9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Guaranteed Price for Wheat
– Has the Prime Minister been again approached with regard to the establishment of wheat pools and a guaranteed price for this year’s wheat crop ?
– The Government has received communications from some of the State Governments on the matter. Yesterday, I had a conference with representatives of the State of Victoria, who informed me that that Government proposes the establishment of a compulsory pool. I understand that to-day a communica tion has been sent to the Commonwealth Government asking it to assist financially. All the representations on the subject received from the State Governments are now under consideration by this Government.
– On the 1st August last, I asked the Treasurer a question on the subject of the treatment of dependants of deceased soldiers. I should like to know, when the honorable gentleman . will be able to obtain the information for which I have asked?
– The information will be supplied as soon as it is prepared.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determi nations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
Nos. 32, 33, 34, and 35 of 1924- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association ; Australian Postal Electricians’ Union; Australian Postal Linemen’s Union; Line Inspectors’ Association; and Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
War Gratuity Act - Regulations Amended - StatutoryRules 1924, No. 118.
– On the 20th August, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1. (a) Queensland, 24,000,000 acres (QueenslandRoyal Commission on Prickly Pear, 1923, page 1).
Temnocera spirigera (not successful). 4. (a) During the years 1921, 1922, and 1923.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The money pro- vided in the Estimates for the current year is £3,280,000 in respect of new telephone and telegraph works, and £770,000 for buildings and sites. The position is being carefully analyzed ‘with a view to these sums being utilized in the most profitable manner. The amounts voted from revenue for New “Works and Buildings for the years 1920-21 to 1924-5 are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What was the total number of (a) Italians, (6) Maltese, (c) Chinese, (d) Japanese, (e) Greeks, (/) Germans, (g) French in each state of the Commonwealth at the taking of the last census, and what was the total number of each of these nationalities for the Commonwealth f
– The numbers recorded at the census of 4th April, 1921, according to nationalities, were as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr.FORDE asked the Minister . representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Information on this subject is being obtained.
Colonel Ainsworth’s Report
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he inform honorable members when Colonel Ainsworth’s report on the Mandated Territory will be made available?
– It is anticipated that Colonel Ainsworth will complete the checking of his report in the course of the next few days. As soon as the report has been received and considered by the Government, copies will be laid on the table.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Homo and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Imposition of Anti-Dumping Duty
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
to which is added extra Dumping Duty of £10 12s. 6d.?
– The matter will receive consideration.
Upon Mr. Atkinson rising to give notice of motion -
– I should like to observe, for the information of the Minister, that the proper time for giving notice of a motion is prior to the answering of questions upon notice ; but, as no objection has been taken to it, I accept this notice on the present occasion.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the payment of ‘advances to growers of dried fruits.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Bruce and Dr. Earle Page do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.”
Bill presented, and read a. first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a measure to authorize advances to the producers of dried fruits. Its provisions are not regarded as furnishing a permanent solution of the difficulties in which this particular industry finds itself at the present time; they are merely designed to meet a financial crisis that is so serious that, unless action is taken, a large number of settlers - particularly returned soldiers - will be compelled to abandon their blocks, and operations cannot be resumed until the industry has been re-organized and placed upon a sounder basis. Ministers consider that the industry can be placed upon a basis of permanence which will enable it to expand very considerably, but that, if action is not taken immediately, subsequent re-organization, with consequent future prosperity, will be of little advantage to a large number of the smaller growers. In the last six years the annual production of dried fruits has increased from 14,000 tons to 40,000 tons, and it is estimated that from the vines now planted, mainly in soldier settlements, the annual production three years hence will have grown to 50,000 tons. During the last six years, approximately 2,000 returned soldiers have been placed upon the land to grow vines for the production of dried fruits. They are scattered throughout the states of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. The present difficulties are largely due to the tremendous increase in production that has taken place, but I emphatically combat the idea current among a great number of people that there has been a hopeless over-production of dried fruits in Australia, and that the best course would be to dig up the vines and turn the land to some other use. The Government does not take that pessimistic view. It believes that if the industry were properly organized and had a proper system of orderly marketing overseas, out difficulty would be, not over-production, but underproduction. At the present time, if Australian dried fruits could attain a pre-eminent position in the British market,, we should not have the requisite supplies to retain it. Therefore, the Government does not subscribe to the view that there has been over-production, and that the whole future of those engaged in the industry is black. The problem must be approached from another angle. We must improve the organization and marketing arrangements, and endeavour to find new markets for the increasing production of the next few years. Another consideration which should weigh with the House in legislating for this industry is the manner in which it has been conducted during the last few years. Probably it has been more fully organized than has any other primary industry in Australia. For a long time the Australian Dried Fruits Association conducted the marketing of Australian products in a way which certainly yielded very satisfactory results to the growers, but when it was functioning so successfully the production of dried fruit was little more than sufficient to supply the home demand; about 80 per cent, of the production was consumed in Australia, arid only 20 per cent, was sent abroad. About 90 per cent, of the growers were members of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, and so long as the larger market was in Australia, the fact that 10 per cent, of the growers were outside the organization did not materially affect its efforts to obtain ‘fair prices for the growers. But with the increased production tha percentages marketed locally and overseas respectively have been reversed. Only from 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, of the production is now consumed in Australia, and overseas markets must be found for between 75 per cent, and 80 per cent, of the pack. Throughout the history of this industry the home market has been infinitely more profitable to the producer than the export market. For the 90 per cent, of growers who were in the organization, quotas for the home and overseas markets were laid down ; each of those growers took his fair share of the less remunerative export trade, and only his allotted quota of the more profitable Australian trade. But the 10 per cent, of growers who were outside the organization sold in whichever market was most satisfactory. The sale of the products of the 10 per cent, non-association growers on a market where 80 per cent, of the total yield was disposed of, did not seriously affect that market, but on a market which only absorbs 20 per cent, of the total output, half of the more remunerative trade is enjoyed by those who are outside the organization, and benefit unduly by the efforts made by the associated growers to get a fair return for their product. That state of affairs has brought the Australian Dried Fruits Association perilously near to a break-down, and it is obvious that something must be done to re-organize the industry on a sound basis. When I was in Great Britain last year with Senator Wilson, he and I investigated closely the possibilities of marketing Australian dried fruits there, and we were convinced that there is a great opportunity for Australia if the marketing of our export surplus of dried fruits is placed on a really satisfactory basis. But the factors I have enumerated have placed the industry in a very difficult position. Tha first fact that impresses the investigator is that the industry appears to be hopelessly under-capitalized. The growers are financed by the packing houses and merchants, not merely in respect of the marketing and handling of their crops, but from the time they commence to prepare for the next season’s crop. In fact, the majority of the settlers and smaller producers in the dried fruits industry are dependent upon the packing houses and merchants for their weekly sustenance and living expenses. That system has operated for a considerable time, and when the Government, after hearing representations concerning the serious crisis which is likely to arise in the industry,, examined the position, it found that the packing houses and merchants were not prepared to continue the old method of finance. They had become so involved with the various growers that in self-protection a number of them declared that they would not advance any further moneys to assist in producing the next season’s crop. The causes of that situation were these : The last two seasons have been adverse to the industry. There has been a tremendous increase in the export trade, which is the less remunerative, and a substantial reduction of prices in the British market, to which the industry looks for the disposal of its exportable surplus. The final cause was the decision of the
British Parliament, by the very narrow majority of five votes, not to grant the increased preference that the industry confidently expected. Those who were financing the industry recognized that it was in a very serious condition, and were carrying on in the expectation of obtaining that preference. The Government, when it made an investigation, found that there was a possibility of a grave financial crisis in the industry. It was feared that the small growers and soldier settlers would not be able to obtain sufficient financial assistance to provide them with reasonable sustenance and living allowances. Various proposals were submitted, one being that a bounty of £10 a ton should be paid on all dried fruits, irrespective of the prices realized. The Government examined all the proposals, and came to the conclusion that none of them offered a prospect of permanently organizing and stabilizing the industry. After discussing the matter with those who were controlling the industry, we decided that until the industry had been completely re-organized, and an improved basis for the orderly marketing of its export surplus had been laid down, we could not do more than assist it in its present difficulties. Our proposals were fully discussed by those interested, and are embodied in the bill before the House. The bill provides merely temporary relief for a critical situation. Those engaged in the industry are still trying to evolve a plan for its permanent re-organization, and Senator Wilson is closely in touch with them. The Government is prepared to assist any scheme that will put the industry on a permanent basis, and will ensure its future stability. It has undertaken to guarantee monthly advances to the settlers on a variable basis for currants, sultanas, and lexias. The advances will be: for currants, 5s. per ton per month; and for sultanas and lexias, 30s. per ton per month. The advances will be based on (he export quota for 1924. The producers that need assistance are those who have been exporting their proper quota, “ and it is to them that the Government has undertaken to make advances. The producer who has sold the whole of his produce in the better market that exists in Australia, needs no assistance. The present export proportions are : currants, ‘ 75 per rent.: sultanas, 82½ per cent.; and lexias, 50 per cent. The estimated expor tation, and the advances that will be made upon it, are as follow: -
The bill also provides for advances to any grower who can prove that he exported the quota fixed by the organization, and it is estimated that the total advance will, therefore, be about £200,000. The advances will be made to the growers through the packing houses and agents, and will be guaranteed by the Government through the Commonwealth Bank. The first instalments will be paid ‘on the 1st September, if the necessary legislation hasthen been passed. On that date payments for two months will be made, because- the bill provides that the advances shall be available as from the 1st August. After the 1st September the advances will be made in equal monthly instalments. The grower to whom an advance is made must undertake to expend it on materials and labour, including, of course, the sustenance of himself and those members of his family who are engaged in the cultivation of his vineyard. Repayments of the advances will be made out of the proceeds of the 1925 crop, which they are . being made to ensure. The producing and marketing of the crop will also be a charge on that crop, at an amount to be determined by the Minister. It is not contemplated that all the advances” on the coming season’s crop will be made by the Government, and it is hoped that before the end of the period covered by the advances a reorganization of the industry will take place. But even if that should not happen, the industry should have no difficulty, with the relief that is being given by the Government, in again financing itself through ordinary channels. I wish to make it quite clear that the bill merely contemplates the making of advances, and does not provide for a bounty or payments of that sort. The 1925 crop will have to be sold under control, through agents approved by the Minister. The agents will deduct from the proceeds an amount equivalent to the advances made by the Government, and will repay the money to the Government. It is estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 growers will participate in the proposed advances, and of them more than 2,000 will be returned soldiers. We have asked the State Governments whether they can do anything to assist the small growers in their present difficulties, and the Government of Victoria has agreed to postpone its claim to water rates and repayments on land until their position improves, while the Government of South Australia has intimated that, although it cannot agree to a postponement of its claim for water rates, it will not press any settler for more than he is in a position to pay. The Government of New South Wales, which is not concerned in the matter to anything like the same extent, has not yet indicated what course it intends to take. The Government believes that the bill will assist the growers, particularly the small mcn and the soldier settlers, to carry on until tho industry can be completely reorganized, and a proper system evolved for marketing abroad our surplus production. I commend the measure to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Gabb) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 26th August (vide page 3588), on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - The Parliament - namely, “ The President, £1,000,” ihe agreed to.
.- My remarks will be confined to one subject, which I shall call “ an appeal for justice.” If the . policy pursued by the previous Government, of which the present Prime Minister was Treasurer, and followed by this Government, is persisted in, the gold-mining industry, which is the most important in Western Australia, will be strangled. For a year and a half I have been endeavouring to get the Government to alter its policy, but so far I have not succeeded. The gold-mining industry deserves consideration from the Government which is long overdue. I call the attention of the members of the Country party particularly to the remarks that I shall make, for their party in Western Australia has announced that it stands for justice, not for the wool and wheat growers ‘only, but for all classes of primary producers, including the gold miners, and I believe that that claim has been made by it in every other part of Australia. I do not think that any one who listens to the case that I shall state can do other than admit that justice demands that the gold-mining industry shall be granted relief from the depressing effects of thepolicy which has been pursued in relation to it in the last few years. As the representative of a mining, pastoral and farming community ‘ I have alwaysgiven assistance to proposals which have been made by the Country party for the benefit of the primary producers, and I confidently look to them to support me on this occasion. While it is true that during the early part of the war a number of primary producers experienced great difficulty in getting their produce to the markets of the world, it is also true that war conditions later actually helped them, and a number of our secondary industries as well, to become firmly established. As a grower of wheat I know that before the war I had to cart wheat 17 miles to a railway siding, and sell it for 2s. lid. per bushel, whereas during the war I received as much as 8s. or 9s. a bushel for it. The price of other products, including wool, coal, coke, and iron increased considerably, and the value of our manufactured products also advanced to a large extent, but, by the strange irony of fate, gold, which is the basis of all our values, did not yield to its producers any increased return. The treatment meted out to the gold producers was far different from that accorded to any other body of producers. From August, 1916, until January, 1919, the Commonwealth Government prohibited the export of gold, and purchased all that was produced in Australia at pre-war prices. It has been said frequently that it made no profit on these transactions, but I shall quote some figures to show that it made a considerable profit, although not so large as would have been made by the producers had they been permitted to export the gold in the ordinary way. The Government did not increase its payment to the gold producers in accordance with the rise in values in other parts of the world, but only paid them a flat rate, of £3 17s. 10 Jd. per standard ounce. The total quantity purchased from Western Australian producers was 2,569,000 oz., which was practically 70 per cent, of Australia’s production, and the amount paid for it was, in round figures, £10,000,000. This is confirmed by the following reply which I received to a question I asked the Treasurer in this chamber on the 9th March, 1923 -
The increase in the gold reserves up to August, 1916, was obtained from the banks. After that date, it was purchased by the Commonwealth Government on account of the Australian note issue. In all cases the gold was purchased from the producers at the rate of £3 17s. 10id. per standard ounce. The quantity of gold purchased from the Western Australian producers from the 7th August, 1916, when the Commonwealth took control, until the end of January, 1919, was 2,569,683 oz. standard.
That represented £10,000,000 worth of gold. When questioned concerning the position in Western Australia, the Primeinister (Mr. Bruce) said that the Government made nothing out of the sales - to use his ‘own words, “ not one farthing ©f profit.” Whereas, in reply to a question asked in this House in 1922, he said that a profit of £11,572 10s. was made by the Federal Government on the export of gold in 1915-6 only. I admit frankly that this is an infinitesimal amount, but I shall proceed to show that other profits were made. Senator Drake-Brockman quoted a memorandum from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a portion of which, dealing with the sale of gold, reads -
Early in 1916, the High Commissioner of Australia offered to sell sovereigns to the Imperial Government to assist war finance. Actually the amount of sovereigns purchased was £13,500,000, which was paid for at the face value of £3 17s. 9d. per standard ounce. Payment was made by telegraphic transfer at par, which, at the then rate of exchange, represented a considerable premium on selling.
In the History df the Commonwealth Bank, page 206, it is stated’ -
The first transaction was tlie sale in America by the Commonwealth Bank of sovereigns to the amount of £500,000, at a premium of 1 per cent. Later, a further £500,000 was sold at a premium of 17s. 6d. per cent.
I am not concerned whether the Commonwealth Government made considerable profit out df the sale of gold that they purchased at pre-war rates from the gold producers of Australia, although I have proved that a profit was made. What I am concerned about is that if the gold-mining producers of Australia had been allowed, between August, 1916, and January, 1919, to sell their own gold, they would have made a profit of nearly £3,000,000. That figure has been computed by Mr. -Dyason, chairman of the Gold Producers’ Association, a man of considerable repute in the gold mining world.
– The honorable member has forgotten to state that for every sovereign placed in the Commonwealth Bank, three notes were issued.
