued to the Administration that do man is to be penalized for declining to acquiesce in an attempt by an employer to secure labour at a wage below the recognized rate of pay. No cases of infringement of this principle have been reported to the Minister.

I ask the Minister if he will obtain from Mr. Justice Powers, who has recently returned from the Northern Territory, a report dealing with this particular matter given to him by certain Malays? As that report does not affect any proceedings before a court, I ask the Minister if he will obtain it and lay it on the table of the House, in order to show how much reliability can be placed upon official information such as that supplied in the statement I have quoted ?


– Order!

Vice-President of the Executive Council · WILMOT, TASMANIA · CP

– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories, and shall try to obtain the information he wants.

page 2696




– Seeing that the Government has appointed Sir John Monash to act as chairman of a conference between representatives of the Commonwealth Shipping Board and the Naval Board on the question of the cost of building one 10,000-ton cruiser in Australia, will the Prime Minister have the question of the cost of constructing two 10,000-ton cruisers in Australia also referred to the conference, with a view to ascertaining what advantages would accrue to Australia from the construction of both vessels in the Commonwealth ?


– As the honorable member’s suggestion is to ask the conference to review a decision of this Parliament, I cannot possibly accede to his request.

page 2697



Formal Motion of ADJOURNMENT


– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “‘the precarious condition of the dairying industry of the Commonwealth and the necessity for prompt action by the Government to stabilize the industry.”

Five honorable members having risen in their places,

Question proposed.

Wide Bay

.- Honorable members will admit that I do not take up the time of the House unnecessarily, and that when I move a motion of this kind it is to deal with an urgent matter. It is now about sixteen weeks since the need for the stabilization of the dairying industry was brought under the notice of the Prime Minister by authorized representatives of various butter organizations. There has been* a large number of deputations on the subject since then, many of which I have attended. I understand that the matter has been before the Cabinet for consideration for some time. The dairymen of the Commonwealth are most anxious to have some system for the stabilization of their industry adopted. I am quite certain that there are difficulties in the way, but, in connexion with a matter of so much importance to the Commonwealth, I am of opinion that some means might be adopted to remedy the present unsatisfactory condition of the dairying industry. For the past twelve months, conditions in the industry have been heartrending. No other large industry in the Commonwealth has been so severely handicapped. We all recognize the value of this industry to the Commonwealth, more particularly when we re member the urgent need for an increase in rural settlement. We are spending large sums for the purpose of bringing immigrants to Australia, and dairying is one of the industries in which we expect the immigrants to be largely absorbed. It is, therefore, essential to make determined efforts to stabilize that industry. My experience of dairymen for over 40 years is that it would be difficult to find a more hard-working, determined and desirable class of people, and I do not hesitate to say that they should not be forced to abandon their occupation and seek employment in the cities. I have received hundreds of letters from the local producers’ associations in different parts of my electorate, and I may safely say that they represent the opinions of tens of thousands of people.


– Does the honorable member say that the Prime Minister should have acceded to the request made to him?


– I am aware that there have been grave difficulties in the way of stabilizing the industry, and it is not for me to criticize the Prime Minister’s action until he has had an opportunity of stating what he has attempted to do, and what he now proposes to do. But it is considered that the sixteen weeks occupied in an attempt to solve the problem is a long period. In an article, under the heading of “ The Man on the Land,” in the Melbourne Argus of the 5th July, it was stated that there was certainly justice in the claim that, as wage-earners in secondary industries were ensured a living wage, the farmer was entitled to a fair return for the product of his labour. Dairymen want fixation of prices to secure production costs plus a fair profit. Provision has been made to assist the grapegrowers, and other fruit-growers, the fruit canners, the meat producers, and cithers, by means of pools and advances, and I, therefore, see no reason why the dairying industry should not receive at least some consideration. I have received the following telegram from an organization representing 2,000 dairymen: -

Resolution carried yesterday at meeting representing 2,000 dairymen that district council urge upon Federal Government urgent necessity of introducing bill giving dairymen control of price based on cost of production, and also control of products of the industry.

Unfortunate position of industry owing to unremunerative prices calls for immediate action.

M. Wheatley, District Secretary,


I have also received the following letter, from Cooroy, which puts the case of the dairymen very clearly: -

Cooroy, 17th July, 1924.

Dear Sir - I deeply regret the occasion of having to again write you re the dairy stabilization scheme, but you will understand, I . am sure, when I say that the seeming dallying with this question is causing a grave spirit of discontent and revolt among dairymen. The members of my association are expressing themselves in no uncertain terms, and the belief is becoming much more general that shuffling is taking place, and that we are being sacrificed for other interests.Personally

I can see no blame is to be attached to us for this attitude. It is now over three months since definite proposals were placed before the Prime Minister, and yet nothing, seemingly, has been done, and the question has been met with mere platitudes and evasions. Do you know, sir, that it is a literal fact, with absolutely no exaggeration, that many dairymen have not earned an existing wage, and this with the aid of their families, for twelve months or more? Can you, therefore, wonder if we are growing very impatient, and saying nasty things about our legislators? All around us we find organizations, fed and protected by tariffs, wages boards, &c, &c, feeding cheaply on what we produce, while we have to suffer and pay through the nose for everything we eat or use. We are not laying direct blame on your good self. We are aware that you have taken an active interest on our behalf, but, under the circumstances, you are being coupled among others who seemingly, are the ones who are playing with the question. Just let me give a couple of instances, which are illustrative of many, many others, and you will then, perhaps, understand why discontent and revolt are permeating our ranks. No. 1 case - A dairyman, milking 30 odd cows, after paying his rent, has a bare £4 for his month’s work; this with the help of his wife and family. No. 2 case - A dairyman, with two grown sons and son-in-law and wife, has £13 for his month’s cream. I could quote you many others. Admitting that this is the off season, and these returns are at their lowest, you must realize that this state of affairs is unbearable, more especially when for over twelve months these conditions have been prevailing, and we still have some four or five months to go before we can enter into the proper season, even if weather conditions are propitious. I can assure you, sir, in all earnestness, the position is extremely grave, and many anxious hours are being experienced by those who are thus burdened. Hence comes this request to you that you lose no opportunity whereby you can hammer home the necessity of our case. We are not a cringing, suppliant crowd asking for doles; we only want a fair go. This industry has not been built up along velvety paths, but by much hard toil, by the sweat of the brow, and the nigh-breaking of many hearts; and it is now time some legislation is given to help us from the conditions which are now entangling us. We thank you for your efforts, but, sir, we must again ask a redoubling of those efforts.

Yours faithfully,

Alexr. S. Douglas,

Hon. Sec,Cooroy L.P.A.

I have received many letters of similar purport. The dairymen are asking, not for money, but for some assistance in the organization of their industry to enable them to get a fair return for the labour of themselves and their families.

Mr Maxwell:

– Why do they not organize the industry for themselves?


– Men who are working from early morn until late at night on their farms have not much time to go about the country organizing. We tell the people of Great Britain that we want settlers upon our land. In Queensland there are millions of acres ready for selection, and railway lines have been extended for the purpose of facilitating settlement and development. The British Government, the Commonwealth and the states are expending large sums upon assisted immigration. Yet the dairying industry, which could give employment to thousands of people, and would probably be the means of attracting men to Australia without cost to the Government, cannot get assistance. Other industries, not one-tenth so important as dairying, are helped by the Commonwealth Government, because their representatives are able to personally interview Ministers and honorable members. During the present session the grapegrowers, the hop-growers, and the cattle-men have been favoured with special legislation for their benefit. Dairymen are only asking for assistance to stabilize the selling price of their products. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), when interviewed in Sydney, said that the Government would help only those producers who were prepared to help themselves, and would not attempt to bolster up an inefficient industry. The dairying industry is not inefficient, nor are those who are engaged in the industry. but because those engaged in it are tied to their farms, they are dependent upon the representations of deputations and members of Parliament to get sympathetic consideration from the Ministry. For the year ended the 30th June, 1921, the Australian production of butter was 267,071,340 lb. Because of droughts the production decreased in 1922 to 234,995,009 lb. The output of cheese in 1921 was 32,653,003 lb., and in 1922, 23,710,559 lb. The value of the exportation was: Butter, £6,133,864; and cheese, £231,901. Those figures show the importance of the industry to the Commonwealth. Therefore, I appeal to the Prime Minister to exert himself even more than he has in the past to help those men who are unable to help themselves by coming to Melbourne to state their case. It will be impossible for them to carry on their industry unless some aid is given to them, and they and their sons will be flocking to the cities, instead of continuing on their farms and extending rural production.

Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs · Flinders · NAT

– The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has always taken a very great interest in the primary producers, and one can well understand the feelings that, have prompted him to move the adjournment of the House to discuss the conditions of those engaged in the dairying industry. Few of us who have any knowledge of rural Australia but would say that the lives of the dairyman, his wife, and children, are probably harder than that of any other citizens in the Commonwealth. They work for long hours on seven days in the week. Their struggle continues week in and week out without a break. The grower of wheat or wool can leave his holding for a few days, knowing that in his absence his wheat will grow and his sheep thrive, but on a dairy farm work must be continuous ; the cows must be milked morning and night. Therefore, one can have none but sympathetic feelings for the dairy farmer. Proposals for the stabilization of the dairying industry were submitted to me recently as a result of a conference held in Sydney. There was then open to me the perfectly simple and easy course of saying that the scheme submitted was absolutely impracticable, and that whilst I had every sympathy with those engaged in the dairying industry, I regretted that the Government could not accept their proposal. But because I felt keenly interested in the industry, and was determined to consider carefully ©very possible means of helping it, I continued to discuss the subject with its representatives, and to point out to them the grave difficulties in the way of carrying out their suggestions. Because it has shown a desire to do something to help the industry, and has sought practical means of doing so, the Government is now accused of dilatoriness and lack of sympathy. There is not a scintilla of fact to support the statement that Ministers are uninterested and indifferent. The proposals originally submitted to me embodied a suggestion that a board representative of the industry should be created with power to fix prices for interstate trade. A further proposal was that other boards should be established in the states to perform similar functions with regard to trade within the states. That would have meant giving to the industry power to fix its own prices, which the consumer would have to pay. Every honorable member will agree that such a proposal could not be entertained by the Government. The conference gave further consideration to the matter, and later made another suggestion for the appointment of a board, consisting of a representative of the industry, a Government nominee, and a chairman to be selected by the other two members, and that the board should have power to fix prices for interstate trade. Of course, the Commonwealth can control only interstate and overseas trade, but the creation of state boards to control butter sales within the state jurisdiction, was contemplated. There were also proposals for equalization to meet this position : one particular factory might sell most of its production in Australia and export only a small portion, while another factory might export the whole of its production. The difficulty that is seen on the consideration of that scheme is that it obviously presupposes that the price fixed in Australia would be higher than that which could be obtained overseas. That, however, is a matter with which I do not propose to deal now. I want, to speak about the Commonwealth’s position, and the suggestions that have been made for Commonwealth action. The first suggestion made is that this Government should control the interstate trade. If it did that, it would have to regulate supplies to the different states. A board would need to be constituted by the Commonwealth, and, under the authority of Commonwealth legislation, would fix the price at which interstate sales should take place. Anybody with knowledge of this country will recognize that any government must hesitate before deciding to interfere with interstate trade, and to regulate the supplies passing from state to state. The fundamental purpose of federation was to secure freedom of trade within the Commonwealth. This proposal would cut directly across that principle. The fixing by a tribunal of prices at which trade could flow between the different states was suggested to me. Difficulty has been experienced in maintaining voluntary co-operation. While there might be satisfactory co-operation within a state, ensuring to producers a reasonable return for their butter, it might be completely destroyed by the action of another state in disregarding the need for co-operation. It was desired to overcome that difficulty. But stabilization is not so simple a matter as has been suggested in some quarters. There are many very grave questions involved in it. The limitation of and fixation of prices in regard to supplies flowing from state to state, together with the fixation of prices within the various states, might very well create uneconomic production in places not suited to the dairying industry. That could not be said to be in the interest of the general economic development and welfare of Australia as a whole, and almost inevitably any attempt to foster uneconomic trade of that character would break down. By interfering with and regulating the interstate trade we shall come into collision with a grave constitutional principle ; certainly there is considerable doubt whether we could carry out such a scheme. But for the moment I do not stress the constitutional difficulty; I prefer to deal now with the basic principle. There are in this country producers who cannot obtain a remunerative price for their products, and to relieve them it is suggested that we should fix a price which they shall be entitled to receive for them. If that is the only way in which we can solve this prob lem, I see very grave difficulty . in the future development of Australia. Many matters of the greatest importance would have to be considered at great length before a decision to do that could be made. What we did for one industry would have to be done for another. If we gave this treatment to the dairying industry, we must be prepared to give it to all other industries, the inevitable result of which would be the increased cost to the community of all our great staple products, and an immediate raising of the general cost of living. Thus, far from being remedied, the difficulty with which we are faced to-day would be intensified. A matter that must be borne in mind is the basis on which it is suggested prices should be fixed. The suggestion has been made that they should be based upon the cost of production. But what cost of production are we to take as a basis? Cost of production varies very much in different places and with different producers. We have had considerable experience of this within recent years. As a result of the control which existed during the war period, it was laid down - and I think there was ample evidence to support it - that the profit margin fixed must be governed by the least efficient elements in the controlled trade. Putting aside other difficulties, the fixing of prices would involve the adoption of the basis of the costs of the least efficient producer, which would leave far too great a margin to the efficient producer, and would have a tendency all the time to increase the cost of living throughout the country. The unfortunate producer who for the moment had hopes of increased prices held out to him, would therefore in the end be in a worse position than at present. The problem, as the Government sees it, must be approached from another direction altogether. We must see whether something cannot be done to improve the efficiency of the industry, so that those engaged in it shall obtain a reasonable return for their products. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) said that this industry was efficiently conducted, but he must admit that efficiency has not yet reached the pitch that all desire it to attain. If we examine the statistics relating to the industry, we see that the average Australian yield of butter-fat per cow is under 160 lb. a year, and yet there are herds which are yielding over 300 lb. per cow. This low yield is not entirely the fault of the unfortunate small producer, for the reason that he has never been in a financial position to improve his herd, and so to obtain a greater return, the facts suggest that there is great need to assist the industry throughout Australia. This assistance is primarily a matter for the states, but the Commonwealth Government, having the duty of trying to improve the national efficiency as a whole, is prepared to help the State Governments if they are pre-, pared seriously to take up this problem of improving our herds by the importation of stud stock, and thus to encourage the dairy farmers to increase their general efficiency and production. The realization of such schemes will take a long time, and will not provide a solution of the immediate difficulties encountered by the man on the land in marketing his butter. The suggestion I have been making is primarily a responsibility of the states. The Government has examined the facts very closely, and I would remind the honorable member for ‘Wide Bay that the Last few weeks, to which he has referred, have not been wasted, for during that period the Government has been examining the problem from every angle with a view to solving it.


– The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.


– Am I permitted to move an extension of time for the Prime Minister ?


– That cannot be done.


– I desire to speak on this occasion on behalf of those primary producers who are affected by the inefficient methods, over which they have no control, now employed in marketing their products. I sympathize with the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who has, no doubt, received hundreds of communications from branches of the primary producers’ organizations in his electorate. I have received similar communications; but, unlike him, I am not a supporter of a government that will not give the as sistance it should to these people. In order to place on record the attitude of the Labour party, I quote the following telegram sent to the Prime Minister by Mr. Theodore, Premier of Queensland, on the 25th instant: -

On behalf of the dairying industry, which is in a languishing condition, my Government would appreciate action by your Government to bring about stabilization, as suggested by the interstate dairying conference. I am willing to co-operate with you in any action to this end, and urge desirability of early decision.

That shows that the Queensland Govern- ment supports this proposal. I am sorry that the Prime Minister did not, in his speech, give the dairy farmers of Queensland, and other parts of Australia, any reason to expect the Government’s assistance in arriving at a solution of their difficulties. I mention Queensland particularly because the scheme was proposed by the Director of Agriculture in that state when he was a delegate. But I know that the men on the land throughout Australia are affected equally. The Prime Minister has declined to accede to the request of the dairymen. He offered them sympathy, and said that dairy farmers should introduce improved methods so as to run their industry more efficiently, and he added that one only had to study the question to realize that the industry was not run efficiently. He suggested that the dairymen should improve their herds by introducing high-grade stock, and he promised that if the states would take that matter up, his government would cooperate with them. I remind him that in Queensland to-day the testing of dairy herds is being done under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture; and I know that for the last ten years every effort has been made by dairy farmers to improve their herds and to make their industry more efficient. But what they want at the present time is a living wage. The honorable member for Wide Bay has stated that a certain dairy farmer, at the end of the month, after paying expenses, had only £4 left with which to keep himself, his wife, and family. Clearly that dairy farmer was not making a living wage.

Mr Watkins:

– And the consumer pays too much.


– The trouble is that any marketing or stabilization scheme to be effective, must eliminate the middlemen who support the National party. It must hit the middlemen and marketriggers who to-day arefilching the profits of the man on the land. That is the “ nigger in the wood pile.” There is no need for the Prime Minister’s suggestions about improving herds and introducing high-grade stock, for the dairy farmers in my electorate and in other parts of Queensland, with the assistance of the State Government, have done much to improve their herds. The honorable member for Wide Bay said that this Government had given no assistance to the dairying industry, although it had assisted other industries. Let us see where this scheme arose. It was proposed by Mr. L. It. McGregor, at the interstate dairying conference, in April of this year. Mr. McGregor is Director of Agriculture in Queensland. The Queensland Labour Government, realizing the necessity for extricating farmers from the clutches of designing tory politicians at election times, established a Primary Producers Organization. The branches of that organization have been writing to honorable members. It is a non-political organization. It has district councils, which have representatives on the Council of Agriculture. Mr. McGregor, who came from Western Australia) is skilled in the co-operative control of industry. The dairying conference approved of his scheme, and representatives of the conference placed it before the Prime Minister, with the unsatisfactory result that we have heard from’ the right honorable gentleman to-day. At first, he said that the scheme was impracticable, and he asked the conference to reconsider it. It was reconsidered, and the following final proposals for the fixing of prices, based on cost of production, wereplaced before him on the 3rd July: -

The tribunal to be comprised of three members - one representative of the producers, to be nominated by the federal board; one representative of the consumers, to be appointed by the Governor-General in Council; and a president, to be mutually agreed to by the representative of the producers and consumers respectively, failing which agreement the Governor-General in Council shall appoint the president.

The. tribunal shall fix. the basic price of dairy produce for interstate trade, such price to be based on the cost of production.

The appointment by the federal board of wholesale distributors in the United Kingdom for the sale of. Australian produce.

The prohibition of the export of Australian dairy produce to distributors other than those so appointed.

To organize the marketing of Australian dairy produce in overseas markets, and by propaganda, advertising, and in other ways, create a direct demand by retailers and consumers for Australian produce.

To make contracts with shipping companies for overseas freights on Australian dairy produce.

To co-ordinate with the producers’ organizations of New Zealand and other Dominions in organizing the marketing of dairy produce in the United. Kingdom.

That would mean concentration in fewer hands than at present. Dairymen have been organizing the industry, but it is essentially a Commonwealth matter. In Victoria, after months of labour by dairymen, organization is rendered abortive by a dissenting minority. The same remark applies in New South Wales and Queensland. They are also improving their herds, and it was with a view to the introduction of stud stock free of transport and quarantine charges, that I asked the Composite Government to honour a definite pledge made to the dairymen of Queensland by Mr. Hughes to introduce stud stock from abroad. The Government declined to carry out the promise made by Mr. W. M. Hughes when he spoke at Maryborough in support of the candidature of the honorable member for Wide Bay. I refrained from bringing the matter of the stabilization of markets before this House previously, because it might have been said that I was attempting to make political capital out of it, and I did not want to do that. I saw the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) on several occasions. In addition, I communicated with him frequently, and received numerous replies to the effect that the Government was still considering the matter. Notwithstanding that, I refrained from attacking the Government, as to make the question a party one might have meant the ruin of. any chance that the dairymen had of getting their request acceded to. I had a speech prepared for the adjournment of the House to discuss this question, but the members of my party decided that the Government should have a further opportunity, without being attacked, to come to a decision. That decision has now been given, but it does not offer the dairy farmers what they require.- It distinctly turns them down. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) will probably consider the advisability of taking some further drastic action in this connexion. Later, I may give honorable members an opportunity to prove, by their votes, whether they desire to assist the dairymen of Australia or not. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson), with some effect, threatened to resign his seat if reasonable compensation was not granted to the dairymen of his electorate in connexion with the rinderpest outbreak. He got £10,000 for those men. The honorable member for Wide Bay, being a supporter of the Government, may be able to tell us what there is to .prevent the Government from acceding to the request of the producers. Is it those members of the Composite Ministry who belong to the Country party who are to blame ? Why has that party not done something on behalf of the dairymen of Australia? They hold half the seats in the Cabinet, and they could have forced the Government to accede to the request made by the dairymen. On the 9th May, the Minister for Trade and Customs was asked whether any decision had been come to by the Government, and he replied -

The conditions generally relating to the dairying industry are at present receiving the consideration of the Government.

The Prime Minister, in replying to a question on the 16th of May, said -

No final decision has been arrived at by Cabinet, but as soon as the matter has been determined an announcement will be made.

Two months have elapsed, but no announcement has yet been made. I have made numerous requests to the Government to give effect to the proposed scheme for the stabilization of dairy produce. On the 25th June I asked the Prime Minister the following question : -

Has the Government reached a decision on the request made by the Interstate Dairying Conference for a scheme for marketing dairy produce ?

