10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister whether the Government intended to discontinue the publication of the historical records, and I was informed that the matter is at present the subject of negotiation with Dr. Watson. To-day I have received a letter from Dr. W atson, in which he says that he was astounded by the Prime Minister’s reply to my question, as his editing of the records has ceased, and no negotiations are taking place. Can the Prime Minister throw any further light on the subject ?
– There have been considerable differences of opinion between the Government and. Dr.Watson, in regard to the work he was doing. The original contract was between the Government and Dr. Watson, but the control of the contract and the work of that gentleman was transferred to the Library Committee, which is representative of all parties in this chamber and in another place. I understand that pro-: tracted negotiations have taken place between Dr. Watson and the committee without any decision having been reached. Only yesterday I wrote to the Chairman of the Library Committee asking that the consideration of the matter should be expedited, as the Government is desirous of having it settledwithout further delay. That letter will, I am informed, be considered by the committee at an early date.
– The Library Committee held a meeting last evening.
– I am informed that an advertisement has appeared calling for applications for a position in the Attorney-General’s Department, at 436 Bourke-street, and that the hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on seven days in the week, equal to 84 hours a week. In addition, the applicant is required to be on duty for the same number of hours at night, inasmuch as he is supposed to remain on the premises between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Surely there is some error in regard to the hours, and I ask the Prime Minister to have inquiries made concerning the advertisement.
– I shall have the matter inquired into.
– I understand that Mr. Lang, Premier of New South Wales, has complained of delay on the part of the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the proposed floating dock at Newcastle. “Will the Prime Minister explainwhether finality has been reached in the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the Government of New South Wales ?
– About twelve months ago the Commonwealth Government was asked by the Government of New South Wales if it would be prepared to subsidize the construction of a proposed dock at Newcastle. The Commonwealth Government offered a subsidy of £120,000, on condition that the dock compliedwith the requirements laid down by the naval advisers of the Commonwealth. Subsequently it was found that the dock would have to be increased from 13,000 tons to 15,000 tons, and, notwithstanding the original condition that the dock must complywith naval requirements, including a capacity to lift the two new 10,000- ton cruisers, it agreed to increase the subsidy to £135,000. The New South Wales Government has since put forward new proposals involving an increase of the Commonwealth subsidy. Mr. Lang has been told definitely that the Commonwealth would have use for a dock of that character only if it could be shifted, in time of war or great emergency, to any port of Australia where it might be required, and, having regard to the other defence expenditure which the Commonwealth desired to incur if the state of the finances would permit, any increase of the subsidy beyond £135,000 was impossible. There has been no delay on the part of the Commonwealth Government-
– Is the Commonwealth’s offer still open?
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the House whether any bonus or reward is offered, or is proposed to be offered, for the discovery of a method of treating the timber borer and the various pests that affect fruit ?
– That question should be addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, who controls the Institute of Science and Industry. I understand that that body is expected to carry out or encourage researches of the nature sug gested by the honorable member; but I shall furnish a more detailed answer next week.
– Did the conference recently held between the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales and Queensland arrive at any finality in regard to the commencement of the railway from Kyogle to Brisbane? If so, when will the work be commenced ?
– Certain differences of opinion arose between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland, which were the subject of considerable correspondence, and statements published in the press. With a view to the settlement of these differences, a conference was held last Saturday between the Ministers for Works of the Commonwealth and the two States concerned. The Commonwealth Treasurer presided. A basis of agreement was arrived at which, if approved by the three Governments, will, I hope, overcome the difficulties that have delayed the commencement of the work.
– In this morning’s newspapers is published a cablegram that Italy has been forgiven half its war debts to Great Britain. Will the Treasurer make available to the House any information in his possession regarding this matter ?
– I shall be pleased to endeavour to obtain the information which the honorable member desires.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1, 2, and 3. The information is being obtained, and will be furnished at a later date.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Tenders for Supplies
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is it a fact that in tenders for supplies for his Department Australian manufacturers are given a special preference of 15 per cent. after comparison has been made between local tenders and tenders from abroad plus duty?
– Australian manufacturers are given a preference where itis considered necessary to assist an industry.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– No information is available here, but the Deputy Director of Navigation, Fremantle, has been asked for a report.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Treasurer’s Election Pledge
Mr.FORDE asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– These questions are personal in character, and do not relate to public matters, as to which questions in the House are permissible.
Dr. MALONEY (through Mr. E.
Riley) asked the Prime Minister,upon notice -
– I am not aware that the South African Union Government proclaimed such a law, but inquiries are being made to obtain the information desired by the honorable member.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether arrangementshave yet been completed for the transfer of the Randwick rifle range land to the Government of New South Wales; and, if so, what are the conditions of such transfer?
– The Commonwealth Government has approached the New South Wales Government with a definite scheme, but up to the present the State has not intimated its acceptance of the offer.
The f ollowing papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Shipping Board. - Profit and Loss Account for the period 1st April, 1924, to 31st March, 1925, together with the Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
Defence Act. - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 14.
Naval Defence Act. - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, Nos. 12, 13.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act. - Ordinance No. 5 of 1926 - Electric Energy.
Wharf at Rabaul, New Guinea. - Plans, specifications, estimates of cost, &c., in connexion with proposed work referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz., Selection of Site and Construction of Wharf at Rabaul, Territory of New Guinea.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to validate certain refunds of income tax and for other purposes.
. -I do not intend to raise any objection to the motion. I merely wish to know if the Government were given a mandate to refund certain income taxation, and if the Treasurer made it clear to the electors that if he were returned to office such a bill as this would be introduced. The people ought to know to whom the refunds are to be given, and the need for a validating measure. That information would have been much more to the point than the display of glaring placards that helped to give this Government a mandate to govern this country; and I suggest that the Treasurer would have justified his election to office if he had explained to the people the necessity for making legal the refunds of taxation given to large pastoralists, who evidently supplied the wealth that was splashed about Australia to give the Government its present mandate.
.- I approach the subject in the spirit of tolerance and magnanimity that distinguished the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). It occurs to me that in this motion for leave it would be proper to submit the names of the persons to whom these public moneys are to be restored, and to inform honorable members to what extent these gentlemen have contributed to the party funds to secure the mandate to which the Government is now giving effect. I wish to have that information at my disposal before leave is granted to introduce the bill.
– I would remind the honorable member for .Adelaide (Mr. Yates) and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) that the Government was given a mandate to govern this country, and to carry, out effectively the legislation necessary for doing so. When the bill has been presented, and the second-reading speech made, the doubts raised by honorable members will very likely be dispelled.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the War-time Profits Tax Assessment Act 1924 and for other purposes.
.- I am pleased that the business of the House is proceeding regularly and. rapidly, and it must be acknowledged that no undue obstruction has come from this side of the House. What I notice, as missing in this case was present in the other case.
Previously we had the information that it was proposed to make refunds, and I wanted to know to whom the refunds were to be made and to what extent the persons obtaining them had contributed to party funds. The Treasurer, instead of improving his methods, has gone from bad to worse. In this case he does not tell us whether any refunds are to be made, much less does he supply us with the names of the persons who are to get this public grant. I ask him before we go any further to let us have a little information. I presume, of course, from past experience, that the bill proposes to make refunds to some friends of the Ministry, and at least we ought to know who they are, and why the refunds are to be made.
