9th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER (Et. Hon. W. A. Watt) laid on the table his warrant nominating Mr. Bayley, Mr. Cook, Mr. Mann, Mr. Makin, and Mr. Watkins to act as temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act - Special Report of the AuditorGeneral, being supplementary to the Report upon the Accounts for the year 1923-24.
Ordered to be printed.
The following papers were presented, pursuant to Statute: -
Audit Act - Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1924-25- Dated 10th June, 1925.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Bencubbin, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Markets and Migration Department - List of Regulations and Proclamations issued under various Acts administered by the Department. Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of -
Trade and Customs - E. A. Dunt, R. A. Patten, E. P. Vallentine, W. L. White- hall.
Works and Railways - H. C. Carrick. Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1025, Nos. 03, 04, 05.
Debate resumed from 12th June (vide page 170), on motion by Mr. Charlton -
That the Government is deserving of. the severest’ censure for its flagrant breach of faith in failing to honour the definite promise of the Prime Minister to consult the House before determining where the second cruiser should be built, and for its anti-Australian action in sending millions of pounds out of the country for the construction of both cruisers abroad.
.- Many censure motions have been moved in this Parliament, but I do not remember one to which a weaker or more evasive reply has been made than has been put forward by the Government on this occasion. The first part of the motion claims -
That the Government is deserving of the severest censure for its flagrant breach of faith in failing to honour the definite promise of the Prime Minister to consult the House before determining where the second cruiser should be built.
To a certain extent the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) have attempted to deal with this charge, but honorable members on this side have proved from the records of Hansard that the definite promise was made that this House would have an opportunity to discuss the building of cruisers before a contract was made. That charge cannot be refuted. The Prime Minister claimed that circumstances had altered after he had made what he said to be the original promise in this House, and when Parliament was in recess. In what way had circumstances altered? Was it that war in the Pacific was expected in the near future? I do not know that circumstances had altered; but I know that our own Shipping Board submitted an estimate of the possible cost of constructing cruisers in Australia, and that this estimate was published to the world, and contractors abroad thus gained a considerable advantage over our own people. There has been too much of that sort of thing of late years in regard to state and federal contracts. But, quite apart from the promise given to this chamber that we should have an opportunity to discuss the question of where the cruisers should be built, I contend that the matter of spending up to £5,000,000 outside Australia on the construction of two cruisers was sufficiently important to be submitted to Parliament for approval, particularly as the Government claim to have been returned at the last election as Protectionists. Last session, when this question was debated, the Prime Minister was accused, rightly or wrongly, of having promised, when abroad, that one of the cruisers would be built in Great Britain. He strenuously denied the accusation, and honorable members accepted his denial, but the fact remains that, even at that stage, it had been decided that Australian tenderers were not to be asked to tender for more than one cruiser, and that in any case one of them was to be built in Great Britain. It is useless to claim that tenders were called for fairly and openly between the several competitors here and abroad. In the building of such costly things as cruisers, British shipbuilders have generally an infinite advantage over all other competitors. In the case of these cruisers, they not only had the right to tender for two of the vessels, but had already commenced the construction of similar cruisers for the British Government. In these circumstances, their overhead charges for two cruisers for the Commonwealth Government would bear no comparison with those for which Australian shipbuilders would be obliged to provide in submitting a tender for one cruiser. The whole of the conditions were such that no Australian shipbuilding yard had a chance of competing successfully with British shipbuilders.
The other charge against the Government is that it is deserving of the severest censure - for Us anti-Australian action in sending millions of pounds out of the country for the construction of both cruisers abroad.
Neither the Prime Minister nor the Treasurer made any attempt to reply to that . charge ; they simply relied on the declaration that the Opposition had no defence policy. I have yet to learn that it is the duty of an opposition to frame a policy for any government in power.
– We cannot help reading the newspapers.
– If the honorable member has read the proper papers, he will have found that the difference between the Government’s idea of defending Australia and that of the Opposition is in matters of detail only. The supporters of the Labour party will be defending Australia when the honorable member will probably be pleading for some one to come to Australia’s assistance.
Too much work has been placed outside Australia by this and other nationalist governments. I could cite instances in which Australian tenders, although they were the lowest, have not been accepted for work required by some of the states, and that work was sent abroad. This Government prints on every letter that goes through the post, “Patronize Australianmade Goods,” and this is the way it does it! The Prime Minister has made the statement that even if these cruisers were built in Australia only 15 per cent, of the materials used in them would be Australian. I do not know where he obtained that extraordinary figure. If all the constructional work that could be done in Australia was done here, it would amount to much more than 15 per cent, of the whole. It seems to be forgotten that we have already built war boats here. One might think, after listening to the Prime Minister, that the present proposal was new. We were told that unless we built one of these cruisers in England we should not be able to obtain the plans for the other one. Surely the British Government, after all that has occurred, and after all that we did, and tried to do, during the war, would not refuse, if we chose to build a cruiser here, to provide us with the plans. Are we to believe that we have been ‘ ‘ turned down “ to that ex tent? Are we to believe that the British Government would be so ungracious as to say to the Australian people, “ Unless you order one of these cruisers in Great Britain, you cannot have the plans for the other one.” Yet a statement to that effect was made in this House when the building of the cruisers was first discussed. Something has been said about the want of plate-rolling mills at places in Australia where they would be required for the building of these cruisers. Since the Government has abandoned the policy of having ships built in this country, what encouragement is there for any firm to lay down costly plant? I know that in my electorate a plate mill would be laid down to make even armour plate if this Parliament would pursue a consistent policy of encouraging Australian industries; but with a vacillating Government and an ever-changing policy, who is likely to invest £750,000 to provide a mill that 1 may have to remain idle after only a short period of use? The excuse is always put forward that no one in Australia makes the particular things that the Government happens to need. Is that intended to convey the idea that we cannot make them ? Is it an admission that we cannot make the’ materials for a war boat in this country? Does it mean that we cannot, if need be, make a- gun to defend Australia? I saw war material being made abroad, but witnessed no operation that could not be performed in this country if we made up our minds to do it. We started to build ships, and intended to build mercantile and war vessels. Men were sent to Great Britain to be taught the business, and skilled men from abroad were brought to this country. We collected artisans at the shipyards after inducing them to give up the trades they were following, and learn the business of shipbuilding. These men are now in different centres - in my electorate, in Sydney, in Brisbane, and in Adelaide. Many of them are purchasing homes which are now partly paid for. The abandonment of the policy of building ships in this country means that these men have been deceived, and that most of them must relinquish the homes they are purchasing. That is the kind of encouragement Australian artisans receive from this Government. While the Government has adopted a policy of sending work abroad,
Australian engineers and iron trades workers are out of employment. A further iniquity is that the Government is importing Southern Europeans into this country for no other purpose apparently, than to lower wages, and reduce the standard of living in the com: mungy. Nothing could be more criminal than this policy. The Government talks about possible danger from the East, but it has given Australia the worst advertisement it ever had. The building of cruisers abroad is a clear announcement to the world that we are helpless to build them ourselves. As an Australian-born I deny that we are helpless to build our own warships. We can do anything in Australia that can be done in any other part of the world, if we make up our mind to do it. If any Government has ever been antiAustralian, this Government has been so. The Minister for Defence (Sir .Neville Howse) knows that a completed vessel can enter the Commonwealth duty free, but much of the material which an Australian builder would require in constructing a vessel would have to pay an exceptionally heavy duty.
– I do not think that is so.
– I think the Minister will find that if the material were required by, say, a State Government, duties would be imposed, and surely consideration should have been given to that aspect of the question. If a, completed vessel can enter Australia duty free, the material which an Australian shipbuilder would require in construction should also be admitted duty free. At present, an import duty is imposed on all vessels up to 500 tons entering the Australian coastal trade; but in order to avoid the payment of duty, such vessels are now being built of 520 tons and over.
The defence policy of the Labour party differs from that of the Government in many respects. We are of the opinion that more submarines and aeroplanes are necessary to defend Australia. But that does not justify the Government- in placing orders for the construction of two cruisers, whether they are necessary or not, outside Australia. The Government and their supporters, who believe that we should make Australia self-supporting, should set an example to others by having all the work that can be undertaken in the Com monwealth carried out here. The ridiculousness of the position was made evident by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), when he said that a preference equal to 60 per cent, was given to Thompson and Company, at Castlemaine, in connexion with the construction of locomotives. The members of the Labour party welcome such a preference, but it would be interesting to know what would have happened if the works in which those locomotives are being manufactured had been in Brisbane, Sydney, or Adelaide. The concession was. made by ‘ the Government in a spirit of repentance, and in order to placate their protectionist supporters, who would have severely censured them if the contract had been placed overseas. The Government was willing in that case to give concessions to a firm which had been constructing engines for many years, but was not prepared to grant a similar concession to the shipbuilding industry, which has not been established for anything approaching the same time. Even though the shipbuilding industry has not been established in Australia for many years, experts from all parts of the world have spoken in the highest terms concerning the manner in which all branches of the work have been carried out in Australian shipbuilding yards. It has also been stated by the men in control of these industries - many of whom are not Australian-born - that they never wish to be in control of men of a better type. On the other hand, it has been stated that, in consequence of the shorter ‘ hours worked in Australia and the higher standard of living which obtains here, it is utterly impossible for the Australian builders to compete with those in other countries. In consequence of the policy adopted by the Government, approximately £5,000,000 will be sent out of the Commonwealth. Even if the cruisers were built here at a cost of 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, more than the contract price, as some say would be the case, the money so expended would have been in constant circulation, and much of it would have been returned to the Government in the form of taxation, which would to some extent compensate for the difference in price. But notwithstanding this, and the fact that people are over-taxed, we see work which could be done in. Australia being placed outside the country, whilst thousands of our own artisans are idle.
I wish to again emphasize a fact which has not been, mentioned in the present debate, and that is that orders for two submarines have been placed abroad without Australian firms having an opportunity to submit a tender. What comes from this sort of thing ? The Government decided at the beginning that one cruiser should be built in Great Britain, and thus handicapped the local industry by inviting tenders for the building of only one cruiser in Australia. It followed that up by deciding that two submarines should be built overseas, and did not give the Australian shipbuilders an opportunity even to tender. I have never seen, since the inception of this Parliament, such a bare-faced effort to hoodwink the people as this Government has made. It appears to have determined not to patronize Australian manufactures, and not to develop our secondary industries. Surely, seeing that we are an island continent 16,000 miles from Great Britain, we ought to be doing our best to establish the shipbuilding industry here; particularly for the purpose of building vessels to defend ourselves in a time of danger. What an admission this Government has made to the world ! It has intimated that Australia cannot build war vessels, and that if any vessel we have should need repairs or renewals, if even one armour plate be needed, we must send 16,000 miles to get it. The Government is only playing with defence. The best provision that can be made for defence is to so organize our industries that we shall be able to manufacture for ourselves the armaments that we need. If we had these industries established, and a contented people behind them, we would be in a reasonably good position to defend ourselves should we be attacked. As things are now we are unable to make even big shells; we must send thousands of miles for them”. Who would dare to say that we could not manufacture shells here? If we had a little machinery we could make the shells necessary for the biggest guns we have. Everybody knows that it could be done. Every part of our defence armaments could be made here, with the possible exception of some scientific instruments, and we should be making them. Without a foundation of this kind it is idle for us to talk about defending Australia. We are in the ridiculous position of having to send abroad for almost every weapon we need. It is anti-Australian and antinational to continue this policy; but the Government has proved itself, to be both anti- Australian and anti-national by not taking Parliament into its confidence, and permitting honorable members to discuss whether these cruisers, in particular, should be manufactured here or abroad. The Government has blazoned forth to the world our incompetence to defend ourselves, and in doing so it has been most unfair to the country. Do other nations act like this ? They do not. Although Great Britain was totally unprepared for war in August, 1914, she did not advertise her unpreparedness. She kept her own counsel, and set to work to supply her deficiencies. As time went on she was able to equip herself properly for the conflict. The policy of this Government is thoroughly unsatisfactory. I submit that it has shown the insincerity of its professed desire to defend Australia. Personally I believe we are in no danger from the East for many years to come, but I hold that if the cruisers are to be built for Australia they should be built in Australia. We should not be sending millions of money abroad to have this work done for us there; we should be spending it here to provide work for our own people, many of whom are now unemployed. No motion of censure was ever so thoroughly justified as this one, nor has any government so richly deserved censure as this. The Government kept Parliament in recess for nearly eight months, and in that time accepted overseas tenders for the building of these cruisers, and did many- other anti- Australian acts. Instead of spending this -money in our own workshops, and so increasing the proficiency of our people, it has decided that the money shall be spent abroad, and so it has left us in a worse position than we were previously in, so far as the defence of our country is concerned.
– The motion of censure which has been moved by the Leader of ‘ the Opposition can be divided into two parts. The first portion of it lays a very grave charge against the right honorable the Prime Minister. It accuses him of having committed .what is probably the gravest offence that the leader of a house can commit, namely, that of intention- ally deceiving his fellow members. I shall not discuss that part of the motion, for the Prime Minister has definitely and specifically denied the charge as to the intention, and also as to the fact. It now must be left to honorable members to determine upon the definite facts that have been placed before them who is right and who is wrong.
The Leader of the Opposition, in speaking to the motion, wisely delegated to one of his able lieutenants, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), the responsibility of dealing with the second part of the motion. I must admit that that honorable member, by the exercise of great assiduity, was able to marshal an extraordinary number of interesting facts. The data he gave will be of value to honorable members on both sides of the House. But I regret that much of what he said, although interesting, contained only part truths.
– The honorable member should not say that.
– I should like the honorable member for Gwydir, who has admonished me for my remarks, to call to mind a verse that he knew some years ago, but possibly has forgotten in his parliamentary career -
That lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright - But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
I ask the permission of the House to digress for a few moments to refer - as I think I am justified in doing with some pride - to the history of our Defence Forces. (
– That would scarcely be relevant to the motion.
– May I not show the necessity for a continuance of the policy of defence laid down by our predecessors? In 1909, defence not being a party matter, the definite policy was adopted of forming an Australian navy, and I think that I shall be in. order in reminding honorable members o’f the value of that navy to the country during the critical years between .1914 and 1919. The battleship Australia had an extraordinarily good record. Not only was it used to take from the enemy its possessions in the Pacific, thus protecting us on the flank, bub it also prevented the bombardment and possible destruction of our coastal cities. That vessel was used also to escort transports carrying Australian troops to the other side of the world. I shall not weary the House with a recapitulation of the splendid record of our little fleet, but ite achievements are emblazoned on the nation’s scroll of fame. The epic of submarine AE 1, which was lost in New Guinea, and of submarine AE2, which was the first vessel to force the passage of the Dardanelles, and was subsequently lost in the Sea of Marmora, has not yet been written. Honorable members of the Opposition have endeavoured to convince the people that this type of naval defence is not required. I have no intention of traversing all the extraordinary statements they have made, because these are hardly .worthy of the consideration of reasonable men; but whatever may be the prospect of the continuance of peace, however still the wai era of the harbour, we must be prepared to face all the difficulties that lie beyond. Australia must be prepared to defend herself. She cannot, in a jack-in-the-box fashion, be in or out of the Empire at her pleasure. The defence policy which was inaugurated in 1909 must be continued, not only for the defence of this country, but also for the defence of our ideals. The continuance of that policy was decided upon by the Cabinet in view of advice tendered by our own naval officers, and by the British Admiralty. A moment’s consideration of the naval construction that has taken place in other countries since the Armistice will show the necessity for some construction being undertaken by Australia. Apart from capital ships, the cruisers and other vessels which have been laid ‘down since 1919 are as follow : -
– I desire to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the remarks of the Minister. The censure motion is specific, and relates to the action of the Government in ordering the construction of cruisers outside Australia. I submit that the honorable member is out of order.
