10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.CORSER. - I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs what is the position with regard to’ the South African preference treaty, particularly -with respect, to the duty on maize? What action is the Government taking with regard to helping the development of . the cotton growing industry in Queensland, and when will the inquiry by the Tariff Board, promised in the Governor-General’s opening speech, take place?
– In reply to the honorable member’s first question, since I. answered a similar question from the honorable member in the last Parliament several communications have passed between South Africa and the Commonwealth. The position of Imperial preference in South Africa is still somewhat obscure. I hope to have the matter finalized within a short time, and the interests of the primary producers of Australia, with, regard to both the export and the import trade will be fully considered, and, I hope, conserved.
– Will the Minister for Health tell the House what reply he has made to Dr. Smalpage’s offer to make available to the Commonwealth Government his serum for the treatment of tuberculosis ?
- Dr. Smalpage commenced work to-day at the Serum Laboratory, where every facility has been placed at his disposal. The Government will also make available a certain amount of money to cover the expense of his locum tenens while he is carrying out his investigations, and limited travelling expenses. Dr. Smalpage, for his part, has agreed to supply a stated quantity of serum to be used in each State by specialists selected by him.
– The Tariff schedule which was submitted to the last Parliament provided for the imposition of certain duties upon cotton and cottontweed goods. I understand that after Parliament was prorogued those duties were remitted. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House why that action was taken? Was it because of the immoderate protection given ?
– The matter was referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report, and in accordance with that body’s recommendation temporary action was taken by the department under tariff item. 404.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House of the present position in regard to the firms whichdid work upon the German steamer Wotan, which was captured early in the war ? Although the Government used that vessel throughout the war period, the creditors are still unpaid.
– The honorable member brought this case under my notice, and correspondence in regard to it has extended over a considerable period. Because of its nature, the transaction is very complicated, but if the honorable member will place a question on the notice-paper I shall let him know the stage which the negotiations have now reached.
– I understand that obstacles to the commencement of the construction of the railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane have arisen, and as this matter is . urgent, I ask the Prime Minister to take the House into his confidence in regard to it.
– After this Parliament passed the act authorizing the construction of the railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane, the actual work of construction was placed under a board of commissioners. Recently tenders for the work were received, but a difference of opinion has arisen between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland. I have invited those two Governments to send representatives to Melbourne to discuss the matter; and until such a conference has taken place, the whole question must remain in abeyance. I would invite the honorable gentleman’s attention to a statement which I made on this subject to the press some time ago.
– Has the Government yet given consideration to the resolution of’ this House last session that a royal commission be appointed to inquire into the affairs of Norfolk Island?
– Yes ; and I hope to be able to make an announcement on the subject either to-day or to-morrow.
High Court’s Judgment
– Will the AttorneyGeneral lay upon the table the full text of the High Court’s judgment upon the deportation issue, and have it printed as a parliamentary paper for distribution to honorable members ?
– The full text of the reasons for judgment will be laid upon the table, and the Printing Committee can then determine whether or not it shall be printed.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs what steps have been taken to ascertain how inferior fruit was allowed to be exported to London? Have safeguards been provided against a repetition of such a happening?
– Exhaustive inquiriesare being made regarding the examinations of export fruit by officials of the Trade and Customs Department. I have not yet received all the reports; but, if the honorable member will repeat his question next week, I may then be able to answer it fully.
– Is Viscount Allenby visiting Australia as the guest of the Commonwealth Government? Ifso, will honorable members be afforded an opportunity to meet him before he leaves Melbourne ?
– When the Government learned that Viscount Allenby proposed to visit Australia, it immediately extended to him. an invitation, on behalf of the people, to be the guest of the Commonwealth. “It is impossible to offer special facilities for honorable members to meet him., as he will leave for Sydney this afternoon ; but, had Parliament assembled earlier, the Government would have sought an opportunity for the distinguished visitor to be entertained by Parliament.
Death of a Candidate.
– Will the Prime Minister give early consideration to the desirability of amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act in order to make it mandatory that in constituencies where only two candidates are nominated and one dies between the date of nomination and polling day, fresh nominations shall be invited?
– The efficient working of the Electoral Act is always receiving the consideration of the Government, and no matter affecting in any way its efficiency is overlooked. I do not think, however, that the suggestion of the honorable member requires immediate consideration.
– In view of the great amount of extra work which compulsory voting threw upon the officers of the Electoral Department, is it proposed to grant them any extra payment or compensation ?
– Representations have already been made to the Government in this matter, and are now receiving consideration .
– In view of the fact that compulsory voting at the last elections imposed additional duties on deputy returning officers, many of whom worked a large amount of overtime, will the Government give sympathetic consideration to their claims for additional remuneration?
– The Prime Minister has already stated that representations on this matter have been made, and that they will be considered.
– Will the Minister lay on the table of the Library the whole of the correspondence which passed between the Navy Office and the firm of John Brown and Company, of Clydeside, in connexion with the contract for the construction of two 10,000-toncruisers?
– It is not considered advisable to lay upon the table of the Library the papers in connexion with the building of these cruisers.
– Last year a reciprocal tariff between Australia and Canada was agreed to, under which special concessions were given to Australia in connexion with dried fruits imported into Canada. I have been informed that large quantities of Australian dried fruits are purchased in England by firms which forward them to Canada, and obtain the benefit of the arrangement entered into between the two dominions. Can the Minister inform us whether anything can be done to protect the Australian fruitgrower in this connexion?
– I shall have inquiries made into the matter.
Mr.YATES. - Has any arrangement been entered into regarding the appointment of a successor to Sir Joseph Cook as the Australian High Commissioner in London; and, if so, who has been selected for the office?
– I remind the honorable member that the tenure of office of the present High Commissioner, Sir Joseph Cook, does not expire until the end of this year. When the Government has an announcement to make as to Sir Joseph Cook’s successor, it will be made.
– Is the Minister for Works and Railways aware that there are large quantities of excellent building stone, including granite, available within easy distance of Brisbane, and can ho explain why the specifications for certain large public buildings to be erected in Queensland require the use of New South Wales stone, greatly increasing their cost ?
– I shall have inquiries made.
– Will the Prime Minister table the correspondence which passed between his Government and the British Government in relation to the Locarno Pact, or will he at the earliest opportunity make a. statement to the House regarding the Government’s policy in relation thereto?
– I could not possibly table the whole of the communications which passed between the two Governments in connexion with this matter, because throughout the negotiations the Commonwealth Government was kept advised as to the progress made. The Governor-General’s Speech contains a reference to the Locarno Pact, and the honorable member will, therefore, be given an opportunity to discuss it.
– Is the Commonwealth a party to the Pact?
– No. On some suitable occasion the policy of the Government regarding this matter will be stated in this House.
– Last year the Prime Minister promised that the ‘ question of allowing the mandated Territory of New Guinea to participate in the subsidy payable in respect of oil-boring operations would receive the consideration of the Government. Will he inform the House what decision, if any, has. been arrived at?
– No final decision has been come to regarding this matter, but a bill will be introduced in the near future dealing with the allocation of the money to be granted by way of subsidy. It will then be open to any honorable member to discuss the extension of this subsidy to New Guinea..
– Will the Minister, before the Power Alcohol Bill is reintroduced, arrange for the Tariff Board to visit Queensland for the purpose of obtaining evidence regarding the manufacture of power alcohol from the byproducts of the sugar industry, with a view to extending the proposed bounty on power alcohol manufactured from cassava to power alcohol manufactured from molasses, inferior sugar, syrups, and sugar-cane?
– The Tariff Board has already reported upon one aspect . of this matter, and I think that I can promise that the question raised by the honorable member will also receive the Board’s consideration. It will, however, be at a later date.
– Will the Prime Minister give the House an early opportunity to decide whether alcoholic liquor shall be made available at Canberra?
– I can give the honorable member no assurance as to when this matter will be considered.
– In the hope that the infusion of new blood into the Attorney-General’s Department may have had some effect, I ask the AttorneyGeneral if he will inform the House of the present position regarding the KidmanMayoh shipbuilding contract, and whether the matter is now any nearer finality than was the case five years ago.
– I have directed that the judgment shall be enforced. I am informed, however, that a further appeal to the Privy Council is proposed. That appeal has not yet been instituted, and the judgment will accordingly be enforced unless an order is made by some court which imposes a stay of proceedings.
– Can the Minister inform the House whether wireless receiving sets have been supplied to the lighthousekeepers on the Australian coast?
– In some cases, yes. If the honorable member would like the full particulars, I shall be pleased to supply them.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
The following papers were presented : -
Health - Report of the Royal Commission, together with appendices.
Public Service Act- -Second Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board ofCommissioners.
Locarno Conference, 1925 - Final Protocol (and Annexes), together with Treaties between France and Poland and France and Czechoslovakia.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Seventh Session, held at Geneva, 19th May to 10th June, 1925-
Report of the Australian Government Delegate.
Report of the Australian Employers’ Delegate.
Report of the Australian Workers’ Delegate.
Draft Conventions and Recommendations adopted by the Conference.
Ordered to be printed.
Air Force Act and Defence Act-Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1925, No. 208.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 25 of 1925- Fourth Division . Officers’ Association, Trade and Customs Department.
No.26 of 1925 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
No. 28 of 1925- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 29 of 1925-Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 30 of 1925- Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.
No. 31 of 1925 - Amalgamated Postal Linemen, Sorters, and Letter Carriers’ Union of Australia.
No. 32 of 1925- Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
Nos. 33 and 34 of 1925 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Audit Act -
Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year, 1925-6, dated 16th September, 1925; dated 30th September, 1925.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 3.
Canberra - First annual report of the Federal Capital Commission for the period ended 26th June, 1925.
Customs Act -
Proclamations relating to the prohibition of the exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Dried Fruits (dated 3rd November, 1925).
Canned Fruits (dated 3rd November, 1925).
Fresh Apples and Pears (dated 3rd November, 1925).
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 186, 195, 218.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 170, 190, 191, 209, 214, 220, 221.
Electoral Act and Referendum (Constitution Alteration). Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 167.
Entertainments Tax Assessment Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 177.
Excise Act - Excise Regulations - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 181.
High Court Procedure Act - Rules of Court - Rule re Sittings - Dated 4th November, 1925.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations Amended-Statutory Rules 1925, No. 202.
Inscribed Stock Act- Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 203.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 176.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at -
Bicton, Western Australia - For Quarantine purposes.
Bridgetown, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Hamilton, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Maxwellton, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Point Cook, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Smithtown, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Townsville, Queensland - For Health purposes.
Nationality Act -Return for 1925.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended -
Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 164, 187, 196, 222.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 43- Supply (No. 2) 1925-26.
No. 44 - Treasury (No. 2).
No. 45 - Uncontrolled Areas.
No. 46 - Administrator’s Powers (No. 2).
No. 47 - Explosives.
No. 48.- Supply (No. 3) 1925-26.
No. 49 - Appropriation (No. 2) 1923-24.
No. 50 - Appropriation (No. 2) 1924-25.
No. 51 - Seamen’s Compensation (No. 2).
No. 52 - Police Offences.
No. 53- Supply (No. 4) 1925-26.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Crown Lands Ordinance 1924-25 - Regulations.
Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 17 - Darwin Town Council.
No. 18 - Commissioners for Affidavits Validation.
No. 19- Plant Diseases.
No. 20 - Lights on Vehicles.
Northern Territory Representation Act and
Commonwealth Electoral Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 175.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1925 -
No. 6- Supply, 1925-20.
No. 7 - Central Court.
No.8 - Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement).
No. 9 - Samarai Protestant Church Grant.
No. 10 - Customs (Export) Tariff.
No. 11- Cotton.
No. 12 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 4), 1924-25.
Papuan Oilfields - Reports of the Commonwealth representative, for
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations
Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 188, 189, 212, 213.
Public Service Act - List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Service on 30th June, 1925.
Appointments - Department of -
Attorney-General - R. F. Bush, A. M.
Nicol, P. H. Roberts, and J. A. Gonial].
Postmaster-General’s Department - A. G. Howard.
Treasury - J. S. Dunbar.
Works and Railways - D. G. McCalman,
S. Mitchell, P. J. Money, G. Royle.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 168, 183, 184, 185, 193, 194, 199, 205, 215.
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, Nos. 171, 192, 198.
Railways Act - By-laws Nos. 35, 36.
Representation Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 211.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1925-
No. 4 - Leases.
No. 5 - Fish, Protection.
No.6 - Interpretation.
No. 7 - Trespass on Commonwealth Lands.
No. 8 - Federal Capital Commission’s Powers.
No. 9 - Building and Services.
No. 10 - City Area Leases.
No. 11 - Leases (Special Purposes).
No. 12- Real Property (No. 2).
No. 13 - Dairies Supervision.
No. 14. - Gun Licence.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regula tions Amended - Statutory Rules 1925, No. 201.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Armidale, New South Wales.
Collection in Western Australia.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
£11,472; 1924-5, £13,577. In addition, the State has paid the salary of the Deputy Commissioner amounting for the four years to £3,216. 3 and 4. The Commonwealth has not made the demand referred to. As a result of an investigation, however, it was found that the cost under the amalgamation agreement was inequitable to the Commonwealth, the principal reason being that since the amalgamation, the cost of collection of State taxes has increased, and the cost of collection of Federal taxes has diminished considerably. The number of State land tax assessments is from 20 to 30 times the number made for Federal purposes, and the volume of work under the State income tax law is greater than under the Federal Acts. Although the agreement is terminable on six months’ notice by either party, it was considered that the interests of the Commonwealth and the State would best be served by its continuance, subject to such modification as would permit of a fairer. proportion of the cost being charged to each party. Representations to this end were made to the Premier of Western Australia. No finality has yet been reached, the subject having been postponed for discussion when the Premier visits Melbourne early . this year.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Willhe issue an instruction to the heads of all departments under the control of the Commonwealth that in future only British-made motor cars and/or trucks shall be purchased?
– It is the policy of the Government that in the purchase of all machinery, goods, and material of whatever nature, substantial preference must be given to manufacturers and produce of British origin.
Alleged Inferior Shipment
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets “ and Migration, upon notice -
– The following replies to the honorable member’s questions have been furnished by the Minister for Markets and Migration: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he give consideration to the suggestion that in connexion with future mail contracts between Tasmania and the mainland, the vessels carrying mails shall be oil-burners instead of coal as at present.
– Consideration will be given to the suggestion when a new contract is being entered into.
” SQUIRTER “ BANANA DISEASE.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
In view of the representations made to his department to the effect that the bananagrowers of Queensland suffered losses exceeding £50,000 during last winter in consequence of the disease commonly known as “ squirter,” will he have an investigation made on the lines of the Bunchy Top Commission at the earliest possible moment, and before serious loss is possible in the coming winter?