– I shall deal with that matter later on. From August, 1916, to January, 1919, the period when the gold was commandeered, Mr. Dyason said that the loss to the whole of the gold producers of Australia was relatively £3,000,000. As Western Australia produces 70 per cent, of Australian gold, the industry there lost £2,000,000. That a large loss of this kind was made is proved by the fact that, since January, 1919, when the gold producers of Australia were allowed to export their gold, the amount distributed by the Gold Pro’ducers’ Association by gold bonuses - that is to say, the price above pre-war rates - has been £3,750,000. During the time that the Commonwealth Government commandeered Australian gold, the gold, producers in Western Australia lost £2,000,000. When gold was released, the gold producers of Australia obtained a gold premium of nearly £4,000,000. Of that amount Western Australia received nearly £3,000,000. As a matter of fact the price of all other metals, in common with the pulse of the. times, increased immensely. Silver increased from 25fd. per oz. in 1914 to 47 $d. in 1918; copper increased from £59 to £115 per ton, tin from £151 to £329 a ton, lead from £18 3s. 9d. to £30 2s. 8d., and spelter from £23 to £52 3s. lid. Wheat, wool, coal, coke, iron, and all other products increased in price to an equal or greater degree, but the gold-mining industry received no benefit at all. In addition to its losses, a greater burden had to be borne by that industry. As a result of the war, mining commodities, such as steel fracteurcyanide, zinc shavings, and fifteen other supplies increased, on an average, 217 per cent. So,that the cost of production increased enormously, while the price was restricted to pre-war level by the Com- monwealth Government. It is no wonder that such conditions have had a disastrous effect on the gold-mining industry. In 1915 the value of the gold of Australia was £8,269,000; in 1921, £4,018,000. In 1915 the profits on gold mining in Western Australia were ±’792,000, and in 1922 they had decreased to £191,000. Of this amount two mines contributed dividends of £125,000. The number of miners employed in Western Australia in 1915, before the gold was commandeered, was 13,328, and in 1921, 6,019, a decrease of nearly 50 per cent. In 1910 Australia produced 12.38 per cent, of the world’s gold output and in 1920, 5.88 per cent., a decrease of over 50 per cent. The reason for this is largely due to the limitation of the price by the Commonwealth Government and because of war conditions. This has had a serious effect on the industry in another direction. During the four years of war that I have referred to,, the cost of gold production increased from 4s. 6d. to 6s. per ton. in the case of the larger mines the cost of production was at the lower figure because of the contracts that had previously been entered into by them, but the smaller mines were unable to obtain supplies under such favorable circumstances, and consequently their costs were higher. The most harmful effect on the industry has been the shortening of the lite of the mines. Those controlling the large mines, particularly in that belt known as the Golden Mile at Kalgoorlie, have had to adopt a method of selective mining. Where previously they were able to mine a lode of, say, 15 feet they had to select the richer portions of the lode, and leave many feet of ore which, if worked, would have richly paid had the full price for gold been obtainable at the time. Consequently, a small portion has been selected and worked out, then filled :in, and lost to the industry for ever. In this way the lives of the mines have been considerably shortened. The quantity of stone treated between 1915 and 1918, when the Western Australian gold was commandeered, amounted to 8,437,000 tons. Estimating the increased cost of production owing to the rise in the price of commodities at 4s. 6d. per ton, this meant an increased cost of £1,900,000. If the cost is estimated on the general price of’ 6s. per ton, the extra cost of production was £2,531,000. So that if extra cost of production is taken into consideration, in addition to the restricted price of gold paid, the mining industry of Western Australia lost over £4,000,000 during the period of two and a half years to which I have referred. If it was necessary to commandeer gold in order to help the Empire when at death grips with the enemy, so that the enemy might not take it, and in order to enable the Treasurer to expand the Commonwealth Bank note issue, because many notes could be issued for every £1 held in gold, then, as an act of bare justice, the Commonwealth Government should have paid- the gold-mining industry the current market price for it. Unfortunately, that was not done. The action taken by the Commonwealth Government has had a most disastrous effect upon the western state. The miners of Australia have always been self-reliant, and have at no time in any part of Australia approached the Government for help. It is frequently said that the farmers are socialists in connexion with everything affecting their own requirements but individualists when it is the other fellow who is being considered. I do not endorse that statement, but I say that if there is one section of the community in Australia that has a right to pride itself upon its self-reliance it is the section engaged in the gold mining industry. The men who go outback as prospectors for gold, depending upon their own right arms, who go into the desert as Pat Hannan did, 200 miles beyond Southern Cross, where it was impossible to obtain water, are truly relf-reliant men. It is men of that kind who coming to Australia, and particularly to Victoria, enabled that state to make a start with a policy for the establishment of her own industries from which she has never looked back. These people are a self-reliant people. I am, unhappily, alone in representing here the greater part of the gold mining industry -of Australia. I have to take a lone stand, and I can obtain- no sympathy for the gold mining industry from a Government that is prepared to advance hundreds of thousands of pounds to the dried fruit industry, the canned fruit industry, the wool top producers, and many others. It breaks my heart to have to stand here and speak as it were to a “stone wall” when I ask, not for largesse, not for a gift, but for something in exchange for the gold taken from the people of Western Australia at pre-war prices. Let me say at this stage that, so far as federation is concerned - and I say this as an ardent federalist - actions such as this of which I complain tend to make federation unpopular amongst the greatest federalists in Australia. The people of the gold mining districts of Western Australia were in the old days responsible for one-third of this continent joining up with the eastern states in the federation. The people settled on the coast in Western Australia under the leadership of the late Baron Forrest, then Sir John Forrest, did not want federation. They were an isolated community, Previous to the discovery of gold at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, they were a community at a great disadvantage. In the first stages of the settlement of Western Australia the call of gold did not bring to that part of this continent any influx of miners from California and ardent spirits from other parts of the’ world such as it brought to Victoria in 1851. There was then no such magnet in Western Australia to attract settlers. The settlement in Western Australia was a concentrated community with the narrow outlook of all isolated communities. Before the discovery of gold in Western Australia exchange was conducted by barter. The people were not in favour of federation, arid in the circumstances they could not be expected to be in favour of it. The soil they tilled could not be compared with the richer parts of the eastern states. I would recommend honorable members to read the history of the struggle of the old pioneers of Western Australia, who settled at what was known as the Swan River Settlement. In order -to obtain a living from the sandy strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Range they tried the cultivation of barley, without success. They planted wheat, and received no return for their labour. At times ‘ they were obliged to depend on flour imported from England, and in the period between the arrivals of ships from abroad, they were sometimes reduced to living almost entirely on kangaroo meat. But the magic cry of “ gold “ rang out, and upon the discovery of gold there was an influx of population from the eastern states, and the Western Australian gold-fields were settled almost exclusively by people who came from South Australia and Victoria. These people left Victoria at » time when depression was greatest in thisstate. Thousands were starved out of Victoria at the time of the bank smashes, and went to Western Australia, as I did, and there did their little bit, I say it with “all modesty, to build up the new state. We preserved our friendships with relatives and comrades left in the eastern states, and when the cry for federation was raised it had no more ardent supporters than we were. We were divided by a steamer voyage occupying five or six days from the rest of the Commonwealth, and we were anxious that there should be a bond of some kind, even if it were only “ a political bond, between us and the people on the other side of the continent. So that when Sir John Forrest said that Western Australia did not want federation because he believed that it would be disastrous to the progress of the state, 50,000 voices of the manhood of the eastern goldfields of the state, with one acclaim, were raised in support of the cry, “ Separation or Federation.” We got up a petition 15 miles long, which was signed by every man on the eastern goldfields over 21 years of age. I am inclined to think that a good many who were under 21 years of age also signed it. The petition, set out that the whole of the people of the goldfields were prepared to separate from the rest of Western Australia if the government of the day did not submit the Commonwealth Constitution Bill to the people of the state. We were sending the petition to Queen Victoria, and I say that it was because of the agitation we then raised that Australia is an undivided Commonwealth to-day. But amongst those who in Western Australia were responsible for making Australia a complete undivided Commonwealth, there is rankling a feeling of resentment against the act of injustice which has been so disastrous in its effects to the Western Australian gold-fields. The injustice has been inflicted from a quarter from which it might at least have expected fair play, and that is from the people whom, when federation was proposed, we regarded more favorably than we did the settlers on the Swan. What has been the effect of taking our gold at pre-war prices? There are 1,000 miles of railways in Western Australia, built for the development of the mining industry. Between 1915 and 1918, the period during which our gold was commandeered, although in Western Australia we raised freights by 15 per cent, on the government railways, the earnings of the gold-fields lines decreased by £470,000. ‘ There was a very considerable loss also in connexion with the gold-fields water scheme, which was carried out by the late Baron Forrest. In passing, I want to pay a tribute to that gentleman for the bold and magnificent scheme which he undertook at a time when the permanence and value of the gold-fields was not assured. He brought what was literally a river of water over 300 miles to what was then a desert. In connexion with’ the gold-fields water scheme there was a fall in revenue during the same period amounting to £103,000. The loss in revenue from these two services alone amounted to £573,000. We were producing gold, even though protectionmeant that we should have to pay more for our goods than we should otherwise be called upon to pay. As federalists we were content to support the policy of protection if it meant the building up of industries in other states of Australia that would tend to make the Commonwealth self-contained. We stood for that policy, and as we stood by the eastern states we expect the people of those states to stand by us when we ask for a fair deal. We contend that the deficit of £6,000,000 in Western Australia has not been due to mismanagement by any Government in that state. No matter what Government attains office in Western Australia it is faced with the titanic task of trying to develop a country with an area of 1,000,000 square miles, and a population of only 375,000. We are prepared to go on with the job we have taken in hand, but we do say that when we come before the Commonwealth Parliament with a case of this kind we have a right to expect sympathy from all parts of the House. I have always- voted in favour of proposals to support the dried-fruit industry, the wool-top industry, and other industries of the eastern states for which assistance has been asked. We say that as we are prepared to assist industries in the eastern states, and as our gold was commandeered at pre-war price to help the Empire and its Allies during’ the war, the people of the eastern states should at least do something to assist the goldmining industry of Western Australia in its declining period. The loss to the Western Australian gold-fields due to the commandeering of their gold has resulted in a substantial decrease in the value of property on the fields. During the period to which I have ‘referred 800 houses were removed from Kalgoorlie and Boulder, and this means that, on an average, the gold-fields wage-earners have lost £100 on each of their homes - a total loss out of their hard-earned savings of £80,000. At one time those towns had a population of 30,000 people, but to-day I regret to say their population is very much less. Every ounce of gold taken from a mine makes the industry so much the poorer. If that £2,000,000 had been allowed to remain in the pockets of the gold producers, the present parlous position of the industry would have been avoided. The eastern gold-fields of Western Australia from 1915 to 1918 lost 3,533 workers. Estimating the earnings of a man at the modest sum of £4 a week, in 1918 alone £1.500,000 was lost in wages. That has had a paralyzing effect upon the whole of the industries in Western Australia. Prior to the discovery of gold wheat was never extensively cultivated, wheat-growing being confined to small patches at York, Northam, and Toodyay. The discovery of gold brought to Western Australia farmers from the eastern states who, having tired of gold-mining or having met with hard luck, subsequently settled on the land. The area under wheat cultivation extended for a distance of 150 miles into the interior, along a belt running parallel with the Indian Ocean. This year our production will exceed that of South Australia. Influential men who understand the gold-mining industry have repeatedly approached the Government for relief, with, more convincing arguments than I can hope to place before honorable members this afternoon. I urge the Government not to allow those appeals to remain unanswered. Even though the finances were not in a satisfactory state, the late Government in Western Australia recognized the necessity for doing something, and despite the fact that the income from the gold-fields water scheme had’ been falling off, it reduced the rates on water to the mines to the extent of £45,000 a year. I sympathize with honorable members from Tasmania. To keep the federal spirit alive in the hearts of the people in distant and isolated places like Tasmania and Western Australia, justice must be meted out to those states. With other honorable members from Western Australia I have taken part in deputations relating to this matter. Mr. James Gardiner, at one time Treasurer of Western Australia, ha3 worked up this case very fully. He was deputed by the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia to come to the Seat of Government, and place the case for the industry before the Cabinet. He stated the whole of the facts, and was told that the matter would receive consideration. A deputation representative of all the goldmining interests in the Commonwealth was then arranged. Honorable members represented mining districts in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, and nearly all honorable senators participated in it. At that time the proposal was to relieve the’ industry from taxation for a period of five years. That would not have represented a tithe of what was taken from the gold producers when the gold was comandeered, yet it would have been a considerable help to the industry. Replying to the case put forward by the deputation, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said -
As .the request on this occasion had been limited to that of the remission of taxation, and as he recognized the spendid sacrifice that the industry had made on behalf of Australia and of Britain, he promised the deputation that he would bring the matter before cabinet, and that their request would be given the most sympathetic consideration.
We received no later reply, and just prior to the departure of the Prime Minister for Great Britain I waited upon him privately to learn the nature of the Government’s decision. I do not charge the Government with having broken faith with us; I merely claim that it has displayed a lack of sympathetic interest in the industry. I do not care to ascribe motives, as I believe that nothing is to be gained by doing so. But I believe that if the gold-mining industry were established in different parts of Australia as firmly as it was twenty years ago, and had a number of representatives in this chamber, its claim would have been granted as a bare act of justice a year ago. The reply of the Prime Minister was -
Cabinet has considered the question of the remission of taxation. That scheme presents difficulties. Other industries may ask for the same thing. You will set up a precedent. T leave it to you people ito suggest something of a practical nature that’ may be acceptable to Cabinet. While I am away the Acting Prime Minister will deal with the matter.
Representatives of the Gold Producers Association, Mr. T. Maughan, secretary, Mr. Gordon Lyon, chairman, Mr. Fitzgerald, and Mr. A. Milne, of the Victorian Chamber of Mines, waited upon the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page), who had sitting alongside him the Secretary to the Treasury. Dr. Page said that the Government could not entertain the previous proposal, and he would leave it to the representatives of the industry to propose other action. The deputation went armed with a fresh proposal. Its members made it clear that they were not approaching the Government cap in hand, nor were they asking for something to which the industry was not entitled. The Government had taken £2,000,000 -worth of gold from the industry, and as it was in such a parlous condition they suggested that a bounty be granted amounting to 5 per cent, of the production for five years. That represented, in the aggregate, £750,000. Although on its face it might appear to be a large amount, it had to be borne in mind that the industry had lost over £2,000,000. Numbers of people had been driven out of the industry because of the high prices of commodities, and the fact that they had to sell their gold at pre-war rates. Their losses would not be restored to them, but the granting of the bounty would give a fresh lease of life to the industry. Dr. Page said to the deputation -
I will leave, you to talk the matter over with the Secretary to the Treasury. He is a man who has the fi nances of the Commonwealth at his finger-tips. There is no man in the Commonwealth who is more capable than he of filling the position that he holds.
We had a private interview with Mr. Collins. He examined us very closely, and said that he would report immediately to the Acting Prime Minister, and that our case would lose nothing in the presentation. Receiving no reply, I telephoned the Acting Prime Minister, but he was too busy to bother with me.
Finally I received a telephone message from Dr. Earle Page stating that Cabinet had not arrived at a decision, but in order to get over the difficulty he proposed to call a conference of representatives of the gold-mining industry. That conference met on the 7th December last. The representatives of the Commonwealth Government were Mr. C. J. Cerutty, Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, and Mr. G. A. Cook, of the Institute of Science and Industry. The representatives of the governments of the states were Mr. R. H. Cambage, Under-Secretary for Mines, New South Wales, Mr. A. H. Merrin, Secretary for Mines, Victoria, Mr. C. F. V. Jackson. State Mining Engineer, Queensland. Mr. L. Keith Ward, Director of Mines, South Australia, Mr. M. J. Calanchine, Secretary of Mines, Western Australia, and Mr. A. Pretyman, Secretary of Mines, Tasmania. The representatives of the Gold Producers’ Association were Mr. C. Gordon Lyon and Mr. T. Maughan. Those were men summoned by the Treasurer from all parts of the Commonwealth to make recommendations in regard to the gold mining industry, and this paragraph appeared in their report -
As some measure of recompense for past losses and a stimulus to future mining activities, the representatives of the gold mining industry have asked the Commonwealth Government to grant a subsidy of 5 per cent, per annum for five years on the annual value of the gold produced.
The conference recommended -
That the income derived from gold mining operations be exempt from income tax until the whole of the working capital invested has been returned to the owners. »
That recommendation has been adopted by the Government, and I am grateful for it, but the alleviation of taxation that pressed unfairly on the industry was a mere act of justice; I cannot regard it as a gift. The second recommendation was -
That the Commonwealth Government join with the state governments by providing £1 for £1 of the actual expenditure on mining development or rewards for new discoveries.
The delegates knew that the decline of the gold mining industry had seriously affected Western Australia and other portions of the Commonwealth. Assistance to prospectors and pioneers would be a considerable help to the Northern Territory, the mineral areas of which have been barely scratched. If payable mines were discovered there, the territory, instead of having to wait years for population and development, would have, as Western Australia had after the big gold discoveries in the early nineties, a very rapid accretion of a young and virile population. The conference further recommended -
That all machinery imported for the winning and treatment of gold-bearing ores be admitted free of duty, if it is not obtainable on a commercial basis in Australia.
I believe the Customs Department carries out that recommendation to some extent, although the interpretation placed upon the words, “ obtainable on a commercial basis in Australia,” is open to debate. The fourth recommendation was -
That necessary ingredients for the manufacture of mining explosives be admitted duty free, irrespective of the country of origin.