To this the Prime Minister replied, “ No,” and referred me to a statement previously made by the Minister for Trade and Customs, that the matter was still under consideration. On the 26th of June, the Prime Minister informed me, in reply to a question in this House, that it was found impracticable to give effect to the proposals submitted by the Interstate Dairy Conference, and that negotiations were still proceeding with a view to arriving at some practical arrangement which would help the industry. In a letter which I received from Mr. H. Detjen, secretary of the Local Producers Association, Milman, Central Queensland, dated the 30th June, 19.24, the following statement was made: -

The price of materials used by the farmers is about three times what it was before the war, yet the average prices ruling to-day for primary products are practically not higher than in pre-war days; indeed, on several occasions during the past two years the price for dairy products fell to a lower level than has existed for the last nine or ten years. . . . Seeing that the producer is so often acclaimed the back-bone of the country, which he really is, as any one has to admit who has any knowledge of the value of our rural industries to the Commonwealth, it is about time that the back-bone of the country got a little more consideration from the powers that be.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by . Mr. Detjen. On the 7th instant, I received the following letter from Mr. M. J. Davey, secretary, Local Producers Association, Ambrose: -

On behalf of the members of my association I desire to thank you for your efforts in assisting in the stabilization scheme for the marketing of dairy products. . . . Members of this association are patiently awaiting the decision of the Government, and we urge that you use every means in your power to have the proposed scheme adopted.

I have received scores of similar letters, one of which is from Mr. J. E. Harding, secretary of the Local Producers . Association, Dalma Scrub, via Rockhampton and contains the following statements : - -

That Dalma Scrub Local Producers Association notes with alarm that the Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, desires to carry on government on the principle of protection to the manufacturer, and world freetrade to the producer. That we very much object to, prices being fixed on a basis of import parity.

The official organ of the Queensland primary producers, in a leading article on the 12th July, 1924, stated -

We purposely head this article “ Proposals receiving consideration.” The Interstate Dairy Conference met in Melbourne in April of this . year. The conference indorsed the stabilization proposals of the Council of Agriculture. Those proposals were placed before the Prime Minister early in April. He promised that the proposals would receive the consideration of the Federal Government. Three months have elapsed. Those proposals are still receiving consideration. The Federal Government wants a great deal of time to consider these proposals. Meantime (he dairymen are waiting.

These men have been ‘informed that they should run their industry more efficiently and improve their herds. Numerous theories have been advanced by the Prime Minister, who is a Flinders-lane business man, who, while he may be capable of running a business in Flinders-lane efficiently, has no practical knowledge of dairy farming in Queensland or elsewhere. These dairymen have a right to expect a fair return for their .labour, and no body of workers will object to their obtaining a living for themselves and their .families. The New Zealand Government has given to the dairymen of that country what is asked of the Commonwealth Government by the dairymen of Australia. Mr. L. R. McGregor, the Director of Agriculture in Queensland, at an interstate conference held in Melbourne in April last, quoted the opinions of the Queensland SolicitorGeneral, and an eminent Australian K.C., to the effect that the Commonwealth Parliament has the necessary power. He said -

In short, this means that the Commonwealth Parliament, if it wishes, can set up a board to control interstate and overseas trade, and then it is left to the states as to whether or not they, along the lines of local autonomy, will set up state power in each state.

Mr. Theodore has supported that view, and has promised to do his part.


– The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- It is unfortunate that the operation of the Standing Orders prevented the Prime Minister from completing his statement. I was very pleased, however, that he was able to mention some of the difficulties confronting the Government. Had that statement been made public some weeks ago it would have prevented a lot of the agitation that has taken place recently. It has often been said that farming generally is not so profitable as it ought to be. That is because of the appalling waste of energy, and the contentment with old methods. Undoubtedly, the time has arrived when we should adopt better methods, better machinery, and more up-to-date organization. Most of our industries have been neglected so far as organization is concerned. The dairy farmers are not getting as good a return from their labour as is obtained by those following other occupations. It cannot be denied that those engaged in the dairying industry have a right to organize. Attempts have been made to establish voluntary pools to assist the industry, but they have been unsuccessful. These attempts were defeated by a small minority who have disagreed with the proposals made from time to time. That being so, the representatives of the industry have approached the Commonwealth Government for something in the nature of control. After full consideration, the Council of Agriculture in Queensland submitted to a representative gathering of dairymen in Melbourne a proposal for the stabilization of the industry. The proposals submitted to the Ministry were the outcome of that conference. The scheme presented by them was one to which the Government was justified in giving close consideration. They asked for the creation of a board to regulate interstate and oversea prices. I should like to recall the fact that in Melbourne, in 1920, Senator - then Mr. Massy Greene presented to the dairy farmers of Australia a scheme providing for the organization of the dairying industry. At that time Senator Greene was Minister for Trade and Customs in the Hughes Ministry. He explained the scheme, and said that co-operation was its key-note. In reply to questions I recently asked the present Minister for Trade and Customs, that honorable gentleman said that the essential difference between the two schemes was the matter of the fixation of prices. I believe that reply to be perfectly correct, but the fart remains that the farmer has the whole of his capital invested in his farm, and has all his family working with him to produce cream. When the cream reaches the factory all those who handle it are members of an organization whose wages are fixed, and who know’ exactly what they will receive. Whether the butter goes to the cold stores, to the retailer, or the ship for export, all who handle it know exactly what wages they will receive. ‘ ‘It is only the man who produces the cream whose return is uncertain. The Prime Minister has promised that the Government will assist industries that prove their claim to assistance by efficient organization and submit a workable scheme. This the dairy farmers of Australia have tried to do. I have received a return from the Department of Trade and Customs showing the number of cooperative and proprietary butter and cheese factories in Australia. I quote the figures supplied to me as some evidence that the dairymen have honestly attempted to improve the conditions of their industry by organization. I find that in New South Wales, there are 106 co-operative butter factories and fifteen proprietary factories. In Victoria there are 87 co-operative and 66 proprietary factories. In Queensland there are 43 co-operative and three proprietary factories. In South Australia there . are ten co-operative and 33 proprietary factories. In Western Australia there are nine co-operative and one proprietary factory. In Tasmania there are fifteen co-operative and five proprietary factories. These figures are evidence that the dairy farmers have endeavoured by co-operative means to improve the conditions of their industry. I am quite prepared to admit that a lot more can be done. As the Prime Minister has pointed out, we have only to compare the quantity of butter fat produced per cow in Australia with the quantity produced in New Zealand and Denmark to see that there is great room for improvement in the butter producing quality of our dairy herds. A good deal might be done also by making proper provision against droughts. Droughts occur periodically and result in heavy losses, but no reasonable effort has been made to conserve fodder. In 1920 the pricefixing commissioner of Queensland, after taking exhaustive evidence, determined the cost of the production of butter at 1s. 7d. per lb. No one suggests for a moment that the dairy farmer has at any time obtained anything like that price per lb. for his butter. I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that the New Zealand Parliament has recently passed a Dairy Farmers Export Act under which a board has been created to assist the industry in New Zealand and in overseas marketing.

Mr Bruce:

– The New Zealand act is confined to the export trade. It does not deal with the industry locally.


– I was under the impression that the act dealt with the industry inside as well as outside New Zealand. I feel certain that the Government is very sympathetic towards the primary producers throughout Australia. It has proved that time after time. The primary producers have no certainty of return for their labour, whereas, because of the Customs duties, manufacturers know how they stand, and the workers, because of the awards of Arbitration Courts know what they are to receivefor their work. I am not enthusiastic about the fixation of prices; but the circle is about complete, and this deserving section of the community must not be the exception. I admit that the Prime Minister has shown that there are some very real difficulties in the way of what is asked for. But I shall be disappointed with the ability of Ministers if they do not devise some scheme which will give relief to the dairy farmers, not necessarily in the way they have asked, but in some way that will stabilize the industry and make it more attractive in the future.


.- I should like to say a few words on the stabilization of the dairying industry. As compared with the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), I am in a fortunate position, because I am in opposition to the Government. To quote the words of one of the honorable member’s correspondents, if there has been any “ dillydallying “ in connexion with this matter, it must be laid at the door of the honorable member’s own party and the Government he is supporting. I might say that the expression “ dilly-dallying, “ applied to the action taken for the stabilization of the dairying industry, might, from my experience, be applied with equal force to the attempts made to improve the condition of the dried fruit industry and the industry of those engaged in the production of grapes for spirit manufacture. .

Mr Bruce:

– So far as the grape industry is concerned, the honorable member should induce the South Australian Government to do what the Federal Government has asked it to do.


– The Prime Minister in these matters desires to throw a great deal of the responsibility for their settlement on the state governments. It is an old practice for the Government to sidestep its obligations in this way; but, while I admit that the state governments have their obligations in connexion with these matters, the Federal Government has also a very big obligation in connexion with them. There is apparently very little difficulty in securing assistance where the big men are concerned, but when it is a question of assisting small dairy farmers, soldiers, and others on the river settlements who are growing dried fruits or grapes, there is great difficulty in obtaining consideration for them.

The Prime Minister seemed to take up the stand that if the dairying stabilization scheme were put into operation, with its fixation of prices, it would have a tendency to increase the cost of living, and progress would be in a vicious circle. But I remind the right honorable gentleman that in connexion with other matters we have not hesitated to flout economic laws. We have been prepared to take risks, and it seems a little hard that the line should be drawn where the dairy farmers are concerned. Other honorable members have rightly said that no body of men in Australia work harder than do the dairymen. Their women and children also work hard in carrying on the industry. I am prepared to go to any trades hall conference, and tell the conference, though I think it would not be necessary, that if men workers in factories and shops expect to get fair remuneration for their labour, no matter what the effect may be on the cost of living, the same consideration should be given to those engaged in the dairying or any other primary industry. I think that the party to which I belong would be prepared to stand for that. We cannot ask for fair working and living conditions for those engaged in factories and workshops unless we are prepared, also, to concede them to those working in the fields. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked, by way of interjection, how it is that the dairying industry has not been organized. In the case for the stabilization of the industry placed in my hand by the secretary of tie South Australian Dairymen’s Protection Association, I find the following statement: -

Failure of attempts to stabilize. - Endeavours to better conditions in any of the states have so far failed, in support of which conclusion may be cited: Victoria - After months of labour on the part of dairymen, organization is rendered abortive ‘by reason of a 5 per cent, dissenting minority. New South Wales - After a month’s organized marketing (October, 1923) the arrangement broke down, with 10 per cent, standing out. Queensland - Cessation of a voluntary butter pool, after organized marketing had been successfully maintained for fifteen months (to August, 1923).

This shows that attempts to organize the industry in at least three of the states have broken down, and for a reason similar to that which I am afraid will lead to the organization of the dried fruit industry also breaking down. A certain number of men are so extremely selfish that they do not care who goes to the wall, so long as, for the time being, they secure their own ends. The idea behind this proposal, and in the minds of some of those engaged in the dried fruit industry, is to have some form of compulsion, in order that the small minority who work against the best interests of the industry as a whole can be put in their proper place. The Prime Minister seems to think that it would be almost impossible to stabilize the industry by the fixation of prices, but I would remind him that the !N”ew Zealand Parliament has passed legislation dealing with the matter quite recently. By interjection, the right honorable gentleman said that that legislation applies to the export trade only, but in the statement supplied to me I find this passage -

The New Zealand Government placed on the statute-book, . during the last session of the New Zealand Parliament, the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill of 1923, which vests control of dairy produce in a New Zealand Dairy Produce Control Board, consisting of nine producers’ representatives and two persons nominated by the Government. Investing in the board complete control of New Zealand dairy produce, the act also provides for the following objectives, viz.: - Co-ordination of all selling agencies; fixation of minimum prices; regulation of supply; a system of advertising of the New Zealand national brand; improving shipping facilities.; reduction in ships’ freights; elimination of speculators buying forward; elimination of discrepancy between the price of the Danish article and that of New Zealand.

I accept that as a statement of fact, because I believe that the dairying association knows what it is talking about, and would not wilfully supply honorable members with misleading information. The quotation shows that the New Zealand act deals with the industry in the dominion, as well as with the export trade. What has the Commonwealth Government done along these lines? One or two delegates to the dairying conference came to me and seemed to be quite sure that their proposal would be carried. I said, “Do you really think that you are going to pull it off?” They replied, “Yes; we think we are -on goo J ground, and that the Government will help us in the matter.” I said, “ Do you not realize that if this stabilization project is brought off it will affect all the middlemen dealing in butter, sooner or later? Do you mean to tell me that they are in favour of the project?” They said, “Yes; the proprietary companies have representatives on the board.” I replied, “ I am satisfied that they will sell you a blue duck ‘ before you are through.” I am sure that they have done so. If honorable members wish to account for the delay that has taken place in giving effect to the project for the stabilization of the dairying industry, I tell them that, although the proprietary companies may appear to be working hand in hand with the co-operative companies, they are selling them in the dark. Those are the persons who are preventing the stabilization of their industry desired by the dairymen of Australia to-day.


.- I have been impatiently awaiting federal legislation to enable those engaged in the dairying industry to overcome the obstacles which have so far frustrated their own efforts to place the industry on a stable foundation. Thousands of men on the land, returned soldiers and others, are living in the hope that something will be done to improve their conditions, for if it is not done many of them will probably be forced to abandon their holdings. Australia is approaching another export season for butter, and, as soon as we have one box more than is required for local needs, the price to the producer will automatically drop to the level of export parity. So long as there is insufficient butter for our own needs, we can, without any legislation, obtain a price equal to that at which butter can be imported; but, as soon as we have a surplus, the price falls to the level of the export parity rate. No matter how small the surplus may be, if we have no organization, and no protective legislation, it is inevitable, undereconomic laws, that the net price which we shall get overseas for that surplus, after allowing for all expenses and deterioration due to storage, automatically dictates the price which we are compelled to accept for local sales of fresh butter. The export parity in the case of butter is about 16s. per ewt., or, roughly, about 2d. per lb. less than the world’s rates. In addition to that, the price obtained in London is depreciated to the extent of at least1d. per lb., because the butter is not so fresh as when purchased over the grocer’s counter in Australia. Therefore, the price we receive is 3d. per lb. less than the world’s value for fresh butter. Is it fair that the dairymen should be compelled to accept for local sales 3d. per lb. less than world’s values ? There appears to be three sections in this country - one that is sheltered by, and receives benefits at the hands of, the Arbitration Court; a second that fattens with the assistance of the tariff ; and a third, that must contrive to live in spite of both these institutions. The dairymen belong to the last-mentioned section. They do not receive the benefits conferred by either, and yet must carry the weight of both. It appears to me that, if protection is to be the future policy of this country, one cannot deny the justice and logic of the claim that that portion of the product of the dairying industry disposed of in Australia should be sold at an Australian price. We have been told that such an arrangement would help to perpetuate the present vicious circle. I admit that, but I submit that all sections should be in that circle or all should be out of it, for great injustice is now done to the one section that is compelled to remain outside. A question that may arise in some minds is whether the primary producer cannot continue on a freetrade basis. I point out that, after the overhead charges, such as rent, interest on stock and plant, and depreciation, have been met, the profits of the dairymen, expressed as wages, are extremely low. Some years ago the Interstate Commission inquired into the alleged profiteering in butter. The price of butter fat at that time was the same as the average price ruling during the past twelve months -1s. 5d. per lb. I was able to prove to the satisfaction of that commission that, if a returned soldier, or anybody else, took up land for the purpose of dairying, and milked as many cows as one man could handle - eighteen would certainly keep him busy - after paying 5 per cent, interest on capital expenditure and 10 per cent, depreciation, on stock and plant, assuming his cows produced the then Australian average of 130 lb. butter-fat per annum, his wages return would be only 5d. per hour. That is all he would make ifhe worked 60 hours a week, and if butter fat were1s. 5d. per lb. The Interstate Commission accepted those figures. It may be said that a cow should produce more than 130’ lb. of butter fat per annum, and that the dairymen should have better cows. I admit that the present production of our dairy herds is too low, but let me mention the position of a producer who, after many years of herd testing, had raised the standard of his cows to double that of the Australian average. I placed before the commission figures relating to my own farm, and I was able to show that with a herd brought up to an average of 650 gallons of milk per cow per annum, and over 250 lb. of butter fat, or, roughly, about double the Australian production, and with butter fat at Is. 5d. per lb., after allowing 5 per cent, interest on the price of the land, a small amount for hand feeding, and interest and depreciation on stock and plant on a very fair basis, all the profits’ expressed as wages amounted to about Is. 4d. per hour for that portion of the time devoted to the dairying activities of the farm. That surely could not be described as profiteering. Recently an instance was brought under my notice of a herd in which the owner takes great pride, and which is included in the Government herd-testing scheme. That herd is averaging 370 lb. butter fat per annum, and it was asserted that with such a yield butter could be profitably produced at Is. per lb. On investigation, I found that this herd was fed at a cost of £18 10s. per head, which is exactly the same as the monetary return from 370 lb. butter fat at’ Is. per lb. This shows that the theories of some people need to be closely examined. Feeding a cow is like stoking the furnaces of an ocean liner. With a reasonable amount of fuel a speed of 15 knots an hour can be obtained, but to increase the speed to 18 knots the coal consumption must be increased out of all proportion to the gain, whereas to develop a speed of 21 knots an hour coal must be used in a most extravagant manner. It may be said that the figures I have quoted are not official, but I now propose to give some figures that are authentic. In New South Wales, in 1920, the State Government, yielding to the popular clamour for cheaper butter, asked Judge Rolin to act as a commissioner to inquire into the cost of production there. He did things in his own way. He took an accountant with him, and went to the dairying districts to ascertain the cost of renting farms, and the amount paid for labour. He also, went to the factories to discover the exact quantity of cream sent there by the various dairymen. Finally he came to the conclusion that 2s. 3d. per lb. was a reasonable price for butter, and that any lower price would make it impossible for the dairy farmer to pay reasonable wages. He thought that it would take at least 2s. 3d. per lb. to enable the farmer to pay £2 per week to efficient milkers and retain £3 18s. per week for his own wages. In New Zealand a similar inquiry was conducted. A member of the commission there was the present Prime Minister (Mr. Massey), and the conclusion was reached that 2s. 5d. per lb. fairly represented the cost of production. The dairying industry in Australia, therefore, is in a lamentable position. I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) will yet see his way clear to take the bold course of departing entirely from precedent, and will dismiss from his mind any fear he may entertain regarding the fixing of prices. Let him do something more than deal merely with the export trade. No matter what the states individually may do, even if every state does what lies in its power, there will be one link missing until the Commonwealth Parliament , clothes with sufficient power a board to regulate interstate trade. Until that is done the’ efforts of the states themselves may be rendered futile. When Judge Rolin in 1920 expressed the opinion that 2s. 3d. was a fair price in New South Wales, he also said that he thought the problem of making primary production profitable transcended in national importance all other issues. The average dairyman has very little rest. He works seven days a week, and he has no Easter or Christmas holidays. Even when there is a funeral, a wedding, or a bush fire at his home, his cows must be milked. He receives the wages of a serf, while his family, in many cases, gets no wages at all. I was asked by the Interstate Commission to explain why butter could be produced some years ago at Is. per lb. My reply was that the dairying industry rested absolutely on the foundation of unpaid family labour.. The labour on dairy farms is largely done by unpaid workers, for little children often milk three or four cows before and after attending school.

It is at the expense of thoseworkers the consumers get cheap butter. We are told that the dairyman must improve his methods and increase his yields - then he can carry on. Are the secondary industries told to install better machinery, make their methods more efficient, and stand on their own feet against the world’s competition? If that attitude were taken with regard to all industries it might be reasonable; but is it fair, I ask, that the manufacturing section should be allowed to receive the benefits of the tariff whilst a primary producer must stand on a freetrade level, and. be oven worse off than being without protection because he has to suffer a huge discount in the shape of heavy ocean freights ?

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

.- I am very sorry that the Standing, Orders prevented the Prime Minister from concluding his remarks, but in the time at his disposal he disposed of the suggestion that has been made that the Government has not at heart the interests of the primary producers, particularly those engaged in the dairying industry. I believe that the dairying industry is the keystone of the farming industry. It certainly is the backbone of general farming. There are many thousands of families settled on the land in Australia who are able to carry on only because of the returns, however small, they get from dairying. The industry is certainly one of outstanding importance, and it would be nothing short of a national calamity if it could not be reorganized and controlled so as to enable it to be carried on profitably. I urge the Government to leave no stone unturned to ensure that the dairy farmers shall be able to continue their ‘operations at a profit. It must be obvious to any one who has given serious thought to the matter that the condition of the industry is most critical. The farmer invests his capital in the industry, and generally he and his wife and family are working early and late every day in the year to produce cream. All the men who handle the cream at the factory are membersof an organization and know exactly what wages they will receive. Whether the butter goes into cold storage, to the retailer, or to the ship, all the labour employed in handling it is guaranteed a. certain wage. The sole exception is the man who produces the cream. I have been intimately associated with every development of the negotiations between the representatives of the dairying industry and the Government, and have attended the deputations. It is most regrettable that there has been so much misrepresentation of the attitude of the Government upon this important matter.. In my own state, I am informed, efforts have been made to create the impression that the Government is indifferent to the pressing needs of this most important section of our primary producers. As the Prime Minister has so effectively pointed out this afternoon, the reverse is the case. I remind the right honorable gentleman that he promised that the Government would help all primary industries that are prepared to help themselves. Special efforts have been made in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, to organize this industry within the states. Much has been accomplished; many factories have been established on the co-operative principle, new machinery has been introduced, and everything that the farmer can do within his limited resources has been done to place the industry on a sound basis. Unfortunately, every effort has been frustrated because of the lack of co-operation between the states, and the absence of efficient organization in London. They need for proper organization. GreatBritain is not questioned, and hasbeen frequently mentioned bythe Prime Minister and Senator Wilson since their return from the Imperial Conference. Stabilization of this industry is imperative and urgent. The industry has done its part within its limited powers. I hope the Government will early finalize this matter, and enable the dairymen to re-organize their industry so that it can be conducted with profit to the producer and the Commonwealth. The dairy farmers await with interest the Government’s declaration of what it has done and proposes to do. I trust that its proposals will also provide for co-operation with the states to assist the dairy farmer to conserve fodder as a national insurance against drought. When we gain a footing in the markets of the Old World we must take every precaution to entrench ourselves and keep up the supplies. That is imperative for the effective stabilization of the industry. If we fail to do that, and lose the market at any stage, we shall have great difficulty in recovering it. It is financially impossible for the individual farmer to make adequate provision for the conservation of fodder. At present he is making a gallant effort to recover after a succession of disastrous droughts, and his resources are taxed to the limit. Although this is primarily a state responsibility, .something must be done by the Commonwealth, possibly in conjunction with the states, to improve the standard of dairy herds by methods similar to those so effectively adopted in Denmark and New Zealand. The testing of ordinary herds should be subsidized, and the elimination of unprofitable cows encouraged. That policy will make the herds more and more profitable, and the cost of production will be materially reduced. Although the benefits from herd testing are so manifest, many dairy farmers are unable to pay even the small fees necessary to have it done. The whole Commonwealth will benefit if the industry is again placed on a sound footing, and I think the Commonwealth and states might very well for a number of years share the cost of _herd testing. The most economical way to build up the herds to a more profitable basis is to use bulls of high-production pedigree, and provision might very well be made to enable the struggling settlers to purchase such stock. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the average production of milk and butter per cow in Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark -

These statistics are convincing evidence that there is yet much to be done to improve the standard of our herds. Dairy farming is a national industry; it produces new wealth, and must be afforded all reasonable encouragement and assistance to develop on sound lines.


