9th Parliament · 3rd Session
The -House met . at 3 p.m. pursuant to the proclamation . of His Excellency the Governor-General .
The Clerk read the proclamation. ;
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair, and read prayers.
The Acting Usher of the BlackRod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members inthe Senate Chamber.
Mr.Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned,
– Ihave to inform the House that there has been a re-arrangement of portfolios while the Parliament has been in recess. Consequent upon the heavy work which- was entailed in the administration of the Defence Department, the Hon. E. K. Bowden,. acting, upon the urgent advice of his medical officer, tendered his resignation to His Excellency the Governor-General, which he was pleased to accept.. I am sure that every member of the House regrets the circumstances of Mr. Bowden’s retirement from office, and will’ join with me in hoping that his health may soon be completely restored.
The Hon. Sir Neville Howse, V.C., has been given the portfolio of Defence, and also- the portfolio-of Health, and he will administer the Repatriation Act.
Owing to the great increase in the- work in the Trade and’ Customs Department’ it was found necessary to relieve the Minister of some of the duties which were cast upon him, and; consequently, a new Department has been created, that of Markets and. Migration, and the administration of the Institute of Science and Industry, the Board of Trade; and marketing’ activities generally, of the Trade and Customs Department have been transferred, to the new Department, of -which Senator the Hon. R. E. Wilson has been appointed Minister.
In addition to these alterations the Hon. C. W. C. Marr has been sworn in as an Honorary Minister.
Death of Mr. Hubert - Changes in Staff.
– Honorable members will regret to hear of- the death, since the last meeting of the House, of the Second. Clerk Assistant Mr. E. T. Hubert. Consequent on this loss to the staff the following changes have been made in regard to the officers in attendance in the chamber: - Mr. McGregor has been appointed: Second Clerk- Assistant, and Mr. Parkes. has. been appointed Serjeant-at-Arms. Mr.: Hubert was.- an. officer of exceptional ability,, who always regarded his work with deep, in terest and enthusiasm. The services- he rendered to Parliament were of great value,, and were highly appreciated by the various Speakers under whom he served, as well as by members of the House of Representatives generally. His loss, is also keenly felt by. his colleagues at the table.
– I have also to announce that on the death . of the Right Honorable the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr.. Massey, the President of the Senate and the. Speaker of the House conjointly sent a cablegram, of condolence to the Parliament of New Zealand. In reply the following, cablegram has been received : -
Deeply appreciate kind message of. condolence conveyed’ on behalf of. Commonwealth Parliament in great- loss suffered by Dominion and Empire.
This message was forwarded at the request of the presiding officers, of both Houses of the Dominion Parliament by the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Hon. J.G. Coates.
– It is with, profound regret that I rise to refer to the death, of a great Prime Minister of our sister. Dominion of New Zealand. I feel’ sure that every member of this House will join in paying homage to the memory of one whose sterling qualities and unremitting efforts on behalf of New Zealand and the Empire have made his-, name a. household word wherever the English tongue is spoken. Mr. Massey’s long political career is a record of personal success, combined with sound democratic- legislatibn. For 32 years he sat as a representative in the Parliament of his adopted country, and the outstanding evidence of his own personality; and the affection and esteem in which he was held by his’ fellow citizens, is the fact that for 29 years of -that- period he was returned continuously as a representative of one constituency. Leader of his party since1903, and Prime Minister since 1912, his name is inseparably associated with the most important period in the history of New Zealand. Immediately war broke out in 1914, Mr. Massey, with characteristic vigour, and directness of purpose, pledged his country to the Empire’s common cause. To all the calls he made upon the patriotism and self-sacrifice of his people, they responded with a liberality and readiness which spoke more eloquently than words of their faith in his leadership, and their confidence in his policy. In repeated visits to Great Britain as a member of successive Imperial Conferences, he proved himself to be, not only a great Prime Minister of his own Dominion, but an Imperial statesman of sound judgment and broad vision. He will ever be held in grateful memory as one who served his country and the Empire with ability, loyalty, and unselfish zeal. But, perhaps, even greater than his public achievements is the fact that by his courage and integrity he won the well-deserved love, respect, and trust of all with whom he camp in contact. He was essentially a democrat, and one of the finest representatives which modern democracy has produced. To his country he has left a long record of public service, and to future generations an outstanding example of what a man of character and capacity may achieve by the pursuit of high ideals. He died as he lived, a simple man devoted to the service of his country and his Empire, and we, who, in our different ways, strive to follow the path he trod to the heights he scaled, incline our heads in respect and admiration. I move -
That the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia expresses its sorrow at the loss which has befallen the Dominion of New Zealand, by the death of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Eight Honorable William Ferguson Massey, records its appreciation of his distinguished services to the Empire, and extends its sympathy to the Parliament and to the people of the sister Dominion.
Question resolved in the affirmative, members standing in their . places.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the Speaker be requested to convey the resolution and a copy of the speech delivered thereon to Mrs. Massey and the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased statesman the sitting be suspended for an hour.
Sitting suspended from 3.45 to4.45 p.m.
Bill, on leave given, presented by Mr. Bruce, and read a first time.
– I have to report that the House this day attended his Excellency the GovernorGeneral in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of Parliament, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. As honorable members have copies of the Speech in their hands, I presume that they do not desire me formally to read it.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That a Committee consisting of Mr. Cook, Mr. Gardner, and the mover, he appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor General to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the Committee do report this day.
– Has the Prime Minister in his possession a copy of the report of the royal commission appointed by the Queensland Government to inquire into the influx of southern Europeans into that state? If so, will he give honorable members copies of the report as early as possible ?
– No report of the findings of the commission has been sent officially to the Commonwealth Government. We know nothing of the commission’s findings, except from reports which have appeared in the newspapers. Steps have been taken to obtain a copy of the report, and as soon as it is secured it will be made available to honorable members. I am not quite clear, however, whether the full report of the commission has been made public by the Queensland Government, and my promise to make it available to honorable members is conditional upon its having been published by the Queensland Government.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement in the daily press, this week, to the effect that a family of Italians is being brought to Australia without any questions having been asked by the welfare superintendents as to their landing money or their ability to speak English. It has been said that they cannot speak a word of English?
– My attention has not been drawn to the paragraph, but I will have inquiries made. I assure the honorable member that the paragraph to which he has referred cannot be accurate, for the most definite and stringent regulations have been laid down as to the conditions upon which immigrants from Italy, or any other foreign country, may enter Australia.
– I have a very important question to ask the Postmaster-General. Has he issued instructions for stopping the work of laying the underground cable in Sydney ? The statement has been made that that action has been taken to assist the Treasurer to show a surplus at the end of the year.
– No stoppage of that work has taken place.
– Is the Postmaster-General aware that the cheapening of the postal rates in New Zealand has had the effect of increasing the revenue there? Will he have inquiries made with a view to giving the people of Australia the benefit of cheaper postal rates?
– The reduction of the rates in New Zealand has, in the last twelve months, reduced the postal revenue of the Dominion by £231,849. During the first six months of that period the letter rate was 1½d., and in the second six months it was Id. This, is the only period for which figures are available.
– Will the Prime Minister make available the whole of the correspondence, and also full particulars of the tenders received for the construction of the proposed two new cruisers?
– The correspondence and facts with regard to the tenders which were received will be disclosed as far as they can be, but it will be necessary togo through the files to ascertain how much information can be made public. I shall do this and let the honorable member know the result.
– Will the Prime Minister do his best to have made available as early as possible the report of the royal commission on the disabilities which Western Australia has suffered in consequence of federation?
– The Government is making every effort to do so. I have been in communication with the commission, and honorable members may confidently anticipate that its findings will be received in the near future.
– -I understand that in connexion with the inquiry that is being made into the cases of certain returned soldiers, recommendations have “been made for increases in pensions. Will the Government take steps at an early date to give effect to these recommendations ?
– I remind the honorable member that it is not the custom to announce the policy of the Government in answer to questions.
– Can the Minister for Health inform me when he anticipates receiving the report of the Royal Commission on Public Health ? The commission was appointed in the latter part of last year, and it was expected that its inquiries would occupy about three months. It has now been sitting for six months, and honorable members are very anxious to have its report?
– I believe the report will be available in August or September of this year.
– Will the Minister for Defence throw open to the public Middle Head and North Head during the visit to Sydney of the American Fleet?
– North Head and Middle Head will be thrown open to’ the public on the day’ that the fleet arrives.
Assistance by the Commonwealth Government - Use of Drill Halls.
Mr.FENTON. - Will the Prime Minister be good enough to anticipate the approval of Parliament to that part of the Governor-General’s Speech- which indicates that the Government proposes to make available a large -sum of money to the State Governments to enable them to put works in hand to provide employment for the large number of men out of work in the various states? Will it make the money available immediately ?
– It will be within the recollection of the . honorable member that the Commonwealth Government has made available to the various states two separate amounts of £500,000, making, in all, £1,000,000. That money has not yet been expended’, and- the states still have money in> hand. I shall have a statement prepared showing the exact position.
– In view of thebitterly cold nights, and the intense misery now prevalent in Melbourne - I believe similar conditions prevail in Sydney - will the Minister for Defence consider following, the example which was set by the Prime Minister, last winter, and make available some of the drill halls so that the unemployed may take refuge in them, and escape some of. the severity of- these winter nights ? If it were not for the Salvation Army I do not know what the Melbourne unemployed would do. just now.
– I remind the honorable member that last year when these halls were made available, the Government indicated that they were wholly unsuitable” for the purpose - a statement with which I think he will agree. The sanitary arrangements were such that the medical officers of the Commonwealth were loath to allow them to be used at all. Early this year, I communicated with the State Government, pointing out that these halls were unsuitable for the purpose, and would not again be made available, and I received the reply that the State Government did not desire the halls, as other, arrangements were being made.
