10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers. death of the hon. charles Mcdonald.
Reply to Resolution of Condolence.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom). - I have received from Mrs. McDonald the following letter in connexion with the death of her husband : - “ Hughenden,” 6 Studley-avenue, Kew, 22nd January, 1926.
The Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th January, together with the copy ofa resolution passed by the House of Representativeson Wednesday, the 13th inst., relating to the death of my husband, Charles McDonald.
Will you pleaseacceptand convey tomembersof the House ofRepresentatives the very sincere and heartfelt thanks of myself and my daughter for the sympathy extended to us in our great sorrow,andalso anassuranceofour very deepappreciation of the resolution that hasbeen passed with its tribute to my husband’s services.
Yoursvery sincerely, mary a. McDonald.
– I have received from Lady Chapman the following letter in replyto the resolution of condolence passed by the House on the death of her husband, Sir Austin Chapman: - “ Eden Monaro,” Marouba, 25th January, 1926.
The Speaker, House of Representatives,
Dear Sir Littleton,
The expression of sympathy passed by the House of Representatives on the death of my husband, and the sincere tribute tohis life and work, have been of great comfort to myself and family. To know that hewas so admired and respected in the Chamber where he has worked for the greater portion* of his life-time, lightens our burden of sorrow. Please accept my sincerest thanks personally, andas Speaker of the House.
I remain, yours sincerely,
– I understand that a conference was held during the week-end on the subject of a railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane. I should like to know from the Treasurer whether he is in a position to say what was the nature of the dispute which led to the conference.
– Representatives of the New South Wales, Queensland and Commonwealth Governments met on Saturday last to discuss the whole questionof the construction of the line from Kyogle to South Brisbane. Certain resolutions of the conference have yet to be reported to the Commonwealth Government. When they have been so reported I assume that the Prime Minister will make a statement on the subject.
-I wish to address an urgent question to the Minister for Trade and Customs. Has the honorable gentleman noticed that a shipment of oats is about to be landed fromCanada? If so, will he takesteps toensure that Australiashall be safeguarded from the introductionofthefootandmouthdisease by havingthe Canadian oats fumigated, and the bags in which they are contained destroyed.
– I think the honorablemember’s question should have been addressed to the Minister for Health. I shall bring the question under thenotice of my colleague.
– I ask the Prime Minister if the Government approves of the sentiments expressed by the Board of Commissioners of the Commonwealth Public Service in their annual report, criticising the political activities of public servants, and indicating the possibility of an amendment of the regulations to curtail their political rights. Will not the Government’ allow Parliament to determine this matter, if any such action is proposed?
– It is not the practice to reply to questions asking merely for the expression of opinions; Ministers reply only to definite questions submitted with the object of obtaining information. If the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper for tomorrow I shall consider how far it merely asks for an expression of opinion, and to what extent it asks for definite information.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the manufacture of news print ?
– I shall lay the report on the table of the Library tomorrow.
– I wish to submit a question with a view to enabling the Prime Minister to avoid making anerror. The opening speech of the Governor-General of South Africa, read to the ‘members of
The Parliamentofthat dominion,con- t ained noreference whatever to thehold ing of an Imperialconference. Doesthis fact in any way allay the desire of the Prime Minister for the holding of an imperial conference atthismost inopportune time in the history of theEmpire?
– I donotquite know the purpose of the honorable member’s reference to the speech deliveredby the Governor-General at the opening of the Parliament of that dominion. There wasno reference to an imperial conference in the Governor-General’sSpeech, delivered to the Commonwealth Parliament. If the honorable member will puthis question on the notice-paper, I shalldomy best to give him anyinformation on the subject he may desire.
Useof Third Rail
– I ask the Prune Minister whether, in view of statements made in this House last week to the effect thatexpert opinion is that a third rail can be run on existing railway lines with success, he will consider the advisability of bringing before the next conference with State Premiers the application of the principle to railways in New South Wales and Victoria, between, at all events, Junee, on the New South Wales side,and Benalla, on the Victorian side, to avoid the congestion which inevitably occurs at Albury at times when there is a great deal of interstate traffic ?
-I do not think that any more important question could be raised than that to which the honorable member has referred. In an agreement recently made with South Australia, power is given to the Commonwealth to construct a line from Port Augusta to Red Hill, and to have running rights over athird rail into Adelaide from Red Hill. The advice which the Government has with regard tothat project is that a third rail, with both the 5-ft. 3 -in. and the 4-ft. 8½-in, gauge will provide aperfectly practicable and safe method of transportation; but different opinions have been expressed on this subject. The whole question will have to be investigated by the Public Works Committee when the construction of this particular line is referred to it. I hope that in the course of its investigation agreat deal of light will be cast upon the matter. I can assure the honorable member that if it can be established that the use of a third rail is practical on both the 5-.ft. 3-in. and the 4-ft. 8½-in.gauge, ii will be a matter for the serious considerationof the States whether greater travelling facilities cannot be given by the application of the principle to a number of railways in this country.
– I ask the Prime Minister if there is necessity for “the great secrecy being observed with regard to the proposed new occupant of the position of High Commissioner in London? I have been requested toy residents of Sydney to ascertain if it is true that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has been approached with a view to his accepting theappointment.
– I wouldremind the honorable member that the period for which the present High Commissioner (Sir Joseph Cook) was appointed does not expire until December next. There has been a greatdeal ofspeculation as to his successor, which began at the end of last year, and was due, I think, to the fact that some persons were under the impression that Sir Joseph Cook’s term of office ended in December, 1925. Apparently, that speculation still continues. I give the honorable member my assurance that when a new appointment is made, the Government will announce it to the House.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs in a position to give more detailed information than he gave last week in reply to the statements regarding consignments of fruit from Australia to London?
– I am not yet in a position to give further information on the subject, because yesterday I referred for further information , a report from one of the States; but, , so far as my investigations have gone, I think it possible that there may beother motives than those appearing on the surface behind the recent scare press notices and communications concerning shipments of Australian canned fruits. Possibly the same remark will apply to the press reports in regard to arsenical apples and wood wool.
– I have noticed that the Minister for Trade and Customs is advertising himself in the press as a person whom all Australians should copy, being clad from top to toe in articles of Australian manufacture. I certainly hope that the people will copy him in that. No doubt he is wholeheartedly a supporter of Australian products.
– Does the honorable member intend to ask a question?
– All I want to say is that there is nothing novel in what the Minister is doing. I myself have used Australian clothing for the past 40 years.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What has been the excess price paid by his department for purchases of copper wire produced in Australia over what the same could have been purchased in Britain landed in Australia, but exclusive of duty?
– The excess price paid by my department for purchases ofcopper wire produced in Australia over what the same could have been purchased in
Britain landed in Australia, but exclusive of duty, from 1st July, 1920, to 31st December, 1925, was £226,977.
asked the Prime Minis ter, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– There is no official information with regard to the production of the commodities mentioned.; therefore the production, if any, must be small. The possibility of growing these crops in Australia has not been demonstrated. The Government will give sympathetic consideration to any. commercial project for the production within the Commonwealth of manila and sisal hemp fibres and kapok.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr. LAZZARINI (through Mr.
Blakeley) asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Has a commencement yet been made with the new post office at Bulli?
If not, can he inform the House when the said post office will he built?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Use of American Timber
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Sick Leave to Commissioners: Delegation of Powers
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What leave (a) sick, and (b) recreation has been granted to the members of the Commonwealth Public Service Board of Commissioners respectively since their appointment?
– The following particulars give the information desired by the honorable member : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What powers, functions, duties, &c, have been delegated to each other by the members of the Commonwealth Public Service Board of Commissioners?
– No powers, functions, or duties are delegated by one member of the Public Service Board of Commissioners to another; but under section 16 of the Public Service Act the board delegates to members of the board andto officers of the Service such powers and functions as occasion requires. These documents vary from time to time; but all matters of policy and principle are dealt, with by the full board.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he make the figures available to mem- . bers, as mentioned in his speech of Wednesday, 20th inst, which show that: - “Last financial year the Commonwealth had paid £740,000 more for various services than it received in. revenue from Western Australia”?
– The figures referred to are published on page 665 of the printed Minutes of Evidence given before the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the effect of federation upon the finances of Western Australia. I should be pleased to cause a copy of the evidence to be furnished to anyhonorable member who may desire it, and who has not already received a copy.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will furnish a return showing the number of taxpayers, in respect of each paragraph, whose assessments have been (modified pursuant to paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d) of regulation 34 of the War-time Profits Tax Regulations?
– I am informed by the Commissioner of Taxation that no special records have been kept regarding cases to which regulation 34 has been applied, and that to ascertain the required particulars under paragraphs (a) and (b) of the. regulation, it would be necessary to examine practically all of the war-time profits tax files. It does not, therefore, appear practicable to furnish the information desired by the honorable member. As regards paragraphs (c) and (d) of the regulation, the Commissioner states that one case only under each paragraph has arisen.
– On the 22nd January the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked the following question : -
Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House next week of the tonnage of wire and wire netting manufactured in Australia, and the amounts of bounty paid in respect of each up to 31st December, 1925?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Wire netting, 68,776 tons, 7 cwts., 1 qrs., 0 lb. Amount to 31/12/25, £233,839 12s. 9d. Wire, Fencing, 73,652 tons, 16 cwt., 0 qrs., 25 lb. Amount to 31/12/25, £191,497 6s. 4d.
– On the 21st January, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) asked the following question : -
What was the total value of the sheet glass imported into the Commonwealth during the years 1923-24, and 1924-25; also for the period 1st July to 31st December,1925?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the. following information : -
– On the 21st Janu ary, the honorable member for Capri- cornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following question : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
– On the 22nd January, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) asked: -
Of the 110 blocks unsold of the first subdivision at Canberra -
How many are business sites?
How many are residential sites?
How many are withdrawn from sale?
How many residential sites are avail able for purchase at the present time?
The information desired was not available in Melbourne at the time, but I am now able to furnish the following particulars: -
There are no shopping sites, but 30 sites in the Ainslie subdivision set apart for minor industrial purposes are available for leasing.
64 blocks, comprising nineteenminor industrial sites and 45 residential sites,have been withdrawn from sale and are being built uponby the Commission.
– On the 21st January, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked the following question : -
Whether certain junior officers are being given positions of Postmaster, Grade 1, Fourth Division, over the heads of senior officers.?
The following is the reply: -
In the selection of an officer for promotion, consideration is given first to relative efficiency and, in the event of an equality of efficiency of two or more officers, . then to the relative seniority of officers available for promotion. This practice is in conformity with section 50 of the Public Service Act, and if certain junior officers have passed over their seniors, it has been on the ground of greater efficiency. Any officer passed over on these’ grounds has the right of appeal.
Experiments by Dr. Smalpage.
. -(By leave.) - On the 20th January, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), I promised to make a full statement this week about Dr. Smalpage’s method of treating tuberculosis. Briefly stated, the position in regard to his treatment is that . in March, 1925, Dr. Smalpage first brought under the notice of the department the fact that he was obtaining satisfactory results by a certain process of preparation of an antitoxin against tubercle bacilli. In order to carry out this process the preparation of certain extracts was necessary, and at the Commonwealth Serum ‘Laboratories the preparation of this extract was put in hand, and the supplies were from time to time forwarded to Dr. Smalpage.
The preparation of anti-toxin was delayed on account of certain difficulties of a technical character, and. accordingly, on the 7th January, 1926. an invitation was addressed by me to Dr. Smalpage to come to the Serum Laboratories and make use of the resources of the laboratories for the production of serum by his own method. The method just now being developed consists of utilizing an extract of the spleen for the. digestion of living tubercle bacilli. This digestion results, it is claimed, in the production of an endotoxin which upon injection into a horse stimulates the cells of the horse io the production of anti-toxin. It is this anti-toxin which is used by Dr. Smalpage for the treatment of human cases of tuberculosis. Many attempts have been made to produce an anti-toxin against tuberculosis, but, so far as is known, no previous attempt by the use of this particular method has been made. In view of the responsibility which attaches to any statement made by the Government, it is necessary to state, that, although the results which Dr. Smalpage claims to have obtained are encouraging, still the department has not yet had before it the evidence which is necessary to. the formation of any estimate of the reliability of these results. A- testseries of cases, which must be carefully selected and closely observed by independent specialists, must be treated for a sufficient period of time to enable a judgment to be formed as to the effect of this method of treatment. The department, in concert with Dr. Smalpage, has undertaken to arrange that this series of test cases shall be dealt with in the six capital cities simultaneously, but it is necessary, in view of the numerous communications which have> been received from patients or their friends, to state that it will not be possible to commence the treatment of this series of cases until at least one month hence. It is also necessary that the selection of the test cases shall be made by the specialists who will be observing the effect of treatment with a view to ascertaining the effect of the serum upon different classes of cases, and it will not be possible to give preference or consideration to any patient for any other reason than the opinion of the committee of specialists as to the suitability of the case for test purposes. Dr. Smalpage is actively engaged upon the various stages in the preparation of this serum at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, and it is not practicable by any means to expedite the process. Dr. Smalpage has very openly requested that the department’s officers should keep in close touch with his work, and make independent experiments at various stages to corroborate or disprove his results, and arrangements have been made to this end so that the results of the laboratory tests may be available for consideration at the same time as the results of the tests from human patients. It is important to make acknowledgment to Dr. Smalpage by letting it be known that he has intimated to us that he is prepared to transfer to the Commonwealth Government, without any” conditions, for use within the Commonwealth, all of his rights in the process. The statement I have just made wa3 approved by Dr. Smallpage in a conference with me this morning, and the way is now clear for a complete test of the value of the serum for the treatment of tuberculosis patients. The Government has arranged to make an allowance to Dr. Smalpage in order to meet his immediate personal expenses while the serum is being prepared, and it is necessary to emphasize, first, that it is not intended to make any serum available until the tests have been completed, and this may take from three to six months. Dr. Smalpage, of course,’ will have supplies. . Secondly, so soon as the efficacy of the serum is established, a sufficient quantity will be made available for general use. The Government has gone to a good deal of expense in providing horses that have been inoculated, so that if the tests prove successful the supply of serum will be sufficient to meet any demand that may be made for it within the Commonwealth.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act- Finance 1924-1925- The Treasurer’s State of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1925, accompanied by the Report of the Audi tor-General.
Postmaster -General’s Department - Fifteenth Annual Report, 1924-25.
Ordered tobe printed.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Ordinances of 1926 -
No. 1. - Inspection of Boilers.
No. 3. - Encouragement of Primary Production.
Northern Territory Crown Lands Ordinance, 1924-25 - Explanation and plan relative to resumption of the Woolmer Aboriginal Reserve.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1926 -
No. 1. - Loan.
No. 2. - Quarantine.
No. 3. - Native Administration.
Debate resumed from 21st January (vide page 291) on motion by Mr. Pratten -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- By this bill the Government is endeavouring to make provision for overseas vessels to trade between certain ports of the Commonwealth, subject to conditions that may be laid down. No doubt, that is intended to give effect to the promise that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in his policy speech, made to the people of Tasmania. Honorable members who sit on this side of the House have every sympathy for the people of Tasmania, realizing, as we do, the disabilities that result from Tasmania’s isolation. Those people certainly have a strong claim for consideration at the hands of this Parliament, and we are justified in taking the action necessary to remove, as far as possible, the disabilities under which they labour. Consideration must be had to the fact that, as a portion of the Commonwealth, Tasmania is compelled to contribute towards expenditure upon projects from which it does not derive any direct benefit. I refer chiefly to the Commonwealth railway system. A line has already been constructed by the Commonwealth from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and in the Northern Territory, and others . will be constructed in the future in the Northern Territory and the Federal Capital Territory. The Commonwealth is also assisting the States to meet the expenditure that will be incurred in unifying the railway gauges of Australia. Tasmania is responsible for a portion of the cost of those works, and has, therefore, a legitimate claim for some service in return. To me, there is only one way in which its requirements can be met. We should provide, not a partial service as the bill proposes, but a continuous service that would embrace! both passenger and goods traffic. I believe that the people of Tasmania desire to have a continuous service. With such a service that State would make much greater progress than it has made during the last ten or twenty years. It has been endowed by nature with all the potentialities for development. It possesses coal deposits, extensive timber areas, and splendid agricultural and mining country. In addition to those natural advantages, it has in the hydro-electric scheme one of the greatest power plants in Australia, which would enable manufacturingindustries to be established if facilities were provided under which manufacturers in the State could compete in the mainland markets. The bill proposes to relieve the situation only in regard to passenger traffic, and only at a certain period of the year. That will prove quite inade- quate. The Minister himself, in moving the motion for the second reading of the bill, said that the measure related only . to the apple season, which commences in February of each year, and probably extends over two or Three months. That will not assist the State to develop nor will it help it to keep its population. It is well known that many young men born and reared in Tasmania have been compelled to migrate to the mainland to obtain employment. That has happened, not because Tasmania has been unable to provide for the natural increase in her population as well as for an increase of population by the admission of persons from overseas, but because of the great disabilities under which that State labours. I do not think that this measure if passed will bestow any great benefit on the island State. The people of Tasmania may think that it will do so, but time alone will reveal whether it will or not. Before I delivered the policy speech of the Labour party in the early part of the recent election campaign, the granting of assistance to Tasmania was taken into consideration by the members of the party. The constitutionality of the Government proposals was considered, and we decided that because of a doubt in that connexion, in order to assist Tasmania legitimately we would, if returned to power, provide a fleet of steamers to carry both passengers and goods, so that Tasmania would be assured of continuous communication with the mainland. According to recent cables, an attempt is being made to dispose of same of the vessels belonging to the Commonwealth; but it would be better to employ them in a regular service to Tasmania, in order to assist that State. Last week a petition containing a number of requests, among which was one for the establishment of a permanent steamer service between the mainland and Tasmania, was presented to this House. If such a service were provided, the people of Tasmania would know exactly where they stood and what obligations they could accept. Under this measure any benefits to be conferred apply solely to passenger traffic, and that during certain seasons of the year only.