– I very much regret that the Prime Minister had not time to complete his remarks and let the House know what the Government intends to do. We are all aware of the facts he stated, but it is almost axiomatic that if an industry is profitable it will develop. The price at present received for butterfat offers very little encouragement to the farmers to improve their herds on the lines indicated by the right honorable gentleman. The conservation of the dairying industry is a Commonwealth concern; it is Australia-wide, and free of party politics. We are all anxious to do our best to place the industry upon a better footing. In all its branches it is worth to the Commonwealth about £40,000,000 per annum, of which £20,000,000 is represented by the butter production. There are about 40,000 registered dairy herds, from which the gross return is £520 per dairyman per annum, and the net return less than £120. I cannot conceive how any person desirous of promoting the rural industries of Australia can fail to realize that early assistance is absolutely necessary if the dairying industry is to be saved from disaster. The report of Judge Rolin shows, that the persons engaged in the dairy industry in New’ South Wales have decreased by 6,400 within the last few years. A similar tale of retrogression is told throughout the Commonwealth.

Mr West:

– That has happened since the Country party entered politics. It is the greatest curse the country .has ever known.


– Possibly; with the exception of the honorable member. Ten thousand soldier settlers have, been placed on the land in Victoria alone, and the Commonwealth has advanced about £12,000,000 to that state for closer settlement purposes. Many of the soldiers engaged in dairy farming are unable to meet their liabilities to the Crown or pay their municipal rates, and they will have to leave their holdings unless they receive some assistance ; because at the present time they are selling butter for a little over half the cost of production. Hundreds of dairymen throughout Australia are doing the same. Having had 25 years’ experience of dairying, as a farmer milking his own cows and supplying cream to the factories, I know that the industry is kept going by sweated labour. If the farmer were not getting the unpaid labour of his wife and children, who work long hours every day in the week, the price of butter would be very much higher than it is.

Mr Manning:

– Does the honorable member think that dairying is worse than any other primary industry? Is there one primary industry that could show a profit if those engaged in it worked a 44-hour week?


-No. In addition to milking cows, I breed a few fat stock and grow a little wool, and I know that both those enterprises are easier and more profitable than dairying, which is certainly the most sweated industry in Australia. What can be done? It is the duty of the Commonwealth and states to co-operate for the purpose of placing the industry on a better footing. This is not a party matter, and if the Prime Minister receives an assurance to that effect he will be encouraged to proceed with the dairymen’s proposal. The representatives of the dairying industry submitted a scheme to the Government, but I do not contend that it is perfect; indeed, the Prime Minister has proved that it is not, but it provides a basis for negotiation. The conference held in Melbourne was attended by men from all parts of Australia; they represented all shades of political opinion - proprietary companies, co-operative companies, and proprietary and co-operative agents - and it was unanimously decided to ask the Commonwealth Government to introduce a Dairy Produce Stabilization Bill, the principal features of which should be -

  1. Licensing of merchants, agents, and manufacturers on such terms and conditions as the Board may from time to time determine, and the cancellation of such licences at the discretion of the board; (6) regulation of supplies of inter-statetrade; and (o) such other powers and such limitations as may from time to time be prescribed.

The control of overseas export - (a) The appointment by the Federal Board of wholesale distributers in the United Kingdom for the sale of Australian dairy produce; (b) prohibition of the export of Australian dairy produce to distributers other than those so appointed; (c) to organize the marketing of Australian dairy produce on overseas markets, and by propaganda advertising and in other ways, create a direct demand by retailers and consumers for Australian produce; (d) to make contracts with shipping companies for oversea freights of Australian dairy produce; (e) to co-operate with the producers’ organization of New Zealand and other dominions in organizing the marketing of dairy produce in the United Kingdom.

New Zealand has already passed similar legislation. That outline indicates the steps that the Government might take, and the dairy farmers look to this Parliament to take the lead. If we place legislation of that kind upon the statutebook, the state parliaments can be in duced to fall into line, and I am satisfied that very great benefits will result. The dairying industry is faced with many difficulties. Overseas, throughlack of organization, we have lost many thousands of pounds. Owing to the recent wharf labourers’ strike in England there was a considerable drop in the price of butter produced here. What on earth has a strike in England to do with the cost of producing butter here? Our overseas co-operative association has been of considerable assistance to the dairymen, but the industry both here and in England should be placed on a much better footing. There is no question as to who is making money out of the industry. The middlemen say, in effect, to the dairymen, “ Well done thou good and faithful slave; keep on producing, work” ten and twelve hours a day,. Sundays and week days. Give us your butter, but for heaven’s sake do not interfere with its distribution, as you have not sufficient brains to successfully organize and manage a distributing scheme. Leave that to us, so that we may further exploit you.” With adequate assistance we shall be able to build up this great Australian industry, which is now in its infancy, at the same time ensuring to the producer a reasonable remuneration for his labour and products. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) objects to price fixing, but this in certain directions is absolutelynecessary. Compulsion already exists in this industry. The dairyman is compelled to pay fixed prices for his dairying implements. He is compelled to pay for inspectors, and for the pasturization of his products. He pays wages fixed by the wages boards and arbitration courts. In the factories are many lads whose only requirement is a change of clothes. Their remuneration is greater than that received by the farmer, with, say, £5,000 in assets, represented by land, stock, and implements. It is the duty of this Parliament to break through the restraints of the Constitution to assist the dairying industry, thus opening up and developing the country and facilitating our immigration policy. While the dairying industry remains as it is we shall not be able to induce men to settle on the land. Half of the population of Australia is in our capital cities. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) stated in Sydney recently, it is absolutely imperative that something should be done to facilitate the export of butter and other primary products. I trust that he will keep his word, and will see the wisdom of bringing in legislation something on the lines of what he has clearly indicated to this House.


– I congratulate the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) for supporting the principle of socialism. I have the greatest sympathy with him and with other members of the House in their plea on behalf of the dairying industry. I am pleased that some honorable members of the Country party are at last realizing that it is necessary to eliminate the middleman, who has for years farmed the farmer. The Government’s attention has been drawn to the manner in which the primary producers are robbed by exploiters. Although there are comparatively few producers in my electorate, yet I am only too pleased to support any proposal which is legitimately calculated to further their interests. I want to point out some of the difficulties, with which the dairymen are beset. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) told us that the producer of butter made only a small, if any, profit. There is no need to inform honorable members that the profits are made - legitimately or otherwise - by the agents I wish to point out one or two instances of the practices adopted by the middlemen. A dairy farmer in the district of Camden, New South Wales, used to send his cream to a certain company in Sydney, and about every month he received from it a report, “ One can sour.” He went to Sydney to interview the company, and was asked to call and see the next can of sour cream delivered by him. As it was inconvenient for him to make the journey from Camden to Sydney, and, in any case, the cream would have gone sour by the time he got to Sydney, he said to the company, “A pastrycook, a relative of mine, is living about three doors from your factory, and the next time that a can of cream from me arrives in a sour condition, you can- send it to him, or ring him on the telephone and. ask him to call for it.” That producer did not receive another report that his cream was sour. Another dairyman in the same district, owing to receiving so many of these reports, sold his herd and grew lucerne for a living. After being out of the dairying industry for seven months, he received a report, “ One can sour “ from the company referred to. I am giving these instances to show that there is urgent need for Government interference. The butter factories handle tens of thousands of cans of cream every month, and deal with from 10,000 to 15,000 customers. If, every mouth, each customer had one can of cream debited against him as sour, the company would get perhaps from 20,000 to 30,000 cans of cream free. This practice is nothing but sheer robbery. I shall do everything in my power to assist honorable members in preventing the exploitation of our primary producers.. The dairying industry should be stabilized, and to bring this about the Government must ensure to our producers and wageearners fair prices for their products and fair remuneration for their labour.


.- I regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) was not able to conclude his remarks on the dairying industry, but I gather that, although the Commonwealth Government considers that any scheme of organization can be better handled generally by the states, yet it is prepared to extend a measure of assistance to> the industry. I trust that we shall soon have an announcement from the Government that the dairying industry will receive some assistance, financial or otherwise, so as to place it on a proper footing. Senator Wilson, who did excellent work for us abroad, and the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse), returned from England to Australia fully convinced that the standardization of our exported products was urgently needed. The dairymen of New South Wales have an excellent union - the Primary Producers’ Union - under the control of practical and sagacious men. An effort is being made by the Australian Dairy Council .to assist the dairying industry, and it is now considering the report of the Commonwealth dairying expert. It has practically been agreed to eliminate one or two grades of butter. The fewer the brands, the greater will be the advantage when the butter is marketed overseas. I believe that on the 1st of next month the standard national brand will be used. Purchasers of our products abroad, by being sold an average quality of butter - the Kangaroo brand - will thus be relieved of the suspicion with which they now regard our numerous brands. I trust that the Commonwealth Government will at the first opportunity exert every effort to place the dairying industry on a sound basis, and thereby give relief to a great number of those engaged in the industry in my district. I am pleased that honorable members of this House recognize the trying conditions under which the dairymen live. At present they cannot make a success of their farms except by working long hours, with the cooperation, of their families. With adequate assistance, the dairying industry has a great future, and will be a material factor in bringing about the success of our immigration policy. -If the conditions were improved, it would not be long before those engaged in sharefarming would have their own herds, and form a valuable adjunct to the- dairying industry.

Debate interrupted under Standing Order 119.

page 2713




asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. When will reprinted federal rolls for Queensland federal electorates be issued?
  2. Is it a fact that no federal rolls for that state have been issued since 1922?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The matter of reprinting the Commonwealth electoral rolls for the state of Queensland will receive early consideration after the Estimates are passed.
  2. Yes.

page 2713



Costs of Legal Actions


asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories^ upon notice -

  1. whether it is a fact that in- the hospital caise and the Quetch v. Story cases, the- Government Secretary of the1 Northern’ Territory paid out of public’ moneys costs that were given against him in- the above cases?
  2. In view of the comments of Judge Roberts, who adjudicated in these cases, and also in view of the fact that one at least of these cases was a civil action, does the Minister condone these payments out of public moneys?
  3. If not, what action does he intend taking in the matter?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. In the hospital case, costs amounting to £17 10s. were paid out of revenue, with the approval of the Administrator, as the Government Secretary was regarded merely . as a nominal defendant for the Northern Territory Administration, and was in no way personally concerned with the action. The Government Secretary’s costs in the Quelech v. Store cases have not been paid by the Government.
  2. See answer to No. 1. The costs in the civil case were not paid out of public moneys.
  3. See answers to 1 and 2.

page 2713



Federal Organization


asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

In view o£ the fact that over four months have elapsed since the representatives of dairymen of Australia placed before the Federal Government their proposals for a scheme providing for the stabilization of dairy produce markets, and in view of the apparent distress being suffered by thousands of. dairymen, who arc getting less than a living wage, will he accede to the request and inform the House when the Government will come to a decision on the matter?


– I must refer the honorable member- to the discussion that has just taken place in this House,, and in particular, to the speech that I then made on the subject..

page 2713



Expedition to Gulf Country


asked the Minister representing, the Minister for Home, and Territories, UPOn notice -

  1. Whether ft is a fact, as reported, that, the relief party to the survivors of the Douglas Mawson in the Gulf country does not include any bushmen?
  2. If so, will he issue instructions that a party composed of bushmen be immediately selected at the Katherine and1 dispatched to the scene of the alleged crime?
  3. Is it a fact that a party, as suggested, could reach the country in question in about one week?

– The answers to the honorable member’s’- questions are as follow : -

  1. No. The Administrator advises that every member of the party is an experienced bushman; he has telegraphed names and histories of members of the party proving this to be so.
  2. Sec answer to No. 1.
  3. Probably, but the Minister is of opinion that he must rely on the judgment of the local authorities on’ the spot in this matter.

page 2714



Cases Before High Court

Mi-. ANSTEY (for Mr. Lambert) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Will he take steps to expedite the delivery of the’ reserved judgment of the High Court, which has now been pending for some months, In connexion with the two cases recently fought by the Waterside Workers’ Federation in the Sigh Court of Australia?
  2. Will he, in view of the preferential treatment meted out to certain sections of the community with regard to wire netting, bonuses on fruit, wheat financing, and tariffs, &c, take the necessary steps to provide a substantial sum of money for the immediate relief of the prevailing distress among the waterside workers on the waterfront of Sydney, as a direct conse- quence of the alleged deliberate and unprecedented delay in finalizing the decision in the above-mentioned cases t

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. The Executive Government cannot interfere in any way with the work of the judiciary.
  2. As the relief of distress is primarily a matter for the State Governments, it is regretted that the Commonwealth Government cannot take action in this matter.

page 2714



Canadian Reciprocity


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that Canada has -offered Australia a preference of 3 (three) cents, per lb’, upon dried fruits, upon the condition that canned salmon, motor cars, and newsprint from Canada are allowed to enter Australia upon the same terms as similar items from Great Britain ?
  2. If so, has the Government seriously considered the proposal?
  3. Will he definitely state if the Canadian proposals have been .refused?
  4. If not, what is the position at present?
Minister for Trade and Customs · MARTIN, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– The matter referred to by the honorable member is at present receiving the attention of the Government, and in accordance with the established practice, no information can be given in regard to tariff proposals until the matter is brought forward for the consideration of this Parliament.

page 2714



. Jackson · for Mi

asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice] -

  1. Has the Post and Telegraph Department made a study of automatic telephones in relation to their installation in country districts?
  2. If such a study has been made, is the department aware that the American Telephone and Telegraph Company have also investigated along similar lines in the United States of America, and have made a report favouring automatic in lieu of manual telephones?
  3. Is the department aware that a certain leading manufacturer of automatic equipment has developments in hand for the reduction to minimum of costs of automatic apparatus suitable for country districts?
  4. Will the Minister endeavour to give automatic telephone’ services at the earliest possible moment outside the cities?

– The answers to ‘ the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes.
  2. It is known that the American Telephone and Telegraph Company have studied this question, and that, in certain cases, small automatic exchanges have been installed in country towns. It is not the settled policy of that company to make use of automatic equipment invariably in such cases as it is frequently uneconomical to do so.
  3. The department is aware that several manufacturers have been pursuing developments which had for their object the provision of economical automatic switching gear suitable for country districts.
  4. Yes, where the economics of the case fully justify such a proceeding. -

page 2714




asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the management of the British Phosphate Commission has no avenue of approach to the Commonwealth Government except through the Commissioner for Australia?
  2. Is it a fact that the management in the interests of Australia, the New Zealand Commissioner, and the British Commissioner, disagree with the policy of the Commissioner for Australia, and have no avenue of explaining their views to the Commonwealth Government?
  3. Has the British Government made representations to the Commonwealth Government regarding the published statement of the Commissioner for Australia, as reported in the press of 22nd July, having reference to the New Zealand and British Commissioners?
  4. Will the Minister inform the House when such representations were made, and the result?
  5. Will the Government make investigations with regard to the differences in policy between the several Commissioners?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. The management of the British Phosphate Commission is vested in the Commissioners, one of whom was appointed by the CommonWealth Government. This is the management recognized by the Governments, and provided for in article 0 of the agreement.
  2. The disagreement as between the Commissioners relates to foreign sales, and the purchase of lower-grade phosphate from outside sources. It is always competent for a Commissioner to approach his Government, who can then approach the other partner Governments, and this has been done on several occasions.
  3. No. The statement apparently referred to by the honorable member was not a statement made by the Australian Commissioner.
  4. See answer to 3.
  5. The views of all the Commissioners regarding these matters are well known to the Commonwealth Government, and are at present the subject of communications between the three partner Governments.

page 2715




– On the 25th July, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) asked the following questions : -

  1. What is the total value of cream separators imported into Australia during 1919-20, 1920-21, 1921-22, 1922-23, and 1923-24.
  2. What amount of duty was paid during each of those years.
  3. What was the duty on cream separators during those years, and what is the duty at present ?
  4. Has a “ dumping “ duty been imposed on cream separators; if so, when was this done, and what was the amount of the duty?
  5. Are cream separators manufactured in Australia; if so, what is the value of the output?

    1. If a dumping duty has been imposed, what was the country of. origin of the cream separators ?

The answers are as follow : -

  1. and 2. -
  1. Free, if of United Kingdom origin, otherwise 10 per cent, ad valorem.
  2. Yes. German cream separators were gazetted under section 9 of the Industries Preservation Act operating on and from 16th October, 1922. This section is for the protec tion of British industries. The amount of dumping duty under section 9 is. the sum which represents the difference between the fair market value in the United Kingdom of goods of like character or quality made in the United Kingdom, and the export price of the German machines. It may, therefore, differ with each importation.
  3. Cream separators so far as is known to the department are not manufactured in Australia.
  4. Germany. The principal importations are from Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, and the United States of America, and on these no dumping duty is charged.

page 2715


Bill presented by Mr. PRATTEN, and read a first. time.

page 2715

ESTIMATES, 1924-25

Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral transmitting estimates of revenue and expenditure and estimates of expenditure for additions, new works, and buildings for the year ending 30th June, 1925, and recommending appropriation accordingly.

page 2715

BUDGET, 1924-25

In Committee of Supply:

Treasurer · Cowper · CP

– It is again my privilege to present a budget, and my aim will be to make the statement as clear as possible. I shall, therefore, endeavour to deliver a round, unvarnished tale, both of the finances of the Government and of the national position as a whole. Though h has not been possible to have the budget ready quite so early as on the last occasion, I am placing it before honorable members before the close of the first month of the year, so- as to enable Parliament to give early attention to, and to exercise proper control over, the finances of the whole year. The presentation of the budget at this early stage of the year entails tremendous effort on the part of the staff, whose cheerful and selfsacrificing work I am glad to acknowledge. The difficulties surmounted will be appreciated when it is remembered that this is only the fourth budget delivered in July in the whole history of federation.

Revenue, 1923-24. The revenue received in 1923-24 amounted to £65,077,810, or £4,078,810 in excess of the budget estimate of £60,999,000. It is not necessary to show all the details which combine to produce the excess of £4,078,810, and I shall refer only to three of the items.

Customs and Excise, 1923-24. The revenue from Customs and excise was estimated at £29,650,000, when, in fact, we received £35,750,784. This amount is a record, and may be compared with £32,872,000 received in 1922-23, and with £14,978,000 in 1913-14.

Luxuries figure largely in the revenue returns, as the following particulars for the year 1922-23 indicate (details for 1923-24 not yet being available) : -

Some of the vehicles were, of course, required for business purposes, but nearly all the revenue referred to was derived from luxuries. The total of £16,207,970 represented just about half of the customs and excise receipts, and it is a very important consideration that so large a portion of revenue from customs and excise is based on articles of luxury.

Income Tax, 1923-24. The only other considerable variation from estimated revenue is in income tax, which yielded £11,057,555, instead of the estimate of £13,000,000.

Included in the amount of £11,057,555 is £3,823,000 in respect of tax that was assessed in 1922-23, but not collected at 30th June, 1923. The amount of tax that had been assessed in 1923-24, and was outstanding at 30th June, 1924, was £3,290,000- so it would appear that the revenue of 1923-24 benefited approximately by £533,000 on account of arrears. It is evident, therefore, that some other explanation must be looked for to account for the discrepancy of nearly £2,000,000 between the amount of the estimate and that actually received.

It is known that, owing to disturbance brought about by the transfer of the method of collection to state departments, the work of assessment was considerably in arrear at the close of the year, there being then on hand unexamined returns numbering 279,000, but the amount of tax remaining to be assessed cannot at present be ascertained. Even allowing for the additional assessments yet to be made, and for the fact that the incomes on which taxis payable were affected by drought in some parts of the Commonwealth, it appears that the estimate was rather too high.

Postmaste-General’-s Revenue, 1923-24. In addition to the two heads of revenue already referred to, only that of the Postmaster-General’s department returns any very considerable sum to the Treasury. In 1913-14, that department had a revenue of £4,511,000. Calculation shows that if we suppose the revenue should have increased in proportion to prices and ‘ to population, a total of £9,600,000 might have been expected in 1923-24. That sum almost exactly corresponds with the actual receipts in 1923-24, amounting to £9,757,021. Of course,the revenue of the Postmaster-General’s Department does not automatically increase or decrease with the price levels, but it is an interesting and important fact that the existing charges of the department have been arranged so as to bear upon the people with almost the same weight as the charges of 1913-14. The sums charged by the department for its services, generally speaking, appear to be proper, if we suppose that they were reasonable in 1913- 14. In view of this, it scarcely can be said that the Postmaster-General’s Department is being used to provide funds to meet the recurring expenses of the war.

The increases account for practically the whole of the excess of the expenditure over the estimate.

Estimated expenditure, 1924-25. Before dealing with the Estimates of revenue for 1924-25, I propose to set out the Estimates of expenditure for the year, because the first portion of a Treasurer’s duty in preparing the budget is to ascertain what is required for the expenditure. Having done that, he is in a position to determine whether taxation must be increased, or can be reduced. That is to say, the amount of revenue to be raised depends in a large measure upon what is considered to be the necessary expenditure which has to be provided for.

The following summary of the expenditure out of revenue in 1923-24 may be compared with the estimated expenditure for 1924-25: -

On this occasion, the expenditure on business undertakings is being shown in a separate group, as the inclusion of the figures with those of the other departments is likely to be misleading. Not including the business undertakings, the ordinary expenditure of departments is estimated for the present year at £6,432,312. Last year, the actual expenditure was £6,654,800. It will be seen that there is an estimated reduction of expenditure amounting to £222,488.

