10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following paperswere presented : -
Canberra -List of material manufactured overseas purchased by the Federal Capital Commission.
Commonwealth Oil Refineries - Reply to allegations made by Mr. H. W. Harrison.
Export Guarantee Act - Return showing Reports, Recommendations, and Assistance granted up to 31st March, 1926.
Grafton-Kyogle to South Brisbane Railway -
Agreement between the Commonwealth, of Australia Railway Council and the State of Queensland in regard to construction.
Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia Railway Council and the State of New South Wales in regard to construction.
Public Service Act - ‘Appointments - Department of -
Home and Territories - .
Works and Railways -
– Has the Treasurer noticed the statement in the newspapers to-day by Sir Arthur Cocks, a former Treasurer of New South Wales, that if the per capita payments to the States are discontinued taxation in New South Wales will be at least trebled 1
Dr.EARLE PAGE. - The statement to which the honorable member refers resembles very closely a statement made three years ago by Sir Arthur Cocks in reference to other proposals made by the Commonwealth, and it is grotesquely absurd. The Commonwealth’s proposal is that the per capita payments, which to New South Wales amount to £2,800,000 per annum, shall be withdrawn, an equivalent field of taxation evacuated by the Commonwealth, and certain subsidies given to the States, -which would enable the taxpayers to escape taxation amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds. If the Parliament of New South Wales levied just sufficient taxation to recoup the State for the loss of the per capita payments, and at the same rates as the Commonwealth imposes, every taxpayer in New South Wales would enjoy a reduction of income taxation. The State Government might, however, impose rates which would treble the tax on certain individuals, in which case the taxation paid by other individuals must correspondingly decrease. This is a matter entirely within the competence of the State Parliament, and has no relation to the financial proposals submitted by the Commonwealth.
– The State Premiers having refused to accept the proposals submitted by the Commonwealth, does the Government intend to proceed with them ?
– The Commonwealth Government called the State Premiers together in order to afford them an opportunity to express their views upon certain proposals. The Premiers have met in conference, and expressed their views, and the Common-wealth Government will at the earliest opportunity determine its future action, and make an announcement to the House.
– On page 5 of the memorandum prepared for the Premiers’ conference by the Commonwealth Government is a paragraph relating to the huge increase per head of population in Customs and excise revenue. The paragraph proceeds -
A reduction of customs duties or the substitution of bounties, resulting in the lowering of prices and the stimulation of production, might well prove to be of more benefit to some of the States than an equal amount provided by way of Commonwealth subsidy to the State.
What action does the Government propose to take to either amend the tariff or grant bounties in order to stimulate production and decrease the cost of living!
– The paragraph which the honorable member has read is an expression of opinion by Ministers, and is open for consideration by honorable members. The future action of the Government is a matter of policy, and the honorable member knows that it is not usual for the Government to make announcements of policy in answer to questions.
– Did thePrime Minister draw the attention of the State Premiers to the possibility that the increase of protective duties may have the effect of materially reducing the revenue of the Trade and Customs Department by reducing the volume of imports?
– I assure the honorable member that that aspect of the subject was fully placed before the State Premiers.
– Is the Prime Minister able to announce the intentions of the Government in regard to the requested bounty on raw cotton?
– That matter is now receiving the consideration of the Cabinet, and I expect to be able to announce a decision at an early date.
– Is it the intention of the Minister for Trade and Customs to ask Parliament to give effect to the recommendation of the Tariff Board that a bounty of 6d. per lb. be paid on cotton yarn produced in Australia ?
– I remind the honorable member that it is not usual for Ministers to make announcements of policy in answer to questions.
-Is the Prime Minister able to make a statement to the House regarding the proposed wire netting grants by the Commonwealth to the States? Has a definite scheme been prepared and submitted to the States, and, if so, is its operation dependent upon the approval of all the States?
– A definite scheme has been submitted to the States, and at the present time the Commonwealth Government is waiting to learn from some of the States whether they desire to avail themselves of the assistance which the Commonwealth has offered. When replies have been received from all the States, legislation embodying the Government’s proposals will be submitted to the House.
