9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the divergent reports recently presented by the Royal Commission on Navigation, and the apparent impossibility of that body presenting any report that will be of value, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of terminating the commission at the earliest possible date, and thus obviating a further waste of public money?
– The Royal Commission on Navigation has functioned for several months, and recently presented three reports. Although it is regrettable that members of the commission were not unanimous in their conclusions, theyhave undoubtedly done a great deal of valuable research work regarding the present state of coastal shipping. At the present time the commission is investigating the operation of the Navigation Act in relation to the mandated and other territoriesof theCommonwealth, and theGovernment is of opinionthat the fullest opportunity should be given to people dwelling in theseremote places to present their case, so that a report may be made thereonfor the consideration of the Cabinet.
Mr.C. RILEY.- Is the Prime Minister yet in aposition to announce to the Souse whether the second 10,000-ton cruiser will be builtin Australia?
– A report from Sir John Monashon theprobablecost of constructing onecruiser in Australia has been receivedby the Government, which has not yet had an opportunity of considering it. When the Defence Equipment Bill was before the House, I gave an explicit undertaking that, whilst the passing of the bill would be regarded as an endorsement of the policy of the Government to construct two 10,000-ton cruisers, no action would be taken to let a contract for the second cruiser until the House was afforded a further opportunity of considering the matter. I hope to be able to submit aproposal to the House at an early date.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to ex-Private Holland, No. 3088, 38th Battalion, whose case has been discussed in the House - Seeing that a number of medical men associated with Defence,Pensions, and Repatriation Departments have recommended Holland forhospital treatment, and that the patient is now a sufferer from tuberculosis and is in urgent need of such treatment under the special conditions applicable to tubercular subjects,willthe Minister takesuch stops as may benecessary to have Holland treated accordingly ?
– Any disability fromwhich Mr.Holland may besuffering is not recognizedas dueto or aggravated by war service, and it would not belegal under the provisions of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act to grant medi cal treatment in such a case. Ex-soldiers whodevelop complaints not due to war service are regarded as civilian cases, and, if necessary, are treated in a suitable state or public institution.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and; Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’squestions are as follow: -
Liabilities of Sir Sidney Kidman
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Isit a fact thatSir Sidney Kidman owes £100,000forland tax, and a further amount of over £40,000for income tax?
– Sir Sidney Kidmanhas paid assessed landtax on freeholds atan average rate of about £32,000 per annum duringrecent years.Heowes £20,000 land tax-on freeholds on a revised valuation made in the present year covering a period of eight years. Legal proceedings for the recovery of that sum have been instituted. Sir Sidney Kidman also owes a further amount as tax on Crown leasehold’s, but the sum cannot be definitely stated until the manner of the application of the tax has been decided. The method to be used in determining the amount of tax on Crown leaseholds is at present being investigated by a royal commission. The law prevents the commissioner from divulging, even to the Treasurer, any information as to the income tax payable in individual cases, and therefore I am unable to reply as to income tax owing, if any.
– On the7th August the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) asked the following questions : -
Replies were then given, and I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following additional information -
The sugar referred to has not yet been sold. The Queensland Sugar Board, however, advises that the anticipated loss, if any, on export will be borne by the sugar producers paying £1 per ton on the total production for 1924 to the Sugar Board for that purpose. Price obtained and freight costs, &c, cannot be given until transactions are completed.
-On the14th August the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) asked the following question: -
Whether it is a fact that since the duty on imported brandy was increased by 5s. per gallon, the: Australian manufacturers have increased the price of Australian brandy by 7 s. per gallon.
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the. following information. Inquiry in the trade discloses that it is not a fact that the price has been so increased. The following information has been obtained. -
New South Wales - Exhaustive inquiries made. Sydney, prices practically unaltered. One manufacturer reduced prices for 2-gallon cases by 3s. from 1st July last:
Victoria. -Two large distillers report no increase. A large distributing firm, not aware of any increase. Another’ distributor states he was offered brandy at13s. in March, and offered the same at 16s. in July, but refused it. He also said South Australian brandy, bought in March at 13s. 6d., is now quoted at 16s.
South Australia-. -Close inquiry made, but there is no evidence that price has increased. There isin fact, a tendency to lower prices. Two manufacturers have reduced prices in New South Wales and Western. Australia. The largest manufacturer is selling at the same price as in 1920. Prices are considered to be on the down grade.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to the honorable member for Darling Downs ( **Sir Littleton** Groom) , and; the. honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. Charlton),** on the ground of urgent publicbusiness, and for one month to thehonorable member for Kooyong **(Mr. Latham),** on the ground of ill- health.
Motion (by Mr. Bruge) agreed to -
That thehouse, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next at3 o’clock p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
. - I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 19l3-21, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed works: - Establishment of Automatic Telephone Exchanges at Elsternwick and Northcote, Victoria, which works have been investigated by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public: Works, and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations.
The Public Works Committee recommended that the construction of these telephone exchanges be proceeded with as soon as possible, and, if Parliament approves, that willbe done. They are part of a scheme for automatic networks, which are gradually being established in the capital cities of the Commonwealth?. The proposals have been previously explained to the chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That the Bill he now read a second time.
The measure contains only two clauses, and its purpose is to give parliamentary approval to the agreement which appears in the schedule, and modifies the original agreement with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited made on the 28th March, 1922. At the Imperial Conference in 1921 consideration was given to the desirability of establishing an Empire wireless scheme. An expert committee advised that commercial wireless, over distances exceeding 2,000 miles, was not economically practicable, and recommended that a chain system should be established with stations dotted throughout the Empire at distances of approximately 2,000 miles. The then Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Hughes) protested against that scheme, and on behalf of the Commonwealth refused to be a party to it. The other delegates to the conference approved of the proposal, but the Commonwealth was given a free hand to make its own arrangements for direct wireless communication with Great Britain, and an undertaking was given that every facility would be afforded Australia to institute such a service. Following that action by Mr. Hughes, an agreement between the Commonwealth and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited was tabled in this House in December, 1921, which provided for the establishment of a direct wireless service between Australia and Great Britain. The agreement, after having been substantially amended in accordance with the recommendations of a Select Committee of the House, was signed on the 28th March, 1922. This agreement, in broad outline, provided for the acquisition by the Commonwealth Government of shares in the Amalgamated Wireless Company, whose capital was to be increased to £1,000,000. The Commonwealth Government acquired 500.001 shares which gave it possession of the majority of the shares, and control of the company so far as general meetings were concerned. The board of directors was to be composed of seven members, three of whom were to be nominated by the Commonwealth, and three were to represent the outside shareholders, and the seventh member was to be appointed by the other members of the board, or, if they failed to agree, in a manner provided for in the agreement. The Government directors had a right of veto in regard to certain matters, the questions upon which they could exercise that veto being set out in the agreement. The Amalgamated Wireless Company undertook to erect a station in Australia capable of direct communication with Great Britain. It also undertook to arrange for suitable corresponding stations in Great Britain and in Canada. An arrangement was made as to the service to be given by the station to be erected by Australia for communication with Great Britain. It was laid down that a commercial wireless service was tobe provided - capable of maintaining communication for 300 days of every year, on the minimum basis of 20 words per minute each way for twelve hours per day.
When the agreement was made, wireless communication over a distance like the 10,000 or 12,000 miles separating us from Great Britain, had not been established; but the committee which considered the matter believed on the evidence supplied to it that- it was practicable to obtain such a service. It was, however, not prepared to enter into any arrangement unless the Commonwealth were guaranteed against the possibility of the station being found, after erection, incapable of rendering the service undertaken. Accordingly it recommended that the agreement with the Amalgamated Wireless Company should contain a provision that any agreement entered into by the company with a contractor should - contain guarantees of such a nature and to such an amount as are approved by the Commonwealth .representatives on the” Board of Directors for the provision of a direct commercial wireless service between Australia and the stations in the United Kingdom and Canada.
The matters I have mentioned are the material points in the original agreement which the present agreement proposes to modify. Tenders were called by the Amalgamated Wireless Company in February, 1923, for a station in Australia, the tenderer being required to take over the obligation of the Amalgamated Wireless Company to the Australian Government to provide also reciprocal stations in Great Britain and in
Canada. The tender of the Marconi Company was accepted in September, 1-923, and that tender contemplated the erection in Australia of a station with twenty masts, each 800 feet high, at an approximate cost of £480,000.
– Was that the only tender ?
– Yes. There was also the undertaking in the contract that reciprocal stations in Canada and Great Britain should be provided. At the time the tender was accepted, it was not anticipated that there would bs any difficulty in obtaining a licence for -the erection of a station in Great Britain by the tenderer. But later it was found that the British Government was notprepared to issue a licence to any private tenderer to erect a station in Great Britain. Negotiations were carried on for some time, based by Australia to a considerable extent upon the undertaking believed to have been given at the Imperial Conference in 1921 that no obstacle would be placed in our way in making any arrangements we desired for a direct service to Great Britain and the erection of a reciprocal station there. In March, 1923, Mr. Bonar Law, the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, made a statement which has always been interpreted to mean that the British Government was prepared to alter its policy in regard to the issue of licences to private companies or individuals for - the erection of stations for communication with th» dominions. He said. -
It was not considered any longer necessary to exclude private enterprise from participation in wireless within the Empire, and the Government were ready to issue licences for wireless stations in this country for communication with the Dominions, Colonies, and foreign countries, subject to the conditions necessary, and subject to Great Britain controlling the suitable arrangements for the working of the traffic.