It must be emphasized that the bulk of the Commonwealth expenditure is irreducible without a reversal of the existing policy, because nearly all of the expenditure is due to business undertakings, war pensions, interest and capitation payments. Outside of irreducible items, the actual departmental expenditure and the amount expended out of revenue on new works total some £7,000,000. This is the main field in which savings can be looked for as a result of economy in administration, and examination of the figures of the last four years shows that reductions have been made, notwithstanding the cost of arbitration awards, to which I shall refer later.

The natural growth of the business undertakings entails increased expenditure. The estimated expenditure is £8,751,830, which represents an increase of £149,755 over the actual expenditure of last year. It would be possible to bring down estimates showing no increase for the business undertakings, but that would mean curtailment of services, particularly in the Post Office, and I am sure that is -not desired by the people of Australia. If we are to keep these activities in pace with our development, we must provide more money year by year for these business undertakings, in order to give to the public the services to which they are entitled.

The staffs of the departments and business undertakings are to a large extent outside the control of the Treasurer. Parliament has placed staff matters in the hands of the Public Service Board, the members of which are carefully scrutinizing the working of each department. - Salaries and other conditions of employment are finally determined by the Public Service Arbitrator. The economies effected in this budget have been brought about even though the awards of the Arbitrator have increased salaries in the last year by £250,000 per annum.

As far as is possible for the Government directly to effect savings in administration, action is being taken, as in the case of the taxation offices, where the work of Commonwealth and state collection is being concentrated in the hands of the state office, and duplication is being eliminated.

There is an increase under the head of invalid and old-age pensions, with which I propose to deal later. There remain only two other general heads under which increases are shown, namely, capitation to states, and other special appropriations. As ,to the former, it suffices to say that the additional sum ispayable to the states owing to the increase of population. The additional expenditure under the head of Other Special Appropriations, however, needs some special reference.

The estimated expenditure under Other Special Appropriations is £3,365,161, as compared with £2,992,786. The increase is £372,375, and is much more than accounted for by the interest and sinking fund on public debt incurred for purposes other than those of war. The total paid in respect of interest and sinking fund in 1923-24 was £1,315,165, whereas we expect to pay in the current year a total of £2,044,105, the additional payments amounting to £728,940. To explain this increase is not difficult, because it is due to the loan expenditure which has recently been undertaken for developmental purposes, including the extension of the services of the Postmaster-General’s department.

The only other item which is included in the table I have just used, and which requires attention, is that of the special defence provision of £1,000,000. This amount will presently be explained when I set out the general defence proposals of this year.

Total Expenditure. In addition to the expenditure already set out, there is a considerable sum which we pay as interest on loans raised for the states. Usually we exclude the figure from the total expenditure, because there is always a corresponding item on the receipts side of the account, and because, in any case, the expenditure is not really ours. “We estimate that we ‘ shall have to pay, in 1924-25, £923,785 on this account.

Including that amount, the total expenditure of 1924-25 is estimated at £64,368,968.

Defence. The Government has given careful consideration to the question . of the defence of Australia before deciding the sums to be set aside for the services. The responsibility for defence cannot be evaded even by a laudable desire to restrict unproductive expenditure. Until the march of events brings nearer the goal to which so many nations are now happily aiming, we cannot allow the country to remain in a defenceless state inviting attack.

The Government desires to establish a definite defence policy on a sound basis. It is abundantly clear from past experience that lack of policy or lack of continuity is a fruitful source of waste. A policy cannot properly be framed if its basis is merely the amount of money annually available. Some fixed plan capable of acceleration or reduction as the international situation changes is essential.

It is not at present within our power to make defensive preparations on such a scale as will enable us unaided to resist attack. As part of a great empire which in the past we have done our part in assisting, we look in case of need in the future to the aid of the remainder of the Empire.

The Government believes that a need for a forward movement’ exists, and a plan to that end has been devised.

To maintain our existing forces on their nucleus basis absorbs a sum of £3,836,997. To retain what we have, which is essential for any expansion the future may demand, and keep it at its present degree of efficiency, the amount cannot be reduced.

To inaugurate a modest programme of development, upon which the Government has decided, there will be required this year the additional sum of £1,000,000. The programme is marked out in stages, the first stage totalling five years, and at the end of that period the Government expects that the defences of the country will have advanced to a definite point. Before proceeding to outline that fiveyear policy, I desire to state that, as a first charge upon the £1,000,000, the Government proposes to devote the sum of £70,000 towards the betterment of the pay of the Auxiliary Naval Forces and the Permanent Military Forces.

The Navy, being our first line of defence, has received first consideration. The five-year programme contemplates the provision of two 10,000-ton cruisers of modern type. These are adaptable to our requirements. They are capable of co-operation, if need arises, with the ships of the Royal Navy, and they are peculiarly suitable for the protection of out sea-borne trade. In addition, two seagoing submarines of modern type will be provided. These, added to oUr present resources, will give us a definite unit. In the allocation of the existing surplus it will be seen that funds for the provision of these vessels are being provided independently of the programme of £1,000,000 per annum. From the sum mentioned we will within the period named make provision for five 8,000-ton oil tanks and 32,000 tons of oil. Within the present year, of course, only a small portion of the programme can be achieved. But the sum set aside this year will make good the deficiencies in existing personnel, give additional training to the Citizen Naval Forces, and produce one 8,000-ton oil tank.

The air is now an important factor, and a development of the Air Force is incumbent. We cannot afford to allow this service to degenerate. A policy has therefore been framed, aiming at the end of five years in giving us, in addition to the existing cadres, four new units. This year it will be possible out of the sum allocated to provide two of the four units, both stationed in New South Wales. In addition, the establishment of what is known as an aircraft depot or principal air mobilization store will be provided at Laverton, by means of which we shall be enabled to make full use of our resources - a facility which in the. past has been lacking.

The needs of the Navy and the Air have had to receive first consideration. Nevertheless, a limited programme for the Army has been prepared. With continued vigour we will prosecute requirements according to their order of importance. A small sum will be devoted to raising the efficiency of the Citizen Force personnel, to whom we look for trained staff and leaders. But our main effort will be devoted to the repair of the deficiencies which we know to exist in our munitions supply. Our organization has been drawn up, and we know the number of guns -with which we .shall be able to equip our war forces. For the present we have set ourselves the definite task within five years to provide for our field guns a certain number of rounds per gun which professional opinion regards as a reasonable minimum. This involves setting aside annually a sum of some £200,000, which will be devoted to the purchase and import of our requirements. Plans will year by year be steadily advanced until we are able to manufacture locally field guns and ammunition and fuses for guns up to 6-inch calibre. That, in addition to our existing power of manufacturing small arms and ammunition, will advance us a definite stage in our national policy of self-containment as far as it is practicable.

Repatriation. The estimated expenditure for the financial year for general Repatriation is £930,600, showing a reduction of £74,900 compared with the actual expenditure during 1923-24. The administrative staff is steadily being reduced as activities decline.

Medical treatment is becoming more and more the outstanding feature of repatriation work, the benefits of vocational training, sustenance of soldier settlers, furniture grants, &c, gradually disappearing.

During the course of the year the scope of assistance under the head of living allowances was widened considerably, and more liberal provision to the extent of £20,000 per year was made for the education of soldiers’ children.

Medical Treatment. Medical treatment is costing £425,000 per annum, and the number of men under attention is increasing owing to age, progress of disease, and war disabilities complicated with diseases of civil life.

During the last year, 27,809 applications for medical attention or surgical aids were approved, and this number will be increased in the present year as a result of the grant of medical benefits to widows, orphans, and widowed mothers of deceased unmarried soldiers.

With a view to the most satisfactory provision for treatment of mental patients, an ‘agreement has been entered into with the authorities of the State of Victoria, and agreements are now in course or completion wren the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia to ensure treatment under the best possible conditions. The soldier patients still, however, will remain a responsibility of the Commonwealth Government.

The number of war pensions is still increasing. Additional expenditure is also required for living allowances, which were made more liberal last year, especially for married soldiers who suffer total incapacity of a temporary character, and for soldiers who are incapacitated to the extent of 65 per cent, or more.

The sum of £5,250 has been provided in the Estimates for the manufacture of light metal limbs which, by lessening the fatigue of maimed soldiers, must prove of very great benefit in advancing their welfare.

Royal Commission on Pensions. To ensure that the best method shall be adopted in determining whether an. exsoldier’s disability is due to or aggravated by war service, a royal commission composed of distinguished men of the medical profession is being appointed to investigate the existing methods of deciding the origin of disabilities and the degree of their aggravation by war service.

War Service Homes. At the close of 1923-24, 24,381 war service homes had been provided. Every effort has been made to dispose of arrears, with the result that most of the branches are now in a position to deal with current requests without delay.

During the *ye&r the Government decided to dispose of the timber mills and forests in Queensland, and although a loss was made, the result was satisfactory.

Invalid and Old-age Pensions. The maximum rate of invalid and old-age pensions was increased last year from 30s. to 35s. per fortnight. A further liberalization was effected by raising the amount which an old-age pensioner might earn without affecting the rate of his pension. Other concessions were made in the payment of 3s. per week to inmates of hospitals and in the grant of similar pensions to all inmates of benevolent asylums who would have been eligible for pensions if resident outside the institutions. In addition, the statutory limit of property was increased from £310 to £400.

The effect is shown in the pensions list for the twelve months ended 30th .Tune, 1924. At that date there were 113,054 old-age and 42,617 invalid pensions, a total of 155,671, being an increase of 8,213 pensions during the twelve months, after allowing for deaths. This is the largest increase which has been experienced in any one year since 1911.

The latest figures show that 271 persons in every 10,000 of the population are in receipt of either an old-age or an invalid pension, and the amount paid by the Commonwealth in respect of those pensions during the past year was £6,523,881. The concessions previously referred to did not become operative until the 13th September, 1923, so that the full effect will not be felt until the present year, for which the estimate is £7,000,000, or an increase of about £500,000.

The Royal Commission on National Insurance is continuing its investigations on the whole subject of pensions, invalidity, casual sickness, and unemployment.

Maternity Allowances. The operation of the Maternity Allowance) Act during the past year shows a slight falling off in the number of allowances paid - the total being 3,652 less than that for the preceding year. This indicates a reduction in the birth rate.

The question of mothers’ welfare also is receiving the attention of the Royal Commission on National Insurance.

Tasmania and Western Australia. The position of Tasmania and Western Australia has been recognized’ since the beginning of federation as warranting special consideration from the Commonwealth.

In the case of Tasmania, a special grant of £900,000 spread over ten years was voted by Parliament. . The payment commenced in 1912, and after the expiration of the ten years’ period, a special grant of £85,000 was made each, succeeding year.

The Tasmanian Government- recently appealed for assistance under section 96 of the Constitution, owing to the position in which the state had found itself, and asked for an increase of £115,000 on the present grant. The Commonwealth Government replied that it would be prepared to consider Tasmania’s request if the state taxation in. Tasmania were brought approximately up to that obtaining in other states, and -if evidence of economy were given. The Tasmanian Government has now reported that its measures have increased the taxation by the sum of 12s. per head, and that it is making every endeavour to secure economy.

The Commonwealth Government has now considered the best way of assisting Tasmania, and has decided to continue the grant of £85,000 this year, and to reduce the amount by £17,000 each succeeding year. The Commonwealth will, at the same time, evacuate permanently the taxation of lotteries in Tasmania, from which the Commonwealth derived £111,000 per year. It is understood that the Tasmanian Government is ready to re-impose that tax. It is hoped that this substantial aid, the greater part of which is permanent, will make Tasmania’s position such as to render further assistance from the Commonwealth unnecessary.

The position of Western Australia has been recognized as exceptional from the framing of the Constitution until to-day. Section 95 of the Constitution provided that the Parliament of the state of Western Australia might, during the first five years after the imposition of uniform Customs duties, impose a special tariff on goods passing into that state and not originally imported from beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. These duties, which were collected by the Commonwealth and paid to the state, totalled £868,963.

In 1910, Western Australia’s position was again recognized to be exceptional, and provision was made for an annual payment of £250,000, half by the Commonwealth and half by the states, for 25 years, reducing by £10,000 a year.

The Tariff Board has recently presented a report which states that the position of Western Australia under federation warrants consideration and special treatment. It also makes recommendations in regard to legislation to give the Minister power to prevent dumping in Western Australia of goods from the eastern states, and suggests an expert investigation into the position of Western Australia, with a view to determining whether or not further financial assistance is justified.

The Government has decided to appoint a royal commission to consider the points raised by the Tariff Board, and to report . thereon.

The Interest Bill. The interest now payable by the Commonwealth is estimated for 1924-25 at-

The Bill for Sinking Fund. Moneys to be provided in 1924-25 in respect of redemption of the national debt are -

Total for Interest and Sinking Fund. The total payments in respect of interest and sinking fund are estimated for 1924-25 at £22,723,136.

Estimated Revenue, 1924-25. Customs and Excise Revenue, 1924-25 - Under existing conditions, it is very difficult to estimate the revenue to be received from Customs and excise. While our currency remains detached from the gold basis, prices are liable to fluctuations of a more or less serious character, and, though the note issuing authority in Australia undoubtedly will try to arrange the circulation of paper in such a way as to prevent considerable changes of the general price level, the possibility of fluctuation introduces an element of uncertainty in the making of an estimate of Customs and excise receipts. It may be pointed out, too,’ that the present exchange situation induces importations, and any amelioration in that respect will re-act in the direction of the restriction of imports. After consideration of all the circumstances, including the existing tightness of money, I do not think we can expect to receive more than £34,000,000 in the present year, that amount being £1,750,000 less than the actual revenue of last year, and £1,128,000 more than the revenue of 1922-23.

Income Tax, 1924-25. The federal income tax was imposed to meet war necessities. These are continuing obligations, and, though the war is over, there are still very heavy commitments for war pensions, also for interest and sinking fund on the war debt. The Government is anxious that this form of direct taxation be alleviated, and the field of income tax should be evacuated by the Commonwealth at the earliest possible moment.

The vexation caused by this tax was lessened last year to some extent by the action of the Government in arranging for one form of return both for the Commonwealth and for the states. This year the Government intends still further to lighten the burden by exempting a large number of taxpayers who have hitherto paid tax, and by making a percentage reduction of the tax payable by individuals whose incomes are above the new exempted amount.

A remission of taxation on incomes is rendered possible only because we are receiving a large revenue from duties of Customs and excise. Much of these imposts falls upon persons with small incomes and large families. On such persons income tax presses with severity, and the Government has decided to ask Parliament to grant them a substantial concession. The general income tax exemption will be increased from £200 to £300, and will diminish by £1 for every £3 by which the income exceeds £300.

All persons in receipt of incomes up to £1,200, or 96 per cent of the taxpayers, will benefit as a result of raising the exemption. These still will bear a large share of the burden of indirect taxation. Persons numbering 260,000 will be relieved . altogether of payment of income tax and, by reason of the higher exemption, 180,000 other taxpayers will obtain a reduction of tax.

The tax payable by individuals who still remain in the field of income tax will be reduced by 10 per cent. This further concession will benefit 200,000 taxpayers, and must have an important influence on development in Australia.

In view of the special circumstances of the gold-mining industry, the Government has decided to exempt from income tax the profit derived from gold-mining until the whole of the working capital invested has been returned to the owners.

The remission of tax in these directions involves a reduction of revenue and a lightening of the burden of taxation by £2,000,000.

In the year 1922-23,when the present Prime Minister was Treasurer, concessions amounting to £2,100,000 were made in income tax rates, and at that time the number of individual taxpayers was diminished from 750,000 to 460,000.

The new proposal will secure a substantial reduction of the work of the Taxation Department, and economies in administration will, of course, result. Thus we are brought one stage nearer to total evacuation by the Commonwealth of the income tax field, and it may be pointed out that the capitation payments to the states will soon approximate very closely to the yield of federal income tax, so far as it is paid by individuals.

In addition to the remission of £2,000,000, the tax on lotteries is being discontinued as part of the proposal to assist Tasmania. At the present time the Commonwealth receives about £111,000 from this .source, which, I am given to understand, Tasmania will reimpose. Queensland will also benefit by this decision.

In view of recent legal decisions, the Government proposes to introduce legislation to provide that in “the years 1918-19 to 1921-22, inclusive, live stock on hand at the beginning and end of each year shall be brought to account at market values. There will be a proviso, however, that any taxpayer, who does not notify the department within three months that he desires his assessments to be amended so as to account for live stock at market values, shall be deemed to have accepted the values at which live stock have already been included by the department in those assessments. The proposed legislation will extend this option to the assessments for 1915-16, 1916-17, and 1917-18, so that all asessments at values other than market values may be accepted by the taxpayers as final.

To carry out the intention of Parliament, an amendment of the Income Tax Act will be submitted in order to validate past assessments on income earned in relation to assignment or transfer of leases.

The Government also proposes to amend the act in regard to the deduction allowed for depreciation of plant, machinery, &c. The present method of calculating a deduction will be retained, but an alternative will be provided. This will permit a deduction of the amount required to write off the cost during the estimated life of the asset.

Entertainments Tax. There now seems to be no necessity for the taxation of entertainments which are occasionally held for public and religious purposes and for the purpose of raising funds for the building of memorial halls. It is, there fore, intended to exclude these classes of casual entertainments from the operation of the act.

Postmaster-General’s Revenue, 1924-25. The business of the PostmasterGeneral’s department is expanding generally, and it is only natural that we should now begin to feel the effects of the additions to the capital works which have been in progress for -two years. The estimate for the year is £10,004,000, or an increase of nearly £250,000 over the revenue of last year.

New telephone services are affording direct benefit to country users, and exceptional expansion is revealed in the work done during the year. The length of new pole routes erected for telephone trunks and country lines was 3,796 miles, and the wire mileage provided 47,126.

The reduction of postage rates, which took effect from the 1st October, 1923, entailed a loss of revenue of approximately £800,000 during the nine months of 1923-24. The loss for a full year approximates £1,067,000.

It is estimated that the postage revenue for 1924-25 will be greater than that for 1923-24 by only £11,340. It must, however, be borne in mind that the reduced postage rates were in force for only nine months during 1923-24, and so last year got the benefit of the higher rates for three months.

The department is engaged in a large programme of improving the telegraph system and meeting the abnormal demand for telephone service. Efforts have been directed during the past year to the elimination of arrears, and although these have not yet been overtaken, the position has materially improved. It is owing to the continuous abnormal public demand for facilities that the arrears have nob been entirely disposed of. During the year 49,000 requests for additional telephones were met.

During 1923-24, £3,718,154 was spent on new telegraph and telephone works. In the same period the telegraph revenue increased by 4.7 per cent., and the telephone revenue increased by 10.68 per cent, after giving up £18,000 by way of reduced charges.

For 1924-25, it is estimated that £3,230,000 will be spent on new telegraph and telephone works, and it is also estimated that the telephone revenue will increase by 10.8 per cent, after allowing for a loss of £58,000 through reduced charges. The telegraph revenue is also expected to increase by 3.5 per cent.

It will serve a useful purpose now to set out a short statement covering the major figures of the Estimates of the Postmaster-General’s Department for the year 1924-25.

I have already suggested, as the result .of a calculation, that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department was not being used as a taxing machine, and these figures are produced in confirmation.

Revenue under Other Heads, 1924-25. Apart from the items already referred to, the Estimates for the new year show no remarkable divergence from the figures of the previous year, except in relation to interest paid by states on loans made to them by the Commonwealth for soldier land settlement. Under this head, a total of £1,825,000 is estimated for the current year, that being roughly £1,000,000 more than was received in the preceding year. The explanation is “that about £500,000 which did not come to hand last year has been added to the normal expectation of 1924-25.

Total Estimated Revenue, 1924-25. Under all heads, including repayment of interest on loans raised for the states and repayment of fruit advances, I estimate that the total revenue of the Commonwealth in the current year will be £64,395,000, as compared with £66,017,203 received in 1923-24. Honorable members who are interested will, no doubt, refer for details to the budget tables, which are being circulated as usual.

Accumulated Surplus. It is necessary now to deal with the accumulated surplus existing at the 30th June, 1924, which, as has been stated, amounts to £5,100,003. The Government propose to deal with that surplus in the following way, -

The amounts set down for defence construction are essentially in the nature of insurance premiums for our national safety. The gesture of the Imperial Government to the rest of the world, which interfered with the building of the Singapore base, is unfortunately a gesture to the Australian Commonwealth to; make itself ready for any emergency. The Government’s general programme for the development of its defence forces - naval, military, and air - will involve an increased annual expenditure of at least £1,000,000 in each of the next five years. In addition, interest and sinking fund on new loans obtained for reproductive works, such as the Post Office, added to the increased interest which inevitably will be paid on renewal of loans, will make a charge of well over £1,000,000 next year. Increase of population will add about £400,000 per annum to our expenditure in pension and capitation payments.

The foregoing figures indicate that if the accumulated surplus were used for reducing taxation this year, the remission would probably last only for one year and re-imposition of the taxation would be necessary.

Under some circumstances, it is not improper to use a surplus for remission of taxation, but, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is necessary to keep the amount of remission on this occasion within the limits of the surplus which otherwise would accrue in the accounts of the current . financial year. The Government is satisfied that it is acting in the best interests of Australia by dealing with the accumulated surplus of previous years in the manner described.

Remission of Taxation and Special Expenditure in Three Years. During the past two years there have been substantial remissions of taxation, which are recurring, namely: -

Annual reduction in taxation already made -

In addition to arranging for this annual reduction in taxation, the Commonwealth has provided for: -

Expenditure out of the Loan Fund. In 1923-24 the Commonwealth expenditure out of loans amounted to £9,353,586. The estimated expenditure for 1924-25 is £8,282,835. The estimated expenditure may be summarized: -

National Debt. The year 1923-24 may be regarded as the most notable iD the history of the national debt, for the following reasons: -

  1. A National Debt Sinking Fund was established on a sound basis.
  2. The first practical steps were taken for preventing competition and clashing in the loan operations of the Commonwealth and the states in Australia and for the limitation of borrowing.
  3. Legislation was passed to prevent the issue of further tax-free loans by the Commonwealth or the states.
  4. “War debt totalling . £9,041,670 was redeemed out of revenue and sinking funds.
  5. The first war loan redemption and conversion operations, covering debt totalling £58,299,478, were successfully carried out in Australia.