– I indicated to the Minister at the commencement of this excursion, that it would be necessary for him to show relevance. I am not. prepared at the present time to rule that his remarks are not relevant; but the whole subject of naval defence is not under discussion. As the Minister himself pointed out, the motion is divided into two parts, the first containing an allegation of breach of faith by the Prime Minister and the Government, and the second raising the question whether the second cruiser should be built in Australia or in Great Britain. I ask the Minister to confine himself to those issues.
– In conformity with your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I shall deal now with the least contentious part of the Government’s actions - the construction of submarines - of which the Government has decided to build two abroad. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) and the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) have laid great stress upon the fact that, although men were sent to Great Britain to acquire practical knowledge in the construction of submarines, the Government did not give Australians an opportunity to tender for this work. It has been stated that the orders were sent abroad without even endeavouring to ascertain whether these vessels could be built in Australia.
– That is quite true.
– Here again w-e have one of those partial truths to which I have already referred. In 1916, fifteen men were selected from Australian shipyards, and sent to England to acquire a knowledge of submarine construction, and they returned in 1918. Since there was no need at that time to continue the construction of submarines, these men gradually dispersed, and even if they were available to-day, their knowledge of the work would be out of date.
– Some of these men are actively employed at Walsh Island at the present time.
– That does not alter the fact that their knowledge is out of date, owing to the progress that has been made in naval construction during the last nine years. For many items in the construction and equipment of submarines, highly skilled workmanship is required. Men with years of experience are needed for the installation of the special machinery required in submarine construction. It would be impossible to attempt the building of . such vessels in Australia without running the gravest risk of ultimate failure. Even assuming that submarines could be built in Australia at a very much lower cost than in Great Britain, I have no. hesitation in saying that no Government would accept the responsibility of permitting, for example, the installation in a submarine of a special type of Diesel engine which would be the first to be manufactured in Australia.
With regard to the cruisers, it was decided that plans and specifications should be obtained from England, and that tenders should be invited in both Great Britain and Australia. Tenders were called for two cruisers, one to be built in Great Britain and one in Australia. Tenders were also invited in Australia, for one cruiser to be built locally. The tenders were called under exactly the same conditions in Great Britain as in Australia. As a statement showing the amounts of the various tenders has already been published in the press, I ask permission to include it in Hansard without first reading it.
– I rise to a point of order. The Minister has handed to the Second Clerk a quantity of type-written matter which he desires shall be included in the report of his speech. We, on this side, do not know whether it is relevant to the question.
– The point raised is a perfectly good one. I have ruled on two or three occasions regarding the inclusion in the columns of Hansard of matter not actually used in debate. If honorable members will refer to those rulings they will see that it is not permissible to include in Hansard such matter as that handed to the Clerk by the Minister. Outside those strict rulings, but in accordance with tradition, answers to questions on notice and the budget papers formally vouched for by the proper Commonwealth officials have been printed and included in Hansard without having been read, but nothing else.
– Then from the summary of tenders for one 10,000 ton cruiser to be built in Great Britain I shall give the following particulars: -
For each of two vessels to be built in Great Britain, tender No. 1 was for £1,087,633 for the hull and machinery, and £913,694 for the supply and erection of items to complete each ship, including guns, gun mountings, other armaments, instruments, and ammunition, making a total cost to complete the ship of, approximately, £2,001,327, the time for delivery being stated as 34 months. I do not think that it is necessary for me to give the remainder of the figures. It is enough to say that the prices vary from £2,012,663 for No. 3 tender to £2,169,483 for No. 10 tender, the time for completion being 36 months. In the case of tenders 4 and 4a, 39 months was required for delivery. In addition to the prices mentioned, the sum of £50,000 would have to be added to the British tenders for bringing the vessels to Australia. The sum of £140,186 would also have to be added for spare guns, gun mountings, and other material not carried on the ship whether the vessels were constructed in Australia or in Great Britain.
– Did not the tenders include spare parts?
– No, The amount of £140,186 must be added to both the British and the Australian tenders, because the amount must be apportioned between the two vessels. The following are the figures for the construction of one cruiser in Australia : -
I desire to emphasize that the tender of £3,238,694 submitted by a British shipbuilder included the sum of £302,000 for the use of the Cockatoo Island dockyard facilities, and was dependent on the same firm receiving the order for the building of one cruiser in Great Britain. This figure is probably nearer the cost of building a cruiser in Australia than the estimate submitted by the Commonwealth Shipping Board, which was dependent on there being no variations in the rate of wages, hours of work, or cost of materials and freight during the period of construction. The lowest Australian tender was £2,879,920, which, compared with John Brown’s price of £2,028,522, shows a difference of approximately £851,000. It has been stated that the difference between the Australian and the lowest British tender is less than that amount; but the lowest tender was not accepted, for reasons which the Government considers adequate. The British shipbuilder’s price of £3,238,694 is approximately £1,100,000 more than that of John Brown for the construction of one cruiser, but when we consider the cost of the vessels that have been built in Australia, I doubt very much whether we would get the contract completed in Australia with a difference of only £1,100,000. There is no evidence upon which one could be sure of that.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) in his able speech laid the greatest stress upon the gross injustice which had been done to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. He said that the management of the dockyard is charged 5 per cent. for interest on capital, 5 per cent, for profit, and 28 per cent. for overhead charges. Honorable members sitting on his side of the chamber nodded approval of the statement, and were delighted at his having been able to quote figures indicative of so grave an injustice.
– I adhere to that statement.
– It was an excellent statement, but, unfortunately, it does not contain even a small portion of truth. If interest were not charged upon the capital it would be a charge against the public funds. It might be a perfectly correct procedure to charge these percentages against the public funds, though I fail to see why they should be charged. However, honorable members may be interested to hear the definition placed by the Shipping Board upon the term “ overhead charges.” In a letter dated the 30th J anuary, 1924, the board defined overhead charges as -
Maintenance; repairs and depreciation on machinery, plant, buildings, wharfs, quays, floating craft, &c; power; fuel; stores; yard- lighting;, tool-room; fire appliances; manager’s staff; all foremen’s salaries; general stores (not material built into the vessels) ; stationery; telegrams; telephones; postage; military leave; general labourers about the dockyard; crane-drivers and other indirect labour and material (i.e., not actually employed on or about the vessel; and the vessel material).
The honorable member for Dalley also stated that British shipbuilders, in order to retain ship construction in Great Britain, had been tendering for contracts without providing for any profit, and without including the full overhead charges. Yet, in the same breath he told us that the shares of John Brown and Company Limited rose1s. on theLondon market so soon as it became known that that firm was the successful tenderer for these cruisers ! Does the honorable member wish us to believe that that rise in the value of those shares was due to the fact that the firm was making a contract from which it would receive no profit, and in which overhead expenses were not charged? He surely was not serious in that contention.
– I am quite serious.
– Then I am sorry for the honorable member.
It is very difficult to ascertain the views of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) in relation to the second charge contained in the motion. The only way in which it can be done is to study his interjections. I shall deal with one of those interjections now. The honorable gentleman said that the effect of placing the order for the cruisers outside Australia was the loss of £4,250,000 by Australian workmen. The honorable member for Dalley reserved to himself the right to raise the bid of his chief, and made the amount £5,000,000. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) accepted the figure of the honorable member for Dalley. But what are the facts?
Were the two cruisers constructed in Australia the monetary benefit to Australian workmen would be only £1,100,000 on each vessel, or £2,200,000 in all. In that case also, the honorable member was guilty of stating the half-truth which is so difficult to refute. It is estimated that had the lowest Australian tender been accepted, approximately 85 per cent, of the material used in the construction of the vessel would have had to be imported. Approximately £1,500,000 would have had to be sent overseas for material, and only £1,400,000 would have been spent in Australia in labour, supervision, depreciation, maintenance, and material. The honorable member for Dalley maintained that in order to have steel plates manufactured in Australia it was necessary merely to install rolling machinery, and he claimed that the mills could be working in a very short space of time. It would cost £1,250,000 to install the machinery necessary to roll the plates for these two cruisers, and that machinery, if installed, would be working for six weeks only. Of course, it could be installed; but I ask sane men whether it would be wise to install machinery at such a cost, and for use for so short a time, which would have to lie idle for three or four years?
– That means that a start is never to be made in Australia in the ship-building industry.
– I hope that the need for building cruisers in Australia will never arise.
– The Government would build vessels merely to sink them.
– If every other country agreed to disarm, I should be glad to have all vessels of war sunk.
The honorable member for Newcastle spoke confidently of the manufacture of armament in Australia. I agree with him that armament could be made in Australia; but the cost would be absolutely prohibitive. Even in England there are only two firms - Armstrong’s and Vickers’ - which are able to retain in their employ through periods of slackness the men required for the manufacture of big armament. Torpedoes are not manufactured in Australia, nor are the special instruments that vessels of war require. The Leader of the Opposition, by interjection, stated that when the Labour party was in power it had cruisers built in Australia. But the only vessel almost wholly constructed in Australia was the Adelaide. No portion of the machinery and none of the fittings of the Brisbane were manufactured in Australia. I think that every unbiased1 person will admit that under present conditions it is impossible to build a cruiser in Australia. In the past our efforts have been confined practically to the assembling of the imported parts.
The honorable member for Dalley stated that the anti-Australian attitude of honorable members on this side showed that they were not prepared to assist Australian industry in any way. There is no justification whatever for that statement. Contracts were let in Australia for the building of fourteen locomotives for the Oodnadatta railway, at a cost £31,000 in excess of the price quoted for British locomotives. Making allowance for the duty of £26,000 that would have been collected by the Customs Department, the Government thus sustained a loss of £57,000. During the years 1922-23 and 1923-24 the Postal Department paid for material £284,610 in excess of the overseas prices, contributing to that extent to the establishment of industries for the manufacture of post office requirements. Immediately I took charge’ of the Defence Department I instructed its. officials to give consideration to locallymanufactured goods in preference to imported goods. I may be pardoned if I quote from the instruction that I then issued -
There are other considerations to be taken into account beside the bare difference in price between local and imported goods. There are some articles which, if the English pattern and specification be rigidly adhered to, could not be manufactured in Australia within reasonable approach to the cost of the imported article, but if the pattern and specification be modified, as I feel sure they can be in many cases without detriment to the service, to suit the facilities for local manufacture, the local cost can be reduced considerably. The settled policy of this country is protection and the building-up of secondary industries, and any action calculated to be subversive to that policy is likely to cause irritation. My desire is that the resources of this country be utilized to the fullest extent possible, and I trust that my consent to the importation of articles for the manufacture of which good facilities exist in Australia will not be asked until every means of obtaining a suitable article of Australian manufacture at a reasonable cost has been exhausted.
That clearly indicates my attitude towards the’ policy laid down by the Government.
– Still the Government is importing articles required for its departments at prices higher than those at which they could be obtained from local firms.
– The Defence Department is giving Australian manufacturers a preference of from 2 to 108 per cent, over and above the protection afforded by the tariff, with the object of encouraging Australian industries.
The honorable member ‘ for Dalley asked in all seriousness why the Government did not place the contract for these cruisers in Japan or Germany. Does he really not see any difference between placing a contract with a foreign nation, and giving it to the nation from which we have sprung, and which even to-day protects us in the liberties which we enjoy? Does he not know perfectly well that if the war had gone against us Ave should have been helotized by the Prussians?
– What has that to do with the construction of these cruisers?
– It would have had to do with the honorable member if it had taken place.
– The Minister has no reason to talk in that way. I have done just as much as he has for this country.
-Order! I remind the honorable member for Dalley that his interjections are disorderly.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) also pointed out that certain shipping firms abroad, and even Ministers, have given assistance to shipbuilders in the United Kingdom. That is exactly what this Government has done for the industry in Australia during the last few years. It is extraordinary that in a consideration of this non-party subject, certain honorable members are so unreasonable. Two large merchant ships and two lighthouse steamers have been built in Australia to the order of this Government, and it is intended at an early date, with the consent of Parliament, to commence the building of a 6,000-ton seaplane carrier, estimated to cost £835,000. Repeated inquiries have been made of me and other Ministers as to what has been the cost of these vessels. I really think that, in the circumstances, it is better to leave the question unanswered. But if the Treasurer is budgeting for this vessel at £S35,000, I should advise him to add £200,000 or £300,000 to the amount. The Commonwealth Government is not the only government in Australia that is compelled to place orders for ships in Great Britain. In The Syren and Shipping, one of the British shipbuilding papers so extensively quoted by the honorable member for
Dalley, at page 564, of the issue of the 20th August, 1924, there appears this announcement -
It is gratifying to report that, simultaneously with the arrival of the ferry steamer Koondooloo at Sydney, Messrs. J. Crighton and Company Limited, Chester, have been notified of the acceptance of their tender for a similar vessel required by the Tasmanian Government for service ‘between Hobart and Bellerive.
The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), when speaking in the House on Friday last, stated that the Western Australian Government also had, within the last few months, placed an order for steamers in Great Britain. The seaplane carrier, being a warship, will give the special experience to the local staff, and skilled workmen required for any repair work to warships, at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. But a much greater percentage of the cost of the seaplane carrier will be spent in- Australia, since it is estimated that 25 per cent, of the material it will contain will be of Australian manufacture, whereas only 15 per cent, of the material in a cruiser could be manufactured in Australia. If the people of Australia will view the matter dispassionately in the light of these facts, I am sure that the great majority will commend the decision of the Government as the wisest and best in the interests of Australia as a whole.
The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) stressed the importance of developing our factories so that, in the event of war, they could be turned over to munitions work. Other honorable members have spoken of the advisability of doubling our aerial forces. This is part of the Government policy. I agree that we must have an army of men trained in the production of munitions, and for- the prosecution of chemical warfare.
Before concluding, I should like to say that I envy the honorable member for Dalley his power of invective, but I deplore very much the bitter attack made by him on departmental ‘officers, who, by virtue of their position, are defenceless. I respectfully submit that his attack was not in keeping with the best traditions of this House, and I hope that the honorable member will make the amende honorable. I have endeavoured to place clearly before the House the facts in connexion with the necessity for the construction of naval vessels, urgently required to replace those now obsolete. The Government has decided to build the cruisers and submarines in the United Kingdom, and the seaplane carrier at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. I have no hesitation in saying that, on economic grounds, this decision requires no justification. It was the only decision possible, in the interests of Australia. May I remind the Leader of the Opposition that whilst I may be a novice in political warfare, I know that he committed a grave error in launching so weak a frontal attack. In warfare it is an axiom that frontal attacks, unless pushed home with great zeal and overwhelming force, inevitably fail. The debate on the motion of censure, although commenced only on Friday last, is practically dead, and even the able debaters behind the honorable gentleman will be unable to “bring back to it more than the feeble flicker of life which so often precedes death. I much regret the bitter criticism of the Government, and of the department of which I have the honour to preside, but I am upheld by the words of the Psalmist -
Thou shall not be afraid for the terror by might nor for the arrow that flieth by day.