– Can the Prime Minister supply the House with a statement showing the number of the migrants, other than of British origin, who. have entered the Commonwealth during the last three years, and setting out their, nationalities ?
– I shall have the information obtained.
Rejection of Protocol
–Will the Prime Minister make available the whole of the correspondence, by cable and otherwise, between his Government and the British Government with regard to the rejection of the League of Nations Protocol:?
– I cannot make available the whole of the correspondence without the consent of all the Governments concerned. I shall, however, go into the matter, and see how much of the correspondence, including the communications between this Government and the British Government, can be made available.
– In view of the answer he has given, will the right honorable gentleman communicate with the other Governments referred to with a view to obtaining their permission to disclose all that took place?’
– The desire of the Government is to supply to the House the fullest possible information regarding this matter. I am quite prepared, to as? certain from the Governments concerned the extent to which they will agree to the publication of their communications;
– Can the Minister inform the House of the exact nature and extent of the damage caused by the recent flood at Canberra ?
– I am informed that the flood was perhaps the highest on record, but so far as is known in my Department - which does not deal with affairs at the Federal Capital - very little damage was done at Canberra. All the permanent buildings werewell above the flood level, and none of the work was damaged, with the exception of an embankment about 1,000 feet in length between the bridge over the river and the viaduct over the billabong. This viaduct had only just been completed, and had not consolidated. It was made of good material”, But the extraordinary flood coming: on a bank which, had not consolidated found a weak spot, and carried away a small portion of the embankment, which was, however, quickly repaired. The bridges and piers were not damaged.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether a report in the Adelaide press last week that the Government intends to prohibit, for a period of twelve months from the end of this year, the entry into Australia of German nationals is correct?
– I have seen no such report, and the Government has made no pronouncement in regard to the matter.’
Ratification of Conventions
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether any action has been taken to secure the ratification of the various conventions issued by the international labour conferences of the League of Nations ?
– I remind the honorable member that this is the first day of the session, and although we desire to give all the information possible, the question he has asked is, obviously, one for notice. . The Commonwealth Government has circulated to the -Governments concerned - as it is required to do - the various conventions and . recommendations of the international labour conferences, and these are now under their consideration.
– I am at a loss to know to whom my question should be addressed, but I recently -found on the steps of Parliament a letter headed, “ A letter from Canada,” and beginning “ My dear Stanley.” I wish to discover the author. The letter is signed Pearl Grafton Christmas, and is addressed from the Hotel Hiawatha, Toronto.
-I presume that the honorable member intends to found a question on this statement.
– That is my intention.
The letter reads -
My dear Stanley,
I am having a great time over’ here, hut when I ask the Canadians to buy something from us they ask me to have a drink. They are giving me a splendid time, but when I told them how much we bought from them and how little they bought from us, they were fairly staggered with my knowledge. They wonder how much I really know. I see you have upset the proportion of parties in the Composite by putting in Neville Howse and Charley Marr. I will induce some of myboys to pretend to be angry, but you need not take any notice. Do not say anything about protection in the West. It makes tilings awkward for mc in the Country party room. I hope none of the papers dig up our talk about economy at the last elections. If any one complains about my trip on the score of expense, point out howimportant my health is to the nation, and remind them of the extravagance of past Ministries.
– I am beginning to doubt the honorable’ member’s bona fides. Before permitting the question to be further proceeded with, I should like some inspection of the document from which the honorable member is reading.
– I have every confidence in you, and in private am prepared to show you the document. I feel, however, that you have no doubt that it is authentic. This is the last paragraph - and one should never miss a gem -
You might, even ..go so far as to say you will sell some of the Commonwealth cars, but do not sell that new Crossley I bought with somebody else’s money. I want to do the Prince’s Highway and the Northern Tablelands. I think you let me down over that title. You said Baldwin would do anything for you. Fix it up for Birthday honours, and oblige,
Pearl Grafton Christmas.
Will the Treasurer inform the House how he lost the document, and when and why it was posted?
– I rule the question facetious and frivolous, and desire to impress on the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) the necessity for treating with proper- decorum the deliberations of Parliament.
– I have received the following letter from the Department of Labour and Industry in New South Wales : - 5th June, 1925.
I have had some difficulty in securing the cooperation of the Commonwealth authorities at Canberra in the selection of labour, and more particularly with regard to the engagement of domestic workers for thehostel. Only on Monday last a telephone message was received from their officers in Sydney requesting this office to engage women workers for the hostel. Later this message was cancelled, and on Wednesday and Thursday of this week an advertisement was published in the Sydney Morning Herald by Miss Layard’s Employment Agency as shown hereunder. “ Wanted, for Federal Capital, Canberra, kitchenmaid, also waitress and housemaidwaitress, experienced, award wages, can recommend. Apply early to Miss Layard34 Martin-place.”
Not only does the Commonwealth have to pay for Miss Layard’s services at the rate of 8s. 6d. for every employee, but the employees also have to pay 5s. 6d. each to Miss Layard for the position. This appears to be unreasonable on the part of the officials responsible for the engagement of labour for the hostel, and gives grave suspicion to the public at large. I have endeavoured .to get in touch with somebody who is an authority, and I should be glad if you could help me by protesting to the Commonwealth authorities against the practice of engaging labour at private employment agencies.
Is this being done with the cognizance of the Government? Will the Minister have a thorough inquiry made into the matter to see why a state department which is prepared to function is overlooked, whilst the Government and each employee engaged pay charges totalling 14s. to a private labour agency?
– If the honorable member will place the letter in my hands, I shall bring it to the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories.
– Has the Treasurer any announcement to make as to the intentions of the Government, this session, in relation to an increase in the old-age and invalid pensions to at least £1 a week ?
– The financial policy of the Government will be announced in its budget.
– Does the Prime Minister intend to make to the House a statement regarding the amended sugar agreement; if so, when?
– During the recess the Government made certain arrangements in regard to sugar. The matter will, no doubt, be dealt with in this House at a convenient time.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral inform honorable members whether there are any postal works that have been approved, or which are considered by his officials to be necessary, for which no money is available? If so, will he immediately make financial arrangements that will enable such works to be pushed on, in order to relieve the unemployment that is prevalent in so many of the states?
– A sufficient amount of money is available for postal works until the end of the present financial year.
Attitude op Government of Gee at Britain.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House whether there is any truth in the statement that he made at Ballarat, that any Government in Great Britain, whether it be a Labour or an anti-Labour Government, will not stand for the White Australia policy?
– I consider that the honorable gentleman is in a better position than I am to determine whether that is likely in the future.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that he has made a statement to the effect that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, Leader of the Labour party in Great Britain, has stated that the White Australia policy is a menace to the peace of Europe? If the right honorable gentleman did make that statement, what was his authority for it ?
– I referred to a speech that was made by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald in the House of Commons, and quoted from the report of that speech which is contained in the Hansard of the House of Commons.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has considered the question of taking action to assist the dependants of the Australian explorer, the late David Lindsay?
– The matter was considered at great length by the committee which handles such matters. At present I am unable to recollect exactly what was determined, but I shall obtain the information for the honorable member.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government will consider the establishment of a compulsory Wheat Pool?
– The Government is always prepared to give consideration to any matter that is brought to its notice.
– I ask the Minister for Health if he will give sympathetic consideration to the question of the establishment at Broken Hill of a laboratory for the investigation of industrial diseases ?
– All matters connected with health, but more particularly those connected with the establishment of these laboratories, will be held in abeyance until the report of the Royal Commission on Health is available.
– Will the Minister for Works and Railways consider the advisability of establishing a wireless receiving set in the lounge cars of the trans-Australian railway with a view to keeping overland travellers in daily touch with world events ?
-I shall have the matter inquired into, to see whether the suggestion of the honorable member is practicable.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral if his department has issued any regulation to the effect that a person who lives in an area where there is a postal delivery, but who fails to provide a receiver on his gate or door shall not have his mail matter delivered to him if he calls at the local post office to collect it ?
– I shall have inquiries made, and advise the honorable member if that is so.
Offers to PURCHASE
– Will the Prime Minister make available to honorable members full particulars of names and addresses of people who have made offers for the purchase of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and also the conditions under which they offered to purchase them?
– As the Commonwealth Government has indicated that it does not propose to accept any such offers no particulars are available. There was an offer to purchase certain of the ships, picking out the more valuable of them. The Commonwealth Government was invited to negotiate further as to price, and it was indicated that the persons making the offer would be prepared to arrange to carry out a service under the conditions required by us. The Government made it perfectly clear that it would not accept that offer, and has not pursued the negotiations any further.
– In view of the very widespread rumour that a syndicate or firm in London, one of the prominent members of which is said to be Mr. Larkin, Chairman of the Commonwealth Shipping Board, offered to purchase the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and in view of the feeling that rumour is causing in the minds of the people of Australia, will the Prime Minister make public the names of all persons who have made offers for these vessels.
– I told the honorable member that only one offer was made. That offer was made not by any syndicate brought into being for the purpose, but by an existing organization. If the honorable member is anxious to know the name of this organization and is concerned about the rumour to which he has referred - which I may say, is a most unfair one, to which it is very undesirable that the publicity given to it by the honorable member should be given - I give my assurance to the House that it was an existing company that made the’ offer and not a syndicate that was being formed. I would remind the House that the Government is not prepared to entertain an offer from anybody,- and, therefore, it is not fair that it should be published to the world that certain persons have taken action in connexion with the matter. As the honorable member seems to be concerned about the matter, I am prepared to make the information to him privately.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he is aware that the size of cornsacks imported into Australia is irregular, and not in accord with the conditions laid down in the act, and it is, therefore, impossible that proper supervision is being carried out. Will the honorable gentleman see that more stringent measures are taken to protect the users of cornsacks in this country?