After that statement had been made, negotiations were taken up by the Marconi Company and the British Government. But a feud exists .between these two parties, which commenced in 1911, and it seems to be one which will never be ended. Many difficulties arose. Just prior to my arrival in Great Britain, it appeared as though a satisfactory agreement was about to be reached, under which the British Government would erect one high-powered station and the Marconi Company two stations, and the British post office and the Marconi Company were jointly to operate the three stations from a central dispatching office. The animosity between the parties was, however, too much, and the negotiations eventually broke down. When I arrived in Great Britain the two parties were hopelessly at loggerheads., There seemed to be the feeling that I was going to throw my weight, with the prestige attaching to the position of the Prime Minister of Australia, on the side of the Marconi Company, and to oppose the British post office, but I had no intention of doing anything of the sort. It is not the part of an Australian Government to support any interests which may be in dispute with the British Government or the British post office. During the wholetime I was in England I did all in mv power to see if arrangements could not be made whereby something definite would be done. I had. many interviews with the British Postmaster-General of the last Government, and after the change of Government I discussed the matter very fully both with the present Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, and with Mr. Vernon Hartshorn, the PostmasterGeneral. We discussed many ways in which it might be possible to overcome the difficulty which existed, which were ‘frankly recognised by every one in Great Britain. There was. a keen desire to see if some solution could not be found. Unfortunately, no satisfactory basis of agreement could be discovered. But I did not fpr a moment express an opinion as to who was right and who was wrong. My personal opinion is that there was a good deal of wrong on both sides, due to the animosity between the two parties for ten or twelve years. As I was about to leave Great Britain, the Government came to the conclusion that the position was impossible, and they appointed the * Donald Committee. That committee submitted a report, the substance of which was that Great Britain was to erect the necessary stations for the provision of the reciprocal service required by the Dominions. When that report was published a new position arose. In the original agreement, under a recommendation of the expert committee appointed by the Imperial Conference in 1921, and under a recommendation of the later Donald Committee, the experts had in their mind the erection of a high-powered station forthe provision of a longdistance service. But a new invention, known as thebeam system, becameapractical possibilityabout the time whenthe Donald Committee made its report,and that changed the whole aspectof this question. The Australian Cabinetcommunicated with theGovernment ofGreat Britainabout it, andthe result was to show thatthebeam system wasquite effective, and wouldwork satisfactorily over the distance between Britain and Australia. But there are two -drawbacksto thesystem. Oneis that it can at present be operated only for alimitednumberof hours in the day.With itwecould probably havecommunication for only sevenhoursa day, whereas with a highpowered station there was guaranteed inthe original agreement a service of twelvehoursaday. Theotherdrawbackto the beam system is that it is -a directional system, and could not be used for defencepurposes, as, forexample,the broadcasting of messages to thevesselsof thenavyoperating in thePacific. The adviceofthe British Government to the Common wealth was toerect a beam station, whichcouldbeerected more rapidly than ahigh-powered station, and to proceedwith the erectionof a high-powered station aswell. Abeamstation could be erected infromnine to ten months,whereas ahigh-powered station would take atleast twoyears toerect. TheBritishGovernment did not think thatabeamstation wouldbe thoroughly satisfactoryfor Australianrequirements. Aftergivingfullconsideration to the matter we have decided that it wouldbe a great mistake to proceed at this stage with theerection of a high-powered station, andwe propose to erect abeam station only. Our reason is that such amazing developments have occurred in wireless during thepast two or three yearsthat by the time a high-powered station hadbeen erected at a cost of nearly £500,000, itwould probablybe obsolete and useless.That is borne outby thehistory of wireless. As recently as July, 1921, a committee ofBritish experts, which included several represen- tatives ofthePostmasterGeneral’sDepartment, declaredthatwirelesscommunication over a distance of more than 2,000 miles wasquite impossible f or commercial purposes, irrespectiveof the size or power of the stations which might be erected . To-day, I do not think that anyone whois familiar with wireless developmentswill affirmthatcommunication over l0,000 or 12,000miles is either impracticable or difficult of accomplishment. For the erectionof a station to communicate overa maximumdistance of 14,000 miles, the erection of twenty masts each 800 feet inheight, at a cost of £480,000, would be necessary, and the wave length would be 20,000 metres. But a beam station to operate on a wave length of 100 metres will , give a service quite as effective, and indeed more so, and at a greatly reducedcost. I feel confident thatin the very near future thebeam system will make even greater developments. ‘The objection to thebeam system, from thestrategic point of view, that we should not be able with it tocommunicate with our fleet in thePacific, will,I also feel sure,be over comevery soon. ‘The beam system is certainly directional and notbroadcasting, itonlysends its messages in a particular direction, but it should not be verydifficult toovercome that objection. TheGovernment is confident that it wouldbe agrave mistake in all the circumstances to involvethecountry in an expenditure of nearly £500,000toerect a high-powered station whenabeam station will provide an equally satisfactory service atagreatly reduced cost.For these reasons certain variations inthe original agreementareproposed in this bill.Under the original agreement the AmalgamatedWireless Company agreed to provide a service for 300 days a year onthe minimum basis of twenty words aminute fortwelve hours a day. TheGovernment now proposes that the agreement shall be varied to providefor thetransmission of 21,600 words a dayeach way for 300days a year. That willmean that the messages would be despatched onthebasis of 50 words aminute for seven hours aday, instead of twenty wordsa minutef or twelvehoursa day as under theold agreement.It willtherefore be seen that the service which will berendered underthebeamsystem inthe termsof the newagreement willbe one and a half times as great as that which would have been rendered underthe high-powered system, and theGovernment believethat the new arrangement willbe much more advantageous to Australia than theold one.
– Is the Government committed toany expenditure in respect of high-powered stations ?
– No. Itwill be noted thatthe numberof days upon which service will be rendered to Australia underthebeamsystem willbeexactly the sameas underthehigh-powered system.The nextpoint in whichanalterationof the existing agreement is proposed hasrelation toguarantees.When the original agreementwasmade no evidencewas available to showthat the contemplated service couldreallybe rendered.In the new agreement the Amalgamated WirelessCompany givesa guarantee ofsuch a nature and tosuch anamountasareapproved bytheCommonwealthrepresentativesontheboard of directorsfor the erection of said main trunkstation,andfor its capability to providethe servicestipulated.” The new agreement also provides forthe releaseof the Amalgamated WirelessCompany fromtheobligationto provide for the erectionofreciprocal stations in Great BritainandCanada. Itwill be realized thatonaccount ofthesettled policyof the British Government itwill be impossible for thecompanyto erect in Great Britain awireless station for communicationwith Australia, for it couldnotobtain a licence to do so . In any case, there isno necessity forthat provisionnow, for theBritish Governmenthas undertakento erect in England a beam stationfor reciprocalcommunication with Australia concurrentlywith the completionof our station. There will thus be underthe new arrangement a beam station in GreatBritain and another in Australia, and abeam station is alsobeing erected in Canada winch willbecapableof communicatingwith Australia.In thecircumstances it isonly reasonableto releasethe Amalgamated Wireless Companyfromits obligations in these respects. Another provision inthe originalagreement whichit isproposed to alterhas relationtotherates tobe chargedforthe messages transmitted. When the agreement was made itwascontemplated that the Amalgamated WirelessCompany wouldhavefullcontrolof the service atboth ends,butthepolicyadopted bythe BritishGovernment has madethis impossible.It is, therefore, proposednow thatthe Amalgamated Wireless Company shall reduce by half the charges that were previously agreed to. The PostmasterGeneral, while inEngland, negotiated with the BritishGovernment with a view to entering into an agreement with it that its charges shallalso be one-half of those proposed inouroriginal agreement with the Amalgamated Wireless Company. Thecharges agreed to with the Amalgamated Wireless Company were as follow : -Ordinary messages, 2s. a word; deferred messages, 1s. a word; week-end messages,6d. . a word, with a minimum of10s. a message.; government messages,1s a word; press messages, 5d. a word ; and deferred press messages, 3d. a word. Wehope to be able to conclude anarrangement with the BritishGovernmentto provide that these charges shall beretained . It is also proposed to extend the time in which the Amalgamated Wireless Company shall take over the control of wireless in Australiafrom three tofour years.Itwasarrangedunder the original agreement that the Amalgamated Wifeless Companyshould erect ahighpoweredstationand feeder stations in each capitalcity, andthat it should also take overthewhole of the coastal stations whichare at presentbeing operated on behalfof the Postmaster-General’s Department ataheavy loss. It was considered thatwhen these stations were operated in conjunction with a high-poweredstationthatloss could be prevented. Thedelaythathas occurred in consequence , of the impossibility of coming to anarrangement with Great Britain and Canadafor the erection of reciprocalstations has made itimpossiblefor the company tofulfil the time condition in the existing agreementbut, in view of thefact that a beam station canbeerected in , a much shorter time than ahigh-powered station, it is thought that the company willbe able to takeover the complete service within nine or ten months from the time the erection of the beam stationis commenced. Accordingly, the Government is proposingthatthe original agreement shallbe amendedby substituting four yearsfor three years in this connexion. That is a fairand equitable arrangement. The proposals now made are a great advanceon the originalagreement, andf or the first time there is a hope that the diff- iculties that have stood inthe way of the establishment of anEmpirewireless scheme will disappear,and that it will be
– Will the new agreement have any effect upon the taking overof equipment by the company?
– Not a bit.
– How does the costof a beam station compare with that of a high-powered broadcasting station.
– The amended agreement provides that the capital cost of the beam station shall not exceed £120,000, which is one-fourth of the contract price for a high-powered station. It is believed that it will be constructed for an even smaller sum than that, and very probably for a substantially smaller sum; but masts somewhat higher than is necessary for a beam station may be erected. That point has not been definitely determined. The proposal for a high-powered station contemplated that there would be twenty towers 800 feet high. A beam station can probably be operated with five towers 300 feet high, but the height of those fixed towers may be increased so that they will still be serviceable if their number is increased in the future for a high-powered station. Not more than five towers will be built, and in no circumstances will the cost of the station exceed £120,000. I commend the bill to the House, and I hope that it will be passed as soon as possible, because the sooner it is passed the sooner action can be taken to put Australia in wireless communication with Great Britain, which will be a definite step towards the solution of the problem of Empire wireless.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brennan) adjourned.
In committee, (Consideration resumed from 20th August, vide page 3396), on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That the first item in the Estimates under division ] - The Parliament - namely “The President, £1,100,”be agreed to.
.- On Wednesday night I spoke in commendatory terms of the defence proposals of
– For a given period.
– I quite understand that ; but it is very difficult for honorable members, unless more details are provided showing to what extent this £452,350 has been spent, and how much of it remains to be spent, to exercise an intelligent control over the money they are asked to grant. The large sum of £452,350 does not exhaust the amount to be spent on munitions. On page 196 of the Estimates I find that the provision for the Munitions Supply Branch amounts to another £226,000, which make the total nearly £700,000. Honorable members will also remember that in the special grant of £2,500,000, which, was passed recently for naval construction and other services, there was an item for the provision of munitions. Even these three headings of heavy expenditure for munitions do not exhaust the list. On page 197 of the Estimates there is a special defence provision of £1,000,000 to he appropriated from the accumulated surplus. The statement made against the item is: “ Provision of increased personnel, arms, armament, munitions, aircraft equipment,” &c. There are enormous votes in which expenditure for the manufacture of munitions is included, and I would direct the Minister’s attention to the danger, in those circumstances, of the expenditure getting out of hand. I also wish to say something regarding the general method of providing munitions. The tendency is to spend large sums of money on government factories and on the official control of the manufacture of these necessary articles. That is necessary, but it would be very wise to take advantage of the experience of older countries by co-opting private aid. Although Great Britain has large and extensive official munition factories, the practice of that country in times of peace has been to issue contracts to private firms for the supply of government requirements also. Thus, even in times of peace, private firms are kept abreast of the latest improvements in munitions, and are induced to improve and install machinery for their manufacture. The result is that when an emergency arises, as it did in the great war, a large number of private firms with the necessary experience, equipment, and trained staffs, are ready at once to increase the output of munitions. If the work of organization is left until war breaks out, the result must be very unsatisfactory. An inquiry would probably show that many of the important inventions and improvements in munitions have been made by private firms engaged in their manufacture. I do not wish for a moment to underrate the magnificent work done by government officials and government factories in England and Australia, but, while I give every credit to. them, it is nevertheless true that valuable suggestions are often made by able men employed by private firms. There is another reason, based on our own experience. If honorable members will throw their minds back to the first year or two of the war they will recall the sudden demand for munitions, and the very widespread, praiseworthy, and patriotic efforts that were made throughout the Empire to provide them. Those efforts extended to Australia, and a number of patriotic and earnest citizens did their best to meet the national needs by doing a tremendous amount of self-sacrificing work, though they failed to achieve anything of value. As far as I know, the figures relating to that failure have never been stated, but I should imagine that the cost to the Government was not less than £100,000. Firms were organized, factories were established, machinery was installed, and energetic and enthusiastic workers were banded together to increase the output of munitions. The reason for their failure was lack of knowledge, lack of business ability, and lack of appreciation of the facts, not by those who were working at the business, but by the central government committee that was in control. The history of that movement, and the events which occurred in connexion with it, and of which I personally had a very intimate knowledge, would make very sorry reading indeed if committed to print. This was because it was left to . the emergency to bring the organization together. It was obvious that, had time been given, private manufacturers were quite capable of installing the necessary machinery and carrying out the different processes for the production of munitions if the necessary information as to gauges, specifications, and all the details necessary to fulfil the very meticulous requirements of the military department, had .been available. It was not available because there was no co-ordination between the central military authorities and outside manufacturing firms. .