I do not ask the Government to give effect to all those recommendations. It is true that they emanated from a conference convened by the Government, which, one is justified. in assuming, intended to be guided thereby. Surely the appointment of commissions and the convening of conferences by the Government connotes a serious consideration of their recommendations with a view to action. We only ask- to-day for less than half of the money of which the industry was robbed, and I say for God’s sake grant a bounty of 5 per cent, on the gold output. The position of the industry is serious. I have no desire to set gold mining against any other primary industry. I have voted for every proposal submitted to the House for granting assistance to the primary producers. Of course, I do not refer to gifts of public money to the wool barons and people of that class, but I have supported the granting of bonuses to various industries, and in similar circumstances would do so again to-morrow if I thought they were justified. And if those honorable members who profess to represent the primary producers are worth their salt, and are not here to merely consider their own sectional interests, they will support me in an endeavour to secure justice for the gold-mining industry. This Parliament has already set aside £500,000 for the assistance of the wine-making industry during the current financial year. The
Government has undertaken to pay the balance of the losses on the dried fruits pools amounting to £154,000, and making the total payment £643,000. Various primary industries have been assisted with Commonwealth funds to no less an amount than £1,417,000. I make no complaint of that, but I ask that similar consideration be given to an industry which is one of the mainstays of “Western Australia. An amount of £6,500,000 has been invested in mining plant on the Golden Mile, and if it is not to become mere scrap iron during the next four years, some assistance must be given to the industry. During the period in which the gold was commandeered by the Commonwealth, SOO homes belonging to the workers were shifted from the Golden Mile. Pour thousand houses still remain. If they, too, are not to be removed at considerable loss to the owners, the mining industry must be helped.
– Are the mines any good, or are they worked out?
– The mines on the Golden Mile have produced £.100,000,000 worth of gold, and have yielded over £25,000,000 in dividends. The mines are working on a very narrow margin of profit. If a commercial man finds that his business is not profitable, he discontinues it. Mining companies must do the same. The decline of the gold yield is not due to the exhaustion of the ore deposits, but to selective mining. Whereas before the war, ore averaging 10 dwt. paid handsomely, to-day ore of lower grade than 15 dwt. is no.t profitable. The reserves of ores on the six leading mines on the Golden Mile amount to 500,000 tons, and the Western Australian Chamber of Mines computes that if a 5 per cent, bounty on the gold produced were given for five years, the reserves would be increased by at least 30 per cent.
– Is that not a state matter?
– I do not desire to argue with the honorable member, although I hope to enlist his sympathy. The Chamber of Mines is composed of the mine managers on the Golden Mile. They know the exact reserves of ore in their mines from month to month. They are the greatest experts in Australia in regard to the mines at Kalgoorlie and
Boulder, and stand as high in their profession as do the men controlling any other industry in the Commonwealth. They assert that if a 5 per cent, gold bounty were paid, it would not merely have the sentimental effect of eliminating the suspicion and doubt which the Western Australian people’ are beginning to entertain regarding federation, because of the treatment they have received, but would also lead to a complete revival of the mining industry and help considerably the finances and development of the western state.
.- I join with other honorable members in appreciating the action of the Treasurer in submitting his budget so early in the financial year. We are all agreed as to the advantage of Parliament being able to criticize the budget speech and peruse the Estimates before the money is expended. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) said that ‘the inability of the committee to alter items in the budget without such alteration being regarded as a vote of want of confidence in the Government, placed honorable members in an anomalous position. Having listened to the many speeches made during the course of this debate, and the various suggestions made by honorable members, one must realize that an impossible situation would be created if the Government consented to the alteration of its financial proposals in order to give effect to the pet theories and desires of individual members. The Treasurer must accept the responsibility of framing the Estimates and getting parliamentary approval of them.
– Estimates have been reduced on other occasions.
– Of course, but although the committee must have the power of amending the Estimates, that is an extreme step to which recourse is not frequently had. A debate like this cannot be other than beneficial, for it gives honorable members an opportunity, that would not otherwise be available, of placing various matters before the committee. The last three budget speeches that have been delivered make us realize that it is impossible, when there are so many commitments which any Government, unless it adopts a policy of repudiation, must honour, to make any substantial reduction in the total figures. On the contrary, from year to year the figures must increase because there are Government institutions such as the Postal Department, which are annually handling greater sums of money, but as some of them return more than interest on the outlay, the increase appears on the revenue side, as well as on the expenditure side of the ledger. We must inform the public that it is absolutely impossible to reduce expenditure to an extent that will be any material reduction on the gross annual outlay of the Commonwealth. I am sure that the increase in the income tax exemption to £300 a year, and the 10 per cent, reduction in the rate of tax, will be appreciated by the taxpayers.
– Especially ‘ by the wealthy classes.
– I refer the honorable member to his colleague, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), who recently pointed out to honorable members that all taxes were passed on. Does the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) believe that one of the largest taxpayers in the Commonwealth, who conducts a universal emporium, does not pass on to his customers the tax he pays?
– I believe that he will charge his customers as much as he can in any case.
– Any one who does not realize that possesses such an elementary knowledge of finance that he is not worth arguing with. Competition between traders makes them sell 1 heir goods at the lowest possible price, consistent with a profit to themselves. If they have to pay a high rate of taxation, they charge more for their goods. The post office is in the same category as a universal emporium. Members of the Opposition have said that the postal rates were reduced for the benefit of Flinders-lane. “Flinders-lane” seems to embrace a number of persons who come under the opprobrium of honorable members opposite. Money spent by business houses in postage is certainly passed on, and any reduction in postal rates is felt indirectly toy the whole community. I might agree with the honorable member for Angas if it could be shown that the post office was not providing efficient services, but the Government can claim credit that under its present administration the post office has both reduced charges and provided more efficient services.
– If the Government had answered the questions that I asked we should have discovered something about that.
– Any one who goes about with his eyes open would not need to ask such questions. I know from my own observation that the services given by the post office are much more efficient than they have ever been. Increased telephone facilities have been’ provided, and additional post offices have been opened. I should be particularly glad if the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) could see his way to grant extra remuneration to those in charge of allowance post offices.
– We are agreed on that.
– I am glad we agree on that, and, although I should not like to agree with the honorable member too often, I am not prepared to admit that I am wrong because we agree on this one point. Many allowance post offices are conducted by people who are in business, and. the post office is an assistance to them in two ways, for it brings business to their shops and augments their incomes. That, however, is not always so, for I know of cases in which the allowance is insufficient. The Treasurer and the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) are sympathetic men, and I hope that during this year allowance postmasters and postmistresses will be given more remuneration. I do not think that the total sum involved would be large enough to interfere with the Government’s proposals for reducing taxation. It would be a small amount by comparison with the total expenditure of the post office.
I welcome the reduction in the amusement tax, although I do not contend that that tax should be abolished. Many amusements are promoted for the assistance of charitable funds. A race meeting was promoted for that purpose in my electorate, and because the officials that organized it were anxious to get the last penny they could for the fund, and did work themselves that in ordinary circumstances they would not have done, they made themselves liable to taxation. I am glad that it is proposed to relieve such amusements from the burden of taxation.
While we cannot hope for a substantial reduction in expenditure, I wish to specially stress the fact that there are means available for lightening the burden of. taxation. Expenditure next year will probably be slightly heavier than it is this year, and while I am certain that economies can be made, I realize that they will not substantially lighten the burdens of the taxpayers. We can reduce those burdens, however, in two ways - by increasing the number of shoulders that carry them, and by increasing production. When increasing production, it is important that we should provide markets for the disposal of the produce. An example of the difficulties that arise by not considering that aspect of the question was furnished to-day when the Prime Minister moved the second reading of a bill to provide assistance to grape-growers. At the last Royal Agricultural Show in Sydney the Prime Minister, in a speech which has resounded throughout the Commonwealth, said that there were three things Australia wanted - “ men, money, and markets - and that the greatest of them was markets.” When I was a member of the Parliament of New South Wales I went with the Minister of Agriculture to an irrigation area. He had a long interview the previous night with the officials of the area., and he said to me afterwards, “ I am amazed to find that they have advocated the planting of certain trees without going into the question of whether there will be a market for the produce when the trees reach maturity.” With the market then existing a payable price was obtainable for those products, but when additional tens of thousands of those trees came into bearing, the market might disappear. No inquiry had been made to ascertain whether that would be so. I hope to indicate to honorable members that there are directions in which we can increase productivity without any danger of wanting a market. In Australia at present there are fewer than 100,000,000 sheep. In 1891 there were 106,000,000, and about 60 per cent, of those were in the state of New South Wales. By the end of the present year, as a result of the very favorable season, the number may be nearly 100,000,000. But the state of New South Wales itself should be carrying 100,000,000 sheep. In the year 1891 and 1892 that state had 63,000,000 sheep, which is the greatest number on record, and at the 31st December last the number was 35,000,000. Generally when the total gets over 40,000,000, a drought occurs and reduces the number. The consumption of wool has considerably increased since the early nineties, and the carrying capacity of the land has also increased. Those who knew New South Wales 30 years ago, and know it to-day, will realize that by the conservation of water, by ring-barking, and by clearing, the carrying capacity of the “state has been greatly increased. Yet to-day that state is carrying only two-thirds of the number of sheep it was carrying in 1.891. Fortunately, as a result of the scientific management of the flocks, the wool-producing capacity of the sheep has been so improved that the quantity of wool produced has not decreased to any considerable extent. The fact remains, however, that this country should be carrying many more sheep than it is carrying, and I wish to suggest ways in which the Government can assist to that end. Such developmental railways as cannot be considered the duty of the State Government to construct should be constructed by the Commonwealth Government. It is well known that the Commonwealth Government agreed with the South Australian Government to construct the north-south railway. I agree with the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) that the development and settlement of the Northern Territory should proceed from the south. Any one who has studied the development of Australia must realize that settlement has always come from the south. It proceeded from Victoria to New South Wales, and from New South Wales to Queensland. We have districts in New South Wales that are directly connected by railway with the south, and other districts only a few score of miles away, with similar conditions, that are not connected by railway with the south. The development of the latter districts would have been much greater had they been connected directly with the south. The Northern Territory Acceptance Act undoubtedly provided for the construction of a north-south railway, although no time was stated in which the work should be completed, but irrespective of that provision a railway through the Northern Territory is essential for developmental purposes.
– Where would the honorable member begin it?
– My experience in this respect has shown me that it is unwise for honorable members to discuss such points when preliminary proposals are under notice, for if they declare in favour of a particular route, they may antagonize some one, and so cause delay. All proposals to construct railway lines are referred to the Public Works Committee, which has full power to investigate not only the route definitely mentioned in the reference, but any alternative routes, and it would not hesitate to recommend the construction of an alternative route if it were satisfied that that route was better than the original proposal. I was alarmed to learn lately that, at present, only 6,000 or 7,000 sheep are to be found in the Northern Territory, whereas not many years ago there were ten times that number. The Northern Territory could also be developed by the adoption of a proper system of motor transport. It would not be possible for the motors to carry stock - railways will always be required for that purpose - but they would contribute largely to the development of the mining industry. .1 understand that a private company has offered to nun a motor service from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, provided that a few crossings, particularly that at Finke River, are made satisfactory. If that could be done, it would lead to increased development, and encourage the construction of a railway line.
– It would involve an expenditure of only a few hundred pounds.
– The honorable member for Wakefield knows the country from personal experience, and I only know it through reading and hearing of it, so that his opinion is of considerable value. The population in the Territory could be greatly increased by even motor transport facilities. Various mining projects could be exploited. A very valuable mica deposit is being worked at present in the Harts Ranges, but all the mica that is sent south has to be carried by camels. Only six men are employed just now, but if a motor transport service were provided the number would be increased immediately to 30. We have been .given to understand that very great mining developments are possible in Central Australia. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) was correct this afternoon when he. said that the development of the mining industry has always resulted in the country in the locality becoming populated. After the mines peter out - as they always do - the people who have been working them look around to see how they can develop the surrounding country. That is how agricultural settlement first occurred in my own district of Wyalong. Population was first attracted to it by the mining industry. The mines yielded a production valued at millions of pounds, but they petered out, and then the people gave attention to the farming possibilities of the country.
– The same thing occurred at Temora.
– Tes, many years before. The Wyalong district, in which my own farm is situated, is now recognized as one of the best wheatgrowing areas in Australia, but it is shown on Coghlan’s famous wheat map, which was published not very many years ago, as outside the safe wheat-growing areas. The history of the United States of America shows clearly that the desert rolls back in front of population, and that has been the experience in Australia. Land which was once regarded as desert is now producing splendid wheat crops. No one can even yet mark the limits of the wheat-growing areas in New South Wales. If we can only get population to our out-back- al eas it will be found that they are capable of much greater production than is now thought to be possible.
– The people have pushed far beyond Goyder’s line.
– I suggest that in addition to the North-South line a railway should be constructed through the Barkly Tablelands and Camooweal to connect with the western railway terminals in Queensland, and end at Bourke, in New South Wales. Such a line would pass through some of the finest grazing country in Australia. A great deal of that northern country is cattle country, and must for all time be Australia’s chief cattlegrowing country. At present it takes eight or nine months to walk cattle from the country through which such a railway would pass to the southern pastures. Honorable members who are acquainted with the cattle industry know that it is impossible to walk cattle for long distances until they are matured. They must be at least three years old. Even then, when they reach the pastures in the south after such a journey it is impossible to fatten them quickly, and they cannot be marketed until the following year. This means a great economic waste to the Commonwealth. If the stock could be entrained in the far north, and brought to the south rapidly, it could be marketed two years earlier than is possible, at present. The. tendency now is to market cattle for both home consumption and export purposes while they are young. Cattle are more valuable at three years for all purposes than they are at five. It is well known that they make most of weight when they are between two and three years old, and to keep them longer means a loss. If the railway I have suggested could be constructed, it would be a fine thing for Australia. The Government would be well advised to communicate with the Go>vernments of Queensland and New South Wales with a view to ascertaining what possibility there is for the construction of the line. It is well known that at no period in Australia’s history has the whole country served by this proposed line suffered from a drought in the same season. Even in 1902, when we had the nearest approach to a universal drought, the few settlers in some of the areas through which this railway would pass were enjoying an excellent season. In 1914, and the first half of 1915, when conditions in the southern part of Australia and New South Wales were deplorable, central Queensland was like a wheatfield. In 1916-7 feed went to waste in southern Australia, while stock were dying in thousands in the central districts of Queensland.’ Had this proposed railway been available our denuded country could have been re-stocked with the surplus stock in Queensland. Last year I had the privilege of participating in a deputation to the Premier of New South Wales, which suggested an extension of the western lines in that state, and I pointed out on that occasion that in some cases only short links were necessary to connect various western lines with the southern districts, and Sir George Fuller, in replying, alluded to my remarks. He said that it was deplorable to have to admit that in New South Wales instances had occurred in which the whole cost of constructing such links would have been returned to the state in one season in the value of the stock which could have been saved by transportation over them from drought-stricken areas. The route of a line from the Barkly Tablelands through Camooweal to Bourke which I am advocating need not necessarily be determined by the terminals of the existing Queensland lines, for I am sure that if it were taken reasonably near to Winton, Longreach, or Charleville, the Queensland Government would make the necessary extensions to connect with it, and we should then have an arterial railway which ‘would be of immense value to Australia. Not only would it increase production, but it would ensure a regular supply of meat to our southern markets. In more than one instance wie have had experiences similar to that of last year, when the people were paying almost famine prices for meat in Victoria, whilst the Government was paying a bounty for the exportation of meat from the northern parts of Australia. That absurd position need never again arise, nor need we ever again be obliged to import stock from New Zealand to supply our local requirements, if this line .were constructed.
– If a line had been constructed from Alice Springs to Oodnadatta twenty years ago, not a single season would have passed in which meat would not have been available for any part of Australia.
– It is well known that the honorable member for Wakefield knows what he is talking about in that matter, and I can speak with equal certainty respecting the . line I am advocating.
– Did. not the lack of refrigerated space on the coastal steamers contribute to the meat shortage in the south last year ?
– I do not think that that had any serious effect upon the position, for if stock had been available it could have been carried on the ocean steamers. I can speak with authority on this matter, for I have been informed by the Customs Department that not a single application by the ocean steamers for permission to carry meat has been refused when it has been shown that coastal steamers were not available, or that they had no space for the purpose.
– Evidence given before the Navigation Commission showed that the difficulty was created largely by the lack of refrigerated space on the coastal steamers.
– All that I can say on that matter is that the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs has informed me otherwise. A repetition of last year’s experience could be prevented if the line from the Barkly Tablelands through Camooweal to Bourke were constructed.
– One of the difficulties in connexion with the sea carriage of meat is that there is cargo only one way.