– The service for which this bill provides applies to tourist traffic only.
– That is not satisfactory, because it will not assist to develop Tasmania. A permanent and continuous service is necessary.
– The permanent service the honorable gentleman suggests would not be so satisfactory as the proposal contained in this bill. The honorable member’s suggestion refers to an Australia a service only.
– Does the Minister contend that an up-to-date, regular service between the mainland and Tasmania would not provide for the needs of Tasmania as well as the measure before us ?
Mr.Atkinson. - It would not provide what this bill provides; it would not enable produce to be conveyed to London.
– See how the Minister wriggles ! Tasmania wants her produce carried not only to London, but to the different parts of Australia. If a regular service operated between Tasmania and the mainland, much of the produce of Tasmania could be disposed of in Australia; but, if necessary, it could also be shipped direct to London. Per sonally, I would be prepared to go further, and allow the Commonwealth vessels to carry that produce. There is nothing to prevent that from being done.
– They are doing that now.
– How often has the honorable member spoken of the disabilities from which Tasmania is suffering through lack of a regular service with the mainland of Australia.
– The honorable member’s proposal would not give Tasmania what this bill proposes to give that State.
– The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) referred to the existing Commonwealth boats carrying the produce.
– The Commonwealth Line of Steamers pays Australian rates.
– All overseas vessels can carry produce from Tasmania as well as from Melbourne or Sydney. I am urging that, in addition, there should be a local service between Tasmania and the mainland to enable the produce of Tasmania to be carried to any part of Australia.
– The Tasmanian Government tried to carry on such a service, and failed badly.
– It does not therefore follow that the scheme I have suggested would not be a success; but I doubt whether the Government’s proposals, as embodied in this measure, will, if put into operation, be successful. I doubt the constitutionality of those proposals. We must be very careful regarding legislation of this kind. A few years ago legislation dealing with taxation matters was passed by us in good faith, but the first appeal proved it to be invalid. That has happened also in regard to other legislation. We were assured by all the legal talent on the other side that legislation recently passed to deport certain persons was valid, but the High Court showed that it is not. In view of those experiences we must be particularly careful. As a layman, not claiming to possess any legal knowledge, but using merely my own common sense and judgment, I express the opinion that this measure is unconstitutional, because it makes a distinction between States. Honorable members know that the Constitution lays it down very clearly that there shall be no distinction made between States or parts of States. Section 99 of the Constitution reads -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part therof over another State or any part thereof.
Will any honorable member argue that this bill does not give preference to any State ?
– It is intended, but not specified.
– There can be no doubt that it is intended.
– Its benefits will not be confined to Tasmania only.
– The measure applies to Tasmania only. The Minister in his speech the other day gave us to understand that this legislation would apply in a uniform manner to all the States, but I ask honorable members to read for themselves the clauses of the bill.
– Which clause makes a distinction between States ?
– Clause 3.
– That clause does not refer to States.
– It says something about ports.
– So do other clauses.
– I hope that the Minister is more correct in this instance than he was on a former occasion. Clause 3 provides for the addition of the following sub-sections to section 286 of the principal act : -
Those provisions do not say that the law must apply to every port of Australia; it provides for certain ports.
– The clause says “ any ports.”
– Let us suppose that it is thought that the tourist traffic between Sydney and Tasmania is being injured or retarded by some means, and that there are no complaints from the other parts of the Commonwealth. A proclamation will be issued, providing that overseas vessels may carrypasseengers between New South Wales and Tasmanian ports. That would be discrimination between States, because the proclamation could apply to two States only.
– It could apply to any State.
– The clause refers to “any ports,” and not “ all ports.”
– The words “ any ports “ mean “ all ports.”
– No. If a proclamation is issued specifying one, two, or three ports, then it discriminates, and is therefore unconstitutional.
– Is not the honorable member assuming what would be in the proclamation rather than what is nowin the bill?
– I am referring to theclause itself. If it said definitely, “ every port in the Commonwealth,” there would then be no discrimination between States. The intention of the clause is otherwise.
– The proclamation may specify ports in every State.
– The clause discriminates between States. Recently we have been made to look ridiculous by appeals to the High Court against our legislation. I firmly believe that this legislation, if tested, will prove to be ultra vires. Possibly the law will affect injuriously the shipping interests, and they will appeal to the High Court.
– Does the honorable member doubt the validity of the clause or of a proclamation under it ?
– A proclamation under the clause will be invalid.
– It might be invalid if it discriminated between States and parts of States as such, but that would be quite different from a discrimination between ports.
– Does the honorable member intend to issue a proclamation allowing vessels to carry passengers to any port?
-I do not intend to issue a proclamation at all. What the Constitution prohibits is discrimination between States and parts of States as such.
A proclamation relating to ports, even though they were in different States, would not be a discrimination between States or parts of States as such. The High Court has recently so decided. I shall deal with the matter later.
– I differ from the Attorney-General. Section 99 of the Constitution is very clear. If the AttorneyGeneral’s contention were correct, there would be no need for this bill. He has ample legislation at present for his purpose. The remarks of the Minister for Trade and Customs himself were rather ambiguous. He is reported in Hansard as follows: -
– The bill provides that certain conditions in regard to. tourist traffic must prevail before any Gazette notice can be published.
– But when it is published, it will apply equally to all the States.
– That is so, but the circumstances must be equal before it is applied to them. The amendment will give relief to Tasmania to the extent that the limitations of the Constitution will allow.
In other words, the bill will apply to Tasmania only, and cause no injustice to the other States.
– The Minister’s contention does not affect the clause at all.
– The right honorable member will admit that we have to be largely guided by the Minister respecting the intention of measures introduced by him in this House. Debate would be useless if we could not rely upon the statements of the Minister in charge of the bill. He also stated -
At the same time, it will create no discrimination, nor do injustice to, any State to which it does not apply. It will particularly apply to Tasmania, because the bona fide tourist traffic for which it provides is ofvery much greater volume to that State than it is to any other.
That is very clear. The intention of the bill is to benefit Tasmania.
– Wherever the conditions exist there the legislation will apply.
– It is about time that lay opinions were heeded, because legal opinions have been incorrect for some time past. The Constitution will not permit of such a discrimination as is proposed. A measure such as this must apply in a general way, and if under it a proclamation is issued it must treat all the States alike, and allow passengers to be carried by overseas vessels between all the ports of Australia. I should like to see this legislation tested in the High Court.
– It will benefit all tourists wishing to visit Tasmania.
– That is so, but supposing 2,000 tourists wished to go to the West, would the proclamation include them?
– I shall certainly ask for their inclusion. .
– The bill is unconstitutional because it allows of discrimination between States. If the AttorneyGeneral’s contention that the bill is constitutional is correct, why amend the Navigation Act at all ? Parliament in 1912 passed an act for the control of navigation. Under it a proclamation could be made by the Governor- General in Council permitting overseas vessels to trade between certain ports within the Commonwealth. Then, in 1920, when Mr. Massy Greene was Minister for Trade and ‘ Customs, this House passed a measure whose object was to permit the Minister, in cases where he deemed it necessary, to suspend the provisions of the Navigation Act to permit overseas ships to carry passengers between certain ports. At that time the constitutionality of such legislation was questioned, and the Minister himself doubted its constitutionality. In introducing this amending Navigation Bill on the 1st July, 1920, Mr. Massy Greene said, as reported in Hansard -
There is considerable constitutional difficulty in the way of exempting any part of Australia from the provisions of the Act, because we are not allowed, in our trade and commerce legislation, to differentiate between different portions of Australia.
– But we did that in the act by stating that certain provisions should not apply to vessels trading between Fremantle and Adelaide.
Mr. GREENE.; We did that; but the honorable member will admit that the provision is of doubtful constitutionality, and may be challenged later.
That legislation has never been challenged, and is still on the statute-book. What, therefore, is the need for this bill ? It has been introduced to permit oversea vessels to carry passengers to and from Tasmania and the mainland ; but there is already power to do so under existing legislation. Actually it has been brought in because the Government endeavoured to gain votes at the election by promising to pass legislation to assist the tourist traffic of Tasmania.
– What is the section to which the honorable gentleman refers ?
– I am referring to section 286.
– What was the amendment made in 1920 ?
– The act of 1920 amended the act passed by the right honorable gentleman in 1912. It was passed to allow permits to be granted to oversea ships if the coastal shipping was found to be inadequate, and it gave power to the Minister to issue such permits. Under the measure introduced by the right honorable gentleman, as under this clause, the issue of a proclamation was provided for. We are now passing legislation similar to that already passed, and about the constitutionality of which Mr. Massy Greene expressed grave doubts. This legislation will no doubt injure existing companies engaged in the coasting trade of Australia, and as a result they will appeal against it. If their appeal is successful this Parliament will be placed in a very bad light indeed. We need to be very careful about legislation of this kind. If, as the Attorney-General contends, this measure will do what is desired, previous legislation of the same character should have had similar effect.
– This is not discrimination so much as subtle circumvention.
– I should not like to put it as strongly as that, but it is evident that the honorable member for Wannon, who is an ex-Minister, absolutely agrees with my contention. The Navigation Commission dealt with this question, and in their report on the subject, Messrs. Prowse and Seabrook say, with regard to the passenger traffic -
The oversea companies will not bother about applying for permits. By obtaining permits they pick up only the leavings of the interstate vessels, and run the risk of serious industrial trouble. An example of this phase of the position recently came before the commission, during a strike by the seamen engaged on the s.s. Katoomba, trading between Sydney and Fremantle. Owing to this “ hold-up “ of the interstate vessel a number of intending passengers from the port of Albany to the eastern States attempted to obtain a permit to travel by the White Star liner Suevic due at Albany on 15th May last. The Director of” Navigation was interviewed, and stated that ho would under the circumstances recommend that a permit be granted to the Suevic to lift passengers from Albany, if Dalgety and Company, the agents for the White Star Line, applied in the usual manner. Dalgety and Company were approached, They declined to apply for a permit and stated that their reason was in consequence of the experience of other oversea companies, which had met with industrial trouble by carrying coastal passengers.
Two honorable members opposite who were members of the Navigation Commission are of opinion, on the evidence submitted to them, that if this proposal is put into operation the oversea shipping companies will not take advantage of it. If that be so, how will this measure relieve the disabilities of Tasmania?
– The. Seamen’s Union has “ got the shipowners’ wind up.”
– Senators Elliott and Duncan, who were colleagues of the honorable member on the Navigation Commission, made the following statement in a separate report -
The complaint of the travelling public, which is fairly general throughout Australia, was voiced by one witness at Brisbane as follows: - “We were advised by the Deputy Director of Navigation that when the interstate passenger steamers were over-booked, if application were made for a permit to travel on an overseas vessel it would be granted. This course has been adopted on one or two occasions. But it is difficult to arrange the matter since the companies will not tell you until Friday afternoon or Saturday evening whether they can take the passengers.”
Exactly similar complaints were placed before the commission at Sydney and Hobart One Hobart witness stated: - “I am informed that no application for a permit was made. You know that provision is made in the act to meet such cases as this ? - Yes, but by the time the . permit is granted, the boat is gone.”
In the case of the Moeraki we did not get that permit until the last minute, and then only 12 passengers travelled by that vessel.
In Brisbane the complaint is stated by the Deputy-Director of Navigation to have been made: - “Where applications have beenmade for permits, do you make inquiry? - There has to be an application in writing that the service by the coastal boat is inadequate. I always confirmed that by setting into touch with the secretary of the Australian Steamships Federation.”
Itwould appear, therefore, that this partial service sought to be provided for is unsatisfactory, and the overseas steamship owners do not take kindly to the proposal. They do not want to come into conflict with the Australian people, and are therefore doubtful about giving facilities for the picking up of passengers between interstate ports. This legislation is of doubtful validity, and it will be far from meeting the requirements of Tasmania. Even where permits have been granted it has been found difficult to induce oversea ships to carry passengers to Tasmania or any other State. Even though the legislation might be shown to be effective, would it not constitute a danger to Australian shipping to have these oversea ships, many of which are manned by coloured crews, paid very much lower wages than are paid to Australian seamen, brought into competition with our shipping? This is an aspect of the matter which deserves grave consideration. We cannot hope to keep up conditions and wages in the Commonwealth if we have coloured labour ships running in competition with our coastal shipping. Let us consider for a moment the wages paid on oversea and Australian ships. For seamen, the British rate per month is £9, and the Australian rate £16 5s.; for firemen and greasers the British rate is £9 10s., the Australian rate £18 5s.; for trimmers the British rate is £9, and the Australian £16 5s. ; for stewards the British rate is £9 5s., and the Australian rate £13; for cooks, the British rate is £9 10s., and the Australian rate £1711s. per month. Lascars employed on overseas ships receive wages at the rate of £2 to £3 per month.
– We have suffered in Tasmania from a shipping strike every year since 1917.
-Unfortunately strikes occur in every part of the world, and we should like to discover a means whereby they might be entirely avoided. Strikes occur in connexion with the ships which are referred to in this measure. The recent shipping trouble in Australia was due to a strike on ships from overseas. It is a great mistake to hold up this country to ridicule by advertising, Australia as a land of continuous industrial turmoil. The industrial situation of Australia will compare more than favorably with that of Great Britain, America and other countries. The sooner we let people abroad know that the statements that are made from time to time in the press concerning our industrial position are in accurate, the better it will be for the prosperity of this country.
– The honorable gentleman’s statement is inaccurate.
– It is absolutely correct, and if the honorable member doubts it, I can bring figures to support it. The sooner the facts’ are realized, and people cease to decry this country, the better it will be for the future of Australia and its people. We may do many things here for political purposes, but in dealing with this bill we should consider it on its merits. I agree that Tasmania has been suffering under great disabilities. I want to do something to help that State, but I do not think that this is the proper way in which to give it relief. That is the difference between the Government and myself. I think there should be a regular line of boats carrying passengers and goods, so that Tasmanian manufacturers might be in a position to make arrangements for the transport of goods at certain times by certain boats. Honorable members may ask, “ How are we to get these boats running?”. I venture to say that had I the power to establish a shipping line I could establish one, and guarantee Tasmania a continuous service. That is a big thing to say.
– At a profit, or at a loss?
– What is there to prevent the Commonwealth from running a line of steamers at a profit if private companies can do so? There is nothing to prevent any industry from being carried on by the Commonwealth at a profit, if it can be profitably carried on by private enterprise.
– Our experience of guarantees of continuous running has been rather unfortunate.
– I should not put myself in the position of giving a guarantee from outside, I should give it from inside this House. I venture to say that a continuous service with Tasmania could be established. It is all a question of management,and the footing upon which it is placed. I would remind honorable members that there is nothing which prevents industrial troubles in connexion with oversea ships. They might be held up at any time as the result of strikes.
– The honorable gentleman says that he would give a guarantee.
– I say that I could give Tasmania a permanent line of boats to carry passengers and goods. I have every reason to believe that I could guarantee a continuous service. I realize that that is an important statement to make.
– Is the honorable gentleman quite serious in making that statement in view of the recent shipping trouble ?
– I am. There is room for a difference of opinion on the matter, and honorable members opposite are entitled to differ from me on the subject, and will, no doubt, feel justified in doing so in view of what has been happening for quite a long time. That is not to say that the difficulties which have been met could not be surmounted. Even if that were not so, how much better off would the people of Tasmania be in getting a spasmodic service for two or three months in the year, provided thatno industrial trouble arose in connexion with oversea boats?
– Hear, hear ! This is only a half measure. The whole Navigation Act should be repealed.
– The honorable member agrees with me that this is only a half measure. One of the chief reasons why I criticise this measure as I do, is that I desire, so far as possible, to retain the shipping industry of Australia for our own white people. I want to prevent a competition by ships manned by coloured labour.