-; - That is why we are creating nucleus establishments now for the production of munitions.
– I quite appreciate what the department is doing, but I remind the Minister that no definite arrangement is’ simultaneously being carried out with private manufacturing firms. I maintain that from the first there should be some system of co-operation with private firms in order that those controlling them may march step by step with the department in the different stages of knowledge acquired on this subject. I shall quote one instance of a deplorable lack of sense and. management exhibited in connexion with the attempt made to increase the production of munitions in Australia. The specification for. steel for the manufacture of shells was received from Great Britain.. It provided, of course, that the steel must contain certain ingredients,, and’ allowed certain permissible percentages of impurities. It provided that the steel must not contain more than a certain amount of copper. The Central Munitions Committee that had charge of this matter actually sent this specification to steel manufacturers, and asked them to provide steel with the amount of copper mentioned in the specification. I was at the steel works, and was personally informed by the authorities of the works that the munitions department required, them to put this copper into the steel, and they were actually buying expensive copper, and putting it in deliberately as an impurity into the steel because the Munitions Committee said they were to do so. It seems utterly incredible that such a thing could occur. I said to the gentlemanI met at the steel works, But you knew that was wrong.” He said,”’ Of course we did, but they said ithad to be done, and so we didit.” That is an instance ofthe incredible folly sometimes displayed in connexion with such matters. No wonder the arrangement f ell through. We have in the privately-conducted outside industries of the country what I may call a lay arm of the Defence Department which I want the Minister for Defence to develop in co-operation with his department.
In connexion with the lay arm of defence,I wish to say a word’ on, the subject of rifle clubs. 1. was rather: surprised to find that on this year’s Estimates rifle clubs have been put down for as grant of £6,000 less than the previous year’s vote-, and nearly £2,000 less than the actual expenditure of last year. I want to say straight away thatI have been delighted during the last day or two, on representing the matter to the Minister,to receive from him a formal assurance that arrangements will be made to give rifle clubs not less than was given to them last year. It is a great mistake to starve these important and valuable associations. In view of the statements made from time to time during the progress of the year that no more money was available for rifle clubs, I have been rather surprised to find that the vote passed last year for these clubs was unexpended to the extent of something like £4,000. This would indicate administration more economical than wise. As I consider that the money available for rifle clubs at present is insufficient. I express the hope thatnot only will the amount given to these clubs be equal to the amount given to them last year, but that they may even be allowed grants up to the full extent of the vote provided for them last year. I am sure that it will be agreed that the splendid results obtained by our riflemen at Home, the magnificent achievements of our Bisley team and others, is a fine commendation of the work of our rifle clubs. I am personally, as a representative of Western Australia, extremely proud that one of the leading men in our Bisley team is a Western Australian rifleman.
With regard to defence matters, there are those who say that all expenditure on defence is foolish and wasteful, that if is unnecessary and is inconsistent with the development of the League of Nations. I wish, before concluding myremarks, to make a few observationscon- cerning the Leagueof Nations. The ideal of the League of Nations is one which we all desire to see realized. I am afraid that many, of us are somewhat disappointed with the recent manifestations of the usefulness of the League. The part of the League’s work which attracts most attention, and has been most successful, has to do with what one may call its humanitarian activities. This is magnificent and absolutely necessary work, and I do not decry its importance for a moment. But there is a great tendency to exaggerate this side of the work, and lay special stress upon it, perhaps to the extent of neglect to give due consideration to what is really the real part which we expert the League to play in the policy of nations. The essential purpose of the League is after all, to prevent war. It is quite understandable that the humanitarian or social side of its work should be going ahead whilst so little progress is made with the essential work of the League. The reason for this is that national questions - questions of national prestige and supremacy - do not enter into the consideration of its social and humanitarian activities. The representatives of the nations find that they can very readily and effectively deal with proposals to relieve large numbers of distressed refugees, and give effect to measures for the suppression of opium and things of that kind, but the League is not making the progress we should like with its specific duty to provide against war.
– The League should add to its numbers.
– Whilst the horrors of the recent war are still fresh in the minds of the peoples who were engaged in it, we are most likely to secure the necessary self-sacrifice of the nations which is required before we can look for a real understanding between them to prevent future war. When the present economic and domestic difficulties, and the other troubles included in what we call the aftermath of the war, pass away, shall we have the same strong arguments for a league against war? I venture to think we shall not. Human memory is short, and human selfishness and ambition are very quickly aroused, and I am afraid that if we let the present golden opportunity slip by through too much negotiation, questioning, hesitation, and delay, it will elude our grasp for a very long time. The reason I say this is that if the opportunity is allowed to slip we ourselves must accept a certain amount of responsibility. We have insisted, and rightly, on taking our place as one of the constituent nations of the League. We hold a position in its counsels equivalent to that of any other nation. We have the same right to be heard, and the same right to initiate any policy as any other nation represented in the League. We cannot hold that position without its responsibility. Are we carrying out that responsibility as we should ? I venture to say we are not. I shall give my reason for saying so. Last year, as in previous years, we sent a delegation to the Assembly of the League. I refer to the representation of last year because it occurred since I have been a member of this House, with a right to make these comments. Our delegation of last year consisted of very able and distinguished members of this House. They came back to Australia, and in April last they made a report on their mission to this House. That report has lain on the table and has never been discussed. Honorable members have never had an opportunity to debate the various questions raised by our representatives. I do not think that it is quite fair, either to the members of our delegation or to honorable members themselves. This year another delegation has been chosen and dispatched from these shores to represent us at the League of Nations. Again distinguished and able men have been selected, but is it fair to ask these representatives to go into the League of Nations and, speaking on behalf of Australia, express definite opinions, or initiate definite amendments, when great questions connected with the League have never been discussed in this House, and there has been no opportunity for the interchange of ideas which alone can educate us and our delegates?
– We have been busy about people who have been dodging the payment of their taxes.
– Unfortunately, honorable members opposite are more concerned about hunting down persons of that sort than about promoting the object of the League of Nations as an association of peoples for the preservation of peace. They talk very glibly about the necessity far the League of Nations and the brotherhood of man. The honorable member for Wimmera very wittily said a little time ago that one cannot help thinking that there is much cant in this propaganda which is carried out with the aid of a soap box and pious platitudes. If honorable members opposite were sincere in their professed desire ..f or a true League of Nations, they would have - - taken up a different attitude on many questions that have been debated in this House. The next assembly will apparently be a specially important one, because we are informed that, amongst others, it will be attended by the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and of France.
– Two great personalities striving for peace.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. I say all honour to these men for what they have recently achieved. It is an achievement for which we all have reason to be proud, and I am glad that the Prime Minister so very promptly . conveyed to the Prime Minister of Great Britain the congratulations and commendations of this country. Our delegation would have been more effective if its opinions had been fortified by a wide discussion in this House of matters to be dealt with by the League. There are many important subjects to be considered in regard to which there is room for difference of opinion. For instance, the Prime Minister stated, in answer to a question I asked, that the Cabinet does not view with approval the treaty for mutual assistance or guarantee. That is a big subject, and I suggest that the treaty should be submitted to the House, and debated openly and frankly. Although some honorable members may say that such a treaty would only perpetuate the alliances and understandings which have caused previous wars, they must remember that the League of Nations is not entirely composed of nations of the moral and intellectual standing of Great Britain. I recollect the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) saying, in this House in April last, that there are many nations in the League who do not subscribe to the same standards of conduct as the more advanced, cultured, and civilized nations. Some of them have not progressed very far along the road of civilization; although they produce some able and advanced men, the general standard of intelligence of the mass of their peoples is not high. Therefore, countries cannot, because of their membership of the League of Nations, divest themselves of all means of self -protection, and rely upon other nations to act in the same noble and trusting fashion. Such blind idealism would K» foolish “and suicidal, and it is admitted that the martial power of- the more civilized nations is the influence that keeps other nations in order. The navy of Great Britain is the strongest moral and physical force behind the League of Nations. Strip the League of Nations of such support, a?id it will have no power to restrain what may be termed “ the rogue elephants “ among the other nations. The objection may be raised that a perpetuation of armed forces will recommence the race of armaments. I do not think that will happen. On the other hand, we cannot expect some of the small nations, which for centuries have lived in distrust of their neighbours, and have been accustomed to apply to each other the primitive law of tooth and claw, to feel secure and confident that if they lay down their weapons no harm will come to them. If they are not to be armed, they must have guarantees’ of peace in the form of an assurance that other nations will come to their aid if they are attacked. That is the real meaning of the treaty of mutual assistance, and we should not brush it aside hastily and thoughtlessly. It should be debated, and a definite expression of opinion obtained for the guidance of our delegates.
– Our delegates to the next Assembly will express the Australian views fairly. The Leader of the Opposition is all right.
– Both the delegates to this year’s Assembly are able and distinguished men, but they should not have been sent abroad to represent Australia’s opinion without having had an adequate opportunity of ascertaining that opinion. They may express what they conceive to be the Australian opinion, but it is possible that the policy they enunciate would have been modified had there been a prior discussion in this Parliament.
– The honorable member voted to increase the expenditure on naval armaments.
– So long as honorable members opposite persist in talking of international brotherhood and amity amongst all peoples, and at the same time adopt an attitude of open hostility towards other countries, it is necessary for Australia to increase its armaments. Naval and military forces are necessitated as much by the policy of honorable members opposite as by anything else.