– I consider that the increased development of the country would soon remove that difficulty, at least to a considerable extent. It is all very well for the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) to speak as he does about big sheep men. If the pastoral industry of this country failed, many tens of thousands of persons employed in various industries would suffer to a very great extent. While our primary production flourishes, we have an era of prosperity throughout Australia. Another line to connect Hay with Port Augusta has been the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Governments. I am absolutely opposed to that line, and I shall use what little power I’ have in this Parliament to prevent its construction until the proposal has been referred to and recommended by the Public Works Committee. Recently, I asked the late Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) to give an undertaking that that line would not be constructed unless referred to the Public Works Committee. He replied that before the proposal was -sanctioned, it would be referred to Parliament. That is altogether a different matter. The proposed line from Hay to Port Augusta would be 450 miles in length, and its estimated cost is £4,500,000. A portion of its route would pass from Hay through Balranald to Mildura. An agreement has been made between the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria for the extension of the Victorian railway system to Balranald, to develop the surrounding district, and to bring its produce to its natural port, which is Melbourne. Any one familiar with that portion of New South Wales will know that its development has been retarded for many years because of the absurd attitude of previous State Governments in refusing: to allow it to have railway connexion with Victoria. It was a very shortsightedpolicy.
– And the farmers suffered in consequence.
– Not only the farmers, but the whole of the people of New South Wales have suffered, because if that country had been developed, thesettlers would have become prosperous,, and helped to carry the burden of taxation. To try to insist that produce from that district should be sent toSydney was absurd, and it is to the credit of the present Government of New South Wales that it has arranged with the Victorian Government to build three developmental lines, and to construct bridges over the Murray to enable produce from, that part of Riverina to reach Melbourne. Balranald is the only centre of any importance between Hay and Mildura that would be affected by the construction of the proposed line to Port Augusta. But it is already proposed to serve that district by the line to be constructed by Victoria, which will connect Balranald with the Deniliquin line at Moama. The route of the proposed line from Hay to Port Augusta will go from Balranald to a point opposite Mildura, and then parallel with the river past Renmark to Morgan. I realize that the Murray valley is destined to carry the greatest rural population of any part of Australia. Its possibilities are wonderful, as the Murray River is navigable, and produce can be transported along it. It is proposed that the line shall branch off at Morgan, crossing several South Australian railways before reaching Crystal Brook. That line,. if constructed, would not develop any land to speak of, because the whole of the South Australian agricultural country to be traversed by it has already been provided with railway connexions.
– Would it not be of use as a cross-country line?
– It might be of benefit to South Australia, but if constructed the Commonwealth Government would have to bear all the expense. The South Australian Government will not accept any responsibility for it, nor will the New South Wales Government, which has already made arrangements with the Victorian Government to construct lines to develop any country that is of value for agricultural purposes. Prom Crystal Brook the line would run between the Flinders Range and the sea to Port Augusta. The Flinders Range is only a few miles from the coast, and there is no agricultural area to be developed there.
– It is very dry country.
– That is so. There is an alternative to that scheme. It is necessary to have a uniform railway gauge across the continent, and this can be accomplished by building a railway of about 220 miles in length from Broken Hill to Port Augusta. A line, on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, is at present being extended to Broken Hill by the New South Wales Government, but it will not be completed for eighteen months or two years. Heavy rails are being laid on the recommendation of the Railways Commissioners of that state, who say that a line laid with lighter rails would not pay. The line has to be capable of carrying heavy engines running at high speed. A first-class line is now being built, extending past Ivanhoe, and the rails are being laid at the rate of half a mile per day. The engineers are already at Menindie putting down concretepiers, upon which to erect a bridge to carry the line across the Darling. The New South Wales Government is prepared to build the line as far as the border at Cockburn, which is 7 miles from Broken Hill. The present line from Terowie, in South Australia, to Broken Hill, is of 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. After reaching the New South Wales border it turns a sharp angle to Silverton, and then goes on to Broken Hill. The New South Wales railway, when constructed, will run nearly in a straight line from Port Augusta. When continued to Cockburn it will pass the Pinnacles mine, and greatly facilitate its development. It will then remain for the Commonwealth to build a railway 190 miles in length from Cockburn to
Port Augusta. On that route there are no bridges to build and no engineering difficulties to be overcome. The construction of the line would not. cost the Commonwealth more than £1,500,000, whereas the proposed expenditure on the line from Hay to Port Augusta is £4,500,000. With a line of 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge constructed from Cockburn to Port Augusta there would be a uniformrailway across the continent from Kalgoorlie to Sydney. Arrangements are now being made to build a railway from Kyogle to Brisbane on the standard gauge, and when it is constructed there would be a continuous line from Kalgoorlie to Brisbane. The military conference that was held some years ago recommended the construction of a line from Hay to Port Augusta. I do not ask the committee to accept my view as against, that of military experts, but since that conference was held in 1915 the position has entirely altered.
– -The conference was held five years before that.
– That may be so. In any case the position has since entirely altered, because the. southern railways of New South Wales have now been connected with .Hillston, which is only 20 miles away from the Condobolin to Broken Hill line. A short line from Trida to Hillston would connect the whole of the southern railway systems. Such a railway passing through the irrigation areas would be of immense benefit tq the western division of New South Wales. It would serve the southern lucerne-growers, who in times of drought would have a market for their produce in the western division. Considerable relief would be given to the flocks there. The saving in that direction would be sufficient to pay the whole expense of the line. Settlement in the River Darling districts would be encouraged, and the railway would eventually be profit-earning. Lithgow would be connected with the western area, and coal could be transported cheaply. There is the cement industry established within a few miles of that line. Between Portland and Kandos there are immense limestone and shale deposits sufficient to meet our requirements for hundreds of years. I have seen limestone quarries there opened up to a depth of 200 feet, limestone giving 97½ per cent. purity test. The bottom has not yet been reached. It is practically assured that that district will be the great cement-producing centre for Australia for all time. Cement is being used more and more, and the industry is only in its infancy. The construction of lines such as I have outlined will give an opportunity to land-holders to increase sheep production, not only in New South Wales, but also in the south-west of Queensland and in the Northern Territory. Dingoes have always existed in Australia, but they have increased in a way that would not have been possible before the rabbits extended to the centre of Australia. When I wasa boy, dingoes were always in poor condition and half starved. When they could not obtain lambs they lived largely on lizards and other reptiles. To-day dingoes are found in good condition. They are very often cross-breds, and their breeding grounds are in the cattle and unoccupied areas of Central Australia. When food supplies are exhausted the rabbits die out, and the dingoes then come in to the sheep country in mobs looking for food. The result has been that in the western divison of New South Wales thousands of square miles of land have changed from sheep to cattle country, or have been abandoned. The cattle industry at present is unprofitable. We have heard a good deal of the “ Kidman blight.” The “Kidman blight” is suggested as the reason why on much of this country sheep have been replaced by cattle, but had it not been for the ravages of the dingo the country could never have been acquired on the terms on which it was acquired by Sir Sidney Kidman. There are over 80,000,000 acres of land in the western division of New South Wales, the eastern boundary of which runs practically along the Lachlan River to near Condobolin, and thence north towards Mungindi; the division includes practically all the western country of New South Wales. The number of sheep on this area in 1893 was 16,000,000; the number in 1920 was 3,770,000 ; the average number for the three years since 1920 was 4,768,000; the average number from 1904 to 1920 was 5,619,000. In the peak year,1893, the number was 16,000,000, and in 1891 it was 15,379,000. I say that the reduction in the number of sheep carried in the western division of New South Wales has been largely due to the dingo. In South Australia pastoralists had the same experience, but the people of that state realized what they were up against, and the Parliament passed a Vermin Destruction Act, under which any number of land-holders forming a trust was advanced the total cost of the construction . of a dingo-proof fence. A board was formed, whose duty it was to construct and maintain the fence, and to make levies on the holdings within the fence to pay for it. It. was provided that repayments covering interest and capital cost should be made in 21 years. There is not one instance in which these payments have not been made on the due date.
– In many instances the payments amounted to three times the rents.
– The following list will indicate the effect of the operation of the act to which I refer. It gives the number, of sheep grazed on certain runs before the dingoes came, the number to which they were reduced, and the number to which they have increased since the operation of the act.
Similar results followed on other stations from the operation of- the Vermin ‘Destruction Act of South Australia. I ask the Treasurer to see whether the Governments of New South “Wales and Queensland might not be induced to adopt similar legislation, and whether it cannot be adopted by the Commonwealth for the Northern Territory. We were all, no doubt, glad to read that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) had recently submitted to him in the Old Country & scheme for bringing 20,000,000 acres in the Northern Territory under sheep. So satisfactory results can be expected in the Northern Territory unless the people going there are given wire netting to enable them to erect fences which will keep the dingoes out of their holdings. In the erection of these fences, rabbit netting is used a,t the bottom of the fence, and that will keep down the rabbit pest at the same time. The western division of New South Wales in 1893 carried 16,000,000 sheep. The following table will give some idea of the disastrous effects of the dingo on New South Wales stations west of the Darling : - .
Honorable members should realize what these figures mean, not only to the country, but to the wage-earner, because when large pastoral properties are occupied, they pay a very large amount of money annually in wages. It is estimated that a property carrying 80,000 sheep will pay £12,000 annually in wages. If that is so, -the decrease in the number of sheep carried from 15,000,000 to the present number represents a* loss in wages to New South Wales of £1,400,000 per annum. Even half that loss per annum would be a very serious matter. The two industries which are carrying Australia along at the pre- sent ‘time are sheep-breeding and wheatgrowing. Last year, speaking on the budget, I said that the position of the wheat market was very doubtful, but I said that I was not pessimistic regarding wheatgrowing in Australia, because .we have wonderful advantages here that are not possessed by other wheat-growing countries. We have cheap land, and by the adoption of scientific methods we are increasing our production to such an extent that we can compete in the world’s markets against other wheat-growing countries. There is a higher price offering for wheat at present’, and the prospect of marketing our crop is good. The increased price has been largely due,, not to land going out of cultivation for wheat in America, but to ‘the unfavorable season in Canada. A very large area has gone out of wheat cultivation in the United States and Canada, and this has materially assisted in bringing about ‘ the better price now ruling for our wheat. The wool market of the world is practically assured to us for years, and the Government should do all that it can to bring about an increase in our flocks. If it joins with the State Governments in railway construction for this purpose, it will be doing a service to the Commonwealth, and will be easing our burden of taxation, because it will place us in a better position to bear it. It is somewhat alarming that, in this country, we have no proper scheme for the conservation of fodder. This must be provided if we are to maintain the numbers of our flocks. Otherwise we shall always have, as we have had in the past, periodical droughts that will give us a serious set-back. In years of plenty, we could easily put by a sufficient quantity of fodder to carry us through periods of drought. This can only be done by a* scheme, not necessarily entirely financed by the Government, and certainly not under Government management, but backed up by the Government. What we require are supplies of fodder which will be available in periods of drought at a moderate price.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the. very able speech on the butter industry delivered by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) . I cannot say that I view with satisfaction the proposal advocated by the honorable member and the position taken up in connexion with it by the Government. But I am entirely in sympathy with the object which the honorable member for Gippsland wishes to achieve. “We must recognize that, in connexion with any of our commodities, unless we have a satisfactory market for our exportable surplus, the whole production will be on a very unsatisfactory footing. If the market price for our exportable surplus of any commodity is not a paying price, it is an absolute certainty that we shall reduce the production of it until it has reached a quantity sufficient only to supply our local market. That would be most unsatisfactory, not only because it would curtail production, but because, as our seasons are variable, in years in which there was not sufficient of the commodity to go’ round prices would soar, whilst in a bountiful season we should have an exportable surplus and no market to which to send it. The honorable member for Gippsland submitted his scheme as an alternative to that which had already been proposed. He proposes an excise duty on butter made at all factories, where it could be very easily collected, and that from the proceeds of the duty an export bounty should be paid. There is no doubt that the scheme of the honorable member has infinitely more to commend it than the other proposal. He said that its effect would be to automatically increase the price for home consumption to the level of the export price plus the bounty. If honorable members opposite stood up to their platform, we should have their support in this matter despite the fact that the price of the product would be increased to the consumer. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) stated emphatically that he was prepared to attend a Labour conference held in any part of Australia, and advocate that the price of a primary product should be sufficient to pay the grower a fair wage and give him a reasonable profit. While the honorable member for Gippsland was speaking, an honorable member opposite interjected that he was proposing something that was provided for in the Labour platform. If the basic wage laid down by the Arbitration Court for rural workers were paid for the labour that is put into the pro duction of butter and wheat, it wouldnot be possible to produce a pound of butter for less than 5s., or a bushel of wheat for less than 10s. I have had a lifetime’s experience of these matters. I milked cows when I was eight years of age, and I do not think that I am any the worse for it. A great deal is heard regarding the employment of child labour on dairy farms. I think it will be found that amongst the men who have grown up on dairy farms, there are as good specimens of Australian manhood as can be found anywhere in Australia. At one farmer’s conference that was held in New South Wales, the question of child labour was raised. A delegate, whose breadth and height were about equal to that of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), said, “ Mr. Chairman, I am a dairy poddy.” I cannot claim to be a dairy poddy, but my experience of the industry dates back to the time when I was eight years old. There are successful dairy farmers and wheat-growers, but they have not applied to themselves the conditions that are laid down by the Arbitration Court for rural workers. ‘ A year or two ago a body of practical farmers in the Cowra district inquired into this matter, and proved that the production of wheat cost 7s. 0£d. a bushel. On only one occasion has that price been obtained, yet quite a number of men make good incomes from wheat production. They do not, however, work a 44-hour week. If the farmers were allowed for their products a price that would return them the basic wage and a reasonable profit, a great deal more would have to be paid for their commodities than is being received by them at the present time.
– The primary producers are entitled to receive a fair price.
– The honorable membar would be one of the first to raise his voice against an increase in the price of a loaf of bread.
– I should not.
– A rise of ls. a bushel in the price of wheat represents an extra Jd. a lb. in the price of bread. The Arbitration Court has accepted the statement that the average consumption of bread for every family is 20 lb. a week. If, therefore, the price of a bushel of wheat were increased from 4s. to 5s., the bread bill of the average family would be 5d. a week greater. I do not consider that the stabilization of the butter industry has been sufficiently discussed. The Australian Dairy Council, a body that was set up by the Commonwealth Government ““to advise it in such matters, ought’ to have been consulted. If an excise duty is imposed, and an export bounty, granted, it will be very difficult to state what is export parity.
– The difficulty will be no greater than that which exists at the present time.
– At present, sales are being made almost daily, and it is possible to fix export parity. But if legislation similar to that which exists in New Zealand is passed, and the export of butter is limited, no sales for export will be made locally. To ascertain the export parity price in Australia, it would be necessary to take the London price at the date of shipment and deduct from it the cost of sending the butter to London. By the time it reached its destination, the price there might be entirely different from that which ruled at the date of shipment.
– We are up against that difficulty now.
– Not to the same extent, because the local parity rates are fixed. I am adopting this attitude towards the proposal, not because I desire to condemn it, but because I want to see a satisfactory solution arrived at. Those connected with the trad© are well aware that the price at which butter is quoted in Australia to’-day in all probability will not be the price ruling in London in two months’ time. I do not think that the local market rate will ever rise to the true export parity price.
– The trade considers that it will.
– I have reliable evidence to prove that that is not so. Some members of the trade view with very great alarm the proposal that is being put forward.
– My proposal ?
– Even the honorable member’s proposal. There are, however, some members of the trade who are opposed to the New Zealand legislation, but approve of the granting of an export bounty. I think that the proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland is infinitely better than any that has previously been put forward. Although New Zealand has had this legislation on its statute-book for a considerable time, it has been availed of to only a limited extent. Its application in Australia would result in a limitation of exports, because sales would be made only on the other side. The matter requires to be fully considered before action is taken. As we are reaching the end of the session I strongly urge the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to consult every interest, including the Australian Dairy Council, so as to make sure that any scheme adopted is the best that can be evolved.
– In what way would the proposal limit export ?
– The proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland would not have that effect. I was referring to the New Zealand legislation. Just before the termination of the war the butter industry occupied a financial position that it had never been in previously, and that it has not attained since. The last contract made with Great Britain was at the rate of 276s. a cwt. When governmental control of food was withdrawn in Great Britain the British Government had an accumulation of over 1,000,000 cases of butter. That .butter was forced on to the market, with the result that the price dropped to 120s. a cwt., causing ‘ chaos in butter production. Butter is a perishable commodity. If it is stored for any length of time, no matter what’ the circumstances may be, it is likely to deteriorate, .particularly if it is not of the. highest grade.
– Did the accumulation of stocks to which the honorable member referred occur under government supervision’? ~Mr’. MANNING.- Yes.