.- I have a vivid recollection of the war fervour that permeated honorable) members in this House when the original bill was introduced. The statement was then made that all profits arising from the war that were, considered unduly high would be regarded as immoral, and should be taken from those who were making them. But when the bill . was introduced, it was debated by certain honorable members in defence of the profiteers for as many weeks as it took hours to pass the bill providing for a bachelor tax, .which imposed the maximum tax on incomes only £1 above the exemption. ‘ The ‘ original War-time Profits Act provided for a tax of 75 per cent., and many honorable members contended that it should be 100 per cent. To prevent a long debate on the second reading and in committee, the Treasurer should make the operation’ of this provision retrospective to the war period, and let his mind become possessed by the atmosphere of patriotism which surrounded the whole nation during the war. If this is not done the Treasurer will lend belief to the statement of the man who said that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Not only in Australia, but in other parts of the world, people spoke about bleeding nations, and the sacrifices that should be made for the war. Sir William Irvine said that, if need be, the farmer must put the firestick to his crop. But neither he nor the war profiteers put any fire-stick into their crops in an effort to save the British Empire. They did not sacrifice one penny of their wealth, and they are still drawing war-time profits from 5 per cent., oi per cent,, and 6 per cent, bonds. The Treasurer has now an opportunity to enhance his chance of being placed upon the same plane as Senator Wilson.
.- The method of procedure suggested by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) would, if adopted, give free play for the discussion of all sorts of matters. But the ordinary procedure in dealing with bills is to discuss them after their presentation. This is a much more satisfactory method, and one which the Government intends to adopt.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1021, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for it3 investigation and report thereon, i.e,, Extension of the Trans-Australian railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill (South Australia), and the laying of a third rail to provide a railway of 4 ft. S in. gauge on the South Australian o ft. 3 in. gauge railway between Red Hill and the central railway station, Adelaide.
The necessity for the execution of these works was fully dealt with on the submission to the House, on the 18th September, 1925, of the ratification of the agreement with South Australia, in connexion with the construction of these lines and the extension of the railway between’ Port Augusta and Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. The length of the new line from Port Augusta to Red Hill will be 83 miles, and that of the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge line from Red Hill to the central railway station, Adelaide, on which it is proposed to provide a third rail, is about 107 miles. In complin nee with section 6Q of the Commonwealth Railways Act the plan and all documents furnished by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner under section 59 of the Act are being laid on the table of the House. The estimated cost of the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill, including station buildings, signalling, &c, is £734,923, and of the provision of the third rail from Red Hill to central railway station, Adelaide, £380,000. The estimated cost of the additional rolling-stock, required is £104,250. The estimated working expenses of the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill, including traffic, locomotive, and maintenance charges, and the net amount of working expenses of the Red Hill to Adelaide section, which will require to be borne by the Commonwealth in compliance with paragraphs 12 and 13 of the agreement of the 18th September, 1925, is £63,879. The probable revenue which would be derived from the railway is estimated at £100,755.
– As the expense of laying the third rail between Red Hill and Adelaide will be borne by the Commonwealth, I should like the Minister to say who will control the railway between those two places.
.- The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner will have’ control of the railway from Port Augusta to Red.. Hill, and will also have running rights over the railway from Red Hill to the Adelaide Central Railway Station; the South Australian Railway Commissioner will have .running rights over the railway from Red Hill to Port Pirie.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 21st January (vide page 289), on motion, by Mr. Pratten -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a small bill, which provides for bounties being granted on goods produced or manufactured in Papua and New Guinea. The products on which the bounty will be paid are specified in the schedule to the Bill. Being tropical products, they will not, so far as I can see, enter into competition with the products of Australia. The principle underlying the bill should, therefore, receive the support of all honorable members, because Australia, being responsible for these territories, should do everything possible for their development. Australia has already loaned to Papua sums amounting to £100,897, of which £93,3’02 still remains unpaid. In addition, for a considerable time, subsidies varying from £20,000 to £50,000 per annum have been granted by the Commonwealth, the total of these subsidies being £752,000. We cannot for ever continue to grant bounties, and, therefore, . every effort should be made to enable the Territory to become self:supporting. I welcome this measure as a step in that direction. At the same time, I suggest to the Minister that one or two amendments should be made in committee. The bill refers to goods, the produce or manufacture of the territories of Papua and New Guinea. As drafted, it would enable produce from other islands to be shipped to those territories and there manufactured into goods, and so entitle the manufacturers to receive a bounty from the Commonwealth. I feel certain that that is not intended. Our desire is to encourage production in the territories under our control, and we should not permit the products of other countries to be imported to them so that by their mere manufacture into goods the manufacturers would be entitled to receive the Commonwealth bounty. Subject to the amendments which I have indicated ‘ being made in committee,. I shall support the Bill; otherwise, I shall be reluctantly compelled to vote against it. I think, however, that the Minister will see the necessity for an alteration being made.
.- I commend the Minister on having introduced this bill. The commission which inquired into the working of the Navigation Act visited Papua, and in the evidence there tendered before it the complaint was general that Papua received no assistance from the Commonwealth. It was stated that, while ‘conditions governing the employment of labour were imposed on the employers by the Commonwealth, no benefits were conferred. The natives, realizing the advantages of working under Australian conditions, demanded better treatment, including the provision of receptacles for their clothes, and repatriation to their homes on the completion of their term of employment; and, consequently, Papua was at a dis advantage compared with other South Sea islands, with the result that the place was beginning to stagnate. The honorable member for ‘Forrest (Mr. Prowse) will remember that at one place in Papua we visited a sisal hemp farm which was more than 2 miles in extent. In our desire for knowledge, we cut down one of the fronds of the sisal hemp plant, and stripped it. Afterwards, we learned that hemp equal to that produced in any other part of the world can bc satisfactorily grown in Papua. The sisal hemp used in Australia comes chiefly from Java. I consider that we should encourage its production in the Territory under our control. Complaints were also. made that the production of rubber, coffee, cocoa, and other tropical products in the Territory was not encouraged by the Commonwealth. Because of what I heard when in Papua, I asked the Minister last session whether the Government would consider the claim of Papua to preferential treatment. If encouragement is given to these territories in the manner proposed in the bill, it is possible that, instead of the Commonwealth facing an annual deficit in regard to them, there may be a credit balance. If we impose labour conditions, we should also support the men to whom those restrictions apply. This bill is an attempt to do that, and I believe that its effect will be beneficial. If it does what those who gave evidence before the commission hope for, it is probable that our experience in connexion with Papua may, in the future, be very different.
.- The present is an opportune time for a statement to be made by the Government showing the relationship existing between Australia and the territories over which it holds a mandate. I do not object to these bounties being given, but I should like to have information as to Australia’s financial responsibility in relation to these territories. Where is this kind of thing to end? For what period is it intended to grant bounties in respect of the different products of these territories? I. understand that Papua places an export duty on copra, and that in other ways the people there tax themselves to pay the expenses of government. The proposals embodied in this measure indicate that we are embark.ing on a new scheme.