National Debt i Sinking Fund. In August last, an act was passed by the Parliament to establish and to safeguard a sinking fund for the national debt. The earlier sinking funds were merged in the new sinking fund, and provision was made for a sum of at least 10s. for every £100 of the net debt being paid annually out of revenue to the trustees of the new fund. This contribution is payable for a period of fifty years, both in respect of old debt and of new debt created subsequent to the act.

An additional annual payment of 20s. for each £100 of the debt incurred for postal works must also be made to the sinking fund. This heavier contribution is provided because, generally speaking, postal works must be replaced in considerably less than 50 years.

Half of the profits of the Commonwealth Bank are also payable to the sinking fund.

The debt redeemed from the sinking funds in 1923-24 totalled £3,008,233, as follows : -

In addition, an amount of £1,117,682 was paid from revenue direct to the British Treasury in reduction of our war indebtedness to the Government of the United Kingdom.

The balance of the National Debt Sinking Fund, at 30th June, 1924, was £2,059,372, of which £2,051,588 represents investments in Government securities taken over from the old sinking funds, and £7,784 was on current account in the bank. . . Dr. Earle Page.

The trustees of the national debt sinking fund are the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, the Solicitor-General, and the Secretary to the Treasury. With such a commission, there can be no doubt that the sinking funds will be applied solely for the extinction of the national debt, as directed by Parliament.

Adequate and duly-safeguarded sinking funds are essential for the maintenance of the high credit of Australia. In view of the necessity for further borrowing for development, nothing is more important than action which will show investors both in Australia and overseas that we are determined to meet our obligations, and have entered into definite and well-considered plans for that purpose.

The sinking funds of the several states are not arranged on any common basis, but I am glad to say that the states agreed to make- contributions to sinking funds at the rate of 10s. per annum for each £100 of new loans raised. They have not yet, however, taken all the steps necessary to give effect to this agreement.

Co-ordination of borrowing. For several years, efforts had been made to overcome the difficulties arising out of the competition of the six states with each other and with the Commonwealth in the raising of loan moneys. No action of practical value was taken, however, until the establishment of the Australian Loan Council in May, 1923. This council, consisting of the Treasurers of the Commonwealth and of the states, was created as the result of representations made by the Commonwealth Government, and has as its objects the prevention of undue competition and clashing.

At its first meeting, held on the 1st February, 1924, the Loan Council recognized the necessity for co-operation in the raising of loans. The terms to be offered by the several governments for loans in Australia up to June, 1924, were agreed to, and arrangements were made to prevent undue clashing during the period required by the Commonwealth for the flotation of its War Gratuity Redemption and Conversion Loan. Proposals for limiting loan expenditure, and for giving the Loan Council authority to determine the time and method of placing loans in Australia, were also considered, but the members of the council were not then prepared to agree that there should be only one borrower.

As the smaller states appeared to be under a disadvantage in securing loan moneys during 1923-24, the Commonwealth agreed to lend £1,250,000 to Queensland and £750,000 to Western Australia, in order to make it unnecessary for those states to approach the market during the progress of the Commonwealth war gratuity effort.

These arrangements proved to be satisfactory so far as they went, but further experience convinced all concerned that the solution of the difficulties could be found only by an agreement for one authority to borrow on behalf of all.

At further meetings of the council in June and July of this year, a unanimous desire was expressed to limit borrowing, and - the following resolution was carried : -

The Australian Loan Council, having had under review the loan requirements of the various states and the Commonwealth for the forthcoming financial year, agrees as to the advisability of concerted action being taken by the states and the Commonwealth to raise the amounts required in Australia for the year. After careful consideration, and recognizing the need for some central body functioning on behalf of both states and Commonwealth, the council agrees that the Commonwealth should arrange a loan for the agreed amount, and the states will give inscribed stock, bearing concurrent obligations, to the Commonwealth for the amounts allocated on a basis to be determined.

The Treasurers placed the Loan Council’s proposals before their respective Cabinets,- and all . the governments accepted the council’s recommendation for a reduction of their contemplated loan programmes. The council then agreed upon the proportion of the loans that should be raised in Australia and overseas, and that might be undertaken without disturbance of the national financial position. Proposals for giving effect to the reduced programme will shortly be submitted to Parliament, and honorable members mil be asked to agree to the issue through a central borrowing authority of a loan for subscription in Australia, to provide moneys for the public works of the states during the financial year 1924-25.

Tax-Free Loans. In 1918, the Commonwealth discontinued the issue of taxfree loans, believing that it was undesirable and inequitable to add to the already large amount of income which had been placed outside the field of taxation. As five of the states had always followed the practice of issuing loans bearing tax-free interest, the Commonwealth Government suggested at the Premiers’ Conference in May, 1923, that the states should agree to interest on all their future loans being subject to taxation. This proposal was accepted by the states, and subsequently the Commonwealth Parliament passed an act providing that all governmental loans issued in Australia after the 1st January, 1924, shall be subject to federal income tax.

The position now is that no more loans free of federal income taxes can be issued either by the Commonwealth or by the states, but until two of the states have passed further legislation, the interest on all loans, except those of Tasmania, will remain free of state income tax.

Debt Redemption. The amount applied towards the redemption of debt in 1923-24- £9,041,670- was provided as under -

This substantial reduction of the war debt, chiefly out of revenue, is most satisfactory, and is evidence of the strength and resources of Australia.

Redemption and Conversion Loans. The large redemption and conversion loans of 1923-24 provided for the continuation of a, 5 per cent, war loan of £38,693,050, which matured on the 15th September, 1923, and for meeting the war gratuities which matured on the 31st May, 1924, and totalled £19,606,428.

Of the £38,693,050 due to holders in the 5 per cent, war loan, £23,836,824 was converted into new securities, leaving a balance of £14,856,226 to be redeemed. Towards payment of this balance, £8,749,999 in new cash was received from the public, leaving a shortage on the whole loan operation of £6,106,227, which was met out of balances in the Treasury.

Of the indebtedness of £19,606,428 in respect of war gratuities, £3,931,092 was converted into new holdings of inscribed stock and bearer bonds. The balance of war gratuity indebtedness which the Treasury was called on to redeem, after allowing for the conversions, was £15,675,336, of which £7,702,590 was provided by new cash subscriptions received from the public, and £6,000,000 was subscribed by the note issue department of the Commonwealth Bank. The £6,000,000 was used to pay off the war gratuity indebtedness ofthe Treasury to the banks. These operations left a shortage of £1,972,746 on the war gratuity transactions of the year, which was found out of balances in the Treasury.

Of this shortage, £7,186,732 has already been paid by the Treasury to bond-owners, whilst £392,241 remains to be met during the current financial year, the owners of securities to the last-mentioned amount not having applied for redemption up to the 30th June last.

The results of these heavy loan conversions are very satisfactory, especially when it is remembered that many holders of war gratuity bonds were not in a position to convert, and that a considerable portion of the war loan of £38,693,050 was held by persons who had subscribed in 1918 for patriotic reasons, and were not regular investors in Government securities.

In some quarters there has been a tendency to ascribe the tightness of the money market in Australia to. the loan transactions of the Commonwealth. Such a charge cannot be sustained. Not only has the Commonwealth refrained from approaching the Australian market for new money for three years, but during the financial year which has just closed the Treasury actually paid, in redemption of Commonwealth securities, £7,186,732 more “than it drew from the loan market in cash subscriptions to its redemption loans.

The gross debt at the beginning of the year was £410,996,316, so that there was an increase of £4,603,783 in the nominal amount of the national debt during the year. This, however, does not show the true position of the debt, because the new moneys raised during the year were used mainly for making loans which are repayable in cash to the Commonwealth, and for developmental works which, either directly or indirectly, are revenueproducing. Thus £3,212,000 was lent to the states and to applicants for war service homes, and £3,974,000 was spent on postal, telegraphic, and telephonic works. These items alone total £7,186,000, a sum considerably exceeding the increase in the gross debt.

Reduction of Deadweight Debt. The gross debt of the Commonwealth includes large sums which have been lent to the States for soldier land settlement and public works, advances for war service homes, and other recoverable moneys. These sums, as well as the sinking funds and the loan moneys in band, must be set off against the gross debt to ascertain the net debt.

Only liquid assets have been deducted from the gross debt, no deduction having been made for properties, valued at £10,860,591, transferred from the states, or for assets created by the expenditure of £23,196,012 on public works.

Allowing only for these liquid assets, the net national debt has been reduced by £1,382,823 during 1923-24. However, as the loan expenditure during the year chiefly has been on works which will be immediately productive, such as telephones, &c., the true position of the national debt can be ascertained only by a comparison of the deadweight debt - that is, the debt after allowance is made, not only for recoverable moneys, but also for such revenue-producing assets. Though the value of these revenueproducing assets cannot be given exactly, it is clear that the deadweight debt has been reduced during the year by approximately £7,000,000.

Maturity of Debt. The debt due to the public matures as follows : -

Nearly all the debt due to the public and maturing in the next ten years is payable in Australia. The figures for 1925-26 include £68,813,950 of 4½ per cent, stock and bonds redeemable in Australia on the 15th December, 1925. This 4½ per cent. debt is free of federal income tax, andit will be necessary for the Commonwealth to float a loan during 1925 to provide for the continuation of the greater part of it. The arrangement made by the Australian Loan Council for one borrowing authority to act on behalf of the states and the Commonwealth during this financial year has a most important bearing on this loan-renewal operation. The plan of the Loan Council provides for all the new money required in Australia during 1924-25 being raised in the first half of the financial year, so that the Commonwealth may have a clear field for its conversion loan after the 1st January, 1925.

Debts of the States. The debts of the states at the 30th June, 1923, the latest date for which particulars are available, were -

The money raised by the states has been spent chiefly on works which earn revenue. The net revenue from these state works, that is, the balance of revenue available for the payment of interest on the relative loans, was £16,696,850 in 1922-23.

The sinking funds of the states total £16,053,539. The amount paid to state sinking funds from revenue in 1923-24 was £1,155,000, but action is being taken by the states to increase their annual sinking fund contributions.

The gross debt of Australia per head of population is £158.

Assistance to Primary Producers. In the opinion of the Government the most urgent problem facing Australia to-day is that of markets to enable our great exporting industries to expand. Upon the solution depend development, finance, and power to absorb the ever-increasing population which is vital to our national security and prosperity. The .Government has declared its intention to render a measure of assistance, so that the exporting industries effectively may meet competition in the world’s markets. In providing assistance, the Government is following the action taken by many other countries where marketing problems have become the chief economic consideration. Two notable examples are those of New Zealand, where legislation has -been passed to give effective control of export marketing to the organized producers of that country, and the United States of America, where the marketing problems of the farmer have become the anxious concern of Congress and of the executive.

The general principles by which the Government will be guided in determining what assistance should be given to any particular industry were laid down by the Prime Minister in his Sydney speech of the 16th April. He then declared that the basis of the Government’s proposals was that help would be given only to those industries which were prepared to help themselves, and that a condition precedent to any assistance must be an effective organization which will achieve permanent results.

Immediately after the Prim© Minister’s speech, steps were taken by the- Government to ascertain the present position of the exporting industries, their future prospects, and the degree of organization which had been attained for efficient production, marketing and distribution.

As a result of the inquiries the Government is satisfied that in many of our exporting industries the methods of production, the degree of organization, and the system of marketing leave a great deal to be desired. Though the producers have in some cases made earnest efforts to remedy defects, many attempts have failed owing to the lack of unity among the producers themselves.

The Government is continuing its investigations, and is also in negotiation with the representatives of several of the exporting industries. Necessarily, the investigations and negotiations will take a considerable time before the arrangements ‘ can be completed to place the industries on a basis of efficient production and adequate organization for the distribution and marketing of products.

Pending the final decision as to what action should be taken, it is necessary

Dr. Earle Page. that some measure of assistance should be given where individual industries are threatened with an immediate crisis. Two instances of that kind have arisen during the Government’s inquiries - namely, the dried fruit industry and a section of the wine industry.

In the dried fruit industry, the situation has been met by the scheme, as already announced, for guaranteeing the temporary continuance of advances, a cessation of which was threatened owing to the inability of the ordinary sources further to finance.

The crisis in a section of the wine industry has been met by a bounty payable to the growers of Doradilla grapes, in which State Governments h-ave been asked to bear an equal share.

It is not possible at present to state exactly the amount of the parliamentary appropriation which will be necessary to carry out the policy of assistance to exporting industries, but for the present year it is estimated that a sum of £500,000 will ‘be sufficient, and this amount is being provided out of the surplus of the year 1923-24.

Preference. The problem of markets also affects countries dependent upon the export of manufactured goods. GreatBritain now regards the solution of her grave unemployment problems as being mainly dependent upon the provision of markets. The Government is satisfied that the people of Great Britain are now beginning to understand what an enormous part the Empire, and particularly the self-governing dominions, can play in the provision of these essential markets, and also that the absorption of British migrants by the dominions is directly conditioned by the provision of stable markets for the produce of -the dominions.

The Government is convinced that the final solution of many of Australia’s marketing problems will be found in the adoption by both Britain and the selfgoverning dominions of joint schemes of Imperial economic development. It is therefore determined to do everything in its power to promote the adoption of such a policy of reciprocal preference and to co-operate with the other Governments of the Empire towards the solution of these joint problems.

The Government is negotiating with the Government of New Zealand with a view to obtaining special tariff advantages for Australian currants and raisins. Under the present New Zealand tariff and agreements currants and raisins are admitted free into New Zealand, irrespective of origin. Consequently, Australia enjoys no preference. The New Zealand tariff contains a provision whereby a “ suspended “ duty of 2d. per lb. on these products may be brought into effect by Order in Council. The object of the negotiations is to have the suspended duty brought into effect. The Government hopes for a successful issue.

The Government has taken further steps for a reciprocal tariff treaty with Canada. During his visit to the Imperial Conferences, the Prime Minister made arrangements for negotiations between Canada and Australia. The result of these negotiations is at present receiving the earnest consideration of the Government.

The Prime Minister also took the opportunity, whilst in London, to confer with General Smuts on the subject of a new treaty between South Africa and Australia, and the matter is now approaching completion.

Dairying. The Government is examining the conditions of the dairying industry, the serious position of producers in which is fully appreciated by the Government.

The industry has been going through a critical period during the last two years. Though the average price would be considered satisfactory, the great and sudden depression of two years in succession, showing a drop of £2 per cwt. in a couple of weeks, at a time when Australian butter was on the British markets in heaviest supply, caused dairy farmers to lose heart to some extent. This, and drought in 1922 and 1923 over a large section of New South Wales and Queensland, reduced the incomes of dairy farmers considerably, and, as a result, development has not been as great as had been expected. There is, however, material evidence that matters are considerably improving.

The prospect for the forthcoming season is good., and though the export may not reach the high level which 1921-22 showed, when our total export of butter amounted to 2,274,000 boxes, it is anticipated that we shall export 1,500,000 boxes in the current year, as against an export of slightly over 1,000,000 boxes in the year ended the 30th June last.

Though exports have been depressed, the quality of Australian butter has improved, when compared with last year. The policy of the Commonwealth Government in enforcing stricter conditions of export and a national brand has been a material influence in bringing about this improvement.

Prices are expected to be satisfactory, provided the market conditions are properly organized. The cost of production of butter and cheese throughout the world continues high, as a result of increased wages, and that cost cannot be expected to. fall to anything like pre-war levels while prices generally remain high everywhere.

Fruit. The Canned Fruit Pools, established in 1920-21 and 1921-22, have at last been brought to an end. On this year’s Estimates is an amount of £154,000 to meet the remaining losses.

The total amount paid to the growers on the three Pools of the years 1920-21, 1921-22, and 1922-23 was £336,952, and to canners £943,211. The total losses, including interest, amounted to £643,000.

The present Government found that no progress was being made, under the pool system, towards the stabilization of the fruit industry, and little success might have been expected., in view of the fact that the growers and canners were relieved of all responsibility in the purchase and sale of fruit. In view of the large stocks on hand in 1923,- the “Government determined to use them in popularizing Australian fruit and stimulating its consumption in Australia. A substantial reduction in price, together with an intensive advertising campaign, brought a pleasing result, for the consumption increased by 300 per cent, during the past year.

For the 1923-24 season, the Government resolved to place the whole responsibility of disposing of this product on the industry itself.

To assist the industry during the period of transition from Government control to private responsibility, a bounty was offered to the canners on conditions that all fruit available was taken and the grower paid not less than an approved minimum price for his fruit. The bounty was paid for the production of canned fruits of approved quality, and a further bounty on all approved high quality export. Twenty-nine factories accepted the scheme, and operated at full capacity. They will have canned 28,000 tons of fruit by the end of August, making up a total pack of 2,220,000 dozen 30-oz. tins of fruits canned for bounty.

Thanks to the success attained by the Prime Minister and Senator Wilson in having . the old stock disposed of and sold as Australian fruit in England, and also owing to the high quality and grading of the pack, there has been a great demand in Great Britain, and the prices have been better than the best realized by California.

The results of the Government’s action both in Australia and in Great Britain indicate that the trouble experienced ‘in the fruit industry is the result of an insufficient production, a continuous supply to the oversea market nob being available, rather than over-production, as was so pessimistically suggested last year in some quarters.

Though the quantity of fruit handled by the canning factories this season exceeded that of the previous season by 5,000 tons, there is good reason to expect that the whole of the 1923-24 pack will be sold before the next canning season commences.

Fresh Fruit. The total export of fresh apples from Australia this year is 1,680,700 bushel cases. Owing to the unfavorable season, this quantity is less than the export of the previous year. Prices have, however, shown a considerable improvement in Great Britain. Australian apples are at present selling at prices ranging from 12s. 6d. to 20s. a case. Early in the season prices ranged from lis. to 15s.

Sugar. The Auditor-General’s certifi-cate on the conclusion of Commonwealth sugar control on 30th June, 1923, revealed a credit balance of £65,958. Of this £40,000 has been paid into the Consolidated Revenue - the remainder being held against possible disputed claims. ‘

During control from 9th July, 1915, to 30th June, 1923, the Commonwealth, handled 1,705,126 tons of Australian raw sugar, averaging £29 2s. 7d. per ton c.i.f., and 475,947 tons of foreign raw sugar, averaging £37 19s. per ton c.i.f. refinery, or a total of 2,181,073 tons, having a turnover value of £73,500,000. The purely governmental supervision and audit of these transactions cost £10,945, or only a minute fraction of the turnover.

Although the Government suffered considerable loss on foreign importations in 1919-20, the Australian average price during the entire control period was only 4.38d. per lb. retail, and the small profit of only about 0.1 per cent, was made.

The Pool created by the industry and the Queensland Government under arrangement with the Commonwealth Government last year is carrying on satisfactorily under the; management of the Queensland Sugar Board.

Sugar is still being supplied for export purposes at the Australian equivalent of the world’s parity. For internal consumption it is supplied at Fremantle, Hobart, and Launceston at the prices obtaining in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide.

Sugar is supplied to manufacturers of fruit products and condensed milk at less than the ordinary prices, with the object of assisting the fruit and dairying industries. The sugar industry has, by a big increase in crop, reacted to the fair and reasonable treatment received under the arrangement made by the Government last year, and it is expected that approximately 70,000 tons will be available for export this season.

Wool. As foreshadowed in my budget speech last year, there has been a considerable falling off in Australia’s wool production. Compared with the preceding year, there was a reduction of over 200,000 bales in 1923-24, and, when compared with the year ended 30th June, 1920, last season’s clip showed a decrease of over 300,000 bales. Unfavorable seasonal conditions were partly responsible for the adverse movement, and to the extent that they were not so, this falling off in the production is a serious matter.

Sales proceeded, during last year, practically without interruption, competition was keen and generally well sustained, and the satisfactory prices were fully maintained. Overseas manufacturers, faced with a world shortage of merino wool, are each year realizing more fully the necessity of coming to the source of supply, and a conspicuous feature of the year just closed was the increase in the number of buyers operating in the Australian market.

Advices from all states indicate that the coming season’s wool clip will, as a whole, be sounder, better nourished, heavier in condition and somewhat stronger in quality than that of last year, but, as is almost invariably the case when seasons are good, it will carry more seed and vegetable matter.

The disposal of the last of “ B.A.W.R.A.” wools, the exhausted condition of manufacturers’ stocks, and the fact that the world’s supply of wool is now below manufacturers’ demands, are all factors likely to maintain the present value of wool for some time to come.

Wheat. The present high prices ruling in the world’s wheat market, which seem likely to be maintained, is a development that is most encouraging to those engaged in the industry. There is every indication of a ready demand at remunerative prices for the present season’s crop. The Government has indicated its willingness to co-operate with the various state Governments, under certain conditions, to assist in the marketing of this year’s crop.

Migration. The development of migration to Australia during last year showed some improvement. Since the Commonwealth Government assumed control overseas in March, 1921, 74,343 assisted migrants have been brought to Australia, and of these 26,511 entered during 1923. The Commonwealth participation in the migration scheme is confined to the recruiting, selection, and conveyance of migrants on requisitions furnished by the State Governments. The London organization for this purpose is now capable of supplying far more migrants than have yet been requisitioned, and the Government is endeavouring, by offering further encouragement to the states, to induce a larger flow of migrants up to a total of 50,000 per annum.

Three land settlement schemes had already been entered into with individual states by the British and Commonwealth Governments jointly, under which provision is made for the settlement on farms of 14,000 families and their dependants over a period of five years. Negotiations, however, now being conducted with the British Government which, it is hoped, will lead to an additional comprehensive scheme covering all states. The outstanding feature of the new proposal is the granting of substantial interest concessions by the British Government on £34,000,000, to be advanced by the Commonwealth to the states, not merely for the purpose of land settlement as stipulated in the three agreements referred to, but for the financing of developmental and reproductive enterprises in Australia, which will ensure proper and profitable absorption of an average of 45,000 migrants of all vocations per annum for ten years, and incidentally give a stimulus to local industry which should preclude any possibility of local unemployment.

The Government is giving special attention to nominated migrants, 11,115 of these having been introduced during 1923. The special advantage of this latter form of migration lies in the fact that persons resident in Britain are nominated by their relatives and friends in Australia, who thus ensure their rapid assimilation into Australian citizenship and reduce the possibility of failure to a minimum.