Preference to Returned Soldiers
– Will the Prime Minister consider the desirability of removing certain anomalies in connexion with the administration of preference to returned soldiers in the Public Services? A returned soldier, who was shot through both lungs, gassed, and wounded in the leg, and who served from the commencement of the war to the armistice, was employed by a Commonwealth depart ment for fourteen days, at the end of which he was dismissed, because under the Public Service Regulations first preference must be given to married soldiers. Does not the Prime Minister consider that an injustice was done in that instance, and that the regulations should be amended to permit of seriously disabled unmarried soldiers receiving consideration at least equal to that extended to married men.
– I cannot be expected to express opinions upon matters referred to me by question, but the object of the Government has always been to remove anomalies, and I am prepared to give full consideration to any case of hardship which the honorable member may bring to my notice.
Grant of Allowance while in an Institution.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he have inquiries made, and cause a list to be prepared for the information of the House, showing the institutions in Victoria whose officers are interfering with the 4s. allowance granted to old-age pensioners?
– No cases have come under notice in which pensions of 4s. per week, payable -to inmates of institutions, have been interfered with. If the honorable member will furnish specific instances, inquiries will be made.
Attack by Mr. H. W. Harrison - Supplies of Oil in South Australia.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr. PARSONS naked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable member is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished at the earliest possible date.
Non-attendance at Drills: Penalties.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follow: - 1 and 2. No details of these cases are available at headquarters, but I am obtaining a full report in the matter.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Which of the powers conferred by section 51 of the Constitution Act is being exercised by the Government in the proposed establishment of an Industry and Research Bureau?
– It is not the practice to give legal opinions in reply to questions in the House, but the honorable member is referred to section 81 of the Constitution, which provides that the Parliament may appropriate Commonwealth moneys (subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by the Constitution) for the purposes of the Commonwealth. Under section 51, the Parliament has power to legislate with respect to, inter alia, paragraph i, Trade and Commerce; paragraph ii, Taxation; paragraph iii, Bounties; paragraph vi, Defence; paragraph xxvii, Immigration; and paragraph xxxix, Matters incidental - in relation to each of which subjects the importance of scientific and industrial research is clear. In the United States of America, where similar appropriations have been frequent, no appropriation of money has ever been held to be unconstitutional.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether any finality has been reached in connexion with the proposed transfer of land at theRand wick Rifle Range to the State Government of New South Wales, and, if so, is it proposed to retain any portion for federal purposes ?
– Finality has been reached, and it is proposed to retain* portion for federal purposes.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.In view of the reported hold-up of Australian shipping between Eastern and Western Australia, will the Government make provision to enable British and other shipping to carry passengers and goods to and from Western Australia and other eastern States?
– The answers to thehonorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmtisterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Losses by States: Concessions to Returned Soldiers.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked the following questions: -
I am now able to supply the following information: - 1. (a) Under the migration scheme the Commonwealth has undertaken to raise £34,000.000 for the States. Part of this money is to be expended on land settlement. The money will be lent to the States at 1 per cent. per annum for five years, and one-third of the cost for a further five years. The balance of the interest charges will be shared equally by the Imperial and Commonwealth Governments. (b) Under the soldier land settlement scheme the following concessions have been made to the States: -
Rebate of interest charges at the rate of 2* per cent. per annum for five years on loan moneys amounting to £4,740,609.
Amount written off indebtedness due by States- £5,000,000.
It has also been decided that, from and after the 31st December, 1930, the rate of interest payable by the States on their indebtedness to the Commonwealth shall bo reduced to 5 per cent. It should he mentioned, further, that the Commonwealth has paid sustenance allowances, pending productivity of farms, totalling £528,900 up to 30th April, 1920.
Beyond informing the States that the concessions made by the Commonwealth “ would cover more than half the total losses involved in the soldier settlement scheme, and would enable the States to deal justly with all settlers in difficulty,’’ the matter of dealing with the returned soldiers has been left entirely to tho States.
The whole of the States have now notified their acceptance of the terms of the agreements with the Commonwealth. A bill ratifying the agreements will shortly be introduced, and Parliament will then have an opportunity of expressing its attitude towards the concessions and the conditions that should be associated.
Use of Imported Materials
– With reference to questions asked by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) relating to tenders accepted by the Federal Capital Commission for materials used in the construction and furnishing of buildings at the Federal Capital Territory, I lay on the table of the House a schedule giving the whole of the particulars. It will be observed from the schedule that £440,000 has been spent in the purchase of material, and of that amount only £306,000 has been expended on imported articles.