– The same people own the ships.
– The question is not who owns the ships, but how they are manned, and whether we desire to live up to the ideals of the White Australia policy. That is the chief principle involved in this legislation. We may wish to live up to the White Australia ideals, and to prevent the occurrence of industrial troubles, but we shall have great difficulty in doing so if we permit ships manned by coloured labour, paid low rates of wages, to come into competition with Australian ships in the trade of this country.
Mr.Marks. - Could not the use of coloured labour be met by a tax on the difference between the draft of the ships carrying black crews, and that of those carrying white crews.
– The honorable member thinks that the difficulty might be got over by taking into consideration the drafts of the different ships, but this bill deals only with the position arising when Australian ships are unable to carry the traffic.
– In the opinion of the Governor-General.
– Yes. The object is to enable Tasmania to retain the tourist traffic. Even if the bill proved ameliorative, it would not go far enough. The making of the proclamation would depend upon the Government of the day. If the vessels owned by the Government were used for the carriage of passengers and goods Tasmania would be given an opportunity of developing her territory,finding employment for her own people, and increasing her population. No matter from what angle the present proposal is viewed, it merely amounts to tinkering with the problem. Even if the bill be constitutional, can it be more helpful than the amending legislation of 1920? If it will not take the matter any further, why waste our time in passing it?
– The people of Tasmania think that it will be beneficial.
– The people of Tasmania know nothing about the matter. How can they be expected to understand the constitutional aspects of this proposed legislation?
– The honorable member said that if the bill was constitutional, it would be ineffective, and I say that the people of Tasmania think that it would be effective.
– If the honorable member asked the people of Tasmania whether they would choose a limited service, dependent on the consent of the Governor-General from time to time, or a permanent service, they would certainly prefer the latter. The power to provide the necessary service already exists, but, up to the present time, it has not been exercised. The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) may be able to cause me to modify my views concerning the constitutionality of the bill, but my main objection to legislation of this kind is that it opens the door to black labour. If. our ship-owners find that the measure inter feres with their business, they will probably take legal action, and if they cannot circumvent it in the High Court, they will endeavour to bring down the seamen’s wages on the plea that the employment of coloured labour in the interstate trade has detrimentally affected their interests. There is no need to introduce this canker into the industrial or the shipping world. The difficulty can, as I have already said, be overcome by the Government “using its own vessels. I shall listen with patience to any arguments that can be advanced by the Attorney-General or any other honorable member in connexion with the measure.
– Have the overseas companies said that if this amendment is made they will send their vessels to Tasmania ?
– I understand that no agreement has been arrived at.
– I was under . the impression that the companies had been approached and had stated that they would not be prepared to make the trip to Tasmania. I am speaking of the time when I was in office.
– I understand that no arrangement has been arrived at, and that the companies have not been approached. Apparently, we are now speculating in the hope that something will come out of this bill. I have promised to assist Tasmania as far as I possibly can, but I want to do so along legitimate lines. I shall be chary, indeed, about supporting this measure. Unless 1 can be more convinced than I now am as to the advisability of passing it, I shall vote against it. The Government would be well advised to withdraw it.
.- As I have already indicated by way of interjection, the measure does not, in my opinion, go half far enough. The Government would be well advised to act upon and, adopt the majority recommendation of the royal commission that investigated this matter very closely, and repeal the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act. This bill deals only with the tourist traffic, which is of the utmost importance to Tasmania. Formerly the overseas vessels lifted the apple crop of Tasmania in accordance with a regular time-table, enabling the fruit to be placed on the London markets to the best advantage. I submit that the White Australia policy is not affected by this bill. The question at issue is not a racial one at all. The shipping combine is interested to the extent of about 80 per cent. in the vessels engaged in the interstate trade. When the Navigation Act was brought into force, the shipping companies formulated their plans so that the Australian financial interests should take all the plums out of the Australian pie. When passengers used to wait at Albany for berths to the eastern States, and there was no interstate vessel available, permission would be given for, say, a White Star liner, to take the passengers, if Dalgety and Company, the agents for that line, applied for a permit. It meant that the convenience of the people of Australia was made dependent on the agent for an overseas shipping company applying for a permit. That was the great weakness of the act. I maintain that the Government should take the reins into its own hands, and do what is necessary to prevent the trade of Tasmania, or any other portion of the Commonwealth, from being hampered in the interests of a few individuals. It is necessary that the shipping service to that State should be as frequentas possible. If we desire to maintain our White Australia policy we must provide shipping facilities for the whole of the people. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) showed the difference between the wages paid to British seamen and those paid, to Australian seamen under the arbitration award. The Australian seaman receives about double the English rate, and the English rate is double that of some other nationalities. If, with a sense of gratitude, the Australian seamen had recognized that they had been placed in a better position than that’ of any other seamen in the world, and had endeavoured to maintain an efficient service instead of holding up shipping at every turn, the payment of these high rates would have been warranted. But these men have taken part in strikes with a frequency that has not been equalled in any other country; Parliament must consider the interests, not of one small section, but of the whole of the people. I support the bill, but, as I have already indicated, I do not think it goes half far enough.
– I congratulate the Government on bringing in this bill, and I compliment the Minister (Mr. Pratten) on his clear exposition of the difficulties under which Tasmania labours. I was also glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) say that he realized the difficult position under which Tasmania was placed by the Navigation Act. The honorable member stated, further, that he believed the bill to be un- constitutional. Surely, if all the members of this Chamber are agreed that one State is being badly treated under Commonwealth legislation, it should be no difficult matter to relieve that State of its disabilities in that regard. I propose to point out some of the drawbacks suffered by Tasmania under the act. For over thirty years oversea mail vessels had been calling at Hobart. They were first induced to go there by the pioneer apple-growers of Tasmania, who had, through their bankers, to guarantee the freight before the fruit could be lifted. That trade led to the development of the tourist traffic. Each year the tourist traffic by these boats increased, and in 1914 they carried 1,500 passengers to Tasmania. The smaller vessels will not be affected by tourists being allowed to travel on the mail boats; people of that class will travel only under the beet conditions, and are prepared to pay more for comfortable accommodation. In moving the second reading of this bill the Minister for Trade and Customs stated that Papua, the Mandated Territories, Norfolk Island, and the Northern Territory have been removed from the operation of the Navigation Act in accordance with. the recommendation of the Navigation Commission. The evidence before the commission clearly showed that the act placed a great disability on the islands and territories, and they must have benefited considerably by being exempted from the provisions relating to the coasting trade. Surely the same treatment should be meted out to Tasmania. It also is an island, and is dependent upon shipping for intercourse with the mainland. Without adequate and continuous shipping facilities it cannot develop. When proof is adduced that certain statutes operate to the detriment of one State, it is the duty of the Commonwealth Parliament to grant relief. If the relief to. Tasmania does not take the form of exemption from harassing legislation, the State must, in order to pay its way, approach this Par liament for further financial assistance. Under existing conditions it is being crippled and crushed. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that the shipping service to Tasmania is adequate. That adjective seems most inappropriate to the circumstances that now obtain. Evidence was given before the Navigation Commission that passengers have to book their berths from three to four weeks ahead of the date of sailing, and that many of them have to accept a “ shakedown” in the social hall or smoke-room, whilst hundreds of would-be tourists can get no accommodation at all. Surely those conditions contradict the statement that the service is adequate.
– Every year I have to book six months ahead.
– When people have to do that, or pay first-class fares for a second-class berth, or “shakedown,” the service cannot be adequate. The Peninsular and Oriental and Orient steamers do not carry cargo between States, but the passengers they will be allowed to carry to Hobart will help them to pay the steaming and port charges incidental to their calls to load apples. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) admitted that disabilities are imposed upon Tasmania by the Navigation Act, and said that he would institute a special service between it and the mainland. If he offers a service by the . Commonwealth Line it will be useless to Tasmania, because tourists will not utilize it. The accommodation on the ships of the Commonwealth Line is worse than that of the interstate boats.
– Did not the Tasmanian Government sell the State ships?
– Yes. The State had some cargo ships, but lost such an enormous amount of money in their running that the Government was glad to get rid of them. The Commonwealth Line might be able to provide - an adequate cargo service, but it could not cater for the tourist traffic, which is of immense importance to the State. I agree with the honorable member for Forrest that this bill does not go far enough. At one time there was a good steamer service between New Zealand and Melbourne, via Hobart, but because of the
Navigation Act, that has been discontinued, and Tasmania has lost all its trade with the Dominion, and also the direct service between Hobart and New Zealand and Melbourne. Hobart is th-3 only Australian capital city that has nj> steamer communication with other capitals; there i3 only one ocean service from Hobart, and that is to Sydney. Brisbane people who desire to visit Tasmania must travel to Sydney or Melbourne by train. That severely penalizes the island State, which is recognized to be the best health and pleasure resort for people living in the tropical portions of Australia. There is no passenger service between Hobart and Brisbane, or Melbourne, or Adelaide, or Perth, and even ships of the Commonwealth Line when calling at Hobart during a strike have refused to load cargo for Western Australia, notwithstanding that the holds were half empty. If such things are to continue to be done by ships belonging to the Commonwealth Government, the sooner the Line is sold the better for the Australian people. I congratulate the Government upon having listened to reason in this matter. On dozens of occasions the Tasmanian people have asked the Government for relief of this kind, but it was refused until the Prime Minister realized recently the seriousness of Tasmania’s position. At one time we hoped that the State would become the home of many great manufacturing industries, and in order to encourage their establishment, the Tasmanian Government, with commendable foresight, carried . out a great hydro-electric power scheme at a cost of over £3,000,000. But, notwithstanding that expenditure, our hopes in regard to manufactures have been disappointed, wholly because of the operation of the Navigation Act and the Arbitration Act. Tasmania can never become a great manufacturing State while those two measures remain upon the statute- book. It may be likened to a baby in bed alongside a man : every time the man ‘ turns the baby is crushed. Tasmania is being crushed by the Navigation Act and the Arbitration Act. The relief offered by this bill is the least that this Parliament can do to help the people of that State to pay their way and redeem their credit. Honorable members of the Oppo- sition know how Tasmania has bee-i crucified by Commonwealth legislation, and I ask them to do bare justice to its people by supporting this bill. I hope there will be no delay in passing the measure, because the first “ apple “ boat will arrive in Tasmania on the 9th February, and it is highly desirable that the Peninsular- and Oriental and Orient companies should be able to notify the public by advertisement that their vessels will be able to carry interstate passengers,
– I intend to oppose the bill, even though I realize that my opposition will not pre: vent its being passed. This is a portion of the price that has to be paid for returning the present Government to power. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) likened Tasmania to a baby who shares- a bed with a man. The only likeness that I can see between the State and a baby is that it can squeal as loudly as any baby, and invariably for no reason ; it thinks that it has been hurt when it has not. The whole of the evidence taken by the Navigation Commission in Tasmania was prompted by the desire to show that that State could not continue to struggle on unless oversea vessels were allowed to call at its ports, but it completely failed to prove that the Navigation Act had been responsible for any happening tending to bring Tasmania to its present decadent condition.
– I should like honorable members to read the evidence.
– I also hope that they will. I was a member of that commission, and I intend to quote from the evidence taken by it. I shall not, as two other honorable members did, refrain from mentioning certain important facts. The honorable member for Franklin said that there is not now a service between Tasmania and New Zealand. I invite honorable members to read the evidence of representatives of the shipping companies, setting out the reason for the discontinuance of that service. They will not find a scintilla of evidence upon which could be based the assumption that the Navigation Act was in any way responsible. On the contrary, the discontinuance complained of was. due entirely to the re-organization which was carried out by the shipping companies.
Time and again questions were asked regarding the position prior to and after the war, and it was clearly proved that the alteration was due to the experience gained during the war, and between the termination of the war and the proclamation of the Navigation Act. During the war the shipping services of the Commonwealth were commandeered and controlled by the Commonwealth Government, and the boats were rationed out. When the companies again assumed control, instead of competing against each other, they reorganized their services and sent vessels only where the trade was sufficient to warrant their being sent. The proposal contained in the bill is only the thin end of the wedge. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) will endeavour to secure permission for overseas vessels to trade between Albany and Bunbury and the eastern states, and between Geraldton and Perth. He desires to restore that unfair competition, under which, prior to the proclamation of the act, the flotsam and jetsam of cheap labour boats from the Old World had an advantage over the Commonwealth shipping lines, which observed White Australian conditions. The evidence taken by the commission shows that, at the time it visited Western Australia, a greater quantity of timber was being exported from that State than at any time prior to the war. Arrangements had then been made to lift every stick of timber offering within six months, although the amounts exceeded any previous quantities. The representatives of the shipping companies produced schedules showing the passenger and goods capacity of their vessels, the number of passengers who had travelled between given points, and the amount of empty space that they had on every ship. In 99 cases out of 100 a greater amount of passenger and tonnage space was available than was utilized.
– The honorable member is a great advocate for the combine.
– The combine is at least observing the spirit and the letter of the policy that has been adopted by the Australian nation, in that it pays fair wages to, and provides decent conditions for, those whom it employs. Our shipping companies do not wish to see the cream of their business taken by those who are not bound by any regulation re lating to wages, hours of working, breathing space, manning scale or wireless provision, but are content to follow old world ideas as to the manner in which men who “ go down to the sea in ships “ shall live. Those conditions were changed on the Australian coast by the legislation of the Commonwealth. We should protect our shipping industry as we protect any other industry. Almost every week proposals are brought forward in this Parliament to grant a bounty to assist and give an impetus to one or another of our industries. The only thing that has given an impetus to our shipping industry is the Navigation Act. the advantages of which honorable members opposite now seek to whittle away. If the Minister (Mr. Pratten) states the facts-
– I shall give the honorable member a few.
– If they do not uphold my contention they will be in contradiction to those that were stated by the honorable gentleman’s predecessor. In 1923 the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was appealed to, and dealt with the matter over the head of his colleague. the then Minister for Trade and Customs. In a letter that he wrote he stated the case fully, and gave facts that furnish a complete answer to the reasons which have been advanced to-day for removing from the act the safeguards for which our seamen have fought for so many years, and thatour shipping companies have a right to expect in a domain that should belong solely to them. JohnRoss Johnston, president of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, retail merchant and importer, was asked - see page 317, question 9291: -
But has the Navigation Act diminished the number of people coming to Tasmania?
He replied -
I will admit that it has not.
– How did he know ?
– How does the honorable member know that it has ?
– Is there no other evidence on the point?
– I propose to give further evidence upon it. I shall quote statistics produced by the Government Statistician of Tasmania.
– The honorable member should quote what that gentleman said recently regarding the disabilities of Tasmania.
– Order. I remind the honorable member for Forrest and the honorable member for Franklin that they have already spoken to the motion.
– If the Tasmanian Statistician speaks the truth he will say that Tasmania is an awful example of Liberal rule. The government of that State was handed over to the Labor Party when it had not a majority. The Liberal Party said in effect: “Take it and make what you can of it. We have made an awful mess of it.” . When a responsible representative man gives an emphatic reply to a clear and definite question the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) should not take exception to it, especially as he had the opportunity to ask the witness at the time, “Where do you get your facts?” I suggest that this evidence was based upon the experience the witness had gained as a business man. He had to admit that up to that time the Navigation Act had not in any way been responsible for the falling off in the tourist traffic. We come now to the export of apples to the Old Country. That matter was fairly well investigated. I did not ask many questions relating to it, because I thought it was the right of the Tasmanian representatives upon the commission to bring to light any factor that had hampered the export trade. In reply to Senator McHugh, the witness stated - his evidence appears on page 319 - 9372. The “Bay” boats lift a lot of stuff from this State? - Yes. 9373. Is it a fact that they lift more than the mail boats lifted when they were running? -I could not give those figures. 9374. If I tell you that they lift more would you say that that was untrue? - No, certainly not.It is an increasing commodity. Our fruit is increasing, and the same boats have to lift it. 9375. Are you of opinion that the “Bay” boats lift more now than the mail boats lifted before the Navigation Act came in? - Possibly that is so. 9376. You would not be surprised to know that they lift a lot more? - No, I would expect it. They are very big boats, and the mail boats at any time only took a limited quantity. Theseboats will lift. 150,000 cases. The mail boats rarely took more than 60,000 or 70,000.
The honorable memberfor Forrest knows that in the year in which the commission visited Tasmania there had been a record season.
– How can the honorable member say that I know ?
– Because evidence to that effect was given. I shall show later that the estimated yield was approximately 1,000,000 cases of fruit, and that the actual yield was 1,150,000. Yet not a single case of fruit was left behind. The Navigation Act did not prevent the despatch of the fruit, and to that extent Tasmania was not affected by its operations.
– It is much better for the apple-growers to have as many mail boats as possible calling.