– I have to congratulate the Minister (Sir Neville Howse) for the excellent manner in which he read the essay which obviously was prepared by some one in his department. The Minister emphasized that, before cruisers could be constructed in Australia, it would be necessary to establish an expensive plant for the rolling of armour plates. I remind “him that the firm which secured the contract, John Blown and Company, does not roll plates, so that armour plates -would have to be transported from the : rolling mills in any case, either to th«
Clyde or to Australia. Possibly John Brown and Company, being nearer to the rolling mills, would get the plates a little more cheaply.
The real charge against the Government is that the Prime Minister deliberately informed the House last year that, before finality was reached with regard to these contracts, honorable members would have an opportunity to discuss them. The mover of the motion (Mr. Charlton) quoted the Hansard report of our debates, and showed clearly that the Prime Minister had promised that no action would be taken until this House had had an opportunity to discuss the proposal. That was a definite charge which was not answered to-day by the Minister for Defence. That honorable gentleman contented himself by saying that he did not wish to touch upon it as the Prime Minister had already done so. I have no desire to say that the Prime Minister deliberately deceived honorable members - I could hardly credit that an honorable gentleman in his position would do that - but either he has forgotten his promise or some pressure has been brought to bear upon him to prevent Parliament from discussing the matter. The contract for the building of these cruisers was let two months ago. What was the hurry, when Parliament was so soon to meet? Were we in the throes of a war when ships were required immediately? Surely one who had the confidence of the country and of Parliament need not be afraid to meet Parliament and say, “ I propose to let these contracts overseas, and ask your concurrence in that action.” But honorable members were completely deceived. Before Parliament was called together the newspapers informed us that a contract had been let overseas. It is true that on the .last occasion when a vote on the question was taken in this Parliament, we as a Labour party opposed the building of cruisers; but our action in that regard was not to be construed as concurrence on our part in the letting of tenders overseas. We were opposed to the building of cruisers while there was every likelihood of an international disarmament conference being called which might at any rate have reduced the limitation of cruisers to 8,000 or even 5,000 tons. In such circumstances we thought the proper course was to stay our hands until we knew the result of the deliberations of the contemplated .conference. Our attitude was not that we would not build cruisers if we were in power. Had the Labour party been in power all over the world there would certainly have been no need for the building of cruisers, but, unfortunately, that was not the case.
We have proved our charge that the Prime Minister broke faith with the House. When we asked- the right honorable gentleman to read the report of his own speech in Hansard he shifted about and would not come directly to the point. By refusing to read the extract to which we directed his attention he practically admitted the charge we had made against him, but at the first opportunity we shall ask the people of the country to say whether the promise he made has been faithfully kept. Of course, we know that it has not been faithfully kept, but we shall wait patiently until the people have a chance to pronounce upon the antiAustralian policy of the present Government.
No honorable member opposite has referred to the effect the letting of tenders abroad is likely to have upon Australia from the stand-point of giving employment to our own people. Every week men are being discharged from Cockatoo Island and other shipbuilding yards because there is not sufficient work for them. I am told’ that the Navy Office is filled with officers who have come from the Old Country. I do not blame these men for sticking up for the country from which they came, and for endeavouring to assist the people in that country, but it is our duty to see that the money we collect from the taxpayers of Australia is spent in Australia, and spent properly. I come from the Old Country, and although I do not hold any brief for it I do not regard it as a foreign country. Its people are of our flesh and blood, and any assistance we can afford them we have a right to give them. But it is all nonsense to say that those who are opposed to the letting of these contracts in Great Britain are anti-British. The strength and power of any country depend, upon the amount of skill its workmen display, yet we have thousands of skilled workmen walking our streets unable to secure employment. It is unfortunately true that there is also a great dearth of employment in Great Britain, but Australia has a greater per- centage of unemployment among its skilled workmen than Great Britain has. What consolation is it to the man who returns to his wife and family, after walking the streets seeking employment and unable to get it, to know that the Commonwealth Government is saving £800,000 by building a cruiser in Great Britain? . Unfortunately, we have in office to-day a government which contains many men who have never known what it is to be unemployed, and who have been blessed with all the good things of this life through the efforts of their fathers, or others who have gone before them. The Prime Minister is to be envied. He has been reared in the lap of comfort and he lives ‘ in luxury. I do not say that he cannot sympathize with those who are looking for employment, but he cannot have for those unfortunates who are starving the same feeling that one displays who knows what it means to be looking for work. What is the saving of £SOO,000 compared with the comfort and happiness of the people of this country? The saving is a myth. Parliament should be above considering that sort of thing.
Is Australia always to be dependent upon other countries for the product of highly-skilled trades? Should we not use every means at our disposal to establish industries? If America had adopted the policy followed by our Government it would never have become a manufacturing country. It did not study questions of cost. Its people said, “ We shall make America self-contained by doing these things ourselves.” That is how America has become a great manufacturing country. Although Great Britain has always been, a free-trade country, it has not sent orders overseas for the building of vessels. The British Government has always realized that it had the skilled mechanics available, and has always protected its industries’ by calling upon them to manufacture all its requirements. That is how Great Britain has become the power it is among the nations to-day. If our island continent is to become one of the nations of the world, which I know it will be, we must likewise foster our industries.
– ‘Has Great Britain established itself by a policy of protection?
– No. Although Great Britain professes to be free trade, it has never sent overseas to get work done.
Knowing its own requirements it has built ils own navy, and we have a right to do the same here. I should not hesitate to give contracts to Great Britain if we had plenty of work for our own skilled workmen. I have read in the newspapers that the shipbuilders, of Great Britain have declared that the placing of an order for two cruisers for the Australian Government was a godsend to them, because British shipping companies were sending their orders to Germany. If Great Britain cannot look after its own unemployed, why should Ave be expected to help it to’ do so? The Government has deceived Parliament by not carrying out its promise to give those who represent the people a say in the matter of letting contracts for the building of cruisers costing over £4,250,000. The gentlemen who occupy the Treasury bench are really only in a position like that of the directors of a company. When the directors of a company wish to embark upon any huge expenditure they first consult their principals. In this Parliament honorable members who are the chosen of the whole of the people are the principals whom the directors - in other words, the Government - should have . consulted before letting a contract for the building of these cruisers. The recent election in New South Wales turned upon the callous action of the National Government in the Federal Parliament in sending work out of Australia. I shall hail Avith pleasure the day when X shall have an opportunity to put the issue fairly and squarely before the people of Australia as a whOle.
This afternoon the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) spoke very ably upon the position of the steel industry at Newcastle. I have had an opportunity to inspect many of our great industrial establishments, and I have always felt proud of what our captains of industry have done for Australia. At Newcastle the Broken Hill Proprietary have had the courage to spend millions of pounds in establishing the steel industry; but what encouragement are they getting from the Minister for Defence and the Prime Minister when an occasion has arisen, when an opportunity has not been afforded them to supply some of the steel needed in the building of a cruiser, even if it represented only 15 per cent, of the material actually required? It is unfair to the men who put their capital into this great industry to send work abroad . which could be done in Australia. With such ari example before them, others who are willing to invest in Australian industries will say, “We shall not invest our money in Australian industries, because the Australian Government sends its work overseas.” If we want a self-contained Australia, we must help those who are prepared to build up industries in this country. To send work abroad is a simon our workmen. The present Government has deceived the people, and is deserving of the greatest censure.
– When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) launched his motion of censure, he certainly was to be complimented upon the moderation he showed in the presentation of his case, the temperate language he used, and the concise form, in which he set out the various points of his indictment against the Government. When the censure motion was in process of launching, it had the appearance of being a very formidable, if not invulnerable, battleship for the Opposition to use against the Government. Unfortunately for the vessel itself, and for honorable members of the Opposition, no sooner had the motion been launched than the Prime Minister fired a broadside which completely shattered the upper works of the formidablelooking craft, and it was not very long before a second broadside so badly holed her below the water-line that in less than half an hour after launching she could be kept afloat only with the greatest difficulty, and was almost a water-logged derelict, requiring the whole of the resources of her crew to keep her afloat. I felt some compassion for the Leader of the Opposition in being compelled to perform a, task which he was at a disadvantage in performing through not having been present in the House when the discussion took place concerning the construction of these cruisers. He was perforce absent from Australia on public business, and therefore had not the advantage of first-hand knowledge of the negotiations that had taken place, and of the debates in this House. The Prime Minister most effectively answered every criticism levelled against him, and completely demolished all the arguments advanced by the honorable the Leader of the Opposition, those arguments being based upon an entire misunderstanding of the facts. Having to rely, probably, on more or less inaccurate second-hand information supplied by his colleagues, he deserves to be complimented oh the apparently formidable case he presented. The Prime Minister answered it most effectively by reference to the Hansard records of the proceedings of this House. Every honorable member, had it been possible, would have preferred to have these cruisers constructed in Australia, not only on the ground that they would provide work for our own people, but also on the higher national ground that they would provide for our future safety by increasing the ability of our workmen to meet any of our requirements for naval defence. I assume that the Prime Minister and members of the Government had to rely very largely on information which, for obvious reasons, cannot be made available to all honorable members. Without any personal knowledge of what actually took place, I surmise that the Government was partly influenced in its decision by considerations other than pounds, shillings, and pence, including, possibly, questions involving our national safety. It may have had to take cognizance of the michievous activities of a foreign element - an enemy element, in our midst - an element that would have to be reckoned with if a national crisis arose during the building of the cruisers. That aspect of the matter no competent Government could afford to ignore. I only surmise that considerations of that kind might have had some bearing upon the determination of the Government.
– Those considerations exist only in the honorable member’s imagination.
– One has to draw inferences from certain facts that are patent to any one who keeps his eyes open and sees what is happening in our midst. Enemies of the British Empire, who have been afforded domicile under the Union Jack in this country, and entrenched themselves in some of the industrial unions, would not be tolerated in any other country for five minutes. Other weighty considerations also, no doubt, influenced the Government. To say that because these cruisers will not be built in Australia our workmen will be deprived of work and experience in shipbuilding, is a misstatement. The Prime Minister has already abundantly shown that behind all this pretended concern for the welfare of the Australian workmen engaged in the shipbuilding industry is the naked truth that were a Labour Government in office not an hour’s work on the construction of any Australian ship of war for defence purposes would have been done either in Australia or in any other country. We are therefore justified in questioning the sincerity of those who pretend to be so much concerned about the welfare of the Australian workers. They have accused the Government of being actuated by antiAustralian sentiments, but a taunt of that kind comes very ill from honorable members who have nothing Australian in their policy, and who have had to go to Russia for an objective, which had its genesis m Germany. There is no Australian sentiment in either their objective or their policy. Their policy is dictated from foreign countries, and by foreign sentiment. They are not even satisfied to acclaim their own Australian flag.
– I am speaking to the charge levelled against the Government of being anti-Australian m sentiment, and I say that that charge comes very ill from honorable members who, in their policy, have shown themselves to be an ti- Australian in spirit, and have been satisfied to go to foreigners even for their objective, allowing them to control their industrial and political organizations. They have entirely ignored the fact that work will be provided for our shipbuilders, if not in the building of cruisers, which a Labour Government would not have constructed in any case, at least in the building of other war vessels. The Prime Minister has clearly shown that the construction of the cruisers in Australia would not give the men practical experience in shipbuilding, for they would be employed, not in the constructional part of shipbuilding, but merely in the assembling of parts built overseas. Such work can only be said to be constructive in the sense that the work of a boy assembling the various parts of a meccano outfit can be said to be constructive. A boy using a meccano set cannot be said to be constructing what he is assembling, seeing that he has no knowledge of the structural principles he is employing. Australian shipbuilders working on these cruisers would be merely assembling parts manufactured elsewhere, and the finished article would not be constructed, but merely assembled, by them.
– That is a gross reflection on the Australian workman.
– Not at all; it would not. be the men’s fault. The Prime Minister has already made it quite clear that the men who would be employed on the cruisers would not be engaged in ship construction. By the placing of an order in Australia for the building of a seaplane-carrier, however, they will actually be engaged in ship construction, and will gain experience which, in the case of the cruisers, would be denied to them. Besides being provided with work, they will be able to construct other vessels of a similar kind. It cannot be imagined that one seaplanecarrier will be sufficient for our seaboard, which is vulnerable at almost every point over a distance of about 12,000 miles. It will matter little to the men whether they are working on a seaplane-carrier or a cruiser, so long as they get the work to do and the docks and men are fully employed. During my temporary absence from the chamber the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), 1 am informed, uttered some derogatory remarks concerning my attitude in this matter, and made certain statements which as reported to me were a misrepresentation of the actual facts. What happened in the case to which he referred was this: Whilst in Sydney I and other honorable members were waited upon by two representatives of the men ( employed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, i who expressed the hope that efforts would be made to have at least one of the two cruisers which the Government contemplated constructing built at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. According to the. newspapers the Government had already. decided to build the two vessels in Great Britain, and when I pointed this out the suggestion was made by one of the gentlemen that possibly some work might be found for the men at Cockatoo Island who had been engaged in ordinary ship construction on vessels such as the Fordsdale and Fernsdale. It was suggested that as plans, specifications, and templates of those vessels were available at once, it would save time and provide work for those who were unemployed while waiting for the plans of the seaplane carrier to be prepared, if a further ship of the same type were put in hand. I suggested that the best plan would be for the two representatives to arrange an interview with the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when he visited Sydney as he was expected to do in the, course of a few days. I also mentioned that it would be undesirable for a large deputation consisting of politicians and newspaper representatives to be present, as it would probably lead only to electioneering speeches being made without benefit to any one but the politicians. I suggested that a small deputation should have a quiet talk with the Prime Minister in order to see if something of a practical nature in the direction indicated, or in some other direction, could not be done. I believe that those honorable members opposite who are unbiased and are sincerely desirous of providing employment for these men will applaud my action in this connexion, as publicity was not likely to be gained by any one, and there would be no likelihood of any one gaining political advantage in consequence of the meeting. There are some, of course, to whom it would not appeal, because it would not afford opportunity for limelight and political self-advertisement. I was not anxious to gain any political or other advantage, but, was merely desirous of giving the best advice to those who approached me in the matter. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister did not visit Sydney when expected, or if he did his stay was so short that there was no opportunity of arranging an interview. However, I later communicated with the Prime Minister by letter in which I brought before him the suggestions which had been made by these gentlemen. I did the best I could in the circumstances. As I have already pointed out, employment will be found in constructing a seaplane carrier at Cockatoo Island, and in building a floating dock at Walsh Island, so that on the score of failing to provide employment for men engaged in ship construction that portion of the motion of censure is without foundation. This work will be advantageous not only to the men, but also to the Commonwealth and to the Empire as a whole. It is essential that the Government should give _ immediate attention to the need of constructing another seaplane carrier of a much larger type than the one now proposed because according to the information derived from the newspapers, the warship construction activities of other countries are far in advance of ours. The latest reports disclose that Japan’s latest seaplane carrier, the Akagi, is a vessel of 26,900 tons displacement, is capable of a speed of 28 knots, has armament of ten 8-inch guns and sixteen 4.7 quick-firing guns, and is designed to carry 50 aeroplanes. The aeroplane carrier we contemplate building at Cockatoo Island is, in my opinion, far too small for our needs, and, therefore, other vessels of a similar type will have to be constructed in the near future. TheAkagi has a hitting power greater than that of most of the modern British, French^ and American cruisers. The largest British seaplane carrier is 4,200 tons smaller than the Akagi, and carries nine 6-inch guns as against ten 8-inch guns on the Japanese seaplane carrier. The speed of the largest British seaplane carrier is also’ 4 knots per hour slower, which means that the distance travelled by the latest Japanese carrier would exceed that of the largest British vessel of a similar type by something approaching 100 miles each 24 hours. As we must have regard not only to the character of seaplane carriers, but also to their speed, it will be necessary to build more. In the matter of unemployment it appears that the Government has taken a very wise course, but it will have to continue its building programme in regard to both aeroplane carriers and floating docks of a greater capacity than the ones at present in contemplation. When the men realize the actual conditions they will be fully alive to the advantage they are receiving in gaining experience in seaplane carrier construction. The building of two cruisers in Australia would not have been of very great advantage to the nien, because as soon as they were completed construction would have ceased for some considerable time. The question of constructing floating docks capable of accommodating some of the largest vessels which come to Australia is one which the Government will have to seriously consider. The building of floating docks of this type, and also of seaplane carriers, will for a considerable time, at any rate, afford employment for a large number of men. So far the members of the Opposition have quietly ignored this aspect of the question, and have merely stressed the point that in placing this work elsewhere, the Government has shown a callous. disregard of the needs of the men now employed at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. That, is wholly misleading. It has also been stated by honorable members opposite that the members of the Government, and those who are supporting them, are utterly devoid of Australian sentiment; but such is not the case. I have endeavoured to show that there is no ground for the accusation, and that instead of. the men being idle, employment will be found for every available man in the construction of the vessels I have mentioned.