– The importance of this matter is fully realized. The question has been receiving the attention of the Institute of Science and Industry, which has prepared a scheme of investigation in connexion with it, and is now endeavouring to arrange with the authorities concerned in New South Wales and Queensland to have the scheme put into operation.
Chairman’s Leave of Absence
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that Mr. Garvin, who was appointed Chairman of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank about twelve months ago, has been granted six months’ leave of absence? If so, has this leave been granted on full salary ?
– The answer to each question is “ Yes.”
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Position of Mr. J. O. Hatcher
asked the PrimeMinister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Cost of Proceedings
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I move -
That the honorable member for Oxley, Mr. Bayley, be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
I have great pleasure in moving this motion. I know of no man better fitted to fill this most important office. Mr. Bayley has for many years acted as a Temporary Chairman of Committees. He, like you, Mr. Speaker, is one of those fortunate men who pass through parliaments without incurring the enmity of their fellows. Such men are the darlings of the gods. Temperament and training have combined to ensure the success of the honorable member in the chair. Like yourself, now to be numbered amongst those who have attained a high and dignified position in this House, he has a knowledge of those mystic and baffling ordinances known as the Standing Orders. Although it would be hopeless to expect this knowledge to become general among honorable members, still it is desirable that you, Mr. Speaker, the custodian of the honour and prestige of this House, and the Chairman of Committees, your deputy, should walk easily through the mazes of procedure. Party feeling may prompt some honorable members opposite - though I hope it will not - to offer objection to the appointment of Mr. Bayley. I feel sure that that feeling will not be personal, because I think that every honorable member has the warmest regard for the honorable member for Oxley.
.- I have much pleasure in seconding the motion, and am pleased to hear the cheers of honorable members opposite, which I regard as an indication that they approve of the appointment of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) as Chairman of Committees. I believe that he will fill the position with credit to himself and to the House, He experienced a very trying time during his initiation as our Acting Chairman of Committees. Those who have been instrumental in nominating him for this position have shown sound judgment; and I feel that Mr. Bayley will, as in the past, carry out his duties with credit and distinction and be impartial to every section in this House.
.- I support the motion. It is only right that honorable members, to be selected for advancement in this House should be young and energetic; and, notwithstanding my remarks and the attitude that I adopted yesterday, I feel that I am justified in complimenting the Government for doing the right thing on this occasion.
I believe that Mr. Bayley will justify the confidence that his party has in him, and that he will develop the qualities which are required of those who preside over this Chamber, so that, sir, upon your retirement, he will be able to fill the position of Speaker with credit to him- self and this House and to the benefit of the country.
Question resolved in the affirmative;
.- I desire through you, Mr. Speaker, to thank the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) for proposing and seconding my appointment, and I thank honorable members for the kind way in which they have received my nomination for the position of Chairman of Committees. I appreciate the honour very much, and assure them that so long as it falls to my lot to occupy that position, I shall do so to the best of my ability, and always with one end in view - the honour and credit of this House.
The committee appointed to prepare an Address-inReply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech (vide page 24), having presented the proposed address, which was read by the Clerk.
.- I move-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to -
May it please Your Excellency :
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I move this motion conscious of the honoured position in which I find myself to-day. It is to me a matter of the utmost gratification that I am a member of this national assembly as the representative of a great constituency, and that, as a new member, I have been selected to move this motion. I shall speak with less embarrassment and less diffidence, perhaps, than I should otherwise feel, because I subscribe. wholeheartedly to the programme put before Parliament yesterday by His Excellency the Governor-
General. That programme is in every sense national or Australian in its character. It is in no way a party programme, and I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) upon the broad sympathy which it expresses and for what it offers, not to any particular section of the community, but to every class in the Commonwealth. As was pointed out by His Excellency, this is a notable Parlialiament, because it marks the beginning of the second generation of our federal life. The Government has risen to the occasion by the programme, which it has submitted for the consideration of the House during this session. Its proposals appeal to me in many ways, but particularly because of the very great consideration they show to the primary producers. The Government’s programme touches the basis of our Australian life and industry, and therein one recognizes the inspiration and determination of the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page). I do not propose to touch upon all the subjects mentioned in the ministerial programme. I shall, however, give attention to one or two matters which have specially interested me, and of which I have had some practical experience.
The Government does well to refer, at the beginning of its programme, to the Locarno Pact. If there is one subject more than another which we Australians are apt to neglect it is foreign affairs. If there is one sense in which we are deficient it is that of international relationship. Although it is sometimes affirmed that history pays altogether too much attention to wars and too little to the happenings in times of peace, it cannot be denied that war, and all that makes for war, more profoundly affect the people of all countries than anything else that comes into their lives. In support of the contention that we should take a deeper interest in foreign affairs, it should only be necessary to point to the remarkable fact that within the past 25 years even the peace-loving people of this isolated continent of Australia have taken part in two wars, and one of them the most dreadful in history. The questions involved in the Locarno Pact will be debated at length in this House later on, but I should like at this stage to make one or two observations on them. Appalling as it may seem, if we become a party with Britain to this Pact, we may sooner or later be involved in another war, on an even greater scale than the last, upon European soil, or in some other part of the world.. Nevertheless, we must give the deepest thought to the question whether we should or should not join the M’other Country in signing the Pact. To determine our course it will be necessary, individually, to answer two other questions. The first of these is whether the sole aim of the British Government, in signing the Pact, has been the defence of the United Kingdom. If that has been its main purpose, it must certainly influence our determination. I should say that our answer to that question must be overwhelmingly in the affirmative. The English Channel is no longer the sure and strategic frontier of the British Isles. The question- that Britain has asked herself is whether it will be better for her, should any future war arise, to fight in good company on sound strategic ground in Europe, or fight alone on the bad strategic ground along the Channel. The other question that we must ask ourselves is whether we in this country are not absolutely dependent upon the might and protection of Britain for our national safety. I answer that question with a strong affirmation. Our safety here has in the past been dependent upon the might and good disposition of the people of Great Britain, and it will continue to be dependent upon them until we are much stronger in numbers than we are at present. If, therefore, we come to the conclusion (hat Britain has become a party to the Locarno Pact on defensive grounds, and that upon the maintenance of Britain’s power depends Australia’s safety, our course becomes clear and simple. While discussing our connexion with Great Britain, I should like to say, as one who has lived with, and worked a great deal amongst, British people of all classes, that I am confident that if trouble at any time overtook us, whether our quarrel were just or unjust, we should have their instant support. They would clamour to come to our succour.
On the general question of defence, I trust that the time is coming when the Australian people will stand up fully to their responsibilities, and declare that they can no longer, with self-respect, put the defence of their country upon the overburdened shoulders of the British tax payers. In any preparations that we may have to make from time to time, for naval defence particularly, I trust that our contribution to the navies of the Empire will be on a more generous basis than hitherto, and that we shall depend to a less extent on the people of Britain.
It is regrettable that Parliament cannot set itself to carry .out the fine programme that the Government has prepared until it has removed from our national industrial highway certain obstacles which in recent years have lodged there. Personally, I believe that the great success achieved by the composite Government at the recent election was due in the main to its fine record of constructive work, and its efficient and capable administration. I believe, also, that the electors were influenced greatly by the admirable programme enunciated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in his Dandenong speech. I am of the opinion, however, that in the minds of the electors was one simple and definite issue; it was not merely whether this country should be relieved of certain individuals who, prompted by alien minds, are leading us towards wreckage and chaos, and inflicting considerable hardship on all classes of the community. The people have given the Government a mandate that has not been affected in the least degree by the decision of the High Court, which prevented the deportation of Walsh and Johannsen in pursuance of the recommendation of the Deportation Board.
The electors have given a peremptory instruction to the Government to preserve for the Australian people of all classes their traditional and constitutional right to work. I have no doubtthat, difficult though the position may be, the Government will find means to give effect to that mandate. It may, and possibly will, be said that, in the measures which it may be necessary for the Government to take, it and its supporters on this side of the House will be animated by a vindictive spirit, or by feelings arising out of class warfare, but I think the intelligence of the Australian people will tell them that on those grounds they have nothing whatever to * fear from the present Government. We may take it for granted that the Government will propose nothing which would take away from any section of the people of this country any of the liberties which they enjoy, and that such legislation as it may consider necessary to give a fair field for the activities of Australians as a whole will in no way be prejudical to any class or individual following accepted and constitutional lines. Particularly I would say that no danger to the trade unionism of this country need be feared because of any steps which the Government may deem it desirable to take to ensure that strikes shall not be so frequent, and that these disturbances of trade shall not be brought about for the gratification or at the will of irresponsible individuals, as sometimes in recent years. The Government deems it necessary to introduce legislation designed to give industrial peace, and to suppress would-be wreckers of the public weal; but there will be nothing in this legislation to cause the least anxiety to law-abiding citizens of this country.
We are on the eve of a further amendment of the Arbitration Act, intended to secure greater expedition in the hearing of cases, and to prevent many of the troubles caused by the overlapping which now takes place in the decisions of industrial tribunals. All honorable members will agree that this is most desirable, but I have some hope that the Government may yet see its way to go still further in the revision and reform of our industrial legislation. It seems to me that having had industrial Arbitration Courts and other industrial tribunals in Australia for upwards of a generation, the time is ripe for a general revision of our Commonwealth and State industrial laws. I should greatly like to see an attempt made by this Government, in co-operation with the Governments of the States, to establish something in the nature of a drafting committee, representative of the best brains in trade unionism and amongst employers, together with experts such as present and past judges of the Arbitral tion Court, to take up the consideration of this legislation as a whole, and see if it could not be reduced to a much simpler and more effective instrument than we have at the present time. That task might occupy years, but if out of the delibera- * tions of such a committee there could be evolved a simple and effective instrument for the accomplishment of the purpose in view, the time and expenditure incurred would be justified a thousand times.
I am pleased that the Government recognizes that, in this country, we are still merely pioneers, and that this generation, when judged by posterity, will be accounted good or wise according to its material achievements. We are as yet in this country only beginning. I am, therefore, particularly pleased to find the Government engaged in so many schemes for constructive works. In many directions - for example, in the proposed grant for roads, arbitration legislation, and the proposed advances for housing - one sees a strong tendency on the part of the Commonwealth to participate more and more in what, strictly perhaps, may be regarded as State activities. It may be said that, in this respect, the Commonwealth is trespassing ; but I do not share that view, and I am not concerned about trespass of that character. Provided that constitutional lines are followed, to me it matters not who does this big pioneering work, if it is done vigorously and effectively. Therefore I, for one, shall never, I trust, cry “ halt “ to the Government f or pioneering in every way it can in the physical development of this country. I am strongly of opinion that this great Australia of ours will, in the years immediately ahead, develop at a rate which even the most optimistic of us to-day scarcely dares to prophesy. If we are to provide adequately for those big days ahead, we must lay the foundations broadly and boldly at the present time. If we are to cooperate with the States in a, great deal of this developmental work, it is, I think essential that a closer, a more continuous, and friendlier method of assistance and co-ordination between the Commonwealth and State Governments should be devised. Again and again I have seen, when at an annual conference, agreement on some matter has been reached between Federal and State representatives and some little hitch has arisen, the whole agreement hung up until the next conference of Federal and State Ministers. The Government might consider setting aside one of its Ministers to act continuously as a liaison officer between the Commonwealth and the States, to deal with all concerns in connexion with which Commonwealth and State activities overlapped. If we had such a Minister freed very largely from administrative work, and if he were a man of versatile mind, he should be able to keep in touch with practically -all points of contact between the Commonwealth and the States, and should do a great deal to bring about greater efficiency than we have to-day.
I do not propose to keep the House much longer, but I should like to commend the housing proposals of the Government, and to express the hope that our activities in that direction will not be confined merely to a system of individual grants for house building through the agency of the Commonwealth Bank. I know of no greater national work on the domestic side than that of promoting better housing for people in receipt of relatively low incomes. I know of ‘no better way of getting right down to the very roots of class consciousness and industrial unrest than to use every means within our power to improve the housing conditions of our industrial workers. Bad housing is the. sure parent of class consciousness and unrest. It is sometimes said of large modern cities, especially in Australia, that they are artificial, and that their growth relatively to the increase of population will not be maintained. That I do not believe. I believe that the great modern cities have come to stay, and that in twenty years’ time Melbourne will contain even a greater proportion of the people of Victoria than it does to-day. Throughout the world great industrial centres have arisen with the advent of modern machinery, and it is a painful fact that nearly everywhere race deterioration has attended the concentration of the workers. In Australia we should take preventive measures against this unhappy phase of manufacturing progress. “We are already faced with the fact that in this country we have half the population in the cities; and I say that this House, through the States and municipalities, and by other organization which might be devised, could engage in no better work than a systematic scheme of housing provision on. the easiest possible financial terms. If we do that, we shall do far more than mere acts of restriction can do to improve the relationship of employers and employed in this country.
I should not like to conclude my speech without - even at the risk of wearying the House - referring to the subject of immi gration; but I shall be brief. I first wish? to congratulate the Government upon having advanced this subject further than any Federal Government has done in the past. I think the recent agreement with the British Government is the most significant advance yet achieved in connexion with the new movement for adding rapidly to the population of Australia. But the position as I see it is yet far from satisfactory. I have no great hope that, if we leave tha matter where it stands at present, we shall derive very much in the near future from the. agreement. At present three of the States are hesitating about participating in it. That is due wholly ta the fact that the great mass of the people with small incomes - men on wages or small salaries - are not satisfied that under the proposed scheme large numbers of migrants can be brought into Australia without serious prejudice to those already here. We shall never proceed far with migration until we remove that fear. I think it can be removed very simply, and that migration can be made popular with every class of the community, even including the great body of trade unionists. That will be achieved, however, only by propounding such a scheme as will convince the Australian people that no newcomers will be brought here with the assistance of the Government, unless there is waiting for them work and sustenance beyond what is needed by those who have preceded them. Treating migration as a business proposition, it should fix a definite objective, and aim at bringing to Australia a prescribed number of people in a prescribed number of years. For instance, we might aim at doubling our population in twenty years ; but if that rate of increase be regarded as excessive, we could extend the period. There is a great deal of popular misconception regarding the implication of such a. development. In order to double the population of Australia in twenty years it would be necessary to introduce from overseas from 120,000 to 240,000 per annum throughout that period. The influx would start at 120,000 and gradually increase until it reached 240,000 a year. In other words, in every year we should have to increase our population by 2 per cent, by additions from overseas. That is the whole problem of migration reduced to figures. For every 100 farmers, manufacturers, bricklayers, or workers of any ‘other class we have in Australia this year, we should have 102 next year. That would not mean the introduction next year of, say, 120,000 adults, each requiring employment or land for settlement. The ideal migration is family migration. The most difficult migration is that of adults, and even boys, because it connotes the provision of a job for each individual. But when a family is introduced, probably only one adult needs employment, and the daily needs of the other four or five of the family create at least as much work as the one adult requires. Migration will never be put upon an effective basis until some such scheme as I have outlined is adopted. I should like to see the problem referred to a committee of experts representing the rural industries, the secondary industries, all other important interests, and particularly the Trades Hall, because migration will never flourish as a national movement until it enjoys the co-operation and blessing of organized labour. I would ask such a committee to define what is necessary in this great continent, which could carry 50,000,000 or 100,000,000 people as comfortably as ‘ it carries 6,000,000, to enable it to absorb each year 30,000 or 40,000 additional workers. Knowing Australia very well, and many other countries fairly well, I have no hesitation in saying that that is one of the simplest problems ever submitted to a group of high class brains. The findings of such a body would remove all vagueness and diffidence from, the minds of timid Australians. Having evolved a scheme, and such a developmental policy as the committee deemed necessary, I should set up a standing migration board similar to the Tariff Board, which would from season to season, and year to year, regulate upon a proper scientific basis the inflow of British people from overseas. Foi many years past, all the brains and energy employed in connexion with migration to Australia have been devoted to recruiting. I have never seen any specific work of a developmental kind which would satisfy the Australian people that newcomers were not being introduced to the detriment of those already in occupation. I submit this suggestion to the Government and this House for what it is worth. I shall not dwell upon the many very obvious benefits of a great migration scheme. If migration is not
Mr. Gullett. an ideal in itself, it is the only sure foundation for all our ideals. In our time, we should take such steps as will ensure that this great continent to which we are heirs is made safe from any possible act of aggression, and that the new standards of British civilization which we have launched in this country shall advance surely to their splendid goal.