– No complaint of the nature indicated by the honorable member’s question has been received by the Department. If he will place his question on the : notice-paper I shall have full inquiries . made.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General a question about a very old friend. What is the position in regard to the Kidman and Mayoh shipbuilding contract, which has been the subject of litigation for quite a long time?
– The matter is now under appeal to the court.
– Will the Prime Minister, make available the recent agreement on migration entered into between the British Government and the Commonwealth Government? .
– I desire, Mr. Speaker, to_ address a question to you, arising out of my well-known interest in the well-being of the Government. I ask whether it is competent and in order for a’ member of this House, under cover of a notice of motion, to make a general reflection upon the Parliament, and more particularly upon His Majesty’s Ministers of State, by alleging that they have failed to give effect to the laws passed by this . Parliament ? I refer, in order to refresh your memory, specifically to the notice of motion given by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), in the course of which he alleges that the Government have failed to give effect to the laws of this country. Possibly that statement is quite true, but is it in order ?
– I have not seen in writing the terms of the notice of motion to which the honorable member refers. It will be my duty to look at it before it appears on the notice-paper. It is not in order to reflect on Parliament, or upon either chamber of Parliament, but if it were not in order to reflect upon the Government there would be little use for the Opposition. I think the honorable member will see the distinction.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he has any statement to make regarding action to be taken by the Government to cope with the very serious position that has arisen owing to the fall in the price of wool. I understand that a section of the woolgrowers desire that a ‘pool shall be formed, or that some agency akin to the reinstitution of Bawra shall be brought into existence. A very great number of growers ‘ are anxious to know whether they can look for any assistance from the Government in endeavouring to stabilize the position, and prevent a . glut in the wool market?
-.- When the Government has any statement to . make on any question, I assure the honorable member that it will make it.
– I. ask the Prime Minister if he will be . good enough to ask Sir George Buchanan to . pay a visit to Warrnambool to inspect and report on the many -schemes for harbour improvement there. I understand that Sir ‘George is about to leave Australia, and before he does so the people of Warrnambool would like him to visit that port.
– The Commonwealth Government has intimated to the State Governments that, so far as time will permit,, it is quite prepared to make Sir George Buchanan’s services available to them. Time would permit of his visiting Warrnambool, and. if the concurrence of the Victorian Government- were obtained, the Commonwealth Government would be quite prepared to make Sir George Buchanan’s services available for the purpose indicated.
– In view of the alarming influx, of southern Europeans into Australia,, and the consequent dislodging of Australians- from jobs which are taken by the foreigners, will the Prime Minister inform the House- what arrangements, if any, exist ‘between the Commonwealth Government^ the shipping companies,, and the nations concerned? Further, will he lay- upon the table of the House the correspondence between the Commonwealth Government and’ the Government of Italy with regard to the influx- of migrants from that country into Australia?
– I- have, on many, occasions, made the fullest statements with regard to the arrangements made with foreign countries, and also the arrangements made with the British Consular service, with regard to the viseing of passports. That information I shall be pleased to supply again. As to any correspondence that has taken place, I shall look into the matter and ascertain what there is.
– In view of the .fact that a statement has appeared in the press to the effect that the President of the United States of America gave permission for the erection in the White House reserve in Washington of tents for homeless people; I ask the Minister for Defence if he can see his way to lend any military tents he may have to spare to the committee of. the churches, the charity organizations, and. the Trades Hall Council to shelter homeless people in Australia.’
– The honorable member’s question has been answered by the Prime Minister.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that many immigrants from Great Britain, who paid for their passages to Australia, are walking- about the country districts, unable to secure employment and living on the charity of the people ? Does not the right honorable gentleman think that those facts should be made public in Great Britain; in order to prevent a further, influx of people to swell the number of unemployed in this country?
– I do not accept the honorable member’s statement, and I very much regret that- it has been- made.
– It is true; and the Prime Minister should know it.
– There is ample opportunity for securing employment in the country districts’ of- Australia.
– That’ is not so.
– Honorable members may not found, an argument upon a question.
– In many districts the farmers find it difficult to get sufficient labour. . The honorable member for Gwydir knows that.
– That is not true.
– Order ! That statement is no* parliamentary.
– It is impossible to deal with this subject in reply to a question, and there will be opportunity later for its full discussion.
– Will the Prime Minister- give definite information to the House regarding the districts in which there is plenty of work, so that the unemployed may be absorbed?
– There is not the slightest need to do that. The facts are perfectly well known.
– Will the Prime Minister explain why the gentleman who is paid to , manage the Commonwealth Shipping Line travels to and from Australia in vessels belonging to private companies ?
-When, the manager of the Commonwealth Shipping Line proceeded to England recently he had to do so in great haste, and there was no Commonwealth ship by which he could conveniently travel. In regard to his travelling at other times, I can give no information. He must carry out his duties in whatever way seems to him most fitting.
-Will the Prime Minister inform the House of the date upon which the Commonwealth Government notified its refusal to recommend 10 this Parliament the ratification of the League of Nations Protocol?
– A communication on the subject was sent to the British Government on the 4th March.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bank of Australia - Aggregate Balancesheet at 31st December, 1924, and Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department at 31st December, 1924.; together with the Auditor-General’s Reports thereon.
Crown Leases - Method for determining the Unimproved Value of Land held under - Report of Royal Commission, together with Appendices.
High Commissioner of the Commonwealthin the United Kingdom - Report for 1924.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations, held at Geneva - Sixth Session, 16th June to 5th July, 1924- Report by Employers’ Delegate (Mr. W. C. F. Thomas).
Land Tax - Report of the Royal Commission (Judge D. S. Edwards, Commissioner) to * inquire into extracts from the reports’ in Parliamentary Debates of Speeches made by Mr. Scullin in the House of Representatives on the 7th and 19th August, 1924, in relation to Land Tax matters.
League of Nations - Protocol for the Pacific Settlement . of International Disputes, adopted by the Fifth Assembly on 2nd October, 1924, with ‘ Appendices.
National Insurance - Casual Sickness, Permanent Invalidity,. Maternity, Old-age - First Progress Report of - the Royal Commission.
War Service Disabilities - Assessment of - Report of Royal Commission, dated 22nd December, 1924.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 61 of 1924. - Postmaster-General’s Department, State Heads of Branches Association.
No. 62 of 1924. - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 63 of 1924. - Arms, Explosives and Munition Wprkers’ Federation of Australia ; Amalgamated Engineering Union and Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 64 of 1924- Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 65 of 1924. - Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 66 of 1924- Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 67 of 1924.- Australian Postal Assistants’ Union.
No. 68 of 1924. - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union.
No. 69 of 1924. - Australian Postal Linemen’s Union.
No. 70 of 1924. - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 1 _of 1925.- Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 2 of 1925. - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 3 of 1925. - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 4 of 1925.- Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 5 of 1925. - Australian Postal Linemen’s Union.
No. 6 of 1925. - General Division Officers’ Union of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 7 of 1925. - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 8 of 1925. - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union.
No. 9 of 1925.- Professional Officers’ Association.
Nos. 10 and 11 of 1925. - Australian Letter Carriers’ Association.
No. 12 of 1925.- Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia.
No. 13 of 1925.- Postal Sorters’ ‘ Union of Australia.
No. 14 of 1925.- Professional Officers’ Association.
Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18 of 1925.- Amalgamated Postal Linemen, Sorters and Letter . Carriers’ Union of Australia. Audit Act -
Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1924-25-
Dated 12th November, 1924..
Dated 3rd December, 1924.
Dated 14th January, 1925.
Dated 4th February, 1925.
Dated 11th February, 1925.
Dated 11th March, 1925.
Dated 1st April, 1925.
Dated 29th April, 1925.
Dated 6th May, 1925.
Dated 13th May, 1925.
Dated 19th May, 1925.
Beer Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 61.
Cattle Export Bounty Act-Regulations - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 157.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended- . Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 156, 164.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1925, No. 74.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1924. Customs Act -
Regulations Amended - Proclamation dated. 26th November, 1924, prohibiting the exportation of Live Pearl Shell Oysters (except under certain conditions).
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 163, 170, 183, 185, 192.
Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 22, 29, 33, 59.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act -
Commerce (General Export) Regulations - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 25.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 62, 65.
Dawes Annuities - Agreement between the Governments of Great Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, the United States of America, Brazil, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, the Serb-Croat-Slovene State and Czechoslovakia regarding the Distribution of the Dawes Annuities; Signed at Paris, 14th January, 1925. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
Defence Act -
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 152, 153, 154, 159, 176, 180, 191, 200, 201, 202.
Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 19, 20, 26, 34, 53, ‘56, 66, 81, 82.
Royal Military College - Report for year 1923-24.
Distillation Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 9, 27.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act -
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 206.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 182, 193.
Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 7, 60.
Export Guarantee Act - Fresh Doradillo Grapes Assistance Regulations - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 165.
Forestry Programme of the Commonwealth Government - Report by Mr. C. E. LanePoole, Commonwealth Forestry Adviser.
High Court Procedure Act - Rules of Court Rule re Sittings - Dated 12th November, 1924.
Immigration Act - Return for 1924.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 166, 181, 194.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Recommendation adopted (Utilization of Workers’ Spare Time).
International Postal Congress, held at Stockholm, 1924- Report by the Honorable W. G. Gibson, M.P., Postmaster-General of the Commonwealth, together with copy of the Convention, Regulations, and Protocols signed at that Congress.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Burracoppin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Carnarvon, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Cygnet, Tasmania - For Postal purposes. Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Fremantle, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Hobart, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.