– .We all know what a hopeless muddle governments make of every matter they handle.
– ‘I quite agree with the. honorable member. At the same time, the muddle in some of our cooperative concerns is very little less acute than that for which governments are responsible. Men are placed in charge of co-operative concerns who possess absolutely no claim to be considered business men. They may be experienced producers, but they have had .no experience of marketing. I have seen them driving in motor cars as elaborate as those of the Sydney City Council, spending money in a way in which no proprietary company would spend it. There are in the dairying industry a large number of co-operative companies that will not market their produce through any co-operative firm because of the amount incurred in overhead expenses.
– Is it because they are in with the proprietary agents?
– No. “We want to stabilize this industry, but it must be done in a way that will not have an effect opposite to that which is desired.
The honorable member for Gippsland also referred to the protection that is afforded to the local agricultural implement manufacturers. There are, perhaps, not many honorable members in this House who have spent a greater amount than I in the purchase of agricultural implements. “We should be very chary about removing the duties under which, our factories are working. I am glad to say that the Australian manufacturers are not taking full advantage of the protection afforded them by the tariff. They are selling many of their products at prices considerably lower than the prices at which the imported articles are sold.
– How does the Australian article compare with the- imported ?
– Some of the Australian implements are very much superior, as the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) admitted. If no duty were imposed on agricultural machinery there would be keener competition and lower prices, which would probably have the effect of forcing some of the local manufacturers out of the market.
– I suggested the payment of a bounty, instead of a duty.
– Unquestionably, if an industry is to be protected for the benefit of the country as a whole, the taxpayers generally, and not one section of them, should pay the cost. Therefore, in theory, a bounty is much more equitable than a tariff duty, but in practice the payment of a bounty is not at all easy. The honorable member for Gippsland compared the prices of Australian and imported binders. Those prices show a difference of £14 or £15 in favour of the locally-made machine:
– My figures showed a difference of £12.
– The Australian binder is now selling at £77 and not £80, as quoted by the honorable member, and that makes it about £15 cheaper than the imported machine. The figures relating to other implements are even more in favour of the Australian manufacturer. The selling price of tractors, upon which there is no duty, is substantially less in New Zealand than in Australia, which does not manufacture them, but disc and stump-jump ploughs, which are a speciality of Australian manufacture, are sold at very much lower prices in the Commonwealth than in the Dominion. I should be very sorry to see the Australian farmers placed at the mercy of the American machinery combine. If there were no local production of agricultural machinery and implements, the position of the farmers would be much worse than it is. Abraham Lincoln’s statement that no country ever became great by primary production alone is very applicable to* Australia. We need a market for our primary products, and the best market we can have is the local one-. The more encouragement we give to the secondary industries the better will be the market^ for our primary products. I wu talking recently to a man who was establishing a factory, and he told me he had brought from Europe 23 families in order to get expert labour for his factory.
-Were they brought out without Government assistance?
– Yes. I said to him, “ But we shall have to pay for that,” and he replied, “ Yes, but am I not doing better service to the country in giving to these families work in a factory than I should be if I placed them on land along the Murray River, where they would produce dried fruits which are already a drug in the market? “ I had to admit that he was fight. Although there can in Australia be no prosperity unless the primary producers are thriving, we must recognize that they are not the only pebbles on the beach. I have been engaged in primary industries all my life, and I recognize that we must give protection to the secondary industries to enable them to hold their own against the mass production of other parts of the world. Recently I visited a factory situated a few miles from Melbourne, and it made me feel proud of the Australian workmen and their products. The fact may not be generally known to honorable members that almost every improvement in farming machinery has been the result of an Australian invention. The -original strippers and reaper-threshers were the product of Australian inventive genius. The Sunshine harvester,, of which I have bought five, having found it much superior to the imported machine,, was invented by a farmer beyond Albury. Always Australia has led the world in respect of improvements in farming implements.
– The Yankees admit that.
– They do, by copying our patents, but they do not openly acknowledge it. Whilst we are ready ‘ to support and protect the manufacturing industries, we must admit that the Australian farmers, who have to compete against producers in countries where machinery and labour are cheaper, are at a considerable disadvantage.
I again congratulate the Treasurer upon his budget statement, and particularly upon the manner in which he has dealt with the accumulated surplus. He is absolutely sound in applying portion of the surplus to the reduction of the indebtedness of the Commonwealth. If our finances are to be managed satisfactorily, the Treasurer must provide for a surplus each year. It should nob be large, but if, as a result of prudent finance, the credit balance is greater than was anticipated, it cannot be employed to better advantage than in reducing the national debt.
.-I desire to protest against the reduction by £5,000 of the grant to rifle clubs. In the western part of Victoria, practically from the sea to the New South Wales border, there has been for many years a large number of rifle clubs. Their members have taken a very keen interest in rifle shooting, and the older marksmen have made themselves responsible for training the younger men. The captains of several clubs have written to me to express disappointment at the reduction of this year’s grant, and urging that the Treasurer should restore it to the old amount of £45,000. My own opinion is that the grant, instead of being reduced by £5,000, should be increased to £50,000. The rifle clubs are an important feature of the defence system; they are a form of national preparedness which does not involve militarism. Countries like Australia and
South Africa are particularly adapted to guerilla warfare as a means of protection against aggression. In the South African war the Boers, a mere handful of people, although untrained in military practices, were able, because of their ability as rifle shots and horsemen, and because of their knowledge of bush lore, to hold the cream of the British Army at bay for two years. Australians have a natural instinct for bush life, and are suited for guerilla warfare ; and if our men are able to ride and shoot well, God help any people who attack us. For the sake of national defence, the request of the rifle clubs in western Victoria should be favorably considered by the Treasurer. The riflemen, instead of engaging in football and cricket matches, or attending race meetings, find rifle shooting a pleasant and useful pastime. There is a fine spirit of rivalry between the clubs, and those who are successful at the annual meetings feel that they have accomplished some good for themselves and their country. They are right in so thinking. Rifle shooting is a pastime to’ which the Government should give more encouragement. Australian riflemen can hold their own with the marksmen of any other country, and most of our best “ shots “ have” graduated from the rifle clubs. Those whose enthusiasm has kept the rifle club movement active feel that they have been slighted by the reduction of this year’s grant by £5,000. If the Treasurer cannot restore the amount to £45,000, let him bear the request in mind and increase the amount to £50,000 or £55,000 next year. If he would make a promise to that effect,, honorable members would be satisfied.
– Is not that contrary to the Labour party’s policy?
– By no means.
– Is it not preparing for war?
– I advise the honorable member to read, and endeavour to understand, the Labour party’s platform. If he does so, he will discover that this party has never offered any objection to the encouragement of rifle clubs or to making provision for the defence of this country.
I appeal to the Treasurer for more sympathetic consideration for crippled soldiers and the dependants of deceased soldiers. Recently the cases of two young widows who had been left with young families came under my notice. The opinion of the doctors was that the death of their husbands was not due to war service. We know that 99 per cent, of the men that went to the war were carefully examined by medical officers, and were pronounced fit before they left these shores. One man whom I knew was of as fine a type’ of young Australian as one could wish to see. He served at the front for three or four years, and must have been strong, or he would have been sent home. He had not been back in this country long when he fell sick, developed cancer, and died. He left a widow and three children, who received not a shilling from the Government. In such a case the Government ought to stretch the act, or provide compensation in some other way. That man had no property, and his life was not insured. He was the breadwinner of the family, and his widow and three children are thrown on the mercy of a cold world. The Government is not doing its duty to the men who took the risks of war and developed disease after their return. It is true that a malady may have been coming on for a number of years, and that a man might have developed it, even if he had not gone to the war; but the untimely deaths of a great majority of men who were sound before they left these shores have been caused, or at least accelerated, by the hardships they underwent in the trenches. The Government should come to the rescue of their widows and orphans by providing for them. It is impossible for medical men to say that the diseases that killed these men were not developing while they were at the war, and in that event their dependants are entitled to consideration.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), in speaking of the possibilities of land settlement in the Northern Territory, mentioned the scheme suggested to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) for the raising of wool in the Northern Territory by people, from overseas. I am strongly in favour of constructing the north-south railway line, because I believe there are great possibilities of development in the Northern Territory. Sheep and cattle can be reared there, but in any scheme undertaken by the Government for the settlement of that area, preference should be given to the young men of Australia. I am tired of listening to certain people in this country calling for young, men from other countries to settle on our land. As a matter of fact, we have no land to offer them. I hope the Government will announce its intention relating to the northsouth railway before it goes into recess. If that line is constructed, and the Territory thrown open for settlement, I undertake to find in Victoria, within a fortnight, 500 young men who will be prepared to take their chance in the Territory. If we have young Australians who are prepared to take the risk, who have a good knowledge of land and stock, and who are of the type to make good settlers, why should we offer inducements to men from overseas? I believe in settling our own people first. If the conditions are made good for them, young men of other countries will be attracted. If we have land in plenty for men from overseas, let them come in their thousands or millions, but the policy of Australia should be, like the policy of America and other countries, to provide for our own people first. That is the stand I take, and I shall never change it. Many hundreds of young Australians are hoping that a start will soon be made to construct the North-South line, when they will endeavour to obtain some of the cheap land offering. They can get financial backing to stock their properties with sheep and cattle, and, that being so, the earliest possible date should be taken by the Government for commencing the construction of the line. The Government should not dally with a great question like the settlement of the Northern Territory. The sooner railways are provided for that Territory, the better it will be for Australia. I recently received a letter from a son of mine in Queensland. He told me that he had applied for a block of land at Longreach, and that there were 6,000 applicants for it. If there are 6,000 applicants for one block of land in western Queensland, which is typical of the Northern Territory country, the Government may be quite sure that the same men will be prepared to go to the middle of the Territory if railway communication is provided for them.
– Will the land be given to them for nothing?
– For next to nothing. Land such as is being offered by the Commonwealth for from 2s. to 6s. a square mile is virtually a gift. I should he prepared to take my chance with 100 square miles in the Territory if the Government would provide a railway. I am satisfied that any man who will go there, and will settle on the land and stock it, will not regret having done so.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8 p.m.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed. ]
– I congratulate the Treasurer and the Government upon the carefully conceived and well-balanced budget which is before us, and if, in what I have to say there is some criticism, it must not be taken to mean that one does not approve of the budget as a whole, but that, instead of uttering parrot-like cries of endorsement, one takes up the points with which he is not in entire agreement.
I hope that the contemplated remission of entertainment tax will apply to such entertainments as. the performances of orchestral, musical’, and dramatic societies, so that music and the drama may be fostered by the state. The associations which are mainly responsible for these performances are usually inspired with a desire to elevate the public taste, and it seems to me to be improper that they should be taxed like organizations which are formed principally for the purposes of making profits. The test to determine whether a society should be taxed or not should be the question: Is it working to make profits, or simply to accumulate sufficient funds to continue the educational activities in which it is engaged ? A society of the latter class which employs professional artists to assist it in presenting its various entertainments should not be obliged to pay the entertainments tax, for in employing persons who require payment for their services it is not necessarily working for private gain.
I regret that more consideration has- not been given in the budget to matters affecting public health. I am sorry that the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) did not precede me in addressing the committee to-night. The honorable member has placed us all under a deep debt of gratitude to him,- which for my part I intend to- express, for the researches he made while in Switzerland- into the Spahlinger treatment for consumption, but, perhaps, even more so because on hisreturn to Australia he candidly expressed precisely what he thought on the matter. Any one with a less keen sense of public duty and regard for scientific truth might have been greatly tempted to hedge, and submit as favorable a report as possible on M.. Spahlinger’s work. We all regret that he felt obliged to submit the report that he did, for I suppose that every one in this chamber has either friends or relatives who are afflicted with this terrible complaint. On that very account I think that we owe him our thanks for not stooping to disguise his views, and holding out hopes which he considered would later be destroyed. I know that the royal commission on national insurance is investigating certain matters affecting public health, and has not yet presented its report, and I admit the lack of federal authority iri this matter except, of course, in such a side issue as quarantine, and the lack of co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the states; but, nevertheless, I regret that more money has not been provided for research work. In addressing the Australian Scientific Congress in Adelaide on Monday, Sir John Monash, who I am sure even honorable members opposite, notwithstanding their pacifist views, will agree is a man as notable in peace as in war, expressed disappointment that more money was not available for research purposes. He was reported as follows in the Argus: -
Scientific institutions - had no votes, and their needs, therefore, were often relegated to a position of secondary importance. That was not as it should be. Research work required to be carried out under conditions of comparative freedom from the anxiety associated with the ordinary necessities of life. During the war there had been a great manifestation of scientific effort, although chiefly devoted to the purposes of national defence;” and, after the war, there had arisen a real fear that the need for pure science research would be no longer felt. Unfortunately there was still ground for that fear in the lack of adequate financial support accorded to such institutions as were represented at the congress.’ No form of applied science could come to, birth unless preceded by abstract and pure scientific research. -
Even though the Government has not been able to reach an agreement with the states to secure that measure of ..coordination in this matter which is so desirable, I think more could have been done to encourage research work. Amongst the first who would vote for the adoption of a comprehensive research policy would be the Treasurer himself, and I do not suggest that lack of sympathy has been responsible for his failure to provide more money for it. But I cannot see why, if £5,000 can be set aside for cancer research, £50,000 could not be devoted to the purpose, for* the principle is affirmed by the proposal to vote £5,000. For that matter, it was affirmed some time ago. It is regrettable that in a budget which provides for the expenditure of so much money to promote material prosperity among various sections of the community, so little has been provided to promote health prosperity, which is even more important. Research work is required in many directions, and I trust that when the next budget is introduced a much more adequate amount will be provided for it than is the case on this occasion.
The Government merits commendation for its wise and carefully-planned attempt to introduce a properly co-ordinated defence policy. Personally, I do not place as much importance on the necessity for continuity of policy in defence matters as do some honorable members and military officers, here and elsewhere. I admit that it is eminently desirable that we should have continuity of policy, but unfortunately political changes frequently occur, and we cannot see any further ahead in peace time. than we can in war time. At the same time, I am glad that the efficiency of our Citizen Forces is to be improved, and that plans are being prepared -for the manufacture of field guns and the necessary ammunition. I must also express, my approval of the Government’s policy to construct two new replacement 10,000-ton cruisers. While speaking a while ago,, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) said that if occasion arose, Australians would fight to the last ditch. I do not for a moment question the courage of Australians, but it must be admitted that before they can fight they must have something to- fight with. It will be recollected that during the great retreat on the Russian war front of hundred of mile3, when the Russian forces were decimated by thousands, I think by hundreds of thousands, it was pointed out that it was very poor preparation to oblige men to fight with broom-sticks, or even with rifles, against 5.9 howitzer shells. Any one who had any experience of those shells will admit that at least they inspire for themselves a. very great feeling of respect. The real point is that, although Australians may fight to the last ditch, they must certainly fight at the first ditch; which is the sea. All of our capl. . tal cities are on the sea-front, and half the population of Australia inhabit them. I do not wish to portray a series of horrors,- but can any honorable member view with complacency the possibility of incendiary shells being fired from enemy warships into these cities, the cities catching ‘fire, and the chaos that would be consequent upon thousands of men, women, and children rushing from them into- the country? I, at least, cannot do so. For that reason I am glad to have the opportunity to commend the Government for the defence proposals contained in the budget.
While the proposed remissions of taxation will give relief to many, and will be popular, I regret that the Government, in view of its expressed desire to evacuate as soon as possible the field of income taxation, should not have been able to reduce the taxation of the 200,000 taxpayers who will still remain by more than 10 per cent. The position is now that the whole of the federal income tax will be paid by one twenty-eighth of “the population, and that in many instances this section of the community will also be obliged to pay federal land taxation. Although I stress the point that this reduction in taxation is a step in the right direction, it is’ unlikely to result in any large increase of trade and development by making money available for those purposes. The honorable member for Angas (Mr.. Gabb) smiles. I was quite prepared for that. He informed us recently that money was not kept out of. industry by the burden of taxation, and that that was simply a bogy raised by the wealthy members of the Taxpayers Association, supported by the press. I have always believed that honorable members of the Opposition were well educated in political economy. Possibly, of. course, they have changed the nature of political economy. But the system enunciated by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) this afternoon - and I understand that the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) is of the same opinion - dates back at least to the days of Adam Smith, who’ said -
Taxation should retard as little as possible the growth of wealth.
Dr. Plehn, a recent writer on political economy, said -
It follows directly from the fact that a tax should be as “ productive “ as possible, that those taxes chosen should have as little, repressive effect as possible.