.- 1 greatly appreciate the compliment which the Government has paid to me in asking me to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. The occasion is memorable because this is the first session of a Parliament elected after perhaps one of the most momentous campaigns ever fought in Australia, and also because Parliament was opened by the new Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven. On behalf of the Country party, I should like to convey to Lord and Lady Stonehaven our congratulations, and our hope that when His Excellency returns to England at the conclusion pf his period of office, he will take with him the sincere wishes of the Australian people for the future welfare of himself and his family. The occasion is memorable also because this is probably the last session of the Commonwealth Parliament in . Melbourne, for the Governor-General’s Speech mentions that the seat of government will be transferred to Canberra early in 1927, thus fulfilling the almost lifelong dream of the late Sir Austin Chapman; The Government has, by its past work, won the confidence of the Australian people, and that contributed in no small degree to the success of ministerial candidates in the recent elections. It has always shown a desire to govern wisely, and one outstanding proof that it has done so was the recent conversion in Australia of war loans amounting to £67,000,000 without any assistance from overseas- capital. The election clearly demonstrated the people’s appreciation of the Government’s past achievements, and their support of the programme which Ministers submitted to them. Above all things the people desire industrial peace, without which this country cannot progress, and I am confident that the legislation forecast in the Governor-General’s Speech will do much to remove the great obstacle to prosperity and advancement. Undoubtedly interference with transport must cease. It is unthinkable that a few idle and mischievous agitators should continue to have power to so upset the trade of the country as to bring it to the verge of destruction. The Australian people have declared that these ruinous tactics must cease, and the Government intends by well-considered legislation to ensure the cessation of mere mischief making. The Speech promises also an improvement in the industrial arbitration system, and an endeavour to minimize conflict between state and federal awards. I congratulate the Government upon its having put forward this most necessary proposal, and upon its intention to provide for insurance against unemployment, old-age, and invalidity. These and the proposals to assist people to acquire their own homes will materially benefit the workers. This Government has always studied the welfare of the wage-earners, and has endeavoured to help them in every possible way. An outstanding merit of the composite Government is the possession of a complete and comprehensive policy. Step by step and stage by stage it is carrying out a great national policy which will benefit the whole of the people. I cordially approve of the proposals in regard to rural credits and the provision of machinery for the marketing of primary products. These will lead to increased production and greater prosperity amongst the people on the land. As a primary producer I believe that increased prosperity of the men engaged in rural industries will mean increased prosperity throughout the community. “Whilst recognizing that fact, the Government has not adopted a one-sided policy; it has endeavoured to be fair to all, and to help the man in the factory as well as the man upon the land. It has economically administered the finances and has provided for defence and improved transport facilities. For its record in regard to postal administration it deserves the highest commendation. Representing an electorate comprising over 35,000 square miles, I am impressed by the tremendous advance in recent years in the provision of telegraphic and telephonic facilities for dwellers in rural districts. I congratulate the Postmaster-General upon his careful and progressive administration of his department, and sincerely hope that he will maintain the same steady rate of progress in country districts during the current financial year. In its reference to the necessity for good main roads the Governor-General’s speech deals with an important matter.. Every one will admit that because of the sometimes short-sighted policy of the various State governments the development of Australia has not always meant the prosperity of the settler. Railways have been constructed at tremendous cost, but because they have radiated from the capital cities they have placed upon the primary producer a heavy burden in the way of freights, because of the long distance over which his produce has to be hauled. To a great extent this centralization has been the reason for the agitation for the creation of new states, anc! for decentralization generally. The provision of good main roads would obviate many of the difficulties now experienced by our primary producers. Not only would they benefit, but these roads would bring added prosperity to the Commonwealth as a whole. Good roads facilitate transport, lessen freight costs, and increase prosperity. I hold that Australia’s future prosperity is dependent chiefly on her primary production. She has vast natural resources, and in the past has derived great revenue from her wool, wheat, and other primary products. While her secondary industries have increased, and will still further increase, Australia, by reason of her geographical situation and her natural resources, will always be a country of primary production. That this fact has been realized by the Government is evidenced by the legislation which it has introduced. If it continues to follow the same policy- assisting the primary producer, while not disregarding the interests of the rest of the community - it will continue to merit the confidence of the people which was so clearly manifested in the recent election.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) on their maiden speeches in this House; each has acquitted himself well.
It is not my intention to traverse the whole of the items contained in the GovernorGeneral’s speech, because at a later period we shall have an opportunity of dealing with the measures which the Government proposes to bring before us.
There are, however, one or two matters in His Excellency’s speech to which I desire to refer at this stage, the first being the paragraph whichreads: -
My Ministers welcome the conclusion of the Treaty of Mutual Guarantee between the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy, which they believe will have the effect of promoting peace in Europe, strengthening the League of Nations, and rendering possible a reduction of armaments. They are giving their most earnest consideration to the manner in which the treaty affects the Empire as a whole.
I wish at the outset to make my position in this matter clear. In the few words which I shall now devote to this subject, I . do not intend to commit myself either for or against the Treaty; before doing that, I desire to have an opportunity of studying the whole of the papers in connexion with it. I am, however, pleased to learn from the Prime Minister that the Government has not yet endorsed this Treaty, but intends first to give it careful consideration. If, as the honorable member for Henty (Mr.Gullett) suggested, this Treaty meant the prevention of future wars, I should give it my whole-hearted support; but I have grave doubts whether it means that. We know that at the Assembly of the League of Nations, in 1923 a treaty of mutual assistance was drawn up, and that it was rejected by the British Government on the ground that its acceptance would be equivalent to reverting to the international conditions which existed prior to 1914 ; that that treaty would mean a further race in armaments, as nations not parties to it would make treaties with each other to protect, themselves against those who had entered into it. That was the argument advanced by the British Government on that occasion, and, therefore, we, before committing ourselves to this treaty, should exercise every care. The question of foreign relations is one of great importance. While I do not know what the cabled communications from the British Government will disclose, so far as I am aware that Government entered into this arrangement without consulting the Commonwealth. Moreover, I do not know of any dominion in the British Empire which has agreed to become a party to the Pact.
– There is none.
– The Prime Minister’s interjection emphasizes my contention that we should be very careful what we do in this matter. Ministers believe that the treaty will have the effect of promoting peace in Europe, and of strengthening the League of Nations. In what way will it strengthen the League of Nations? With the exception of Germany, the parties to this Pact are already members of the League of Nations, and there is nothing to prevent Germany from joining the League.
– As the result of the Locarno Pact, Germany is now applying for admission to the League of Nations.
– When you, Mr. Speaker, and I were at Geneva, Germany was applying for admission to the League of Nations. There is nothing to prevent Germany, or any other nation at present outside the League, from becoming a member of it. When Australia joined the League of Nations it was hoped that it would be able to do something to bring about disarmament and world peace. Australia should make every effort to get every nation within the League of Nations with a view to devising some means by which disarmament may be brought about. While Ministers . believe that the Locarno Pact will tend towards disarmament and world peace, I point out that it may possibly have the opposite effect. I remind honorable members that since this Pact has been signed, Russia and Turkey have entered into an alliance. Their only reason for doing so is to protect their own interests. What is the position of the Asiatic nations, some of whom are members of the League of Nations? When they see the strongest nations in Europe forming alliances, they are justified in bringing into existence other pacts to protect their interests against the domination of the Europeans, as they did prior to 1914. If the world proceeds along these lines we cannot expect universal peace. In the past Australia has been free to take what action she has thought best when the Mother Country has become involved in war. Apart from her membership of the League of Nations Australia has not hitherto been tied by any pact or agreement, but if agreements of this nature are entered into we shall be compelled, whether we approve of it or not, to participate in any war which may result from them. Australia entered the Great War because she considered it right to do so. Our experience in that conflict should be a warning to us. We have the right to know what is taking place between the different nations, and, in the light of that knowledge, we should decide the course we should follow. Personally, I do not think that world peace will result from pacts between nations; rather do I believe that such instruments lead to further armament. When two sets of nations are arrayed against each other, each preparing against attack, it is only a matter of time before war eventuates. My view is that an earnest endeavour should be made to get every nation to become a member of the League of Nations. There should be a world conference to discuss the problems of defence and disarmament. Such a conference would be the tangible expression of the desire for peace; it would, at least, provide a starting point. As I do not wish to be misunderstood, I repeat that, in my reference to the Locarno Pact, I do not commit myself to any definite opinion about it. This matter is one for careful consideration, and I am glad that honorable members will have the opportunity to’ discuss it.
Another paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech reads -
The election has shown that the people of Australia are determined to maintain law and order, and to protect the Commonwealth against the sinister activities of persons who pursue a policy of disturbance and unrest in order to promote revolutionary objects.
I have always been of. the opinion that, with the exception of a very few individuals, every person in Australia was favorable to maintaining law and order. Heading His Excellency’s Speech one would be justified in concluding that the maintenance of law and order, was a party question. I desire to make it clear that the Labour party stands, and has always stood, for constitutional government. We maintain that law and order must prevail, and that our laws should be so framed that those who transgress them shall be punished.
– I hope that the honorable member’s party will stick to that.
Mr.CHARLTON.- We have always done so. The maintenance of law and order was not an issue of the recent election. During the last session of last Parliament, legislation was enacted to deal with persons not born in Australia who had taken part in any trouble or dispute which interfered with the transport ser vices, or with trade and commerce. The Labour party opposed that legislation. Surely honorable members have not forgotten the debates which then took place, during which honorable members on this side made it clear that, in their opinion, the Government had exceeded its duty in introducing such legislation! When we quoted Magna Charta, and every man’s right to trial by jury, we were laughed to scorn. The Government decided to appeal to the electors. I point out that that decision was not made when the legislation to which 1 have referred was passed; it was made some time later.
– It was made after the honorable member’s own invitation to go to the people.
– Subsequently to the passing of the Immigration Act, other matters were brought before us. Why did I, when the Peace Officers Act was before the House, challenge the Government to go to the country? That act was designed to operate in conjunction with the Immigration Act, and the object of the two acts was to deal with industrialists born abroad who might be concerned in industrial disputes affecting trade, commerce, and transport services. My challenge was not immediately accepted, and for three weeks afterwards the Government continued to proceed with legislation. In his constituency, as well as in this House, the Prime Minister stated definitely that he had no intention of accepting the challenge, for the Government, with a majority in each House, had sufficient power to pass any necessary legislation. That statement was correct, for the Government could do as it liked in Parliament, but its majority did not justify, or make constitutional, the legislation that was passed. At a later period, the Prime Minister decided to go to the country, and the truth of my statement that the altered plans were made because some members of the Country party were dissatisfied with certain proposed legislation, has been denied. I said that Country party members desired to have certain things done, relating, particularly, to the removal of duties from agricultural implements. It was then anticipated that the appeal to the electors would be made in March or April. We, on this side of the House, said that the Country party had delivered an “ ultimatum “ to the Government. I wish to show now that, even if there was not an ultimatum,there was at least some truth in my statement. When the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) was asked in his constituency whether it was true, as stated by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), that six members of the Country party had signed a request to their Leader, the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), asking that certain things should be done, because they were dissatisfied with the actions of the Government, the honorable member for Wimmera said, “If the honorable member for Richmond has made that statement, I shall not deny it, but I was under the impression that it was confidential.” The honorable member for Cowper, who leads the Country party, did not deny the statement, or the statement of other honorable members on this side, for at least two weeks. He was no doubt waiting to see how the cat would jump; he was not sure of his ground. Subsequently, the honorable, member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) disclosed by his remarks that he was not satisfied.
– None of us is ever satisfied.
– I am endeavouring to show that the cause of the appeal to the people was that some of the members of the Country party were dissatisfied, and that the Government knew that if a dispute arose during the subsequent three or four months, it would be in jeopardy. That was why the Government took the opportunity to go to the country.
– Nothing could be further from the truth.
– Unfortunately for the honorable member, four members of his party have admitted the truth of what I say.
– What am I supposed to have said?
– The following is a newspaper report of the incidentto which I refer -
An elector asked: Will the candidate contradict a statement made by Mr. Roland Green, M.P.,that an ultimatum, signed by himself, the candidate, and four others, was presented to Mr. Page, demanding the immediate introduction by the Government of legislation regarded as vital in furtherance of country interests, and declaring their intention to take action against the Government if their request was not complied with, and that that document was the real reason for such a hurried election?
The Candidate said if Mr. Green made the statement he would not deny it. It was correct, but it was not an ultimatum. It was a request from party members on several matters, including the removal of duties on agricultural implements, or, if that was impracticable, to put on bounties so that the burden would be shared by the whole community instead of being carried as at present by the primary producers. He understood that the document was to have been confidential, but as Mr. Green had made the statement and involved him, he would not deny it.
– It is quite plain that it was only a request.
– I have placed these facts briefly on record, not because they are of much avail at the moment, but because I want to show to honorable members, now I am face to face with them, that what I said outside this House bore some relation to the truth.
– Some !
-Yes, and honorable members opposite have admitted “It.
– The first time I knew of the “ ultimatum “ wag when I read a newspaper report about it.
– I shall not complain about the result of the election, except to say that the Government’s victory was gained largely by the misrepresentation of the newspaper press of this country. Without any fear of successful contradiction, I say that the chief daily newspapers of this country dragged journalism in the gutter.