– The bounty to be granted under this bill is limited to £25,000 a year for ten years. The Bill itself answers the honorable member’s questions.
– Although Australia to-day holds a mandate over New Guinea, I should like to know what power we shall exercise over that territory in the future. If we develop New Guinea, who will reap the benefit ? I had thought that, in endeavouring to assist these territories, the Government would have given some form of preference, and granted greater freedom of trade. Australia would benefit materially, as well as assist the territories, if she encouraged the production of sugar there. Tobacco, I understand, alsogrows well there.
Mr.Forde. - Does the honorable member stand for importing sugar into Australia from New Guinea ?
– These territories are under the control of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, they are entitled to every consideration that is granted to Australia itself. Sugar produced in them could compete in the world’s markets with sugar from other countries, and that would prove of distinct advantage to Australia as well as to the territories over which we hold a mandate.
.- It is evident that this measure has the support of all honorable members. ‘ In 1922, at the request of the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), I visited the mandated territory of New Guinea to inquire into the grievances of the people there in order that they might, if possible, be removed. I went through the territory from end to end, visiting New Britain, New Ireland, Witu Island, Madang and others, and I was greatly impressed with the beauty of the islands. That was my first impression. Next, I realized how heavily timbered they were, and what enormous expense would have to be incurred to clear the country for plantations. But the greatest impression my visit made on me was that the people there felt that they had been forgotten by the Commonwealth, because their products, on arrival in Australia, were subjected to heavy taxation. This bill would remove their cause for grievance in that respect. I sometimes wonder whether we realize how frequently big questions arise from small beginnings. Do honorable members realize that this bill will, perhaps, have a bearing upon a matter that will come before the League of Nations? When I was in Berlin recently, I was confronted with’ the fact that the return of the mandated territories to Germany would some day have to be considered. A deputation waited upon me in Berlin. It was headed by a man who; butfor the war, would to-day be worth £1,500,000 sterling, but who is actually almost penniless. Prior to the war he owned practically the whole of the plantations in the mandated territory of New Guinea. He suggested that in view of the enormous losses incurred in connexion with that territory, a syndicate in which he was interested, together with a Danish and an Australian syndicate, should combine, the Commonwealth Government holding a preponderance of the shares, and that together they should run the mandated territory as a trading concern. He was certain that if that were done, the net return would be from 15 to 20 per cent. on the capital invested. That shows what he, as one of the original land-owners in that territory, thought of its possibilities if it were properly handled. It was put to me then that if Germany joined the League of Nations itwould certainly request the return of the mandated territory of New Guinea. Only a few weeks ago we noticed in the press that this question had again come to the fore. Just as we have no right to hold Australia as a white labour country unless we use and fill it, we are not entitled to hold the mandated territory of New Guinea unless we use it. We certainly cannot fill that territory with white people, but we can use it by encouraging the investment of capital from the southern portions of Australia in the growing of products we need. The proposed bounty represents a step in the right direction, and the sooner we proceed to encourage development there the stronger will be our argument, when Germany enters the League of Nations, for the retention by Australia of that territory. I congratulate the Government upon bringing in the bill, and am glad that honorable members on both sides of the House support it.
.- I join in congratulating the Minister for Trade and Customs upon what is designedly a genuine effort to give assistance to Papua and the territory over which wo have a mandate in New Guinea. While I realize that the bill is intended’, and wisely so, to extend help to the industries established in that territory, I call attention to one obvious handicap put upon it. Efforts are continually being made to deflect the trade from the northern ports of Australia to those in the south. The proper way to develop this trade is to foster closer relationship between the mandated territories and the northern ports of Queensland.
– By a seaplane service?
– Not necessarily by that means, although that would be of considerable assistance. I have in mind the effort being made to deflect the trade of the islands to Sydney and Melbourne.
– It goes where the best markets are.
– Not naturally. Ports like Townsville, Cairns, and the at present neglected Cooktown, are much closer to the mandated territories than Sydney and Melbourne are; and they are the natural ports for the discharge of passengers and cargo. Under the existing shipping arrangements, it costs the ordinary passenger £5 more to reach the mainland than it would if he disembarked at Cooktown, Cairns, or Townsville. This measure should have been brought down years ago.
.- As a representative of one of the Queensland electorates, I cannot allow the speech by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) to pass unnoticed. I was hoping that the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) would have something to say about it.
– The remarks seemed so futile that I did not consider it necessary to comment upon them.
– The honorable member for Forrest advocated that the Government should encourage the’ growing of sugar by black labour in Papua and in the mandated territory of New Guinea in competition with sugar-growing by white labour in Queensland and New South Wales. The honorable member is a supporter of the Government, and, while I am pleased to see the Government ready to assist Papua and the mandated territory in every possible and legitimate way, I do not stand” for any interference with a great Australian industry such as sugargrowing.
– It is an interference, too, with the White Australia policy.
– Yes ; one of the fundamental principles supported by the Labour party. What will the sugargrowers think when they know that a certain section of the supporters of the Government believe in encouraging the production of sugar in islands where black labour is employed? I know that the honorable member for Forrest has been a bitter opponent of the Queensland sugar industry for some time, and I hope that the bounty will not be extended to sugar grown in Papua or the mandated territory of New Guinea.
– I did not ask for that.
– The honorable member went to some trouble to show how this territory could be developed by the growing of sugar- that would compete with the Australian-grown product.
– I advocated the free admission of that sugar.
– That amounts to the same thing. We were told by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) last night that there was ample evidence that his party stood for the upholding of the White Australia policy because an embargo had been placed on the introduction of sugar produced by black labour. If I had spoken on that occasion, I would have reminded him that the embargo was introduced at the urgent request of the Labour Government of Queensland, by the Hughes Administration. Now honorable mem’bers opposite are advocating that the mandated territories should be developed by the production of sugar, a crop .that can be grown profitably in Australia, keeping in employment some 25,000 persons.
– Only one honorable member advocates that.
– More than one holds that opinion. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) is reported in Hansard to have stated, on the 2nd April, 1924, that he would “remove the sugar embargo, and do away with Arbitration Courts and high tariffs.” I do not intend to allow statements of that nature to go unchallenged, and I am surprised that the honorable member for Herbert did not take the honorable member for Forrest to task. It would be suicidal of the Government to be induced by the alleged Country party representatives to abolish the embargo . on the introduction of black-grown sugar. But for that embargo, the sugar industry in Queensland would decline, and there would be hundreds of thousands of unemployed throughout the Commonwealth. No honorable members on the Labour side subscribe to such a policy.. I have visited the mandated territory of New Guinea, and I am as sympathetic towards its development as any honorable member. Therefore, I support the bill, and share the view advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that an amendment should be introduced to prevent manufacturers in New Guinea or Papua from importing raw material from other countries and utilizing black labour in the territory for the manufacture of articles to be sent to Australia to compete with goods produced here. “What the alleged representatives of the Country party desire is to wipe out the tariff and the embargo on sugar, and allow hundreds of thousands of niggers to be employed in growing sugar in the islands to the detriment of Australia. That would mean ruin to towns in Queensland such as Cairns, Mackay, and Bundaberg. It affords only further evidence of the inconsistent views held by some honorable members who are supporting this composite Ministry. If it had not been for the consistent fight by the Queensland Labour Government and Labour representatives on this side of the chamber, the sugar-growers in Australia would not be enjoying the protection that they have to-day.