Kandos, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Kulin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Laverton, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Seymour, Victoria (2) - For Defence purposes.
Spearwood, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Nationality Act - Return for 1924.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 155, 171. 179.
Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 2, 3, 12, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 69, 70, 71, 75, 85.
Nauru - Report on the Administration during the year 1924- Prepared by the Administrator for submission to the League of Nations.
New Guinea Act -
Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 34 - Lands Registration (No. 3).
No. 35- Supply (No. 3) 1924-25.
No. 36.- Goods.
No. 37- Land (No. 2).
No. 38- Native Labour (No. 3).
No. 39- Supply (No. 4) 1924-25.
No. 40 - Arms, Liquor, and Opium Prohibition.
No. 42 - Intoxicating Liquors.
No. 43- Medical.
Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 1- . Supply (No. 5) 1924-25.
No. 2 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 3 - Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments.
No. 4- Companies.
No. 5 - Criminal Procedure.
No. 6 - Prisons.
No. 7- Land.
No. 8 - Lands Registration.
No. 9- Supply (No. 6) 1924-25.
No. 10 - Treasury.
No. 11 - Companies (No. 2).
No. 12. - Native Labour.
No. 13 - Medical.
No. 14 - Appropriation 1924-25.
No. 15 - Public Service.
Norfolk Island Act -
Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 1 - Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments.
No. 2 - Executive Council.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and
Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Encouragement of Primary Production Ordinance - Regulations. ‘
Income Tax Ordinance - Regulations.
Tin Dredging Ordinance - Regulations.
Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 21. - Encouragement of Primary Production.
No. 22. - Inspection of ‘Boilers.
No. 23. - Plant Diseases.
No. 24. - Income Tax.
No. 25. - Licensing (No. 2).
Ordinances of 1925-
No. 1. - Early Closing.
No. 2. - Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments.
No. 3. - Licensing.
No. 4. - Meat Industry Encouragement.
No. 5. - Slaughtering.
No. 6. -Lotteries.
No. 7. - Groote’ Island Bees.
No. 8. - Weights and ‘Measures.
No. . 9. - Crown “Lands.
No. 10. - Income Tax.
No. 11. - Public Service.
Northern Territory- Report of Administrator for the year ended ‘30th June, 1924.
Papua Act -
Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 7.- Customs (Export) Tariff (No. ‘2).
No. 8.- Mining.
No.9. - Native Taxes.
No. 10. - Registration of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.
No. 11. - Navigation.
No. 12.- Health.
No. ‘13. - British New -Guinea Development Company Limited Amendment. .
No. 15. - Mercantile.
No. 16.- Appropriation, 1924-25.
No. 17. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2), 1923-24.
No. 18.- Land.
Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 1. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1) 1924-25; together with Supplementary Estimates (No. 1), 1924-25.
No. 3. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2). 1924-25; together with Supplementary Estimates (No. 2) 1924-25.
Patents Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 115.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 172, 184, 190. Statutory Rules 1925, . Nos. 6, 11, 42, 48, 49, 54, 77.
Public Service Act -
List of Permanent Officers of the Com monwealth Service on 30th June, 1924.
Appointments and Promotions - Department of -
Health- W. E. George, N. M. Gutteridge, J. A. Broben, and G. V. Rudd.
Home and Territories - W.B. Rimmer.
Postmaster-General’s DepartmentA. A. Lorimer and R. B. Mair.
Treasury - L. M. Clayton and S. Macdonald. Works and Railways - P. G. Taylor.
Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 161, 162,
174, 175, 188, 189.
Statutory Rules 1925. Nos. 1, 4, 30, 31, 32, 41, 45, 46, 47, 51, 52, 58, 67, 68, 72, 78, 79.
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1925, No. 64.
Railways Act - By-laws Nos. 32, 33, 34.
Seat of Government . Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Building and Services Ordinance Regulations -
Canberra Sewerage and Water Supply.
City Area Leases Ordinance - Regulations.
Ordinances of 1924 -
No. 8. -City Area Leases.
No. 9. -Building and Services.
No. 10. - Church Land -Leases.
No.11. - Cattle Testing.
No. 12. - Federal Capital Commission’s Powers.
No. 13.- . City Area Leases (No. 2). Ordinances of 1925 - No. 1. -Real Property.
Parks and Gardens Ordinance - Regulations.
Superannuation Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1924, ‘No. 195.
Statutory Rules 1925, No. 84.
Treaties of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 16, 17.
Treaty ofPeace (Hungary) Act - Regulations Amended - . Statutory Rules 1925 No. 18.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 15, 21.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired in New South Wales, at - Earlwood. East Gresford, Lidcombe, North Sydney, Parramatta, Wollongong. .
Wine Export Bounty Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 150.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules, 1925, No. 57.
The Committee appointed to prepare the Address-in-Reply having presented’ the proposed address, which was read by the Clerk,
.- I move-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
Wo, the House of Representatives of. the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the speech you. have ‘been . pleased to. address to Parliament.
I appreciate very much the honour that has been conferred upon me by the Government in asking me to move the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I am pleased to find in His Excellency’s Speech references to a large number, of very- important matters closely affecting the welfare of the Australian people. Early in the Speech, mention is made of the forthcoming visit of the American Fleet. I feel sure that, in accordance with the Australian characteristics of fair play and good sportsmanship, the visitors will be accorded a most hearty welcome. The friendship between Australia and America is of immense importance to the people of the Commonwealth, and. augurswell for the maintenance of peace in thePacific. It augurs well for the peace of Europe.
I note from the references in the speech to the currency of Great Britain, the Dominions of the Empire, and a number of other nations of the world, that we have reverted to a gold standard the effect of which has been to reduce the cost of exchange with England from £3 10s. per £100 to 15s. This represents a very great improvement in our financialposition, and I trust that, in the near future, even the charge of 15s. will be wiped out altogether.
I am pleased to see mention of’ the Government proposals for defence, and that preparations are to be made for strengthening our naval, military, andair forces, as well as for the erection of munitions factories. With rather less than 6,000,000 people in Australia, with an empty north, and- with approximately 14,000 miles- of coast-line to defend, our position is not at all satis factory. For many, years, we have had to depend upon the British Navy. Should anything happen to destroy its prestige, the position with regard! to the White Australia policy, which we all prize, will be very serious.
It is gratifying, indeed, to know that, as the result of investigations . by the royal commission into the administration of the War Pensions Act, grievances have been considerably minimized. Our liability for war pensions, interest, and sinking fund is approximately £28,000,000 a year. Whilst I would liketo see greater consideration given in connexion with certain aspects of administration, it must be admitted, I think, that we have treated returned soldiers better than any other nation in the world, though there is room for a great deal- more to- be done.
Honorable members interrupting -
– Order ! I am unable to say whether the interruption emanating from certain honorable gentlemen in the chamber isexpressive of their approval or of their disapprobation of the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi, but in either case it is disorderly. It is customary to- allow the mover and. the seconder of the Address-in-Reply to speak freely, and to be heard in silence.
– Our liability in connexion with, soldier settlementruns into many millions of pounds annually, and whilst the Commonwealth may not be directly concerned financially in the soldier settlement schemes of the variousstates, it is indirectly, if’ not closely, affected; because- if State Treasurers cannot secure repayment of interest and principal from their soldier settlers; they are not in the position to repay Commonwealth advances. In this matter, there should be a stocktaking. I was pleased to notice from the remarks of the Prime Minister some weeks- ago that the Government is prepared to meet the states in. this- all-important matter with a view, I take it, to widening the scope of the act, and extending the term for repayments which, under the present arrangement, are falling so heavily upon a number of soldier settlers. If this can be done, I am sure that it will be greatly to the advantage of the scheme generally, because it will put heart into the settlers ‘themselves. The present arrangement creates a situation, in a sense, like that of a man who gives I.O.U’s. for financial assistance received and then says, “Well, thank God that’s paid!” At present many ex-soldiers cannot carry on. I know that certain blocks have changed hands many times, and many blocks are unoccupied, so the more quickly we get to the bottom of this trouble the better it will be for the Commonwealth generally.
The Government proposals for the development of the Northern Territory are of very great importance, but care will have to be taken in the appointment of the proposed commission. It is generally admitted that the Northern Territory cannot be administered from Melbourne, and, important as Canberra may be in the eyes of some honorable members, I doubt whether it will be possible to administer the Northern Territory even from there. But if we select men of wide experience, and arm them with statutory powers for administration, we shall, I believe, be taking one of the most important steps ever attempted for the settlement of that immense area of country which under existing conditions is a menace to the Commonwealth. Already we have ample information about the possibilities of the Northern Territory, taken on oath from witnesses before many royal commissions, and I feel sure that, if members will only unite on this issue, and not make it a party question, we shall be able to do much for the development of that portion of Australia.
The Government proposals for road construction, as enunciated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, are somewhat indefinite. The House and the country have the right to expect a bold, comprehensive policy. Since motor vehicles are now almost in universal use, attention must be given to road construction. Whilst some people may think that this is not a matter for the Commonwealth Government, I maintain that it is, because, for defence and other purposes, the Commonwealth is a large user of the roads, and, therefore, it should contribute to their construction and maintenance. The motor industry pays in Customs duties on motor vehicles, petrol, and requisites, somewhere about £3.000,000 a year. Not one penny of this sum should be spent in other than road construction. If we launched out on a comprehensive policy involving the expenditure of £1,000,000, or even more, a year over a period of ten years, providing the states did likewise, making in all £2,000,000 a year, we would provide interest and sinking fund at about 8 per cent, on a loan of £25,000,000, and could go full speed ahead with one of the most important developmental , schemes, repaying the whole of the capital expenditure in 25 years. Sir George Buchanan, a recognized authority on ports and harbours, has been carrying out certain investigations for the Commonwealth, particularly in the Northern Territory. I compliment the Government upon having secured a- man of such eminence. From my knowledge of Sir George Buchanan I am convinced that he is the man for the job. The centralization in Victoria, where the great bulk of the products intended for export are brought for shipment to Melbourne is lamentable, because nature has provided so many convenient ports for the shipment of our primary products overseas. The pioneers of Queensland should be congratulated upon the magnificent decentralized system existing in that state to-day. In that state ports and natural harbours have been developed to an extent that has been beneficial both to the primary producers and to the state. I trust that the recommendations of Sir George Buchanan will provide honorable members with food for thought.