– They have still a long way to go to catch up with the Labour Daily.
– It is regrettable that the editors and managers of large newspapers should have lowered themselves to the extent of making some of the statements published during the election. I have never bothered about libel actions, but I could justifiably launch many. I have in my possession a newspaper article which is lies from beginning to end ; every line of it is a lie.
– Did that newspaper publish some of the honorable member’s speeches ?
– Had the press published the speeches of honorable members on. this side of the House, the result would have been better for the electors, but it was becausethey published untrue statements, especially relating to me, that honorable members opposite obtained their victory. I realize that, as leader of the party, I must be the target in an election campaign; but my opponents ought to confine themselves, as far as possible, to the truth.
– Has the honorable member heard some of the things his friends said about me?
– I am going to tell the right honorable gentleman some of the things he said about me. I would commend to honorable members opposite a recent statement by Mr. Baldwin. According to a cablegram published in the newspapers, he said that he always endeavoured to speak to his audiences in a clear and thoroughly comprehensible manner. I formed that impression of him when I was in Great Britain. “ Above all,” he added, “I try to be truthful.” It would be a good thing if all public men would follow his example. I regret to say that not only the newspapers, but even the Prime Minister, have descended to the making of untrue statements about me. I am not worrying about the attacks made on me by the press, for I am too well-known to my constituents for any one to injure me; but I regret to have to complain about the Prime Minister. According to published reports he stated that when he accepted my challenge I “ nearly fell dead with fright.” The right honorable gentleman knows what happened when he came to my room and said, “ Charlton, we have decided to go to an election.” I replied, “Very well.” He said, “ We want to get certain measures through.” I picked up a copy of the business paper, and he enumerated five measures that he desired to have passed. I said, “ You can have them ; they do not involve any great principle, and, subject to the approval of my followers, we will give them to you in quick time.” I reminded him that he would want Supply, and he said, “ Yes, we shall want two months.” I replied, “ You had better take a month more.” I also said that we would endeavour to give effect to my statement that the Labour party would do everything to facilitate an appeal to the country. That incident plainly shows that the statement of the right honorable gentleman was not in accordance with fact.
– I agree that the honorable gentleman carried things off fairly well; but I was speaking of his state’ of mind.
– The appeal to the electors has been made, and the decision is against us. We accept the decision, but we must all regret that it was not obtained upon the merits of the case.
– It never is.
– There may be some truth in that statement.
– This election was the exception.
– I have never known an election in which there was so much misrepresentation.
– Hear, hear !
– On the honorable member’s side?
– No, on your side. Our attitude on the deportation issue was very plain. I have said in this House, and I repeat now, that the Labour party has no time for individuals who are not prepared to obey the laws of this country. During the shipping dispute that held up the trade and commerce of this country, I pointed out that the only party that was endeavouring to bring about a settlement was the Labour party. The. Prime Minister made no attempt to bring the parties together, but, on the contrary, he appeared to be incensed because the Commonwealth Shipping Board came to an agreement with its employees.
– What was the Prime Minister supposed to settle ? There was a law in this country which should have been obeyed.
– Why were not the men who broke the law prosecuted under the law ? Why was special legislation passed to deal with certain persons who were not born in Australia, while freedom wasallowed to others who were born in Australia. That was discrimination. The Labour party has maintained throughout that the law should be obeyed. We believe in constitutional government, and in making every one amenable to the laws of the country.
– I. do not think that the honorable member ever said that he would pass legislation to deal with these gentlemen.
– Legislation under which they could be dealt with, if they have done wrong, already stands on the statute-book.
Although the verdict of the people was against the Labour party, I contend that, on the voting, this party should have a much larger representation in Parliament than it now has. The primary votes cast for the Senate throughout the Commonwealth numbered 2,805,082, comprising 1,542,090 anti-Labour, and 1,262,992 Labour votes. The difference between the ‘ respective party votes was 279,098. A turnover of 139,549 votes would have equalized matters; and yet not one man was returned to the Senate to represent the strong Labour party of Australia. I ask honorable members if that is fair.
– It is no more fair than that certain State governments ‘ should hold office with the support of members representing a minority of Labour electors.
– The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) may endeavour to put me off my track, but we have to deal with the situation as we find it.
– Did the Labour party complain of the present electoral system when it worked to its advantage?
– We did complain when the party opposite brought in this “shandy-gaff” method, at the election immediately prior to the last, at which every Senate seat was won by that side. The system was introduced for that particular purpose. In the election for the House of Representatives, Labour polled 1,313,949 votes, and anti-Labour 1,593,535, a total of 2,907,484. I am allowing for every vote recorded, giving those polled for the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson), who is an independent, to the party opposite. In order to be represented proportionately, Labour should have secured 34 seats and anti-Labour 41, but in the circumstances Labour secured only 23 as compared with anti-Labour’s 52 seats.
– Will the honorable member support the proportional system of representation ?
– I am not pledging myself to anything at the moment, but I am pointing , out that the Labour party is not represented in this House according to the number of its supporters in the country. The position is that antiLabour has’ secured 29 more seats than Labour for its extra 279,586 votes in the election for the House of Representatives, which works out at 9,600 votes for each extra seat. I regret that some of the retiring Labour candidates, who were a credit to the House, were defeated, and that the electors who supported the Labour movement are not fairly represented. I have already said that misrepresentation was largely responsible for the way in which the people were misled at the polls. From 30 to 33 per cent. of those who voted probably had not exercized the franchise on former occasions. There can be no doubt that the statements appearing in the press from time to time concerning compulsory voting had a marked influence on the people, and led them to believe that the Government was justified in passing legislation for the purpose of bringing certain individuals before the Deportation Board because of their actions in connexion with industrial disputes that interfered with trade and commerce. The people, therefore, voted accordingly. I would rather be a defeated candidate than have gained a seat in this House by making statements not in accordance with the truth. The Labour party should be proud of its position. Although the party opposite has misled the people through the press and stooped to the lowest electioneering tricks, when an appeal was made to the High Court, that body decided that the deportation legislation was invalid. What, then, is to be said of this Government, that comes back fresh from the polls and claims that it has a mandate to effect its purpose, because it has a slight majority over the Labour party? It has deceived the people, inasmuch as it has exceeded its powers. This fact was pointed out by members on the Labour side of the House. With one exception, members of the Opposition are all laymen, and yet we gave utterance to the view that the legislation was unconstitutional.
– Which of the justices of the High Court does the honorable member follow in stating that opinion?
– The only legal man on the Labour side is the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), who, when this legislation was under consideration, opposed it, taking up an attitude similar to that subsequently adopted by the High Court. He contended that the Government had exceeded the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution. Notwithstanding his forceful speech and his legal knowledge, his remarks received very little publicity in the press. The Government, on the other hand, has a good deal of legal talent on its side. You, Mr. Speaker, when you were AttorneyGeneral, were, no doubt, advised by the officials of your department that the proposed legislation was valid.
– Backed by Government supporters in this House who are members of the legal fraternity !
– Yes. When I referred to this matter in the House, the ex-Attorney-General said -
The Leader of the Opposition states that every measure will be taken for the purpose of testing this legislation. That is a perfectly correct attitude to adopt, but I can give the House a guarantee that this legislation is valid, and that everything is right so far as the Government is concerned.
That was a very definite statement by the Attorney-General of the day, who has now been elevated to the position of Speaker. It is very doubtful whether the honorable member was not compelled to resign from, the position of AttorneyGeneral. Somebody had to be made a scapegoat for what had occurred. Immediately after the election, the people of Australia were discussing the decision of theHigh Court. They began to realize that they had been hoodwinked, and that the Government had, as it were, “ put one over “ for the purpose of the election, and had succeeded. The ex- Attorney-General, having reached Sydney on his way to his home town, was suddenly recalled to Melbourne by the Prime Minister. I think that he returned to Melbourne on Saturday, the 5th December. According to the press reports, he had an interview with the Prime Minister on the following day.
– To. be quite correct, I had the interview with him on the Saturday, the day he came back from Sydney.
– I had to be guided by the press, but the Prime Minister now tells me that the interview took place on the Saturday. It is rather strange that the Minister’s resignation was not accepted until a fortnight later, although the Prime Minister said yesterday that it had been placed in his hand on the 5th December. The fact that the ex-Attorney-General, when on his way to his home, was suddenly recalled from Sydney by the Prime Minister, and reached Melbourne on the 5th, which was the date of his resignation’, is significant. It was clear to everybody that the decision of the High Court would be against the Government. Is it not also clear that the exAttorneyGeneral had to be made the scapegoat? Something had to be done. The Prime Minister himself is a legal man, and he claimed that the action of the Government was constitutional.
– He is a legal man out of practice.
– The Prime Minister may not practise, but he is a barrister-at-law, and, as head of the Government, he . said that the power of this Parliament had been constitutionally exercised. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson), who is a member of the Ministry, is another legal luminary. He also was of the opinion that Parliament had acted within its constitutional powers. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) was very definite on the point. ‘ He said that Parliament had the power, and was justified in exercising it. The present Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) was just as emphatic as the other legal members opposite in saying that the legislation was valid, and yet we find that Mr. Speaker had to vacate his position as Attorney-General, while another honorable member who held the same opinion, and stuck to it throughout, was elevated to the office. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) alone, of the legal gentlemen opposite, refrained from asserting that the legislation was valid. I know that the AttorneyGeneral will endeavour to frame legislation in accordance with our constitutional powers in order to effect the purpose of the Government. An interjection was made by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) some time ago in regard to the High Court’s decision. I shall briefly state what the respective judges thought of the matter. If the Government really has. power under the Constitution to deport persons in the way intended, legislation for the purpose will need to be differently framed. There was a difference of opinion on this matter among the Judges of the High Court.
– The position becomes more obscure after a reading of the High Court judgment.
– That is so. The Chief Justice, Sir Adrian Knox, claims that there is no power under the immigration restriction law to deport persons who have become members of the Australian community.
– What is meant by a member of the Australian community?
– In the opinion of the Chief Justice and of the other judges of the High Court a member of the Australian community is a person who has become a citizen. That very argument was advanced by this side of the House.
– If I were in the honorable member’s place, I should not go too far on that subject.
– I warn the Prime Minister, when introducing subsequent legislation, not to go too far, because it may also fail. Mr. Justice . Isaacs held that the immigration restriction law does not apply to persons who came to Australia before 1901. That opinion was held by practically all the judges. He also said that in the case of a person entering Australia since federation, the specific acts which the Minister was satisfied were committed, should be notified to him. Walsh and Johnson were brought before the Deportation Board. They were not informed what were the specific acts with which they were charged, and the onus of proof was thrown upon them. This act was ultra vires of the constitution and of British jurisprudence. There was really no need to go to the High Court to gain this information, because it was given to the Government last session by various speakers on this side of the House. Mr. Justice Higgins contended that section 8aa was invalid, and gave no power to deport Australian citizens. Mr. Justice Rich, said that section8aa was valid; that although there was no power to deport persons who resided here prior to federation, there was power to deal with persons who entered Australia since federation. He also stated that the acts complained of should be specifically set out. The High Court judgment is condemnatory of the action of this Government, and undoubtedly places its legal advisers in a very invidious position. The Government made a huge blunder. The people of Australia accepted the Government’s statement, which was supported by the newspapers, especially the Age, which saw nothing wrong with the Government’s action at that time. As a matter of fact, newspaper articles contain merely the opinions of one or two men, who desired to prevent this party from succeeding at the elections. What does the Age say today?
– It is not worth reading.
– It certainly is. I shall quote one paragraph to show how that newspaper changes its opinion from time to time, and in that respect other newspapers are no better. The para- ‘ graph reads -
The Labour party has a role to fill; its members are likely to wax indignant over the deportation methods of the Government. That indignation will wane, but the Government would do well to remember that there will still remain in the minds of many Australian freedom-lovers a sense of grave doubt as to the wisdom and justice of the practice the Government sought to set up. In the day that any Government is declared free to seize upon any citizen it wishes deported, and to hand him over to a deportation board which the Government has itselfappointed, only the nativeborn Australian will be safe. The point is, of course, one which it should be possible to overcome without robbing the country of its right to eject the non-Australian citizen whom it deems undesirable.
When the deportation provisions were being discussed, this party contended that for the same offence one man would go free and another be deported. We were condemned for that opinion by the newspapers, by honorable members in this House, and by public speakers outside. We now find that the Age, or at least the men who write its articles, have come to their senses, and are now pointing out the errors of the Government and what may subsequently happen if it persists in its attitude. All this shows that the Government was not justified in passing the deportation legislation. That legislation has been proved invalid by the High Court, and we should thank God that we have this tribunal in ‘ Australia, otherwise Governments would be liable to ride roughshod over the rights of the people. If any party in power has the right to appoint a board, to pass special legislation to bring persons before it, and then to deport those persons, notwithstanding that they may have been living here for 20, 30, or 40 years, then I say that a dictatorship is at hand. No one can justify Parliament abrogating rights . that were won for us on the framing of the Magna Charta. It has been said that the Labour party stands behind Walsh and Johnson; but the deportation issue does not concern two, three, or . four men. The question is, Are we living in a country supposed to be one of the most progressive in the world, to return to mediaeval conditions, and act unjustly to our citizens merely for political purposes? I say seriously that we do not want industrial troubles, or the disregard of our laws, but, when such things happen, the proper course is to deal with the offenders according to the existing law rather than to pass special legislation to punish them. Indictable offences should be tried by a jury, according to the laws of the land. The Government realizes its mistake, and notwithstanding its victory at the polls, it should not push legislation of this kind too far, because there may otherwise be a reaction. The principle at stake affects the liberty of the people of Australia, and we are not justified for political purposes in jeopardizing rights which have been won so dearly, and handed down to us in British jurisprudence.
The Governor-General’s Speech foreshadows the introduction of a measure to deal with industrial disputes. Experience has taught us that many improvements can be made in our arbitration laws. It is regrettable that the Ministry contains no honorable member who thoroughly understands industrial matters. No honorable member will challenge that statement. If the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who knows something of the subject, held ministerial rank, he would, no doubt, be able to steer the ship of government clear of the rocks. The 700,000 members of the Australian industrial movement have a right to insist on some one who understands industrial matters being consulted by the Government when industrial legislation is proposed, otherwise serious consequences may be expected. “We shall do more harm than good by making unsatisfactory industrial laws. Any legislation that is not acceptable to the workers will create friction. It is well known that the industrial bodies are amenable to reason, and will always act fairly. . It is, therefore, necessary that the Government should get in touch with the workers’ representatives before amending the arbitration law. I shall discuss the subject further when the Government introduces the proposed legislation, but I advise the Prime Minister to consult the industrial leaders when framing legislation to meet industrial conditions, otherwise he may make a serious mistake. I wish to see the wheels of industry kept moving, and an improvement in legislation that will be acceptable to all parties. I am not oblivious of the fact that we cannot avoid industrial troubles at times. They must arise, and they are not always the fault of the workers. Honorable members opposite have frequently referred . to stoppages as caused by strikes when they were really lock-outs by employers. The Government should as far as possible introduce industrial legislation that will be acceptable to both employers and employees.