– I dare say it is. They want a boat every week; but when they are asked to pay the cost of running them empty to Tasmania they squeal. The shipping companies in Australia pay high rates of wages, employ white labour, and observe decent conditions. Is their trade to be taken from them by oversea shipping companies that observe whatever conditions they like, and frequently employ black labour ? I again liken Tasmania to a baby, but in this case it is the baby who cries for a cake of soap, and will not be happy until he gets it.
– That is why evidence of a one-sided nature was given.
– We obtained all the evidence that was available. Whilst the commission was sitting in Tasmania the honorable member for Forrest did not suggest that the witnesses were making one-sided statements. He is not fair when he now makes that suggestion.
– This must have been a very happy commission
– The commission was a happy one, because we realized that we represented the two sides of the question. We were there to preserve, if possible, that monument of legislation which stands out among the legislation of the world, to keep the. Navigation Act intact, to protect the men working in our vessels, and to ensure an adequate service for the protection given to the shipping companies. We were prepared to do that.
– Be practical, and make the legislation workable.
– It is workable. This bill has been introduced only because of pressure brought to bear upon the Go- vernmentto upset industrial conditions in the Commonwealth. This Parliament should be loath to lay sacrilegious hands upon legislation which took so long to evolve and which has had such splendid results as have attended the Navigation Act.
– The honorable member’s leader admits that Tasmania is suffering from disabilities.
– That is due to her insular position ; if we could bridge Bass strait, Tasmania’s position would be greatly eased. But Tasmania’s disadvantages should not be removed at the expense of the shipping companies and their employees. Next, we shall have New South Wales members complaining that North Shore is at a” disadvantage compared with the southern side of Sydney Harbour. Honorable members have stated that both Mr. Hughes and the present Prime Minister promised relief to Tasmania. That was because of the “squealing” of some of the people of that State. 1 point out that on the facts and figures given in evidence before the Navigation Commission, of which I was a member, that relief was not justified to the extent sought. Itwas shown that Tasmania was not suffering to the extent that she imagined because of the operations of the Navigation Act. . This outcry is nothing new. The commission which inquired into this subject was the outcome of the agitation of that time regarding the Navigation Act. In giving evidence before the commission, Mr. John Ross-Johnston read a letterwhich he had received from the ex-Prime Minister. That letter I shall read in full, as it has a direct bearing on this subject. It says -
With reference to your letter of the18th March relative to the effect of the Navigation Act on the trade of Tasmania, I desire to inform you that, in view of the importance of the matter, and of the fact that reference is made in your letter to statements made by me on the occasion of my visit to Hobart on 1st February, your communication has been held over for my personal attention. You quote me as saying “on the occasion mentioned, “ The ships arranged for can carry twice as many apples as will be available for them. The latest estimate of the Tasmanian fruit crop for overseas this season is 1,000,000 cases, and the steamers scheduled to call would, after providing for mainland requirements, have space available to take 2,000,000 cases from Tasmania. Can you, in the face of these figures, say that the Act is inflicting any injury on your fruit trade?” and offer the comment that the figures as to production being correct, the information given by me as to the space available was quite incorrect. In reply to this, I would state that I have had the data upon which I based my remarks carefully reviewed, and I find that the latterwere at the time they were made, a perfectly accurate statement of the position. My information was obtained from an authoritative source - the shipping peoplewho handle refrigerated shipping in Australia. It showed that at that time 29 ships were tentatively fixed to take, in the aggregate, nearly 2.000.000 cases of fruit from Hobart. And had conditions in the refrigerated products export trade remained as theywere, as appeared likely, there is no doubtwhatever that these shipswould have actually taken away every case of fruit that the Tasmanian growers could offer. But the British markets for meat and butter, which at that timewere perfectly dead, shortly afterwards revived, and in order to apportion the tonnage available in Australia evenly between the trades concerned, the committee controlling the refrigerated ships, which is. in noway connected with the Government or under Government control, withdrew certainvessels thatwere listed for Tasmania’s fruits, and made them available to carry meat and butter. I havenow obtained from ray colleague the Minister for Trade and Custom’s a report as to this year’s fruit shipments from Tasmania. This is made up to the end of April, which practically completes the export season. I am surprised and gratified to learn that, including a parcel of 35,000 cases which are to be sent by the Baradine this month, the exports of Tasmanian fruitwill reach the record figure of 1,362,000 cases. I learn that there still remain some 200,000 cases of fruit forwhich space to British markets cannot be obtained. From inquiries made among the shipping authorities, it is ascertained that the reasonwhy these apples could not be takenwas that there was not available in Australia and New Zealand sufficient refrigerated space to take away the fruit, meat, and butter offering. Tasmanian growers are not the only sufferers, as I am informed quantities of meat and butter have also been shut out. I am also in a position to definitely state, on the authority of the shipping people who handled these vessels, andwho, it must be admitted, can speak with authority on the matter, that the ‘Navigation Act is not responsible in anyway for the shortage of ships. Had there been no Navigation Act, Tasmania would not have shipped a single additional case of apples. A statement has been made that but for the Act three P. and O. steamers would havevisited Hobart and lifted between them some 60,000 cases of apples. I learn that two out of the three vessels referred to were definitely fixed for mainland ports months before the apple season opened. And I am also given to understand that, even if these three ships had been scheduled to call at Hobart, an equivalent space in some one or other of the boats which have been sent to that port would have been allotted instead to mainland ports, so that Tasmanian exporters would not have been benefited in any degree by their calling. Reference to the gentlemen who control the export of fruit from Tasmania will convince you, if such is necessary, of the correctness of my statement. The Minister for Customs has publicly challenged any one to prove, by any substantial evidence, that, leaving out of account these three P. and 0. vessels which might possibly have called, but which in any case are insignificant from a fruit-lifting point of view, a single ship of average refrigerated capacity omitted Hobart from her itinerary on account of the. Navigation Act. And I desire to point out, and to emphasize the fact, that the Navigation Act does not interfere in the slightest degree with oversea ships bringing cargo to Australia or taking cargo away from Australia. In this regard they are on exactly ‘the same footing as the)’ were before the Act came into operation. Touching now on the passenger traffic with the mainland, in regard to which you complain that the service provided by the interstate licensed steamers is inadequate, I have obtained full reports on this matter which go to show that the Riverina aim Westralia, the two licensed boats which have been engaged in the trade between Sydney and Hobart, have accommodation for 310 and 170 passengers respectively, and that there has not been a single occasion from 1st July,- 1921, when the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act commenced, up to the end of last month, on which the accommodation on either of these vessels has been fully occupied. There may be, as you state, some few people who would take the trip from Sydney to Hobart if allowed to do so on a Peninsular and Oriental or Orient boat, but who decline to travel on the local steamers. Many of these, however, still visit the island, proceeding by rail to Melbourne and crossing to Launceston by the fast and comfortable vessels employed in the Melbourne-Tasmania service. In any case, it is impossible to consider the alteration of the law merely to meet the convenience of these fastidious few.
That letter gets to the crux of this question. The whole of the evidence before the commission was to the same effect. From the mass of- evidence taken it is difficult to find any- facts to justify the introduction of this’ legislation. The position has not changed since Mr. Hughes wrote ‘that letter. Figures relating to the tourist traffic of Tasmania show that in recent yea-rs it has increased ; it is now very little different from what it was in pre-war days, and before the passing of the Navigation Act. Indeed, it is almost impossible to obtain accommodation in Tasmania during the tourist season. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) knows that, because of the growth in tourist traffic between Brisbane and Tasmania, the Queensland Tourist Bureau had to be enlarged, and its staff increased. Only be- cause it offers some relief to the men employed on the ships has the Navigation Act been blamed for Tasmania’s present position. I would not change places with the men who go down to the sea in ships, notwithstanding the advantages that they are said to enjoy. It has been said that Tasmania is insular. I say that a sailor’s life is insular; he enjoys none of the benefits of home life, and even -when at sea he is not permitted to intermingle with the passengers. If vessels employing clack labour are permitted to engage in this trade, I should like honorable members to inspect the forecastle *of those vessels, and then say if they are agreeable to such conditions obtaining on the Australian coast merely to satisfy the whims of a “ fastidious few,” as they were termed by the exPrime Minister. In justice to the men employed on the vessels, as well as to the shipping companies who are engaged in an industry, no less than are those in the pastoral, agricultural or manufacturing industries, I shall vote against any attempt to undermine the Navigation Act.
– The constitutional validity of the bill before the House having been questioned, I purpose addressing some remarks to that aspect of the subject before us. In dealing with this matter, I speak as I did when replying to objections which were brought against certain legislation which was before uslast session, to which reference has been made in the pres:nt debate. Speaking with reference to that legislation, which had to do with deportation, I said that I had had sufficient experience in constitutional cases to warn me to abstain from guaranteeing the validity of any measureUpon which the High Court had not pronounced. That statement is to befound in the Hansard report of my speech at page- 1095 of Vol. III., for the session 1925, and it applies also to. the measure now under consideration. I recognize, however, that it is only proper that the House, before passing this measure, should be reasonably satisfied of its constitutionality. While it is difficult -to give a guarantee on a question of law upon which the HighCourt has not expressly passed an opinion, the House is entitled to ask for a reasonable assurance that this legislation is within the powers of the. Parliament. To this aspect- of the matter Z address myself purely as a lawyer. Section 99 of the Constitution says that -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or part thereof.
The power of Parliament to deal with navigation also depends upon section 98 of the Constitution, which reads -
The power of Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.
A measure dealing with navigation is obviously a law with respect to trade and commerce ; but Parliament legislates in passing such a measure under and subject to the rule that it shall not give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof. There is no decision of the High Court interpreting this particular section of the Constitution; but it has been referred to in two cases which have been determined by the High Court. In those cases the validity of enactments was challenged on the ground that they were inconsistent with section 99 and section 51, sub-section 2, of the Constitution. The power of the Government to legislate as to taxation is conferred by section 51, sub-section 2, subject to this condition - “ But so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States.” . Honorable members will observe that there is a similarity between the wording of section 51, sub-section 2 - “ discriminate between States or parts of States,” and that of section 99 - “not give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof.” The matter was first discussed in the High Court in what is generally known as the Harvester case - Barger’s case - the report of which appears on page 41 of the 6th volume of the CommonwealthLaw Reports. The court’s decision in the case was that the “ new protection “ legislation of the Commonwealth was invalid. In this connexion I wouldrem ark that on a large number of occasions the legislation of this Parliament has been declared invalid, though it might be thought from what has been said by honorable members opposite, that that had happened for the first time within the last few weeks. As a matter of fact, it has not happened with regard to the legislation to which they have referred, because that legislation has not been declared invalid. In the Barger decision, which invalidated the “ new pro tection” legislation of the Commonwealth, five justices sat, three of them holding that legislation to be invalid, and the other two - Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Higgins - holding it to be valid, and, of course the majority opinion ruled. What I propose to cite from the Barger case is the opinion of the dissenting majority. Honorable members may be surprised at that statement, but my reason for doing this is that in Cameron’s case the opinion of the minority in 1908 was in 1923 adopted by the whole five justices as accurately stating the law. The point at issue in the “new protection” legislation was this: Parliament had imposed an excise duty upon harvesters and other agricultural implements made in Australia, with exemptions depending upon various considerations. For example, persons who manufactured harvesters, &c, under conditions of labour declared by Parliament to be fair and reasonable, or under conditions complying with the awards of the Arbitration Court, were not to pay the excise duty. The effect of that act was to impose a heavy tax upon persons who did not observe the industrial conditions which the Commonwealth Parliament had prescribed. The majority of the High Court held in regard to that act that Parliament had no power indirectly to legislate upon industrial conditions as such; that the substance of the act was legislation upon industrial conditions, and that it was therefore invalid. The majority also held that this legislation, though not in itself discriminating between States or parts of States, was of such a character that under it discrimination might take place, and was therefore invalid. That was an additional reason for the majority decision. The minority, on the other hand, held that there was not discrimination, and it is upon this point that their opinion bears upon the bill now before the House. Clause3 of the bill reads -
Section two hundred and eighty-six of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - “ (6.) Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that the tourist traffic between any ports in the’ Commonwealth or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth is being injured or retarded, and the Governor-General is satisfied that it is desirable that unlicensed ships be allowed to engage in the trade, he may, by notice published in the Gazette, grant permission to unlicensed British ships of such size and speed as are specified in the notice to engage in the carriage of passengers between those ports, subject to such conditions (if any) and for such period as are set out in the notice.”
It is obvious that this clause applies to traffic between ports. It is not directed to traffic between one State and another, or between one part of a State and a part of some other State. Obviously, all the ports of the Commonwealth are in one State or another. The question is, therefore, whether it can be said that this measure authorizes a prohibited discrimination. If the Commonwealth Parliament were to legislate giving preference to a State as such over another State as such, that legislation, I consider, would be invalid under section 99 of the Constitution; but if Parliament were to pass legislation in general terms under which it was possible that there might or might not be discrimination, then we must consider what was actually done under that legislation. Legislation is not invalid because under it a regulation may apply in such a way as to infringe section 99. In the Harvester case, pages 106 and 107 of the 6th volume of the Commonwealth Law Reports, Mr. Justice Isaacs said -
But “ States and parts of States “ are referred to, and that expression more naturally lends itself to the assumption that the prohibition to the Federal Parliament was against differentiating in its measure of taxation between States or parts of States because they were particular States or parts of States.
He was then dealing with section 51, sub-section 2, of the Constitution. Referring to section 99, Mr. Justice Isaacs said -
The second circumstance referred to is the similarity of the language in the primary limitation and in section 99. The expressions “ discriminate between States “ in the one and “ give preference to one State over another State “ in the other, seem to me identical in purport and effect. “ Discriminate between parts of States “ in the one, may or may not be identical with “ give preference to any part” of one State “over any part” of another State. But if there is any distinction between the last-mentioned phrases, one point of similarity is indelible. It is this : that the treatment that is forbidden, discrimination or preference, is in relation to the localities consideredas parts of States and not as mere Australian localities, or parts of the Commonwealth considered as a single country.
The question is- Does the challenged provision, whether it be the legislation itself or some regulation made by virtue of it, discriminate between States or parts of States considered as States or parts of States? This statement of the Privy Council was cited by Mr. Justice Isaacs -
The rule laid down by the act is a general one applicable to all the States alike, and the fact that it bears unequally in the several States arises, not from anything done by the Parliament, but through the inequality of the duties imposed by the States themselves.
The Privy Council pointed out that there are geographical and other distinctions between the States which necessarily make legislation operate unequally, and in fact prefer one State to another; but the only thing forbidden by the Constitution is preference in legislation to a State or States against other States as such or against parts of States as such.
– If a proclamation were issued providing that tourists might travel by overseas ships to Tasmania, would not that discriminate against other States that had tourists, but were not given the same privilege?
– I may answer the honorable gentleman in this way : In my opinion, it would be possible to make a proclamation under this bill which would be invalid. For example, a proclamation which said that all ships leaving any Victorian port should be free from certain conditions would be illegal. But to issue a proclamation dealing with vessels of a certain tonnage travelling between the ports of Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart would be to make a provision in relation to ports, and not in relation to States or parts of States. That is the distinction.
– It is a very fine one.
– I am seeking to place before honorable members the very distinction which the High Court itself has drawn. The decision of His Honour Mr. Justice Higgins was on exactly the same lines. After referring to the section, he pointed out that the legislation was general, the same for Queensland and Western Australia. There is not one set of conditions for Tasmania, and another for Victoria. That is to say, the provision is a perfectly general provision.
– There would be a special provision for Tasmania under this bill.
– Mr. Justice Higgins went on to say -
There are many discriminations between States. The facts may and often must themselves create distinctions.
In Cameron’s case, which is another example of something authorized by Parliament being declared invalid, I find in 32 Commonwealth Law Reports, page 68, a reference to the matter. The High Court, in 1923, had to consider’ the validity of the law which, for the purpose of the income tax, differentiated between the value of horses and pigs according to whether they were in one State or another. The line of discrimination was a State line, and nothing else. For example, for the purpose of these regulations the value of a horse at Albury was fixed at a lower value than that of a horse at Wodonga, the only reason being that one was in New South Wales and the other in Victoria. A horse at Albury, under the regulations, was deemed to be worth exactly £8, whilst the same horse, if across the river at Wodonga, was deemed to be worth exactlv £15.
Mr.Rodgers. - Would it be possible under this legislation to rectify that?
– That is another question. That is an income tax question. That regulation was held to be invalid, and the reason was that the line of discrimination was a State line. There is no objection to discrimination between horses and pigs, even if all horses were in New South Wales, and all pigs were in Victoria. But to value a horse at one rate because it is in New South Wales, and at another because it is in Victoria is to adopt a State line of discrimination, and that is exactly what is prohibited. His Honour the Chief Justice dealing with this question, refers to what was said in the Barger’s case which I have read from the judgment of Mr. Justice Isaacs, and accepts it. He also accepts what Mr. Justice Higgins said, agreeing that there is no infringement of the non-discrimination provision when there is one general rule applying to all the States, though the circumstances in one State may bring it into application, whilst the circumstances in other States do not bring it into application. His Honour Mr. Justice Isaacs points out in the case of this regulation, that different standards are applied, and they are referable solely to whether live stock are in one State or another. In other words the discrimen - the line of distinction - is: Which State? That is the essence of the judgment. This bill is capable of being applied to any State.