– Is the honorable member referring to the tariff.
– I mean the continual reference to other nations in terms of contempt and animosity.- Although honorable members opposite profess to do so, they fail to recognize the position of Australia amongst the nations of the world : they even fail to recognize its position within the British Empire.
– That is very sad.”
– It is very deplorable, and shows great ignorance. Speeches delivered in this House lately regarding the payment of certain moneys to the British Government seem to suggest that members of the Opposition regard Great Britain as a foreign and hostile country.
– That is quite wrong.
– That is the real meaning of those speeches, no matter how honorable members opposite may attempt. to explain them away. They are adopting a similar attitude towards the proposal to modify the preference now given to Great Britain by increasing the amount of British labour required in goods to more than 25 per cent. One would Almost suppose that honorable members are bent upon a peevish retaliation for the rejection by the British Government of the preference proposals submitted by the Prime Minister. Although it is said that the object of the proposed amendment is to diminish the consumption of foreign goods in Australia, the result of abolishing the preference to goods which have 25 per cent, of British manufacture will probably be to shift the whole of the import trade to foreign countries. That policy indicates that some honorable members have not a proper conception of Australia’s position in the Empire, and they certainly do not understand its ‘position in the League of Nations. At the meeting of the Assembly last year the most critical event in the history of the League occurred. I refer to the ItaloGreek crisis, which the whole world watched with breathless anxiety to see how the League would comport itself. After reading all available literature on the subject and studying the problem from every point’ of view, I am convinced that at the critical moment the League failed. There was a point in the negotiations when it could have intervened in the quarrel. Greece had notified Italy of its intention to appeal to the League, as it had a right to do, but unfortunately the Ambassadors’ Conference intervened. The conference had no legal standing, and no right to deal wilh the dispute. All the preliminaries had been carried out for the League to function, but unhappily it drew back and left the matter in the hands of the Ambassadors’ “Conference, and the results were deplorable in the extreme. The League was not responsible for the final terms that were arranged, but its prestige suffered through its having failed to exercise its powers when it had the opportunity to do so. The Ambassadors’ Conference is one of the undesirable relics of the old policy of preserving the balance of power.
– The honorable mem ber professes to be a friend of the League of Nations. Is he favourable to the admission of Germany and Russia?
– I sincerely hope that before the end of this year Germany will have been admitted to the League, which will be greatly strengthened by such an accession to its ranks. And Russia, too, should be admitted as soon as she is prepared to conform to the necessary conditions. The Ambassadors’ Conference had been, if not instructed, at least encouraged by the powers it represented, to intervene in the ItaloGreek quarrel. International wirepulling had taken place, and it is regrettable that the effect was not earlier appreciated. It has been seen since, and deputations from the League have represented to the British Government, that it should not in future allow an Ambassadors’ Conference to interfere in such matters. Recently the conference failed to satisfactorily adjust the Memel problem, which was thereupon handed over to the League of Nations, and by it triumphantly settled. Unfortunately our delegates to the Assembly last year did not make any effort to prevent the mistake which was made. I do not say that they should have been wiser than many of the sages in European diplomatic circles, but if they had been strengthened by an open discussion in this chamber they would probably have been able to adopt a stronger attitude, instead of being merely the tail of the British dog. It was extremely unfortunate that our principal delegate, although a gentleman of high attainments and character, should have been one who cannot be expected to be an fait with Australian thought to-day. If all the members of our delegation to the League of Nations were sent from the Commonwealth, they would know the opinions and feelings of the Australian people. I am convinced that the recommendation made by the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) in hi? report, that those who have been delegates to the League in the past should constitute a standing unofficial committee to assist, advise, and instruct those who may be chosen as delegates from year to year, is a good one. The League is a perpetual body, and to send new representatives every year without the possibility of them being able to get into close contact with the questions discussed in previous years is not conducive to the successful development of the League.
– That was a good suggestion.
– Yes, it was made by the honorable member for Calare, and was submitted in the form of a definite recommendation to the Government. The credit for such a suggestion rests with that honorable member and not with me. Today we are in the position that a second delegation has been dispatched before we . have had an opportunity to discuss the work of the last delegation. There are some who endeavour to follow the work of the League, and who, by putting forward what they know, little though it be, may help others to take a greater interest in its operations. We might exchange ideas and opinions concerning previous deliberations, and if we did that, we should strengthen the hands of our delegates and thus assist the work of the League.
.- The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), who seems to hold rather pessimistic views concerning the world’s peace, endeavoured to throw blame upon honorable members on this side, who, he said, had not done their best to assist the League of Nations to carry out the work for which it was formed. The honorable member for Perth was unfair in the assertions he made.
-hughes. - I thought the honorable member for Perth was referring to honorable members on both sides of the chamber.
– He distinctly referred to honorable members on this side, and if the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) reads the remarks of the honorable member in Hansard he will find that I have not misrepresented the honorable member. Evidently he forgets the persistent and consistent work performed inside and outside this Parliament- by the members of the Australian Labour, party in the interests of world peace, and overlooks the fact that all were pilloried from one end of Australia to the other in consequence of the resolutions submitted at a conference in Perth some years ago, when the great international conflict was approaching an end. The Australian Labour party was the only political party in Australia that made any determined effort to bring about the cessation of hostilities. Notwithstanding the bitter opposition displayed towards us bv the Dress of this country,’ with the exception of a few Labour newspapers, the suggestions we then made, if acted upon,, would have brought about a cessation of war some time before the end actually came. The honorable member for Perth,: and other honorable members on that side of the chamber, seem to forget that only the other day the British. Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, brought together the representatives of Germany and France at a conference recently concluded in Great Britain, when hands were shaken and compliments exchanged which had the effect of pledging so far as was possible the peoples they represented to do their best to bring about a world peace. The gentleman, whose actions in this connexion have been given such prominence in the press of the world is a Labour man, and, notwithstanding what he has done, the members of this party, whose views largely coincide with those of the British Prime Minister, have been insulted because of our efforts to bring about peace. I wonder if the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), who has cast such reflections upon honorable members on this side, overlooks what has actually happened. The mem- bers of the Labour party did their best for the members of. the Australian Imperial Force, and have also sought to see that they have been well treated since their return. During the war stones and eggs were hurled at us by a certain section of the community, and we were told that we were traitors, and receivers of German money. But we can point with pride to the fact that we stood to our guns, knowing that in many instances it meant forfeiture of public positions. We opposed conscription because we thought that Australia, in comparison with other parts of the Empire, was doing more than her share to assist Great Britain and her Allies.
– The solution of the present problem is based upon the policy enunciated by the Labour party.
– Exactly. The actions of the British Prime Minister, whose views on international questions coincide with ours, are being applauded throughout the world. He has done more to bring about a world peace than any other public man. We have suffered, and are still suffering, merely because we did that which we’ thought was right.
I am not altogether satisfied with the method which the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) proposes to adopt in making money available to Tasmania. The Tasmanian Premier has asked the Commonwealth Government to make a financial grant to Tasmania for specific purposes, in support of which strong arguments have been submitted by the Tasmanian Premier. The Tasmanian Government asked for a grant of £200,000, to be followed by gradually diminishing annual payments; but the Treasurer intends to provide £85,000 in the first year, which amount is to be reduced annually by £17,000, so that at the end of five years no further payments will be made. The Treasurer proposes to make up the difference between the £85,000 and the £200,000 by ceasing to collect taxation from Tasmanian lotteries. At present the amount received by the Commonwealth Government from the taxation of lotteries in Tasmania is about £111,000 per annum, but no one can say how long it will remain at that figure. I submit that the Commonwealth Government is not really making a grant to Tasmania by withdrawing from that field of taxation. At any rate, it is doing the same thing for Queensland, for the Queensland Government conducts a State lottery. The Tasmanian lottery is run by a private company under strict government control. I do not think any one can contend that revenue which the Tasmanian Government may receive in consequence of the discontinuance of the imposition of the Commonwealth tax on lotteries and its re-imposition by the Tasmanian Government can be regarded as a federal grant within the meaning of the Constitution. When the Constitution was drafted the probability of the smaller states suffering considerable financial hardships from federation was recognized, and provision was made for the Commonwealth Government to make grants in necessitous cases. Experience of the federation of states in other countries proved that that kind of thing happens. The financial arrangements of Tasmania were seriously disturbed by the establishment of federation, and in the circumstances the Commonwealth Government realizes that the application of the Tasmanian Government for a grant of £200,000 a year is not unfair. In fact, I think the Treasurer conceded in his budget speech that it was quite reasonable. I am therefore surprised that he did not agree on behalf of the Government to accede to the request in a straight-out way. At the end of five years Tasmania will not be in receipt of any federal grant, and the only additional revenue it will have will be the amount that it will receive from the imposition of heavier taxes on lotteries. But I ask the Government to give some consideration to the fact that there is quite a possibility that revenue from that source may not be permanent. The private company which conducts the lottery may remove its head-quarters to another state. There is another likelihood to be faced. When the Commonwealth tax on the Queensland state1 lottery is removed it is quite possible that the Queensland Government, with a view to increasing the popularity of the lottery, may decide not to re-impose its tax, with the result that the Queensland lottery may supersede the Tasmanian lottery in public patronage. If the Queensland Government only imposes, say, half the tax which is imposed on the Tasmanian lottery, its organizers will be able to submit a much more acceptable and cheaper proposition to the community, and will doubtless win increased support. The future position from the Tasmanian point of view is therefore most obscure. I hope that the Government will reconsider its proposal, and decide to make a straight-out grant of £200,000 a year to Tasmania. If it does not do that I hope that it will, at least, withdraw its proposal that the grant of £85,000 shall be reduced by £17,000 each year. I do not think that any reduction of that kind was contemplated by the Premier of Tasmania when he made his appeal to the Commonwealth Government for a grant. I take it that a bill will have to be introduced to give effect to. this proposal.
– That is so.
– In that case I shall content myself, for the time being, with urgently requesting the Government to reconsider its proposal, and to make one more in keeping with the spirit of the Federal Constitution.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– A special medical board has been appointed by the Government to investigate the large number of grievances of disabled soldiers who attribute their disablement to war service. I hope the scope of the board’s investigations will be wide enough to cover every case in which there is a genuine grievance. In reply to a question by me the other day, the Prime Minister informed me that the board would meet for the first time in Melbourne on the 8th September, and would then decide whether and when it would meet in the other states. I suggest that although the board will be given a free hand to go where it likes, and to sit when it likes, and to do what it likes, the Prime Minister should impress upon it the necessity of visiting every state. There are many painful cases requiring investigation in Tasmania. Some men there are almost entirely disabled, and others are completely disabled, and their disability is much greater now than it was when they returned from the war, or when they were discharged from the forces. I admit that it is difficult to ascertain how much of the disability is due to war service, and how much to other causes. No honorable member is sufficiently expert to decide the merits of many of the claims. I know that the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia in southern Tasmania frequently deals with cases in which, as a result of the Repatriation Board taking too conservative a view of its powers, justice has not been done to the men. I congratulate the Prime Minister on appointing the board, and I hope that it will, without any unnecessary delay, notify the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia of the date when it will visit each state. That will enable the League to notify its branches, and will give individuals with grievances an opportunity of appearing before the board and submitting themselves to a proper examination. Every man in Australia is anxious that the allegations of injustice shall be withdrawn. The Repatriation Board is the custodian of public funds, and when it is not sure that a man’s disability is entirely due to war service, it refuses to give him the benefit of the doubt. I may be wrong in that view, but cases have come under my notice that have given me that impression.