Provision will also be made during this v ?ar in conjunction with the states and in accordance with agreement reached at the last ^Premiers’ Conference, for the erection of proper receiving and training depots to ensure the most satisfactory reception and treatment of migrants upon arrival.

Standardization and Power Survey. At the instance of the Commonwealth Government a definite step forward has been taken with regard to the tabulation of the power resources of the Commonwealth through the preparation for the World’s Power Conference, by the Australian Institute of Engineers, of a comprehensive statement of the known power possibilities in Australia.

A Power Survey Sectional Committee of the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association has also been formed, and this is proceeding immediately to a complete survey of the power resources of the Commonwealth with a view to their development and proper utilization. At the same time the Electrical Standardization Committee is attempting to prepare uniform standards for Australia in relation to the development, transmission and distribution of power.

The experience of the past year has shown the absolute need of standardization in engineering, manufacturing, and other allied activities, to stop the huge economic loss now occurring. The diversity, complexity, and magnitude of the work render it impossible to provide from voluntary sources the necessary assistance to the numerous sectional sub- committees and panel-committees of the Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association. Ever-increasing numbers of engineers and technical experts are engaged in a purely honorary capacity on technical details, and though accommodation has been found hitherto by the Australian Institute of Engineers in Sydney, the demands of the association are now greater than the space available.

The Government is therefore setting aside a sum of £5,000, to be supplemented by another £5,000 to be contributed by state governments and industrial undertakings. This will permit of an extension of the investigation to all sources of information, and the gradual acquirement of intimate knowledge of the possibilities of industrial development. The Government confidently expects that developments in the reduction of capital and working costs will ensue as a result of the work of the association, and that the expenditure which is being incurred will yield very great benefits.

Superannuation. The contributions to the superannuation fund by employees of the Public Service to the 30th June, 1924, amounted to £404,000. The number of contributors on that date was 26,500.

When the Superannuation Bill was under discussion in Parliament, a promise was made by the Government that arrangements would be made to amend the act to provide for the special conditions of the defence service. Subsequently, a committee of officers of the Defence Department submitted a scheme, which some time ago was referred for actuarial investigation. On receipt of the actuarial report the matter will be immediately dealt with by the Government with a view to legislation. Any new provisions will date from the 1st July, 1924.

Expropriated Property in New Guinea. The Expropriation Board has control of 268 plantations, of a total area of 294,530 acres, of which 117,809 acres are planted. The board also has numerous trading stations and several stores.

The managing staff is composed of about 300 Europeans, most of whom are exsoldiers. Approximately 15,000 natives are employed. The finances show an accumulated deficit as follows: -

It will be noticed that the deficit for 1923-24 is very much less than that incurred in 1922-23. That has happened because more trees are coming into bearing and because there has been a slight increase in the price of copra. The improvement should continue.

The deficit has been provided for in the following way: -

A large proportion of the boards expenditure is incurred in the maintenance of non-bearing areas. Capital expenditure on plantations, &c, to 30th June, 1921, amounted to, approximately, £600,000, or more than half the deficit.

Another principal factor contributing to the deficit was the world slump in 1920, just after the board commenced its work, when the price of copra fell from £42 to £16 per ton. The present price of copra is about £24 per ton, still much lower than the pre-war price.

Also advances were made to German nationals by their countrymen, who were necessarily employed by the board at its inception, and without authority German managers of companies paid debts owed by the companies to German nationals and neutrals. The amount so paid cannot be ascertained until the whole of the debtor and creditor accounts of the companies have been analyzed, but it is estimated to be about £200,000.

The deficit has thus been caused by the following : -

The amount of the deficit will be recovered from the proceeds of the sale of expropriated properties, the value of which is far greater than the amount of the deficit.

The Mandated Territory has suffered severely owing to the low price of copra. Future results depend chiefly upon a recovery of the European markets for the sale of copra.

The disposal of the expropriated properties will have the serious consideration of the Government, which recognizes the value to the Territory of private ownership. A rise in the price of copra would have a most important effect on the sale value of the properties. In view of this, perhaps the wisest policy will be found in hastening slowly.

The Government will take an early opportunity of submitting to Parliament its considered policy.

The Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The revenue and expenditure of the Territory has been -

The chief sources of revenue of the Territory are Customs import and export duties; native head tax, business tax, licence-fees, postal revenue, and land revenue.

A loan of £67,000 has been authorized by the Commonwealth, for the purchase of ships and for works.

Grafton-Kyogle-South Brisbane Bail-‘ way. The royal commission appointed by the Commonwealth and the state Governments to report upon the matter of uniform railway gauge for Australia presented its report on the 22nd September, 1921, and recommended that 4 ft. 81/2 in. be adopted as the standard gauge for Australian railways, that action bo taken to secure a standard gauge railway between Brisbane and Perth, and that all railway lines of 5 ft, 3 in. gauge owned by any of the states be converted to the Standard.

The report was considered by the Prime Minister and the state Premiers in conference, when it was unanimously agreed that a uniform railway gauge was necessary in the interests of trade and commerce, and the safety of the Commonwealth, and that 4 ft.81/2 in. should be the standard gauge.

All of the five states affected not having agreed to carry out the recommendations of the royal commission, the Commonwealth and the States of New South “Wales and Queensland are considering a proposal to give partial effect to the recommendations by the execution of the following works, namely: -

  1. Construction of a railway of standard gauge between Kyogle, in New South Wales, and South Brisbane, in Queensland, so as to connect Sydney and South Brisbane;
  2. The re-grading and re-laying of the existing railway between Grafton and Kyogle so as to bring that railway up to a prescribed standard.

A memorandum of agreement on the subject is now with the respective Premiers.

It is provided that the work is to be regarded as the first portion of the uniform railway gauge scheme as submitted by the royal commission in their report already referred to.

The estimated cost of the construction of the works contemplated is £3,500,000, which it is proposed shall, in the first instance, be provided by the Commonwealth. The proportion of the cost will be borne as follows: -

The Commonwealth’ will contribute one-fifth, plus the amounts which Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia would have contributed if they had come into the scheme.

New South Wales and Queensland respectively will contribute towards four-fifths of the cost in the proportion that the population of each of the two states bears to the total population of the five mainland states.

The Commonwealth will pay interest on one-fifth, and, in addition, for the time being, will pay interest on the shares which, had agreement been arrived at by all the mainland states, would have been paid by Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. This is to be subject to review as each of the states comes to agreement on the railway gauge proposals. New South Wales and Queensland will pay interest on their respective shares on a capitation basis.

The earnings from the railway in excess of working expenses will be used to defray the interest charges on the capital invested in the following order : -

Firstly, on the amount representing the sum which the states of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia would have contributed had they been contributors.

Secondly, on the amount contributed by New South Wales and Queensland.

Thirdly, on the amount contributed by the Commonwealth.

Surveys are now in hand, and when the agreement is ratified by the respective Parliaments there will be no delay in commencing the work.

This may be regarded as the first portion of the uniform railway gauge scheme. The Government is giving consideration to the question of further development of this scheme to connect other capitals. Negotiations are at present proceeding with South Australia with regard to the construction of the North-South Line.

Main Roads Development. Last financial year, an amount of £500,000 was granted by the Commonwealth to the various states, on the basis of £1 for £1, for constructing roads of a durable description, and so assisting settlers to market their produce.

A further grant of £500,000 on similar conditions was recently authorized by Parliament, and the State Governments have been communicated with, requesting their participation in the grant.

The expenditure of the- first sum of £500,000 has been fully authorized, and the construction of the roads is now proceeding. Comments have been, made as to the apparently small expenditure from the grant up to the 30th June, 1924. It must be remembered, however, that organizations for the proper and economical expenditure of the money had to be developed in several of the states, and that endeavours were made to obtain contracts for most of the works before it was decided to carry out certain of them by departmental labour. It is anticipated that the unexpended balance of the first grant, and practically the- whole of the recent grant, will be expended by the end of the present financial year.

The construction of roads under this arrangement has proved of inestimable benefit to many settlers, and the expenditure of the money has diminished the un- employment which usually occurs in the winter months. It is hoped that, in succeeding years, Parliament will continue the grant, which will ensure good roads in the outback, where they are at present inadequate, and in many cases are only unformed tracks.

River Murray Commission. Two of the works provided for in the River Murray agreement have been completed and brought into operation, namely, the weirs and locks at Torrumbarry and Blanchetown. The following are now in course of construction : -

The Hume reservoir - weir and lock No. 11 (Mildura), and the Lake Victoria storage - weirs and locks Nos. 2, 3, 5, 9.

At weir and lock No. 10 (Wentworth) preliminary work has been put in hand, and it is anticipated that construction will commence at an early date.

The River Murray agreement directs that the construction of works which will provide for the needs of irrigation shall have precedence over the construction of works which will be primarily for the requirements of navigation. The works now in hand are being expedited with a view to assisting in irrigation development.

The total expenditure up to the 30th June, 1924, amounted to £2,704,834, towards which the Commonwealth Government contributed a quarter share.

The expenditure proposed during the year 1924-25 amounts to £985,000.

Establishment of Federal Capital. Special attention has been given to construction of the Federal Capital. The construction of a provisional Parliament House was commenced in January last; the brickwork of the main portion is nearly one story high. It is expected that the central portion and half of the pavilion accommodation of the main hostel will be finished before the end of this calendar year, and good progress is being made with the five additional pavilions. The construction of the No. 3 hostel has been commenced, and tenders will be called shortly for the No. 2 hostel.

It is proposed to erect a provisional building, for the secretariats which will have to be accommodated after the opening of Parliament. The Public Works Committee is investigating this proposal.

Cottages numbering 76 have now been completed, and further batches will be put in hand shortly.

The first primary school was opened during the year, and it has been found necessary to undertake extensions, as originally intended, for 500 children. Steady progress with the main engineering services has been maintained. Activities in afforestation, city planting, and the manufacture of materials have been continued during the year.

The expenditure for the year ended 30th June, 1924, was £562,997, making a total capital expenditure at that date of £2,947,603.

Commonwealth Railways - TransAustralian Railway. This railway cannot fully take its place in the economic life of Australia until the existing breaks of gauge are removed. The results for the cast fouryears have been : -

A recent award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court involves additional expenditure in wages to the extent of approximately £12,000 per annum.

The result of the operations on - the trans-Australian railway for the last quarter of the financial year, 1923-24, indicates that there was a net improvement for the quarter of £12,225, as compared with the corresponding period of the previous year, and that for the first time the revenue for the quarter has exceeded the working expenses, the excess being £2,411.

There is no doubt that when direct broad gauge connexions are made between this line and Perth, Adelaide and Sydney, it will become of considerable financial benefit to the Commonwealth. As it is at present the narrow gauge connexions at either end seriously retard its progress.

Oodnadatta Railway. This railway at present is managed and maintained by South Australia on behalf of the Commonwealth. The loss, excluding interest, for 1923-24 will approximate £70,100, which is nearly £8,000 over that of the preceding year. Notice determining the agreement under which this line has been operated has been given to the South Australian authorities. The working of the railway will be undertaken by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner from 1st January. 1925.

As the loss in working this line is payable to South Australia within a specified period of the year following that in which the loss is incurred, the provision required to be made in this year’s estimates is the amount of the loss for the year ended 30th June, 1924 (estimated at £70,100); the loss incurred by South Australia in continuing to work the line for the six months ended 31st December, 1924 (estimated at £23,600); and the expenditure for the period from 1st January, 1925, to 30th June, 1925 (£75,000). The lastmentioned expenditure will to a certain extent be recouped by earnings estimated at £40,000.

Under direct management by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner it is expected that economies will be effected, and the loss in working considerably reduced .

Public Health. The Commonwealth Government is of opinion that national economy is seriously affected by lack of uniformity and co-ordination of the Commonwealth and the states in the administration of the laws relating to health . It considers that the time has arrived to examine not only the distribution of responsibility between the Commonwealth, states, and local authorities, but also the common action which should be taken in such matters as a common standard and control of foods and drugs, the pollution of surface waters in the great river basins; puerperal illness, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, and industrial hygiene.

The Commonwealth Government has, therefore, decided to appoint aRoyal Commission, on which both Commonwealth and states will be represented, to consider the present system of health legislation and administration, to make a recommendation designed to secure the most economical and efficient results, including the elaboration of a national policy which can be followed by all authorities.

The Commission will inquire into the question of public health generally within the Commonwealth. If possible, it will define the proper functions of the Commonwealth and state in order to prevent overlapping, and will ascertain in what direction the Commonwealth should move. Inquiry will also be made regarding physical defects with a view to corrective action.

The Director-General of Health is visiting the United States of America, where he is to be the guest of the Rockefeller Institute. He will also visit most of the European countries, in order that he may glean as much information as possible as to modern practice in health matters.

Cancer is producing an increasing number of deaths in the Commonwealth, even more than tuberculosis, and a sum of £5,000 has been placed on the Estimates to begin a research into the causation of this dread scourge.

Conclusion. As the disturbance of the war recedes further and further, our general position as regards production keeps on improving. A comprehensive review indicates that, with the exception of mining other than coal, the industries of Australia, both primary and secondary, have got back into a position which, when considered in relation to population, is at least equal to that occupied in the years preceding the war, and when considered absolutely is very much better than the pre-war position. Pastoral production certainly is not up to the pre-war standard in quantity, but the prices ruling for wool more than offset the shortage.

A most significant and satisfactory feature is to be found in the fact that the individual output in quantity, which had continually declined from 1914 to 1919, now shows a steady upward trend and has practically reached the same rate as before the war. “With increased population, this means an increased production and, with increased prices, results in very greatly increased value.

Australia has suffered less than almost any other country in the aftermath of the war, its finances have been shown to be healthy, and its conditions have practically attained the normal as regards production.

To sum up, the Budget discloses that Australia’s national progress has enabled us to maintain the efficient conduct of our departmental services, .make substantial provision for defence, and provide for the encouragement of our industries and for the general development of our resources.

At the same time, we have been able to make substantial reductions in our deadweight debt and in direct taxation, and still live within our means on the reduced basis.

With courage and faith in the future, our progress is certain to be satisfactory and safe.

Dr. Earle Page

I move-

That the first item in the Estimates under division 1 - The -Parliament - namely, “ The

President, £1,100,” be agreed to.

Motion (by Dr. EARLE Page) agreed to -

That the consideration of the general Estimates be postponed until after the consideration of the Estimates for Additions. New Works, Buildings, &c.

Progress reported.

page 2738


The following papers were presented: -

The Budget, 1924-25 - Papers presented by the Honorable Earle Page, M.P., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of opening the Budget of 1924-25.

Munitions Supply Board - Second Report, from 1st July, 1922, to 30th June, 1923; together with Commonwealth Government Factories - Clothing; Harness, Saddlery, and Leather Accoutrements; Woollen Cloth - Reports for year ended 30th June, 1923.

Ordered to be printed.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance of 1924 - No. 10 - Gaming.

page 2738


In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :

Treasurer · Cowper · CP

– I move -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for war pensions

The sole purpose of the bill is to appropriate £10,000,000 for the payment of war pensions which have been, or will be, granted under the war pensions sections of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. The bill does not deal in any way with the rates of pensions or the conditions governing the granting of pensions. The last appropriation for the payment of war pensions was made by Parliament towards the end of 1922. The amount then appropriated was also £10,000,000. At the close of the last financial year, the unexpended balance of this appropriation was £867,992. As that is only sufficient to cover a little more than three pay days, further provision is necessary. It has been the practice for many years past for Parliament to vote lump sums such as that now asked for to pay both invalid and old-age pensions, as well as to pay war pensions. The amount included in the bill will be sufficient to provide for the payment of pensions for less than eighteen months. The papers which were distributed when the budget was introduced contain complete statistics in regard to war pensions. At the close of the last financial year, the total amount of war pensions paid was £43,632,600, whilst the total annual liability existing at the 30th June, 1924, was £6,915,038. The number of pensions in force at that date was 236,761. The pension list is still increasing, although it is now nearly six years since the termination of the war.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported.

Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.

Ordered -

That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and passed through all stages.

Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 8 p.m.

page 2739


Minister for Trade and Customs · Martin · NAT

– I move-

That Order of the Day No. 5, Sea Carriage of Goods Bill (1923), second reading, be discharged from the paper.

This bill was introduced in 1923, and I have given notice of my intention to introduce a new bill which will incorporate the latest British legislation on the subject with which it deals.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2739


VicePresident of the Executive Council · Wilmot · CP

– I move -

That Order of the Day No. 16, Papua Bill (1923), second reading, be discharged from the paper.

I understand that it is intended to introduce a new bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2739


Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -

That Order of the Day No. 23, New Guinea Bill (1923), second reading, be discharged from the paper.

page 2739


Southern Intercepting Sewer

Minister for Works and Railways · Wimmera · CP

– I move -

That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-21, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz., Federal Capital - southern intercepting sewer - extension of main intercepting sewer within city boundary from Commonwealth-avenue to Eastlake.

The proposal provides for the further development of the main sewerage scheme for Canberra, portions of which have already been investigated by the Public Works Committee and approved by Parliament. In 1915 the main outfall sewer from the city boundary to Western Creek, a distance of 3 miles, was approved, and its construction is approaching completion. In 1922 the main intercepting -sewer connecting the main outfall sewer to the centre of the city was similarly approved, and its construction is well advanced. It is now proposed to proceed with the next stage, ‘ the southern intercepting sewer, leading from the centre of the city towards the eastern boundary, that is from Commonwealthavenue to Eastlake. This development is in conformity with the scheme prepared by the Federal Capital Advisory Committee in its first general report. It is necessary that the work be put in hand at an early date to collect sewage from Blandfordia and the Power House districts in which settlement is rapidly increasing. It will thus replace local treatment works, which have been so arranged that the reticulation thereto may easily be connected to this intercepting sewer when completed. Plans and details of the proposed work are submitted herewith. Its construction will be carried out with local material. The length of the section is about one and one-third miles, and its estimated cost is £47,000.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 2739


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 30th July (vide page 2623), on motion by Mr. Pratten -

That this bill be now read a second time.


.- The Minister for Trade and Custom (Mr. Pratten) occupied about ten minutes in introducing this bill. In that time he dealt with the subject of meat bounties generally. This bill does not deal with bounties on beef ; it deals with an export bounty’ on cattle on the hoof exported from this country to foreign countries. I shall endeavour to be as brief as the Minister was in referring to the points at issue. In the first place the proposed bounty on the export of live stock will not affect five of the six states of the Commonwealth. It will apply to a comparatively small number of cattle exported from Australia.

Mr Jackson:

– Does the honorable member include the Northern Territory?


– No, I said five out of the six states of the Commonwealth. I was going to say that the bill will affect only the Northern Territory, and the north-western portion of Western Australia. This is the third bill dealing with the subject that has been introduced. We wore told when the first was introduced that it would also be the last. When the second was introduced we were told that there would never be another, but now we have the same kind of bill before us for a third time. Live cattle are exported from three districts in the Commonwealth, the east and west Kimberleys and the Northern Territory, and from three ports, Derby, Wyndham, and Port Darwin. I take first the district of eastern Kimberley, of which Derby is the port. The bounty paid on the cattle exported from that port in the last two years amounted to £2,888, and the firm of McGlew, Monger, and Company were the sole recipients of the bounty. I should like to know whether the members of this firm are bona fide pastoralists, and why they were the sole recipients of the bounty on cattle shipped from this port. That is one point upon which I should like to have some information from the Minister. It should be clearly pointed out that whilst some may think that the export of live stock from these districts may result in dearer beef in the eastern states, the fact is that the export of cattle from the north-western portions of Western Australia will not in any way affect the price of beef in the eastern states. The expense would be so heavy and the distance to be travelled so great that it would be impossible to send cattle on the hoof from Derby to Melbourne or Sydney. If the attempt were made the cattle would arrive in such a condition as to be practically unsaleable. These districts of Western Australia therefore are confined for the sale of live cattle to a comparatively limited market in Java. With respect to the Northern Territory, I find that of a total bounty of £1,722 paid in two years, the Willeroo Limited Pastoral Company collected more than 60 per cent. The vast majority of the Northern Territory cattle coming from the Barklay Tablelands are sent into Queensland. Cattle from the Victoria River district are exported from the port of Wyndham. Very few are sent from Darwin. The payment of a bounty on cattle exported from Wyndham and Darwin will have no more effect on the price of beef in the eastern states than the payment of bounty on cattle exported from Derby, because cattle sent from the Northern Territory would be unsaleable on their arrival in the eastern states. They must find a nearer market, and the market available to them is limited. From Wyndham some 6,000 cattle were exported in two years through Vestey Brothers, who were the sole collectors of the bounty paid. I should like the Minister to explain whether the cattle belonged to Vestey Brothers or were raised on their stations, or whether Vestey Brothers were merely buyers of the cattle from those who raised them, and, if so, what guarantee was there that those who raised the cattle received the benefit of the bounty. Owing to the fact that’ cattle raised in these districts cannot be brought to the markets of the eastern states, there can be no objection to an effort to open up a market for them elsewhere. An examination of the figures show that whilst 9,000 cattle were exported in the first year of the bounty, and it was presumed that it would give a stimulus to exportation, only 7,000 were exported in the second year. The Minister seems to be under the impression that the bill now under consideration will lead to the opening up of a more extensive market, and let us hope it may do so. I should like to know from the Minister why McGlew. Monger and Company were the sole collectors of bounty on cattle exported from Derby, and whether they were the only exporters from that port. I should like to have similar information regarding Vestey Brothers in connexion with the exports from Wyndham. If these matters are made clear there can be no valid objection to the bill going through.


.- We must all be very glad that the conditions of the cattle industry in Australia have improved to such an extent in the last twelve months that the Government considers it necessary to introduce a measure merely to provide a bounty on the export of cattle, and will not continue the payment of bounty on the export of frozen beef and tinned meat. There can be no doubt that the bounty which has been paid during the last two years on the export of beef has served the purpose for which it was paid. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) quoted the prices paid for beef exported this year and last year, and the figures show that the price now being received is, indueling the bounty, slightly better than the price received last year. Early this year I was one who waited with others on the Prime Minister to request the continuance of the bounty on the export of beef. A second deputation waited on the right honorable gentleman, but in the meantime the market had improved considerably, and I admit that the Prime Minister, owing” to the improvement in the market, was justified in deciding not to continue the payment of the bounty this year. The actual bounty paid is not a guide to the benefit which is conferred upon producers. The producers were in difficulties two years ago when the bounty was first given.