– But the proclamation may not cover all the States.
– If there is tourist traffic between any ports of the Commonwealth that in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral is being injured or retarded, this legislation may be applied to it.
– There is tourist traffic with ports in all the States.
– This bill might be applied to it, if, in the opinion of the Governor-General, it was being injured or retarded. Mr. Justice Isaacs repeated the rule he laid . down in Barger’s case. Mr. Justice Higgins did the same, and Mr. Justice Rich and Mr. Justice Starke accepted the opinion then expressed. There was the unanimous decision of the justices. Whilst this decision refers to sections 51 and 52, reference was made by several of the judges to section 99 as similar in effect. Here we have a unanimous decision of five judges, accepting the view of the minority judges in Barger’s case, because the discrimination was upon a State basis - because one thing is in one State and another is in another State.
– Did any of the judges disagree with the decision of the majority in Barger’s case.
– In Barger’s case there were five judges; three decided in one way, and two in another way.
– That is not my point The honorable gentleman says that in the Cameron case five judges decided in the same way. Did they disagree with the finding of the majority of the court in Barger’s case?
– There were five judges in Cameron’s case, and all accepted in express terms what was held by Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Higgins, who formed the minority in Barger’s case. Does that answer the honorable member’s question?
– This provision deals with ports, and makes it possible for a notice to be published relating to any ports as to which the Governor-General is satisfied that the conditions set forth in the clause obtain. That is exactly in line with a very great deal of legislation which this Parliament has passed.
– If the facts are as the honorable gentleman has stated, what is the reason for bringing in this amending legislation ?
– I shall deal with that later as a separate question. May I remind honorable members that in the amending act of 1921, section 286 was framed in exactly the same way. It provides that where it can be shown to the satisfaction of the Ministry in regard to the coasting trade with any port or between any ports in the Commonwealth that certain conditions obtain the exemption may be given. Thus section 286 was open to exactly the same objection. I could refer to many other sections in the Navigation Act which permit ports bo be dealt with according to their circumstances. You cannot have an absolutely universal rule applying to every port in Australia. They must be dealt with separately according to their circumstances, including obviously the circumstances of the traffic to them. It would be quite a different thing to divide the ports on a State basis. To deal with ports in relation to their circumstances and the traffic between them and the nature of the harbours is necessary.
– The act deals with trading generally as distinguished from traffic extending over three months in a year, which this Dill deals with.
– This bill refers to ports the traffic of which is being injured or retarded, and that is a matter which would affect a port in a commercial as well as in any other sense. I call attention by way of example to such a section as section 330, which provides that the Governor-General may proclaim the ports at which the employment of a pilot shall be compulsory. Honorable members will agree that such a provision is obviously essential. If the Governor-General were in terms to proclaim the compulsory employment of pilots for all Victorian ports and for no other ports, it is doubtful whether such a proclamation would be valid. But if he takes into consideration each port of the Commonwealth and considers those where navigation presents such dangers that the judgment of a compulsory pilot is necessary, such a proclamation affecting those ports would be perfectly valid. I refer also, without reading them to sections 332, 423, and 423a. I mention by way of analogy sections 15, 16, and 58 of the Customs Act, which distinguish between ports. The provisions differ according to the circumstances of the ports. In the Quarantine Act in the same way sections 13 and 20 draw distinctions between ports. It has been the practice of Parliament for many years to draw such distinctions. In this bill power is given to draw distinctions between ports. The Constitution says that in drawing distinctions between ports and in any other regulation of trade or commerce, there shall not be discrimination upon the basis of States or parts of States as such. This bill .does not infringe that constitutional provision, or the decisions of the High Court as they at present stand, according to my best reading of them. I should not, of course, pretend in . this House, or elsewhere, to be infallible; I have referred to the decisions so thathonorable members may make up their own minds on the matter. There is only one other point to which I desire to refer.
– Do not the provisions of the Customs Act and the Quarantine Act, to which the Attorney-General has referred, apply to the safety of the ships and the lives of the passengers, and not to goods carried?
– No. If the honorable member refers to the sections, he will see that he is in error on that point. It would not matter if he were accurate in what he says. There are distinctions still drawn as to the circumstances of the ports. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) raised a separate and distinct point, namely, that the existing legislation is adequate to deal with the position, and that, therefore, the presentbill is unnecessary. His content-ion may be reduced, to use his own words, to this : “ We already have one piece of invalid legislation entitling us to do what , is required, and, therefore, we should not add another.”
– I stated that the Minister (Mr. Pratten) who introduced the bill, said that the previous measure was unconstitutional. If that act is unconstitutional, this bill is also.-
– Now let us examine the existing legislation. Section 286 of the act provides -
Where it can be shown to the satisfaction of the Minister, in regard to the coasting trade with any port, or between any ports in the
Commonwealth or in the territories under the Authority of the Commonwealth -
That no licensed ship is available for the service, or
that the service as carried out by a licensed ship or ships is inadequate to the needs of such port or ports. and the Minister is satisfied that it is desirable in the public interest that unlicensed ships be allowed to engage in that trade, he may grant permits to unlicensed British ships to do so, either conditionally or subject to such conditions as he thinks fit to impose.
All I wish to say on that matter is that, apart from any question as to whether Parliament would be able to impose the condition that the ships should carry passengers only between ports to which the licence applies - as to which there is possible room for doubt - the application of this section depends on the Minister being satisfied that the service, as carried out by a licensed ship or ships, is adequate to the needs of such port or ports. There the criterion is the adequacy of the service to the needs of the port or ports. I understand from everything I have heard in this House on the question that this is no crying need of any port or ports. It is not a question of the adequacy of the service to the needs of Sydney, Hobart, or Melbourne. It is not a question of the needs of the ports at all; the existing traffic is being carried. This legislation is introduced for the purpose of re-establishing a traffic that used to exist but which now no longer exists.
– The need is greater to-day than ever.
– The traffic in question is the traffic that used to be carried by the large oversea vessels which are no longer engaging in this trade. It is no use saying that the people ought to be as content with the vesssls which are now on the Tasmanian route as they were with those formerly running. Honorable members have spoken of fastidious individuals who decline to travel on the steamers now employed in the service.
– The ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that.
– I do not yet regard it as an article of political faith - as some honorable members opposite apparently do - to subscribe to everything that the ex-Prime Minister has said. If there be a traffic which can be developed, and which will earn money for Tasmania and other parts of Australia, then let it be developed. If it be a sort of first class traffic, why should we spurn it because there are people who are willing to pay higher sums than usual tor special services? The object of this proposal, as I have already said, is to revive a traffic which used to exist but is now nonexistent; and it is specially intended to develop the tourist traffic. It is very difficult to bring the re-establishment of a non-existent tourist traffic under the head of “the need of a port or ports.” If it were sought to provide for the passenger tourist traffic under section 286, it is for the reasons I have stated, quite doubtful whether the section would be rightly applied; but under this clause there is no doubt as to the intention of Parliament. It is a special clause providing for tourist traffic. It can be used for nothing else, and it describes the conditions under which the Minister may act under it.
-There was no doubt as to what Parliament intended under, say, the deportation legislation of last session.
– I am referring to the intention of Parliament as disclosed by the words of the legislation.
– I think there is an analogy between the two pieces of legislation.
– This clause applies to the tourist traffic, and for the reasons I have indicated there is room for serious doubt as to whether that could be provided for under the terms of existing legislation. At least, there can be no serious objection to the passage of this bill, if the only objection by honorable members is that this action could be taken under the law as it now stands.
.- I do not intend to speak at length, and the few points that I propose to mention are raised with considerable diffidence because, to some extent, they touch on the constitutionality of the bill. Even if I were a trained lawyer, I should speak with diffidence on such a subject after the experience that this Parliament has had on many occasions. The House is to a large extent indebted to the AttorneyGeneral for having given it his views on the legal aspect of the case as fully as he possibly could, and the opinions of justices of the High Court on which he based his remarks. I wish, however, to say that, in my opinion, he has not disposed of the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). Moreover, 1 do not think that the Attorney-General himself believes that he has entirely disposed of it. The judgments quoted by him were enlightening to honorable members, but, as a layman, I would say that I do not think either of them covers the question at issue. In my opinion, they are only partly relevant. The AttorneyGeneral may be able to clear up some of my doubts when the bill reaches the committee stage. Apart from the merits of the measure we ought to be satisfied of its constitutionality. The AttorneyGeneral quoted the Cameron case, in Which there was clearly a discrimination as between State and State. As one of the judges of the High Court said, it did not matter whether the price of stock fixed for each State was correct, such a regulation would still be unconstitutional because it would draw a line of demarcation as between one State and another. But we know, as sensible mcn, that horses valued at £8 a head at Albury could not be regarded as worth £15 a head at Wodonga. The surprising thing is that any Commonwealth department could issue such a regulation, and the judges agreed that it was unconstitutional because it discriminated as between one State and another in assessing the value of stock. In’ the Barger case, known as the- harvester case, the majority of the High Court held that an excise act was invalid for a number- of reasons, one of which was that it discriminated, though not in express terms, as between States and parts of States. In the Excise Act there was no discrimination between State and State because it provided the same excise duty under the same conditions in all parts of the Commonwealth, but the majority of the court held that, because exemption was given under certain conditions of labour, &c, the effect might be to discriminate as between one locality and another where harvesting machinery was manufactured. Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Higgins dissented from that ruling. The point made by the Attorney-General is one about which I am not satisfied, because to my mind it has not been made per- fectly clear. In the Cameron case there was obvious discrimination, but in the harvester case there was no more discrimination as between State and State in express terms than there is under the present bill. The Attorney-General states that in the more recent decision of the High Court in the Cameron case, the opinion of the two dissenting judges in the harvester case was upheld. There I should like tentatively to join issue with the Minister. He said that the Chief Justice quoted from Mr. Justice Isaacs in the Barger case, and remarked, “ In that I concur.” What Mr. Justice Isaacs said was that because a man was in one locality he was not to be treated differently from another man simply on that account. The point emphasized by Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Higgins in the Barger case, was that it was a breach of the Constitution to discriminate against a man because of the place in. which he lived. The point I desire to be clear upon is whether, in the Cameron case, the majority of the High Court judges held that the finding in the Barger case was wrong. £to far as I can gather, it was not held that the majority decision in the harvester case was wrong. I submit that if it was right, the contention of the Leader of the Opposition in the present instance is right, since this will clearly be a case of discrimination between ports. In the Barger case, the question was one of discrimination between individuals only, but this bill proposes to discriminate _ between ports, and that involves discrimination more directly between States and parts of States. In the Barger case there had been discrimination in taxation between individuals according to the rates of wages they paid, and because of that the High Court held that the law was unconstitutional. If that judgment stands, it gives strength to the argument that this bill, which discriminates, not between man and man, but between port and port, is ultra vires. In the Barger case the dissenting judges held that discrimination in taxation between man and man was liable to happen under any system of taxation, however imposed, and a man in one State might bo taxed more than a man in another State; but so long as the discrimination was not because of the locality in which the individuals lived, the tax would be quite constitutional. Section 99 of the Constitution reads -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or. any part thereof over another State or any part thereof.
This bill does not discriminate between one port and. another, but the regulations to be issued under it may so discriminate.
– Will not the question of discrimination arise only when another State applies for and is refused similar conditions?
– No; it may arise immediately. A shipping company may test the legislation.
– It is not necessary that another State shall apply for and be refused similar conditions before discrimination can be alleged. But if another State did apply and was refused, the question of discrimination, according to the Attorney-General, would then be one of fact. Under this bill discrimination will be based not on questions of fact, but upon the opinion of the GovernorGeneral - why the bill does not refer to the Governor-General in Council I do not know - that circumstances exist which warrant the granting of certain relief to specified ports. In order to clarify the issue, let me re-state the point: In Barger case, the High Court held that if a certain tax discriminates between individuals residing in different parts, and, therefore, between State and State, and locality and locality it is unconstitutional. It is a question of fact whether the tax is imposed with the intention to discriminate between individuals because of the wages paid. But, if merely because of the opinion of the GovernorGeneral that a certain state of affairs has arisen, Tasmania’s application for relief is granted, and, subsequently, Western Australia’s application for similar relief is refused, a clear case of discrimination will have been established.
– There would be no application by a State. A proclamation would be issued referring to, say, the ports of Melbourne, Hobart, and Adelaide.
– I understand the Attorney-General’s argument to be that if a proclamation were issued lifting certain conditions from a boat leaving Victoria, that proclamation would be unconstitutional.
– I think it very probably would.
– But if the proclamation referred to a boat leaving Melbourne, it would not be unconstitutional.
– I think the AttorneyGeneral is skating on very thin ice.
– I was merely quoting the opinion of the High Court.
– Section 99 refers to any State “ or any part of a State.”
– As such.
– Those words are not in the section.
– They have been interpolated by the judges.
– But the judges have given other interpretations and made other interpolations which strengthen the view opposed to that taken by the AttorneyGeneral. If it is possible to discriminate constitutionally in favour of Hobart as against Launceston, the same principle is involved as in discrimination between Hobart and Perth.
– On the transcontinental railway fares vary according to the distance travelled. Would the honorable member allow discrimination in fares, not according to distance, but according to whether the journey was in Western Australia or South Australia?
– Does the AttorneyGeneral suggest that the charging of fares upon a Commonwealth undertaking in volves discriminationwithin the meaning of section 99?
– I am suggesting that differences of fares, according to distances, do not involve discrimination, but that if such differenceswere based upon State boundaries theywould be unconstitutional.
– Quite so, but section 99 does not prevent the charging of different fares, according to distance, on any Commonwealth railway.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– Surely if sections of the Navigation Act, are made to apply to one port in New South Wales and not to another port in that State, they will be ultra vires.
– I do not think the honorable member has endeavoured to follow my argument.
– The Attorney- General is not justified in saying that. I may not have succeeded in understanding his contention, but at least I paid him the compliment of listening to hisspeech. My failure to understand him is not due to any lack of courtesy on my part. I certainly did not leave the Chamber while he was speaking. As far as I was able tograsp his argument, it was that if a boat “ leaving Victoria “ were exempted from prescribed conditions, such exemption would amount to unconstitutional discrimination, but if the word “ Melbourne “ were substituted for “Victoria,” the exemption would cease to be unconstitutional. I reply that Melbourne is “ part of a State “ within the meaning of section 99.
– I am sorry if I said anything to offend the honorable member, but I interjected as I did because I had twice quoted to honorable members a sentence in which Mr. Justice Isaacs pointed out the distinction between localities as such, and localities as States or parts of States.
– If the AttorneyGeneral had not left the Chamber during my speech he would have heard me quote that sentence again. I made no endeavour to contest the learned gentleman’s interpretation of the judgment; indeed I am very grateful for the light he has thrown upon a very complicated question, but I suggest that there is very grave doubt as to the effect of that judgment upon this proposed legislation. It is obvious to even the layman that the High Court could not have decided other than the way it did in the Cameron case. How a regulation which discriminated so definitely between States could have been made, is beyond the comprehension of any one with even a rudimentary knowledge of the Constitution. But the question which arises is : Did the unanimous decision of the High Court in the Cameron case declare definitely that the decision of the majority of the court in the Barger case was wrong?
– I think so. In the Barger case the question was whether there had been an infringement of section 51 of the Constitution, which, the minority of the Court - Justices Isaacs and Higgins - said was similar in all essential particulars to section 99 in regard to discrimination between States and parts of States.
The minority’s view was approved by the majority of the Court in the Cameron case.
– In my opinion, the Court endorsed the contention that a man is not to be treated differently merely, because of the locality in which he resides or his property is situated.
– The court expressed the contrary opinion, namely, that discrimination between localities is constitutional, but that discrimination between State or parts of State as such is unconstitutional.
– In dissenting from the majority decision in the Barger case, Mr. Justice Isaacs laid down the principle that unconstitutional discrimination was discrimination between men because of the localities in which they lived.
– I take the contrary view. Localities as such are distinct from States or parts of States as such.
– In the Cameroncase Chief Justice Knox quoted the Barger case and said -
In that case my brother Isaacs said, “ Discrimination between localities in the widest sense means that, because one man or his property is in one locality, then, regardless of any other circumstance, he or it is to be treated differently from the man or similar property in another locality.” I respectfully agree with that definition. “
– Quite so; we can discriminate between localities so long as they are not States or parts of States.
- Mr. Justice Isaacs says that such discrimination is not constitutional.