– Those cases were submitted to the first royal commission, and investigated by experts.
– I ask the honorable member to remember that in many cases the disability is greater to-day than it was at the date of discharge, and that the difficulty is to determine how much of the . disability is due to war service and how much has occurred since.
– In most of the cases the disabilities were greater when the royal commission sat than they are to-day.
– That may be the honorable member’s experience, but my experience is that in many of the cases the disability is now greater than it was twelve months ago, or at any time previously. There are reputable medical men who assert that the increased disability is entirely due to something that happened during war service., such as shell shock or disease. These are questions that only expert medical men have any hope of determining.
I wish to direct the Treasurer’s attention to a matter relating to the collection of income tax. We have heard much during the last few days about the collection and remission of taxation. In his budget speech the Treasurer, in dealing with income taxation, said -
To carry out the intention of Parliament an amendment of the Income Tax Act will be submitted in order to validate past assessments ob income earned in relation to assignment or transfer of leases.
That is necessary, but in the framing of such legislation very great care should be taken to ensure that justice is done to individuals as well as to the department. To show that some individuals do not think they are getting justice, I shall read a letter that is typical of thousands of others. 1 received it two days ago from a reputable citizen in Hobart. It is as follows : - 32 Murray-street, Hobart, 8th August, 1924.
I desire to bring under your notice the facts relating to an appeal that I have instituted against my assessment for Federal income tax for the year ended 30th June, 1920, and, in view of the conditions disclosed by such facts, to request you to take ouch action in Parliament as you see fit to effect the objects hereinafter stated.
I am moved to take this, course, not only by reason of the gross injustice I have been subjected to, but also because the facts of my case are a good instance of the despotic tyranny ‘ that is becoming more and more a feature of our Government, and which is operating to the grave injury of the public at large.
The facts relating to my appeal are as follow: -
Prior to the 14th June, 1920, I was a part owner of a leasehold property in Hobart, held under a building lease, and on that date I and my co-owners sold the lease for £5,000.
On the 27th November, 1922, I was assessed by the Federal Commissioner for income tax for the year 1921-1922, and my proportion of the said sum of £5,000 was included in the assessment as part of my taxable income. On the 9th January, 1923, I paid the full tax demanded, and I lodged an objection against the assessment on the ground that the £5,000 was not taxable income.
On 1st February, 1923,I received a letter from the Deputy Commissioner for Tasmania advisingme that as the property above referred to was sold prior to 30th June, 1920, my proportion of the said sum of £5,000 was included in my 1921-1922 - assessment in error, and that it should have been included in my 1920-1921 assessment. The letter concluded as follows : - “ To obviate the necessity for an amendment and a new objection, I propose to allow the matter to remain in abeyance until a decision on the objection is reached, when the full amount will be excised from your 1921-1922 assessment. If the final decision is such that any part of the payment for the lease is assessable to you, it will be then included in the 1920-1921 assessment. I shall be glad to know if you agree to this course.”
On 2nd February, 1923, I wrote agreeing to the Commissioner’s proposal.
As you are no doubt aware, after a notice of objection has been lodged, the Commissioner is required to consider the objection, and either disallow it or allow it either wholly or in part (Income Tax Assessment Act 1915-1918, section 37). But no time is limited within which the Commissioner is to give his decision.
I heard nothing further from the Commissioner until the 8th November, 1923. On that date the Commissioner allowed my objection in part only. On 5th December, 1923, I gave the Commissioner notice that I desired to appeal to the Supreme Court of Tasmania. The Commissioner should then have forwarded my notice of objection to the Supreme Court of Tasmania, and have given me notice that he had done so. But I heard nothing further from him until the 29th February, 1924, when I received from the Deputy Federal Commissioner for Tasmania a letter informing me that the assessment would have to be amended by including my proportion of the said sum of £5,000 in my 1920-1921 assessment, and at the same time I received an amended assessment for that year.
I was then required to lodge a fresh notice of objection within 30 days - I did so on the 13th March, 1924.
On the 21st March, 1924, the Commissioner disallowed my objection. On the 24th March, 1924, I again gave the Commissioner notice to treatmy notice of objection as an appeal, and to forward it to the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
Not having received from the Commissioner any notice that he had complied with my notice my firm wrote to the Deputy Commissioner on the 21st July last as follows : - .
Re Mr. W. A. Finlay’s appeal against Assessment No. 138136 in respect of financial year 1920-1921.
The objection in this case was originally lodged with you on the 9th January, 1923, and the amount claimed as the tax payable was, of course, paid.
In February, 1923, it was discovered that the department had made an error in including the payment in respect of the assignment of the “ Wellington Chambers “ in the 1921-1922 assessment, and in February, 1924, a new assessment was made, and an objection thereto was lodged on the 13th March last, and on the 24th March last Mr. Finlay appealed to the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
The question raised by the appeal appears to have been determined in the case of In re Dalrymple, and we therefore think that there is no justification for retaining from the appellant any longer the sum he claims he has been evercharged, and we suggest that you consent to the appeal being allowed with costs.
If you do not agree to adopt that course, we must ask you to expedite the hearing of the appeal - it has now been pending about eighteen months.
As no reply to - not even an acknowledgement of - that letter was received, my firm on the 1st August inst. wrote to the Deputy Commissioner as follows : -
Re Appeals of Messrs. W. A. Finlay and Thomas Lyons.
We wrote to you on the 21st July last as to Mr. Finlay’s appeal, but we have not received any reply.
The appellants feel very strongly the injustice they have been subjected to, and we are instructed to give you notice that unless you consent to the appeals being allowed with costs, or set the same down for hearing within a week, we shall make a special application to the Court.
No reply to or acknowledgement of that letter was received until this morning, when my firm received from the Commissioner a telegram reading as follows : -
Finlay income tax appeal papers being forwarded through Crown Solicitor for transmission of objection to Supreme Court of Tasmania.
So it seems that the Commonwealth, having now had the full amount of the tax I paid for more than eighteen months are going to permit me to get a decision from a court of law. It must be remembered, however, that if I succeed, I will not receive any interest on the sum that the Commonwealth will in that case have wrongfully demanded from me.
It seems to be an anomaly that whilst a taxpayer who may have been overcharged to the extent of thousands of pounds for two or three years is not allowed interest on the amount if he successfully appeals against his assessment, he must himself pay interest if he is behind in the payment of his tax. This is an important part of this letter, which I may say was written by a legal gentleman : -
But now I am about to get a decision a new position has arisen.
About a month ago the High Court of Australia decided that the sum received by a lessee on the sale of the unexpiredbalance of his lease is not taxable income. According to that decision it would seem that my eighteen months’ old objection was well founded.
But the Commonwealth do not propose to take any chance in the matter. My authority for that statement is the Treasurer’s budget speech, in which this passage occurs : “ 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.” That is to say, it is proposed that retrospective legislation shall be passed to legalize certain illegal exactions which have been made by a Commonwealth Department.
It seems that such legislation will cover my case, and that means that an objection that I lodged over eighteen months ago will be overridden by retrospective legislation.
It smacks of orientalism to give a right of appeal, and then, when it appears that an appeal will succeed, to leave the right of appeal, but to take away the ground on which it is founded.
The facts stated above bring out several serious defects in the Federal Income Tax Assessment Act.
While the taxpayer is required to pay the full tax demanded within 30 days after demand, the Commonwealth can take its leisure in dealing with an appeal against the demand. While the taxpayer has to pay whatever sum is demanded from him, the Commonwealth can deal with an objection just as soon or as late as it chooses, and as it has the taxpayer’s money in its coffers, and is not liable to pay interest on sums overcharged, it certainly has no inducement to hurry itself.
My request is that you will take such action in Parliament as you think fit to ensure -
That the legislation which it is proposed to pass is not made retrospective at all.
That if it is made retrospective in some degree, that it is not extended to cover cases in which a notice of objection has been lodged prior to the passing of the Act.
That the Income Tax Assessment Act 1915-1918 should be amended so as to require the Commissioner to consider and decide on a notice of objection within a fixed time - say, 60 days.
That the said Act be amended so as to make the Commonwealth liable to pay interest on all sums overcharged.
William A. Finlay.
I quote this letter for what it is worth, and I suggest that it deals with a case that might well engage the attention of the Treasurer.
There is only one other matter upon which I wish to touch very briefly. When referring to the general aspect of the financial trouble which is the foundation of Tasmania’s appeal to the Commonwealth for a grant, I omitted to mention that one of the chief causes of Tasmania’s financial difficulties since federation has been the comparatively small proportion of federal expenditure on public works in that state per head of population. In speaking on a bill recently before us proposing an expenditure from loan of £800,000 on new works, additions, and repairs for the Post and Telegraph Department throughout the Commonwealth, I directed attention to the fact that only £4,000 was for expenditure in Tasmania. I pointed put that on the basis of population Tasmania is entitled to expenditure on these works to the extent of £1 for every £25 voted, and that the vote for Tasmania in the bill referred to represents an expenditure in that state of only £1 for every £170 voted. Tasmania, because of her isolation and size as compared with the other states, has never had large sums of money spent on federal public works. I am not complaining of the expenditure in other states, because I always try to be a real federalist, and throughout my eighteen years’ service in this Parliament I have always cheerfully supported expenditure upon works in all the other states if it appeared to me that they were necessary, and would be in the national interests. I am, therefore, justified in reminding the Government that Tasmania has not shared in these big expenditures of federal money, and has not enjoyed to the same extent as the other states the benefits which flow from public expenditure.
Mr.Corser. - Have not the other states provided the money in income tax and land tax?
– I am surprised to hear such an argument from a representative of Queensland, because, with the exception of a few growlers, who are to be found in every state, the Tasmanian people have never objected to pay very heavy taxation for the maintenance of the sugar industry in Queensland, because they believe it should be maintained as a white man’s industry. The interjection is unworthy of the honorable member, and probably would not have been made if he had given the matter a little more thought, since it leaves him open to attack from other representatives from Tasmania.
In opening my remarks I felt compelled to refer to some statements made by the honorable member for Perth (Mr.