The Federal Capital Commission has been appointed, but is as yet in its infancy. It is too early to- pass judgment upon its labours, but after what 1 have heard and seen of its members, I congratulate the House on the selection of such capable men. My view of Canberra has not changed. The project is premature by about 25 years; but while I hold that opinion, I recognize that the establishment of a Federal Capital is desired by a majority of members of this House. I am prepared to assist in making the Federal Capital what the people desire it to be. To be fair to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Sir Austin Chapman), I admit that the reports published in the press regarding heavy flood damage at Canberra are most unfair. The flood damage has been infinitesimal, although the water was 5 feet higher than in any previous recorded flood. The recent floods should be regarded as a blessing in disguise, because they will provide data that will obviate the misspending of large sums of money on works that might otherwise have been proceeded within the flooded areas. The Works and Railways Department very wisely sent two engineers to the Territory as early as possible after the floods to make observations.
The report of the royal commission on the effects of federation upon the finances of Western Australia will open a big question. While federation has been an undoubted blessing to some of the states, it has not been so to Western Australia, which is largely a dumping ground for the products of well-equipped factories in the other states. 1 hope that the royal commission will be able to recommend a remedy for the supposed evil effects of federation and the tariff in that state.
Assistance is promised to settlers for the erection of vermin-proof fences. To my own personal knowledge, as a primary producer, this promised assistance has been too long delayed. The losses caused by dingoes and rabbits arc suffered not merely by the individual, but also by the nation. The individual suffers directly, and the nation indirectly, to at least an equal extent. Australia has lost more by the ravages of dingoes on sheep and calves, and by the encroachment of rabbits on areas that should carry stock, than would pay interest and sinking fund charges on a sufficient number of millions of pounds to provide all the vermin-proof fences required. I trust that a measure of such far-reaching importance to the rural development of Australia will receive the united support of all political parties.
I now come to the subject of the tariff. I have been a member of a municipal council for over twenty years, and we have a hardy annual known as “ noxious weeds.” Parliament also has its hardy annuals, and the hardiest of them is the tariff. I always have been a firm believer in protection, but respect the views of other men. It is generally admitted that secondary industries must be protected, but while we protect them, we should insist upon them being efficient, and manufacturers should be compelled to “play the game.” Primary and secondary industries should advance together. Bounties should he granted to provide implements for primary products. As a bounty is paid for the manufacture of wire netting, which is essential for the development of this country, similar assistance should be given to provide machinery for primary producers. A bounty is a fair compromise for both protectionists and freetraders. I cannot accept the view that we should throw down the tariff wall, and have indiscriminate importations. I subscribe to the views of the Tariff Board. Although that board is not held in high esteem by some people, it has done valuable work. It is faced with a very big problem, and has statutory power to seek any advice that it may require. The reports of the board are valuable, and I hope that, in future, it will be able to shed a little light on the darkness that surrounds us.
I hold no brief for any member in this House, including the Prime Minister, but I am prepared to say that no Prime Minister has done more for the rural development of Australia than has the present occupant of the office. Vigorously, honestly, and consistently, and with great knowledge and determination, he fought for Imperial preference. What is the value to Australia of the preference principally on dried fruits granted, as a result of his efforts, by the Imperial Government? On dried fruits, sugar - of which there will be large exportations this year - and wines, the value of the preference granted is £700,000 a year. Rural Australia benefits to that extent on those, three commodities, and also enjoys preference in many other directions. Services like that are of immense value, and irrespective of party and political views, should be recognized.
The boards appointed under the legislation of last session to control the exportation of dairy produce and dried fruits have been in existence for too short a period to enable one to pass judgment on their usefulness, but I am satisfied that when they have been in operation for some time very great benefit will be derived by the primary producers concerned. Already the Dairy Export Control Board has been instrumental in obtaining for the “ Kangaroo “ brand of butler a price equal to that given for the first quality New Zealand article. For the first time in the history of Australia this price has- been obtained, and great credit is due for what has been done in the producers’ interests. The board having, been given statutory power to control licences for the export .of butter and cheese, it will be able to eliminate a large number of unnecessary middlemen, and by keeping in touch with marketing conditions abroad its services will be most beneficial to the dairying industry.
Mention was made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech of a proposed measure to provide “ adequate financial machinery. “ to enable the boards to carry out ‘ their work, and . I take that to mean that a bill for the establishment of a rural credits system will be introduced. This was a very live subject in the House last session during the debate on the Commonwealth Bank Bill. The Treasurer (.Dr. Earle Page) gave an assurance, I think, that he- would bring- the matter forward at a later stage, and the Government is apparently about to carry out its promise to’ bring a measure before the House to enable this important problem to be discussed: The time is due for the introduction of a rural credits system, because a considerable number of industries in the country require financial backing against losses. In the fruit industry, for. instance, an effort is being made by the producers to. establish their own canneries and other factories, and the work should be supported’ heartily by Parliament. The producers will need reasonable financial assistance, and I imagine that’ they will be able to receive it from the proposed rural bank. At the present time the fruit-grower is ordered by the court to pay a fixed wage for pruning, ploughing, and the whole of the work necessary for the cultivation of his orchard. It seems to me to be a most one-sided arrangement,’ and the establishment of a board on which the fruitgrowers are represented should be of the utmost value to thea
The migration agreement has been mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. It seems deplorable that there should be such apathy as has been displayed by the states on this allimportant matter. Provision has been made for the advance, over a period of ten years, of £34,000,000 for land development and reproductive works generally. If any state has not enough room for further land settlement, surely it can carry out developmental works. If it needs developmental works of any importance, the chances are that it has plenty of’ land. I have had the pleasure, in the course of my parliamentary duties, to travel fairly extensively over Australia, and one is surprised to note the extent of the unoccupied areas. Half the population is’ to be found- in the capital cities, and the country side seems practically empty. I trust that the states will grasp the opportunity afforded them to carry out a brisk policy of land settlement. If they do not, the chances, are that there will be a move in the direction of unification. That would mean an alteration of the Constitution and the granting of increased powers to the Commonwealth.. If the states refuse to welcome immigrants of the right type, it will be the duty of the Federal Government to do this work for them. I have met many immigrants from Great Britain, and the majority of them are people with whom one might well feel proud to be associated. There are black sheep in every flock, but, generally speaking, the immigrants are a credit to the Old Country.
– But they cannot obtain work.
– I could provide work, in shires with which I am associated, for 500 men to-morrow, and I venture to say that provision could be made for the employment of 25,000 men on road con.struction, for. which there is- much difficulty in obtaining suitable labour, on clearing- and fencing land, and on bridge construction throughout Australia. But while men can obtain short hours of work and high pay in the cities, they will not go into the country districts. I hope yet that the states will recognize the requirements of the situation, and give united’ assistance to the Federal authorities in pushing on with the migration scheme. It should be seen that there are unlimited opportunities in the way of developmental works. If we do not avail ourselves of them the chances are that some other Power will step in and develop this country for us.
The Government proposes to amend the Insurance Companies Act. No Act on the statute-books of either the Com- monwealth or the states requires such drastic amendments as this one. New companies seem to ;be springing up almost weekly. The deposits companies are required to lodge are not nearly sufficient. They are not 25 per cent, of what should be required. No deposit at all is necessary in some of the states, and that fixed by law for Victoria should be substantially increased. More attention should be given to the calibre df the men who float these companies. They should be obliged to show that they have some public standing before they are allowed to sell shares indiscriminately. I feel sure that many of the companies which have been i floated recently will come to grief in the not distant future .unless they are amalgamated with, or absorbed by, the wellestablished companies. If the states will not legislate to protect the public against these unstable companies, the Federal Government certainly should step in and take action ; and I am pleased indeed that the Government intends to bring down a measure with this object in view.
The Government is to be commended for its intention to do something to promote the manufacture of power alcohol in Australia. Every endeavour should be made to establish an industry which will provide Australia with her own power. At present we are spending £15,000,000 annually on American petrol. I was speaking to an expert in the north some little time ago, and he assured me that an excellent raw .material for the manufacture of power alcohol was sugar cane. Seeing that we shall have an exportable surplus of 200,000 tons of sugar this year, and that my expert friend advised me that sugar cane would bc worth almost as much for the manufacture of power alcohol as for the manufacture of sugar, it ought to be possible to develop a valuable power-alcohol industry in this country. It can be easily understood that such an industry would be of enormous importance to Australia as a whole. We should certainly do everything we can to keep within Australia the £15,000,000 that we are at present sending to America for petrol. We should be providing our own power from our own material by our own people in our own Commonwealth. That ought to, appeal to my honorable friends opposite.
If it is not an Australian policy, I do not know what is.