– Discrimination between localities is not prohibited by the Constitution, but discrimination between States or parts of States is prohibited.
– Surely he gave the meaning of “ discrimination “ as defined in the Constitution ! I maintain that he did. So far as I am aware, there has been no judgment of the High Court that upset the judgment in the Barger case. If the latter judgment stands, then the case made out by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) must also stand. The point upon which honorable membersmust satisfy themselves is, did the judgment in the Cameron case upset the judgment in the Barger case? I do not intend to say whether it did or did not; I am unable to determine that matter ; but there is very grave doubt concerning it. There is further very grave doubt regarding the accuracy of the interpretation put upon the matter by the Attorney-General. (Mr. Latham). He said that if Victoria were named in this legislation there would be discrimination, but that such discrimination would not exist if Melbourne were named as a port. I shall now leave that aspect of the matter. It may appear presumptuous in me to have entered into it, but even with the limited ability that I possess I must do my part.
– Do not be too modest.
– This question has perplexed legally trained minds; I did not gather the point which the Attorney-General made when he endeavoured to meet the argument of the Leader of the Opposition. I understood the honorable gentleman to say, “ The Leader of the Opposition argued that the provision in the bill was invalid, and, if that were so, the existing legislation was invalid. He further argued that the existing invalid legislation gave us all the power we required; so where was the necessity to pass the bill.”
– That was not the whole of my argument; I went on to deal with section 286.
– Let me regard that in general terms as the rebuff which the honorable gentleman gave to the Leader of the Opposition, and, in fairness to the latter, re-state the case that he put forward. He emphasized his opinion that the existing legislation was invalid, and quoted the opinion of the Minister who introduced it (Mr. Massy Greene). That honorable gentleman, we may assume, spoke on the advice of the Government’s legal advisers when be expressed a grave doubt as to its legality. The Leader of the Opposition argued that if the existing legislation was invalid, then this provision also must be invalid. But he went on to argue that if, as the Government claimed, this proposal was valid, it was not required, because the Government already possessed the power which it conferred. The case cannot be dismissed by a smart retort such as that which was made by the Attorney-General.
– I dealt with that argument, and then read the terms of section 286.
– Let me now deal with the proposal in the bill. Honorable members representing Tasmanian constitu encies claimed that this proposal would give them something they would not get if the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition were accepted. His proposal, they claimed, would provide a service between Tasmania and the mainland, but they wanted carriage for their export trade to the London market.
– No !
– That is the point which was emphasized by speech and interjection by honorable members from Tasmania.
Mr.Rodgers. - That is not provided for in the bill.
– Of course, it is not. What is in the bill? The intention, I believe, is that, in the apple season, tourists from Sydney to Hobart may travel on an unlicensed boat. Will any honorable member opposite deny that that is the intention? Not one of them will. In the apple season they want tourists to be carried by unlicensed Peninsular and Oriental boats, upon which is employed any kind of labour, under any conditions. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) said that that would help to pay for the coal used on the journey to Hobart.
– It does not pay themto go across; except in the apple season.
– I dispute that. The boats now call at Hobart and take the apples away.
– From December to the end of February there is no apple season. It does not pay the big boats to go there with passengers only, at a time when they are unable to take apples away.
– The apples are taken from Tasmania; they do not rot there.
– There have been occasions when they rotted there.
– I could mention occasions when potatoes rotted in Victoria. Any State that is sea-girt, like the little island of Tasmania, must have disabilities. But should we pass a bill which casts overboard important legislation merely because . such disabilities may occasionally operate ? The Minister will take a very serious step if he puts this provision into operation to any great extent. The existing provisions are an infringement of a great and splendid principle. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) argued that those who sincerely believed. in the White Australia policy ought not to rest their argument upon the question of the manning of our boats.’
– I said that it had to be regarded in a racial sense.
– The White Australia policy has iu it more than the mere racial question; it includes very largely the industrial or economic aspect.
– From the point of view of the honorable member the industrial aspect is the important one.
– I believe first in maintaining the purity of the Australian race.
– I am pleased to hear the honorable member say so.
– I do not intend to argue that this infringes the White Australia policy. That policy embodies the question of residence in Australia, quite apart from the manning of the boats. Whatever concession the Minister might feel inclined to make to British shipowners who, even though they are not paying the Australian rate of wage, are at least paying wages that are fit for white men ; whatever inroads he intends to make upon the progressive legislation that has been passed for the benefit of the men who “go down to the sea in ships,” I suggest that he ought not to make any concession to those who employ cheap, sweated coloured labour. In my opinion the bill is not required, and it makes a very serious breach in important legislation that the Commonwealth Parliament took many years to pass.
Sitting suspended from 6 .25 to S p.m.
.- So far as this bill is designed to afford Tasmania a measure of relief from what, after some years of operation, has proved to be a burden, I welcome it. It is, however, not the result of the newly-born zeal of a new government. To my knowledge, it represents the will of two governments. The only thing which prevented this relief from being given previously was the generally accepted belief held by honorable members on both sides of the House, and also by the legal advisers of the Crown, that to grant such relief would be unconstitutional. We have listened to-day to an explanation of the measure by the Attorney-General; aud, while no one will question that, in its general terms, the bill makes no discrimination iu favour of Tasmania, or any other part of the Commonwealth, we must read . it in the light of the policy of the Government as announced by the Prime Minister, and also of the remarks of the Minister who introduced it. They referred to it as a bill to grant a measure of relief to Tasmania; therefore, in spirit at least, it does discriminate between States. That this question is not a new one, every one who has had intimate dealings with the Customs Department knows. The Navigation Act was proclaimed on the 1st July, 1921. The act had not been long in operation before it was found that, to enforce it strictly, would impose, in certain instances, conditions which were too severe. For that reason I, when a Minister of the Crown, after having studied the facts, took the responsibility of issuing a proclamation exempting from its operations certain ports in Western Australia. The ports of Broome, Derby, Port Hedland, Carnarvon, Cossack, and Wyndham, as well as Thursday Island, have been exempted from the operation of the act.
– It could not have operated otherwise.
– It will be seen, therefore, that under section 286 of the act relief has already been granted. The existing legislation confers upon the Minister fairly wide discretionary powers, but in exercising those powers he must be prepared to accept responsibility for interfering with an act which was designed to preserve to Australian shipowners and seamen the whole of the Australian coastal trade. It has been the policy of all governments to interfere with the act only in extreme cases in which relief could not be granted by any other means. Tasmania having bargained herself into federation, cannot now bargain herself out again, but she is entitled to the benefits of her natural conditions. For that reason, I welcome this measure. The climate of Tasmania is such that large numbers of people are induced to visit that State during the months of January, February and March of each year. The tourist season is then at its height. As an alternative to this measure the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that a regular and continuous service be instituted between Tasmania and the mainland. I remind him that the Tasmanian Government, which established such a service, soon abandoned it. It is not practicable to establish a service for the tourist season only, because the vessels would remain idle for the remainder of the twelve months.
– The service that I suggested would be a permanent one. The honorable member speaks of tourist traffic only.
– The apple boats will only visit Tasmania during February, March and April.
– Those boats have perfect freedom to call at Tasmania for export trade now.
– That is not in dispute.
– Mention has been made of the danger to the White Australia policy if this measure becomes law, but I point out that coloured labour is employed on some of the vessels which now trade in Australian ports under exemption. Were that not so, it would have been impossible for the north-west coast of Western Australia to reach its present condition. I agree with the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) that the time has arrived for Australia to review her position, especially in regard to the operation of the Navigation Act. I hesitate to make that suggestion, as it was my privilege to administer that act for a considerable time, but because of that experience I know that it imposes heavy burdens upon the primary producers of Australia, and upon the interstate trade of the Commonwealth. In my judgment, we shall soon have to decide whether an expensive preference is to be given indefinitely to a few shipowners and seamen at the expense of the great body of primary producers, manufacturers, and those engaged in the interstate trade. We should examine carefully the economic conditions affecting production in Australia. We cannot for ever grant bounties to keep States and industries on their feet. Already this session bounties have been granted to assist several industries, and there is a prospect of more. So long as we allow unsound economic conditions to continue, we shall be compelled to grant bounties and gratuities to assist our industries. While I welcome this measure, in that it will grant a measure of relief to Tasmania, I am of the opinion that it is an attempt to circumvent the Constitution by discriminating in favour of one State. It will prove to be the thin edge of the wedge, so far as tourist traffic is concerned. The concession which this legislation grants will not long be confined to Tasmania; other parts of the Commonwealth will also apply to come under its provisions, and soon the whole of the Navigation Act will necessarily have to be reviewed. I do not think that section 286 of the principal act is sufficiently wide to grant the general relief sought by this measure. That section is designed more to deal with individual boats, and I am of the opinion that licences would have to be obtained in respect of each boat applying for exemption. This bill provides for the issue of a proclamation covering the whole of the tourist traffic in the event of certain things happening. The alternative proposal of the Leader of the Opposition is impracticable. As I believe that it will afford relief to Tasmania, and to other parts of the Commonwealth, I shall support the bill. I hope that the Government will afford us an early opportunity to review the whole of the provisions of the Navigation Act.
– The people of Tasmania expect to get some relief from this measure, but in view of the fact that the whole of the shipping in Australian waters is controlled by one master mind, I cannot see that their expectations will be realized. The overseas shipping companies are controlled by Lord Inchcape. The vessels which come to Australia do so in order to make profits for their owners; the mere fact that they are to be allowed to carry passengers to Tasmania at certain periods of the year will not affect the policy of the owners concerning them. The vessels will be diverted to Tasmania only to make greater profits.. The interstate shipping companies already cater for the Tasmanian trade. Lord Inchcape has a big interest in the Australian Steam Navigation Company, as he has also in the Howard Smith Company, and in Burns, Philp and Company. The huge combine which he controls allows the interstate shipping companies to cater for the coastal trade of Australia, while its overseas vessels deal with our export trade. The Government may take credit for relieving Tasmania by assisting her industries and tourist traffic, yet the position is really in the hands of those who control overseas and interstate shipping. Therefore, despite the Government’s election pledge to amend the Navigation Act, no appreciable benefit will be derived by the people of Tasmania.
– The object of the bill is to lower the wages and destroy the conditions that are at present enjoyed by the Australian seamen. Under clause 3, foreign vessels manned by Japanese and Chinese and other coolie labour will be able to engage in the passenger traffic around the Australian coast. We have to consider, not the position of Tasmania, but the standard of living of Australian sailors and workers. The bill is an insidious attempt by the Government to reduce our seamen’s wages from £16 to £8 a month. It is impossible for any man in this country to live on less than £16 a month. I wish to expose to the people of Australia the Government’s attempt to interfere with the White Australia policy, and I ask honorable members opposite, even if it means defeating the Government, to vote against the measure, and thus ensure for our seamen a living wage and living conditions.
– In debates in this House we often hear a matter treated in relation to its effect upon the interests of sections or groups of the community. Any particular section or group must be considered as the servant of the community as a whole, and we should, therefore, consider legislation in relation to its effect upon the community as a whole, and not with special regard for any class or section. The Navigation Act has for years past laid an intolerable burden upon Australia.
– For how many years past ?
– Ever since it became law. Every year has shown a further manifestation of the mischief which has been wrought in restricting the freedom of the community, and the consequent interference with free trade between the different parts of the Commonwealth. It ‘has also* been evident for a long time that Tasmania has suffered a great injustice through the operation of the Navigation Act and other federal enactments. For these reasons, although not satisfied with the bill, I am prepared to support it. I agree with the remarks of the honorable members for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and Wannon (Mr. Rodgers). It is time that this matter was dealt with in a more courageous and sagacious manner. The bill is a tentative step towards further action. I regret that the Government, with its large majority and its clear man date from the people, has not exercised its power to a greater extent than is now proposed. As an ordinary layman I do not know what to think about the constitutionality of the bill. If it is constitutional it will at least be a step towards greater freedom, and I welcome any blow struck for the liberty of the people. But if the bill is challenged and proves to be unconstitutional, I shall not greatly care, because this will . be further proof that if the Government desires to give real relief from restrictive provisions, further steps will have to be taken to develop fully the trade of this country. The bill is a timid attempt to take the first step along a road that should have been fully travelled by the Government.
.- I regret that many honorable members opposite are prepared to interfere with the White Australia policy. I am the representative of a district a large portion of whose shipping, I regret to say, is carried on by coolie labour, so I have nothing to gain by taking up my present attitude. The time has arrived when a man must stand for the principle of White Australia. The Government has grown bold. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) urges greater boldness, and he reminds me of the French revolutionist who said, “Audacity, audacity; always audacity.” While the Government has a majority, it can with impunity attack the great principle for which this party stands, but there must be a reaction. I hope that the Government will do nothing to harm a principle that is cherished by the people of Australia, and which, in the past, was supported by Kingston and other eminent men who were not members of the Labour party. The honorable member for Wannon mentioned that exemption had been granted during his term of office to several ports on the north-west coast of Western Australia. He neglected to say that the Government of Western Australia has always tried to maintain a white-labour service on the north-west coast and that one exists there to-day. The sum of £393,000 has already been expended on that service. Tasmania should have a regular shipping service. I deplore unnecessary strikes - if they can be called strikes - that interfere with trade, because they do not benefit Australia.
There should be other ways of adjusting differences between employers - if you like that word - and employees. It is the bounden duty of every Government to support the White Australia policy, and I should like” this Government to declare itself on that matter. I am afraid that the bill may bo the thin edge of the wedge used to break down the Navigation Act. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is anxious to serve the interests of those who financed the recent elections to a degree that was never known before in Australia, and they naturally desire a quid pro quo. I trust that the Government will devise means to establish shipping communication with Tasmania in the way referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. Surely it is not beyond the wit of the Government to run between the mainland and Tasmania a few boats manned by white crews recognized as Commonwealth officials with public service rights, such as those that are enjoyed by officers of the post and telegraph and similar services. If it did so we should be able to provide, as Western Australia has provided, that the men employed in the service were Australians enjoying Australian wages and conditions. One honorable member said that the racial aspect of the White Australia policy is not involved in this legislation; but the economic aspect of that policy is the more important. If only the racial ‘ menace had to be considered, the importation of unlimited black labour would not affect it, because the labourers could be kept in compounds as they are in South Africa. I have spoken on the bill because I think there is grave danger that, flushed by its victory, the Government may do something to assail a principle that is dear to the majority of the people of Australia. What honorable members on this side stand for is interstate trade controlled by Australians and giving Australian wages and conditions. That is no new principle. It has been in operation in Amenca for 50 years. The people of the United States of America do not permit any foreign vessel to engage in their coasting trade, and they see that those engaged in it are given good wages and conditions. I am in sympathy with the claim of Tasmania that it should not suffer because of a lack of facilities for communication with the mainland: but, in my view, it would be altogether wrong to permit the Peninsular and Oriental boats, worked with Iascar labour, to capture the Tasmanian trade with the mainland. The Government should establish a line of Commonwealth steamers manned by crews enjoying Australian conditions and wages to provide the necessary communication with T asn] Elm st
.- Practically all that can be said on this measure has already been said, but I should like to take the last speaker at his word. He has said that he would like to see something done for Tasmania; yet it is a most remarkable thing that every time we have a shipping strike honorable members opposite are the most silent men in the country.
– We are the only people who tried to settle the last strike. The Government did nothing at all in the matter. The honorable member should not tell deliberate lies. He should reprove his own leader, the Prime Minister.
– The people of Tasmania possess the same rights as those of any other State. On entering the federation they subscribed to its laws and regulations, and so have helped to give the Arbitration Court and the Navigation Act to the workers of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) talked about a quid pro quo and the people of Tasmania are to-day demanding a quid pro quo, a return for the benefits which, with the people of the other States, they have conferred upon the workers. They demand a continuous service between the mainland and Tasmania, and they have every right to it. Every year, since 1917, there has been a shipping strike affecting Tasmania and, almost without exception, it has occurred during the tourist season. Honorable members opposite are fond of talking about the money which the steamship companies make; but the tourist season is the only portion of the year during which the service to Tasmania pays. Yet that is the time when strikes are declared which dislocate the service. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has asked where Tasmania’s disabilities arise, I would remind him that on one occasion Tasmanian produce to the value of about £1,000,000 was left on the northwestcoast of that State.
– When was that?
– About five years ago.
– Then why did not the Tasmanian people give the Navigation Commission some evidence about it?
– There was a drought in New South Wales when chaff and other fodder was left on the wharfs at Devonport. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) could perhaps supply the particulars better than I can. The only chance of disposing of this produce was during the drought in New South Wales; but a strike prevented its transport, and chaff had to be sold at about £3 a ton, instead of up to £10 a ton. Tasmania cannot dispose of its produce owing to excessive freights between that State and the mainland. Freights are high to-day because of the special conditions required by the Navigation Act and Arbitration Court awards, and I say that in return for those conditions the people of Tasmania have a right to a continuous service with the mainland. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has said that he would give Tasmania a continuous service. I would vote for any proposal that would supply such a service, but how can the honorable gentleman guarantee a continuous service when that cannot be done in the case of the Commonwealth Shipping Line, that pays the best wages and gives the best conditions in the world ? That line has cost the Commonwealth many millions of pounds, and when a continuous service cannot be guaranteed in the case of that world-wide service, how can such a thing be guaranteed in the case of a service between the mainland and Tasmania ?