.- I cannot recall an occasion during my parliamentary experience when there has been greater justification, for a Government being removed from office than exists in this instance. The motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is one which is clear in its meaning, and the mover has shown that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has not honoured the promise he made to Parliament, and through Parliament to the country. It is recorded in Hansard that before definite action was taken in the matter of cruiser construction, Parliament would have an opportunity to express an opinion, and considering that approximately £5,000,000 is involved, this House should have decided tha manner in which the money was to be spent. Surely the members of the Opposition are not to be regarded as marionettes, responding to the wishes of the combination opposite, consisting, as it does, of members of the National party and of the Country party, who at times do not hesitate to call each other liars. In consequence of this combination of political forces, ‘the will of the people has been flouted. The Prime Minister dare not perform one administrative act without ascertaining the opinion of the thirteen members of the Country party. I had the pleasure of the acquaintance of every Prime Minister, excepting the present Prime Minister, before they became members of the House, and not one of these gentlemen would have acted as the leader of the present Government has done. As the motion states, it is an anti-Australian act to spend millions of money out of the country for the construction of cruisers. The Prime Minister has violated the promise made to Parliament, and in doing so has acted contrary to the feelings of, the Australian people. Prior to the inception of federation, the late Sir Henry Parkes, and others with whom he was associated, said that it was impossible for us to progress in the absence of national sentiment. Are we to be mere hewers of wood and drawers of water 1 Are we simply to drive the sheep for the squatter, milk the cows for the farmers, and so on ? Why do we send our children to technical schools and universities if we do not intend them-to take up technical work as their life’s occupation? Nothing appeals to the young Australian more than work of a technical character. In the sister Dominion of New Zealand £3 per head of the population is spent on education. In some of the states of the Commonwealth about £2 per head is spent in that way, but Victoria is the most backward of all the states in this respect. Her school teachers are paid less, and the Education Department has a harder job here than in any other state to keep the children at school. Perhaps it is because the Prime Minister, apart from the time he spent in Great Britain, has spent most of his life in this atmosphere, that he cannot see the need for providing technical employment for young Australians who have been technically trained. He dees not appear to realize that the. provision of technical work is essential to the progress of the country. If he were not out of touch with Australian sentiment, he would realize that our people do not desire to have Australian cruisers built under working conditions, and for rates of pay that would not be satisfactory to Australian workers. We do not wish our brothers in Great Britain to .work 56 hours a week and to get 7s. a week less than they received before, as they do, since this contract was given, so that we may have cheaper cruisers. It is altogether foreign to our inclination that British workers should be compelled to suffer humiliating conditions so’ that we may reap a financial advantage. It is well known that 80 per cent, of the actual cost of warships, aeroplanes, and other requirements of a similar nature for national defence, is accounted for in wages, and it offends the workers of Australia, to know that British workers have to do work of that char.acter for less than the Australian wages. Another point must be considered. How can we expect to maintain our Australian standard of living if work is not provided for our people? Men like the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and those associated with him in the Country party corner, desire that after our young men have learned a trade they shall forget all about it, and go and dig post-holes, put in posts, and fix. imported wire netting On them - all at a cheap rate - so that the farmers may get 9s.. a bushel for their wheat. One does not need to be a university professor to realize that. The Government decided before calling Parliament together to accept a tender for the building of both these vessels outside Australia, for the reason that it was afraid to suggest to its own followers, after the session opened, that one vessel, at least, should be built in Australia. If a motion forthe building of one vessel in Australia had been put to the Prime Minister’s followers, it would have been carried, but he was afraid to give them the opportunity to vote on the subject. The little coterie in the corner has obtained many concessions in consideration of its support to the Nationalists, and, no doubt it expects to obtain many more; but the Australian workers will not stand by quietly while their fellows in Great Britain are compelled to work under horrible conditions to save a few pounds for this country. I cannot understand why the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence should endeavour to lead the country to believe that honorable members on this side of the House are a pack of scoundrels who would not protect or defend Australia. The people that we represent have protected Australia in the past, and will readily do so in the future, if necessary. It has been said that we do not want cruisers. What we do not want is war. I would gladly do anything, even to making the supreme sacrifice, if by so doing I could prevent any recurrence of wai-; and I am sure that other honorable members would do the same. With the increasing intelligence of the people, and our advancing civilization, we, on this side of the House, believe that we are reaching the time when war will be impossible. If it were not for the Tories in Great Britain and Australia, and on the Continent, war could be banished now; but the Tories live on it, and bleed the people for it. The Labour party does not stand for such a policy. Let honorable members look at our platform and tell me whether there is a single line on it that any Christian man could not conscientiously support. -Our first plank is, “ The cultivation of an Australian sentiment.” What is wrong with that? The next line is, “ The maintenance of a White Australia.” The Labour party made possible a White Australia, and members of other parties, who support it to-day, only do so, in many cases, because they are afraid to do otherwise. Our next plank is, “ The development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliant community.” That is a fine phrase describing a fine ideal. Yet we are called rebels, and are told that we would n6t defend our country. Who made possible the defence of Australia in the last war? It was the Labour party, which, years before, established the necessary factories for the manufacture of defence equipment.
– The honorable member is not dealing with the topic before the House.
– Well, I shall deal with it now, Sir. Who established the Australian Navy, and to do so had to fight against the Tories, particularly those in New South Wales, who wanted to send money to Great Britain for the building of a_ Dreadnought there? It was the Labour” party. In spite of these works we are called a pack of scoundrels. It is said that lawyers, who have no case, resort to abuse of the other side. That is what is happening now. I do not care a rap about the figures that have been quoted from the Government side of the House. The gentleman who compiled the figures that were placed before the Cabinet was formerly employed by the firm in Great Britain which has been given the work of building these two cruisers. We have been told that figures cannot lie. That is so; but gentlemen who quote figures can prevaricate. My complaint against the
Government is not on financial grounds, but on the grounds of national sentiment. The gentlemen who compose our Navy Department are, generally speaking, unfavorable to the development of Australian sentiment. They know that if our Navy became part of the British Navy they would have the opportunity of securing more important positions on the other side of the world. It is a great pity that our national Government does not encourage Australian sentiment. I have been a member for some time of the joint committee of this Parliament on public accounts, and we have been making inquiries to discover what is necessary to make Australia self-contained. It has been proved that Australia could manufacture its own guns, both large and small, and all the ammunition required. Employment on a large scale could thus be provided. Numbers of men with experience in the manufacture of arms and munitions are now engaged in comparatively menial occupations. Men who have had a seven years’ course of instruction in technical schools, and whose valuable experience could be employed in the country’s interests, are to be found driving horses and carts. It is regrettable that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) does not confine his attention to the welfare of the people of Australia instead of aspiring, as he apparently does, to take control of affairs on the other side of the world. Some time ago he suggested that Australia should have an ambassador in London. I maintain thai, instead of spending £20,000 a year on a representative in London, wearing a uniform with lace trimmings, and having silk stockings and patent-leather shoes, the money could be used to better advantage in providing employment for the many Australians in need of it. Reference has been made to the establishment of rolling mills in this country, but I point out that it was never intended to erect mills in connexion with the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. It is impossible to roll heavy plate with a light plant, and very little encouragement was given to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company to put in heavy rollers suitable for producing the thick plates necessary in the construction of war vessels such as cruisers. In consequence of the importance of cultivating a true national spirit the purely financial aspect of cruiser construction in Australia should be overlooked. The people of the United States of America never consider the cost of an undertaking so long as it is in the best interests of their country, and I wish that the party opposite were equally patriotic. The Prime Minister, in one of ‘his recent public utterances, remarked that Australia’s slogan should be, “ Efficiency, vision, and faith.” But of what use is faith, unless we show it by encouraging in every possible way the production in this country of all we require ? Until we manufacture from our own raw material, we shall not make much real progress., The late Sir Henry Parkes once told me that he was a freetrader.
– An honorable member may not now discuss the subject of free trade.
– The Prime Minister, who poses as a protectionist, acted as a freetrader in connexion with the contract for cruisers. The cost of construction in Australia should not cause us to depart from our policy of protection. . If we attempt to bring down the cost to the level obtaining in the Old Country we shall at once lower the Australian standard of living. All the arguments by honorable members opposite relate to the cheapness of having the work done in Great Britain, but I doubt whether the cruisers to be constructed in Great Britain will have as high a quality of workmanship in them as if they had been built in Australia. The difference between Ihe cost of the construction of the cruisers in Australia and in Great Britain is, after all, not very great. Have honorable members considered the economic aspect of this question ? It has been truly said that the wages paid at Cockatoo Island on a Thursday return to the bank before the following Tuesday, and that the money ;.s again available for distribution when the next pay day comes round. When, however, Australian money is spent in the payment of wages to workmen in other countries, that money is lost to us for ever. The Government has made a mistake, and has cast an unwarranted slur on the artisans of Australia, as its action is tantamount to saying that they are incapable of constructing the vessels required for their own defence. The workmen of Australia will not forget the Government’s action, and will give their answer in the ballot-box. It grieves me to have to support in an Australian Parliament a vote of censure on a government for its anti-Australian attitude. I hope that honorable members on both sides of the House who believe in Ministers honouring their promises will vote for the motion. No Prime Minister has a right to break a promise, and one who does so cannot claim to be a man of honour. During the war period we shut our eyes to many things done by the ex -Prime Minister; but the circumstances then were different, and there was, possibly, some excuse for his actions. On this occasion, however, nothing can justify the anti-Australian attitude of the present occupant of that high office. The Prime Minister has been Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and in that capacity should have acquired some knowledge of economics, but in connexion with the tenders for these cruisers he has utterly disregarded the economic aspect. I have considered this question not merely from the point of view of the employment that would be given to Australian workmen if the work were done here, but 1 have endeavoured to view it from a purely national stand-point with :the best interests of Australia at heart. The Prime Minister has violated his solemn promise.
– The honorable member is distinctly out of order in his reference to the Prime Minister.
– It is extremely difficult to tell an unpleasant truth in language which is classed as parliamentary. I have endeavoured to present the truth in the best possible way. No other Prime Minister has acted towards his solemn pledge as the present Prime Minister has done, and I hope that never again shall I be placed in the humiliating position of having to support a vote of censure on one who, while occupying such a high position, is so recreant to his trust as the right honorable member has been. I have been called to order for the expressions I have used, but I could have used much stronger language. Under your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have endeavoured to couch my remarks in language which is permitted in this chamber, but I have found it a difficult task. However, I have uttered my protest against the Prime Minister’s action in belittling the people of Australia, and I hope that the motion will be carried.
.- I shall not detain the House long, but I wish to assure the Government that on this occasion’ I shall vote against the motion. The Ministry’s action in connexion with the cruisers does its members more credit than anything else that they have done during their term of office. Had the Leader of the Opposition introduced a vote of censure based on the Government’s action in connexion with the locomotives required for the Oodnadatta railway, I should probably have been found voting with him. However, I rose more particularly to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) relative to plate-rolling. He would have us believe that plate-rolling is a practical proposition in Australia. The Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) also referred to this subject. The honorable member for East Sydney will remember that when the Public Accounts Committee was sitting at Newcastle, Mr. Delprat the managing director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, was examined. During the course of the examination he was asked why his company did not roll plates suitable for shipbuilding. He replied that the question was rather in the nature of a coincidence, as the board of directors of the company had just previously been considering that question. He said that the board had ascertained that the cost of installing the proper plant would be about £1,000,000, and that the whole of the plates required in Australia for railway and shipbuilding purposes, even if the demand were doubled, would occupy that plant for about six weeks only in each twelve months, while for the remainder of the year not only would valuable plant be lying idle, but the specially trained workmen required would be idle also. That board of directors, composed of farsighted men, realized that platerolling was not practicable in, Australia under those conditions. Australia, like other countries, should realize that some things must be obtained from outside, as it is not economical to produce them here. I was also interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Newcastle as to the handicap caused by the duty on machine parts. That, surely, is a reflection on his own fiscal views. On many occasions in this House I have pointed out that the man on the land is greatly handicapped by the duty on parts for his agricultural implements. When it is a case of something which might be done at Cockatoo Island, or explosives for the Hunter, a protectionist policy is a bad one, but when it affects merely the “ cocky,” it is a good one. Whether these vessels are built out of revenue or from loan we must consider it borrowed money. The money that we borrow we do not obtain in cash, but in goods. If the vessels are built in Australia, the cost will probably be an additional £2,000,000; and people in other parts of the world will be employed in manufacturing goods to pay for those ships. Honorable members should make no mistake on the economical aspect of this question, because, analyse it as they will, that is how it boils down. If the vessels are constructed here, Australia will be worse off to the extent of £2,000,000. The Fordsdale is an excellent ship, which, if we leave out of our reckoning the time and money spent on her construction, reflects great credit on Australian workmen. The Australian artisan is capable of doing well any work that can be performed by the workmen of any other country. I say that deliberately and conscientiously. Had the cost of the Fordsdale approximated to the estimate, there might have been a probability of a continuance of the policy of building such vessels in Australia, but she cost double the estimate. Honorable members of this House might then have sympathetically considered the claim that these cruisers should be constructed in Australia. The union leaders, however, led the workmen to believe that the lengthening of the time taken in construction would result in a greater amount of work being provided. That was -a mistaken idea. The betterplan would have been to turn out an efficient job in the time stipulated. In England, wheat that is grown in Australia is pur chased at Australian parity; therefore, the consumers in Australia are charged a less price than is paid by theconsumer in England. Yet the Australian farmer is asked to extend special sympathy to the Australian consumer. Why should . he ? Honorable membersopposite urge that Australia should be self-contained. Never in history has any country been self-contained, and none is ever likely to be. The Government has acted in the best interests of Australia, mid has taken the broadest Australian view of this matter. I cannot imagine any honorable member of this House paying a greater insurance premium than he need pay, yet honorable members opposite would act in a very liberal spirit when they were dealing with the funds contributed by the taxpayers. To them a saving of £800,000 on one vessel means nothing; but if they were asked to pay annually 6s. Sd. more than they need pay for an insurance premium, they would patronize any foreign office that gave them the benefit of a lower premium. I should like honorable members opposite to conduct the affairs of the nation along the lines that they follow in dealing with their personal affairs. There would then be greater efficiency, an absence of unemployment, thriving industries, and a lessening of imports. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) drew a pitiful picture of the home-coming of a man who had lost his employment because of the action of this Government in letting abroad the contracts for the two cruisers. Is ,it not conceivable that the wife of such a man might say, “ “What is wrong with you and your pals that .your English brethren can build a cruiser at a cost £800,000 less than you require? Has Mr, Tom Walsh influenced you? Are you doing your best? May not your failure to do so be the reason that you cannot obtain employment!” Unless every section of the community combines in an endeavour to produce the local article at a price at which it can compete with a similar article manufactured elsewhere, I cannot see that we shall escape from the position in which we now find ourselves. What we now refer to as a high standard of living in Australia may eventually prove to be the lowest to which a nation could descend.