According to the Governor-General’s Speech, steps will be taken to give effect to the promise of the Government to have competent inquiry made into the important subjects of uniformity throughout Australia as to hours of work and child endowment. The Prime Minister will admit that we have no power under the Constitution to enforce uniform hours throughout the Commonwealth. I take it that he will probably discuss this matter with all the States.
– That will have to be done before uniformity of hours can apply generally.
– It will be difficult to get six States to agree to uniform working hours. . I believe in having uniform working hours, but this innovation can be brought about only by asking the people for greater constitutional powers.
– It can be done by consultation and agreement with the States.
– It is merely procrastination to talk about the States agreeing to uniform working hours. Among them will be a conflict of opinion which will not make for the settlement of the question. If we do not appeal to the people for power to amend the Constitution, in order to bring about uniform working hours, we shall pit one State against another, with the result that the wages system will break down, and the workmen suffer in consequence. We must have uniformity, and that can be obtained only by an amendment of the Constitution.
– The powers of the Commonwealth need to be enlarged in many directions.
– I am glad that the honorable member recognizes that. The Government has declared that it is about to have inquiries made in regard to child endowment, but this is a matter which the Constitution enables us to deal with, and, therefore, there is no necessity to hold conferences with the States upon it. If it be the purpose of these conferences to ask the States to shoulder part of the responsibility, we shall not get them to agree to do so.
– It is advisable, if possible, to avoid overlapping taxation.
– I am not anxious to see any conflict between the Commonwealth and’ the States, but I cannot conceive of the States being willing to shoulder any responsibility in regard to a matter which it is in the power of the Commonwealth to control. Both parties in this Parliament are pledged to child endowment. Instead of asking the States to meet in conference to deal with the question, we ought to use the power given to us by the Constitution and frame legislation to give effect at the earliest possible moment to our promises in relation to child endowment. Neither the Prime Minister nor any other minister has said definitely here, or on the public platform, that it is the intention of the Government to introduce a measure to provide for child endowment in accordance with any decision which may be arrived at by the proposed conference. We have the power to pass the necessary legislation, and we should have the definite statement that it will be introduced. Both parties went to the country pledged to provide child endowment. Had the Labour party been returned to power one of the first measures introduced would have been a bill to endow the motherhood of Australia; and it is only fair that the Government, which went to the country with the same policy -in this matter, should bring in the necessary legislation as early as possible instead of holding conferences and procrastinating to such an extent that this Parliament may end with nothing done. Last Parliament was dissolved before anything was done in regard to national insurance, although the matter had been a subject of investigation throughout its whole period, and I am afraid that the question of child endowment may suffer the same fate during this Parliament. The people expect that tb.6 promises made in a policy speech will be fulfilled, and I can see nothing to prevent our giving effect to this promise.- The Constitution gives us power to perform it.
I shall not traverse the whole of the Governor-General’s Speech. My object in speaking was to draw attention to two or three aspects of it. At the commencement, I said that I preferred to wait for the legislation as it came before the House and deal with the particular measures on their merits. The inference to be taken from my remarks is that honorable members of the Opposition are not here for the purpose of objecting to any legislation the Government may bring forward, and that if good sound measures are brought to deal with any subject pertaining to the welfare of this country, they will support it. I want the Government to be very careful in dealing with matters affecting the industrial life of this country. I want it to accept advice from the Opposition in regard to these matters. Although we are in a minority most of us have a good grip of industrial affairs, and are in a position to offer advice upon them. I trust that the guillotine will not be used on such important legislation, and that Ministers will give consideration to what we have to say with a view to improving their measures, realizing that our only object is to help as far as we can in framing them on right lines. In common with every one else in the community, we want to see legislation passed to prevent those industrial upheavals, the prevention of which would assist the development of this country, and the occurrence of which does so much to retard its progress. Those disturbances which we seek to avoid do no good either to those engaged in the conflicts or to the general public. I believe that the consensus of opinion of the working people of Australia is in accord with the sentiments which I have just expressed. If Parliament can do anything at all to improve the position it will do good work. I hope that we shall not attempt to proceed on lines similar to those followed during the past Parliament - ruthlessly taking hold of certain industrial leaders because an industrial dispute has arisen, and deporting them because they did not happen to be born in Australia. We cannot gain the end we seek by following that course. Sweet reason must come into play. We must remember that there are two parties to everything, and that one party is not always in the wrong. We must attempt to hold the scales fairly, and give every opportunity for the airing of grievances in the proper’ way. But if there are those in this community who act in defiance of the law, let them suffer the penalties provided by that law. There is no need for drastic legislation taking away from people the right of trial by jury and deporting them. Let us insert penal clauses in our legislation to punish those who do wrong, and in that way safe, guard the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I do not think it is necessary for me to delay the House very long, but there are one or two things I must say in reply to the speech which has just been delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). Although the honorable gentleman dealt with certain matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, most of his remarks were typical of his utterances throughout the recent election campaign. Unfortunately for him, the people have given their decision. They did not agree with the views he expressed, and I think that he should now accept their decision, and not try to suggest that they were misled or had not the issues clearly placed before them. Unfortunately for honorable members opposite, the issues were very clearly placed before the people. They were placed so plainly before them that the electors fully understood them and gave their decision in no uncertain voice. In the circumstances it would be better for the honorable gentleman to accept the decision, and not try to suggest that the people were misled, and that the campaign was one in which nothing but misrepresentation took place on the part of the Government candidates. The honorable gentleman has suggested that he was subjected to misrepresentation. He has declared that untrue statements were made about himself, and that even I did not hesitate to make an untrue statement about him. When I heard him say that, I cast my mind back over the whole election campaign, but I could not remember having said anything very much about him, and certainly nothing that could properly be spoken of as untrue.
– I qualified my statement by saying that it was based on a newspaper report.
– I certainly did say what the honorable member attributed to me. The gravamen of the hideous charge of misrepresentation which the Leader of the Opposition has made against me is that, in some speech of mine during the election campaign, I said that when Le found that the challenge he had made so recklessly, and repeated so freely, had been accepted, he nearly fell dead with the shock. There is no question but that the honorable gentleman, when the dissolution was imminent, did his best to appear as if he liked it, and tried to seem anxious to facilitate the appeal to. the country; but every one who saw his demeanour that afternoon knows perfectly well that, to him and his followers, the dissolution was a ghastly shock. His followers recognized the indiscretion into which their admirable Leader had fallen by issuing such a challenge, and making my path perfectly easy to get to the country. I take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to the honorable gentleman, because my path would not have been nearly so easy if he had not thrown out that challenge. It would otherwise have been for the GovernorGeneral to consider whether or not he should grant a dissolution, but when His Excellency had before him the invitation to me of the Leader of the Opposition, who was the Leader of the only party from which an alternative Government could be formed, and the honorable gentleman’s statement that it was quite time we went to the country, the one course for him to pursue was to grant a dissolution. Therefore, I thank the honorable gentleman for what he did.
But I still adhere to the statement which he has designated as not quite truthful - that when he found he was going to the country, metaphorically, he nearly fell dead with the shock of it.
– Now tell us about the ultimatum.
– The Leader of the Opposition has told us about the misrepresentation to which he was subjected. May I remind him, regretfully, that a few of his own statements were not absolutely in accord with facts. For instance, he said that the election was decided upon because of an ultimatum issued to me by the Country party. At the time I gave that statement a denial. I give it a denial now. I had no ultimatum presented to me. The decision to advise an appeal to the country is a matter which rests with the Prime Minister, and my decision was not influenced by anything suggesting dissatisfaction with the Government or its actions that came to me from the Country party.
The Leader of the Opposition did not say very many things about me that were extraordinarily untrue, but I regret to say that such things were said by his followers. Looking back over the campaign, it must be admitted that in the matter of misrepresentation honorable members opposite and their friends beat us hands down. No one had a chance against them. If we had to fight elections on misrepresentation, they would be “home and dry “‘every time, easy winners. While we are on this subject, there is one slight thing I would suggest: it would have been more in accord with the dignity of the Leader of the Opposition if he had repudiated some of the statements of his followers which he knew to be untrue. For instance, the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Lang, did not hesitate to say something about me which was grossly untrue, and it was only because a senator who was” an honorable man had the courage to show that it was untrue that the lie was not persisted in. Misrepresentation is really not a very good subject for the Leader pf the Opposition to base his speech on. Talking of misrepresentation, does the honorable gentleman remember that rather wonderful production that appeared in the
Labour Daily in Sydney? I refer to the fascisti letter. . Three members of the New South Wales Government are directors of that newspaper. Yet it published a statement that was most palpably and hopelessly a .fraud. There was not the slighest possibility that any one would be convinced that it was true. That the editor was stupid enough to publish the letter is beyond my comprehension. If misrepresentation is to be the theme of our argument, so much the worse for the Opposition; but it was the matter to which the Leader of the Opposition gave most of his attention. He would have been very much better off if he had left the whole subject alone. The Sydney Labour Daily made a hopeless mess of the fascisti scare, and indulged in tactics that were a disgrace to every one associated with it.
The Leader of the Opposition, in analyzing the votes cast at the election, pointed out that the Labour party had not obtained its full representation. If the honorable gentleman was dissatisfied with the system of voting, why did he not clamour months, or even years, ago, for its improvement? If is was wrong, it ought to have been rectified. But he did not utter a complaint on the subject until he saw that things had not gone the way he desired them to go. Only now’, when the members on the benches opposite are so few, does he complain. The honorable member had no objection to offer to the method of voting for the Senate while he had his wonderful vision of the Labour party winning all the seats, but now that things have gone against him he says that it is time that the system was changed.
– I have not even now said that. I have said that our representation ‘ is not proportionate to the number of people who support us.
– Then I must have quite misunderstood the honorable member. The Leader of the Opposition admits that he complained that his party is not represented in this Parliament in proportion to the number of electors who supported it at the polls. I think it is not a far step to imagine that the honorable gentleman considered that there was something wrong with the voting system.
– I do not say that, at any rate.
– If there is no complaint on that subject, wo can leave it alone.
– The inference from my remarks was that, seeing that so large a number of electors voted Labour, the Government ought to have only a small majority.
– If the Leader of the’ Opposition believes that the number of persons who vote for a party should determine the personnel of the Government, he is again rather unfortunate in his argument. At least two of the Labour Cabinets which are administering His Majesty’s government in Australia have not even a bare majority of the people behind them, and are supported by a minority. That is an extraordinary, undemocratic, and disastrous circumstance. I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition has any very serious grounds for complaint in the “matter of representation. The method of electing the Senate may, however, be reconsidered at some future time.
Another point the Leader of the Opposition struggled to make, but failed; but, his case being bad, it is not surprising that he did not succeed. He went to the country on a certain policy and failed, lamentably, to obtain- a majority. He now wishes to find something that may show that the decision of the people was wrong. His conduct is something like that of a player who argues with the umpire during a match; but still, we will examine the proposition he has put to us. He said that certain measures which were passed by the last Parliament, and came under the review of the High Court, were declared to be invalid. Therefore, he argues, by some mystic process of reasoning, that, although, the people agreed with the object of those measures, and with the general policy which the Government placed before them., the Government ought not now to be in power. The real position is that Parliament, last year, passed certain measures, and later the Government appealed to the country. It did not ask the people to determine whether those measures were constitutional or not, but sought approval of its past actions, and its programme for the future. The people, by their votes, said, “ We endorse what you have done; we approve of your programme; we return you to power.” I should like to know what on earth the recent judgment of the HighCourt has to do with that decision. The court ruled merely as to the constitutionality of certain measures. The vote of the people showed that they approved of the action that we had taken against certain persons . in the community who were using their influence to upset our economic and social life. The decision of the people, and the ruling of the court, dealt with entirely different matters.
I much regret that the Leader of the Opposition,in discussing this subject, descended to a statement which did little credit to the high position that he hold? in this Parliament. He suggested that the ex- Attorney-General (Sir Littlteton Groom) had been made a scapegoat by the Government. Yesterday I gave a direct denial to that statement, and mentioned facts which ought to have convinced any fair-minded man that it was inaccurate. But the Leader of the Opposition repeated to-day the statement which his irresponsible follower, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), used yesterday. He said that Sir Littleton Groom resigned office to save the face of the Government, and that this was done because of the decision in the High Court cases. I made it quite clear yesterday that Sir Littleton Groom’s resignation was handed to me on the 5th December, before the High Court’s opinions were known.
– I said that Sir Littleton Groom was recalled.
– No doubt the Leader of the Opposition now regrets having made that statement.
– I have nothing to regret.
– The honorable member, both unfairly and untruly, suggested that Sir Littleton Groom had been put out of the Cabinet, and that he had been made a scapegoat. There is not the slightest evidence to support that statement, and in making it the Leader of the Opposition has done a serious wrong to a gentleman who has given great service to this country.
– I have not done him any wrong. If any wrong has been done the Prime Minister has done it.
– There is not a scintilla of truth in the statement that Sir Littleton Groom was turned out of the Cabinet. For my part I should very much regret having to use statements such as that to support a weak case.
Coming to another aspect of the subject, the Leader of the Opposition referred to the legal talent on the Government benches. In the list of lawyers my name was included. I was at the bar for some years, but it is so long ago that I claim no distinction as a lawyer. The honorable member said that all the lawyers on the Government side were wrong, and that all the laymen on the Opposition side were right. From what he said, one would gather that all the honorable members opposite said from the beginning that the deportation measures were unconstitutional. But that is not the case. What honorable ‘ members did say was that they were opposed to deportation, and would have nothing to do with it. They said that they would not allow these men to be sent out of the country.
– They said that they would bring them back again if they were sent out.
– They told us that, although we had the numbers necessary to do as we wished, they were totally opposed to our proposals. They said nothing about the bill being unconstitutional. Now they are blandly telling us that they advised right from the beginning that we were acting unconstitutionally. Even had they declared that deportation was unconstitutional, the people were more concerned, during the election campaign, about their attitude, generally, towards the disturbers of our peace. The Leader of the Opposition, occasionally, in his bravest moments, used to say that he really did not like Walsh and Johann, sen very much, but he did not on any occasion during the election say, “ If we are returned to power we will pass legislation enabling us to deal with these gentlemen in Australia.” Honorable members opposite know very well that the Government believes in constitutional methods, and in the maintenance of law and order. If the Leader of the Opposition had been sincere in his professed desire to maintain peace and order, he would have said to the people, “ If you will return us to power we will pass a law which will enable us to deal with those who disturb our peace. We will make it a crime to do these things, and we will punish those who are seeking to undermine our whole economic and social system.” He had not the courage to say anything like that, although he said that he believes in law and order,he has never taken his courage in his hands and stood up against those who are endeavouring to disrupt out social system.