Mann), who had just then resumed his seat. As the honorable member i3 present now, I wish to add a word or two to what I have said. The honorable member charged honorable members on this side with not having done their best to assist the League of Nations to function in the interests of the world’s peace. I assert that honorable members on this side, and the people throughout Australia whom they represent, have, in the most practical way, done everything they possibly could to ensure the world’s peace. Only the other day, when we were confronted with the possibility, and, indeed, the probability of a very early federal election, honorable members on this side insisted on their Leader (Mr. Charlton) going overseas to take part in the counsels of the League of Nations. I am sure that the honorable gentleman, in the interests of the party and the legislation which it advocates for Australia, would have preferred to remain here and to be present should an election take place. But, at the earnest wish of the whole of the members of the party, he consented to attend the Assembly of the League of Nations. I remind the honorable member for Perth that the party on the other side has not made an equal sacrifice, because it is to be represented at the League of Nations by a gentleman who is not the leader of the party.
– We have sent a good man.
– Certainly, but one who is not the leader of the Government party. If we had sent any one of half a dozen honorable members on this side, we should also have sent a good man, but we considered representation at the League of Nations as of more importance than the winning of the next federal election. t
– The honorable member is misinterpreting my remarks.
– Then I am very sorry, but the honorable member’s remarks were quite plain, and I cannot interpret them in any other way. I remind the honorable member and the country that, on the outbreak of the war, during its continuance, and since its close, in spite of all the opprobrium cast upon it, all the epithets hurled at it, and all it has had to suffer inside and outside of Parliament, the party on this side has stood for anything and everything which would bring about the world’s peace. I think I am .entitled, as proof of this, to mention the fact that at this time, when we might require the services of our Leader to lead us to victory at the forthcoming elections, we have shown that we regard representation at the League of Nations, in the interests of the future peace of -the world, as of greater importance than success at the next federal elections.
.- My first remarks concerning the budget speech delivered by the Treasurer must be of a congratulatory nature. When he was a private member he frequently urged that the budget and estimates should be presented early in the financial year, in order that they might be adequately discussed, and he has proved his sincerity by delivering each of his two budget speeches in the first month of the new financial year. He has set an example which, I hope, will be followed by succeeding Treasurers. Although he had a big surplus to dispose of, he has resisted the temptation to disperse it in purchasing popularity and in electioneering propaganda, and has allocated the money wisely. He has not been extratravagant, but has taken a broad national view of the finances.
Dealing with sugar, the Treasurer said that the Queensland pool is proving satisfactory. On Wednesday, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) spoke on this subject at considerable length. The sugar industry is one of his pet hobby-horses, which he seems to regard himself as the only person qualified to ride. He made many accusations and insinuations, and some of his statements were, so wide of the truth as to be unworthy of consideration. For instance, he referred to the new Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) as the Leader of the Country party. The inaccuracy of that statement is well known to honorable members, and it may be taken as an index to the character of the other remarks made by the honorable member, who does not mind misstating the facts if thereby he can make a point against his opponents. The Treasurer, as Leader of the Country party, has made clear its attitude towards the sugar industry. He is still a member of the Ministry that first proposed the embargo on the importation of sugar, and the New South Wales Farmers’ and Settlers’ Association, which supports our party, at its annual conference in Sydney recently, unanimously agreed to a resolution recommending that the sugar embargo be continued, or, alternatively, that the duty on imported sugar be increased to £14 per ton. Some time ago there was a big outcry in the southern states regarding the price of sugar, and it was said that the growers in Queensland and northern New South Wales were being spoon-fed, but the Australian industry has given the consumers sugar at a price less than they would have had to pay if their requirements bad been imported from Java or elsewhere. The Argus recently made a misleading comparison of the prices of Australian and Java sugars, ignoring the fact that no refined sugar is imported from Java. The imports are “ millwhites,” and the refining and distribution in Australia add considerably to the import price. Such a statement appearing in a reputable and otherwise truthful journal would seriously mislead the public. Some time ago the price of even Java “ mill-whites “ was higher than that of refined Australian sugar. That state of affairs continued for some time, but, notwithstanding that the Australian grower was giving the consumer sugar at a price cheaper than that at which the imported article could be sold, there was no word of appreciation from Mrs. Glencross and others in the southern states who are making such a set against the Australian sugar industry. I hope that the Government will renew the prohibition of the importation of black-grown sugar, or, alternatively, that it will impose a very high duty upon imports. The sugar industry is progressing, and the Government should continue its policy of stabilization.
Among the many good proposals in the budget speech is the promised reduction of income taxation. Had a Labour Treasurer announced such a reduction there would have been a wild whoop of joy from Labour supporters throughout Australia. Men would have mounted soap-boxes on every vacant corner allotment to glorify the Government for its concession to the poorer classes. But no credit has been given by honorable members opposite to the present Treasurer for having proposed a lightening of the burden of taxation that will materially help those to whom a penny means more than a shilling does to others. I congratulate the Treasurer upon the relief he has extended to the people with smaller incomes, leaving them a little more money to spend to better advantage than in paying to the Federal Treasury taxation they can ill afford.
The Kyogleto South Brisbane railway, which has been the subject of discussion for a considerable time, appears likely soon to become an accomplished fact. An agreement has been reached between the Commonwealth and the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland, and I hope that at an early date the railway will be commenced. It is desirable that as soon as possible there shall be a uniform gauge for the railways of the mainland, and I hope that after the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway is built the railways of New South Wales will be linked up with the EastWest railway by means of a line from Hay to Port Augusta. The North-South railway also should be started on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, thus honouring a promise which the Commonwealth made to South Australia many years ago.
Of the surplus, £500,000 has been allocated for main roads development. I am sorry that the Treasurer did not apply to that purpose twice as large an amount. Although the whole of last year’s grant was not spent, representatives of country districts know that material benefits accrued from the expenditure of the money made available by the Commonwealth. I do not think one voice has been raised here against the continuation of the grant, and I hope that in future years the amount will be doubled.
I am glad that a royal commission is to be appointed to investigate the very important subject of public health, and I hope that its deliberations will yield good results, including the discontinuance of the present overlapping of state and federal authorities.
For many years the PostmasterGeneral’s Department did not give that efficient and proper service in country districts that we have a right to expect from a department that affects every person in the community irrespective of age or occupation, and enters into the intimate life of the people more than does any other government department.
The postal administration during the last twelve or eighteen months has yielded substantial benefits to the community, and I commend the Postmaster-General and his officers for what they have accomplished for the settlers outback. It is reasonable to expect that the present beneficial policy will be continued while Ure present Minister retains his office.
It is gratifying to note that £5,250 has been placed on the Estimates for the purchase of a plant for the working of duralumin, a light and tough metal discovered during the war, and used principally in the construction of aeroplanes. Experiments have shown that this metal is the best that can be used in the manufacture of artificial limbs. None of the Commonwealth artificial limb factories at present possess the necessary plant; but the grant is sufficient for them to obtain it. Some time ago a deputation of representatives of the Limbless Soldiers Association waited upon the Treasurer and submitted certain propositions, and although a good deal of publicity has been given to the requests then made, a reply has not yet been received, from the Minister. I hope a reply will soon be forthcoming.
In answer to a series of questions which I asked of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), I ascertained that a clumping duty has been imposed upon cream separators, which, as honorable members are aware, are essential to dairy farmers. As those engaged in the dairying industry are the most poorly paid section of the community, it is the duty of the Government to relieve them of some of the heavy burdens they are carrying by removing the duty now imposed on . these necessary machines. The Minister for Trade and Customs informed me that cream separators are hot manufactured in Australia, and that up to the present time no attempt has been made to manufacture them here. It will, therefore, be seen that the duty on separators is an unnecessary burden on those engaged in the dairying industry, and one which they can ill afford to bear. I was also informed that from 1919 ‘ to 1924. the amount of duty paid by dairymen on cream separators was £100,435, or an average of more than £20,000 per annum. In addition, to the duty, the agents’ profit of 40 to 50 per cent, has to be added, which, brings the amount paid during the five years mentioned up to £140,000 or £150,000. Notwithstanding this heavy impost, a. dumping duty is also levied upon these machines, which, as I have said, are not manufactured in Australia.
– If they are not manufactured in Australia, a dumping duty should not be imposed.
– They are not manufactured here. I asked the Minister the following question: - [las a dumping duty been imposed upon cream separators, and, if so, when was this done, and what was the amount of duty ?
The reply was -
Yes, German cream separators were gazetted under section 9 of the Industries Preservation Act, operating on and from 18th October, 1922. This section is for the protection 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.
I learned, in answer to a further question, that the actual amount of dumping duty received was £62. The Industries Preservation Act provides that dumping duties may be imposed -
If by reason of the depreciated exchange value of the currency of the country of export, goods of a class or kind manufactured in -the United Kingdom are sold to an Austraiian importer at a price detrimental to the British industry.
The Tariff Board stated, in this regard -
Section 9, under which British industries are protected against countries with depreciated currency, need’s further consideration. Great Britain is receiving under this section .far greater consideration from Australia than is given by the British Government to their own industries.
For the protection of this British industry the Australian dairy farmers have been charged a dumping duty and over £100,000 in direct duty. The Minister for Trade and Customs also stated that the value of cream separators whose country of origin was the United Kingdom imported in five years amounted to £44,875. In 1919-20, British productions represented 14 per cent, of the total importations; in 1920-1, 3 per cent.; in 1921-2, 4 per cent. ; in 1922:-3, 4 per cent. ; and. in. 192-3-4, 4 per cent., or an average, of only- 4J per cent. The bulk of other machines - was imported from Denmark, Sweden, the United States of America, and Canada..
In view of these figures, I strongly protest against the imposition of a duty upon an article essential to one of our most important primary industries. Taking these facts into consideration, I do not think any honorable member will attempt to say that even an import duty, quite apart from a dumping duty, is justified. I have no particular regard for the Germans, but I do not see why there should be discrimination between these German machines and those produced in other countries. The countries from which most of the separators come were supposed to be neutral during the war; but we know that they were not too friendly towardsus. When tariff amendments are under consideration, I trust that this important industry will receive the consideration it deserves.
I wish now to discuss the dairying industry itself. I congratulate the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) on his very clear exposition a few days ago of the facts relating to it. Recently I have attended an interstate conference of dairymen, which held several meetings’ and had several interviews with the Prime Minister, as a result of which certain concrete proposals were placed before the Government with a view to the stabilization of both the export and home markets. The Prime Minister has intimated that the Government will adopt the proposals in regard to the export market. That must result in material benefit to the industry. It cannot be denied that the machinery for exporting butter is woefully disorganized at present, and must be improved before the producers can hope for an adequate return for their produce. An Export Control Board is to be established which, I am glad to say, will take steps to remove the industry from the control of the speculators. We do not want the speculator to have any influence in either the export or home market; we wish to eliminate him.
– The Board will have a hard row to hoe on the London side.