.- I compliment the Government on the introduction of the bill, though I think it ought to- have been brought down years ago. I heard with regret the statement by the honorable member for Forrest, who at least ought to respect the promises made to the States when Federation was established. He always insists on the carrying out of those promises so far as
Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania, are concerned; but he takes a different attitude with regard to the rights of Queensland. It shows that if he were in power no respect would be paid by him to the agreement entered into upon the inception of federation. I am sorry that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) has spoken in the strain that he has. It was gross misrepresentation to say that honorable members on this side had any sympathy with the remarks of the honorable member for Forrest. The majority of honorable members from this side of the House have proved in years gone by that they are in favour of giving the Australian sugar industry fair support. It ‘was not Labour members, but Nationalists, who placed that industry in its present satisfactory position. The honorable member for Capricornia tried to suggest that, because one honorable member on this side had made an unfortunate remark, that this party held the same view.
– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook), the Minister for Works and Railways, and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) made similar remarks.
– Neither the honorable member for Franklin nor any other honorable member would support the opinion that there should be any breach of the agreement entered into with Queensland when federation was established. Whatever the honorable member said, I think, he did not mean to repudiate the agreement. That . agreement has always been respected by most honorable members on this side. Honorable members must admit that if we interfered with the sugar industry we should strike a severe blow at the “White Australia policy. How could we expect to keep Australia white if we killed the only industries that can be carried on in one portion of the continent, and 9,000 farmers and tens of thousands of employees were thrown out of employment. The sugar industry could not be replaced by any other. I do not want the idea to get abroad that honorable members on this side, who have always supported the sugar industry, now hold a different opinion.
– The remarks of one or two honorable members led me to believe that this bill would prove to be something in the nature of an entremet. I did not think thai it could meet with much opposition. This proposal, as well as the preferential trade proposal, has been designed not to injure any Australian product or manufacture in any way. If those honorable members who have raised the sugar question will study my speech on the motion for the second reading of the bill, they will see that I used the following words : -
Products such as bananas, citrus fruits, (maize, peanuts, and sugar, which can be readily produced in the territories, have been omitted from the Government preference and bounty proposals for the reason that they are commercially grown’ within the Commonwealth.
I need say no more regarding the attitude of the Government in relation to the White Australia policy. I thank honorable members for the encomiums that they have passed upon the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The bounties under this act shall bc payable on the goods, the produce or manufacture of the territory of Papua, or the territory of New Guinea.
– I move -
That the words “ or manufacture “ be left out.
The proposed bounties relate only to raw materials; they do not cover manufactured materials. The amendment meets the wishes of the Leader of the Opposition.
.- I desire to have a definite assurance from the Minister that the Country party section of the Government will not force the Cabinet to include sugar among the. items that are mentioned in the schedule, on which the bounty is to be paid to Papua and the Mandated Territory. A pinhole sometimes shows the light. We heard to-day an influential member of the Country party strongly advising the Government to take steps to have the Territories of Papua and New Guinea further developed by the growth of sugarcane, which would compete with the Aus tralian-grown product. As a Queensland representative, I feel somewhat apprehensive. Bills that have been introduced in the last few days have clearly shown that the Government is favorable to the employment of black labour. Recently the Nationalist caucus had an acquisition to its ranks in the person of Senator Barwell, who, on one occasion, said that north of an imaginary line, which would come out on the eastern coast, near Rockhampton. Australia could be better developed by black labour. The majority of the big sugar belts in Queensland are north of Rockhampton, and I am wondering whether feelers are being thrown out to gauge the opinions of honorable members regarding Senator Barwell’s suggestions. Probably some great interests, such as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company or big sugarmilling companies, desire to start sugargrowing in the mandated territory of New Guinea, where they can obtain labour for about 6d. a day. Senator Barwell, on the occasion to which I have referred, said, “ I am prepared to say what thousands of Liberals throughout Australia think, but have not the courage to say.” The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) represents in this chamber the interests of Sir Henry Jones.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse). - The honorable member must confine himself to the clause.
– Cheap sugar from the mandated territory of New Guinea and the territory of Papua would be welcomed by the wealthy jam manufacturers, who are already paying great dividends. Many of the sugar-growers in Queensland bought their land at high prices, and they are now working hard, to pay off their debts. They have suffered a severe set-back because of over- production. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) said that “ one swallow does not make a summer,” and that I should not blame the Government because of the utterances of the honorable member for Forrest. That honorable member is not the only one who is opposed to the sugar industry. The honorable member for Franklin, on the 7th May, 1924, made an even more startling statement than that which was made this morning by the honorable member for Forrest. He then said -
I ask whether we are really getting sugar at the world’s parity. Why are those who support the sugar industry in Australia so pronounced about keeping the embargo on the importation of sugar, if what the honorable member for Capricornia has stated is correct? . . What I ask the Government to do is to remove the embargo on the importation of sugar. … If the Government will lift the embargo, I will guarantee that in two months sugar will be sold in Australia for 3id. per lb.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member for Capricornia is delivering a secondreading speech in relation to a matter that is not dealt with by this hill, and that his remarks are not in any way connected with the amendment.
– The honorable member must confine himself to the amendment.
– The honorable member for Forrest suggested that the Commonwealth should encourage the growth of sugar-cane in Papua and New Guinea by black labour. I am sorry that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) rose to order. Some years ago that honorable member attended a meeting convened by Mrs. Glencross, and, I believe, was the mover of a motion in opposition to the sugar industry. Sir Robert Best was also present at that meeting, and supported him..
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) also were there.
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable member is distinctly out of order.
– If the honorable member will glance at the schedule, he will see that it does not contain any mention of sugar.
– I am aware of that. I mentioned it because the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) suggested that it should be included: I want a definite assurance from the Minister (Mr. Pratten) that sugar will not be included, before some of his supporters move to have it included.
– I admire the enthusiasm which the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) displays at all times in regard to sugar. I have already stated that it is not the intention of the Government to encourage sugargrowing in Papua at the expense of the industry in Australia. The action that the Government took in December, 1924, when it renewed the Queensland sugar agreement for another three years in order to stabilize the industry, should be sufficient to assure the honorable member that, in the hands of this Government, at- all events, the great sugar industry of Queensland is safe.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to, with a consequential amendment.
Clauses 6 to 10, and the schedule, agreed to.
Title consequentially amended and agreed to.
Bill reported, with amendments and an amended title; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 28th January, vide page 504) :
Clause 3 -
Section 286 of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsections: - “ (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 GovernorGeneral 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.
On which Mr. Scullin had moved by way of amendment -
That after the words “ ships,” sub-section 0, line 8, the words “manned by white labour” be inserted.