.- The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), in his comparison of the British and the Australian workman, deliberately shut his eyes to the fact that’ the standard of living of the British workman is, unfortunately, much below that of the Australian. Not even the fear of unemployment will induce the Australian work man to lower his standard. The remarks of the honorable member for Forrest caused me to wonder whether there was anything in the theory of the transmigration of souls, and to conjecture as to the status of his predecessors. Possibly they were in the ranks of the employing classes, who, under the brutal industrial system of Great Britain at that time, flogged children at their work in the factories. Those conditions will never find a place in the industrial life of this country. The first charge made by this motion is the more serious of the two. The Government is accused of a distinct breach of faith. The right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) floundered considerably during the reading of the Ilansard report of his speech. His lieutenant, the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), and later the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse), attempted to explain away the action of the Government, but neither they nor he succeeded in clearing it of the charge. The Prime Minister distinctly made a promise to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), but he claimed that he was discharged from that obligation because of something that he had previously said. When the right honorable gentleman stated that the Government would take responsibility for any action in relation to the construction of the cruisers, the honorable member for Dalley asked : “Are you prepared to give the House a guarantee that it will have something to say before a contract for the second cruiser is let?” The reply of the right honorable gentleman was a clear and un- equivocal “Yes.”. The statement that a previous utterance exonerated the right honorable gentleman from an observance of that promise is an admission that the breach of faith was premeditated. The position would have been different had the promise preceded the remarks which the right honorable gentleman quoted from the Hansard report of his speech, but neither he, nor the two Ministers who followed him in this debate, would stand up to the charge that the promise was made subsequent to that speech. That is what honorable members must consider when arriving at a decision as to whether the Prime Minister has been responsible for a breach of faith. Had the promise not been given, the motion that was moved last session by the honorable member for Dalley would have been carried against the Government. The Govern- ment was fully aware of that, and in” order to stave off defeat it deliberately clouded the issue. Parliament was shortly afterwards closed. There were many reasons for that action. One was that the Treasurer desired to go abroad. During his absence from Australia the Government, without calling Parliament together, placed abroad orders,- not only for the two cruisers, but also for the submarines. Better reasons than have so far been advanced must be given to justify that action of the Government. It is all very well for the honorable member for Forrest to stress the saving of £800,000 on each cruiser, and for the Minister for Defence to read columns of figures relating to costs. The Prime Minister has always declared that the cost would be greater in Australia than it would be in Great Britain.
– At that time it was estimated that the cost in Australia would be £1,000)000 greater than it would be in Great Britain.
– Despite that fact, the Prime Minister promised that before any action was taken this House would be given an opportunity .to pass an opinion upon what was proposed. Notwithstanding that parliamentary institutions and responsible government have been treated in this fashion, there are honorable members - for example, the honorable member for “Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie) - who make ridiculous statements about revolution. Actions such as this are more calculated to cause a loss of faith in. responsible government and parliamentary institutions than all the hot air that is let off by those who make speeches from soap-boxes. The people tire of being treated in this manner, and if they show resentment the Government alone will be responsible. We were told by the honorable member for Warringah that if he had his way with certain persons he would have them seized at midnight, placed on board ship, and deported. I would cordially agree with him if he would substitute the members of this Government for the persons he had in mind, because then we might have a Government prepared to look after the interests of Australia. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) is always satisfied when he is able to support the policy of this Government by a reference to similar action by a Labour government. In this case he has reminded us of the action of the Western Australian Government, which placed an order for a certain ship in Great Britain. This precedent, he told us, was good enough for his Government. Can not he make a distinction between the government of a state where development is more backward than in any other part of the Commonwealth, between a government that finds it necessary to save a few pounds, and the position of the Commonwealth Government? Does he suggest that the-National Government should look for inspiration to a State Government financially weak, and otherwise at a disadvantage? The Treasurer also said that members of my party have been talking a good deal about the building of these cruisers in Great Britain, and ‘added that, if we had had our way, there would have been no contract for cruisers at all. Our attitude in this matter was clearly stated when this subject was under discussion last session. Our first contention was that naval construction should be delayed until the holding of a second conference then in contemplation for- the further consideration, of naval disarmaments. We said, however, that if the Government and their supporters were determined to build the cruisers, one, at least, if not both of them, should be constructed in Australia. The allegation that the Labour party has no defence policy does not enter into this debate at all. As a matter of fact, we have a defence policy, which we are prepared to promulgate and support when we go before the people at the forthcoming Federal elections. The Treasurer also made some reference to the sins of omission and commission of honorable members on this side of the House. What about his own position? When he was a Leader of the Country party, he was very insistent about the restoration of responsible Government, and’ demanded that everything should be thrashed out on the floor of this chamber. He even went so far as to advocate that the Treasurer’s Estimates should be treated .as a nonparty matter, and subject to amendment by Parliament. It was really because of his stand then that he secured the small following which he had in this House. What is his position to-day? He is Treasurer in a Government that, without the authority of Parliament, has placed orders for the construction of cruisers and submarines in Great Britain. Contracts running into £4,000,000 have been decided whilst Parliament has been in recess.
– More likely £5,000,000.
– If we take into account the two cruisers, the amount will be nearer £5,000,000. This is one of the most glaring instances we have ever had of disregard for the will of Parliament, because at the close of last session honorable members were given to understand most definitely that Parliament would be consulted before the ‘contracts were accepted. Another member of this Government, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), was once a strong champion for the encouragement pf Australian industries. To-day he is a Minister in a Government that, as far as the shipbuilding industry is concerned, has no regard at all for Australian industries. Unhappily, the shipbuilding industry in Australia is being effectively chloroformed by the action of the Government. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), claiming to represent the country interests, is supporting the action of the Government in this matter. The effect of the Government’s policy is being felt right through the economic fabric of the nation. There appears to be a saving of £800,000, but the effect of what is being done will be to diminish the Australian market for the Australian primary producer. No one will pretend for a moment that the overseas market is better than the local market for the Australian producer. Yet this Government is doing something to destroy the local market, and is helping to create a market 12,000 miles away, because the building of the cruisers in Great Britain means unemployment for Australian artisans who consume Australian primary products, and employment for British workmen.
– But the Australian workman strongly objects to pay more than world’s parity for what he eats.
– He believes in paying a fair and reasonable price.
– The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) is raising an issue that is not affected by this debate at all, but I. remind him that the Australian workman does not live on the Australian primary producer. It has been shown clearly that these contracts involve an expenditure of about £5,000,000. I go further, and say that it would pay us to build both the cruisers in Australia. Even if the expenditure amounted to £7,000,000 it would be sound policy, because the money would circulate amongst Australian artisans and through the various avenues of trade and commerce in the community. The Minister for Defence urged that, before we could undertake the construction of the cruisers in Australia, it would be necessary to install costly machinery for the rolling of armour plates. The honorable members for East Sydney (Mr. West) and South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) have effectively dealt with that phase of the Minister’s argument. The Minister appeared to think that he had scored a good point when he suggested that honorable members on this side of the House made no distinction between placing contracts with foreign countries and with Great Britain. We say that, in connexion with the development of our industrial activities, we make a distinction between Britain and Australia. At no time did the Prime Minister say that the contracts were to be placed in Great Britain because of our Imperial relationships. He simply placed the two sets of figures side by side, and said in so many words - “ We are going to have the ships built in Britain because the price is lower than the Australian estimate.” There is nothing antiBritish in our attitude in this matter. We favour the construction of the cruisers in. Australia because we believe in encouraging Australian industries. If this policy is not endorsed by the people, Australia will remain practically a vast wheat-field, with no secondary industries. Actually, we have reached a point in Australian industrial evolution when of necessity we must give attention to the encouragement of basie or key industries. We must do what is possible, by means of Government assistance if necessary, to ensure a scientific development of both our primary and secondary industries. Britain attained her position as the first commercial nation in the world simply because she had immense coal deposits available at a time when machinery was applied to production. Likewise, Germany rose to pre-eminence as the result of judicious government assistance to secondary industries, and the scientific exploitation of her immense coal and iron deposits.
The United States of America stands pre-eminent for the same reason. We have iron and coal deposits in many parts of this country, but our coal miners are working only two or three days a fortnight, because insufficient coal is being used. What we need is a greater consumption of coal, with a corresponding development of coal-mining. We should take steps to establish the basic industries, upon which, with primary production and the smaller secondary industries, the welfare of the nation rests. By the construction of these cruisers in Australia the Government had an opportunity to encourage these basic industries, but it did not seize it. If that policy of refusing to encourage the basic industries is continued this country will degenerate into a wheat-field and a sheep run. We have been told that since the war we have become a nation. The Prime Minister said the other day that the British Government had realized that, and now talked of us as a dominion, not a colony. We are said to be a nation linked with other nations by a tie of kinship, but those who tell us that, say, in the same breath, that we cannot build two cruisers for our defence. When we have a Government that will say, “ Your country is no good. Nothing can be done there. Your workmen receive too high wages,” we might as well shut up shop and be managed from elsewhere as listen to them. The Government refuses to do anything to develop Australia as a nation, but does everything possible to retard it3 progress.
Sitting suspended from 6.22 to 8 p.m.
.- Situated as we are, an island continent with a coastline of 12,000 miles, shipbuilding should undoubtedly be one of our great key industries. On that point I am sure we are all agreed. No doubt at some time in the future - how long hence I do not venture to predict - Australia will have her own great shipbuilding yards to meet the requirements of a majority at’ least of those countries that are situated in the southern seas. It certainly will not be in my time or yours, Mr. Speaker, but no doubt some honorable members of this House - for instance, the honorable member for. Cook (Mr. C. Riley), the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) - will see the consummation of my prediction, so devoutly to be desired. Beyond all doubt, the day will first have to arrive when .the encouragement of the establishment of this industry will be looked upon as a great non-party problem. That applies to most of the great questions that face our country to-day. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), when introducing the Defence Equipment Bill last July, said quite definitely that one of the two 10,000-ton cruisers would be built in Great Britain. He also stated that he was unable to give the House any definite information regarding the building of the second cruiser. The right honorable gentleman further said that inquiries were being made with a view to having the second vessel built in Australia. From the outset the Government was most anxious that one of these vessels, if possible, should be built in Australia. During the course of the debate I referred to the fact that we manufactured our own service rifles at a cost of approximately £16 per rifle, when we could import them at an ap’proximate cost of £8 per rifle; but in view of the fact that it is realized that if we were isolated and in trouble, it would be a great advantage to us to be able to manufacture our own service rifles, I do not think any objection has ever been taken to the added cost of service rifles in Australia. I stated also at that time, that ‘ if the construction of a cruiser or cruisers in Australia simply meant the assembling here of parts manufactured in Great Britain, it was doubtful whether the added expenditure and time would be justified. The money and the added time could, I think I mentioned, be expended perhaps to greater advantage to the people and the country generally. My views, as expressed in July last, are the views I hold to-day. The Prime Minister’s statement in the House on the 5 th September last left no doubt in my mind in regard to the Government’s in- tention. He said that after the tenders for the building of the cruisers had been received the Government would take whatever course it considered best in the interests of Australia, and would take the responsibility for any decision arrived at. I am satisfied that the Prime Minister and his colleagues did not decide against building the cruisers in Australia merely on account of the added cost. If an Australian-built cruiser cost an additional £1,000,000, the expenditure would be justified, and I would support the Government in incurring the additional expense, provided it really meant the complete construction of the cruiser here, just as we manufacture service rifles, and not merely the assembling of parts imported from Great Britain. The Government’s investigation proved, as we have been told by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) that 85 per cent, of the material used would have to be imported, and only 15 per cent, could be obtained in Australia. The building of one of these modern 10,000- ton cruisers in Australia would not have resulted in the establishment of a new industry or in the advancement of an existing industry, which is a most important consideration. A modern cruiser, as most honorable members are aware, is a matter of special construction. It seems to me that the Government was wise in its decision that the money which could be saved by placing the contract in Great Britain should be used in constructing a seaplane carrier at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and in assisting in the construction of a floating dock at Walsh Island. That work will keep the yards going, and give employment to a large number of men who have for some time been engaged in the shipbuilding industry. It has been urged that in placing the orders for the two cruisers in Great Britain the Government has struck a blow at Australian sentiment, and also at the spirit and soul of the navy. I should like to remind those honorable members who have opposed naval expenditure, and who endeavour each year to reduce the defence estimates, that nothing will more rapidly destroy the soul and spirit of our navy than the starvation of its body, and the process of emaciation that leaves the body too small to possess a soul. I accept the. statement of the Prime Minister and also that of the Minister for Defence that before coming to a decision the’ Government went into the matter very carefully with an earnest desire to construct the second cruiser in Australia, if possible, and that their determination to place the contract in Great Britain was only reached after the most mature consideration of all the facts.