I wish also to quote a statement by Dr. C. F. Bastable, professor of political economy at Dublin University, who is regarded as an authority on this subject. In his book Public Finance, which has run into many editions, and is considered to be a standard work, he writes as follows on the canons of taxation: -
It is only necessary to place in their proper order and connect with each other the rules that seem to possess the generality and weight required for inclusion in the list. First and most important of the principles that should guide the practical financier, is that which declares that taxation should be productive. . . .
On ‘the next page he says -
Next in value we should place the rule that taxation should be economical, and this includes much more than mere saving in the cost of collection. Undue outlay on the official machinery of levy is but one pact of the loss that taxation may “inflict. It is a far greater evil to hinder the normal growth of industry and commerce, and therefore to check the growth of the fund from which future taxation is to come. Thus the rule of “ economy “ is naturally subdivided into two parts, viz., (a) taxation should be inexpensive in collection, anc (b) taxation- should retard, as little as possible, the growth of wealth.
He thus quotes Adam Smith, and confirms the old principle laid down more than 100 years ago. He continues -
It may also be remarked that there is a close connexion between economy and productivity, since the former aids in securing the latter.
Another authority is our present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), who made the following statement in this House in 1922 -
The Government believes that such part of the accumulated surplus as can be employed prudently should be used for the purpose of reducing taxation. I think all students of economics are agreed that nothing curtails development, hampers trade and industry, and reduces the standard of living of the people more than crippling taxation. In comparison with other countries of the world, our taxation is not excessive, but having regard to our particular circumstances, it is having a disastrous effect. We are a young country with illimitable natural resources, but no great accumulated wealth. A burden which could lightly be borne by an old country, with its great capital resources, is one which might strangle the. future development of a young nation. The Government therefore proposes to employ £3,200,000 of tlie accumulated surplus in the reduction of taxation, and in encouragement of manufactures.
Those four quotations, fortified as they are by the opinions of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) and the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), should be sufficient answer to the argument ‘ of the honorable member for Angas.
– Does the Prime Minister still adhere to that statement?
– I cannot say. I am not entitled to answer for him.
When the honorable member for Angas was speaking on the subject of dried fruits I listened to him with great interest, more so because I cordially disagreed with him. He seized the opportunity to emphasize the contention which is always being put forward by the Opposition, that capitalism has fallen down on its job. Apparently dried fruits are unsaleable, because private enterprise considers the purchase of them unprofitable. Would the honorable member for Angas, as a business man, do anything else under similar circumstances? Human nature still remains the same. A man would make a deal if he thought that he could make a profit out of it, but not if he considered that he would make a loss. That was precisely what the men referred to by the honorable member for Angas did. In this respect I am reminded of the remark made by a character in one of Moliere’s plays. The sham doctor, speaking to his friend, referred to the “ left side where the liver is, and to the right side where the heart is. The person to whom he was speaking replied that one thing baffled him, and that was the whereabouts of the liver and the heart. He said, “ It seems to me that you place them differently from where they are. The heart is on the left side and the liver on the right.” . The mock doctor said, “ Yes, that was so formerly, but we have changed all that, and nowadays we practise medicine in an entirely different way.” By the way, I believe that Sydney has the distinction of having produced a boy with hi3 heart on his right side. The honorable member for Angas went out of his way to attack capitalism, and I recommend him to read a recent book entitled, Democracy and Labour, by H. J. C. Hearnshaw, professor of history at King’s College London. In this book he says -
It would not be a marvel if, as a result of the insane and persistent attempts of the Socialists to wreck it, the “capitalist system” -M;he system of free enterprise and .personal initiative - *lad broken down. In spite, however, of their efforts, it is still functioning extraordinarily well, providing even the Socialists themselves with necessaries and comforts which in many cases they neither earn nor doserve. It is not the capitalist system, but the Socialist system, which has broken down. First, it has failed to destroy its effective and beneficent rival. Secondly, it has failed to provide any substitute for it. Mr. Gompers, the great American Labour leader, was not speaking too strongly when he said to Socialists: “Economically you are unsound; socially you are wrong; industrially you are an impossibility.”
He also says -
It is on the side of production that Socialism fails most conspicuously as an industrial system. Capitalism, which is only another name for economic freedom and private enterprise, delivers the goods. Socialism does not. Socialism is a consumers’ creed; it is primarily concerned with the distribution of such wealth as exists, and is careless of the fact that it is destroying all effective incentive to produce fresh wealth in the future. It aims at a “ minimum wage,” which shall he paid irrespective of output; it advocates unemployment doles at the full trade-union rate of full time pay.
The honorable member for Angas said that he would exclude all imported brandy, because brandy is made in Australia. I shall quote from Hansard to show exactly what the honorable member said.
– The honorable member may not quote from Hansard of the present session.
– The honorable member has quoted me correctly.
– The honorable member wishes to exclude imported brandy because brandy is made in Australia. Apparently no consideration is to be given to the age or quality of the spirit. The best imported brandy is to be judged as equal to the worst Australian brandy, and on that account is to be excluded from this country. I cannot agree in the least with that contention. There are few people who do not desire that Australia’s products, including wine, shall be fully protected. As a matter of fact, our brandy is adequately protected by the imposition of a high tariff on imported French brandy. Surely we must admit that the Australian brandy maker aims at the standard of the best and most matured continental brandy, and to refuse to admit such spirit into this country seems to me to be prohibition rather than protection. This talk of prohibition - it cannot be given any other name - is doing more harm to protection in Australia than probably is done by those who advocate free trade. There is certain to be an inevitable reaction to the claim that oversea- products should be totally excluded from Australia. By all means tax such a product as brandy, and treat it as a luxury, but to exclude it entirely would be a ridiculous action.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) last night spoke eloquently on the subject of Australianism, though it is difficult to reconcile his Australianism with the principle ‘ of the brotherhood of man. It would be beyond reason to exclude the produce of one’s brother regardless of its quality. I am proud of the fact that in certain directions Australia has led the world in open competition. The film which we had the pleasure of seeing this evening in the Queen’s Hall illustrated one very important industry in which Australia competes with other nations, and has for years past led the rest of the world. I refer to the woolproducing industry. There are other ways in which we have proved that we can hold our own with the people of other countries. Our cricketers have done very well, and we oan produce a Dame Melba, who becomes the best singer in the world. We should endeavour as far as possible to compete with the other nations of the world, and defeat them on equal terms. That is the principle by which we should be guided, and we should not resort to the exclusion of the products of other nations.
– The honorable member believes in’ black labour.
– The honorable member has no right to make any such statement. I refer him to my campaign speeches of the last election for my views on the subject to which he has referred.
– Why does the honorable member not answer the question ?
– The question was raised purely for the purpose of arousing prejudice, and as it has no foundation whatever I do not feel called upon to make any answer to it. The. honorable member and any one else interested in my views upon the White Australia question should refer to my published statements at the last election, statements by which I stand.
I now come to the question of the Northern Territory. I regret that the construction of the North-South railway has not yet been commenced. I was hoping that we would be given some definite pronouncement of the intention of the Government with regard to it.
– Did I say anything wrong on that subject?
– I have to admit that the honorable member is sound on this question. I want to suggest a means by which in the interval before the railway is constructed we might greatly help the people who live in the centre of Australia. A month or two ago a party passed through the heart of Australia, and a member of that party has expressed the following view as to the means of giving assistance to people resident in that part of Australia. He says -
The first and indispensable necessity to assist, or rather to stop the drift that has set in throughout the Territory is to make it reasonably possible for a married man to take his wife and family with him. This can only be done by giving facilities for getting to and from civilization by building a railway through the country and making roods leading to the railway possible to vehicular traffic, thus putting medical aid and educational facilities at the disposal of the settlers.
Following upon that, in company with the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), I laid before the Acting PostmasterGeneral a proposal made by Mr. Essington Lewis, general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. Honorable members will agree that he is a man of experience and sound judgment. He deals with the feasibility, pending the construction of the railway, of’ running motor cars from Oodnadatta . to Alice Springs, or possibly as far as Barrow Creek. He writes -
At the present time the mail service leaves Oodnadatta on the arrival of the train from Adelaide fortnightly. It is conveyed by means of pack camels, which take approximately nine days to reach Alice Springs, 350 miles- away.
This camel mail is run in two section’s - one section proceeding approximately half-way, where it is met by a. second section and a transfer of mails takes place. The southern section returns to Oodnadatta with the northern mails, and vice versa. By this means the people at, say, Horseshoe Bend, are enabled to reply to the incoming mail by the next outgoing train from Oodnadatta, but the people north of this point, as far as Alice Springs and district, have no opportunity of replying to the mail until a fortnight later. In other words, it would take a month for any one in Adelaide to receive a reply to a letter addressed to any one north of Horseshoe Bend. . . .
In motoring through this country during the last few months, I am convinced that it is quite feasible and possible to run a motor mail (consisting of, say, two cars) from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, and return in time to catch the next Adelaide-bound train from Oodnadatta. Tn fact, it would be quite possible to extend this mail to Barrow Creek - approximately 170 miles north of Alice Springs - and still return to Oodnadatta in time to catch the next fortnightly train…..
There is no great difficulty in motor cars, properly equipped, reaching Alice Springs fromodnadatta within four and a half days, and Barrow Creek in an additional one and a naif days, making a total of six days to Barrow Creek. This would provide for a return trip in twelve days, leaving two days to spare in order to maintain a regular fortnightly service.
He goes on to mention that, during arecent trip, he met a motor .driver who said he was desirous of tendering for such a service. He says further - ‘
With tlie camel mail, as now instituted, it is practically impossible for any white women along the track or at Alice Springs to proceed south by the mail service, and unless they have considerable means they are unable to visit Adelaide except at very long intervals, and after an extremely laborious journey. . ‘ . .
Hie motor mail service to Alice Springs or Barrow Creek would do more than anything else to make the country more accessible and easy of approach. Naturally the railway would open up the country infinitely better, but until that appears (and at would take some years to build), a motor mail would be of extreme value to the inhabitants of central Australia.
I have quoted only portions of the statement by Mr. Lewis, which the honorable member for Bass and I laid before the Acting Postmaster-General. We have had an answer from the Acting PostmasterGeneral to the effect that the matter has already received consideration.
– I put it to the department before.
– Do I understand that the honorable member made this proposal before?
– Yes; eight months ago.
– I was not aware of that, but I am very glad now to support the suggestion made! by the hon- orable member. The statement I have been able to quote may help us to obtain what, we desire. The Acting PostmasterGeneral, in replying to our suggestions, says -
It has been decided to invite alternative tenders for a service by camels or vehicles as from 1st January, 1926. The present camel service, which costs £900 per annum, does not expire until 31st December, 1925.
This department is, of course, only concerned in tlie means for conveyance of mails, and the present camel service meets requirements ‘ in that respect. If a vehicle service is required for passenger purposes, the increased cost would not be a fair charge against the postal service. The clearing of the track and construction of culverts and crossings are matters which do not come within the province of this department, and should therefore be submitted to the Home and Territories Department.
I understand that the driver to whom I have referred has travelled three times to Alice Springs this year, and is desirous of tendering for this work. I never heard of him until recently, but I have gathered that the figure at which he is prepared to tender for the work is something in the neighbourhood of £2,000. That would be the subsidy for which he would ask, and I assume that, he would retain the right to charge fees to passengers. In view of the delay in the construction of the railway, it seems to me that it is not asking much of the Government to ask that it should agree to the expenditure of £2,000 on the establishment of a motor service to convey passengers from Oodnadatta as far as Barrow Creek. There is comparatively little expenditure in the Northern Territory provided for in the Estimates, and £2,000 would not, I think, be an excessive sum for such a service a’s I have indicated.
– It seems to be against the policy of the Government to work the Northern Territory from the south.
– I am hopeful that, at no distant, date, the Government will prove that that is not so. There is one other matter upon which I shall say only a few words, because I shall have other opportunities of referring to- it. The question of assistance to primary producers in the mass has not yet been discussed, in’ this House. In- his budget, speech the Treasurer- referred to a speech” made by the Prime Minister on the 16th April, and,- as far as I know, that speech’ has not yet been,. the subject of debate in this chamber. I have never personally liked the scheme which has been proposed, and for several reasons. It has already led to a good deal of confusion, and to difficulty for the’ Government, because those engaged in various industries would appear to think that they have only to apply for concessions to get them. There are many reasons against the granting of these concessions. It is obviously much easier to begin giving them than it is to cease giving them. It is very difficult to secure the effective organization amongst primary producers which the Prime Minister considers necessary. I need not emphasize the fact that the primary producer is very largely bound by world’s prices in connexion with the export side of his business. An attempt to overcome the difficulties caused by applying local supply to world’s demand may succeed, but it is just as likely to fail, with considerable loss to the Government. Government assistance to industry appears to me to react unfairly upon the Administration, upon the Minister in charge of the scheme, and upon members of Parliament. Many industries will clamour, for assistance, and, no matter what government is in power, for every man who is . grateful there are ten -who become enemies. It is impossible to divorce from this matter considerations of free trade and protection. I am a protectionist of a good many years’ standing, but I have always regarded protection as a means to an end, and not ‘the end itself. I have never regarded1 it. as- a cult. There is a danger nowadays that honorable members may carry protection altogether too far. In the speech’ which ho delivered on the 16th April last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) indicated quite clearly that the assistance, that was being given to secondary industries in Australia was having its effect upon primary industries in relation to the export of their produce. I do not think that anybody can escape that conclusion. My view of the matter, shortly, is that if the1 assistance given to the secondary producer is making unprofitable the labour of the- primary producer whose instruments of production he supplies, the’ interests of the primary producer must prevail. Instead of providing a< high tariff on the one hand-, and giving bounties on the other, the proper course would be to- make a reduction in the tariff affecting those instruments. I quite agree that any. such arrangement should be tentative, and should not take a drastic form. If an important secondary industry found it impossible to carry on, it could be given a bounty. Secondary industry is, after all, created artificially, and to it rather than to the primary industry any bounty should go. It appears to me that we have begun at the wrong end, and to a complicated tariff system we are adding a complicated export assistance system. I am totally opposed to the total abolition of the tariff. Any alteration effected should be relatively small, and tentative in character. I do not think that if the tariff were abolished prices would be very greatly affected; a considerable amount of revenue would, of course, be lost- to the Customs Department, and it might be necessary to increase taxation in other directions. I shall not be able to support the motion of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), which aims at the abolition of the tariff on machinery used in wheat production. I shall have another opportunity to speak upon this matter. I merely desired on this, the first opportunity I have had of addressing myself to the question of assistance to primary producers, to give a brief outline of my views on the subject.
– I congratulate the Treasurer generally upon the budget that he has presented, but I find myself compelled to dissent from one or two of his proposals. I admit that any remission of taxation should benefit those people who are least able to bear the incidence of taxation, but I regret that the honorable gentleman proposes to make certain remissions at the present time. The £2,000,000 that’ it is proposed to forgo could have been expended in ways that would have given greater advantage ultimately to the whole of the taxpayers.
I desire to refer to the administration of only two departments. The Postmaster-General’s Department has overtaken a good deal of its arrears, and the Postmaster-General deserves congratulation for the progress that has been made since he accepted that office. It is, however, impossible for the department, with the sum that is now placed at its disposal, to make the improvements and erect the buildings that are necessary to enable it to render wholly efficient ser- ‘ vice. Honorable members will agree that this department is the only payable busi ness proposition that we have or are likely to have. The majority of honorable members are business men. I ask them : Would it not be better to place the money that would be obtained if there -were no remission of taxation at the disposal of the Postmaster-General’s Department, and thus provide for necessary works to the extent of £2,000,000 this year, possibly £1,000,000 next year, and ultimately many millions of pounds ? I would not make available to that department the whole of the £2,000,000 that it is proposed to remit; but, recognizing its importance, I would be prepared to allow it at least £1,750,000. I am perfectly sure that the Treasurer must realize that sufficient provision has not been made for the needs of that department. I appeal to him to review the allotment ‘of expenditure to see if a supplementary vote cannot be given to deal with absolutely pressing cases. Every honorable member will admit that if we do not maintain our postal properties in decent condition, if we do not paint them and effect the improvements that a private citizen would effect, they will deteriorate during the ensuing twelve months, and a greater expenditure will have to be incurred later to put them in order again. I am convinced that I need only emphasize what other speakers have said, to bring the matter a little more forcibly to the notice of the Treasurer, to induce him to give further consideration to the matter. If he does so, I believe that he will, give approval to a supplementary expenditure.
The other department to which T. wish to refer is tha.t of public health. This should be a very easy matter for me to discuss, because it is not affected by party considerations. It is’ equally the interest of honorable members on both sides, and, may I say withouthurting the susceptibilities of any honorable member, it is equally their responsibility. I recognize that there is a feeling among honorable members pf every party that something must be done to improve the public health. The Government cannot escape its obligations; it is faced” with the necessity of evolving some meansthat will be acceptable to all parties for providing for the health of . the people.. What is our Health Department?