I hold very definite views about the attitude which ought to be adopted by the Commonwealth Government in regard to land and income taxation. The Commonwealth ought to get right out. of this field of taxation. I consider that it would be far better for -us to cease the per capita payments, and give the states the sole right to collect the land and income taxation. The State authorities know better than the Commonwealth possibly can the abilities of their various peoples to pay taxation, and we should resign to the. states these avenues cif taxation rather than continue our present cumbersome Commonwealth machinery. To have the two authorities collecting these taxes must necessarily involve a great deal of overlapping. If the Commonwealth were to hand over to the states its authority in respect to land and income taxation the change would result in the loss of only about £3,600,000 in revenue. The figure might be slightly less than that, for since it was estimated the Federal income taxation rates have been reduced by 10 per cent., and the statutory exemption has berri raised. The ;people of .Australia would be pleased, I am sure, if the Commonwealth Government ceased to impose land and income taxation.
It is gratifying to learn that the Government intends to submit to Parliament a practical s’cheme of railway development. I am glad that’ it has obtained the concurrence of the South Australian Government to proceed with the construction of the North-South line - a work that has been delayed for altogether too long. I am also pleased to note that the determination of the route of the proposed line is to be left to the Commonwealth.
I apologize to honorable members for having spoken at such length, and I shall conclude by saying that I am satisfied that if even a fair proportion of the measures forecast in the Governor-General’s Speech are enacted, we shall, this session, make a valuable contribution to the development of this country. Even allowing for disagreement on a portion of the programme a sufficient number of proposals will remain on which all parties should agree to make possible a useful session which will be beneficial to the whole of the people of Australia.
In conclusion may I appeal to honorable members for their loyal and sympathetic support of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees. I appeal for this, for I am one myself. I trust that members on all sides of the House will assist in expediting the business, and that “ stone-walling “ tactics will not be indulged in, for it is absolutely imperative that many of the matters referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech should be dealt with as soon as possible in the interests of the advancement of this great young country.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 7.45 p.m.
.- I regard as an honour the request to me to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. The occasion is unique from two points of view. In the first place the Speech is the last that will be delivered in this Parliament by His Excellency the Governor-General. I feel that I am voicing the opinion not only of honorable members of this House, but also of the people of Australia, when I’ say that they appreciate the splendid services that have been rendered to this country by both Lord and Lady Forster. In the discharge of their high functions they have endeared themselves to Australians, and we gladly recognize that when His Excellency returns to England he will continue to take a keen interest in the affairs of the Commonwealth. The occasion is also unique - unless the elements have been too severe at Canberra - in that this will be the last address of its kind discussed in this Parliament. I, therefore, regard it as a great honour for me to be associated with the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. It is interesting to recall that the first motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply in this Parliament was moved by the late Mr. W. H. Groom, of Queensland, the father of the present Attorney-General, and seconded by Mr. Crouch, of Victoria. It is certainly a great privilege for me to be associated in this way with the work of eminent nien, who, imbued as they were with the true patriotic spirit, played so prominent a part in the early stages of federation. The people of Australia owe a debt of gratitude to those who founded the Federal Parliament, an institution which stood the test when war broke out and the British Empire was in danger. At that time in this chamber were found men who ranked with the highest statesmen in the Empire. I trust that, should Parliament assemble at Canberra next session, the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply will be dealt with in a true Federal spirit, so that the national destinies of this Commonwealth may progress as rapidly and successfully as they have done in the past.
I must apologize if I touch upon some of the ground covered by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) this afternoon. I wish to refer first to the past and contemplated action of the Government respecting facilities for communication in the country. I congratulate the Government for having extended the postal and telephonic services. These works have been of the greatest benefit to the people who bear the heat and burden of the day.
– One would need a microscope to detect much improvement in those services.
– I, myself, when travelling through sparsely populated areas cannot fail to notice the numerous telephone offices which have been erected, and which mean so much to the people engaged in primary industries. I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) on his efforts to overtake . the arrears of work in his department. When he assumed office postal works were six months in arrear, but now, owing to the progressive policy carried out by .the department, they are only six weeks in arrear. If the Government during the rest of its term of office extends the country telephonic and postal services to the same extent as it has in the past, those facilities will be almost doubled. That is a very good answer to to the interjection made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Sir Austin Chapman). As the honorable member is a representative of country interests, I should have expected that instead of criticizing he would be throwing up his hat for glee.
Another cause for satisfaction to the country people is the action taken by the Government in the last budget to allow as a deduction from income the cost of the erection of fences to combat the rabbit and dingo peats. Another benefit conferred at that time, which, I believe, emanated from the Opposition, waa the deduction in taxation allowed for medical expenses of a member of the family. I am glad to know that as far as vermin-proof fencing is concerned financial assistance is to be given the states to help the man on the land. At present the anomaly exists of the Government of New South Wales’ making grants chargeable with interest when the Commonwealth Government is making grants without interest. I trust that the action contemplated by the Government means that financial assistance only will be given, and that the administration will be left in the hands of the states.
I wish now to refer to the Dairy Produce Export Control Board. I compliment the dairy farmers of Australia on having given such a fine vote of approval to the action taken by Parliament last year in placing the Dairy Produce Export Control Act on the statute-book.
– Only about 20 per cent, of them voted.
– That is not an uncommon experience. In conversation with those engaged in this industry in my electorate, I found that they were very grateful to the Government for the action taken; and now that some fruits of its work are apparent, they realize that the board is functioning properly, and that machinery by which the dairying industry will be greatly improved has been set in motion. No men are more worthy of the full fruits of their labour than those engaged in the dairying industry.
The Government is to be congratulated on its recognition of the fact that the main and arterial roads of the Commonwealth are a national concern. For some time it has been realized that, with the revolution in transport which has been brought about by motor traction, it is impossible for the shires and municipal councils, or even the States, to provide the necessary finance to maintain the roads in a proper condition. I am, therefore, glad that a larger sum than previously is to be provided this year by the Commonwealth for main and arterial roads in order to ensure that easier access to markets which is essential to the well-being of the primary producers and the progress of Australia.
Nor has the Government been unmindful of the secondary industries. It realizes that while the primary industries are the chief sources of our wealth, if our industries are to expand and employment found for those who constitute our best market - the home market - reasonable encouragement must be given to our secondary industries also. Now that the Tariff Board’s reports are coming to hand, it is to be hoped that there will be a review of the Industries Preservation Act, and that,, by the removal of existing anomalies, our secondary industries will be greatly assisted.
I have endeavoured to show that, both by its past actions and the legislation foreshadowed for this session, the Government gives evidence of its desire to deal fairly and squarely with the primary and secondary industries. I now wish to refer to the industrial section of the community. It is to * be regretted that we have not had a more definite pronouncement of the intention of the Government regarding national insurance! This is a matter which vitally affects industrialists. It means much in times of temporary sickness and in maternity cases, but in an even greater measure will a proper scheme of national insurance relieve them from the nightmare of unemployment. The full report of the commission has not yet been presented, but I trust that when it comes to hand the Government will give it the fullest consideration, so that a well-thought-out scheme will result.
I shall now deal with the subject of arbitration. The Governor-General’s Speech does not give very much detail of the Government’s intentions, but it has long been recognized that this is a very delicate and difficult subject. Constitutional authorities have pointed out what little power Parliament possesses in regard to industrial disputes, in that before any action can be taken by Parliament a dispute must be of a federal nature; that is to say, it. must extend beyond the borders of one state. It may yet be found necessary to submit to the people a proposal for an alteration of the Constitution in this connexion. Honorable members have only to recall the shipping strike to realize that a very serious position has already arisen. It is time that both parties to a dispute recognized that they cannot have a thing both ways. A dispute is either a matter for arbitration or it is not. It is to be regretted that in the management of their unions the moderate men have not a greater influence. It seems remarkable that foreigners who have nothing in common with the citizens of Australia, and have no respect for our King or our flag, or for established British institutions, car. enter this country and exercise over their members a power that is detrimental to employers and employees alike.
– Are not the ship-owners to blame also 1
– I hold- no brief for the ship-owners, but I repeat that it is to be regretted that men of the Walsh type can so influence a union that the shipping of this country is held up, Australian workmen kept unemployed, and our produce left to rot on the wharfs. From such action nothing but what is detrimental to’ the best interests of Australia can accrue. The Prime Minister gave an assurance recently - I do not think that it was necessary - that he would not interfere with legitimate trade unionism. At the same time the position that has arisen in connexion with the shipping strike leads one to the conclusion that, while it is impossible for us to pass legislation which will protect our industries, the members of the unions and the public generally, the demand from the people of Australia will tend in that direction.
Honorable members on the other side seem to think that if the terms of the new migration agreement are to be carried out unemployment must necessarily ensue, but when we consider that it is only about 150 years since the first axe was laid to the trees in this country, we must be proud of the progress that Australia has made. No other community can boast of greater progress. We are proud, not only of our great cities, but also of the development that has taken place in . country districts. I maintain that that has been achieved by a policy of individualism, for which honorable members on this side stand. The pioneers who blazed the track would not have launched out in the way they did if they had not believed that they had a wide field for the exercise of their ambition, and possessed the right to hold for themselves, and to hand down to those who followed them, whatever they should honestly gain. The history of the past is not such as to indicate that a change in that respect is desirable. On the contrary, it furnishes proof that we should encourage individualism. I know that labour plays an equal part with capital in the development of any country, the two being interdependent, but I still maintain that had capital not been brought to Australia from the Old Land and invested here, we should not have made the progress which has been made. I believe that the effect of the new immigration agreement will be the investment in Australia of a great deal more capital, and that the terms upon which it will be secured will be more liberal than they have been in the past. _I fail to understand in what way that will act detrimentally to the working class section of the community. In Australia, we have democratic rule, and must bow to the will of the majority. There has now been established in New South Wales a Labour Government. I have read the platform upon which the Labour party went to the country there, and the schemes which its leader, Mr. Lang, demanded should be carried out, and I shall be more than surprised if he turns down the new immigration agreement. He would not be able to obtain capital on such favorable terms in any other way, and if he did not take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself, he would be recreant to the trust that has been reposed in him. I sincerely trust, and I really believe, that he will sign the agreement. Immigration is inseparable from defence and the maintenance of our policy of a White Australia. England’s position ‘ has been considerably altered since the termination of the war. In the past the strength of England’s Navy has been the protection of Australia, and that protection has allowed us to progress in serenity. It seems to me that in order to hold this country and maintain a White Australia, we must extend the right hand of friendship to our kinsmen from across the sea. I think that, before long, the ideas propounded by honorable members of the Opposition in relation to defence will be exploded. Even though there are Labour Governments in the majority of the states, I do hot believe that they will be so short-sighted as to neglect an opportunity to carry out big developmental works, and thus give employment to thousands of their people. The State Governments have erred sadly in their administration of soldier settlements. If they have learnt a lesson by those failures, and now take advantage of the loan that is being arranged between Great Britain and .the Commonwealth, there will be nothing to complain of in the matter of public works and land settlement.