– I have as much courage as the right honorable gentleman.
– If the honorable member would make a stand against these people he would do more than he is doing to bring peace into our industrial life. He ought to declare definitely where he stands.
– My attitude may not please the right honorable gentleman. The act that was passed last session is aimed at those who were not born in Australia. It was really devised to deal with one or two individuals.
– The measure applies to any individual who does certain things.
– If he was not born in Australia.
-It applies to all those who are guilty of certain acts that are against the interests of the whole of the community. I leave the subject with this observation. The ‘election was not fought on the issue of deporting two utterly unimportant people from Australia; it was fought on a far greater issue. The Government asked the people to say whether they desired law and order to be maintained, and whether certain steps should be taken against those who, by their actions, were trying to destroy constitutional government and our whole social system. The Government was returned by an overwhelming majority, and it intends to fulfil the pledges that it gave the people.
The Leader of the Opposition discussed the Locarno Pact. His remarks in this connexion were certainly brief, and he pointed out that he was in no way committing either himself or his party. Their attitude, he said, would be defined on a future occasion. That was a proper attitude for him to assume. At some future time an opportunity will be afforded the House to discuss the Pact and to determine what the attitude of Australia shall be in regard to it.
The treaty entered into is the most hopeful sign of the continuance of peace that “we have had in Europe since the war, and it has been welcomed by all political parties on the Continent and in Great Britain. It has been welcomed as a step along a path which may eventually lead us to the goal we all desire to reach, the disarmament of the nations. What has been achieved is a great accomplishment, because it will help to bring this about, gradually and progressively. It will strengthen the League of Nations, and give it a better status. It has also done something which I believe the honorable gentleman is desirous of seeing accomplished - it has opened the way for Germany to apply to be admitted to membership of the League. Ho knows that, previously, there were serious difficulties in the way of Germany making such an application. The Locarno Treaty and the arrangements entered into under it have opened the door to Germany, and I hope that, in the near future, Germany will be a member of the League of Nations. So far as Britain is concerned, the treaty is only a treaty of guarantee, to ensure the maintenance of peace should any of the nations prove recreant to the obligations undertaken by entering into it. When the House has had an opportunity to examine the treaty it must come to the conclusion that it is an instrument framed for the betterment of the conditions of the peoples of the world. The. question of Australia’s participation in the treaty will demand our serious consideration. Great Britain negotiated, and has signed the treaty, and this action opens up a great constitutional question affecting the Empire at large, with which I do not propose to deal at this juncture. That question is whether one part of the Empire can enter into a treaty without all the other parts becoming parties to it. I do not suggest that the various governments of the Empire were not informed of what was being done throughout the negotiations leading up to the Locarno Treaty. Each of the self-governing dominions was informed of the progress of the negotiations and of the action contemplated. The Locarno Treaty was not entered into by Great Britain without the knowledge of the dominion governments, but it was entered into by her without’ their participation in it. She has signed the treaty because she considers it necessary . for her own security, for the peace of Europe, and for the maintenance of stable conditions. The treaty is so framed that the dominions may become signatories to it, but no dominion has signed it or been asked to sign or agree to it. The issue is of such importance that it should be fully discussed by representatives of all parts of the Empire, who must have in their minds when it is under discussion the views of their own Parliaments. After such a discussion it should again be submitted to the various Parliaments for final determination as to the action to be taken.
Coming to another of the matters to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, I can only say that it is the desire of the Government to do all in its power to promote industrial peace. To that end it will propose an amendment of .the arbitration law to improve our arbitration machinery, and make it more effective and useful. That, I am sure, is what every honorable member desires. We may differ as to the methods to adopt, but I believe that if we approach the subject with the sincere intention of improving the present law a useful measure will be passed. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that he need be under no apprehension that the Government will proceed with this important matter without obtaining the views of those who have an intimate knowledge of the working of our industrial system. I have already been privileged to hear the opinions of a large number of the leaders in the industrial labour movement, who were good enough to put certain aspects of the subject before me, and I hope to obtain still more assistance from them when the matter is further advanced, as I propose to ask them again to give me their ideas as to how we can best legislate to secure industrial peace in this country.
As to fixing a v nif onn working week, and providing for child endowment, I may say that the Government has indicated, both in my policy speech and in the speech which His Excellency the GovernorGeneral delivered yesterday, that itproposes to have the fullest inquiry made into both matters. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the Commonwealth Parliament has not power to legislate to fix uniform working hours. Further, no parliament and no body of men in this country are in a position to say what is a proper working week. If the Commonwealth Parliament had the power, it could not pass legislation immediately to deal with this subject, because the Government has not the information on which to frame such legislation. There are some who say that 48 hours should constitute a working week, and that from both the economical and the physical point of view that would be fair and reasonable. Others suggest 44 hours as a reasonable number, and others propose 5 days of six working hours a day as sufficient. Which opinion is right? The desire of the Government is to determine what is a fair working week in our different industries, taking into consideration before everything else the maintenance of the health and material interests of the workers, and the progress of the industries themselves. Many factors have to be determined. The average working man in this country has come to be sick of hearing the political clamour for the reduction of working hours. He sees that if we go too far the avenues of employment will be diminished, and the cost of production increased, and he knows that advance in ‘ wages can never keep pace with increase in the cost of living. The average worker wishes to be employed for reasonable hours, but he realizes that increase in output promotes industry, and that, as the cost of production decreases, the cost of living is reduced, and greater value is given to the wages he earns. The Government desires the fullest inquiry by competent authorities who will look at the ‘.natter from the economic, medical and industrial points of view. After such an inquiry the solution of the problem would be possible. I think that the various governments of Australia would welcome the settlement of this question, because it has given infinite trouble to some that have gone a little too far- and a little too fast. I am hopeful that a satisfactory basis of agreement may be arrived at.
The Leader of the Opposition told the people that if his party were returned to power, a scheme of child endowment would be introduced almost immediately; but I do not think he mentioned any amount.
– The honorable member was singularly and wisely silent on that point.
– I do not think the right honorable gentleman mentioned any amount.
– That is so. I did not, however, say to the people that if the Government, of which I am the Leader, was returned, I would introduce a scheme of child endowment to-morrow. I recognize that a tremendous financial problem is involved, which is a point that the honorable gentleman apparently overlooked. I said frankly to the people that the question would have to be inquired into, and I propose to take steps to see if what is desired can be accomplished. The honorable member told the people that he would -act at once.
– I would do so tomorrow if I had the opportunity. There is no doubt as to what I would do in regard to child endowment.
– The payment of 5s. a week for each child would involve the expenditure of £14,000,000, and 10s. a week an expenditure of £28,000,000 annually. The Leader of the Opposition did not tell the people how the money would be raised. It was most unfair to say, “Return me and my party, and I will give you child endowment tomorrow.” The honorable gentleman has not the remotest idea as to how it could be done. Does he remember that Mr. Duffy referred to an expenditure of £30,000,000, and said something about utilizing the £7,000,000 a year paid to the States, and imposing a levy on capital. Would the Leader of the Opposition support that? He does not answer, because he does not know. We went to the people, and honestly told them that this was a very important question, and one which would have to ba faced by the country. Something is wrong with a system under which a man with great family obligations receives exactly the same wage as a man who has none, and some provision should be made for the endowment of children. But I said from many platforms that thequestion was complicated beyond- words, and would need the most exhaustive inquiry, and that the Government proposed to take action to have that inquiry made. I say that the action of the Government in this matterwas honest and fair, and that it did not misrepresent the position to the people. On the statement, “Put me in and you can have it,” I do not think any further comment is necessary.
– The right honorable gentleman’s statement was, “Put me in and you will not get it.”
Mr.BRUCE. - I apologize for delaying the House so long in dealing with the matters which the Leader of the Opposition raised, but I felt that it was necessary that the Government should reply to what the honorable gentleman said. He said nothing that need cause apprehension to the Government. If nothing worse, and nothing with more truth in it, can be said of us, this is obviously an extraordinarily good Government, and one which the people were wise in returning to power.
.- I wish, first of all, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate you upon the attainment of the high office to which you have been elected by the House. I hope that you may continue to hold the position as long as you desire to retain it.
I desire next to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). It was rumoured that he might possibly move a motion of censure upon the Government, and I congratulate him upon the possession of a little more sense than has been displayed by Leaders of Oppositions in State Parliaments, who, after the return of Governments by the people, have submitted motions to the effect that the people had no confidence in them. I am glad the honorable gentleman has not fallen into the error which has been so common amongst State Leaders of Oppositions. It may seem strange that two members on this side should follow each other in the debate, but that is not a matter for surprise when one considers that the Leader of the Opposition indulged for an hour or so in small talk only, and found it very difficult to say anything at all worth while, or, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) put it, to make out a case. This, accounts for the silence of honorable members opposite, and for the fact that none of them has risen to reply to the speech delivered by the Prime Minister.
– We are waiting for pearls of wisdom from the honorable member.
– There are pearls of wisdom contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which I commend to the favorable notice of the honorable member. It contains many proposals calculated to benefit Australia, and I hope we shall receive assistance from honorable members opposite in carrying them into effect. In the small talk indulged in by the Leader of the Opposition there was a reference to what we were told was to be a bombshell when the supposed real reason of the elections would be divulged. For three or four days before the elections we waited for this shell to fall. When it did fall we found that it was not even a squib. It was an absolute dud ; it did not go off. When I read in a Sydney newspaper, on the authority of the Leader of the Opposition, that I was supposed to be one who had sent an ultimatum to my Leader, it appeared as if my importance in this Parliament was considerably greater than I had previously, imagined it to be. It appeared that I was one of six members in a House of 75 who had the power to send the Parliament to the country. I may. be a little swollenheaded at times, but the honorable gentleman did me too much honour in suggesting that, as one of six members in a House of 75, I had such a power. Doubtless the intention behind the statement was to pay me a compliment, but it was not deserved.
I may be permitted to refer to some aspects of the deportation question. The decision of the High Court in the deportation case is very disturbing to members of this House. We have an Attorney-General’s Department with highly-paid officers whose duty it is to advise the- Crown. The Crown law officers are paid to give advice to those of us who are laymen, and we have to rely upon their training and legal knowledge for the constitutionality of the bills brought before us. Had the decision of the High Court been a majority decision it might have been contended that the Crown law officers had some justification for the advice they gave, but the unanimous verdict of the judges’ of the High Court against the legislation we were advised to pass indicates that there is something radically wrong with the Attorney-General’s Department. According to the judges of the High Court, there were no grounds whatever for certain advice which the department gave. That is, to me, a most disturbing thing. Some dusting up of the Attorney-General’s Department is required, and as a new broom sweeps clean, I hope that the new AttorneyGeneral will take action to make certain that honorable members can, in future, accept bills submitted to them as constitutional and may be sure that advice given by the legal advisers of the Crown is sound. Another important consideration arising from the decision of the High Court is whether we, the accredited representatives of the people in Parliament assembled, or the judges of the High Court, which is a creature of Parliament, are to be the rulers of Australia. That matter is one which requires grave consideration. I am sorry that no amendment of the Constitution is forecast in the Governor-General’s Speech, particularly as attention has been drawn in the Speech to the fact that the Commonwealth has now been in existence for a quarter of a century. In the last twenty-five years it has been found that there are many flaws in the Constitution, and some steps should be taken to remedy them, and make it a better instrument of government than it is at the present time. The Constitution has always appeared to me to be like a triangle standing upon its apex.’ It was framed at a time of distrust between State and State and represents only a compromise. In agreeing to a compromise one must accept something which he knows to be wrong and give up something which he believes to be right. The Constitution represents in many ways a compromise between different States. Each objected to give up certain powers, and so the Federal Parliament was circumscribed in its powers. It is as if an iron band had been put around it, and it was told that it could legislate within the ring so formed, and not outside it. It could legislate thus far and no further, and beyond the ring every power belonged to the States. The ring should have been put around the States. The Constitution should have circumscribed their powers.
The State Parliaments should have been told, “ You may legislate on these matters and these only. Everything else belongs to the Federal Parliament.” Instead of having the powers which are absolutely necessary, the Federal Parliament is circumscribed by the claims of allegedly sovereign States. Their claim to sovereignty has been denied by verdict after verdict of the High Court. . We should do something to put the federal triangle on its base.
An amendment of chapter VI. of the Constitution, dealing with new States, is absolutely necessary. The mainland of Australia is divided into five States, and there is no satisfactory machinery in the Constitution for the creation of new States. Until there is some amendment of the Constitution we are definitely tied to five States on the mainland, and a division into three eastern, central, and western, would havebeen no more arbitrary. No one will contend that Queensland and Victoria have not made more progress as independent States than they would have made if they had remained part of New South Wales. No doubt the House will have the opportunity later of discussing the further subdivision of Australia. Our experience of the past 25 years has shown that we should make provision for a further subdivision of Australia whenever the necessity for it arises.
– Tell us something about “ bunchy top.”
– I intended to refer to “ bunchy top,” and I may as well do so now. I was glad to read in’ the Speech that the activities of the Institute of Science and Industry are to be extended. That governmental activity has been financially starved, yet it is expected to do important work ! When I first suggested that a laboratory be established for the investigation of “ bunchy top,” I experienced considerable difficulty in inducing the Government to make funds available. The Commonwealth subscribed only one-third of the sum required, the other two-thirds being provided by the States of New South Wales and Queensland. I understand that this dreade’d plant disease has been isolated by the scientists who have been working at Tweed Heads, and we may expect to hear shortly that they have found a cure for it. Unfortunately, the disease has spread north of Brisbane. Banana and sugar growing are the two main industries in the northern part of Australia, and upon them we chiefly rely for the maintenance of a White Australia in that portion of the continent. It is necessary, therefore, to prevent, if possible, the spread of this disease to those areas. Returned soldiers who, under the soldier settlement scheme of the State of New South Wales, were placed upon holdings in “my electorate, had to pay high prices for their land, and they were compelled to spend a large sum to bring that land into bearing. With many of them, “ bunchy top” appeared after only one year’s operation. In the case of others, just as the plants were coming into bearing they were attacked by the disease. Their work thus went for nothing, and the whole of their deferred pay, gratuity money, and private capital, was lost, through no fault of their own. I hope that the representatives of electorates in which banana growing is carried on, such as the. honorable member for Kennedy, will keep themselves alive to the menace of “ bunchy top” to that industry. It has ruined hundreds of settlers in my electorate.