– As I said on the second reading of the bill, the concession it proposes will not remedy the troubles of Western Australia or Tasmania. Those of Tasmania go much deeper than the difficulty of securing a certain volume of tourist traffic. Honorable members may not be aware that when the carriage of mails between Britain and Australia was being arranged the Commonwealth Government, as a con-: cession to Australian sentiment, agreed to pay a subsidy for the carriage of mails to the Orient Company and not to the Peninsular and Oriental Company, whose Vessels carried coloured crews. The committee is called upon by the amendment to say whether it will permit boats employing coloured crews to convey passengers and goods between Australian ports.
– Passengers only. None of these boats have ever carried cargo between Australian ports.
Mr.FENTON.- I take very little notice of what the honorable member says, because in these matters he is so biased. He is entirely lacking in Australian sentiment, and is an absolute black labour advocate. He does not care where he gets his goods, or by what class of boat he travels, so long as he can secure the service he requires cheaply. The honorable member bows every hour of. the day to the god of cheapness. I do not speak against coloured people as such, because I recognize that they have the same right to live as white men. But if in giving employment I am in a position to choose between a white man and a coloured man, I shall always choose the white man. “We often glory in the triumphs of our soldiers, and of the sailors who manned our naval vessels in the great war. But we should remember that the men of the mercantile marine played a most important part in it. When the war broke out the British Government demanded that all foreigners and coloured men should leave British boats, because it recognized that the mercantile marine would have most important duties to perform. During the war 15,000 men of Britain’s mercantile fleet lost their lives, and 7,000,000 tons of shipping was sent to the bottom of the sea. Australia is an island continent, and if there is one thing which, more than another, we should take into earnest consideration, it is the establishment here of an efficient mercantile marine. We cannot establish it if we permit coloured crews to take part in our Australian trade. If I had my way, I would not permit the employment of coloured crews on vessels carrying our mails.
– The honorable member would prefer German crews.
– Where the choice is between a white man and a black man, I am for the white man every time. The honorable member should not forget that the war is over now, and that amongst Germans, and descendants of Germans, we have some of the finest Australians in the country.
– Any foreigner will do for the honorable member.
– I believe that if I were called upon to vote for a Seabrook or a German, I should vote for the German, if he agreed with me in politics. I presume that, in the event of war, one of the first things the Commonwealth Government would do would be to forbid the employment of foreigners or coloured men in the boats tradingon our northwest coast.
– These ships were running before the war, and since. Why do away with them?
– I am aware that honorable members on the other side intend to vote for the employment of black crews on vessels carrying passengers from port to port in Australia. I do not agree with that. In my opinion, Commonwealth money could be better spent in subsidizing lines of shipping employing white crews in the Australian trade than in the building of cruisers, as, by adopting that course, we might establish an efficient mercantile marine that would be very handy in time of stress. I have every sympathy with Tasmania.
Mr.Bell. - The honorable member’s sympathy will not help Tasmania very much.
– My sympathy does not extend to permitting vessels manned by black crews to carry passengers to Tasmania. I am aware that the majority is in favour of the employment of vessels carrying coloured crews in the passenger service, and that though honorable members on this side talked until they were black in the face, they could not induce honorable members opposite to alter their minds. We have ample evidence of that in the fact that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), after delivering a speech in favour of the amendment, was next day placed across his knees by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), and given a good caning, and Avas compelled to recant. If the right honorable member could in that way be compelled to change his views, we can easily understand that weaker men on the other side will readily respond to the crack of the party whip. It is just possible that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) may stick to his guns, and vote with the Labour party on the amendment. If they have not already done so, I should recommend honorable members opposite to read a book I have here by Sir Leo Chiozza Money, in which reference is made to the part played in the war by Britain’s mercantile fleet. If honorable members were to adopt some of the principles laid down by the author of this book, they would not be found voting for the employment of black crews to carry tourists to Tasmania.
.- By interjection and otherwise, honorable members opposite have referred to me so frequently that I take this opportunity of explaining again my attitude towards this bill. In my second-reading speech, -I said, and I repeat now, that if I thought the White Australia policy would be jeopardized by this proposal I would vote against it. I accept as a compliment the. almost fatherly interest taken in me by members of the Opposition so early in my political career. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) suggested that the electors of Angas are not getting good value from their representative, and he ventured to predict what they might think and say in the future. One who invades the realms of prophecy is on very dangerous ground, and I remind the honorable member of how the Labour party’s glowing predictions regarding the division of Angas were falsified on the 14th November. The professed concern of honorable members opposite for the White Australia policy is very touching; if it were sincere, it would almost reduce me to tears. I am a firm believer in that principle, and I have heard nothing .in this debate to convince me that it is menaced by the bill, or that the relief proposed is not in the best interests of Australian ideals and development.
.- On the opening day of the session, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that, although the Opposition was reduced in numbers, its output would not be less than hitherto. In his generosity he might also have warned the House about the standard of that output. I have listened with considerable attention and no little pleasure to the speeches upon this bill, and, whilst most honorable members opposite side-stepped the issue with which the measure deals, their remarks, nevertheless, had the merit of being amusing. I congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) upon his introduction of the’ Bill, which represents an earnest desire on the part of the Government to do something for what has been hitherto the Cinderella State of the Commonwealth. I discern in the bill, also, a means of partial relief for portions of Queensland from the inconvenience and distress which sometimes develop, under the present industrial conditions. The assurance given by the Prime Minister will free honorable members of any anxiety as to how the provisions of the Bill may be applied. When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) spoke on the second reading’, he, apparently, had not been so carefully tutored as were some of his followers who spoke later. Possibly because he knew the depressing tendency of his speech, he essayed to become humorous, and stated that he had in mind the establishment of a Commonwealth service to meet the exigencies of Tasmania. He did not indicate how he would establish such a service. No doubt it would be fashioned after those highly successful State enterprises in Queensland, which, as experiments in the socialization of industry, have placed an overwhelming burden of taxation upon the people of that State. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West), who followed him, “boxed the compass,” but was so unfortunate as to always miss the bill.
– On a point of order, I ask whether the honorable member is entitled to discuss the second-reading speeches of other honorable members?
– Strictly speaking, the honorable member for Herbert was not in order in so doing, but I allowed him some latitude as a new member who is unacquainted with committee procedure. I now ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to clause 4.
– I thank you, sir, for the leniency you have extended to me, and hope that I shall not trespass. again. So far as I can see, the Bill does not contravene the White Australia policy, to which honorable members on this side subscribe their allegiance in as sane and. practical a fashion as do honorable members opposite. We have been told that the conversion of some critics of the bill must have been the result of severe caning in the’ Ministerial party rooms. But it is significant that all the squealing comes from members of the Opposition. They have declared that, unless this amendment is adopted, the bill will set aside the White Australia policy; in other words, the defence of that principle consists in the preservation of the Seamens’ Union, the only organization of labour which advocates “and canvasses for the inclusion of coloured workers in its ranks. But is any union the final arbiter of the destinies of a White Australia? Most decidedly not! Are not the primary producers, and those Tasmanian residents whose prosperity is partly dependent upon the tourist traffic, entitled to play a certain part in the fulfilment of- that policy? We have seen the conditions that apply to Tasmania operating in the north of Australia, and that experience strengthens our advocacy of this proposal, which is intended to give relief to Tasmania and other States under the stress of abnormal circumstances. I do not propose to discuss the question of sterilization which so thrilled the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), but I suggest to him that the brief visits of black crews to our ports will not be as great a menace to Australia’s racial purity as will the attitude of the Seamen’s Union in welcoming coloured seamen into its ranks. As a subscriber to the White Australia policy, I welcome, this bill as a means of practical help to Tasmania and other parts of Australia in times of necessity.