That leads me to the subject of defence. I think that the Government will receive the approval of the citizens of Australia for having realized that, having reached the status of nationhood, very great responsibilities devolve upon us. Under various treaties, England’s naval power has been reduced below the twopower standard. The scene of naval activity has changed from the North Sea to the Pacific Ocean. I believe that the people of Australia will realize that the Government has laid down for the defence of Australia a” sane and definite programme, which is limited only by its financial responsibilities. It is proposed to have constructed two 10,000-ton cruisers. Honorable members on this side claim to possess as true an Australian spirit as do honorable members opposite. Had it been reasonably possible for one of those cruisers to be built in Australia that decision would have had our fullest support. The facts, however, revealed the unwisdom of such a course. The Government has not only to consider the industries of Australia; it has to remember also that it is the trustee of the people’s money. The building of a cruiser in Australia would have assisted Australian industries to the extent of only about 15 per cent, of the cost. The work would have been one almost wholly of assembling the different parts in Australia, and therefore no new industry would have been created. I have ito qualms regarding the view which my constituents will take, because I think that the Government acted in a purely Australian spirit when it considered the pecuniary interests of the taxpayers. It must be remembered that ihe Opposition moved an amendment which, if carried, would have prevented the building of cruisers either in Australia or anywhere else. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) probably hopes that next year he will be Prime Minister of Australia. In such an event, had a start been made with the construction of cruisers in Australia, the unfortunate workers in the industry would have been thrown out of employment, and would have lived to curse the Labour party. A sea-plane carrier is to be built at Cockatoo Island dockyard, and the Commonwealth Government proposes to assist the Government of the State of ‘New South Wales in the construction of a floating dock at Newcastle. I do not wish to detain the House longer, and, in conclusion, I would say that in the Governor-General’s speech and the prospective legislation indicated I have no difficulty, as a Nationalist, in concluding that Nationalist principles are being maintained. A sound and sane defence policy is being evolved. Encouragement is being given to primary industries, and reasonable protection to secondary industries. The Government stands squarely for the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes and even-handed justice to employer and employee alike. In view also of the investment of capital in the expansion and development of our industries, which may be expected to accrue from the new migration agreement, the future would appear to hold in store probably a greater measure of progress than we have known for a considerable time, and, so far as it is possible for the Government to bring it about, equal opportunity will remain to the people of Australia.
.- I desire to congratulate the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply on their speeches. I do not know that there is much in the Governor-General’s speech that requires consideration at the hands of this House. I confess that to me it is rather disappointing. We have for some years past had what we might term a continuous session. Although I was not here at the close of last session, on looking up the records I found that, at its1 last sitting, the House adjourned until members should be called together by Mr. Speaker by wire or letter. The Government has seen fit to alter that arrangement and, only a few weeks ago, after a long recess extending over seven months, it caused the issue of a proclamation proroguing Parliament. As a consequence, we are in the position to-day that we must practically go over our work de novo, because, by this action of the Government, all business has been wiped off the notice-paper. It occurs1 to me to ask whether there was any necessity for the adoption of this procedure. I do not for a moment contend that the Government had not the right and the power to do what it has done, but let honorable members peruse the GovernorGeneral’s speech, and say’ what there is in it. I ask any honorable mem- ‘ ber to read it through, and then ask himself whether there is anything in the speech which warrants the disturbance of the business-paper of the House.
– Where is the disturbance?
– By the action taken by the Government the businesspaper has been cleared, and we must reinstate the entries upon it. The House was in recess for seven months at a time when urgent work required the attention of Parliament. I remind the honorable member for Swan that if we were to debate the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply a week or two might be spent in that way, and I say that there is nothing in the Governor-General’s speech to warrant such a debate. Each proposal contained in the. speech has been made known to the people of Australia during the last month or two by the Prime Minister and other members of the Government. We knew what we had to expect. There are to be certain amendments of various acts, and one or two new matters are to be introduced. There is nothing startling announced in the Speech, and no surprise’s indicated, and we might have gone on with business without going through the ceremony which we are going through to-day. I am aware that the procedure in connexion with the opening of a session has been handed down to us as a British institution, and that it is customary to have an Address-in-Reply to the opening speech of the session. We are very conservative as a people, and old customs apparently have to be adhered to. That accounts for the present position. But no honorable member can justify the prorogation. If we have gone on for years as we have done since the war, without the adoption of this procedure, what compelled the Government to follow it at this particular time. If the proclamation proroguing Parliament was not made until six or seven months after the adjournment of the House, I venture to say that this is not helping the business of the country. The Government was not justified in closing this House down for seven months and more when there was urgent business to attend to. We have had put into the mouth of the GovernorGeneral the statement that the Government decided not to recommend to Parliament approval of the draft Protocol drawn up at the fifth assembly of the League of Nations. I have never made this a party question. I have always claimed that it should be considered nonparty. It is no excuse for the Government to contend that the reason why it abandoned the provisions of the Protocol was because it was unable to bring the matter before the House. The House might have been called together at any time under the motion carried for its adjournment at the close of last session.
There is no justification for the highhanded action of the Government in this matter. It should have permitted this House to discuss that particular question as well as other urgent matters that require the attention of this Parliament. In the circumstances, I do not feel inclined to waste time on the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I- invite honorable members to consider the promised bills that are enumerated in it. There is, for instance, the Arbitration Bill. But we cannot deal with the proposed amendments of the existing law until we have the bill before us. The real debate on the subject must take place on the bill itself. The same remark applies to the Migration Bill; to the proposal for the. construction of the North-South Railway, and to that for the administration of the Northern Territory. Why should we be occupied after so long a recess in discussing the Governor-General’s Speech when we must deal with the matters contained in it in the very near future, and before the expiration of this Parliament. In the circumstances, I do not intend to take up time unnecessarily in discussing the Speech. I am not satisfied with the conduct of public business, and I do not think that the people of this country are satisfied with it. There is a proper time, however, to deal with that. I do not think it. is to be dealt withon the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, and, therefore, I shall not longer detain the House now.
Motion (by Sir Littleton Groom) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.
Dismissal or Employees from Navy and Postal Departments - AddressinReply : Tactics of Opposition.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) to the dismissal of employees at the Garden Island Naval Depot. Between 250 and 260 of these men have been thrown out of work within the last couple of weeks, and I urge upon the Minister that immediate steps be taken to relieve their distress. Every representative of a metropolitan constituency knows how prevalent unemployment is to-day; yet these men are being thrown upon an already overcrowded labour market. If there is one department more than another which should be called to account for its utter . disregard of the working men it is the Navy Department. Naval work is being discontinued right and left, with the result that hundreds of men are losing their employment. While Ministers talk glibly about making adequate provision for the defence of the Commonwealth, the very men whose technical skill is essential to adequate preparation for defence are being allowed to starve. The officials of the Navy Department seem to have an undying hatred of their own country.
– Australia is not their country.
– At any rate, it is the country that provides them with fat billets. Old employees who have served at Garden Island for 30 or 40 years, and are still willing and able to work, are, in the declining years of their life, being thrown upon a congested labour market. These men are being thrown out of employment in the declining years of their lives. I know, of course, that the Minister will listen courteously to any representations made on their behalf, but courtesy does not go far enough. These men, with wives and children to care for, require work. I trust, therefore, that the policy of the department will be altered immediately. The Minister should have a heart-to-heart talk with certain officials of the Navy Department, and give them clearly to understand that they must pay some regard to the wishes of the people of Australia.
.- I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). It is a shame that these men should be faced with dismissal at a time when there is so much unemployment in the iron trade, Unfortunately, Ministerial supporters are not mechanics, and do not realize the seriousness of the position. Skilled workmen, who have been in the service of the state for many years, will find it extremely hard to obtain employment outside at the present time. The Government, to retain the services of these skilled men, should arrange for a continuity of work, as was done when a Labour Ministry was in power in New South Wales. Unfortunately, there seems to be an agreement among employers of labour throughout the Commonwealth to defeat the objects of the Arbitration Act, but I hope that, before the session closes, we shall be able to persuade honorable members opposite that it is no part of their duty to punish wage earners who soil their hands in the pursuit of their avocation. I intend to refer again to a question which I put to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) this afternoon concerning the notice of dismissal received by a number of men engaged in laying cables in the streets of Sydney and its suburbs. This course has not been rendered necessary owing to lack of material. It is believed that the Treasurer is curtailing departmental expenditure wherever possible in order to show a larger surplus at the end of the financial year. This is not the way to conduct the business of the country. It would appear that Mr. Brown, who was brought from England to occupy the position of permanent head of the department, is in reality the Postmaster-General. I hope the House will not tolerate this state of affairs. The Postmaster-General may tell me that he is unaware of the dismissal of these men, and that he has issued no instructions to that effect. It is a fact, nevertheless,, that some have received notices of dismissal.