Mr.R. GREEN.- That is so. It intends to license certain agents, and to permit the trade to flow along the present channels to some extent, but. it will have power to revoke as well as to issue licences. One of its objects will be to ensure that Australian butter shall be placed upon the London market systematically and regularly. Under existing conditions it is impossible at times to obtain Australian butter in England, and at other times there is a glut in the market. The Danish dairymen have organized their industry so successfully that they market their butter in a steady stream, and the traders know what supplies ‘ are coming forward from time to time. The New Zealand dairymen have also organized their trade, but up to now they have been unable to make any arrangements with the Australian butter producers to ensure satisfactory marketing abroad. The Export Control Board should be able to make a good working arrangement with the sister dominion, which will be mutually beneficial. It may also be possible to work in harmony with the Danish producers. At present, Australian butter in England is 4d. per lb. cheaper than Danish butter, which means that the exports of Australian butter return to our producers about £1,500,000 less than they should do. Steps have already been taken to pasteurise, grade and generally improve the quality of the Australian production, and I feel confident that when the Export Control Board is in proper working order, the price of the Australian product will at least equal that of the Danish product. I am bitterly disappointed, however, that the Government cannot see its way clear to accept the workable and reasonable scheme suggested by the dairymen for the stabilization of the Australian market, but I do not intend to allow the matter to drop. It is essential that the home market shall be organized. The Prime Minister said he could not do as the dairymen desired in this respect, for it would involve the adoption of a policy of price fixation. Honorable members know that there are various methods of fixing prices. Prices may be fixed by governments or by rings and combines, or by the industry itself. The dairymen suggested that the price for local consumption should be fixed on the basis of the cost of production, plus a reasonable margin for profit. Under prevailing conditions, it frequently happens that the dairymen do not get the cost of production, and are only able to carry on by the sweated labour of the members of their family. The price of commodities manufactured by our various secondary industries is fixed on the basis of the cost of produc- tion . Every secondary industry in Australia is protected by a duty, for the cost of production here is higher than abroad. There is a duty on butter. In respect of New Zealand butter, the duty is 2d. per lb., and in respect of butter from elsewhere it is 3d. per lb. The dairymen contend, therefore, that the Government would not endanger the interests of the local consumers by permitting the control board to fix the price of butter for local- consumption, for if it were fixed at an absurdly high figure butter would bf imported from New Zealand. I support, in its entirety, the scheme suggested to the Prime Minister, and although I am thankful that effect is to be given to half of it, I trust even yet that the suggestions that have been made for the organization of the local market will also be accepted. Fixing prices on the cost of production in the way I have suggested is altogether different from fixing them by Government interference. When the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) was discussing . price fixation the other evening, quite a number of honorable members opposite showed by their interjections that they were in hearty accord with his views.
– Could not the Government fix the price on the cost of production ?
– The dairymen propose that the board of control should be permitted to so fix it, for they have had a very unfortunate experience of Government price fixation. The first time it was attempted was in 1914-5, when the Holman Labour Government- in New South Wales fixed the price of butter at ls. 3d. per. lb., or 140s. per cwt. That was during drought time. . As honorable members know, I represent one of the biggest dairying districts in Australia, and I am proud to say that it contains the largest butter factory in the world. My electorate adjoins the Queensland border. The Holman Government had fixed the price of butter in New South Wales at ls. 3d. a lb. In Queensland, under the Denham Government, price-fixing did not obtain, and the price of butter there was 2s. 3d. a lb., or ls. a lb. more than that fixed in New South Wales. Because of that great disparity in price, thousands of dairy cows in my electorate were spayed, and I doubt very much whether the industry has since really recovered from the harm then done to it. Later in the year the Ryan Government came into power in Queensland. It seized all Queensland butter at the price of 140s. a cwt., or ls. 3d. a lb., the same price as paid in New South Wales .under the Holman Government. At that time the Victorian price was 220s. a cwt., or 2s. a lb., which was 9d. a lb. more than the price in Queensland paid by the Ryan Government. That- Government disposed of 747 boxes of butter at 225s. a cwt., or about 2s. a lb. * The butter was bought at ls. 3d. a lb. and disposed of at 2s. a lb. A small quantity was sold in Queensland at 196s. a cwt., or ls. 9d. a lb., and the remainder was sent to the Queensland Agent-General in London and, when sold, averaged 179s. a cwt., or about ls. 7d. a lb. But that was bad business, because that price was 16s. a cwt. less than what was received by other shippers. One penny three farthings per lb. more could have been obtained on the London shipment had it not been marketed by the Government. Instead of the dairymen of Queensland benefiting by the higher prices at which the butter was sold, the profits made were paid into the Consolidated Revenue of Queensland.
– Yet the Queensland lai. iters voted for that Government at the l.-.st- election.
– I do not want to refer to the gerrymandering that occurred at the last Queensland elections. The fact 3 that I am stating can be proved.
– The honorable member is not allowing for transport and other charges.
– Butter that waa bought for ls. 3d. a lb. was sold for home consumption for ls. 9d. a lb. There were practically no charges on that transaction. On the 3rd September, 1920, the Queensland Government fixed the price of butter at 238s. a cwt., or 2s. l£d. a lb. At that time butter was selling in Victoria at 277s. a cwt., or 2s. 5jd. a lb., a difference of 4£d. a lb. The Imperial contract price was then 274s. a cwt.,. or 2s. 5£d. a lb., a difference of 4d. per lb. During a period of twelve months the Queensland dairy farmers sustained a loss of approximately £680,000 on butter; alone, because of the actions of the alleged great friend of the farmer, the Labour Government .of Queensland.
– The policy of the Queensland Government has been to establish pools for the benefit of all the primary producers, and, in consequence, Mr. Theodore last year won six farming constituencies.
– The Queensland farmers do not know on which side their bread is buttered. Evidently they are not aware of the facts that I am mentioning. This great loss of £680,000 was sustained by the dairy farmers owing to the action of the Queensland labour Government.
– And yet they still vote for the Labour Government.
– I do not know that they will do so in future. I shall give these facts all the publicity possible, so that the people of Queensland may know the true position. I shall now give honorable members another example of how Labour pretends to assist the dairy farmer. On the 1st December, 1915, a Labour Government was in office in the Commonwealth, and in it the late Mr. Tudor was Minister for Trade and Customs. Australia exports, on an average, about one-third of her butter production. If our butter is not exported the home market is glutted, and the local price drops. This is to the disadvantage of those producing the commodity. On the 1st December, 1915, the Commonwealth Labour Government imposed an embargo on the export of butter.
– Quite right, too.
– I am glad to have that interjection from the honorable member. He says it was quite right to force down the price of a primary product to the detriment of a struggling local industry.
– It was right on that occasion.
– It was to make the position better for the dairy farmer.
– How could it make his position better when it meant forcing down the local price of butter?
– Why does the honorable member support a government that turned down the scheme for the stabilization of the butter industry asked for by the dairymen ?
– After I have dealt fully with the matter, and explained how I stand with regard to the stabilization proposals of the interstate conference, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), who was not present when I referred to the matter, tries to put words into my mouth which I did not use. I made my position perfectly clear, and I suggest to the honorable member that when he gets his copy of Hansard, he should read what I said. Before leaving the subject of butter I wish to refer to the very ingenious proposal brought under the notice of the House by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson). There are two prices for butter, the export price and the home price. Something is being done by the Government to improve the export price, but I regret to say that nothing is being done with regard tothe home price. The suggestion has been made by the honorable member for Gippsland that an excise duty of about1d. per lb. should be levied on all butter manufactured in Australia. The honorable member suggests that it should be paid by the factories, and out of the revenue so collected in ordinary circumstances a bounty of about 3d. per lb. might be paid. The cost of administration of such a scheme would be comparatively small, and if the bounty were fixed at 24d. per lb.,½d. per lb. would be left to cover expenses and contingencies. If this scheme were put into operation the home price would automatically rise to the export price. In Australia we get not import parity but export parity, and by forcing up the export parity we should raise the price of butter in the home market.
– The consumers of butter would not back the honorable member up in that proposal.
– I am sure that all rightly-disposed people would do so. They all try to get the full value of their labour and they should not deny it to those engaged in the dairying industry.
– What would the bounty cost the consumer?
– The bounty would be taken from the manufacturers of butter. It would be collected at the factories, and factories that exported butter would receive it. Factories that did not export their butter would be in no worse position than those that did, because as I have said, as a result of the operation of the scheme the price in the home market would automatically rise to the export parity.
– There is not a great export of butter during the winter months.
– I agree that the quantity exported varies during the year, but we are hoping that the board to be appointed in London under the Dairy Export Control Bill will be able to regulate shipments of Australian butter placed on the London market. Under existing conditions the quantity of Australian butter placed on the London market may vary from 15,000 cwt. in one month to 120,000 cwt. in another. There is no reason why, with regular shipments, the quantity placed on the London market should vary by more than 1,000 cwt. or 2,000 cwt. from month to month. I shall deal further with this matter when we are considering the Dairy Export Control Bill. I trust that honorable members will give consideration to the proposal made by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), because we intend to try to induce the Government to agree to that proposal. It would cost the Government nothing and would be. of immense benefit to the butter industry.
– The proposal might be useful if the London market was supplied only by Australia.
– The honorable member was not present when I explained that New Zealand was prepared to co-operate with Australia, and that Denmark might co-operate with both in regulating the export trade.
– What does the honorable member think would be a fair price for butter in the local market.
– A price that would cover the cost of production, plus a fair margin of profit. It would not be above the price at which New Zealand could put butter on this market with a duty of 2d. per lb. So much for the butter question. I now intend to pass on to other matters.
I am pleased that steps are being taken to place the defence of Australia on a better footing. The InspectorGeneral in his latest report records that an improvement has been effected,but he still declares that he is hampered by lack of funds, and expresses the hope that he may be given a little more money to spend on many essentials. It is nowpossible to meet his wishes to a greater extent than hitherto. I am pleased that it is intended to make provision for an extended programme covering a series of years. Notwithstanding the opinion of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), we cannot afford to leave Australia absolutely undefended. Those who are acquainted with the military forces of Australia know what it means to lack an efficient army and navy. I had intended to speak at some length about-
– Yes ; and to show the necessity for defence in respect of the definite menace from Japan. I have made voluminous notes about what that country is doing, but owing to the lateness of the hour I shall defer my remarks upon the matter until the defence estimates are reached.
Now that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) is in the chamber, I ask him whether something cannot be done to remo re the duty on cream separators ?
– Where there is no detriment to Australian industry any anomaly such as a dumping duty referred to by the honorable member has already been, or very shortly will be, rectified.
– This Parliament has imposed a duty of 10 per cent, on cream separators, although these articles are not made in Australia, and I take it that the duty cannot be removed except by means of a bill, which I trust the Minister will bring forward immediately.