– I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr.
Nott). If the majority of the people of Australia consulted only their own selfish interests, as the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) does, they would sacrifice the White Australia principle, and allow coloured labour to be employed in the sugar industry of Queensland. In its adherence to -this ideal of racial purity the Commonwealth stands alone amongst the nations of the world, and because that policy is misunderstood abroad, because other nations, and even large numbers of people in the’ Motherland, are hostile to it, we should do nothing that would even remotely suggest that our allegiance to a great ideal is waning. What is the difference between permitting coloured men to be employed, on Australian vessels trading only between Australian ports and permitting them to work in our industries on shore? After all, it is only a matter of degree. The right honorable member for North Sydney” (Mr. Hughes) yesterday, in trying to explain his attitude, said that for years we did not discover the fact that we were permitting apples to be carried from Tasmania by coloured crews, thereby inferring that that happening could to some extent be compared with the Government s intention to permit passengers to be carried to Tasmania on vessels similarly manned. The position is entirely different. I doubt if we could force oversea boats trading with Australia to carry other than their present crews, whether black or white. But we can say as a Commonwealth what men are to be employed in our interstate shipping, and what wages and conditions are to obtain. Our power over that trade is just as sovereign and complete as our power to determine what wages and conditions shall apply to our workers on the land. Even if our own kith and kin overseas do not quite understand the White Australia policy, at least we in this national assembly should stand four-square to it. Indeed, we shall be giving a gre.at deal away from the industrial point of view if this chamber permits Peninsular and Oriental vessels to carry passengers between, say, Sydney and Tasmania. I do not agree with the proposed method of assisting Tasmania, because there are other ways in which this can be done. To prevent any interference with the White Australia policy we should at least prohibit our intra-state trade boats from carrying black crews. This country’s future depends entirely upon the maintenance of the White Australia policy. I have been in China, Java, Central America, and the United States of America. The southern states of the United States of America furnish us with a most striking example of the inter-mixture of races, showing how careful we must be respecting the racial question. When walking along the streets of Vicksburg, over which city ‘ flies the American flag, I encountered thirteen negroes to one white person. The fruits of the work of the colonists of the southern states are now entirely in the hands of the coloured people. They are not to blame, because that condition is the result of the slave system that was voluntarily entered into by British colonists. It was a short-sighted policy, and the consequent inter-mixture of races has caused a narrow class hatred the like of which will never exist in Australia so long as we keep intact the White Australia policy. Honorable members opposite have said that the bill, if passed, will not affect that policy, but we cannot be too careful. Tasmania will receive little benefit if we permit a few passengers to travel on Peninsular and Oriental steamers to and from that State. There are plenty of British boats manned by white seamen ready to help in our interstate trade, and I ask honorable members to stand behind the White Australia policy by accepting the amendment.
– It is surprising to hear honorable members opposite endeavouring, for reasons of their own, to persuade themselves, as well as their supporters outside, that there is some sinister design behind this simple proposal to relieve Tasmania of some of her financial difficulties. If there were the slightest danger of the White Australia policy being jeopardised by this measure no honorable member on this side of the House would support it. The Prime Minister in his speech yesterday clarified the position. He pointed out that the bill would not in any way endanger the White Australia policy, and that we could not accept the proposed amendment, because its inclusion in the bill would be an impingement upon the right of British shipping companies to employ whatever crews they desired, and that only in cases of absolute emergency would the Government give effect to this legislation. Honorable members on the other side loudly criticized the measure as having some sinister design on the White Australia policy; but I could not help reflecting that, during the recent British seamen’s strike, they did not evince any alarm when black labour was employed in removing Australian products to oversea markets. While British ships were held up, there was no hesitation on the part of the Labour party, or its outside organizations, to facilitate the employment of all sorts of coloured labour - black, yellow, or brindle.
– Where did this happen ?
– In various ports in Australia. No Labourite voice was then raised about an attack upon the White Australia policy. The employment of black labour evidently had the sanction, if not the approval, of the Labour party. It certainly did not express its disapprobation. British and Australian seamen witnessed the spectacle of vessels manned by all kinds of coloured crews leaving Sydney Harbour, and carrying, with the full concurrence of honorable members opposite, Australian produce to overseas markets. In that case, there was more danger to the White Australia policy than there is in a bill of this description. A great deal of the opposition to this measure does not arise from a genuine fear that the White Australia policy will be adversely affected. Every measure that is brought down to this House, no matter how remote it may be from the suspicion of party complexion, is used for party purposes by honorable members opposite.
– When the honorable member was in Opposition, did he not play the same game?
– Possibly ; when justified by circumstances. I am not finding fault with the Opposition for its attitude. I merely wish to show the unreal grounds upon which honorable members opposite oppose the bill, so that their remarks may not be taken too seriously by their supporters and the general public, who do not know, as we do, the tactics that are usually resorted to by the Labour partyrespecting all measures brought down by the Government.
Sitting suspended from 1 to2.15 p.m.
– Certain statements have been made by honorable members to which I think a reply is necessary. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), as well as the present speaker (Sir Littleton Groom), have always been proud of the Navigation Act, but now that a bill to amend it is before us we are told that the White Australia policy is not endangered. If that be so, why was it necessary in the original measure to legislate against the employment of coloured labour on vessels engaged in the Australian coastal trade ? It is generally agreed that the Navigation Act protects the Australian shipping industry against the employment of such labour. While I should like to see Tasmania relieved of her burdens, I cannot be a party to legislation which has for its object the employment of coloured crews in vessels calling there. We have been told by the Minister that of the 37 overseas ships about to visit Tasmania, 30 carry white crews.
Mr.Pratten. - Of that number seventeen are cargo boats, the balance being one-class passenger boats.
– The Government’s proposals will not cause any more ships to call at Tasmania, because the overseas shipping is in the hands of a huge combine controlled by Lord Inchcape. That combine was rendered necessary to protect British shipping against the keen competition of German vessels. The German Government granted subsidies to German shipping companies in respect of all trade derived from British colonies. The British combine to-day controls most of the overseas shipping of the world. Not only does it control the deep sea shipping on our coast, but it has also a controlling interest in the Australian interstate shipping companies. It is not likely that the passing of this legislation will affect the policy of that combine, which is out for profits. If the Tasmanian trade does not pay, ships controlled by that combine will not call at Hobart. The mere fact of this bill becoming law will not relieve Tasmania; any relief must come from the shipping companies. The Leader of the Opposition said that if he had the power he would institute a regular Commonwealth steamer service between Tasmania and the mainland. That would prove of direct benefit to Tasmania. The honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott), sneered at the idea of any government enterprise proving a success. As a new member of this Parliament, he, perhaps, is entitled to criticize the standard of debate in this chamber, and to lecture on the decorum which should be observed by honorable members. We shall see how he conducts himself as time goes on. I was grieved by the statements of the honorable members for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), Franklin (Mr.Seabrook) and Swan (Mr. Gregory), who said that they would be glad to see the Navigation Act repealed. Any one who remembers the conditions under which the seamen employed in the Australian coastal trade worked prior to the passing of that act, should hesitate before advocating its repeal. The Navigation Act has assured to Australian seamen a reasonable measure of comfort and cleanliness, particularly in regard to the places in which their meals may be provided. If it were repealed, those privileges would soon be withdrawn, because of the competition of foreign vessels. It has been said that fewer ships now trade with Tasmania than was the case some years ago. That is due to the general increase in the tonnage of ships. A few years ago vessels of 10,000 or 11,000 tons were considered large, but to-day the tendency is to provide vessels of 20,000 tons displacement for overseas trade. While it may be true that fewer ships are running, those ships are of a better class.