They were then receiving only 7s. .per cwt. at the meatworks, and it was not worth their while to send in cattle at that price. The bounty given by this Parliament amounted in the first year to £123,000, but it was accompanied by a stipulation that the producers should benefit through a reduction of freights and meatworks charges by similar amounts. Thus the amount of the actual bounty was trebled, and the total benefit to the producers was £369,000. When, we waited on the Prime Minister last year with a request that the bounty should be renewed, he stipulated for a further reduction of £d. in freights, and another £d. in the charges at the meatworks. Such reductions would equal the bounty to be paid by the Commonwealth, giving the growers a total advantage of £282,000. I regret that the Minister stated that he is not able to grant to the cattle-owners in the north-west of Western Australia the additional relief for which we pressed. We asked that all the ports of Australia should be put on an equal freight basis, but the Minister stated that no special advantage could be given to any one state or portion of a state. I think, however, that our suggestion could have been adopted. Unfortunately, the cattle-raisers in the northwest of Western Australia are in a much worse position than are those in the eastern states, for, although they are very much closer to the European markets, it costs £d. per lb. more to send meat from Wyndham to Europe than from Rockhampton or Townsville. The reason for that is that a boat has to be sent to the north-west for the sole purpose of lifting cattle or meat, because no other freight is offering there.


– The shipping ring has something to do with it.


– The north-west cattle trade is so unprofitable that the shipping ring will have nothing to do with it. Therefore the Commonwealth Line sends a boat to Wyndham, but in the absence of other freight an extra charge has to be made for the conveyance of cattle. The Minister urged that the Meat Council should take up this matter with a view to helping the producers in the north-west. That is a very easy way of evading ministerial responsibility, but I assure the House that the Meat Council will do its utmost for the north-west cattle-raisers, and I hope that we shall have the same success as we had when the Prime Minister placed on us last year the onus of getting a reduction of oversea freights by id. per lb. ‘ We obtained that reduction although it involved one of the hardest fights in which I have ever engaged. The problem of the north-west is rendered very difficult by the absence of shipping competition, and the fact that no freight other than cattle and meat is offering. I heard somebody say last night that the Minister had not said a word to justify the granting of this bounty. Any man who holds that view does not understand the cattle problem, because the Minister showed conclusively that the price offered for cattle for export was not profitable, and, therefore, a bounty was necessary. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) mentioned that the number of cattle exported last year was less than in the year before, and from ‘that fact he concluded that the bounty is not having, the desired effect. I remind the honorable member that two outbreaks of disease militated seriously against the export of cattle last year. One was the extraordinary and unaccountable occurrence of anthrax among cattle shipped to Manila. How the outbreak occurred is a mystery to those who understand anthrax. There was no existence of the disease amongst the stock on the mainland from which these cattle were shipped, and if the outbreak was genuine, it could only have been due to feeding the cattle on the voyage with infected fodder brought from the Philippines. Cattle imported into the Philippines are not taken direct to Manila, but are landed on an island, and slaughtered at the abattoirs there. The meat is then sent to the central markets in Manila. Notwithstanding that precaution, when the government of the Philippines heard that anthrax had occurred amongst the cattle shipped from Australia, it naturally placed an embargo upon further importations. Then followed the unfortunate outbreak of rinderpest in Western Australia, which led to the prohibition of the importation of cattle from any part of Australia. Those two outbreaks explain the decrease in the export of cattle last year. I am glad that the bounty is being granted again, because it will stimulate a valuable trade from those portions of Australia which are most in need of a market for their cattle.


– Has the Meat Council investigated the Indian market?


– Very fully; and I shall be pleased to let the honorable member have a copy of the report of the Meat Council’s delegation to the East. I was told at one time that the Indian market was likely to be the only pearl in the Orient, but our investigations have shown that it is not likely to be of any value to Australia. There are, however, other countries with which a valuable trade can be developed. The Minister mentioned the lack of facilities for properly, handling cattle at Singapore. That ‘difficulty is found in an accentuated format Hong Kong. Chinese cattle are so ‘quiet that they can be led along the streets. They are handled much more .easily than are Australian cattle. A practical Queenslander, who had visited the Far East, told me that if Australian bullocks were imported into Hong Kong, in the absence of proper facilities for handling them the residents would probably be horrified to see a Queensland bullock with a butcher impaled on each horn rushing madly through the streets. At present, there are no conveniences for handling wild cattle at either the markets or the slaughtering yards.


– I saw two Australian bullocks take charge of the city of Batavia.


– Dangers of that kind militate against the export trade. I could not understand the Minister’s statement, on the authority of his departmental officers, that there will be no trade in live cattle from the northern ports of Queensland. Possibly the explanation is that the prices for frozen meat at those ports make it unprofitable to export live cattle at £4 10s. per head. The Acting Leader of the Opposition expressed some curiosity regarding the ultimate destination of this bounty. It really does not matter who gets the money as long as it achieves its purpose of finding a market for Australian cattle. Increased export must reduce the local congestion and improve the Australian market. If 50 per cent, of our cattle are marketed abroad, a better value will be given to the remaining 50 per cent. The honorable member said, also, that there was no possibility of cattle being brought from the northern parts of Australia into the southern markets. I have seen thousands of cattle from Victoria Downs yarded in the Sydney market. Of course, they arrived as stores, and had to be fattened before they were offered in the market. This bill must commend itself to honorable members, who will rejoice with me in the fact that the cattle market has so improved as not to warrant the Government in renewing this year the bounty for the export of meat. The results achieved by the bounty on the export of meat last year are a convincing lesson of the value of such assistance to an industry to tide it over a period of difficulty and improve the market, conditions.


.- I shall not oppose the bill, but a number of people in the southern states, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania, wondered last year why it was necessary to pay a bounty for the export of meat when consumers in those states were paying exorbitant prices for both mutton and beef. They cannot understand why, if beef meat can be exported to Europe for 11/8d. per lb., it cannot be placed in the markets of the southern states at not more than 2d. per lb. The Minister for Trade and Customs’ (Mr. Pratten) stated last night that the average weight of the live cattle for export to overseas markets is 600 lb., and that the most the exporters expect to realize, including the bounty of 10s., is £5 per head. That price works out at 2d. per lb. on the hoof. It seems remarkable to the people in Tasmania, and doubtless to those in Melbourne, too, that they should be required to pay at least Is. per lb. for good beef, and up to 15d. per lb. for prime cuts. Prom Is. to Is. 3d. per lb. is paid for best cuts of beef, and for other cuts about 9d. I do not know the exact prices in Victoria, but the people in the two main cities of Tasmania are certainly paying an average of lOd. per lb. for the meat they purchase from the butchers. It is hard to make those people understand the reason for the great discrepancy between the price they pay and that at which the growers are selling exported cattle, namely, 2d. a lb. The Government should consider the possibility of bringing supplies ill the form of chilled meat from Darwin and other parts of northern Australia to the southern states, in which quite a number of families, owing to the high price of meat, cannot afford to buy sufficient for their requirements. I am not speaking as an expert, because I do not know whether it would be practicable to bring cattle from northern Australia to the southern states.

Mr Jackson:

– It is now being done in New South Wales.


– The position is certainly worth investigating. Our families should consume sufficient meat if we are to build up a strong and vigorous race of Australians. It has been said that meat chilled in northern Australia would probably not arrive in the south in a condition suitable for consumption. But I would point out that chilled meat is taken from the Argentine across the equator to Great Britain, a much greater distance than from northern Australia to the southern states. A better market for this meat would be obtained in Victoria, Tasmania, and even New South Wales, than in countries lying north of and adjacent to Australia. It is very difficult to make people understand why We should deliberately pay a bounty not only on frozen meat, but also on live cattle exported from Australia. We are asked to pay a bounty of 10s. per head on live cattle averaging 600 lb. in weight. .The return to the grower, including the bonus, would be about £5 per head, or 2d. per lb. on the hoof at the port of export. Yet we are compelled here to pay from 8d. to Is. 3d. per lb. for various grades of beef. I shall not oppose the bill, although I shall vote for it with a considerable amount of hesitation. I have no wish to see the cattle industry of northern Australia ruined. It is quite possible that a thorough investigation of this question will prove that if a Commonwealth vessel suitable for the carriage of meat were engaged in bringing chilled meat from northern Australia to the southern states, it would be the means of providing cheaper meat, at the same time keeping in commission a vessel that would otherwise be idle. I ask the Minister to approach the Commonwealth Shipping Board with a view to making this experiment.


.- In spite of all that has been said in favour of the bill, I find myself quite unable to support it. In September, 1922, when the first meat export bounty bill was brought down to this House by the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers), I expressed, at length, my objection to the principle involved in that measure. I do not propose to repeat the arguments that I then used. We- were assured then by the Minister for Trade and Customs, that beyond October of that year the Government had no intention whatever of continuing the proposed bounty. The words of the Minister were to the effect that if this bounty were given until the 31st October, then after that the meat industry would have to fend for itself. He definitely said that beyond that date there would be no further assistance given to the meat industry. I said then, that the giving of the dole created an appetite that grew by what it fed on, and the prophecy that I made, that before long we would be asked to repeat this dole, was fully justified when the Minister for Trade and Customs (Sir Austin Chapman) last year brought down a similar bill. He then said that this was the last time such a measure would be introduced. The bill was passed on the voices, despite a protest from a few honorable members. Early this year, the members of the meat industry again approached the Government for further assistance. I think the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) said that he was a member of the deputation that waited on the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in April of this year. The members of that deputation then asked definitely for a repetition of the meat export bounty that had been given for the previous two years. They made out, as they thought, a strong case, which was endorsed by the honorable member for Macquarie. No doubt, they thought they were entitled to the bounty for which they were asking. The Prime Minister definitely told that deputation that he had said last year that unless they did something definite in the direction of organizing their industry and showed that they were prepared to help themselves, he would not listen to any such proposal as was then being made to him. He said, in effect, “ Go away and reconsider the matter. See what you can do in the way of organizing your industry, and then submit proposals to me in writing, and I shall give them due consideration.” The honorable member for Macquarie now tells us that, after interviewing the Prime Minister, they found that the conditions were such as to make it unnecessary for them to repeat their request for a continuation of the bounty. So that request went by the board. To-day, the Minister introducing the bill is asking for a bounty of 10s. per head on cattle to be exported. “Without giving any justification for the bill, he contented himself with saying that the giving of the bounty would ease the strain that is at present being felt in the cattle exporting industry. Apart from the general principle of granting bounties, my difficulty is very much that of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe), who strongly resents the saying of exorbitant prices for meat in the southern states. I am “ paying through the nose “ for meat here, and at the same- time I am asked to give a bounty to the men who are producing cattle for export to another part of the world, in order, in the words of the honorable member for Macquarie, to ease the market here.

Mr Atkinson:

– Very few of these cattle would come south.


– If these cattle can bo shipped from the northern part of Australia to another part of the world, why can they not be brought down to the southern markets? The honorable member for Macquarie has said that the exporting of these cattle will ease the market. That simply means in plain language that it will keep up the price of meat here. By voting for the bounty I shall be. keeping up a price to the paying of which I strongly object. Here, it seems to me, is the vicious circle. When ever an industry feels a strain, those interested in it simply approach the Government and say, “We want this strain eased; give us a bounty.” The granting of a bounty is a generous gift from the public purse. One industry helps another. Shortly before the introduction of the first bounty bill in this House, in 1922, there was a conference in Adelaide of the Australian farmers’ federal organization. While the conference was sitting and during a discussion on the meat industry, one of the speakers used this argument. He said, “We cattlemen in South Australia helped you sugar men, and butter men, and now that we are approaching the Government for assistance we expect you to stand behind us.” That is’ the kind of thing to which we are becoming accustomed in Australia. One industry goes to the Government and asks for assistance, and it appeals to other industries in this way, “ You help us to-day, and we will help you to-morrow.” The whole procedure involves a vicious principle. We have been told that this 10s. a head will enable those who are exporting cattle to make a profit. I do not know how much the profit will be. I do not know whether this 10s. bounty on the export of cattle will mean 10s., or only 5s. or 3s., profit to the exporter. We have not been informed on that point. If a man is producing cattle in the northern part of Australia, and finds that he cannot export this year at a profit, he says to the Government, “In order that I may make a profit on the export of my cattle, I ask you to give me a bounty of 10s. a head, which will enable me to make a profit.” I do not think that is a fair request. If we yield to it, how can we refuse to grant similar demands from other industries. In a small way, I produce apples in my orchard, and I find I cannot export them at a profit. Am I to be allowed to go to the Government and say, “ I find that exporting apples this year will leave me no profit. Give me so much per case on my apples, and I shall be able to make a profit.” That is not a sound principle, and therefore I very strongly object to it. In Australia to-day we have a large army of men unemployed, not because of any fault of their own, but because of the conditions obtaining. They are willing to work, but cannot find jobs. They are experiencing a great and very painful strain, and have just as much right as these cattle-men to come to the Government and say, “ Give us a bonus. Give us a bounty. We are feeling the strain, and we want you to ease it.”

Mr Fenton:

– They ought to, too.


– If the Government is consistent, it cannot refuse such a request. But it is not consistent. Because I believe that it is absolutely impossible to apply the principle universally, I see no reason why we should single out one industry and, in order to provide a profit for those who are engaged in it, put our hands in the public purse. Those who are engaged in the industry ought to take the good with the bad. They make handsome profits in some years, and they ought to face their losses in other years. They ought to take the “downs” with the “ups.” As this industry ought to be able to stand on its own feet, I strongly object to the bounty, and cannot see my way to support the bill.


.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is under a misapprehension. He evidently had in his mind the bounty on beef.

Mr Maxwell:

– I had not:


– Then the honorable member’s arguments were not sound. All his arguments, to the last sentence, applied to the bounty on frozen beef for export.

Mr Maxwell:

– The same principle is involved.


– The same principle is not involved. I point out to the honorable member that there is a very big distinction, because the conditions are as different as daylight and dark. The bounty on frozen meat benefited establishments that were operating, while the bounty on live cattle applied principally, if not entirely, to Northern Territory and Wyndham cattle, where no freezing works were then operating. The bounty on frozen meat was paid to meet very extraordinary conditions, when the owners of cattle that had to go through the freezing works for shipment to the Old World were! worse off than any growers of beef” in this country previously. Their condition was due to the operations of an enormous combine of persons in Great Britain, the Argentine cattle-raisers, and the American Meat Trust. That combination was endeavouring to prevent the exportation of Australian frozen meat to the United Kingdom.

Mr Maxwell:

– Does the honorable member suggest that the payment of a bounty of £140,000 will smash that combination ?


– I do not suggest anything of the sort, but I do suggest that a bounty of £140,000 may prevent cattleowners and their families from being ruined. These people were on the brink of ruin. It was a business-like way to tide the great cattle industry over a crisis such as it had never previously experienced. I could demonstrate to the honorable member that the owners of the cattle could not have realized enough on the carcasses to pay for their shipment to Great Britain. Could we afford to see this great industry,” which a few years previously wa3 a source of wealth, not only to its owners, but to the country, ruined, and the great cattle stations abandoned? The present proposal is to meet conditions that are entirely different. The great meat works, owned in the .Northern Territory by Vestey’s, which cost nearly £1,000,000, have been closed for four years, and many of the cattle in the territory will soon be too old, if they are not too old now, for the butcher. The bounty provided in the bill is intended for the benefit of the Northern Territory. It is not a new idea. South Australia did the same thing 30 years ago for the same market. If frozen meat works .had been established in those days after the payment of the bounty, the Northern Territory would have been developed long ago. To-day we have freezing works, but they are closed, and there is a market in the east almost at our doors. “ The bounty of 10s. a head will enable cattle-raisers in the Northern Territory to send cattle to Manila and Java, and possibly to Singapore and Hongkong. If we have no more appreciation of the possibility of developing this great country than appears evidenttonight, God help the future of the cattle industry, and of this country, too!

Mr Whitsitt:

– Does it pay to raise cattle for £1 per 100 lbs. ?

WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; LP from 1922; NAT from 1925

– It does not pay to produce beef at £1 per 100 lbs. when it costs 30s. to get them to market. To talk of the Melbourne market being supplied from the Northern Territory under existing conditions, with the impossible handicap of the Navigation Act, is senseless. Those who advocate it might as well go to bed and forget all about it. It will be a good thing if a big call is made, on the bounty, because the more cattle we get out of the Northern Territory before the north-south railway is built, the better it will be, not only for the territory, but also for the Commonwealth. There is a railway that is rusting in the territory, and if by paying a bounty we can pass thousands of cattle over it we shall be doing something to employ a plant and a staff that are now almost idle.

Mr Jackson:

– Does the honorable member think that that was in the Government’s mind when it suggested the bounty ? 1


– There is not the slightest doubt about it.

Mr Yates:

– Will the honorable member vote for a grant to the unemployed?


– I shall vote for ‘anything to utilize the country and sell the produce that comes off it.

Mr Yates:

– Will the honorable member vote to provide a man with work?


– There will be no work unless we produce something that we can sell. There is no work in the territory to-day because Vestey’s works, which ought to be, a profitable business, are shut. T do not know what the prac tice is in the territory to-day, but formerly a shipping contractor, who had a market in the East, chartered ships and purchased cattle, and was responsible for the shipment of the cattle to the markets where he had orders. It was manipulated principally through Vestey’s, who readily undertook to accept from the smaller holders in the Territory that proportion of cattle to which I have already referred. It was by no means a monopoly in the hands of Vestey’s, or of the big landholders. The principle embodied in this bill is a sound one, and we should continue it until the day comes - which I hope will be soon - when the big meat works in the Territory are again operating. It is ridiculous to say that there is a monopoly in the Northern Territory in regard to meat. In Great Britain, however, there is a monopoly- which is keeping Australian beef out of the Imperial market. The feeding of the millions of people in the United Kingdom is largely controlled by suppliers who belong to a ring with from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000 behind them.

Mr Yates:

– Did not Senator Wilson clear that matter up?


– The sooner we clear up the Territory the better. I cannot conceive that there will be any opposition to this bill.

Northern Territory

– I cannot understand the attitude of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). Similar measures to that which we are now discussing have been before this House previously, but I do not recollect having heard the honorable member speak on any previous occasion as he has spoken to-night. Although the honorable member had something adverse to say concerning the big squatters, when the division was taken he was careful to get on the Government side of the House. While I find it difficult to understand the attitude of the honorable member for Fawkner, I agree with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) that this bill is essential for the development of the Northern Territory. It means only a cost to the Commonwealth Government of £8,150 for a period of something like two years. Some honorable members have expressed the fear that the passing of this measure would enable certain big interests in the Northern Territory and the north-western portion of Australia to control the market, and reap huge profits, but any one conversant with the position knows that that argument is absurd. During the past two years 16,300 head of cattle have been exported from the Northern Territory and the north-western portion of Australia, 3,000 of them being shipped from Darwin, and the remainder from the northwest. When we consider that there are 13,000,000 cattle in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, and only 500,000 in the north-western portion of the continent, and 600,000 in the Northern Territory, it is absurd to talk about influencing, the markets in the south. The only way to enable meat to be supplied more cheaply to the consumers in the south is by the Government controlling the freezing works in the Northern Territory, and supplying vessels to transport the meat. But if a measure to enable that to be done were introduced, it 13 more than probable that the honorable member for Fawkner would oppose it. He would not then be concerned about cheap meat. There is a good opportunity in that direction, but, in the face of those figures, the contention that the market would be influenced is ridiculous. The number of cattle exported from the Northern Territory has been referred to during this debate. Mr. Sleigh, of Melbourne, played a prominent part in the exportation of cattle from the Northern Territory. He organized the whole of the shipping, and ultimately went in with the Vestey people. The result was that in the next year Vestey’s obtained the whole of the cattle for themselves, and left Sleigh high and dry, after he had organized the business. There is a good market in the East, despite what the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) has said. In this connexion, I speak with first-hand knowledge. Since I have been in Melbourne I sent telegrams to the secretary of the Pastoralists Association offering to purchase 20,000 head on a forward contract. But Vestey’s had already got control of most of the smaller men, » and no business was forthcoming. Another wire was sent, offering to purchase 10,000 head, outside of Vestey’s, on a forward contract, but the same position confronted us. Vestey’s took the whole of the cattle of the outside men. If the Government are really anxious to assist in the development of the Northern Territory, and particularly its cattle industry, it should explore the eastern countries for a market, and should make facilities available for the smaller men to market their produce. The amount involved in the payment of this bounty is a mere bagatelle, but it would assist materially in the development of the Northern Territory. The Minister should, however, take care that the bounty does not go to the speculator in cattle, but to the producer of the cattle. I am satisfied that this bill will enable that, to be done. Speculators know when a man has a surplus of cattle, and is financially embarrassed, and they offer a price which they know he must accept. The cattle owner sells, and the speculator gets the bounty. That is contrary to the spirit of this bill, which provides that the 10s. bounty shall be paid to the producer because of the low price he obtains for his cattle. Cattlemen in the Northern Territory have assured me that if they could be certain of £5 per head they could carry on at a profit, although it would not be a large one. The cattle grown in the Northern Territory cannot be compared with those in the southern portions of Australia. The average weight in the abattoirs of Brisbane is very different from that of the average weight of a 30,000 kill in fee Northern Territory. If the Government intends to deal with the development of the Northern Territory it should “go the whole hog.” Good stock should be introduced, and the mongrel cattle at present there should be got rid of. In a 30,000 kill at Vestey’s meat-works the average weight is nothing like 6 cwt. That question should engage the attention of the Government. If it is out to develop the Territory, an attempt should’ be made to improve the herds there. If the present system of inbreeding is continued for another twenty years, the cattle will degenerate into goats. It was said that Vestey’s had improved the herds in the Territory, but after a good deal of argument it was admitted that the whole of the improvement was in the horns of the cattle. The Government should establish meat-works in the .Territory, and provide vessels to convey the meat to the southern market. The home market is better than that in foreign countries. In that direction lies our opportunity. Provided that the Government safeguards the interests of the people who produce the cattle by seeing that they, and not the speculators, obtain the bounty, it will be doing nothing materially wrong by paying this bounty, but, on the contrary, it will be doing a great service to the undeveloped country in the Northern Territory.