– Why did not the honorable member say that to the people who signed the petition he presented?
– The petition dealt with more than the disability through the Navigation Act. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) guaranteed to the people of Tasmania that he would maintain the running of ships from the mainlandto that State during the tourist season. The result has been a record tourist season for Tasmania. I believe that the figures for this month will show that there were about 10,000 passengers in and out of the port of Launceston alone. We have had no previous record approaching that. Honorable members are aware that the tourist trade is of great importance to Tasmania. I repeat that the people of Tasmania have a right to the quid pro quo that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie talks about, in return for the conditions provided by the Navigation Act, and the wages paid to workers under Arbitration Court awards.
.- I am surprised that honorable members have not given more attention to the practical suggestion offered by the Loader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) for remedying the disabilities from which Tasmania is suffering. It is strange that we should be told that the existence of Tasmania depends upon the tourists who go to the State during three months of the year. God help the State if that is the only means of keeping people in it. I do not propose to touch upon the constitutional aspect of this measure, which has been pretty well thrashed cut; but I should like to say, from my own observation, that the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) himself is nob satisfied that he is on safe ground. It was evident during his remarks that he felt that he was on very thin ice. I have long held the opinion that the only way to provide communication between the mainland and Tasmania is by the establishment of a Common wealth service. Without desiring to cast any reflections upon honorable members, I must say that the establishment of such a service may have been delayed by the incompetence of Tasmanian representatives to put the claims of their State before this Parliament. I have long wished to understand why it is that I cannot purchase a ticket in Sydney to go to Hobart by a Government conveyance, as I can to go to Melbourne or Adelaide. Why cannot a similar system be adopted for communication between the mainland and Tasmania? That is the only way to establish a satisfactory service with Tasmania. It was the intention of the Labour Government when in power to establish between the mainland and Tasmania a Commonwealth service, the employees of which would be in practically the same position as employees of the Post Office, or any other government department. Tasmania has spent a large sum of money in providing electrical power for manufacturing purposes, but there are no manufactures in the State.
– That is a foolish statement.
– It is time that the people of Tasmania realized, in common with the people of the other States, that they must do something to make the State in which they live self-contained. Its products, whether they be apples or other fruit, should be sent to the mainland, and in return goods manufactured on the mainland should be sent to Tasmania. I take it that the present proposal is the outcome’ of a promise made to the electors of Tas- ‘ mania that if they elected a tory government everything would be well with that State. Unfortunately, the people were misguided enough to trust the party opposite. Had they looked more deeply into the matter they would have realized that a bill of this nature could not possibly extricate Tasmania from the financial morass into which it had. fallen. The State will undoubtedly be -a supplicant for Commonwealth largess in future. The revenue derived from tourist traffic will not relieve it of the necessity for a federal grant.
– Nobody is claiming that it will.
– The people of Tasmania should have elected representatives with national ideals.
– The honorable’ member has not yet taken the trouble to visit that country.
– I was there 35 years ago when a few land-holders had Tasmania in their hands, and they were warned as to what would happen if they did not alter their policy. If a youth then wished to be apprenticed to a trade it was necesary for him to go to one of the other States. Tasmanian representatives try to justify their claim for Commonwealth assistance by alleging that the Customs tariff penalizes their State.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the bill?’
– I am endeavouring to point out the anomalies that exist in regard to Tasmania. Year after year it has secured a Commonwealth grant, and now Parliament is asked to amend the Navigation Act, which requires that the shipping service on the Australian coast shall be provided by vessels manned under Australian working conditions. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is one of those responsible for the principal act, and he is proud of the humanitarian nature of that statute. Do honorable members recollect that the measure was held in abeyance for two years before the royal assent was given, because Trinity House realized the farreaching effects of this beneficent piece of legislation, many features of which have been incorporated in the British act? I implore honorable members opposite to emulate the spirit of those responsible for this measure. It is regrettable that the occupants of the treasury bench have no greater conception of their responsibilities to the people than is shown in the bringing down of this miserable amendment. Since the Navigation Act is valued highly by legislators beyond the confines of Australia, we should hesitate before amending some of its most precious provisions. No greater compliment could be paid to the Australian legislature than the incorporation of some of the humanitarian provisions of this act in the British statute. If honorable members refer to the speeches that appeared in Hansard at the time the act was passed they will be forced to the opinion that the authors of the present bill are puny men compared with statesmen like Kingston. When I see numbers of the coloured crews of the Peninsular and Oriental liners coming ashore in Australian ports I feel sorry for the . poor wretches. It makes me shudder to think that the majority in the national Parliament wishes to place the shipping on our coast in the hands of such seamen, thereby depriving our own kith and kin of employment. The Government should endeavour to maintain Australia’s racial standard. Where are to be found nobler men than those that plough the seas around the coast of Australia 1 I cannot understand the Prime Minister being a party to the introduction of such a bill. I can only conclude that he is in the hands of the puny section, and feels that he must fall in with its wishes. Nobody suggests for a moment that this Bill will satisfy the requirements of Tasmania. Its grant from the coffers of the Commonwealth will appear on the next Estimates as usual. Do a few tories expect to place that State in a better position than it has ever previously occupied by such a bill as this ? The proposal will not bear investigation. I advise honorable members from Tasmania to follow the lines advocated in the policy . speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). Australia should not be at the mercy of the shipping combine, even in regard to its overseas trade, let alone its interstate shipping. Had it not been for the Labour party’s loss of office owing to circumstances connected with the late war, there would have been government control of shipping, not only between the different States, but also between Australia and the rest of the world. I predict that the political pendulum will soon swing in favour of Labour, and that the people will return to the view advocated by the most practical section of Parliament. The Labour party is prepared to act in the interests of the whole of the people, and is unwilling to check national progress. I realize that it is useless to attempt to defeat the bill, since there is a majority in the House that has no true conception of national needs. Inasmuch as the real object of the supporters of the bill is to get coloured crews into the Australian coastal shipping trade there will be little chance of amending the bill in committee. So long as the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) can get 9s. a bushel for his wheat, he cares nothing for the wages and working conditions of the men employed om the ships trading to Australian ports. The price at which he can sell his own. products is the only criterion by which he judges any question. It is a pity that there is so much selfishness among honorable members opposite; I urge them to rise above that level. It is not yet too late to withdraw this bill. Much as I desire to improve the position of Tasmania, I assure honorable members representing that State that this measure will do no good, and next year they will be again asking the Commonwealth to help their people out of the financial morass. The establishment of a Government steamship service between the mainland and Tasmania would give confidence to tourists and traders throughout Australia. I have offered my help to the Tasmanian people to relieve their industrial, economic, and financial position. If that is refused, the only other thing I can do is to vote against this bill, which is one of the most deceitful pieces of legislation ever submitted to this Parliament.
.- After the very lucid exposition of the constitutional position by the Attorney-General and the statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs of the disabilities under which Tasmania has been suffer ing for. many years, there is little need to speak in justification of this bill; but as a believer in the White Australia ideal I cannot allow to pass without protest the remarks of honorable members of the Opposition, who apparently desire readers of Hansard and the newspapers to believe that we on this side of the House do not believe, in that principle and are prepared to support any subtle attack upon it. I strongly deprecate a great national ideal being dragged into this debate for party purposes. I remind members of the Opposition that leng before the Labour party came into existence the ideal of the White Australia was a big force in Australian politics, and if I thought that it would be jeopardized in any way by this bill I would vote against the second reading. But I have not imagination evil enough to see any danger of the kind in the measure, and I intend to vote for it.
– The honorable member dare not do otherwise.
– I intend to vote for the bill as an honest attempt by an honest administration to remove,, some of the great disabilities under which Tasmania has for many years suffered uncomplainingly.
Honorable Members. - Oh, no!
– Uncomplainingly in comparison with the magnitude of the grievance which the bill is designed to partially redress. No very great knowledge of the Tasmanian tourist traffic is necessary to enable one to realize how much that State has suffered during the last few years. During this debate there has been some reference to party funds and the wealth at the disposal of honorable members on this side of the House. So far none of that wealth has come into my hands, and I assure honorable members opposite that when I signed my electoral papers a few days ago my campaign expenses were well within the statutory limit. In regard to matters that are not vital planks in my party’s platform, I am at liberty to vote as I choose. Every honorable member on this side is free to use his own judgment concerning this bill, and, because I believe in the granting of this form of relief to Tasmania, I shall vote for the measure.
– I should not have taken part in this debate but for my knowledge that about twelve months ago the Minister fox Trade and Customs visited Tasmania and there listened to representations by various sections of the community, including many men prominent in the public life of the island. I shall quote, for the information of honorable members, some extracts from the reply the Minister made to a deputation which waited upon him. I shall not attempt to discuss the constitutionality of this bill, but I do know that when a court is asked to interpret a statute it takes into consideration the intention of .the legislature. Without endeavouring to anticipate the decision of the judges of the High Court, I believe that if the constitutionality of this measure be challenged, the judges will peruse very carefully the speeches in this House. I know of nothing more helpful that could fall into their hands than the speech delivered by the Minister for Trade and Customs when moving the second reading. It was wholly a plea for Tasmania, and do honorable members believe for a moment that the High Court will allow a Minister or a Government, by subterfuge or subtlety, to pass a measure for the making of regulations which would circumvent the constitutional prohibition against discrimination between States and parts of States ? The speeches delivered by ministerial members are sufficient to prove that this bill is unconstitutional. For my own part I would not allow a Iascar crew to be employed in connexion with the carriage of mails from any part of the world, especially Great Britain, to Australia. When the original mail contract was made, the Commonwealth Government line of steamers, was not in existence, but with the Orient Line and the Commonwealth Line we have a sufficient number of fast steamers to convey the mails between Australia and Great Britain without having recourse to vessels that employ coloured labour. Although some honorable members opposite may demand that lascar-manned steamers shall be allowed to carry passengers from Potts Point and similar aristocratic localities to Hobart, I can hardly imagine the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) travelling by such vessels. There could be no finer testimonial to the adherence of our people to the ideal of a White Australia than a general refusal to
travel by ships manned by coloured crews. Under the bill it is intended to allow those persons to travel by these boats. On the 17th November, 1924, a deputation waited upon the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), in Hobart. It was representative of the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Manufactures, the Hobart Marine Board, and the City Council. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) and a number of public men also were present. Replying to the representations that had been made to him, the Minister said, inter alia -
He understood, however, that the request was that the whole of the State of Tasmania should be exempt from the coastal provisions only of the Navigation Act. It must be realized that such a request must have very farreaching consequences. It would be a distinct departure from the national policy, of protection under which all Australian industries, including Tasmania’s, were paying approved wages and working under proper conditions, and were entitled to protection against cheap coloured labour, low wages, and unfair conditions in other parts of the’, world.
Those are sentiments that one would naturally expect to fall from the lips of a protectionist Minister for Trade and Customs, and they are similar to sentiments that have been expressed by honorable members on this side who have opposed the bill. The honorable gentleman now stands sponsor for a measure which will have the effect of allowing boats manned by cheap coloured labour to convey passengers from Sydney to Hobart, and to take apples from Hobart to other parts of the world. He is also reported in the following terms: -
He submitted that the Australian Mercantile Marine was just as much entitled to that protection as another Australian industry. The second point that had been raised in connexion with the request was that it would, to some extent, be tire handing over of Tasmania’s trade to foreign ships, which might easily displace Australian shipping, which shipping was required to pay good wages and supply proper accommodation, and adhere to certain manning conditions and scales as laid down in the act. . . No Government could give preferential treatment against its own shipping. . . Taking Tasmania as a whole, it was found that in 1923 Tasmania had a record Vear in tourist traffic, in overseas exports, and exports to other States. These seemed to he the only factors that could be affected by the operation of the coastal provisions of the act. The State statistician had said that before the war, when no licence was necessary, only two per cent, of those who came to Tasmania travelled by oversea boats. . . In 1920-21, the year before the act was in operation, 10,247 tourists visited Tasmania; in 1921-22 the number was 21,010: in 1922-23 it was 19,962,- and in 1923-24 it was 22,304, a larger number than had ever entered Tasmania previously. . . . The argument of the deputation that the tourist traffic had been influenced by the act does not seem to be borne out by the figures.
The Minister may now attempt to refute those statements. They appear in what must have been an almost verbatim report that was published in the Hobart Mercury, of the 18th November, 1924. The honorable gentleman then showed the people of Tasmania that their trade had not depreciated. The contention’ tonight and. on previous occasions has been that the trade of Tasmania has suffered very seriously, and that the tourist traffic particularly has been hard hit. The figures quoted by the Minister prove that in some of the years about which the complaints have been most bitter, there was a record in the amount of tourist, traffic. The report also quotes the Minister as having said -
The exports overseas from Tasmania in 1909 were valued at £6,554,278, or £35 per head of population. In 1922-3 its exports were valued at £17,05o,3S3. Allowing for increased values, this trade showed a very satisfactory increase. The statement that the act had detrimentally affected Tasmania did not seem to have been borne out by the figures quoted. There was a lot of rivalry between ports iu Tasmania, and the State as a whole must be the deciding factor from the National Government’s stand-point. The Melbourne-Hobart passenger service had been abandoned in 1916, the passenger support, according to evidence given, being only nominal. Tonnage of all sorts arriving at Hobart in 1922-3 was close to the record year, and far exceeded the- tonnage for 1014. The Government realized that strikes did affect Tasmania, and that shipping services were vital to the State’s trade, and, taking all the circumstances of that into consideration, he must say, as a member of the Government, that, as far as the principles of the Navigation Act were concerned, those principles must stand.
If Tasmania were able to make out an exceptionally strong case, showing that it had been adversely affected by the operations of the Navigation Act, he, as Minister, and the Government, would no doubt give the matter consideration; but the words I have quoted show most definitely that the Minister had his mind made up. He had been supplied by. the Director of Navigation and the Customs authorities with figures showing that the trade and the tourist traffic had not suf- fered, and that the Navigation Act had not operated against Tasmania in the way that the people of that State claimed that it had. I particularly want to stress the unfairness of subjecting Australian shipping, that pays Australian rates of wages and. works under Australian conditions, to the competition, of boats that are manned by black-labour crews. The Labour party is proud to have been associated with the passage of the Navigation Act. I can in memory see the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and the late Hon. Prank Tudor, sitting on the ministerial bench night after night while the then Opposition ‘“-stone-walled” many of the clauses of that bill. The Labour party then occupied the position that this Government occupies to-day; it had a large majority. Legislation relating to navigation had been held up for many years. Other ministers and other governments had desired to pass it, but it remained for the Labour Government in .1912 to place the measure upon the statute-book. The right honorable member for North Sydney knows that copies of that act were sought by nearly every nation in the world. Some of the nations have taken from it many of its principles and incorporated them in their navigation acts. We led the world in that legislation. Now, instead of being the leaders in providing proper conditions for the seamen and safety for the passengers, and thus setting an example to the world, we propose to go back upon that splendid piece of legislation. The Government is taking a retrograde step, and I cannot imagine how many of its supporters can’ vote for the bill. It is a step that I cannot sanction. I am not averse from giving Tasmania every possible assistance. While she remains a member of the federation, while she is separated from the mainland, we shall have to stand by her. The matter, however, goes more deeply than the operation of the Navigation Act. Sooner or later we shall have to consider the whole of the circumstances that operate to cause the disabilities from which Tasmania suffers. As I have said on platforms in Tasmania, and as I would say again, I am prepared to see that communication is maintained between the mainland and
Tasmania. I know that in some instances she has suffered. Every State has suffered as the result of certain movements. But in this bill Ave are presenting to her Dead Sea fruit. I realize that the bill has been introduced in order to keep an election pledge. When the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) discussed some of the legal intricacies of the question, and reviewed the constitutional aspect, he was not so sure as we should like to see one who gives legal advice to this . House. T think he realized that he was skating upon very thin ice, which at any moment might break and let him down. The responsibility, however, is with the Government and its supporters. This is one of the many chickens that will come home to roost in a few years’ time. I shall vote against the second reading of the bill.