-We complain that they do not always run.
– The shipping companies will not send their ships to Tasmania unless a profitable cargo is assured. The passenger traffic to which this bill refers will not provide sufficient inducement to cause them to alter their policy. I have visited Tasmania during the apple season, and while I found that the accommodation on the ships was very good, that in Hobart was far from satisfactory. If the Tasmanian people desire overseas vessels to call at their ports, better accommodation will have to be provided for tourists after they land.
– The first necessity is a continuous shipping service; if that is provided the accommodation referred to bv the honorable member will follow.
– This bill will not provide a continuous service. We on this side are anxious to assist Tasmania, but we contend that this bill will not do it. All that it does is to authorize the shipping companies to employ coloured labour in the Australian coastal trade. In so far as it is the fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s promise, I have no objection to the bill, but I feel certain that in time the people of Tasmania will realize the correctness of the contention of honorable members on this side.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr.Scullin’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 25
Question so resolvedin the negative.
.- I move -
That the following words he added to proposed new sub-section6: - “ Provided that such permission shall not be granted to any unlicensed ships unless the owners agree to pay Australian rates of wages to the members of the crew during the period those ships are’ engaged in carrying passengers from one Australian port to another port in the Commonwealth.”
Certain honorable members opposite are consistent only in their inconsistency. They are always declaring in favour of protection being given to Australian industries, and now they intend to expose the Australian shipping industry to unfair competition from overseas vessels manned by black labour. I do not propose to traverse the arguments that have been so effectively advanced by honorable members on the Opposition side in favour of the previous amendment, which sought to exclude from the coastal trade ships manned by black labour. I suggest, however, that my amendment is one that should be acceptable to both sides, and I submit it in all sincerity. The Australian shipping industry is a most important factor in the development of this country, and it is only fair that a uniform rate of wages should be paid by all vessels competing in the interstate carrying trade forthe time they are so engaged.
– There is no competition at all.
– There is. We have nothing more than the assurance of the Minister that unlicensed ships will be allowed to engage in the Tasmanian trade only during a certain season of the year. Clause 3 as it stands gives the Minister power to permit unlicensed ships to enter into any trade in any part of Australia, provided he is “ satisfied “ that tourist traffic is being retarded. There is nothing in the bill about Tasmania, nor about the apple trade, or the various other excuses that have been advanced by Ministers for bringing the measure down. I, for one, am not prepared to trust the Government in the administration of the navigation laws. We have had’ experiences already which clearly show that this Ministry cannot be trusted to apply those laws in accordance with Australian sentiments.
– Will the honorable member mention one?
– I am not prepared to give any specific instance at the moment, because there are so many. If it had been intended that the measure should apply only to Tasmania, a sufficient safeguard could have been inserted in the bill to make sure that it would be so applied. A number of honorable members on the Government benches have suggested that their States should have the benefit of this proposal, and, in fact, one or two suggested that the Navigation Act should be repealed. With supporters having such anti -Australian views, the present Government cannot be trusted in this matter. I direct attention to the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in objecting to the amendment by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), suggested that it would discriminate between British and Australian ships. But this bill discriminates against Australian ships, and I say that that discrimination should be removed. It is reasonable that for the actual period in which British ships are engaged in carrying passengers to Hobart, or any other port, they should pay the difference between the British and the Australian rates of wages.
– I think that we shall get the right, honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) in the backwash on this occasion.
– He has spoken of the necessity to build up the Australian mercantile marine, and he has professed a desire to give the maximum degree of protection to this industry. If he is con’sistent in the view he has enunciated in this debate and on previous occasions, he will vote for the amendment; but, as the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) has said, one can never tell what the right honorable member may do.
.- 1 second the amendment. As I pointed out in my previous remarks, the evidence given on behalf of the shipping companies before the royal commission on the Navigation Act was that they could not be expected to engage in the regular trade if they were to be prevented from taking the cream, of it. I contend that if the overseas companies are to be allowed to scout for the interstate trade, they should be. compelled to make some little contribution in return for that advantage, especially when the overseas vessels are said to be required, so far as the interstate trade is concerned, for a service only needed, in the words of the right honorable member for North Sydney, by “the fastidious few.” Although in this debate direct reference has been made only to Tasmania, it may be the intention at some future time to apply the bill to any and every part of the Commonwealth which the Government could be induced to regard as suffering from certain disabilities. On page 298 of the minutes of evidence of the royal commission there is a schedule submitted by the steamship^ companies having reference to the passenger traffic between Sydney and Hobart from the 6th December, 1922, to the 28th February, 1923. The steamers Zealandia and Riverina cannot be regarded as second rate vessels. They are sufficiently commodious to give satisfaction to persons who desire to travel such a short journey. The period covered by the figures is that when the volume of tourist traffic to Tasmania is said to be the greatest.
On no occasion was the whole of the accommodation taken up.
– This bill will not become operative if that is the case in the future.
– I wish that I had m the Government a confidence equal to that of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). On the evidence there is no justification for the bill. Not one honorable member has proved that it is necessary. The assertion has certainly been made that it is; but it has not been backed up with facts. I cannot understand the action of the Minister, in view of the reply that he made to a deputation which waited upon him in Tasmania.
– Are there not occasions when the service for tourists is not available?
– I have quoted figures which show that the accommodation was available in the period named.
– Does the honorable member suggest as a fact that occasions have not arisen quite recently when the service was not available for the conveyance of tourists?
– The honorable member wants me to say that there have been times when seamen have held up vessels, and passengers have not been able to get across from Tasmania to the mainland. I admit that to be the case; and there will be similar occurrences even after this measure has been put into operation. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) blamed the seamen for unloading “black ships”.” If wharf labourers in future hold up vessels that are manned by black labour will they, under the provisions of the Crimes Act, be deported or imprisoned? I admit the holding up of passengers at different times; but no progress is ever made without a fight, and we shall not preserve our Navigation Act unless, by fighting, we let the public know that it is being whittled away by a brutal majority in this House that was returned to power on a tissue of falsehoods. I protest against this action of the Government. I hope that I have proved, from statistics, that the tourist traffic was not affected because oversea boats were not allowed to call at Tasmanian ports; but that, on the contrary, a greater amount of accommodation was available than was required. If I had the time I could quote statistics in regard to cargo, which would tell a story similar to that told in regard to the passenger service. Those honorable members who are in doubt regarding the passenger and cargo service that is offering in relation to Tasmania should read the evidence of witnesses who are acquainted with the position. When the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was appealed to a few years ago he said that this action could not be taken constitutionally. He is now supporting the very action that he at that time said would be unconstitutional. A metamorphosis has taken place, and the right honorable member for North Sydney is now a tame follower instead of an ardent fighter.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Coleman’s amendment).