.- The very serious indictment of the Prime Minister and his Government for what is rightly termed a breach of faith towards the members of this House and the’ country in placing the order for the second cruiser in Great Britain has been more than justified. No matter how honorable members may endeavour to excuse the Government they are supporting, the explanations given will not satisfy the Australian people. I do not believe thathonorable members opposite are satisfied in their minds, but for reasons of political expediency they are accepting the situation; they believe that by doing so they can keep the Government in office until the end of this Parliament. But the days are drawing to a close during which they will be able to carry on in this way, and the Australian people are only waiting an opportunity to pass judgment upon their actions. When they do it will be so emphatic that I should not be surprised if not one of the Ministers responsible for such a gross piece of ‘political treachery will again be permitted to enter this legislature. I listened to the case so completely submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), whose speech was most convincing. He produced evidence which was absolutely conclusive in its condemnation of those responsible for this action. I listened also to the. explanation of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in answer to the charge levelled against him and his Government, but the effort of the right honorable gentleman to excuse himself and his Ministry in this difficult situation was anything but convincing. Intentionally or otherwise, he did himself a grave . injustice when challenged to read certain extracts from Hansard, some of which he conveniently glossed over in order to put the case in his own way. It was a piece of clever political strategy on his part, but no one will give him credit for his action in placing an inaccurate construction upon what actually happened, as recorded in Hansard. The convincing arguments advanced by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) in the able speech delivered by him in this House last Friday proved that the Government has not only been guilty of a gross breach of faith to the House and the country, but also that an antiAustralian attitude is continually being adopted by it. The Government has taken undue ‘ liberties during the recess, of approximately eight months, and has trespassed too far upon the confidence of those supporting it. These honorable members have not now the courage to stand up to their responsibilities and charge the Government with dereliction of duty, although they are thoroughly convinced that the impeachment of the Prime Minister by the Leader of the Opposition is absolutely beyond question. The Prime Minister led us to believe that it was for the construction of the second cruiser abroad that his Government accepted the full responsibility last session. Let us see what some honorable members opposite thought of that particular promise, and how far it involved the Government and the House in connexion with, the placing of an order. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt) felt that there might be some little doubt abour, it, and desired to satisfy himself on the whole question. The position was explained by an interjection of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), and with the indulgence of the House I shall briefly quote what was stated on that occasion. I refer honorable members to page 2167 of Hansard, of 30th July, 1924. The honorable member for Darwin on that occasion appeared to be prompted by the very best motives, and a, desire to protect Australian industries. If I know the honorable member aright, I believe he will protect the reputation he. has in this House and adhere to the attitude he adopted on a previous ‘occasion. I hope that he will not absent himself when the division is taken on this motion, but that he will be courageous enough to vote as he ought to do, in view of his utterance in this chamber last year. He said -
I am not disposed to agree to the Government having two cruisers constructed outside Australia.
There is an honorable member in this chamber who is always concerned about his conscience, and -who finds it, at times, a difficult matter to make up his mind. He has a self-professed desire to do the right thing in the best interests of the country. I refer to the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). He interjected as follows when the honorable member for Darwin made the statement that I have quoted : -
This bill does not involve the construction of two cruisers outside of Australia.
The honorable member for Fawkner, therefore, had no doubt about the situation. The honorable member for Darwin then said -
I shall vote for the second reading of this bill upon the definite understanding that I shall support the construction of one of the cruisers in Australia.
In view of those plain utterances by the honorable member for Darwin and his learned colleague, the honorable member for Fawkner, there should be no doubt about how their vote will be cast on this motion. But surely, long before this stage in these proceedings was reached they must have realized that this Government cannot be trusted to keep its word. As a matter of fact, the Government came into being through the present Prime Minister breaking his word to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). He said, when the right honorable member for North Sydney was his leader that he would stand or fall by him. As a matter of fact, he exploited every possibility of the situation that arose after the last election, and, in gross breach of faith to his then leader, he formed this Government, which has shown all through its career that it cannot be trusted. If the people of Australia require any additional evidence of that, the Government has provided it by its actions in respect of these two cruisers. There can be no doubt that it deserves the severest censure that any Legislature can pass upon a government. The people whom I represent are highly indignant that the Government should have so far forgotten its duty to preserve the interests of Australia as to send this work out of the country. As an engineer, I know that in all the capital cities of Australia engineers are out of employment and are walking the streets. Most of them are skilled and efficient workmen who desire to serve the best interests of the country, but the Government has deprived them of the opportunity to do so. I call to mind one man who has the highest qualifications as an engineer. He was sent to England by the Commonwealth Government to study the construction of submarines. Notwithstanding his high qualifications, he was out of employment for twelve months. He wished to serve Australia, but was denied the opportunity to do so. It is one of the most damaging indictments that can be made against the Government that it permits highly skilled artisans to remain unemployed when work could be provided for them. Yet the Government prates about its Australian patriotism. We have never had a government in this country that has been so unmindful of its duty to the people. What reason has prompted the Government to act as it has done ? I find from the records of the proceedings of this Parliament last year, that the Government was taken to task in the Senate by one of its own supporters, Senator Lynch, for placing an order for locomotives with the firm of Messrs. Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, when ‘their tender was £55.000 more than the lowest British tender. The reply given by the Honorary. Minister in the Senate (Senator Crawford) was as follows: -
Some very exceptional circumstances must have been connected with the tender submitted by Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth and Company. The difference between it and the other oversea tenders might reasonably suggest the existence of unfair competition. Industrial conditions abroad were very unsettled at the time these tenders were submitted.
That was the sole reason that he offered for giving the contract to Thompson and Company. But what happens when we measure the present situation by that standard? The Government cannot have it both ways. Either it did wrong in placing the order for locomotives with Messrs. Thompson and Company - whose workshops are in the Bendigo electorate, by the way - or it did wrong in handling the cruiser tenders as it hae done. I have gone very carefully into the details of this matter. I find that the tender for locomotives was given to a private firm which, doubtless, would make a good profit out of the contract. But the Government was not prepared to give the work of building even one of these cruisers to a Commonwealth shipbuilding yard, which we are desirous should become prosperous, and add to its already efficient services. When the Government is able to help private enterprise in this country, it does so ; but’ when a public institution tenders the Government prefers to send its orders right across the ocean to assist private enterprise abroad. It has therefore been guilty of neglecting and subordinating the interests of Australia to those of private enterprise. We have a right to demand an explanation of why this is so. Why should it help vested interests at the expense of our own public enterprises? The Government will be called upon by the people to justify actions of this kind. I assure Ministers that they will find it no easy matter to avoid wholesale condemnation the next time they face the country. A Government should observe the highest standards of honour. Emerson has rightly said that the standards of character that are proven in the life of the individual are the reflex of the society to which he belongs. If the code of political honour observed in this instance by the Prime Minister is indicative of the code of political honour “observed by his associates, then he must live on a very low plane. I trust that, in the interests of the good name of Australia we shall be able, in the future, to remove the grave reflection that has been cast upon her by the gross breach of faith which the Government has perpetrated. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), who has no genuine political marriage lines for the illegitimate union to which he is a party, has suggested that we. of the Opposition, have no right to criticize this action of the Government. If that were the standard to be observed in this House the services of an Opposition could be dispensed with, for if we dared to disagree with any action by the Government we should have no right to criticize it. But that would be contrary to all parliamentary precedent. What would the Minister think if he were called upon by the health authorities to make certain alterations in connexion with the sanitation of his own home which he, because of his professional knowledge, deemed to be unnecessary ? He, by reason of his special knowledge of health matters, and the fact that he had to bear the cost of the alterations, would expect to have some voice in the matter. He would be the first to complain if he were denied a voice as to the way in which his own money was to be spent. Similarly, members of the Labour party have a perfect right to express, on behalf of the electors they represent, their views concerning the manner in which public money is to be expended in the construction of cruisers. I have no hesitation in expressing my severe censure of the Government for its unpatriotic conduct. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr.- D. Cameron), as well as other honorable members on the Government side, has seriously reflected on the efficiency of Australian workmen, whose qualifications, he said, ‘ were not sufficiently high to enable them to be entrusted with the work of cruiser construction. He said that great skill would not be called for in the mere assembling of parts. If that argument were sound, one might also say that the workmen employed in building houses needed to have little or no skill because the work simply necessitated the putting together of bricks and mortar. Even if it were necessary to import the angle-iron, the steel plates, and some of the armament, that would not reflect on the constructional ability of the Australian workmen, whose services would be used to .advantage, and probably the greater proportion of the material required could be made in Australia. I have had it represented to me that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company was prepared to place its mill at the disposal of the Government in providing all the material that could possibly be manufactured in Australia for the purpose of cruiser construction. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), in his admirable speech this afternoon, placed beyond doubt the possibility of all the requirements being met in Australia. Shipbuilding is carried on in my own electorate, and I can speak with knowledge of the high efficiency of the men employed in the industry. Had the work been done in this country it would have been of a quality second to none. Are honorable members who have questioned the patriotism of members of the Opposition aware that in all probability, much of the armament and the steel plates required will be imported from Belgium and Germany ? I shall leave the people of Australia to judge between the fictitious patriotism of honorable members opposite and the genuine love of country which has prompted the attitude of the Labour party. We say definitely, “Australia first,” and we make no excuse for it. The stand taken by honorable members on this side of the House is in accordance with that of the British Government to-day. The first Baldwin Cabinet adopted a certain naval policy, which included the building of a number of cruisers. When that Government ‘ was succeeded by the first Labour Administration under Mr. Ramsay MacDonald that policy was somewhat modified, and an investigation was made as to whether or not it was desirable “to proceed with the shipbuilding programme. Subsequently certain provision was made with the idea of proceeding with the Baldwin Government’s programme, but on a modified scale, since there were indications that the nations desired to> be on terms of peace and goodwill. Then, on the MacDonald Government being succeeded by the present administration in Great Britain, at the instance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Winston Churchill) the cruiser construction programme was held in abeyance, for the purpose of further inquiry being made into the most desirable naval policy to pursue. One sees the caution with which the British authorities are now proceeding, for they recognize that a great change has taken place in the hearts of the nations. The desire to settle international disputes peaceably is increasing, but the Government of Australia is prepared to sacrifice the good of the people to private vested interests. In a blindfold manner it is willing to place Australia in a position which can in no way be justified. If for no other reason than that, the Ministry is deserving of severe censure, but I claim that the honour of this Parliament has to be vindicated. The Leader of the Opposition was justified in emphasizing the unenviable position in which the Prime Minister had placed this country and in condemning the Government for treacherously subordinating the interests of Australia to those of private capital.
.- So much has already been said in connexion with this motion, and so many arguments have been put forward by honorable members on both sides, that it is somewhat difficult at this stage to bring forward any original matter. Nevertheless, it appears to me that a. useful purpose may be served by an effort to marshal- the facts which have already been brought under the notice of the House. The motion is divided into two> parts. I do not intend to take up much time in» dealing with the first, for it has already been effectively disposed of by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) .
– The honorable member will be well advised not to touch it.
– I certainly do intend to touch it. It will be noticed on reference to Hansard of ‘ last session, page 4320, that on the 12 th September the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) took advantage of an opportunity afforded him, in. accordance with the Prime Minister’s promise, to discuss the whole position in regard to the two cruisers. Speaking on the Estimates he then said -
No doubt the acceptance or otherwise of the tender will be decided when Parliament is in recess, and we shall not have an opportunity to express our opinion about what is done.
That proves conclusively that the right honorable member for North Sydney realized that that would be the last opportunity which the House would have- to discuss the position.
– Let the honorable member read the promise of the Prime Minister of the 5th September.
– The occasion to which I have referred was a week later. Notwithstanding that the right honorable member for North Sydney took the Government to task the other day for not having summoned Parliament earlier to discuss the matter, there can be no doubt that he believed that that debate would be the last opportunity afforded us to consider the question before a tender was let. While I do not believe that this question is incapable of approach from other than the economic stand-point, I recognize that we cannot afford to ignore that side of it, and I desire to call attention to the statement made by several honorable gentlemen on the Opposition benches, that a sum of approximately £5,000,000 is, by the action of the Government being sent out of Australia. I have not been so long in this House as have some honorable members opposite, nor am I so “well acquainted with parliamentary procedure as some who have been here for many years; but I believe that I am right in saying that it is not competent for us to censure an act of this House, as distinct” from an act of the Government, and that the decision to obtain one cruiser from Great Britain was arrived at by this House. This censure motion, therefore, can apply only to the decision of the Government to obtain the second cruiser from Great Britain. In those circumstances it is necessary to divide the £4,250,000- or £5,000,000 as honorable members opposite have suggested - by two, and deal with one cruiser only. We must not lose sight of the fact that the guns, armourplate, electrical appliances, and other equipment, must necessarily be imported, so that we can reduce the amount by nearly £1,000,000 more, with the result that the matter at issue is really the expenditure of about £1,250,000 overseas rather than in Australia. This afternoon the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), by interjection, suggested that the Government was not willing to give a 30 per cent, preference to Australia in connexion with this, contract, but I point out that if we take the difference of £818,000, as against the £1,250,000, to which I have just referred, it does not need a mathematician to show that the preference would have been more than double that suggested by the honorable member. Moreover, if allowance is made for the proportion of the material which would have to be imported in addition to armaments and guns it is clear that the preference would have been even greater, and probably a matter of double the cost. The two most weighty arguments which up to the present have been used in this debate, so far as the economic stand-point is concerned, are, first, that So per cent, of the total material required to construct these vessels in Australia would have had to be imported ; and, secondly, that it would have cost £1,250,000 to provide the machinery to roll the armourplate here, and that machinery would have been in operation for only six weeks in each year. On those two grounds alone the argument for the building of the vessels in Australia must be ruled entirely out of court. I am one of those who believe that, so far as possible, we should buy Australianmade’ goods. In my personal purchases I adopt that policy, and buy Australian-made hats, clothes, boots, and, where possible, machinery. I even “obtain my supplies of petrol from the Commonwealth Oil Refinery. But there is a limit to the application of that principle; and I believe that that limit has been reached when we are asked to pay £818,000 extra for the privilege of supplying 15 per cent, of the material required for one cruiser and assembling the parts here.
– What about the wages ?
– I am just coming to that point. It has been said that by sending this contract overseas the Government is adding to the number of the unemployed in our midst. But what would have happened had the policy of the Labour party been adopted? They were opposed to the building of any cruisers. If the honorable member who has just resumed his seat had had his way, no cruisers would have been built. It is difficult to seb how, in those circumstances, employment would have been given to Australian workmen. Men of all shades of political opinion must admit that it is a dangerous policy to establish a new industry - particularly an -industry with no definite prospects - on such a highly artificial basis as would have been the case had this contract been let in Australia.
– Shipbuilding is already established here.
– But the construction of naval vessels is a highly specialized class of shipbuilding. Some honorable members seem to regard it as an act of disloyalty to import anything into Australia.
– Anything that we can make ourselves. Hear, hear !
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) says “Hear, hear.” I shall be prepared to accept the honorable gentleman’s viewpoint with regard to all fiscal matters when he solves the problem of selling without buying. I have taken the trouble to look up the figures, and have ascertained that since federation our exports have totalled approximately £1,954,000,000, and our imports £1,739,000,000, the excess of exports over imports being in the ratio of 12.4 per cent.
– The honorable member should take the figures for the years during which the present Government has been in office.