.- I have risen because I do not want to record a silent vote on this measure. I intend to vote against it, as I did last year. I opposed it then on principle, and gave my reasons very fully. At that time we were informed that the bounty then proposed was not to be repeated.

Mr Maxwell:

– We have been told that twice.


– Was that promise given ?


– It was distinctly men’tioned in the debate. Live-stock for export was also included in last year’s bill, and the whole matter was debated then. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, gave no good reason why this bounty should be granted. He simply said that the Government desired to grant it. Because I believe that the piling up of these bounties on top of the heavy duties is only piling Pelion on Ossa, and increasing the cost of living, I intend to vote against the bill.


.- I should like to see those honorable members who propose to vote against this bill placed on a piece of land in the Northern Territory, and asked to produce beef at £1 per 100 lb. It is ridiculous for men who know nothing of the hardships endured by the pioneers to get up in this House and say that meat is dear when the primary producer receives but that price. The producer has all the troubles of breeding, of keeping his stock for three or four years, and of preparing it for slaughter; and the price mentioned is an insufficient return. If honorable members who contend that the price is a good one were placed in the meat business, and had to muster stock, they would soon be found running for safety up the first tree they came across. They would probably leave Australia. Yet they tell us that £1 per 100 lb. is too much for the primary producer to receive. Statements of that kind are due to a lack of knowledge of the hardships of the pioneers, and are an insult to the intelligent members of this House. I hope that the bill will pass without delay.


– I ‘feel sure that it is the desire of honorable members on both sides to help the man on the land to the greatest possible extent. In common with other honorable members, I am opposed to the payment of bounties if it can be avoided. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe) said it was regrettable that we could not bring meat from the Northern Territory to Melbourne and Tasmania, but I may inform him that some of the primest beef is brought to Melbourne to-day at 44d per lb.

Mr Forde:

– Where is it coming from?


– It does not matter where it comes from. If the producer in the Northern Territory can only get £5 per head for his cattle that will not pay him. We should encourage the markets in the near East that are right at our doors. The Federated Malay States last year took 20,000 head of cattle. An honorable member has referred to the fact that producers in the Argentine are sending chilled meat to Europe.

Mr Maxwell:

– The question is whether we must go on paying a bounty on meat.


– I hope that will not be necessary. ‘In connexion with the export of chilled meat from the Argentine, it has to be remembered that the meat must be suspended in the vessel in which it is carried, and boats have to be specially constructed for the purpose. In addition to that, before the shipping people would undertake to carry chilled meat from the Argentine to Europe they required a ten-years’ guarantee of freight. IF we desire to send chilled meat from Australia we must establish freezing works, we must have specially constructed boats, and must give the shippers a guarantee of a certain freight for a number of years.

Mr O’Keefe:

– What is wrong with the Commonwealth boats?


– None of the Commonwealth boats could carry chilled meat. Boats have to be specially constructed for the purpose. The Commonwealth boats did very well during the war, but if those that are now lying idle could now be sold we should be glad to get rid of them at £5 or £10 per ton. I have said that we should help the primary producers in every way, and if- by’ the payment of this bounty we can enable the producers of meat to reach the world’s markets, so much the better. We must assist our producers to market their products abroad, and so help to put Australia on the map of the world.


.- I rise to support the bill. I have had recent experience of the man on the land in the north. I saw fat cattle, weighing 600 lb.,brought to the Wyndham meat works and sold for £4 per head. According to experienced men, it costs in that district £3 per head to bring bullocks to the age of three years. Droving and other expenses have to be added to this amount, so at £4 per head there is not much in the business. I regret Extremely that the Darwin meat-works are closed. I have had some experience of the frozen meat trade, and a fairly wide knowledge of works such as those at Darwin. I was led to understand by those who had to foot the bill that the Darwin works cost very nearly £1,000,000. It is a crying shame that they should remain idle when, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has said, there are 600,000 fat cattle in the Territory which could be disposed of. I have voted for bounties to secondary industries in the shape of a very substantial tariff to enable them to carry on, and I willingly support a bounty to primary industries that are finding it difficult to make ends meet, and these represent 75 per cent, of country industries at the present time. The producers are as much entitled to bounties as are the manufacturers who receive the equivalent of bounties through the tariff. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) has put his finger on the difficulty with regard to the- overseas trade. We should do all that we can to place our meat on the world’s markets. We have in the Northern Territory some 335,000,000 acres of land, and it can produce fat bullocks with any part of Australia. I have seen cattle fattened there that were equal to the primest cattle raised on the upper Murray, in my electorate, and many honorable members know the magnificent country there is there. There are only about 3,000 white people in the Northern Territory. We contemplate spending huge sums on defence, and what better defence could we have than that which would be afforded by the opening up and development of that country with men who, like the grand old pioneers, are prepared to settle there if they are given a little assistance ? To extend our overseas market we require to have a stall at Smithfield. Those who have been to the Old Country report that we have no organization there worth speaking of. I venture to back the Australian pioneer and Australian cattle against any in the world. If by the backing of huge combines the Argentine producers can beat us in the world’s markets for meat, we deserve to be beaten. If there are huge combines assisting the Argentine producers in this way, surely we can get into touch with the Imperial Parliament, and induce the people of the Old Country to put our producers on a fair footing with producers in other countries. Although the bounty proposed is very small, I agree with other speakers that it will be of very great assistance to graziers in that part who are nearly down and out. We have cheap gibes at the big producers of cattle, but I advise honorable members not to run away with the idea that all the cattle producers are Kidmans Jowetts, and Vesteys. They include quite a number of struggling settlers in the Territory to whom the bounty proposed will be of very great assistance. I had the pleasure recently of saying good-bye to two young fellows who were going from Victoria right up to the Barklay Tablelands to develop that country in the spirit of the old pioneers. If we gave onefourth of the assistance to our pioneers that is given to spoonfed people in our capital cities it would be very much better for Australia.

East Sydney

– I should like to make a few remarks on the subject of this bounty on the export of cattle. I hold no brief for the payment of bounties, which I believe are abused in every country. I have heard so much about assistance to producers of meat recently, that I begin to wonder whether this is a Parliament of intelligent men, or of self-interested and stupid men. It is proposed to pay 10s. per head on the export of cattle the value of which, according to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) is about 16s. 4d. per cwt. One cwt. of meat in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide is worth about £5, yet we are told that cattle in the

Northern Territory are worth only 16s. 4d. per cwt. I used to advocate the federation of the Australian states, and in doing so I claimed that under federation commodities which could be produced cheaply in one part of Australia would be brought to other parts in which they could not be produced so cheaply. I used to claim that parts of this country subject to drought might be supplied from districts in which droughts were not experienced. But we apparently have no system or method to meet the difficulties created by distance from markets in the Commonwealth. If we can send cattle from Western Australia and Port Darwin to Manila, why can we not bring them to the southern parts of Australia?


– Because they would be dead before they got here.


– We should be able to bring those cattle to the southern parts of the Commonwealth. There is something wrong when meat which can be produced very cheaply in some portions of Australia brings exorbitant prices in the eastern states.

Mr Mathews:

– If we could put cattle on the hoof in city markets for nothing,Is. per lb. would still be charged for beef in the butchers’ shops.


– Have we not enough brains to tackle this question ? I know it is said that we must not interfere with private enterprise, but if private enterprise will not enable us to obtain the necessaries of life at a reasonable price, socialization of industries or some other method must be adopted. I am satisfied that whilst the present Government and its friends are in power there will be no improvement in existing conditions. They will do nothing that was not done by their parents or their grandparents. The only time when in Australia we were not wedded to precedents, and were not afraid to adopt methods to advance this country, was when Labour governments were in power. I do not intend to vote against the bill, but I feel that, because honorable members opposite have no brains, Or if they have they will not use them for the benefit of the people, it has been introduced as the easiest way out of a difficulty, and the people of Australia must pay for it. When I was in the Northern Territory I saw 700 head of cattle brought from the Katherine River to Port Darwin. They were fattened in paddocks before shipment. That was done thirteen years ago, without the assistance of a bounty of 10s. per head. Since that time, Vestey , Brothers have established large meat. ‘ works in the Northern Territory, not for the purpose of supplying cheap meat to the people, but to obtain a monopoly of the export of meat from the Territory. We have heard a lot of talk about the company having lost £500,000, but that amount is a mere bagatelle to a company which has large interests in the meat trade in South America and elsewhere, and is anxious to establish a monopoly. The operations of such combines create feelings of indignation among men who, like myself, wish to see the people supplied with the necessaries of life at a reasonable price. The Government has agreed to a request from the .pastoralists to pay a bounty of 10s. per head on live cattle exported from Australia in order to give temporary relief to the pastoral industry. I trust that the time is coming when such subterfuges will no longer be resorted to. The Government appears afraid to move for fear of treading on the toes of vested interests. The people outside are justified in saying that this Parliament is not the responsible institution that it used to be. Those who, like myself, have been in Parliament for many years, wonder whether the force of character and foresight which at one time were displayed by our statesmen have disappeared. The Government seems to be interested only in pacts and compositions, and in pleasing a few individuals. The real puzzle is to ascertain what interests have been omitted from the Government’s distribution of benefits. Apparently, its object at the present time is to dispose of the Estimates so that Parliament may be dissolved, and an arrangement made between the two Ministerial parties to prevent the men on this side of the House, who have knowledge and brains, getting control of the reins of government. I was asked in Sydney last week, “ What is Stanley Melbourne Bruce waiting for? Is he waiting for William. Morris Hughes to come back and do something?”

Mr SPEAKER (Rt Hon W A Watt:

– There is nothing about either of those gentlemen in the bill.


– 1 am under the impression that the Prime Minister has a good deal to do with the bill, because he seems very interested in it. People will be justified in coming to the conclusion that there is more behind this proposal than is apparent. There is a positive danger to the country in bringing forward measure after measure to drain the public revenues for the benefit of certain interests. These frequent bounties are not in accordance with my understanding of parliamentary government. It is easy enough to buy the support of people if one is prepared to spend enough money. I understand that the alleged object of the bill is to capture the Manila trade for the pastoralists of the north-west and Northern Territory. The editor of the Pastoralists’ Review, who is a very able man, apparently desires to prevent the stockraisers in the north from trespassing on the preserves of his friends in other partes of Australia, lest competition should bring about a reduction in the price of meat in tha southern states. With Australia’s abundance of good laud, large herds, and natural advantages, meat should be produced cheaply in Australia and sold at prices much Below those obtaining in European markets. If the men conducting the industry were brainy, and paid attention to their business, it would be possible for them to supply the people with cheaper meat, and yet not reduce themselves to pauperism. Fortunately, this Government cannot last long. Ministers are hanging on to office like limpets to a rock, but all the time they are falling in the estimation of the people. They have forfeited their character in order to hold office and to prevent honorable members on this side from occupying the Treasury bench.


– Does the honorable member think that they have gone to the pact?


– As for the pact-


– Order ! There is nothing about the pact in this bill.


– Unfortunately, I am a little bit deaf, and do not hear all you say, Mr. Speaker.


– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill, or resume his seat.


– I quite understand that; but I know you are good-tempered.


– Order!


– I know your good temper


– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. I warn him once again that unless he discusses the bill I will hear him no longer.


– Oh, very well; but of course I cannot help replying to interjections.


– Order! In that case, I will hear the honorable member no further.


– Last year I indicated that I was opposed to the Meat Bounties Bill, and I see no reason to alter my decision on this occasion. Further, I distinctly understood last year that the bill then brought down for the payment of a meat bounty was to be the last of its kind ; yet the proposal has reappeared in the form of a bounty on the export of live cattle. I do not propose to take up the time of the House in discussing the bill, or to deal generally with the subject of bounties. I wish to state briefly that I am not satisfied that the Bill will make the difference between success and failure to the cattleexporting industry; and in view of the improvement in the value of cattle, I do not consider this to be a necessary or desirable measure. I arrive, therefore, at the same conclusion as have the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann).

Minister for Trade and Customs · Martin · NAT

– I am glad that the bill generally has the approval of both sides of the House. Out of the debate this evening have arisen two points which seem to require reply. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) wanted to know how the bounty was to be paid. His fear seemed to be that speculators or exporters might obtain the bounty instead of the person whom it was intended to benefit - the grazier or the man who raised the cattle. For the information of the honorable member I want to say that the procedure during the previous two years in which this live cattle bounty operated has been this : Each claimant for a bounty was required to furnish a certificate, prescribed under the regulations, setting out the number of cattle exported, the station from -which they were drawn, and by whom they were sold. This certificate, if correct, was endorsed by an officer of the Customs Department, and the claim, if made by a person other than the fattener of the cattle, will not be paid until evidence is produced to the Customs officer that the price paid to the pastoralist includes the bounty. I have with me a tabulated list of the persons to whom the bountyhas been paid. In the Darwin district the bounty was paid to various pastoralists, excepting in one case, that of Mr. H.C. Sleigh, of Melbourne, who exported 481 head of cattle, and was paid £241 10s. He exported those cattle acting as agent for Thonemann and Sons, owners of the Elsey and Hodgeson stations. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) particularly questioned the payment of the bounty to the firm of McGlew, Monger, and Company, of Derby, who exported and received bounty on 2,742 head. I wish to explain that this is a firm of stock and station agents, of Derby, which collected bounties for pastoralists under written authority given to the Customs Department by such pastoralists. That should be fairly satisfactory evidence to the House that the Department is safeguarding the payment of the bounty to the cattle-raisers, and that the speculator or the importer will not benefit by the bill under review. I have various letters written by pastoralists, and one taken at random is from Davies and Son, of Perth, addressed to McGlew, Monger, and Company, of Derby, authorizing them to collect on their behalf from the Customs Department the subsidy of 10s. per head on all their cattle exported. It can reasonably be assumed that this firm really collected bounties on account of the cattle-raisers. I hope that that explanation disposes of the point raised by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, and that the House is assured that the department is carrying out the intention of Parliament. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) are both opposed to the payment of the bounty. In the course of the debate they generalized upon meat bounties, and the honorable member for Fawkner referred to a statement made last year by the Prime Minister that the bill then before the House would be the last authority for the payment of. meat bounties.

Mr Maxwell:

– That was the statement of the Minister for Customs in 1922.

I quoted the Prime Minister’s reply to the deputation in April of this year when, he said that he would not. consider a further extension of the bounty unless those interested in the industry took steps to help themselves.


– I accept the honorable member’s correction. I would remind him that when introducing this bill I stated that in 1922 the bounty paid for meat exported was £123,160, and in 1923, £141,300, and that this year the bounty was not now current. The remaining question to be answered is, why are we continuing a bounty for the Northern Territory ? Seeing that the geographical position of this isolated portion of Australia is such that the growers are unable to avail themselves of the southern markets to the same extent as can other parts of Australia, the Government is fully justified in introducing this bill, and I hope that the House will accept it. I assure honorable members that this measure will be administered in such a way as to benefit only those people who should be benefited.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

page 2752


Dairying Industry

Prime Minister and Minister for Externial Affairs · Flinders · NAT

.- I move-

That the House do now adjourn.

The operation of the Standing Order prevented me from completing what I had to say earlier in the afternoon upon the motion of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) for the discussion of the position of the dairying industry. The dairymen - and particularly the smaller butter producers - are certainly entitled to know the Government’s views concerning the assistance that may be given to their industry. The export trade of our great industries is the primary responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, and, as I told the deputation which waited upon me with regard to the stabilization scheme propounded by the dairying industry, if its proposals had been confined to the export trade I could at once have said that the Government was quite prepared to discuss the matter to see if there was anything it could do to assist the organization of the marketing of butter in Great Britain, and thus to obtain an enhanced, -price. Everyone connected with the dairying industry must admit that the conditions of marketing in Great Britain are at present -extremely unsatisfactory. I saw a good deal of them last year. I was convinced that the dairying industry could do a great deal -to improve the disposal of its products in Great Britain. The fluctuation of the butter market in Great Britain is tremendous, and if something could be done to prevent it, considerable benefit would accrue to the Australian dairying industry. Between January, 1922, and June, 1924, the price of butter in Great Britain times exceeded 200s. per cwt., and three times fell below 150s. per cwt., the maximum variation being between 206s. and 123s. per cwt. Violent fluctuations took place also in the monthly imports of .butter. Bet-ween the months of July and December, 1921, the importation of butter into Great Britain averaged 11,000 tons per month; between the months of January and June, 1922, it averaged 20,000 tons per month. During the year 1922-23, from July to December, 15,000 tons of butter were imported monthly, and from January to June, 2.2,500 tons. . The records of butter prices in Britain show a severe fall during the first quarter - January to March - of each year. That fall is caused by heavy importations from Australia, New Zealand, and the Argentine. These have the effect of lowering prices, to the disadvantage of the producers ‘ in the countries from which the butter is sent. Further, whenever prices are so high that the demand for butter begins to decline, the trade stagnates, and then the speculator steps in, and carries the fall very much farther than is necessary. If the Australian supply to the British butter market could be regulated, the effect in stabilizing the price of butter would be immediate. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson’ was very careful to explain that the local price of butter is always affected by the export parity. Obviously, therefore, anything we can do to stabilize the export price will assist in stabilizing, the local price. The Government certainly believes that supplies can be regulated to suit the demand in Great Britain, so as to prevent [109] , []. ;j violent fluctuations in the market. Action in that direction would assist the producer whose butter was exported, and help to stabilize the local price. The Government is prepared to give financial assistance to ‘the industry, and the investigations that are being made into proposals for the assistance of exporting industries show that probably the most useful financial assistance that can be rendered is such as will enable industries to obtain on their products advances in excess of the ordinary banker’s risk, so that small men may be enabled to retain control over their products for a longer period than is possible to-day. Butter today passes into the hands of the speculator because the small producer, in order to meet his bills, has to realize on his product at the earliest possible date. The Government is prepared to consider the question, of granting financial assistance to enable a sufficient quantity of butter from Australia to be held in cold store and released in such a manner as to regulate the supplies in Great Britain according to the demand. The Government, therefore, proposes to summon a conference of representatives of the industry at the earliest possible date to discuss that matter. It also thinks that it should get into communication with the states, to ascertain whether they are prepared to co-operate in calling a conference of dairying experts to advise on the best action to take to accelerate ‘the improvement of dairy herds, and to raise the general efficiency .of the industry.

Mr Foster:

– Did the right honorable gentleman submit that to the previous conference ?


– It has not been discussed. This is the first time it has been proposed by the Government.

Mr Maxwell:

– Is not the industry capable of improving its efficiency without Government assistance ?


– The industry must do the greater part of the work itself. The Government has laid it down, as a fundamental principle, that it will not do for any industry what should be done by those engaged in that industry. But it is very difficult, in many of these industries, to ensure progress unless a direct lead is given. Those engaged in this industry cannot solve unaided many of the problems that arise. I shall instance one. The Government may summon a conference of experts -to give advice on improving the quality of dairy herds and the conference may recommend that the services of better stud stock should be made available to the small dairy farmers. It is easy to say that the dairy farmer should improve the standard of his herd, but the very limited financial resources of the average small dairy farmer must be borne in mind. If he were left to his own resources, it would be almost impossible ‘ for him to obtain the services of the pedigreed stock necessary to raise the standard of his herds. The Government does not intend to step in and organize any of these industries, nor will it give assistance to people who arc not prepared to assist themselves, but it believes that the time has come when it should give some assistance to those who are prepared to do so. This assistance will be devised to increase our national efficiency and raise the standard of our national production. The honorable member for Gippsland, who made a very admirable speech, said that he did not see why stringent conditions that are not applied to secondary industries should be applied to primary industries. I would remind him of what I said in Sydney, where I tried to make it quite clear that the Government did not subscribe to the view that inefficient secondary industries are entitled to the protection of a tariff, and that if industries want assistance they must demonstrate that they are efficient. But everything cannot be done in a day. If the honorable member wants to know upon what principle the Government bases its offer of assistance, I reply that it is upon the principle of efficiency and organization. That principles’ applies to both primary and secondary industries. The Government feels that the problem must be approached with the object of improving methods of production, distribution, and marketing. It proposes to consult the industry about the organization of butter marketing in Britain, and is prepared to give financial assistance to control the flow of Australian butter to the British markets. It is also necessary to take advantage of opportunities offered in other ports in Great Britain besides the port of London - ports like Hull, Liverpool, and Manchester. I visited those ports when I was in Great Britain recently, and I have no doubt that the authorities controlling them would be prepared to give assistance to primary producers in this country if we had an efficient system of organization, and they knew definitely what we desired them to do, and with whom they had to deal. Improvements might take the direction of providing additional cold storage, cheaper rates for storage, or improved marketing arrangements.

To sum up, the Government has reviewed the proposals that have been made, and recognizes the difficulties facing the industry. It recognizes, too, that the industry is doing everything it can to try to solve those difficulties. But in the proposals that have been made to it, the Government sees grave dangers, and certainly not until every effort has been made by the industry to increase its efficiency, can it accede to an arrangement that contemplates the control of interstate trade. I referred earlier to some of the disadvantages of that proposal, which Ministers believe would be prejudicial in the long run to the interests of the industry itself. There are grave dangers in the fixing of prices for interstate trade, and the scheme would involve, if it was to be made effective, the fixing of prices in each state. In addition, there is the constitutional difficulty to which I have referred.. TheGovernment views these matters seriously, and is therefore not prepared to assent to the proposals that have been made to it. But it is nevertheless prepared to co-operate with those engaged in the butter industry by assisting in improving methods of marketing and in raising the quality of the Australian herds. Ministers are also prepared to look at every phase of the question, and to listen to all suggestions directed towards putting the industry on a national basis for the benefit of the whole of Australia. I trust that those engaged in the industry will appreciate the fact that the Government . has the greatest sympathy with them. Its duty, however, is not to look at one industry, or the interests of one section of the community alone; it is to weigh the interests of all, and determine what action is likely both to promote the welfare of the people immediately concerned and to increase the general prosperity of Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.13 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 July 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.