The committee divided.
Majority … … 26
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- At this stage I propose only to say two or three further words on the clause. I wish to tell honorable members that, in my opinion, there was great significance in the last division, which was revealed chiefly by the enlightenment on the purpose of the bill given by the persistent question with which the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) interrupted the speech of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). The Government might have been frank when it introduced this bill, and have told honorable members what the real purpose of the measure is. That is what it did not do. We learn now that the real purpose of the measure is to enable the Peninsular and Oriental and other oversea boats to be used as strikebreakers. I confess that I was somewhat slow in waiting up to that. We have been discussing the bill in the belief that, it represented an honest endeavour on the part of the Government to deal with norma] shortages in coastal shipping. It is really a. strike-breaking proposition. Whether the Government is or is not entitled to exempt oversea vessels from certain provisions of the Navigation Act for the purpose of breaking a strike affecting shipping between the mainland and Tasmania is a question the merits of which I shall not go into at this stage. From its point of view the Government may feel itself justified in such action. The honorable member for Adelaide demonstrated by the evidence presented to the Navigation Commission that there is no need for this measure, because every month of the last year for which evidence was available to the commission, space was available on boats going to Tasmania; The honorable member was persistently interrupted by the honorable member for Fawkner with the question, ‘ ‘ Can you say that no occasions “ will arise when there will be no boat travelling between the mainland and Tasmania?” Then the honorable member for Adelaide, at the same time as myself, woke up to what is really behind this measure. . It is to be used to deal with a hold-up of shipping communication with Tasmania.
– Certainly it could be so used.
– It has been introduced for that purpose, and that alone, as the evidence submitted to the Navigation Commission proves.
– The honorable member has shifted his ground.
– Honorable members on this side put up a case to controvert that which they believed had been submitted sincerely by the Government, but which they now find was merely a subterfuge. The significance of the last division is that the Government wants this measure, not only to hold up the navigation laws of the country to permit oceangoing boats manned by coloured labour to trade with Tasmania, but also to put them, when there is a strike in the Australian shipping industry, in a position to break it by making use of the cheap labour of other countries. I suggest that if the Government wishes to utilize oceangoing boats as strike-breakers. it should at least insist that the owners shall comply with the Arbitration Court awards of this country. I leave the matter there.
– I wish to say a word or two’ in absolute contradiction of some of the extravagant statements that have been made during the debate on this bill. We have had a more or less interesting debate, which has covered the field of the White Australia policy in its racial and economic aspects, and the field just referred to by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). I repeat emphatically the words uttered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) yesterday when he said that this party by word and deed is standing for the White Australia policy. It has been admitted by honorable members opposite that the racial aspect of that policy is not affected by this bill. I assert definitely that this bill will help Australia economically. Let me say that during the tourist season certain steamers* are scheduled to call at Hobart to take oversea cargoes from Tasmania. Whether they carry passengers to Tasmania or not they will complete their itinerary. Whether they are manned by white or coloured crews will not alter that itinerary. This bill provides that these vessels may be allowed to take tourists to Tasmania, and thereby, in my opinion, divert some special passenger traffic that now goes abroad. I deny emphatically that the Government has the slightest intention to infringe in any way the White Australia policy in its racial or economic aspect, and I further absolutely repudiate that it has at the back of its mind any more than is set out in the measure in the very plainest language.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Pratten), by leave, proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The House divided.
Majority … … 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– In view of the very great interest of honorable members, and the public generally, in the recent complaints concerning the export of allegedly inferior canned fruits, I desire to inform the House that at a meeting of the Board of Trade in Melbourne yesterday the Eromanga shipment of canned fruits was discussed. At the request of the Department of Markets and Migration, the Department of Trade and Customs made available samples of fruit taken at the time of packing into cases and immediately prior to shipment. The examination of this fruit was held this morning, when many members of the Board of Trade saw the tins opened and inspected and sampled the fruit. It was found to be of excellent flavour and well graded as to size and colour, and the syrup strength was satisfactory. In. no tin was any green, mushy, discoloured, or over-ripe fruit seen, and the members of the Board of Trade are at a loss to understand the reasons for the complaints that have been made. Samples of Californian fruit also were on view, and the fruit from the Eromanga shipment generally compared more than favorably with the American article.
– I draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the disabilities imposed upon persons who desire to take out licences for listening-in to the wireless broadcasting stations, and I ask him to arrange for such licences to be available at as many post-offices as possible throughout the Commonwealth. Another grievance is that the wave-length used by the broadcasting station of the Trades and Labour Council in Sydney prevents the users of crystal sets from listening-in to the programmes broadcasted by Farmers and Broadcasters Limited. Cannot the Postmaster-General make arrangements for the Trades Hall station to use a wavelength that will not interfere with the programmes issued by other stations?
– The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) brought the question of listening-in licences under my notice some time ago, and I then promised to inquire into his suggestion. The departmenthas since made arrangements for licences to be obtainable at practically every post-office in the Commonwealth. In regard to the second complaint, it is very difficult to fix wave-lengths to suit everybody. The measure of interference of one broadcasting station with another depends upon the degree of selectivity of the receiving set. Interference is inevitable in some cases, but we are doing our best to minimize it.
– The statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), regarding the sale of inferior canned fruit abroad, hardly covers certain questions that have been asked from time to time since the House met. For instance, Mr. Frank Clarke, M.L.C., made serious charges, by which he cast a slur upon the departmental officers who control the exports from this country. Those charges, if true, are very serious ; if not true, those upon whom the slur is cast should be protected. I am not sure whether the Minister has said that he would investigate those charges, but I am under the impression that the matter came up a few days ago in a question on the notice-paper. The charges made by Mr. Frank Clarke - and he, no doubt, is prepared to accept responsibility for making them - were to the effect that exporters, by bribing the Customs officers, were able to send out of this country fruit considerably below export standard, the sale of which would greatly injure Australia’s good name abroad. If this has happened - and I hope that it has not - it is a serious thing for Australia. But, if the charge is . untrue, steps should immediately be taken to’ clear the names of the Customs officers against whom allegations have been made. I should like to know from the Minister if any steps have been taken by him or any one in authority to investigate thoroughlythe charges made by Mr. Frank Clarke, M.L.C.
.- The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) did, I believe, even before any question was asked in this House, announce that a full investigation was being made regarding portion of a shipment of canned fruit, some 5,000 cases, that was declared not up to standard, and therefore should not have been exported. We are trying to ascertain how that fruit left this country. The honorable member can rest assured that all steps are’ being taken to ascertain whether there is the slightest justification for any suggestion against the integrity of the Customs officials who inspected this fruit. The other charges do not affect the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth’s investigations are confined to the functions for which we are responsible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260129_reps_10_112/>.