– I have already told the honorable member that it is not so.
– Then I am afraid that I do not know what black and white mean, because it has been done. Unfortunately for me, I am in the confidence of these men, so whilst I know what is happening, I am unable to disclose the source of my information.
– The honorable member has been misinformed.
– But these men are preparing to leave their work.
– I have given the honorable member the assurance that they are not.
– It is all very well for the Minister to say that. It will not improve the position of men who have been discharged. I am not referring to permanent employees, but to temporary hands, many of whom were taken on prior to the war, some, I believe, on my recommendation that they were suitable for the class of work referred to. If these men are discharged they will be in a very awkward position.
– They will not be discharged.
– I am willing to allow the matter to stand over to give the Minister an opportunity to clear himself. I know the unfortunate position in which these men will find themselves, and I am only doing my duty in bringing the subject under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
– I can assure honorable members that, to my knowledge, no dismissals have occurred at Garden Island or elsewhere except of men who have reached the retiring age of 65 years.
.- The motion is for the adjournment . of the House. I am in favour of an adjournment, for nothing else can be done in the circumstances. Honorable members were “ called together to consider matters of importance to the welfare of the people and the development of the Commonwealth.” Some very important things have been done up to now! There have been a lot of ceremonial functions, such as flag waving, the marching backwards and forwards of armed soldiers, cheers for the Empire, and the singing of “God save the King.” The Governor-General has been made to perambulate about the building in order that there may be a new session,, and that there may be an AddressinReply debate. This House has been dead for seven months, and in ordinary circumstances would have re-assembled without all this ceremonial. But for reasons of its own the Government, without explain- ing its motives, caused Parliament to be prorogued. Why did it do that? For some time past a vicious political propaganda has been carried on in the press of this country. The publicists of the other side have been using the newspapers of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, to promulgate the idea that the Labour party would waste three or four weeks of valuable time in discussing the AddressinReply. The newspapers have been tubthumping and endeavouring to create the impression that the Opposition would prevent this great Government from carrying on the business of the country. Apparently the Government had not, even as late as three weeks ago, thought of the ruse of an Address-in-Reply debate. The excuse has been put forward that the Governor-General was anxious to open Parliament again before leaving Australia. That statement is an insult to His Excellency. He never thought of it. He is naturally a timid and bashful man, but the Government seized him, and made him a dummy and an instrument to further its own ends. It. held him up to public ridicule by making him parade in Parliament this afternoon to read a speech. It thought that members of the Opposition would do the barnstorming for two or three weeks, at the end of which time it would be able to blame them for its own inactivity. In this way members of the Government, while they talk of their Imperialism, disgrace their position. They have brought obloquy upon the GovernorGeneral by making him a mere stop-gap.
– I remind the honorable member that it is not orderly to reflect upon the representative of the King.
– I am not reflecting upon the representative of the King, for that is the last thing I wish to do. I am defending him, and endeavouring to exalt his prestige. I am protesting against the degrading action of the Government, in using him to serve its own base ends. Every one knows that the GovernorGeneral had no desire for this function. He is a backward, bashful, timid gentleman, with no desire to be brought out of his obscurity and paraded in public. His only desire is faithfully to represent His Majesty the King in this country, and, when his term of office has expired, to de part peacefully for the country from which he came. The Government, however, dragged him out of his obscurity and made him parade here in order to deliver a speech. By the terms of the adjournment of last October, the Government could have called the House together at :my time. You, Mr. Speaker, were instructed to call it together on a day and at an hour that you thought fit. The Government did not consult you on the subject of calling Parliament together, but caused Parliament to be prorogued and has now brought down an AddressinReply. What matters of importance to the welfare of the people and the development of the Commonwealth have we considered on this, the first day of our reassembling? We have been called together to witness a parade of uniforms, and this marching up and down stairs. We suspended our sitting for dinner, and certain gentlemen having made speeches from the other side of the House, we are now asked to adjourn the House. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) made a speech. He talked of various things - naval engagements and armies - and proceeded to close with a remarkable peroration. He was followed by another honorable member.
– I direct the attention of the honorable member and the House to the fact that it is not parliamentary or permissible to refer to an order of the day that has been listed for to-morrow. It will not be in order to traverse the Governor-General’s Speech or to debate the Address-in-Reply until after 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.
– I am sorry to offend.
– The honorable member, as an old parliamentarian, should not offend so often.
– I thank you for your leniency, and shall endeavour not to offend so often in future. The reason for the adjournment is that we shall be able to meet to-morrow, and I have to consider whether the business “for which we are asked to meet to-morrow is of sufficient importance to justify our meeting. I understand that a speech is to be delivered by the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) in continuance of the debate on the Address-in-Reply, and I feel quite sure that he is now in the full process of incubating a speech to justify the actions of the Government. It has pursued a most unusual course. It imagined that the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply would be the bait at which honorable members of the Opposition would bite, and that expectation has ignominiously failed. I did not expect for a moment that we should be able to catch the Government for the third time in this way. I did not imagine that Ministers would be so stupid as not to anticipate what the Opposition would endeavour to do. Had we not trapped the Government we should have been caught in the snare laid by it, for it has set the newspapers throughout the country working overtime in telling the people that the Opposition would discuss the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply for three or four weeks, and- move a series of amendments to it. Now, however, the Government is not prepared to go on with the business of the country, . although it tells us that Parliament has been called together to consider matters relating to the development and welfare of this country. Why does the Government wish to shut up the House at -9 p.m., and leave the consideration of the welfare of the country until to-morrow? Why does the Government not tell ‘ the House to-day something of the wonderful things it proposes to do? Why does it not tell us how it saved the banks? Let the Leader of the Government disclose how he is going to save Australia? Why does he not tell us about the speeches he made at Frankston and Ballarat? Is there no fruit to be gathered on this first day of the session? The truth is that this is a hopeless and helpless Government. It is composed of gentlemen who set out to do things but never accomplish them. They make trips to Great Britain, and they work up Addresses-in-Reply with the idea that members of the Opposition are all flies to be caught. Ministers have still a lot to learn. We on this side may be very foolish, but we can teach them something in connexion with the management of the country’s affairs. Thank God, however, we shall have some business to consider to-morrow!
.- The Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) must be greatly mistaken, or he must have been misled by his officers, if he declares that no men have been put off at Garden Island.
– I said, “ Except men who had arrived at the age of 65 years.”
– I am speaking of other men, such as young mechanics, who’ have been put off on the ground that the vote has run out, and that there is no money to enable them to be kept in employment until the Estimates are passed. Surely it will be a mistake if the services of these men are not retained. If, as was stated by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Gardner), the country needs protection, why have over 200 men been put off at Garden Island ? I am surprised that the Minister for Defence seems to be unaware of the true position. Surely he should have been . consulted before such action was taken. The excuse given by the foreman is that the Government have not sufficient money available to keep these men in employment, but . surely the Treasurer could provide an advance for the purpose.
. - It is very regrettable . that the Opposition is so completely blind to the national interests that in the pursuit of party aims, and from an amazingly misguided idea that it could thereby achieve some party advantage, it declines to show any interest in the Governor-General’s Speech. Honorable members opposite have not dealt with the matters touched upon in that Speech, and they allege as their reason that those matters are so utterly unimportant that it would be a waste of their time to consider them.
– In their present form.
– Such a declaration is a little appalling when one considers the nature of the subjects referred to in the Speech. I do not ask the Opposition to accept the views of the Government as set forth in the Speech, but have honorable members opposite no interest in the important subjects therein referred to? Is migration, for instance, a matter of no interest to them? Have they nothing at all to say with regard to the agreement recently entered into between the British and Commonwealth Governments? Have they no interest in the welfare of our great secondary industries? Are they not concerned about the alien immigration into this country? I have heard them talk of the necessity for the maintenance of racial purity, and of the result of the introduction of aliens. Are they in no way concerned with the Geneva Protocol?
– I rise to a point of order. The Prime Minister is referring to the Governor-General’s Speech .paragraph by paragraph, although your ruling, Mr. Speaker, was that honorable members arc debarred from discussing the Speech at this stage.
– My ruling was perfectly clear. The resumption of the debate on the motion for tho adoption of the Address-in-Reply has been fixed for to-morrow, and, therefore, honorable members may not now traverse the contents of the address. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did traverse them in defiance of my ruling.
– No, Mr. Speaker; in ignorance.
-I am afraid that sometimes I do not know the difference when the honorable member is concerned. The Prime Minister, apparently, is now replying to what he said, and I urge him to keep strictly within the ruling given.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but I think that I am quite in order in referring to the fact that the Opposition complains that tho House is adjourning early to-night because the Government has no business to do: On the contrary, we have a great deal of business to transact, as the Opposition will very soon discover. But out of courtesy to honorable members opposite, we have tried to facilitate their work in a manner that has become almost traditional in this Parliament. As I intimated to the Leader of the Opposition, the Government, not for its convenience, but for his, proposed to do no more to-day than to take the speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply, and then give him the adjournment, so that he would have ample opportunity to consider the Governor-General’s Speech, and deal with it in any way that he might desire. But now the Leader of the Opposition has said that there is nothing in the Governor-General’s Speech which interests him or this Parliament. I am very content to leave the matter there. The country will judge the Opposition, on its declaration that it takes no interest in the important matters that are mentioned in the Speech, and I am sure will come to the conclusion that honorable members opposite are not sincere, but desire to gain some party advantage. Taking £his view, the country will regard the attitude of honorable members as an absolute dereliction of duty on the part of His Majesty’s Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 9.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 June 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250610_reps_9_110/>.