The Speech mentions that provision is to be made to give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission upon National Insurance. That commission, last March, submitted recommendations concerning five of the seven references that were made to it, those five relating to maternity, old-age, invalidity, casual sickness, and accident. Its investigations into unemployment and destitution have not yet been completed. In the portion dealing with old-age the commission recommended the payment of a pension of 20s. a week, and that was given effect to by the Government from October last. Legislation dealing with national insurance is long overdue. It is humanitarian legislation of the best type, because the ideal behind it is that provision must be made for maintaining not only the wage earner, but also his wife and family, at a decent standard while he is incapacitated, whether the incapacity be due to ill health, accident, invalidity, or unemployment. It is a pity that such humanitarian legislation was not introduced earlier. A start, however, has now been made, and I congratulate the Government upon its intention to give effect to the recommendations that have been submitted to it. .If all legislation similarly benefited the whole community this Parliament would be performing an excellent and effective work.
The proposed measure dealing with transport conies within the category of good and effective legislation. Transport most vitally affects the primary producer. Primary products constitute in value 98 per cent, of the products that, are exported from Australia. As their total value is approximately £120,000,000 annually, it will be seen that over £100,000,000 worth of primary products annually is affected, to a large extent, by overseas transport facilities. In addition, there is inland transport, upon which the primary producer depends for the conveyance of his goods from the place of production to the sea coast. There is, further, coastal transport between the port of assembly and the ports of transhipment for carriage overseas. I am glad that the Government proposes to give attention to all three classes of transport. Inland transport consists mainly of road and railway conveyance. Carriage on the railways is subject to the convenience of railways commissioners. Road transport, on the other hand, is in an entirely different class. One can travel along a road at one’s own convenience, ait any time, and in any way that is found suitable. A’ road, therefore, is of greater value than a railway to country people.
– If it is not so boggy that traffic over it is impossible.
– If a road is out of repair, money should be spent upon it in making it good. I am. glad that this Government intends to assist the States in the carrying out of their policies of road construction. The old idea was that only the ratepayers past whose property a road was constructed should be held responsible for its upkeep. Motor transport has progressed so rapidly, however, that the roads in different shires are now used by persons who come from places that are hundreds of miles distant, and it is, therefore, only right that those persons should bear a proportion of the cost of upkeep. If a portion of the amount that is collected in Customs duties ‘ on motor cars is earmarked for road works, some of the burden will be shifted from the shoulders of the ratepayers, and placed upon the broader shoulders of those who get greater use out of the roads. The £20,000,000 that is to be made available will prove of inestimable value to areas similar to that which I represent, in which there is a very big rainfall. In my electorate there are only two railways, and they run parallel to each other over 100 miles apart: It is, therefore, necessary for the roads to be well kept. The cost in districts like Bangalow and Byron Bay, which have an average rainfall of 120 inches per annum, is much greater than it is in drier area’s. The construction of the line from Grafton to South Brisbane, which is part of the scheme for unifying the railway gauges of Australia, will alleviate, to some extent, the disadvantage under which my electorate suffers through lack of railway communication. Since last Parliament many things have happened to delay the constructionof that line. I understand that no work is now being done in Queensland, and I know that none is being done from Kyogle northwards in New SouthWales. It does not matter whether the Commonwealth or the States concernedare at fault; action should be taken to expedite the work.
– It does matter. If the Commonwealth were at fault, this Parliament would quickly find a remedy.
-To-day I questioned the Prime Minister concerning the delay, and he replied that it is intended to call a conference to deal with the matter. A little while ago the Premier of New South Wales said that he could see no reason for calling a conference. Meanwhile this important work is being hung up. I suggest to the Prime Minister that finality should bo reached in the negotiations, and that the work should be proceeded with. The New South Wales Government might at the same time be reminded of its promise to build a bridge across the Clarence River in time for the opening of the railway between Kyogle and South Brisbane. The bridge has not yet been commenced, and possibly because the State Government is unready to undertake that work it is delaying the commencement of the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway. The longer the construction of the railway is deferred, the more time will the State Government have in which to carry out its obligation in regard to the bridge.
One of the most important planks of the Country party’s platform is that which declares that Australian prices should be paid for Australian goods. Such prices are secured to the secondary industries by the tariff, and other means, and to the workers by Arbitration Court awards, but the primary producer does not receive Australian parity for his goods unless his whole production is sold within the Commonwealth. For goods exported he must accept the price realized in the overseas markets, even for that part sold in Australia. He has to buy his requirements at Australian prices, and sell his products in competition with those of countries where people work longer hours, receive less wages, and have a lower standard of living. That condition of affairs can be remedied. A very ingenious scheme, of which the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) is the author, has been introduced in connexion with the dairying industry, in order to secure to the Australian dairyman something better than export parity for his butter. By this arrangement he will receive import parity, whichmeans, in effect, the price at which butter from the nearest competing country, New Zealand, could be sold in the local market, viz., the Dominion price, plus freight, and a duty of 2d. per lb. The honorable member for Gippsland endeavoured to have his scheme embodied in the Dairy Export Control Bill about sixteen months ago, but the operation of the guillotine deprived honorable members of an opportunity to vote upon it. I hope that the Government will consider the desirability of proposing an amendment of the act in order to embody that scheme, which I am sure would meet with the approval of honorable members if they thoroughly understood it. The governing idea is that a measure of protection shall be given to a primary industry which to-day is carried on only by the sweated labour of the dairy farmer and his family. The scheme is now being operated voluntarily, and, as I am confident that its success is assured, I hope that the Government will legislate for its general adoption. la conclusion, I congratulate Ministers upon the manner in which they submitted their case to the country, and upon having obtained a mandate from the electors to maintain law and order and industrial peace. So long as the Government continues to .propose sane and progressive legislation it will receive my wholehearted support; if it deviates from that course - I don’t anticipate that it will do so - I shall have another tale to tell. The programme now before the House is in conformity with the promises made to the people. The fact that the Government’s hustings pledges are embodied in the GovernorGeneral’s speech in the first session of the Parliament is proof of the sincerity of Ministers, and they will receive my unqualified support.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I shall ascertain when it will be convenient for His Excellency the Governor-General to receive the Address- in-Reply, and honorable members will be notified accordingly.
Message reported transmitting estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year ending the 30th June, 1926, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to- i
That the House do now resolve itself into a committee to consider the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
Sitting suspended from 637 to 8 p.m.
In committee of Supply:
– I move -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1. - The Parliament - namely, “ The President, £1,100,” be agreed to.
Permit me, in moving this, the first motion in the new committee of supply, to congratulate you, Mr. Bayley, upon your election by the House as Chairman of Committees. I am sure all honorable members feel that you are well qualified by previous experience to fulfil the functions of your post most satisfactorily. I am confident that, under your guidance, the committee will perform its work expeditiously, harmoniously, and to the complete satisfaction of lie country and the House.
With regard to the Estimates which are before members, I should like to remind the committee that since a new Parliament has been elected, it is necessary to introduce afresh Estimates covering the revenue and expenditure for the ordinary services df the year ending 30th June next. I do not propose to alter the Estimates which were submitted last year. The revenue is coming in at a rate that enables us to say that expectations will, be realized. The three Supply acts passed by the last Parliament covered expenditure on the ordinary services for the current financial year. Two of the acts provided each for two months’ expenditure, and the third for ‘five months, making a total pf £16,000,000 for the nine month’s of the current financial year to the 31st March. Those acts did not include expenditure for services other than those already provided and sanctioned by Parliament. The Estimates now submitted will enable Parliament to exercise proper control of the various items included in the Estimates, in addition to the ordinary services for the financial year.
.- I also should like to congratulate you, Mr. Bayley, upon your appointment as Chairman of Committees. With the honorable the Treasurer, I feel sure that you will endeavour to discharge the functions of your office impartially. At times the duties of the Chairman of Committees are very exacting, and I can only say that honorable members on this side will do everything possible to assist you.
I do not intend to discuss the Estimates. They belong to the last Parliament. I had prepared a speech in reply to the Treasurer’s statement last August, but Parliament was dissolved. This is the new Parliament, and the Estimates have merely been restored to the business paper for the purpose of putting them through. As seven months of the financial year have expired, it would be out of place for me to offer any criticism concerning anything done by the last Parliament. Consequently I have no desire to discuss the Estimates now before the committee.
.-I do not propose to discuss the Estimates at any length, but I desire to bring one or two matters under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson). I should like to know what stage has been reached in the work of undergrounding the telephone wires between Newcastle and Sydney.
I also direct the attention of the Minister to the many complaints made by business men of thefts from mails between the two cities mentioned, and urge him to arrange with the railway authorities in New South Wales to take more effective precautions for the protection of mails in transit. I have received a letter from a business firm complaining of interference with their mails in connexion with share transactions. They report several thefts. If business firms and other people incur the expense of a registration fee for letters they are entitled to expect that the department will take every precaution to safeguard their property. I am not blaming the postal officials. I know that they take every precaution against interference with the mails, and the Minister should urge the railways authorities to do likewise.
.- I also have one or two matters to discuss. In Ballarat recently two postal employees were charged with the theft of letters. They were found guilty, and the very savage sentence of two years’ imprisonment was imposed. I have appealed personally to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) to recommend a remission of the sentence. The feeling in Ballarat is very general that the punishment was altogether too severe for the offence charged. These two young men - both, I believe, are returned soldiers - have lost their employment, which in itself is a sufficient punishment, especially as both are married men with two or three small children. The amount involved in the charge was a postal note of the value of 10s., and a sentence of fromfour to six months would have met the ends of jus tice, and would have acted as a deterrent to others. Compared with sentences imposed on bank clerks, who embezzle thousands of pounds, two years for the theft of a 10s. postal note is too much. We all agree, of course, that these young men. had no right to touch other people’s property. They deserved punishment, but most honorable members will agree that imprisonment for two years is too severe. I am quite sure that every member of thejury which tried the case, as. well as the leaders of all the churches in Ballarat, would sign a petition for the release of the offenders. I do not think the jury anticipated that the judge would impose such a severe sentence. If these men have to serve their full two years the State of Victoria will be called upon to keep the children, who will have to be boarded out. If it is generally believed that judges intend to inflict such severe punishment for what are, after all, minor offences, juries will be disinclined to bring in a verdict of guilty.
– What was the actual offence charged?
– They were letter carriers, and a letter containing a postal note for 10s. was found on one of them. The department reported that other letters had been missing, but there was no proof that these men had stolen them. They have already suffered very severely, having served three or four months in prison, and I think some mercy should be shown to them, if not for their own sakes, for the sake of their wives and little children. I honestly think that, without interfering with the course of justice, the Postmaster-General might very well give serious consideration to my request for the release of these men.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the very great in convenience caused to citizens of Sydney, and especially to country people who are visiting that city. Very often it is necessary to post letters in the late fee letter boxes at the Central Railway Station to catch outward-bound mails. The general assembly platform, where the late-fee boxes were placed some years ago, was then public property, but now after 6.30 p.m. ft is closed to the general public, except on production of a platform ticket, which costs 2d. This, I submit, is a serious inconvenience. It would be a simple matter for the Postal Department to place the late-fee boxes outside the barriers for the convenience of the general public. I feel that it is only necessary to bring this matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral to have it rectified, and the cause of inconvenience and extra expenditure removed.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) to the slow progress being made in inaugurating the civil aviation service between Derby and Wyndham in the northwest of Western Australia. I brought this matter repeatedly before honorable members in the last Parliament, and I thought that the Minister would have found time, in the recess, to give it his personal attention. This matter is urgent. Wyndham has only a bimonthly mail service with the southern parts of Western Australia, and the civil aviation services for the carriage of mails as far as Derby is a wonderful and necessary boon for people in the sparsely populated portions of Western Australia. I hope that in the near future the Minister will inaugurate a service from Derby to Wyndham. This matter has been under consideration by the departmental officers for a considerable time. At one time it was thought that, because of the tropical nature of the country, an air service between those towns wasimpracticable, but the route has been inspected, and it has been found that with modern planes it is practicable. I trust that this area will soon have the benefit of this service.
– The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) referred to the loss of registered mail matter, As a result of the precautions taken, I do not think many letters go astray, but in this instance a considerable number were stolen at the one time. I can assure the honorable member that every reasonable precaution is being taken to prevent a recurrence of the recent losses.
– Will the Minister consult the Railway Department, who are the sub-contractors in this case?
– We have had to-night a somewhat unique discussion. The honorable member for Newcastle has urged that greater precautions be taken to prevent mail matter from being lost, and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has asked the department not to prosecute men who steal letters.
– I did not say that. I do not stand for the stealing of letters. All that I did was to ask the Minister to make representations for the remission of a very savage sentence imposed on two men who had stolen letters.
– Every effort is made to secure the carriage of mail matter without loss. During the last two years it has been possible for senders of letters to insure them against loss in transit, and thus to obtain some compensation should they be stolen.
The department is doing its best in connexion with the telephone cable between Sydney and Newcastle, a matter referred to by the honorable member for Newcastle. Telephonic congestion in the northern portion of New South Wales has been considerable of late, and a large number of new wires has been found necessary. It was first proposed to lay these cables along the railway line, and arrangements to do so had been made when the Railway Department advised that there was a probability of the line being electrified. As it would be extremely dangerous to have telephone cables laid underground in close proximity to an electrified railway, that scheme could not be proceeded with. The honorable member can rest assured that this matter will be attended to at the earliest possible date.
The Postal Department does not press for heavy sentences or long terms of imprisonment in such cases as the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) has mentioned. I cannot, however, see my way to interfere with the course of justice, and suggest to the honorable member that he should get in touch with the State authorities, as this is a matter for them.
– I did so, and was referred to the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– It is a matter for the State authorities. My department will not oppose anything that they might think fit to do.
– Does the Minister mean that his department has no objection to a reduction of the sentence?
– Yes. I have no doubt that the requirements of justice have been met, and can understand that the wives and families of the guilty men are suffering far more than are the men themselves.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Remainder of the Estimates, by leave, taken as a whole and agreed to.
Motion (by Dr. EARLE Page) agreed to -
That the following resolution be reported to the House : -
That, Including the several sums already voted for such services, there be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1925-26, for the several services hereunder specified, a sum not exceeding £22,302,950-
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
Motion(by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That the House do forthwith resolve itself into a committee to consider the Ways and
Means for raising the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.
In committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That, towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1925-6, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £6,084,342.
.- I protest against this motion being carried. It involves the provision of funds for the maintenance of the so-called peace officers.
– They have been dismissed.
– I think not. Some responsible Minister should give reasons for the retention of these officers. I have a lively recollection of the present Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), when a private member, attacking the then Prime Minister, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), for appointing a Commonwealth police force. In the course of his remarks on that occasion he stated that to retain those officers was a waste of public funds. The reason given for the appointment of these officers was that they were necessary for the maintenance of industrial peace in Australia. Does the Government assert that there is industrial turmoil existing in Australia to-day? There is none; and, therefore, there is no necessity for the retention of these officers. If the need for their appointment ever existed, surely it does not exist to-day, as the High Court of Australia has very effectively disposed of the alleged reasons for which the force was brought into being.