– Only a farce.
– The honorable member has arrived at that conclusion very early; I was coming to it after I had given a great deal of valuable data bearing on the subject. One of the functions of the Department of Public Health is that of quarantine. It is admitted all over the world that ours is one of the best quarantine departments in existence. Yet, because of differences between State and Commonwealth authorities, difficulties are encountered. There was an unfortunate incident a year or two ago when a case of plague in Queensland was not reported to the federal authority until some days after it had been discovered. Although, ultimately, the disease was stamped out, an expenditure of thousands of pounds had to be. incurred through that delay, and an enormous economic loss was sustained. Some means will have to be found to prevent a “repetition of such a catastrophe. The establishment and maintenance of serum laboratories - small tentacles that reach out into different parts of Australia - is another activity of the department. It is interesting to follow the geographical distribution of those, laboratories. They are established at Toowoomba, in Queensland; at Lismore, in New South Wales; and at Bendigo, in Victoria. It was contemplated that one should be established at Kalgoorlie. Ohe was placed at Rabaul, and another at Port Pirie. The lastmentioned is extremely important, because it deals with a number of diseases that are not prevalent in other parts of Australia. I regard it as one of the most important laboratories in Australia. I have been told that it is impossible for the Commonwealth Government to do anything in relation to public health because the states cannot agree upon any system of co-ordination or co-operation. Yet this Government is able to place these laboratories in the different states of Australia.
– Every district mentioned by the honorable member is represented by a Minister.
– I remarked that there was a political flavour about the geographical distribution of the laboratories.
– A good deal of votecatching! ‘i:-7?i?^
– I did not put it so broadly, but the honorable member, having had more political experience, understands such things better than I do. The next activity of the Federal Health Department is the subsidizing of the investigation of the hookworm disease. That disease was sweeping through Queensland, and the economic waste- it caused owing to the debility of the sufferers from it was very great. It certainly would have extended throughout those portions of Australia where the climatic conditions of heat and moisture were suitable for its growth, and notwithstanding the seriousness of that menace, no drastic action was taken to eradicate it until the Americans intervened. American assistance to Australian public health has included the acceptance of a number of our young hygienists for training in the United States, and the actual provision of two special bacteriologists for the hookworm investigation, a skilled hygienist for industrial hygiene, and four travelling scholarships for Australian medical officers, besides a monetary grant towards the extermination of the hookworm. During the last few years America has provided more money for the promotion of public health in Australia than has the Government which I have the honour to support. Whilst I have no objection to living under the protection of the British Navy, because I recognize that in defence we cannot be independent in respect of either money, arms, or men, yet I say that there are in Australia medical men competent to carry out hygienic research. During the war our doctors and surgeons showed that they were able to cure disease, and in civil life they have proved that they are able to cope with any outbreak of disease, and to hold their own in any portion of the world in which- they are practising. Why, then, should they not be trained in the still more important science of preventing disease? The explanation is that relatively nothing was known of the prevention of disease until the recent great war. In the history of that war, that which stands most to the credit of my profession is its triumph, over disease by prevention rather than cure. I may say with perfect confidence, and the Treasurer will endorse my statement, that not one of the principles that were successfully employed during the war for the prevention of disease has been put into’ practice in civil health administration in Australia. There must be something radically wrong when the incidence of a disease like typhoid is greater in Australia to-day than it was during the years 1916 and 1917 among the 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 soldiers in France, who were housed, fed, and clothed under most insanitary conditions. No honorable member can accept that state of things without a protest, no matter what party is responsible for public health administration. In addition to the activities of the great Federal Department of Health that I have enumerated, there is the’ Institute of Tropical Medicine at Townsville.
The provision of invalid pensions does not enter into party politics ; we are all agreed as to their necessity, but in regard to the maternity allowance, of which I shall speak later,, there will not be’ the same harmony between honorable, members and myself.. I have previously dealt with the incidence of cancer and tuberculosis. In regard to the latter I shall, before concluding my remarks, make a supplementary statement, and correct a few errors which have arisen-. I regret that I was absent from, the House when the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) spoke on this subject last week. I have, however, read his speech “with the greatest care, and I unhesitatingly say that he submitted his facts to the House, not for purposes of political propaganda, but with the sincere- desire to find some relief froma malady which is doing, such an appalling, amount of harm in this, and other” countries.
Another activity of the Federal Health. Department is the donation of £15,000 per annum to assist the states in the control of venereal disease. Of course, the Treasurer is not Minister for Health. I suppose that the. duty- of’ a Treasurer, when demands for money are made.byhis colleagues-, is toreduce them as much as possible, but it is, the duty of the Minister, controlling a. department to protest-, against the reduction.of any- expenditure Which- he considers is justifiable. The. donation of so- small an amount as £15,000. to assist, in combating, venereal disease is, almost inconceivable, in view of what we know of public health. The Estimates for the current, financial year show that whilst there is an actual increase in the vote for the Public Health Department, yet if the £5,000 allocated for the commencement of cancer research is deducted there is an actual decrease. I feel confident that that amount of £5,000 is merely intended to permit of the collection of preliminary data, and next year we shall ask the Treasurer to place on” the Estimates a much larger sum for actual research. I do not think that honorable members fully recognize the facts concerning venerealdisease in our community. In 1916, when I had the honour of being in charge of the Australian army medical services abroad I received an urgent letter from an Australian Premier, asking me-, as a personal favour, “to prevent the importation of venereal disease into Australia.” He added that he had communicated with the Minister for Defence, and that no doubt I would receive, official instructions at an early date. I have ascertained that in 1916, in a suburb of one of the bigger cities of Australia,: of 2,300 men examined by the military doctors 28,2 per cent. were suffering from venereal disease. That was the very year when a learned Australian Premier sent me that urgent personal request.. Moreover, the. men who were examined had not actually gone into camp! Now, I would like honorable members to understand that at no time during the service of our soldiers abroad was. the incidence of venereal disease, amongst them as great as it is amongst our civil community today.
– That is a . very strong statement.
– Many state, ments- that are true are both strong and unpleasant, but we must face the facts.
– The lesser incidence of the disease amongst the soldiers was due to the preventive methods adopted in the army.
-Yes, preventive action was taken. In, passing, I,’ congratulate the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) upon the excellent and lucid’ speech he made upon health matters. 1’ ask the indulgence of- the committee whilst I submit a few statistics regarding syphilis. The late Sir William. Osier, who was probably the greatest authority in the- world on this disease, and who commenced his career in Canada, and then passed on to America, and later to England, made a very exhaustive study of the autopsy records in London, and he came to the following conclusions : -
Amongst 3,713 apoplexies between the ages of 25 and 50 years, 3,000 may be claimed as syphilitic.
In 2,083 paralyses without specific cause, 500 may be put down as syphilitic.
In 1,472 deaths from so-called softening of the brain, 500 may be said to be syphilitic.
Summing up, he gave a total of 58,000 deaths due to disease of the nervous system, and stated that. 10,000 of them might be ascribed directly to syphilis. Amongst 56,000 deaths due to organic heart and arterial disease, 10,000 owed their cause to syphilis. Other very interesting data were gathered by an eminent syphiologist in Germany -
The statistics may be summarized by saying that syphilis now occupies the fourth position amongst the killing diseases. The statistics I have quoted are nearly all of European origin, but they are supported in some degree by Australian figures. I have already mentioned the results of the military examination of recruits. The second testimony on the subject is the evidence given by Sir James Barrett before the Royal Commission om National Insurance, when he said that of every 100 deaths in the Melbourne Hospital over a number of years, 30 per cent, were due to syphilis, and of women awaiting delivery in the lying-in hospital 10 per cent.
were syphilitic. There is one other piece of evidence, and that is the unfortunate amount of disease existing in the capital cities, especially the chief seaports. Probably the port of Sydney is the worst in this respect. That is the capital of my state, so I suppose I have some right to say so, but it is very little worse than the other ports. The reason it is worse is possibly that there is a greater amount of sea traffic in it. Official statistics show that in 1922, among 4,350 men in one of our big federal departments, there were 927 cases of venereal disease, and that the loss of time to the . Government was 4,341 days, which was just under one day per man for the whole department. If honorable members would look at the loss of life, the loss of wages, and the loss of time in the federal departments alone, they would surely realize the necessity for providing more than £15,000 a year to assist the states to combat this disease.
When the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) was speaking, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked about infantile mortality, but the honorable member for Darling was unable at the time to answer’ him. I should like to point out, for the information’ of the honorable member for Fawkner, that the death rate of children under one month old has not decreased in Australia during the last 25 years, but that the lives of older children have tremendously improved. The first baby clinic in New South Wales was opened in 1914, when the infantile mortality rate for that state for children under one year was 72.7 per thousand. In 1922 that rate had been decreased to 54 per thousand, a saving of nineteen babies for every thousand born. New Zealand has done much better than that, and has reduced the rate to 44 per thousand. That represents an enormous improvement, but until we standardize our milk and other foods, we cannot possibly hope for the results achieved there. One reason why the infantile death rate is smaller in New Zealand is that the country is smaller; it is comparable with an Australian state. In the State of New South Wales an enormous advance has been made in the last three or four years. In Victoria there are only three or fourschool medical officers or nurses, but in New South Wales there are fifteen or twenty. I am not demanding federal control of public health, but merely some effective co-operation between the Federal and State Governments to standardize food and other things for the improvement of the public health.
Now I come to something about which we may not all agree - the Maternity Allowance Act. It came into operation twelve years ago, and it has cost the Government £8,000,000. The promoters of that measure claimed that three definite benefits would come from it. One. was that it would promote the health of the baby, for it was recognized then, as it is recognized now, by politicians that the most valuable immigrant is the child born in Australia of healthy parents.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– “ Hear, hear “ from every side of the House, and yet not one effort is made by the Government, or was made by previous Governments, to save the life of this immigrant ! That this claim made for the act has not been justified is shown by the fact that the death rate of babies under one month old is the same now as it was 25 years ago. The second claim was that the act would increase the safety of the mother. If a woman at any time in her life should have every care and protection, she should have it ‘when she is in travail. Surely the Maternity Allowance Act was passed to protect her life and make a natural act an act of safety. But what do we find? Although the act has been in operation for twelve years, the death rate of women at child birth is exactly the same as it was twelve years ago, and is greater in the State of New South Wales to-day than it is in England. Vet I myself have seen women in England delivered in rooms that were not fit for cattle. During my midwifery work in Whitechapel, in a room with five or six other occupants, I have seen women delivered with no provision for nursing, and amid dirt and squalor; and yet the death-rate is greater in New South Wales to-day, in spite of the maternity allowance, than it is in England. Therefore, I hold that the payment of the maternity allowance has not made for the greater safety of the mother. For the maternity allowance there cannot be claimed one advantage, except that it has provided more comforts. It has added to the comfort of women at this period by providing possibly more care in nursing, and that advantage is perhaps most appreciated where there are other children in the home. Beyond that, the act has not justified one claim that was made for it, and the cost of it has been £8,000,000. If one-half, one-fourth, or even one-tenth of the money - say, £1,000,000 - had been spent in administering a proper Public Health Act, many lives would have been saved, and greater comfort and benefit would have been given to the people. . It is the most inefficient act that has ever been placed on our statute-book. I do not want to reduce one penny of the £750,000 provided every year for the benefit of expectant mothers; I would double it, but give the mothers something better in exchange for the present allowance. Surely they are entitled to it, and surely we are able to provide it. Every medical man and every hygienist recognizes the truth of what I am saying, but Parliament makes no effort to remedy matters. That is again mainly, as my more experienced mentors will tell me, because there are no votes ‘ to be gained by doing anything. But there would be votes for every man who would give the people something better than they have to-day. The people will object to the Government taking £750,000 a year away from them, and giving so little in return. Something better can be given.
– The act has been a great blessing in many places.
– I do not deny it; but it is possible to give the people double, treble, and even quadruple benefits for the expenditure of less money.
– The honorable member may add to the amount if he likes, but he should not withdraw the “allowance now given.
– I would not deny the people- a penny of what they now get. I am asking the Treasurer for something additional. It is of no usetinkering with the question of public health. The Treasurer said the other day that it was of no use tinkering with the Repatriation Act, and that the Government was not going to tinker with it. He said a royal commission would be appointed, and that if that proved unsatisfactory, the Government would go further. Let the Government consider the death-rate of mothers. Of lying-in women 1 in 221 lose their lives. It is inconceivable that we should sit here calmly year after year and hot try to remedy such an evil.
– The great distances in Australia, by comparison with those in Britain, have something to do with the relative death rates.
– Very little. The death-rate is higher in the cities than in the country, except .for those patients who are admitted to hospitals, and have skilled hospital treatment. The third claim made for the Maternity Allowance Act was that it would increase the birth- , rate. I need not dilate upon the fact that the birth-rate of Australia,- like the birth-rate of the rest of the world, has been falling for the past fourteen years.
– That is in accordance with the spirit of the times.
– I do not wish to enter into that, but the claim made for the Maternity Allowance Act in that particular has not been fulfilled. I do not suggest that the claim was wrongly made. The £50 exemption allowed for each child in connexion with income tax does not in any way encourage births. In my opinion nothing should be allowed for the first or second child, because they represent merely the fulfilment of the “ordinary desire of parents.
– They “ furnish the home.”
– That is so, and they show that the parents have the power, and are willing to perform their duty. Further, I would make no allowance to any one who had a taxable income of £f,000 a year.
– The honorable member would make the maternity allowance a charity.
– How ridiculous it is to raise the cry of “ charity.” There is no question of charity. Because I do not earn the same amount as Sir Sidney Kidman there is no charity in exempting me from paying the same taxation.
– But he has not paid his taxes. That illustration is unfortunate.
– Then let me state the case in another way. Ought I, or the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), to be called upon to pay the same taxation as a wealthy man ?
The amount of money provided for health and for research work is inadequate. I believe we earned our nationhood during the war, and surely, therefore, we should accept the responsibilities of nationhood. One of our responsibilities isto keep pace with, and, if possible, to outstrip other nations in research work and. in the advancement of science. At present no effort is made to keep pace with them, let alone to outstrip them. Looked at merely from an economic point of view, the wastage from human, animal, and plant diseases isenormous. Take that caused by “ bunchy top” in bananas. Honorable members who represent constituencies in Queensland and New South Wales where bananas are grown must recognize that on account of the extraordinary concessions given to banana-growers our poor people are being denied an essential fruit, because they cannot afford to buy it. But notwithstanding the measure of protection which the banana-growers have been granted, “bunchy top” has been allowed to spread so rapidly that unless something is done in a big way at an early date to counteract it, bananagrowing will actually become impossible in the affected areas.
– “Bunchy top” is prevalent chiefly in ‘ northern New South Wales. There is not much of it in Queensland.
– I am glad to hear that, but such action as I have suggested must be taken at an early date, or the disease will spread over Queensland just as it has spread over the banana-growing areas of New South Wales.
An additional government subsidy is necessary to combat the spread of venereal diseases. At a conference of delegates at the October, 1922, session of the International Office of Hygiene, in connexion with the League of Nations, held at Paris, the whole question of venereal disease was fully discussed. It was agreed that at all the principal ports prophylactic stations, open to sailors of all nationalities without discrimination, should be maintained for their treatment, free of cost, and that all vessels calling at the port should be notified of the location of the centre, hours of consultation, &c. The Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain has been amended, and venereal disease included as a disease the cost of treatment of which must be borne by the vessel. The Australian Navigation Act should be similarly amended.
I wish now to refer to the vexed question of the treatment of tuberculosis. I do not intend to quote from the speech on this subject delivered recently by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), but shall content myself with informing honorable members that the data he submitted are contained in the extremely interesting, if rather abusive, . letter that I received recently from the honorary organizer of the Civilian T.B. Association of New South Wales. It is a strange thing that every case mentioned by him is quoted in that letter.
– I think I informed the committee that that was the source from which I obtained my information.
– The honorable member also quoted from a report by Dr. Collins, of New Zealand.
– That quotation came from the Review of Reviews.
- Dr. Collins reported very strongly to the New Zealand Government in favour of the Spahlinger treatment, but, strange to say, that government has not subscribed a penny for experimental purposes.
– That is not the fault of” Dr. Collins.