– A fair comparison can only be obtained by taking the figures for a number of years. When we remember that during that period Australia has imported - has borrowed abroad - a very considerable amount of fresh capital which remains here in the shape of additional assets, we have to realize that our excess of exports over imports is very satisfactory. Looking at this question of the importation of cruisers from an economic stand-point, the consideration which arises in the mind of the prohibitive protectionist is not, “Shall we import anything,” but rather, “ What shall we import?” Since the wit of man has never yet devised a means of obtaining payment for exports other than by imports, it follows that we must import something. Human nature being what it is, many honorable members naturally take the view that we should not import those things which are manufactured or produced in their several constituencies. In the view of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) or the honorable member for’ Dalley (Mr. Mahony), we must not import ships; in the case of honorable members representing Queensland - irrespective of party - we must not import sugar; and so on. Not many years ago the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the honorable member for Newcastle, as well as many other honorable members belonging to the Labour party, voted solidly against the manufacture in Australia of miners’ explosives. They preferred to import these materials from South Africa, where black labour was employed in their manufacture. Would the charge of antiAustralianism, made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin.) apply to these members of his own party?
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat. ‘ The debate is not in order, and the honorable member is being driven wide Qf the motion. I ask him not to further discuss the fiscal question.
– To-day the honorable member for Newcastle deplored the British purchase of ships in Germany. With the view expressed by the honorable member I am in absolute accord. The honorable member for Dalley, however, took the opposite view, in that he congratulated Great Britain, and some of the vested interests of that country, on their loyalty to their own country in being prepared to pay something like £300,000 more to obtain British-built ships rather than secure them from Germany. With his sentiments also I entirely agree. But the honorable member elaborated his argument by saying that if Great Britain gave a preference of £300,000 to her own shipbuilders as against those of Germany, Australia should be given a preference of £818,000 as against. Great Britain in connexion with the construction of one cruiser.
– I did not say that.
– I do not say that those are the exact words that the honorable member used; in the circumstances, I shall withdraw them, and say that he suggested in general terms that if it was good enough for Great Britain to give a considerable preference to British shipbuilders as against Germany, it was good enough for Australia to get a considerable preference as against Great Britain.
– I still say that.
– Does the honorable member suggest for one moment that the relationship between Australia and the land which was the cradle of our race is in any way similar to the relationship of England and Germany?
– I Avas speaking of the economic aspect.
– I am prepared to leave it at that. Some honorable members on both sides of the House, including the Leader of the Opposition, quite recently have expressed satisfaction that the British Parliament has agreed to certain preference proposals. We are all gratified that Australia is to be given the privilege of selling certain products to Great Britain on better terms than the foreigner can. But is that preference to be entirely one-sided? If we expect Great Britain to hold out the hand of commercial friendship to Australia, is it not reasonable that we, too, should make some purchases from Great Britain? The honorable member for Newcastle somewhat surprised me this afternoon by his reference to the importation of rifles.
– I said guns, not rifles.
– My hearing is usually fairly good, but on this occasion it must have deceived me. The Government has shown its desire, so far as the manufacturing development of Australia will allow, to obtain in Australia what we require for our defence. At Lithgow the Government is making its own rifl.es and machine-guns, and, at Maribyrnong, small arms and ammunition. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) the other day said that it was a confession of immaturity for. Australia not to construct at least one of these cruisers. Is it a crime to admit that Australia is yet immature so far as her manufacturing development is concerned? Surely no one will suggest that we have reached the peak of our manufacturing ? I believe that we shall achieve very much greater development than we have yet attained ; but we shall do so by a gradual process of evolution rather than by taking big artificial strides. I do not intend to delay the House further, beyond saying that in my opinion if ever a Government Avas justified in coming to a decision, and if ever a decision Avas based on common sense, the case under discussion provides an excellent example.
– I desire to again sing the song of Australia - not in the manner which characterized a previous effort, but in one that is appropriate to the present setting. I think it will be admitted that I am sincere in my advocacy of “ Australia first,” because I am not an Australian born. The arguments used for and against the building of these cruisers in Great Britain all possess merits, but honorable members opposite cannot fail to have realized the nature of public opinion in this matter. I think that every member of the Government is aware that the feeling of the people is that Australia has been given a slap in the face by the decision to have these cruisers constructed overseas. If party politics did not enter into the consideration of this matter the Conservative press would have said a lot more than it has said regarding the action of the Government. Statements that were made last session may he construed to mean all that honorable members opposite claim that they mean, but the general understanding was that even if one cruiser were built in Great Britain the other would be built in Australia. It was hoped that eventually the Government would see the wisdom of having both vessels built in Australia. As the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) said, the Government has taken an unAustralian view, and has offered an affront to the sentiment of Australia. “We on this side are told that if the matter had been left to us no cruisers would have been built, either here or in Great Britain. Possibly that is so. But (his House having decided that two cruisers should be built, are we to be debarred from expressing an opinion as to where, in the best interests of Australia, they should be built ? I should not care if this House had said it would not agree to the building of a single cruiser; yet I hold the opinion that Australia must be defended. I consider, however, that money spent in building cruisers is absolutely wasted, because they have to be scrapped in a very little time, and even if the necessity arose for using them it would not be possible to make as full a use of them as was intended at the time of their construction. I notice that Mr. Lloyd George, referring recently to the defence of Great Britain, said that there was nothing to be feared from any source for the next ten years. At the end of that time our cruisers will be obsolete. The conditions at the present time are similar to those which existed in 1913. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. PaterBon), in the last sentences of his speech, paid the Labour party a compliment when he said that Australia is now manufacturing small arms at Lithgow. How has that been made possible ? Is it because a Conservative Government established that factory? No! What has this Government done with the harness factory, the clothing factory, the woollen mills,- and all those industries which, from the point of view of defence, would have made Australia self-contained? Rather than enter into competition with the big interests in Melbourne, and other cities, they disposed of those factories, speciously advancing economic reasons, and evincing a disinclination to interfere with private enter- prise. It is of no avail to say that the Labour party, at any time, failed Australia when Australia called upon it to govern. What was the position in regard to the defence of Australia in 1913 ? A government composed of men holding political beliefs similar to those held by honorable members opposite proposed to borrow money in Great Britain to purchase a Dreadnought that has been built in Great Britain, and to defend Australia by placing it in commission in the North Sea ! That was the sum total of the defence policy of the Liberal Government of the day. It was said that we on this side would not defend Australia, and that we had no regard for its welfare. In accordance with the psychology of the time, theLabour party came into office. We shall do so again very shortly, perhaps on the very same issues; - the handling of the finances of the country and its defence; The Commonwealth Bank has been hampered in its operation; the woollen mills and the harness factory have been sold. All that is left is that small item of defence, the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, that was created by the Labour party. We are twitted with the charge that we are un- Australian, and would not defend Australia by having two cruisers constructed. Perhaps we should not, in that manner, set about the defence of A. u s t r st li et
– Will the honorable member now connect his remarks with the motion ?
– It has been said, with emphasis, that had the matter been left in our hands no cruisers would have been built. I want the country to understand that that does not excuse the Government’s un- Australian attitude. When the Labour party is called upon to govern, it will act in the best interests of Australia. Our best means of defence are submarines and aeroplanes. The Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) may quote what Japan and other nations are doing, but he cannot deny that submarines and aeroplanes are our best means of defence. The action taken by the Labour Government in 1914 stands as a monument to its sagacity and its knowledge of Australia’s requirements. Are we never to make an attempt to establish an industry in Australia ? Upon what basis do honorable members opposite say that industries should be established ? During the war period, ships were built in places where it was not thought possible to build them. The river at Port Adelaide has to be dredged to make it properly navigable. If, prior to the war, any one had suggested that ships should be built at Osborne, towards the mouth of the port, he would have been laughed to scorn. The exigencies of the times demanded that ships should be built there. The consequence is that shipbuilding yards are there to-day, and out of them came two ships that were equal to any built during that period.
– What are those yards doing now?
– I believe that they are building dredges. I do not suggest that Port Adelaide will ever be the shipbuilding centre of Australia. It is not naturally adapted to that work. Other harbours around Australia are so adapted, and to those centres such work should
– Can the honorable member tell us why the City of Singapore was towed to the Old Country?
– I suppose the charterers could do better at Rotterdam, where the vessel has gone, than they could in Australia. Had the shipbuilding yard at Port Adelaide been encouraged and given an opportunity to expand, in all probability it would have been able to tender for such work and undertake it successfully. The honorable member surely does not expect the yard at Port Adelaide, that had its birth during the war period, to compete with a place like Rotterdam in the re-conditioning of a ship of that class.
– It should be able to compete in repair work.
– This was not a matter of repairs. The vessel was burnt to almost the water’s edge; only the hull remained, and the ship had practically to be rebuilt internally. The Boer war furnished a parallel case to our own. When Kimberley was surrounded the needs of the moment rendered it necessary for the inhabitants to manufacture their own guns. I do not intend to argue the relative prices in Australia and Great Britain. I should give the work to a firm in Australia, regardless of cost. I am so wholeheartedly Australian that I should not care if we were shut out entirely from the other side, in respect of money and everything else. If for 20 or 30 years we were prevented from borrowing outside Australia, and were compelled to manufacture in Australia everything that we required, we should become a self-reliant nation, equal to any on the face of the globe. It is because we can obtain things too easily from overseas, it is because we have been in the habit of borrowing overseas, that we are disinclined to drop the practice. When there are in Australia a greater number of people who are ready to make sacrifices, Australia will be placed properly upon its feet, and old fetishes will be scrapped. This matter has been argued from every aspect, but that which will impress itself most upon the people of Australia is the fact that the Government has offered an affront to’ the sentiment of Australia. The opportunity came for the Government to give a fillip to Australian industries by building these vessels in Australia, but it missed the opportunity. It should be our duty, as representatives of the people, always to think of Australia first. The sacrifices made by our people during the war were a reflex of Australian character built up under our high standard of living. If we are going to endorse the policy of buying all our ships in the overseas markets simply because they cost less there, then Australia will never become a great and self-reliant nation. As a people we shall continue to be mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. I feel sure that if the country were appealed to on this question, the vote of censure would be endorsed by fully 85 per cent, of the people of Australia.
.- If we adopted the suggestion of the honorable member, for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) and built something in the nature of a great wall around Australia, telling people- in the rest of the world that we had no desire to trade with them, we should be in a most unfortunate position. I am looking forward to the time when we shall have a- population of 30,000,000 or even 40,000,000 of people, and be doing a huge export trade with other countries. However, this is not the time to discuss that question. I was surprised that honorable members opposite should suggest that, as the result of the Washington Conference, there is to be peace for the next ten years, and therefore no need to construct cruisers. I do not think we need discuss to-night the question whether these cruisers should be constructed or not. That question was decided definitely last year. The Government, then distinctly informed the House what it proposed to do. Honorable members were informed that one of the cruisers was to be built in Great Britain, and that tenders would be called both in Britain and Australia for the construction of the second. Certain promises were made, and when we came to the discussion of the Defence Estimates the whole subject was fully debated. No honorable member was more anxious for the construction of these vessels in Australia than the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes). Time after time he declared that they should be built in Australia. It was during the discussion of the Defence Estimates that we had a definite statement from the Government that one of the vessels was to be built in the Old Country, and tenders would be called for the construction of the second in Australia as well as in Great Britain. On that occasion the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) moved for the construction of the two cruisers in Australia, and in the long discussion that followed the right honorable member for North Sydney made a statement already quoted by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) : -
No doubt the acceptance or otherwise of the tender will be decided when Parliament is in recess, and we shall not have an opportunity to express our opinion about what is done.
Later, the then Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden), referring to some statements made by the honorable member for Dalley, said -
The honorable member also quoted an extract from an English Sunday paper, and. upon that evidence declared that it was doubtful whether the Government intended to call for tenders at all, notwithstanding the assurance by the Prime Minister that the Cabinet has decided to do so.
The honorable member for Dalley then interjected -
That is only camouflage, in order that the Government may get into recess, and then place an order in Great Britain.
– What did the Prime Minister say to that?
– The Prime Minister was not speaking at the time.
– But there was a later statement. ;
– There was no later statement on the subject. The debate to which I refer was the last discussion that took place in connexion with this matter, and although a certain promise had been given previously, the division that took place on the Estimates clearly indicated that there was no doubt in the minds of honorable members about the attitude of the Government. The Government was justified in accepting the tenders, because Parliament had dealt with the question and voted the money. Let us now consider whether the Government was justified in accepting a British tender against the estimated cost of construction in Australia. It has been argued by honorable members opposite that if the order had been placed in Australia something definite would have been done to build up a new industry. We know perfectly well that the construction of warships is an entirely different proposition from the building of ordinary steamships, and it is extraordinary that honorable members opposite should repeatedly make the statement that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company would have set up the necessary plate-rolling machinery if the order had been placed in Australia. It would be absurd to go to the enormous cost of laying down a rolling plant for the construction of a few vessels only, because honorable members opposite have made it clear that if they were in power warship building would cease, and there would be no more work for that class of mill. Already some of them have boasted that they anticipate being in power after the next general elections. In the circumstances would the Government have been, justified in having one of the cruisers built in Australia at an estimated cost of more than £800,000 above the accepted British tender 1 The honorable member for Dalley furnished the House with certain figures showing percentage costs. That was not a fair way of stating the case because the construction of only one cruiser was involved, and the British tender showed a clear .saving of over £800,000. We must remember also that the Cockatoo Island dockyard figure was only an estimate, and having regard to what happened in connexion with other vessels built there we can confidently say what would have been the result of building the second cruiser at that dock. I have here some interesting figures bearing on this point. The Torrens cost £78,000 over the estimate; the final cost of the Swan exceeded the estimate by £S0,000 ; the Huon cost £88,000 above the estimate ; the Brisbane exceeded the estimated cost by £346,000; and the Adelaide was £861,000 over estimated cost.
– ‘The honorable member ought to be fair, and state that the reason for the extra costs was the rise in price of material in England.
– And the frequent alterations in design at the instance of the Navy Board.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) is again decrying Australian industries.
– I invite the honorable member for Ballarat to read what his leader (Mr. Charlton) had to say as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, which reported on this subject some years ago when Labour was in power, and had a majority of members on the committee. Mr. Charlton’s views as chairman of that body were set out in a lengthy report. The committee emphasized how impossible it was to carry out work at Cockatoo Island Dockyard owing to the multiplicity of rules in connexion with the various union organizations whose members are employed at the dockyard.
– All those anomalies have now been removed.
– They are worse than ever.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for Wakefield. They are not worse than ever, because a board now controls, and political influence is not so rampant; but I am satisfied that if Labour gets into power in the next Parliament we shall get back to that condition of affairs of which the Leader of the Opposition complained a few years ago. I remind the House, also, that in addition to costing £346,000 above the estimate the Brisbane took 42 months to construct, and the Adelaide, which cost £S61,000 over the estimate, was under construction for 56 months. We are hoping to take delivery of these new cruisers within two years. Notwith standing what Mr. Lloyd George may have said in the Imperial Parliament, I am satisfied that the Government was well-advised to order the construction of both vessels in Great Britain. I want to see something definite done for the defence of Australia. We have been talking a great deal, and doing very little in recent years. I should like to see the Singapore Base established, and a practical attempt made to bring millions of people to this country, because we have ample room for them, and they are urgently required for the defence of Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) that the Government was absolutely justified in accepting the British contract for the second cruiser. It must be remembered that warship construction is entirely different from ordinary shipbuilding. Every one would be glad to see the shipbuilding industry well established in this country, but I suggest that it is not good business to spend an extra £800,000 - the amount might even be £1,000,000 - in the building of one vessel. Would it not be far better to spend that £S00,000 in, say, a graving dock in Fremantle or Sydney, or in road construction ? For that sum we could provide 3,500 men with work on road construction at £4 10s. a week for a year.