– Nonsense !
– The inference to be drawn from the honorable member’s interjection is that some other action is contemplated for which these officers will be required. That strengthens my argument that, before we agree to this motion, the Government’s intention regarding these officers should be revealed. We should not blindly vote money for their retention. The burden of taxation is already sufficiently great without this expense being added to it. Will some member of the alleged economy party in the corner explain the reason for the continuance of this police force? How will the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) justify his action in voting this money? Does any one deny that Australia to-day is enjoying industrial peace? The individuals whom these officers were appointed to arrest were arrested and placed in custody, but the High Court of Australia ordered their release. Yet the force is being retained. One wonders who the next victim will be. Does the Government contemplate making a deliberate attack on trade unionism in Australia? Is the retention of these men’s services part of a carefully and craftily thought-out plan to undermine the trade union movement? I have a suspicion that that is the real motive behind the Government’s action. I am voicing this protest, because I wish to be fair by providing the Government with an opportunity to explain why this money is required.
– May I take this opportunity, Mr. Bayley, to express my congratulations to you on the honour conferred upon you by the House in appointing you Chairman of Committees. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has already expressed his congratulations on behalf of his party, and I now speak for the Government. I can assure you that every member of this House has confidence in your impartiality, and is certain that you will carry out the duties of your new office in a way that will give satisfaction to all parties.
I quite realize the anxiety of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), but I do not think that this is the moment for him to voice it, because no item in these Estimates is applicable to the Peace Force.
– If objection is not raised now it will be impossible to alter the amount later.
– I can only repeat the assurance that nothing in these Estimates is applicable to the Peace Force. The honorable member will probably have an opportunity to express his views on this subject in the ‘near future, when a measure forecast in the GovernorGeneral’s speech will be introduced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first and second time.
.- I should like to know whether it is a fact that there is only one copy of the bill, and that that is in the possession of the Treasurer. Did not the Government expect that business would be disposed of expeditiously ?
– The bill is a monumental mass of printing, and includes the whole of the Estimates. The bills available for honorable members are those circulated last year, with necessary alterations.
– That is too lame an excuse. If the Treasurer had been honest he would have said that the bill had not been printed in its altered form. I have seen the items in another form, and on this occasion am prepared to allow the bill to go through.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion by Mr. Bruce (by leave) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the payment of bounty on the manufacture of power alcohol.
Bill presented and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Government is re-introducing the bill in the form in which it reached the committee stage last session. It may be described as a modest measure, because it provides for the expenditure of only £25,000, at the rate of not more than £5,000 a year, as a bounty upon power alcohol produced from starch-bearing plants. It provides for a bounty of fourpence a gallon on alcohol, of which at least two pence a gallon will be paid to the growers of cassava or other starch-bearing plants, in order to encourage the cultivation of those plants for the manufacture of power alcohol. The position to-day entirely justifies the proposals made by the Government when the bill was introduced last June. The Plane Creek Sugar Mill at Sarina, in Queensland, has now erected a distillery with a loan of £25,000, obtained, I think, from the Queensland National Bank. The loan has been guaranteed by the Government of Queensland, which favours the scheme and the proposals that have been made to establish on a commercial basis a most important industry, which will assist in making Australia less dependent upon foreign supplies of petrol. Various projects have been mooted in Australia in connexion with the manufacture of power alcohol, but the Department of Trade and Customs, to which these proposals, of course, must be first submitted, regards the present enterprise as the only practical and commercially satisfactory scheme that has been placed before it. The matter has been investigated by the Tariff Board, whose report is favorable. I think that honorable members on both sides of the House will agree that it is most desirable that the manufacture, within our own borders, of power alcohol, and petrol of all sorts, should be stimulated. The imports of petrol from abroad in the last fiscal year - I am speaking from memory - totalled the vast quantity of over 80,000,000 gallons, and, at an average rate of 2s. a gallon, its value would thus be over £8,000,000. The bill is intended to help the development of the manufacture of our own power alcohol from our own material, in order to displace some, at all events, of the vast importations from abroad, thereby making us more independent of outside supplies, an important matter in connexion with the defence of Australia. I need not expatiate at any great length upon the advantages to be derived by Australia from the development of this industry, nor do I suggest that this is the last word that the Government will have to say with regard to it. I understand that the distillery is being completed, the machinery for it is even on the way, and the cassava plants have been obtained from Java and planted. Today I heard that the Queensland Government had expended no less than £2,000 in sending an expert to Java to choose these plants. Some 200 or 300 acres, I believe, have been put under cassava cultivation. If the bill is passed in the form in which it is presented to the House, it may, perhaps, be described also as a bill for giving a bounty to the growers of cassava. Out of the 4d. a gallon, that the bill proposes shall be paid to encourage the production of power alcohol, it is provided that at least 2d., if not more, shall be given to the growers of cassava. One penny is intended to cover the cost of denaturing the alcohol before it leaves the control of the Department of Trade and Customs; 2d. is proposed to be given as an encouragement to the cassava growers, and1d. is left for contingencies.
– This matter was referred to the Public Accounts Committee, which has not presented its report.
– I am glad of the interjection, because it reminds me that the bill was held up at the committee stage last session in the expectation that a report would be received from the Public Accounts Committee on this subject, and I believe that it was intimated that the report would be available within a short time.
– The Minister promised that the bill would not be proceeded- with until the report had been presented.
– That was in the last Parliament. I may say that it has been intimated to me that, so far as can be gathered, the committee is favorable to the project, or at least sees nothing to criticize in the bill before us. It is for the members of that committee to say what they think about the measure.
– The Minister has no right to anticipate the committee’s report.
– All possible information has been supplied to the committee, and the project is being carried out. Faith has been kept by the Queensland Government in respect of the scheme, and faith will be kept by the Commonwealth Government.
– We desire to read the report of the committee before discussing the bill.
– I have made inquiries, and I find that no report bythe committee is available.Personally, I should like to hear the opinions of the members of that body. I have placed at the committee’s disposal the whole of the information in the hands of the department. So far as I can see, the project is a truly national one. It is not a party matter in any shape or form, but one calculated to promote national ‘ development in an important’ direction.
– Why does the Minister insist on reintroducing the bill when he made a definite promise that he would not do so before the presentation of the committee’s report!
– I made that promise to the last Parliament. This is a new Parliament. Honorable members will see that I have done all that I need do, and more than that, in making these inquiries before bringing the bill down. Is the project to be held up further, when the whole of the information has been placed in the hands of those, concerned, and everything has been done in the full light of day to obtain harmony and unanimity ?
– The Minister will not obtain harmony in this way.
– Let us consider the bill on its merits This is not the only effort that the Government hopes to make in connexion with the development of the manufacture of power alcohol, but it is the first practical scheme that has been submitted. Although, as honorable members will see by the amount of money involved, this is a modest effort, it will lead, nevertheless, to the utilization of the whole of the molasses in the Mackay district, which previously have gone to waste. It means that molasses that have hitherto been wasted in Queensland will be commercialized on a basis of 25s. or 30s. a ton. I think I can say that considerable enthusiasm is exhibited in connexion with the proposal, and in the not distant future I am hopeful of seeing other distilleries erected to utilize what has hitherto been a waste product. The scheme was inaugurated by the British Distillers Company and the International Sugarand Alcohol Company. Half the capital of the company that will handle the proposition under review is British, and is supplied by the British Distillers Company and the International Sugar and Alcohol Company, the other half being furnished in Australia. Arrangements have been made for the control of the company to remain in Australia, and for the work to be done by Australians. To all intents and pur poses . it will be an Australian-managed concern.
– Will Australian machinery be used?
– Where it can be used, it will. The company is using what Australian machinery it can, and, with regard to such machinery that is not commercially made here, and has to be imported from Great Britain, the Customs Department, if it fairly can, will endeavour to admit it at concessional rates. I cannot conceive of a more practical step in the interests of national development than this attempt to make Australia independent of outside sources for its petrol supplies. Some petrol is made in Australia to-day by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, at Laverton, and some benzol is manufactured by the Broken Hill Proprietary at Newcastle. Messrs. John Fell and Company also produce some of this spirit, and a little is made by the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company, but the total output of power alcohol or petrol in Australia is scarcely one-tenth of the country’s requirements. Queensland, I believe, annually consumes 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 gallons of petrol spirit, and if the whole of its molasses are used for the manufacture of power alcohol, not more than the requirements of Queensland alone will be met. It will thus be seen that, so far as the Australian market is concerned, there are vast possibilities in the manufacture of this article. When the Bill was introduced during the last Parliament, something was said about . the manufacture of power alcohol from prickly pear. The latest scientific information that I have received is that the manufacture of power alcohol from prickly pear has not advanced much farther than the laboratory stage. I am sure that all of us would welcome the investigation of this method of manufacture.
– Has the Minister heard anything from. Dr. Sinclair on that subiect?
– It was only yesterday that I read a report by a well-known public analyst that the project for the manufacture of power alcohol from prickly pear had not advanced much farther than the laboratory stage.
– Even if it has reached that stage it has gone a long way.
– Very probably. I believe that we would all hail with satis- faction the investigation of any practical proposal to help the development and manufacture of power alcohol or of anything else of commercial value from prickly pear. That proposition, however, is not before us from its practical side, and, consequently, as men of experience in the affairs of the country, we cannot yet consider it.
– What was the result pf the trials made in Queensland by the Defence Department of power alcohol from molasses?
– It was quite satisfactory. There is no doubt that power alcohol can be successfully manufactured from molasses. The purpose of the bill is to encourage the growing of cassava, a starch-bearing -plant, to supplement the raw material,’ in the shape of molasses, already available in the district in which the distillery is being erected. It is not proposed under the bill to give a bounty on the’ production of power alcohol from molasses. In fact, we have not been asked to do so.
– Could such a proposal be incorporated in. the bill without a new message?
– No. The maximum quantity of power alcohol that can be produced in a distillery of the type that is being erected is from about 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 gallons. A considerable proportion of this will, of course, be made from the molasses available in the district. There is possibly 20,000 tons of molasses available for manufacture in the Mackay district, and the honorable membar for Herbert (Dr. Nott) will no doubt give us some information on that subject. There is perhaps a total of 130,000 to 150,000 tons of molasses available throughout the whole of the sugar districts of Queensland. It is hoped that this modest start, which has been made under the aegis of the strongest and largest firm or combination of distillers in the Empire, with ample capital, will be successful, so that several distilleries will ultimately be established, not only in Queensland, but also in other centres for the manufacture of this commercially desirable product. The bill contains the usual provision respecting Customs control. The principal provision is that no bounty shall be authorized or paid on any power alcohol unless it has been manufactured from products grown in Aus tralia, such as cassava, sweet potatoes, arowroot, or such other cultivated starchbearing plants as the Minister approves. The bill provides for the payment of £25,000 in all, spread over five years, and for the payment of not more than £5,000 in any one year. If less than that amount is paid in any one year, the balance is available for the following year. The measure practically includes all starch-bearing products from which power alcohol can be produced. About 60 gallons of power alcohol can be made from 1 ton of molasses, and about 40 gallons of power alcohol from 1 ton of cassava. It must be remembered that petrol from local products must be produced at a competitive price so far as the Australian market is concerned. In view . of the heavy and expensive cost of distribution to the main’ centres of consumption, the raw material must be produced cheaply in order to permit the locally manufactured article to compete with the imported product.
– The bounty does not make it competitive.
– The bounty will help to encourage the growth of starchbearing plants which, it is hoped, will form the basis of a raw material for this industry. It may or may not be a coincidence, but since this bill was placed before the House the price of petrol has been considerably reduced, and, therefore, all figures and estimates that were prepared previously have now to be revised. This proposal is backed by the people, who will equip the mill, and the shareholderswho own it. The scheme is looked upon very favorably by the Queensland Government. The Commonwealth takes no risk. It rightly pledges itself to encourage the development of this industry. The Government pays nothing unless alcohol is produced. I submit the bill to the House with the greatest confidence. The information that I have received since the bill was first introduced confirms the position that the Government then took up, that the proposal is backed by a huge and substantial organization. It also encourages my fervent hope that the production of petrol spirit and motor fuel in Australia will develop at a greater rate than before. The bill has not been altered in any shape or form since it was submitted previously. I have touched upon the question of producing alcohol from prickly pear in order to inform honorable members of the exact position. Any other proposals of a practical character that may be -submitted to the Government will have its sympathetic attention, because there is nothing more important in the national development of our country than that we should be entirely self-contained as far as possible regarding transport and all its appurtenances.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-l have no wish to delay the House for any length of time. I asked a question to-day in connexion with a recent statement regarding the export of canned fruit from Australia. I now ask the Prime Minister if, at a very early date, information will be given to the House in connexion with these consignments, because the sooner we know who these people are, who, by ulterior methods, take advantage of the Government or any one else to obtain subsidies, the better for the Commonwealth. There should be some penalty imposed on any one who exports any assisted product, prescribed by regulations, that is not up to the standard. In. these circumstances the fullest information should be given to the House concerning this consignment, so that in future action may . be taken to prevent a recurrence of this sort of thing.
.- I have been informed by the Health Department that there is every likelihood of the embargo on the importation of Italian broom millet being lifted. It is this broom which has- introduced the corn borer pest which has caused so much devastation in the United States of America, and Canada, and I shudder to think that there is any possibility of the introduction into Australia of still another wretched pest. This is such a serious matter that it should not be left to the decision of the Health Department. Parliament should go thoroughly into the question before deciding that the embargo should be lifted. Before any article to which the corn borer has been traced is permitted to be imported, the greatest precaution should be taken.. On the word of. a State departmental expert, the only safe precaution that can be taken is to thoroughly prohibit the importation of any such article. At any rate, the embargo upon Italianbroom should not be removed until this Parliament is absolutely satisfied that there is not the slightest fear of this destructive pest, the corn borer, which is ruinous to all cereal-growers, being introduced into Australia.
– The Government has made full inquiries concerning a consignment of canned fruit, part of which it has been represented to us was not up to the sample on which it was sold. I agree with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) that it is a matter for very serious consideration whether we should not impose some penalty on those who export any product from this country below . the standards that have been set, but at the -moment we have no legislation under which that may be done. The export of goods from Australia is policed by the Customs Department and the fullest inquiry is being made to ascertain how any of this fruit which might not have been up to the standard could have been exported. I can assure the honorable member that when a suitable time comes the House will be placed in possession of the whole of the circumstances of this transaction, and with the fullest information in regard to the investigations that have been made to ascertain how this fruit ever came to be passed by Customs officials. That is all I can say to the honorable member just now. Negotiations are in progress between the vendors and the purchasers, and we really should not go any further into the matter at the moment.,
I shall have inquiries made into the points raised by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook), and let him know the result.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 9.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260114_reps_10_112/>.