– I ask the honorable member to be patient. He should not throw himself into the hands of the enemy. His son would never have done that. My report on M. Spahlinger’s treatment was unfavorable, and this Government also has not seen fit to provide any money for experimenting with it. This is so because there is not one tittle of evidence acceptable to levelheaded, clear thinkers who are anxious to find a remedy for this terrible disease that the Spahlinger treatment is effective. Some people, both outside and inside of this chamber, seem to think that the Government relied, solely on my report in refusing to provide money for experiments with the Spahlinger treatment; but that is not the case, for it has been in touch with well-informed government officials and medical authorities on the other side of the world”, since] 1921, and even if it had accepted my report, it must -be remembered that it instructed Senator Wilson to continue the investigations through the British Ministry of Health while he was in London. Does it not strike honorable members as extraordinary that of the 50 nations of the world which have examined the claims of M. Spahlinger not one has -accepted them? Does it not seem extraordinary, also, that the United States of America, which would spend, not £10,000,000 or £50,000,000, but’ hundreds of millions of pounds in popularizing the Spahlinger treatment if it could be proved to be effective, has, after .the most careful examination, refused to spend a single penny on it? Does it not seem equally extraordinary that the British Minister of Health, after requesting the best pathologists in the world to try to elucidate the claims made by M. Spahlinger, has also refused to spend a penny on it? Is it not still further evidence of the ineffectiveness of the treatment that, although the British public, the British Red Cross Society, and Lord Cowdray provided £30,000 in equal shares to investigate the treatment, the Red Cross donation and also that of Lord Cowdray were returned because M. Spahlinger could not provide the necessary vaccine and lymph for the proposed experiments? The British Ministry of Health, through Mr. Neville Chamberlain, after intimating that it did not desire to know anything at all about the method of preparing the vaccines, asked M. Spahlinger to treat 50 cases selected ‘ by himself, under the supervision of medical officers, but he has not replied, although the request was made more than twelve months ago.
– The opinion of Dr. Mackeddie, of Melbourne, has been quoted.. Can the honorable member give us any information about it-?
– Dr. Maekeddie’s full report has been laid on the table of this chamber. I assure honorable members that the most careful analysis and examination of M. Spah lingers, treatment has been made, and that the cases quoted by the honorable member for Werriwa have been discussed in medical journals for, the last thirteen years, and yet not a single one of the world’s nations has seen fit to contribute anything towards the development of the treatment. Is it not clear therefore that there must be something wrong? Notwithstanding the tirade of abuse contained in the letter sent to ‘me by the honorary organizer of the Civilian Tuberculosis Association of New South Wales and the accusation that I have practically murdered 3,000 men in Australia, and notwithstanding , the use in . it of words which may be perfectly true, namely, “ Without wishing to be offensive in any possible way I can only say that you must have reached your dotage,” I can only repeat what I have already said as to the lack of satisfactory evidence of the effectiveness of M. Spahlinger’s treatment. I can think of only one reason why the honorary organizer of that association should have written in such a strain, and that is that he is himself suffering from the malady. If that is. so, I freely forgive him for all his abuse and entirely withdraw any accusation’ of malice. I hope that the Treasurer will recognize the great importance to Australia of the care of the public health. It is a subject which has been regarded as of importance outside of Australia. Simonides said long ago -
Health is best for mortal man, next beauty, thirdly well gotten wealth, fourthly the pleasures of youthamong friends.
We are all agreed as to the blessings of health, yet how few of us take any trouble to maintain our health. That can be seen from the experience we have had during the past few weeks of honorable members suffering from the simple complaint of influenza. We have only had to watch them move abjectly from place to place, and to listen to them attempting to speak to see how little care they take to maintain their health.
– I do not know about that.
– The honorable member is like Naaman of old, who desired some miraculous intervention to restore his health. He is not satisfied’ with ordinary pure water, or cleanliness, or good air, which are three of the main factors in the preservation of good health. It has been said that women suffer from hysteria more frequently than men, but, after thirty years of experience in general practice, I say without hesitation that ten times as many men as women suffer from hysteria. I do not wish to deprive any one of the pleasure of contemplating their imaginary maladies - it would ill become me to do so, for many members of the medical profession have become wealthy by attempting to treat these supposed complaints - but I impress upon the Government the vital necessity of taking some action calculated to reduce suffering. We owe that duty, not only to those who are now living, but also to the race yet unborn. The public health should be protected in every possible way, for it is the people’s most precious possession. Even at this late stage, I appeal to the Treasurer, on professional grounds - for few can claim a greater knowledge of or mastery over disease, than he - to revise his Estimates and provide a substantial amount for the treatment of syphilis, which is causing such an alarming mortality among our people. He should request the Minister for Public Health to take steps to ensure that, the State Governments shall subsidize, in some way, any additional amount which the Commonwealth Government may be prepared to vote for this purpose. I do not ask the Government bo be generous, for no question of generosity can enter into this matter. It is a public duty. I regret that the Minister for Health, who is also Minister for Trade and Customs, has his time so fully occupied at present that he has not been , able to press upon the Treasurer the necessity for an adequate amount. But it is the Treasurer’s duty to increase the subsidy for health. Instead of providing £15,000 for this purpose, he should have allocated an amount more in keeping with the work which we hope will be carried out. I can assure him that if £100,000 were expended upon public health, the benefit would be returned one hundredfold to the taxpayers of this country.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) on his able and eloquent treatment of a scientific subject, into which he introduced a certain amount of humour. He dealt with subjects of vital importance not only to honorable members, but also to the people of Australia. When speaking during the last election campaign, I stated that the National Party was fortunate in having a candidate of the calibre and experience of the honorable member for Calare, and, after having heard that honorable gentleman to-night; I can safely say - arid I think my statement will be supported by all members of the committee - that this Parliament is fortunate in having the services of Sir Neville Howse at its disposal. I hope that his words of wisdom have not fallen on deaf ears, and that as soon as the opportunity arises, and the finances of the country permit of it, the Treasurer Will take steps to co-operate with the states in order to place the administration of public health on a better footing.
I wish to compliment the Treasurer for having presented a budget which, after allowing for the unavoidable expense to which this country is committed, provides for a lower expenditure in the various Commonwealth’ departments. It is proposed that taxation shall be reduced by £2,000,000. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), when speaking in this debate, said that it mattered little to industry what taxation was imposed upon the country. I have always been under the impression that the surest sign of prosperity in a country is low taxation. Any man who has capital to invest must seriously consider the nature of the taxation in the country in “which he proposes to invest it. The taxation that he has to pay is a charge against the income that he derives, just as much as is the overhead expense attached to his business. A man is not likely to invest his capita! in a highlytaxed country. A large revenue is obtained indirectly from Customs and excise duties. Last year the Treasurer’s estimate of Customs revenue was exceeded by several millions. Among the details of Customs revenue is the item “ Apparel and textiles, £6,195,545.” This is. an invidious tax, because it does not protect Australian industries, nor can it be classed as a tax on luxuries. A tax on luxuries, if levied, should be made straight out. In numerous instances large sums are paid into the Customs and excise revenue without protection’ being afforded to any particular industry. For instance, motor cars are not made in Australia, and yet there is a heavy tax on chassis. With the honorable member for Boothby (Mr-. DuncanHughes), I should like to see the tariff duties revised. We should have a reasonable tariff for the protection of our secondary industries, and not .merely a purely revenue-producing tariff. Indirect taxation, although it may not be easily detected, bears heavily upon the people of this country. This afternoon the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) pointed out that those whose interests are with the primary producers should not take a lop-sided view of the tariff. We must use our efforts to bring about the general prosperity of the community, because, after all, one section of the community depends more or less upon all the others. The honorable member for Macquarie emphasized the fact that ‘ there was no better market in which to dispose of our produce than our local market. If this fact were generally recognized and advantage taken of it, many, of our present troubles, such as high freights and excessive rates of exchange, would be overcome.
I wish now to refer to the citrus fruit industry, which vitally concerns my electorate. I had the pleasure, recently, of attending the first citrus fruit show held at Gosford. The local growers claim that at that show they put up the best display of citrus fruits that has yet been seen in Australia. I believe that there is a large measure of truth in that contention. It certainly was the finest display of citrus fruits that I have ever seen, and was an excellent illustration of what Australia can produce. The honorable member for Calare referred to the disease known as “ bunchy top.” The orchards in my electorate suffer from diseases common to citrus fruits, and the orchardists are anxious that the importation of these fruits should be prohibited.
– Does not the honorable member want a duty on lemons?
– That is a matter, to which I shall refer later. I wish to place before this committee the true position respecting the citrus fruits industry. I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) will consider this question with the care and attention he has displayed in dealing with other mat- _ters during the time he has held office. Recently the secretary of the Fruitgrowers Association of New South Wales, Mr. Herod, wrote to me that the positionas explained by Dr. Cumpston, the DirectorGeneral of Health, on the 11th March, 1924, with respect to the possible introduction of diseases “ into Australia likely to affect citrus fruits was as follows : -
It is pointed out that the examination and’ treatment which the fruit receives when it arrives in Australia is regarded as a sufficient safeguard. Special fumigation processes have.- been prescribed, to which all citrus fruits found on examination to be affected with scale or other .lesser destructive diseases are subjected, and the greatest care is taken to ensure that no fruit is released from quarantine without the most careful scrutiny. In spite of the above statement, citrus was imported during last summer from Italy infected with purple mussel scale.
With regard to the prohibition of the importation of these fruits, I quote again from the secretary of the Fruit-growers Association -
Another aspect of this question has just arisen owing to the fact that New Zealand lias just prohibited the importation of California!] fruits to that country, owing to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in California. If New Zealand has seen fit to take this step, it appears to us that similar precautionary measures should be adopted by the Commonwealth. That this matter is being very seriously felt can be gathered from the fact that even in America some of the eastern states have gone so far as to place an embargo on Californian fruit owing to the risk of the introduction of foot and mouth disease.
In viewing these questions we should look at both sides. I have made inquiries as to what the position of the Australian consumer would be should the importation of these fruits be prohibited. I find that the supply of citrus fruits in Australia at present is quite equal to the demand. The secretary of the Fruit-growers Association writes in regard to that phase of the question -
It may also be contended .that we are not growing sufficient citrus fruit to supply in full the needs of our local market. That is not now the case, as we are faced with the necessity of exporting a certain surplus, and during this and subsequent years the fruit produced in the Commonwealth will more than supply local needs. In fact, the exportable surplus will be a considerable quantity, as large areas were planted out during recent years, and are now coming into bearing.
All the organizations concerned have agreed as to their line of action, and the signatures of their representatives have been attached to a document which will be placed before the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Asking for the prohibition of importation ‘!
– Yes; the total prohibition of importation. At present certain action can be taken, but as microscopic inspection of all fruit imported is necessary to detect disease, it is felt that without total prohibition of importation, fruit diseases now unknown here may be introduced. I regret that the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) is unable because of illness to be present. I hope he will shortly be able to attend the sittings of the House, and add the weight of his advocacy to the proposals made for the benefit of the citrus fruit industry. Tha honorable member is specially interested in the Murrumbidgee irrigation areas, on which a great many returned soldiers are settled. There is a good deal of Commonwealth money invested in these settlements, and if the facts are as I have represented them, and tha citrus fruitgrowers are shown to have justice on their side, I trust that the Minister for Trade and Customs will give serious consideration to the requests that have been made to him to prevent the introduction of diseases likely to affect citrus fruits, because by doing so he will be able to aid indirectly the states in carrying out the soldier settlement policy, and protect the interests of the Commonwealth.
Speaking further about primary products, I should like now to refer to the butter industry. I was very much impressed by the . speech made by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who presented a very clear case. I think that the Prime Minister is sympathetic in the matter, but I do not know that the Government is prepared to go as far as I should like in dealing with the question. I have not seen the New Zealand act dealing with the butter industry, but I understand that a bill is to be introduced in this “ Parliament modelled mainly on the New Zealand legislation. The proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland is that the whole of those engaged in the dairying- industry in Australia shall agree to a levy of Id. per lb. on butter to level up prices. A few days ago in my electorate I was met with the assertion that this would undoubtedly raise the cost of butter to the Australian consumer. The wrong impression seems to have been created that the Australian producer of butter obtains the London market price free of all charges. That is not so, as honorable members are aware. One penny per lb. has to be paid for freight, and fct. per lb. to allow for exchange. Under the proposal made, the consumer of butter in Australia would have to pay only the world’s price for butter, plus the charges which now have to be met by the producers. It has’ to be borne in mind that Australian consumers will receive fresh butter, whereas the butter sold abroad has been some time in transit, and has no doubt deteriorated to a certain extent. If the proposal submitted by the Government does not go as far as I think it should, I shall be prepared during the consideration of the promised bill, or as opportunity arises, to cast aside the shackles by which Government supporters may be supposed to be bound, to support an amendment on the lines of the proposal of the honorable member for Gippsland.
I have a few remarks to make with reference to our post offices. I regret that the apostle of penny postage is not at present in the chamber. When I was speaking on the budget last year, and it was suggested that there should be a reduction in the postage rates, I said that I was rather dubious about supporting it, because the average man in the country did not care a great deal how much he paid for his postage. He writes so few letters that an increase or a decrease in the postage rate does not affect him very much. He is concerned, however, about the provision of a good mail and telephone service. The Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department recently stated that it was estimated that for the twelve months ending October next, the loss from the reduction of postage would be about £1,000,000. If another half penny ‘ per ounce were taken off the rates, the loss would probably be increased by a further £250,000. When making inquiries relating to certain works, we are frequently told that the work has been approved, but that it is not known when it will be commenced. More money should be made available to the Post Office Department. I would oppose any attempt to make a further reduction in the postage charges, because other matters are of more importance. I have official figures here, which show how much must be done before the country districts of Australia are supplied with proper telephonic facilities. The figures refer to receiving and post offices in New South Wales over 10 miles from a telephone. The number of such offices between 10 and 20 miles from a telephone is 140. Between 20 and 30 miles from a telephone, the number is 35; and between 30 and 40 miles there are seven offices; three are between 40 and 50 miles; two between 50 and 60 miles; and the same number over 60 miles from a telephone. I agree with the honorablemember for Angas (Mr. Gabb) regarding the valuable services being, rendered by allowance postmasters. I brought before the Acting PostmasterGeneral the question of the reduction in the allowances due to the new practice of charging for trunk telephone calls on theradial mileage basis, and as far back asthe 20th June last I received a reply that the matter -was receiving consideration. Although that was a couple of monthsago, I have heard nothing further. Thesepeople will appreciate the action of the honorable -member for Angas in bringing; the matter forward. I have had experience of the courtesy and attention of these allowance postmasters, and of theservice that they are rendering to thecommunity. The people in the countrydistricts owe a great deal to them.
I shall now refer to another matterwhich is probably of greater national’ concern than some to which I havedirected attention ; I refer to immigration. I think that, as in the caseof defence, it is generally recognized inthis House that some form of immigration is necessary! It is a question of howit shall take place.’ I know that thereare difficulties.
– There are 40,000 unemployed in Australia, and yet immigrants are being brought into the country.
– For people with limited capital Australia offers greater opportunities than any other country in the world. In the interests of our national1 safety we should see that thi3 country is populated. Unemployment exists throughout the world.
– The honorable member wishes to increase it here.
– Not so. If the right policy in regard to defence is followed I do not think it will have that effect. This question has not been tackled in a manner that meets with the approval of the people of Australia. I believe that the problem can be solved, but to solve it we must proceed on right lines.
– Does the honorable member not think that the land-hungry people of Australia should first have their needs supplied?
– In New South Wales, and, I believe, in some of the other states, arrangements have been made in connexion with the closer settlement’ policy to settle a number of migrants on the land. In New South Wales, the board has as its chairman Mr. W. H. O’Malley Wood, the president of the Government Savings Bank Commissioners. The operations of the board during the past twelve months have resulted in 131 estates being subdivided, comprising 1,018,922 acres, and representing 1,200 available farms, of which 673 have already been taken up. The board admits that there has been very little success in the case of the migrant. In the Martindale country, where private land agents were able to secure particularly good terms, there is an illustration of what can be done by individuals. If the Government proceeded along right lines, and benefited from its experience with the settlement of soldiers on the land, we might hope for better results than in the past. I think that the House will be better able to pass judgment on this matter after the Prime Minister has placed his scheme before honorable members. A proper scheme is necessary, if we would avert the calamity of unemployment, which we are all anxious to avoid. A careful selection of migrants should be made. Only those suitable should be placed on the land, and those of our own people who are looking for land should be included in the scheme. If an immigration policy can be framed upon sound lines it will assist the development of Australia. Our parents and grandparents were not subjected to the strict medical examination to which intending immigrants must now submit themselves, but they pioneered this country successfully. The progress that has been made by Australia in the last 150 years gives an indication of what we can expect in the future, because the physical standard of the race has not deteriorated. The introduction of additional population will lighten the burden of taxation all round, it will make it more easy for us to defend Australia, and thus retain our White Australia policy, and the institutions that we enjoy under the Union Jack.
Item agreed to.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240827_reps_9_108/>.