– Would there then be a rise in the price of wheat?
– I am afraid the price of wheat may come down, but if by providing our farmers with good roads we can assist them to market their produce profitably, we shall make conditions much more satisfying for the people in our cities. We might similarly spend this £800,000 on some scheme of afforestation, or devise a scheme for the group settlement of 800 people, who could be assisted with £1,000 each. Eight hundred men permanently settled can carry 4,000 men employed in secondary industries.
– The honorable member delights in seeing the working men walking about doing nothing.
– That is where the honorable member blunders. I want to see. the working man at work; but the honorable member wishes to place a few picked men from his constituency in special jobs. The result of his policy is seen every day in unemployment and depression. There has been much talk about the need for a national sentiment in Australia. Is there any lack of sentiment for the ships Australia and Sydney? The Sydney was constructed in Great Britain, but are we any the less proud of the work she did? The Government was abundantly justified in ordering these cruisers abroad. It acted with the full cognizance of Parliament, and I hope that there will be a big majority against the motion of censure.
.- I wish once again to quote the words of the Prime Minister about the construction of the second cruiser, and it would be worth while for every honorable member who speaks on this side to repeat them. The honorable member for Swan . (Mr. Gregory) can say what he likes about what the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said, but he well knows that the right honorable member was speaking critically. When the right honorable member for North Sydney said that the Government would take advantage of the recess to accept a British tender for the construction of the second cruiser, he, no doubt, believed that it would break the promise it had made. I realize that the right honorable member for North Sydney has broken promises himself, and he has a very lively recollection of the breaking of what was probably the strongest pledge ever given at an election by one political colleague to another. He remembers the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), after saying that he would stand or fall by Mr. W. M. Hughes, throwing him overboard at the first opportunity and stepping into his shoes.
– That is not correct.
– Every one knows that it is correct, and to deny it is to deny facts. When the honorable member for Swan speaks of the right honorable member for North Sydney saying that there was a likelihood of the Prime Minister breaking the absolute, and apparently sincere, promise made to this House, he should realize that the right honorable member knew that when Parliament got into recess the Government would be dominated by the freetrade section of it, which would cause Stanley “ London “ Bruce to order the second cruiser to be constructed in Great Britain. We expected to hear something from the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Littleton Groom) on this subject; but I presume that he is so abashed at the audacity of his leader in denying a statement made in the last Parliament, that he has not sufficient courage left to try to re-establish the right honorable gentleman’s reputation. On page 4052 of Hansard of the 9th September, 1924, the Prime Minister is reported to have said -
I most certainly give the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) my assurance that the fullest opportunity will be given to the House to discuss the question of where the second cruiser shall be built. When the Defence Equipment Bill was being considered, I gave the undertaking that the Government would not take any action in regard to the second cruiser until the House had had a further opportunity to discuss the matter.
That utterance was definite, distinct, and comprehensible. It was free from equivocation. It contained two distinct promises, and it was his last reference to the construction of the second cruiser. In the face of that, what is the use of indulging in camouflage? What need is there for the champion bridge-builder, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), to pretend that the Prime Minister is immune from carrying out a sacred promise? The words I have read from Hansard are too plain for two meanings to be read into them; they bear the unmistakable meaning that when the Prime Minister made the promise he intended that the House should have a full opportunity, after the tenders had been received, to discuss the subject. No good purpose would have been served by a discussion before the tenders had been received. Honorable members wanted to know the British prices, the Cockatoo Island price, and the Walsh Island price. Will the Attorney-General assert that we knew what the British prices were when the subject was discussed towards the end of last year? He knows that the tenders were not received until this year, and that no one could discuss the subject intelligently until then. I have known of a number of promises made in this House, but not fulfilled, but in my fifteen years of parliamentary experience I cannot recall a more definite promise than that made by the Prime Minister, and I have never known, even in the troublous times of the wai, when men had to change their opinions and provide for emergencies on the spur of the moment, the word of a Prime Minister to be so flagrantly broken as it has been in this instance. Apart from the arguments about constructing the cruisers in Great Britain or Australia, apart from the need for establishing the shipbuilding industry in this country, and apart from the question of what is best in the interests of the Australian workmen, this breaking of *a serious pledge stands out in my mind as the most flagrant breach of promise I have ever known. It cannot be explained away. The quotation I have read will be shown to the electors, who will not be deceived as to. what the Prime Minister said or meant. Honorable members opposite have told me that they were prepared to vote for the construction of the first cruiser in Great Britain on the understanding that they would have an opportunity to discuss in full the tender for the second cruiser. The honorable member for Swan, in the scornful way in which he speaks of Australian industries, especially secondary industries, said, “What foolishness it is to think of constructing cruisers in Australia! What industry would that build up? What education would that be for the mechanic, the engineer, or any one else?” We know that; in the construction of the Brisbane and the Adelaide, and in other delicate and intricate work done at Cockatoo Island, Australians have been trained in a class of work that fits them, as the present officer in charge at Cockatoo Island-has said, to take their place with the best mechanics, engineers, and ship constructors in the world.
– What about the lighthouse vessels that cost £88 a ton ?
– Has the honorable member been on one of them?
– No; but it is sufficientto look at the price.
– I have seen the vessels, and they are first class. I could provide the honorable member with a cheap pair of boots, and with another pair that he would regard as dear, but they would be of different quality. If he wants quality in anything, he must pay for it. If he wants merely a brummagem article, he can get it cheaply in China and several other countries. The manager of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, who knows more about ship construction than, any one else in Australia, said in my presence there, “ We can do any class of ship construction at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. We have some of the finest mechanics in the world at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and the only difference between that dockyard and those in Great Britain is in respect of the wages paid to the men who do the work.” Mr. G. D. Delprat, before a committee of the House, of which the honorable member for Swan was a member, paid one of the finest tributes to Australian workmen that I have ever heard. Mr. Delprat, who is the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, said on oath, when the question was put to him as to how he was able to establish the steel industry, in which, thousands of men were employed, that with the exception of a few leading hands, all the other employees were Australians. Speaking of his experience in Europe and in the United States of America, he said the Australian workman was the most adaptable in the world. Mr. Farquhar gave similar testimony before a number of federal parliamentarians who were members pf the Committees of Public Works and Public Accounts. When we commenced building cargo vessels in Australia we were laughed at, but one could awhile ago visit Maryborough in Queensland, Port Adelaide, Walsh Island, Cockatoo Island, or Williamstown, and hear the rattling of hammers and see shipbuilding work of the highest possible class being undertaken. Notwithstanding this, there are men in Australia who are endeavouring to ridicule the Australian worker. There are those who speak of the go-slow policy and the excessive costs incurred in shipbuilding in -the Commonwealth, but in face of this the captains of industry in charge of some of these establishments say that, apart from wages, work can be carried out as well in these yards as in any of the old-established yards * in Great Britain. It is not Australians alone who have spoken in favour of the way in which work is done in Australia. On the Fordsdale’s first voyage abroad she was examined .by Great Britain’s leading experts, and the verdict in regard to her construction and workmanship was that it could not have been done better in any other part of the world. Is it not, therefore, late in the day to speak of the inefficiency of Australian workmen f I say unhesitatingly that public men in Australia or elsewhere who speak in slighting terms of the Australian worker are doing a grave injustice to the finest workmen in the world. It is to our shame that any of us should decry the quality of Australian workmanship and the possibilities of our own country. Are we not to progress beyond the knickerbocker stage? Why should we wait until our population reaches the 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 mark? We will not see that in our day, but our children will live to see this island continent one of the greatest maritime powers in the world. It is well known that the Lithgow Small. Arms Factory mentioned by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) has rendered valuable service to the Commonwealth. The honorable member . said that we were manufacturing service rifles at Lithgow at a cost of £16 each, which could be obtained in Great Britain at about £8 per rifle. Although we have been paying double the price for our rifles, will anyone have the temerity to suggest that the Lithgow works should be closed down ? They have almost approached that stage, but the men could be economically employed in manufacturing departmental requirements. Surely the honorable member for Brisbane is in favour of the cruisers being constructed in Australia, even if the cost would be slightly higher.
– Why give 100 per cent, more ?
– The honorable member for Swan suggests a reduction in wages.
– If the Government is going to reduce wages, allow men to work under unfavorable conditions, and bring family life to the level it is in some parts of the United Kingdom, let it go ahead, and, in addition to what I have said, reduce the physical fitness of the Australian artisan.
– Nothing; of the kind.
– That is the objective of the honorable member. The Australian people will not tolerate it. I glory in the fact that before very long the platforms of this country will ring with a true Australian sentiment, which is absolutely lacking oh the other side of the House. The honorable member for Swan suggests that the £818,000 saved could very well be spent on road construction throughout the Commonwealth. I do not think the money could be spent to better advantage, because in the event of war rapid transport of troops would thus be facilitated. I believe that if the whole amount of £5,000,000 proposed to be spent on cruisers was spent on roadmaking, we would do more for real Australian defence than by building cruisers. Does the British Government depend upon the opinion of other countries? Their experts have been watching naval construction in other countries, and are holding their hand in the matter of cruiser construction. The hope to-day, notonly in Australia, but also in the United States of America, Japan, and other parts of the world, is that another conference will be held to discuss disarmament, and the probabilities are that, before the cruisers which the. Commonwealth Government have ordered have been made fast in Australian ports, a more peaceful atmosphere than exists at present will prevail. As a result of the deliberations of the representatives of various nations further disarmament will be decided upon, and the vessels which are now under construction will have to be scrapped. We have been informed that the best way to ensure peace is to prepare for war, but although Germany was fully prepared, the world was thrown into one of the greatest conflicts ever recorded in history. The Leader of the Opposition waa not present when the honorable member for Swan referred to a report presented to the House deploring the manner in which Cockatoo Island Dockyard was conducted. One of the main features of the report dealt with the defective accountancy system, and in consequence of the improvements in that direction the work is now conducted on a more satisfactory basis.
– No, because we dispensed with political influence by appointing commissioners.
– One of the chief reforms brought about as the result of the report was in the accountancy system. I did not wish to rise to a point of order and thus balk the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) when he was submitting certain information to the House this afternoon. I am always willing to receive all the information possible, but when the Minister desired to hand in for publication certain statements I wanted to know what they were all about. There is one other point. I do not wish to misrepresent the Minister for Defence, but I understood him to say when he was speaking about these cruisers that the Treasurer had already set aside some- . thing like £SOO,000 for the construction of :i seaplane carrier; and he advised the Treasurer, if lie intended the work to be done in Australia, to add something like £300,000 to that amount, making in all £1,300,000. It did nol appear to frighten him that £300,000 had to be added to the £800,000 that had been set aside for constructing a seaplane carrier; but the fact is that such an increase would make the building of the seaplane carrier in Australia much more expensive proportionately than would have been the building of the cruisers here. I should like him to give some explanation of why he did not object to £300,000 being added to the cost of the proposed seaplane carrier while he objected to £800,000 being added to the cost of the cruisers in order that they might be built here.
– I gave my explanation, and the honorable member would have heard it had he been listening.
– I heard no explanation of the Mmister’8 attitude.
– The Minister also said that he hoped we would never construct a cruiser in Australia.
– I heard that. If his remark that £300,000 would have to be added to the cost of the seaplane carrier if it were built in Australia was meant to be a slight upon Australian workmen - and 1 do not want to do him an injustice in that respect - all I can say is that it was in keeping with other slights that have been hurled at the Australian workers from the other side of the House. 1 must respectfully disagree with the figures t«at have been given as to the proportion of Australian material that «ould have been used in those cruisers had they been built here. The Government has been advised in this matter by men who, generally speaking, have recently come from the other side of the world. 1 do not say that in depreciation of them, but, if there is a possibility of buying anything from Great Britain in preference to buying it iu Australia, the Navy Department has the unhappy knack of doing so. I have iu my pocket a lone list of items which are purchased in Great Britain, but which could bc manufactured in Australia. For the reason that this policy is so largely adopted in the Navy Department, I submit that their estimate of the proportion of Australian material that could be used in the manufacture of cruisers in Australia should bc taken with a grain of salt. It is most unfortunate that new arrivals from abroad stand a much better chance of obtaining work in the Navy Department than do our Australian people. A man who arrived from England only yesterday is more likely to got a job in the Navy Department than a man who has lived in Australia all his life. That is not fair. It is because of the adoption of this policy that I am not prepared to accept the figures given by the Department. I am sure that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company could supply much more than 15 per cent, of the material that would be used in building cruisers.
– And they are prepared to do so.
– That is so. The fact is that the Government is more concerned about helping industries elsewhere than helping Australian industries. In support of my contention that” wo could supply a great deal more, material for cruiser construction than has been stated, I use as an illustration our experience in manufacturing rifles here. When we began this work years ago, certain steel parts had to be imported. I. can say safely that to-day practically all the parts of the rifle are made in Australia. A certain class of steel was not obtainable here in the early days, but Messrs. Hoskin and Sons, at Lithgow, realized that there would be a demand for this material, and they began to manufacture it. Honorable members in this House told us at one time that we should never be able to manufacture some of the steel required, but we are manufacturing it. I remember, particularly, that it was said that one part of the rifle required a metal containing a certain Swedish ‘mixture, and that we would never be able to supply this in Australia. But we do supply it to-day. What has occurred in the manufacture of rifles would doubtless occur in the building of cruisers. Let me give another illustration. Wireless is a comparatively new tiling in Australia, but to-day soma of the finest wireless equipment in the world is made here. The statement of Mr. G. D. Del prat that the Australian workman is the most adaptable in the world has been well borne out. He uses his intelligence and ingenuity to overcome difficulties in a way that workmen in other parts of the world do not seem able to do. In the sphere of inventions, Australians have been responsible for some fine work, and if they received more encouragement from a Government with a truly national spirit, which would provide capital for experiments, they would do still better. I submit that the motion deserves support, on the ground that the Prime Minister broke his solemn word that the construction of the second cruiser abroad would not be agreed to until Parliament had had an opportunity of expressing its mind, find also on the ground that the Government has been guilty of anti-Australian sentiment. It stands to reason that we could not express an intelligent opinion as to whether a cruiser should be built here or not until the figures had been placed before us, and those figures were not submitted to us until after the tender had been placed in England. Great blessing will come to the people of Australia when they dismiss, as they will do at the first opportunity, this Government which has so misdirected the affairs of the country. I believe that the Government will be pitch-forked out of office, and that it will not have the opportunity very much longer to slight Australian industry and encourage industries in other parts of the world.
Debate (on motion by Sir Littleton Groom) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Littleton Groom) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 o’clock p.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 June 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1925/19250617_reps_9_110/>.