– No bill is necessary to remove a dumping duty. It is purely a matter of administration. Anomalies have been and will be rectified when, in doing so, no detriment is occasioned to an Australian industry. A tariff duty cannot be altered except by Parliament, and the representations of the honorable member will receive consideration.
– I am pleased to hear that statement ; and I sincerely hope that during the next five years Australian dairymen will not be called upon, to pay what they have paid during the last’ five years, namely, £100,000 in duty on an’ article they cannot do without and. which is not manufactured locally. When agents’ charges, &c, are added to that £100,000, it really means that the dairymen have been called upon to spend in five years £150,000 more on their separators than these should have cost them.
– The honorable member must always recollect that section 9 of the Industries Preservation Act protects British manufacturers in the Australian market.
– As British manufacturers supply only 4½ per cent, of Australia’s requirements it is questionable whether they are worth considering in the matter, particularly in view of the fact that the British House of Commons not long ago rejected a measure of preference for Australia’s primary industries.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
The following papers were presented : -
War Service Homes Act - Report of the War Service Homes Commission, together with Statements and Balance-sheets - 1st July, 1923, to 30th June, 1924.
Ordered to be printed.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at -
Bexley, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Carlton, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
War Service Homes Excess Costs - Taxation Commission: Mr. Jolly - Darwin Hospital: Doctor’s Fee - Immigration from Southern Europe - Gold-mining Industry.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- In August of last year the Minister who was then in control of the administration of the War Service Homes Act intimated in this chamber that the Government had decided that soldiers whose homes had cost more than the statutory limit of £800 were not to be asked to pay more than that sum for them, yet I know that at least a dozen men have received ejectment notices because they have refused, rightly, I think, to sign contracts binding them to pay the whole cost of their houses, amounting in some cases to as much as £960. This action is contrary to the express wish of Parliament, and to the declared intention of the Government.
– Do the men object to paying the real cost of their homes?
– The honorable member will recollect that following upon the discussion of this matter, it was agreed that in no case should the excess over the statutory limit of £800 be charged to the soldier. I do not know that the Government are aware that the War Service Homes Commission is not administering the act as this House desired it to be administered. Already one man has been haled before the court and has been ordered to vacate his house by Thursday next unless he signs a contract.
– Is he the original applicant for whom the house was built?
– I believe he is. Another case is to come before the court on Monday next, and I think I am justified in asking the Government to issue instructions to the commission to stay its hand so that full inquiry may be made before more people are harassed in this way by the officials. This matter came under my notice only a few hours ago, and I sincerely trust that the Prime Minister will take immediate action to prevent the commission from attempting to eject soldiers who have entered into the possession of these homes and are quite ready to sign contracts for amounts not exceeding the maximum fixed by this Parliament.
.- The debate yesterday on. the taxation of Crown leaseholds disclosed the fact that Mr. Jolly, who is a member of the Taxation Commission, occupies a dual position. Not only is he a member of a body appointed to inquire into the method of valuing Crown leaseholds, but he is also the paid agent and representative of Sir Sidney Kidman, and acts for him in all his dealings with the Taxation Department. The Prime Minister should inform the House what the Government intends to do to alter the personnel of the commission. Probably the right honorable gentleman is not aware that this is not the first occasion on which Jolly has been somewhat severely criti- cized. In the year 1919 he was a defendant in a libel action, and I have ascertained from the Argus law reports that damages to the amount of £250 were awarded against him and the other defendants. The Chief Justice of Victoria, Sir William Irvine, who formerly occupied a high position in this Parliament and is esteemed as an impartial judge, said of Jolly -
His conduct throughout the whole business is marked by so much excitability and unreasoning and overbearing anger that I am unable to place much reliance on the accuracy of his memory.
Even if the debate yesterday had not disclose d 1118 association with Kidman, the very fact that he was referred to in such terms by Chief Justice Irvine should disqualify him for membership of a royal commission. Having regard to that statement from the bench, how much reliance can be placed upon any report to which Jolly attaches his signature 1
– The fact that he is Kidman’s agent should disqualify him.
– How long has he been a member of the Taxation. Commission?
– Since it was reconstituted, about six weeks ago.
– It is possible that Jolly’s record as a litigant may have been overlooked by the Government, but the fact that he is acting in a dual capacity makes it impossible for him to give fair play to Kidman or to the taxpayers. He cannot serve two masters, and, having regard also to the censure passed on him by Sir William Irvine and the judgment of £250 against him, the Prime Minister should take immediate action to withdraw him from the commission.
– I desire to state briefly to the House the circumstances of a struggling settler, who for eleven months was an inmate of the Darwin Hospital. After having been nine months in the institution, the amputation of one leg became necessary, and on his discharge he was presented with two accounts. One was from the hospital for £85, representing the usual hospital fee of 35s. a week, the other for £38 69., being the doctor’s private fee for the operation. The hospital is a government institution, and I suggest that when a poor man has been an inmate for eleven months and has lost a leg, payment of the usual charges, amounting to £85, should be a sufficient discharge of his liability for the treatment he received. If it is not, the Government has erected and maintains at great cost an institution which is used as a private hospital by the government doctor, who is paid a regular salary of £600 per annum, and has the right of private practice. The usual charge of 35s. per week made by the hospital should cover all treatment.
– Will the £38 6s. be paid to a government fund?
– It will go into the pockets of the doctor. It is a private fee superimposed on the hospital fee; and I draw attention to the fact that, whilst the hospital account contains no suggestion of urgency, the doctor’s bill asks for prompt payment. Apparently, it does not matter about the debt owing to the hospital, so long as the doctor gets his “ cut “ first.
.- From a discussion which has taken place in the Parliament of New South Wales, it appears that twenty Serbians landed in Newcastle last week, and nine of them obtained employment at the steel works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited. The others, who cannot speak a word of the English language, are idling about the streets of Newcastle, and are dependent upon the inhabitants for food. I understand, from information supplied to the State Government, that they paid their own passages to Australia, but they have produced an advertisement or statement, published at the instance of the Commonwealth Government to the effect that any migrants arriving in Australia would be provided with employment immediately. The Italian miners at Wonthaggi,, being unable to speak the English language, are a danger to themselves and to the other miners, because they cannot understand the directions and the warnings that are given to prevent accidents. At Broken Hill, a fortnight ago, two Italian miners were taken out of the 500-ft. level for the same reason. The honorable member for Newcastle, in the State Parliament (Mr. J. M. Baddeley), has stated that about 900 reliable men are on the books of the Newcastle labour bureau. When representations were made to the Premier of New South Wales to place some restriction upon the entry of migrants from southern
Europe, Sir George Fuller said that it was a matter for the Commonwealth Government,- and that, therefore, his Government could not interfere. Recently, following the exclusion of Italians from the “United States of America for the present year, an Italian line of steamers has been put on the Australian run, and as the quota allowed by the United States Government to Italy for next year is a small one, there may be a serious exodus of Italian emigrants to Australia. All honorable members will agree that it is very undesirable to encourage the introduction to Australia of people who cannot speak the English tongue. Foreigners are becoming very numerous in this country. An Italian citizen told me three months ago that, owing to the increasing number of hia fellow countrymen in Australia, their position was becoming very serious. I do not know what are the social conditions in Italy under the regime of Prime Minister Mussolini, but I believe they are far from satisfactory. In my opinion, the Government should take some steps to check migration from southern Europe. Intending immigrants should be definitely informed that, unless they can speak the English language, there is little prospect of getting employment in this country. They should not be misled by the statement that employment is easily obtainable. I do not know who is answerable for the present state of affairs. I do nob blame the present Government, but some Commonwealth Minister must be answerable, because in the last Supply Bill there is an item of £11,700 for salaries to immigration officials in Great Britain and Australia. I trust that the Prime Minister will note what I have said, and take whatever action may’ be necessary.
.- From time to time, deputations introduced to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, have made certain representations concerning the position of the gold-mining industry in “Western Australia. Subsequently a conference was held, at the instance of the Government, and recommendations for the assistance of the industry were forwarded to the Government. One of the recommendations, a proposal to exempt mining companies from income taxation until the whole of the working capital has been returned to its owners, has already been adopted. I have been endeavouring to ascertain what the Government intends to do with regard to the other recommendations, but the replies of the Prime Minister to my questions have not been very explicit or fair to me. I do not suggest that the right honorable gentleman has been intentionally discourteous, though discourtesy would not. affect me so much as my constituency and those engaged in the industry. It is absolutely necessary that the Government should indicate what it proposes to do. I trust that not only will he reply to the representations of the Gold Producers’ Association, but that he will also make a statement in this House.
– I can assure the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that I have not been intentionally discourteous either to him or to his constituency. The Government has given consideration to the recommendations of the conference convened to deal with the present position of the goldmining industry, and effect has already been given to the recommendation that the industry should be relieved from income taxation. A statement of policy to that effect was included in the Treasurer’s budget statement. The Government is examining the other recommendations with the object of ascertaining whether further assistance can be given. When a decision has been arrived at, an announcement will be made in the House. It is impossible for me to say more at the present time.
In reply to the statement made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West), I can only say that the migration to Australia of southern Europeans is a matter that is receiving the earnest attention of the Government. Representations have been made from New South Wales by, I think, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) concerning the introduction of I talians into Australia. The Government has been watching the position for some time past. There is no power under the Immigration ‘ Act to exclude Europeans except under certain specified conditions. Under our migration laws Europeans have a perfect right of entry to Australia without restriction. The imposition of restrictions, as .the honorable gentleman must know, would raise a very delicate international question. We have been in communication with the Italian
Government on the subject. The control of migration from Italy is in its hands. That Government has undertaken not to issue passports to Italian subjects who intend to come to Australia unless there is direct evidence that some one in the Commonwealth is to be responsible for them, and that they will be able to maintain themselves, or that they have reasonable means to live on. The operation of the quota system, is severely restricting the ordinary migration of Italians to America, but there has been no increase in the number of Italian migrants to this country, although the contrary might have been expected. The present indications are that the arrangements I have mentionedare operating satisfactorily. The Italian Government does not intend to issue passports in extraordinary numbers to Italian subjects. If the honorable member desires further information on the matter, and will communicate with the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) full replies will be given to his inquiries.
The matter raised by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) will be brought under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), who will supply an answer as soon as possible.
I was not aware that a member of one of the commissions at present inquiring into the manner in which taxation should be levied upon Crown leaseholds has been associated with certain litigation, as stated by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), and the fact that he is the agent of a large land-holder has come under the Government’s notice only during the last few days. I can assure the honorable member that the Government will give full consideration to these matters.
In reply to the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), I may say that I clearly remember the discussion in this House, and the understanding arrived at. If anything is being done which is contrary to the arrangement then agreed upon, the Government will, of course, give instructions that it be discontinued. I shall have the whole matter inquired into, and let the honorable member know.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240822_reps_9_108/>.