.- I do not wish to prolong this debate, but as one who has spent about . £4,000 in visits to Tasmania during the last 30 years I have some knowledge of the disabilities under which that State is labouring. Excepting during the Avar years, I have ‘ visited Tasmania every Christmas for many years. I have been there during every strike, - including the last. Regarding the constitutionality of. the bill, I fear that we are treading on thin ice. I say that as a lawyer. But in matters of this kind I am inclined to agree with the Attorney-General, because he is placed in his present position to advise the Government and the House on legal matters. He is, moreover, a man with a splendid record in legal circles in Australia. Something ought to be done, for Tasmania. Most of her young men on attaining the age of 23 or 24 years leave for the large cities of Melbourne and Sydney. Tasmania, consequently, is short of man power, notwithstanding her great hydro-electric works and other natural resources. She is also in straitened circumstances financially. A strange anomaly exists regarding her tourist traffic. When I was a member of the Hughes Government, I visited Hobart to make arrangements for the accommodation of the then Prime Minister, his family, and staff. I could not find any, and but for Mr. Hadley, of Hadley’s Hotel, Mr. Hughes would have had to sleep in the Hobart Domain. That week a deputation waited upon him to request that he should do something for the Tasmanian tourist traffic. T remember his reply, in which he asked how it could be said that the Navigation Act had interfered with Tasmania’s tourist traffic while their boarding-houses and hotels were so full that he, the Prime Minister, could not get accommodation.’ The same thing is true to-day. It is exceedingly difficult to obtain accommodation anywhere in Tasmania. I always make my arrangements six months in advance, and I know that I pay considerably more for accommodation than it is worth. On the other hand, there is no question that wealthy tourists will not go to Tasmania, because they cannot make their arrangements with the shipping companies sufficiently far ahead. Tasmania, in consequence, loses thousands of pounds every year. If more tourists are to visit Tasmania, more accommodation will have to be found for them. I am not certain that this bill will assist Tasmania during the months of December, January, and February, when the tourist traffic is at its height, as I understand from the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) that the apple export trade does not commence until about the end of February. The tourist traffic begins with the commencement of the school vacation, about the 16th December, when numbers of people with their children leave to spend their holidays in the island State. The large mail steamers will not visit Tasmania merely for the tourist traffic, as the revenue to be derived from that source would not be sufficient to pay for the coal consumed in their furnaces: Nevertheless, I am willing to give this legislation a trial, as I desire to render Tasmania what assistance is possible. Tasmania is the true health resort of the Pacific, but enough is not done in the way of propaganda. I have travelled round the world ten times, and have visited nearly every country; but nowhere abroad have I seen literature advertising Tasmania as a health and pleasure resort. Much more could be done in this direction, and Hobart in time ought to become a second Cannes or Monaco: Notwithstanding the view that I have expressed regarding the constitutional aspect of this legislation I am prepared to vote for the bill.
Mr. PRATTEN (Martin- Minister for every member who has spoken has favoured something being done for Tasmania; any difference of opinion has been as to how and when that should be done. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said that he would assist Tasmania by running a service of Government vessels, backed with Government money. The principles in which members on this side believe in this connexion are diametrically opposed to those favoured by honorable members opposite. We on this side hold that a government’s duty is to govern, and not to trade. We believe, also, that past experience in connexion with governmentowned boats in Australia, including those of the Commonwealth Government Shipping Line, is sufficient to show that it would be unwise to interfere with the existing services to Tasmania. The Commonwealth Government Shipping Line has already cost the country some millions of pounds. The line of steamers run by the Tasmanian Government cost that State £30,869 in 1921-22, and £50,913 in 1922-23. Those figures are taken from the Tasmanian Government Gazette of 8th July, 1924. In the Hobart Mercury of 6th September, 1924, the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Lyons, is reported to have stated that the total loses on those vessels amoun ted to approximately £100,000.
– The Minister should read the speech which he made at Hobart.
– The deputation which waited upon me in Hobart, to which the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) referred, asked for the suspension of the whole of the provisions of the Navigation Act so far as Tasmania was concerned. No responsible Minister could have replied to that request other than as I did. On that occasion I also said -
I want to say, further, if and when any of the conditions within the ambit of the act arises, or are likely to arise, I agree on behalf of the Commonwealth, that if satisfactory evidence is tendered, special sympathy will be given to Tasmania owing to her isolated geographical position, and, if possible, action of a practical nature will be taken to help ease you of any traffic disability within the scope of government functions.
I kept that promise by running the Nairana last year between Melbourne and Launceston when the ordinary service was entirely dislocated. I also told the deputation -
I will endeavour to remember, in administering this law, that your geographical position’ is different from any other State of the Commonwealth. I cannot break the law, but if occasions arise where some relief is absolutely necessary to Tasmania, you will have my sympathy and actual practical support.
I am here in charge of this bill to give that practical support which I then promised. Further, I remind the House that the Government was returned with a mandate from the people. The Prime Minister, in his policy speech, said -
To overcome one of the handicaps suffered by Tasmania as a result of its geographical position, the Government proposes to introduce legislation which will permit overseas vessels to engage in the tourist traffic during the periods when that traffic is not adequately provided for.
The people of Australia have endorsed the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister, and this bill has been introduced to give effect to it. Regarding the bill itself, considerable misconception exists, and many exaggerated statements have been made. It has nothing to do with the maintenance of a White Australia; it deals with tourist traffic only. Before issuing a proclamation under this legislation, the Government will satisfy itself that a tourist trafficdid, or does, exist between certain definite ports, and that it is being injured or retarded. The bill does not necessarily mean that the Govern- ‘ ment will not impose conditions with regard to this tourist traffic. To show the absurdity of some of the exaggerations uttered this afternoon I may point out that of 37 vessels booked to call at Hobart for cargo during the apple season, 30 are manned by British white crews, and the other seven are steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental Line. I do not propose to traverse the points that have been raised in regard to the constitutionality of the bill, but I shall repeat what was actually said by me in this regard when I was moving the second reading. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) interjected -
But the effect will be that tourists going to any other States can travel on these overseas boats.
I replied -
The bill provides that certain conditions in regard to tourist traffic must prevail before any Gazette notice can be published.
The honorable member again interjected -
But when it is published it will apply equally to all the States.
My reply was -
That is so; but the circumstances must be equal before it is applied to them. The amendment will give relief to Tasmania to the extent that the limitations of the Constitution will allow. At the same time, it will create no discrimination against, nor do injustice to, any State to which it does not apply. It will particularly apply to Tasmania, because the bona fide tourist traffic for which it provides is of very much greater value to that State than it is to any other.
From the evidence before me as to what has taken place, particularly during the last two years, I have no hesitation in saying that if the Navigation Act is eventually to become a dead letter, the fault will lie at the door of the seamen themselves because of their actions during the last year or two. The seamen will have to review the position very carefully. Already there is 70,000 tons less passenger shipping on the coast of Australia than there was in 1914, and there were 10,000 tons less in the period 1924-5 than in the period 1923-4. We have seen the sales of the Arawatta, the Aramac, the Wodonga, and the Wyandra, totalling over 10,000 tons. These vessels have been withdrawn from the coast, and have not been replaced. We have also seen recently that the Monaro, another vessel, has been sold. Altogether the Australian passenger coastal shipping is getting into a very bad condition.
– Those boats are all obsolete.
– The Wyandra was not obsolete. . I have shown the position. Those who say that the present Government is trying to undermine the Navigation Act should look nearer home, and consider where we are drifting and what is happening on our coast. I hope that the House will accept the bill as a bona fide attempt to help Tasmania, while at the same time it does not in any shape or form conflictwith our White Australia ideal.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. . The House divided.
Majority …… 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
. - I desire to place on record my protest against amending the Navigation Act in the manner proposed by the Government. Of course, I know that my opposition will not be effective. I know that the Government has its majority, and is determined to amend the act, but I protest on behalf of the Australian Seamen’s Union, and not as a politician. I am an old secretary, an old organizer, and an old president of industrial unionism, and all I want to do now is to record my protest against this interference with unionism.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section two hundred and eight-six of the principal act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-sections: - “ (6.) Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that the tourist traffic between any ports in the Commonwealth or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth is being injured or retarded, and the Governor-General is satisfied that it is desirable that unlicensed, ships be allowed to engage in the trade, he may, by notice published in the Gazette, grant permission to unlicensed British ships of such size and speed aB are specified in the notice to engage in the carriage of passengers between those ports, subject to such conditions (if any) and for such period as are set out in the notice.
.- I move -
That after the word “ ships,” line 7, the words “ manned by white labour “ be inserted.
One point was emphasized by the Minister that strengthens the case for this amendment. He said, in reply to statements from this side of the House, that a lot of exaggeration had been- indulged in regarding black crews trading between one State and another, and that out of 37 boats booked to call at Tasmania 30 were manned by white crews. If that is so, preference should be given to those white crews”. Clause 3, although- not infringing the White Australia policy from the viewpoint of racial purity, does infringe it from an economic point of view, by allowing men receiving from £2 to £3 a month to compete with our seamen who work under Australian conditions. The Navigation Act, which is probably the biggest act on the ‘statutebook of Australia, provides that all Australian boats in the coastal trade must be manned by white crews working under white men’s conditions. I’ admit that this bill does violate that principle. Surely there are sufficient oversea vessels employing white crews to take tourists to or apples from’ Tasmania. I trust that the Minister will accept the amendment, and that the committee will carry it unanimously; otherwise we shall force it to a division.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and I hope that the Minister will accept it. It is in accordance with the sentiment of the majority, not only of honorable members, but also of the people of Australia. We propose to make in the Navigation Act a very important alteration, which is vital to the economic interests of the shipping industry of Australia, and in doing so we should adhere strictly to the great basic principle of
White Australia. There is really no serious obstacle to the acceptance of the amendment.
– Apart from other considerations, the Government cannot accept the amendment, because this legislation, when passed, must receive the royal assent, and any discrimination between British shipping may lead to its rejection by the British Government.
.- I regret very much that the Minister is opposing the amendment moved by the honorable member for .Yarra (Mr. Scullin). There is a consensus of opinion among honorable members that if we permit boats to trade with Tasmania they should be manned by white labour. Immediately the honorable member for Yarra gave expression to his views, and was supported by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), the Minister rose in his place and cracked the whip. He stated that it was impossible to accept the amendment because this legislation, when passed, would need the royal assent. We already have the royal assent to the Navigation Act. The Minister is using a subterfuge to obtain the support of honorable members sitting behind the Government. Honorable members who desire that only ships carrying white crews should be licensed should support the amendment. The Minister himself, only a few minutes ago, stated that out of 37 boats likely to trade with Tasmania during the next, few months, 30 carry white crews. That being so, why is there any objection to the amendment?
– More than half of those 37 vessels are cargo boats.
– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) is evidently in favour of black labour. It is a pity that he did not supply that information when the Minister was speaking. It would certainly be an advantage to Tasmania if only boats manned by white labour were allowed to trade there. We should stand four square for the White Australia policy, and not interfere with it by encouraging vessels manned by black crews to trade on the Australian coast. The Navigation Act was introduced, in 1912 by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and some time elapsed before the royal assent to it was .obtained . The Minister stated that fewer ships were trading with Australia than previously, and he mentioned four or five vessels that had been taken off the Australian coast and sold. He omitted to mention that they ‘ were obsolete vessels and economically of no use to their owners. Three or four months ago, the Orama, a vessel of considerable tonnage, was placed on the Australian run. The Orient Company, I think, is building two more large boats for this trade, and for the Peninsular and Oriental and other companies other large boats are ‘ under construction. The outlook for Australia, therefore, is improving. We now have larger ships than have been in the trade for many years. This amendment is harmless, and it is necessary that it should be passed in order to ensure that a licence will be given only to those ships’ that employ only white labour. If black labour is allowed to be employed on ships trading on the coast, the ultimate effect may ‘ be to break down the White Australia policy. The economic effect must be felt, notwithstanding that we do not permit these black people to reside in Australia. The competition of black men with white men can only result in lowering the conditions for the white men. If we permit this in the case of seamen, no one can say for certain that it will end there. It is the thin end of a wedge that is being driven into the White Australia policy. I, therefore, submit that the amendment ought to be accepted. After the stand the Minister has taken, honorable members should use their own judgment. They should show him that they ave prepared to assert themselves by voting in accordance with their consciences. The honorable member for Angas- (Mr. Parsons) believes in a White Australia. Is there any objection to him voting for the amendment, in order to give effect to the ideal he was espousing half an hour ago ? The Minister ought not to put this pressure on young members as- soon as they come here. When dealing with a bill involving a vital principle, the Government is justified in demanding the support of its followers; but when a bill is in committee, and we are endeavouring to improve it, the collective wisdom of the committee should be used in the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth. That cannot be done if honorable members opposite are like dumb, driven cattle, and allow the Minister to bludgeon them into submission. The amendment has a right to be dealt with on its merits. If there are honorable members who think that only boats manned by white crews should go to Tasmania, they should vote for the amendment. Let it not be said that honorable members were browbeaten by the Minister, and voted against their consciences.
– I did not take part in the debate on the motion- for the second reading of the bill because there were so many points involved - some of them of vitalimportance - and it appeared to me that no useful purpose would be served by attempting to dive too deeply into the somewhat disturbed waters. Therefore, although one or two observations were then made that interested me greatly, I refrained from offering any opinion of my own. We are now, however. confronted with a situation of such significance that I am compelled to consider my position. The amendment of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) provides, in effect, that the vessels to which permits may be given under the bill shall be manned by white crews. We have it from the Minister that 37 overseas vessels are available for the Tasmanian trade, 30 of which are manned by white labour, and the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) tells us that sixteen of them, or thereabouts, are cargo vessels. As has been stated more than once tonight, I was responsible for the principal act. I was, indeed, the chairman of the Royal Commission on Navigation, and I literally spent years in obtaining the information on which the bill was framed, and in piloting the measure through this House. I was delighted to hear the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) describe the measure as a great act, embodying one of the vital principles of our national policy. Like other great principles in operation, it sometimes inflicts hardship. We are dealing with such a case in this bill. But the honorable gentleman was right in saying that if the hardship is one that cannot be borne, we ought to apply the remedy in such a way as not to involve the violation of vital principles in which we believe. In the case before us this can be done. The remedy to our hand can be applied in such a way as to give relief, and yet not violate a great principle. The Minister’s declaration that, if we accept the amendment, the royal assent to the bill will be withheld, is not convincing. I have had considerable experience in making recommendations to the Governor-General in regard to assenting to measures passed by this Parliament. Technically, there are one or two classes of bills which are reserved for the royal assent ; that is to say, they are referred to the Colonial Office, His Majesty the King in this, as in all other matters, following the advice of his Ministers in London. But, although to say it may perhaps appear heresy, I do not believe that any bill need now be reserved for the royal assent. Let us assume, however, that this bill was reserved for the royal assent. It is of such insignificance, compared with the great measure which it amends, that it would be foolish to imagine that it would cause the Colonial Office a moment’s concern. I do not believe that the royal assent would be delayed for a day. On the contrary, Mr. Amery would tell the Governor-General, as he told the Governor of the State of New South Wales, “ You must follow the advice of your Minister*.” As Governors of New South Wales have found to their cost, it does not pay to do anything else. I ask the Minister to consider the position in which he places honorable members like myself. I and my dead friends, the late Mr. Tudor and the late Senator R. Guthrie,’ are responsible for the passing of the Navigation Act. So far as the bill is a measure of relief for Tasmania, I support it wholeheartedly. Yet when confronted with an amendment for the helping of Tasmania by granting licences to vessels manned by white labour, the Minister declines to accept it, because its acceptance would place the Crown in a most awkward position. That argument does not impress me. I honestly think that if the. Minister is obdurate, some way will have to be found to enable us to show that, whilst we are in favour of giving relief to Tasmania, we are not in favour of grantin? licences to boats manned by black labour. The Minister has said that the owners of certain vessels have expressed their willingness that those vessels should call at Tasmania. When I was in office, those who controlled our coastal shipping in the main worked in amicable arrange- ment with the British shipping combine. The conditions may have altered. I do not know whether they have or not, but I should be most surprised to learn that the deep sea companies’ - I speak, of course, of the owners of passenger ships, and not of those outside the combination - are prepared to intrude upon the business of the coastal shipping companies. That, of course, has nothing to do with the Minister who says that he is going to do his best to help Tasmania. The Government has made that pledge and is going to try to carry it out. We are trying to help them. Honorable members on the other side have put forward a counter suggestion for the running of a government steamship service. I have nothing to say about that, because it is unnecessary that anything should be said about it; it speaks for itself. I started a government steamship service, and I think there have been more strikes in connexion with it than’ in connexion with any service conducted by private employers in this country. I should like the Prime Minister to give us the benefit of his opinion on this question.
Bill returned from the Senate, without request.
– I have to inform the House that His Excellency “the GovernorGeneral will to-morrow, at a quarter past 2 p.m., at Government House, receive the Address-in-Reply .
– For the information of honorable members I may say that cars will be at the front steps of Parliament House at 2 o’clock to-morrow, and I shall be glad if the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply, together with other members, will accompany me to present it.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the Bouse at rising adjourn until 2.45 p.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260127_reps_10_112/>.