Debate resumed from 26th May (vide page 2336), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.-This hill should not delay the House very long, because it must meet with the general approval of every honorable member. Its object is to establish a fund to be utilized for the purpose of scientific and industrial research. No honorable member at this stage of our history will deny the importance of research in scientific and industrial matters. The sum of £250,000 is to be placed to the credit of a fund to enable scientific investigations to be continuous. This should meet with the approval of honorable members, because scientific research should not be dependent on votes passed from time to time. When, after an investigation has begun, funds are unexpectedly withdrawn, no finality is reached, and the money spent on the inquiry is wasted. When an investigation is started, opportunity should be given to those making the inquiry to complete it. It is therefore necessary to appropriate a sum of money, probably more than will be “used, so that those undertaking investigations may carry on their work continuously. I am glad that Parliament will retain control over the expenditure of this -money. It is provided in the bill that the proposals of the council must be submitted to Parliament before moneys can be expended on investigations. One of the most important matters in connexion with the endowment fund will be the training of young men for research work. It would not be of much use to establish the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research unless we trained men to specialize in various classes of work. It is indeed a wise provision to have a special endowment fund. The report submitted by Sir Frank Heath was full and comprehensive, and one that should meet with the general approval of honorable members. But I do not think that the Government has followed his recommendations entirely. I have- examined the proposals of the Government, and I believe that it is making an earnest attempt to establish this important institution on a sound basis. I do not think that the Institute of Science and Industry was ever established on a sound basis, and it will be readily admitted that its work has been very disappointing. Its methods were not continuous, and were carried out on lines that could not reach finality or success in matters of great importance. The Government is now lay”ing down a method of organization under which the States will have representation on committees; but the real work will be done by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, which will be the central body. That council, I believe, has been formed on sound lines. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Julius, who will be in charge of the work, and he impressed me very much, not because I know anything of his work in applied science, as he is an engineer, but because I ascertained, after a lengthy interview with him, that he has a thorough knowledge of the work which he suggests should be undertaken by the council.. He would not hesitate to ask for advice from specialists in the various branches of science and industry. He has had a wide and practical experience in various walks of life in this country, and I believe that his scientific knowledge and practical common sense will materially assist the work of the council. Its investigations, although limited for the time being, include many practical problems relating to the development and prosperity of Australia. The question of liquid fuel is to be investigated. This is surely a practical proposition, because to-day we are spending large sums of money on the importation of this commodity. I believe that there are great possibilities in Australia, probably second to none in the world, for the production of oil, but we must bring science to bear to assist in its discovery. One of the first subjects for investigation is forestry products. The various governments of Australia are equally to be blamed for allowing our forest products to be shamefully wasted. Various State Governments have opened up for settlement great tracts of forest country that ..should not have been cleared for another 50 years. Settlers have been placed in the heart of dense forests to eke out an existence under impossible conditions, and valuable timbers have been destroyed. We have the spectacle of State and Federal departments, when calling for tenders, specifying some of our most valuable timbers for commonplace work when ordinary timbers treated scientifically would have sufficed. Tenders are called by State Governments for telegraph poles of ironbark. It is a sin to use that class of timber for telegraph poles when inferior timbers would do just as well. We should reserve our forests of valuable timbers for special work. It is in matters of this kind that the council will be of great benefit to Australia. We must make an earnest endeavour to prevent the wasting of the great natural resources of this country. As members of the national Parliament, we must provide for future generations. Australia will not always have a population of only 6,000,000 people. Even without immigration, in a given number of years we shall obtain a huge population. In 30 years’ time, at the present rate of natural increase, the population of Australia will be more than doubled. Within the next few generations we shall have a population of 100,000,000. To safeguard our great natural resources, we must be guided by men of applied science and of practical experience in industrial matters. The Government is establishing the council on sound lines by calling to its aid scientific and practical men to cooperate on important problems. There is no need to discuss this bill at length, because another measure contains the details of the proposal. I do not think that any one will object to a fund being established to enable scientific and industrial research to be continuous. We should train the best brains’ of this country tq deal with these matters. Further investigation into the best means of dealing with the pests which affect our plant and animal life should be made.
– What about the pests in our political life?
– Other means of dealing with them will have to be found. I am afraid that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and I would not be in such agreement regarding the best means of ridding the country of the pests which affect our political life as we are regarding the necessity for, and the means of, dealing with the other pests which I have mentioned.
– So long as the work were done scientifically, it would be all right.
– Scientific treatment of political pests would be very rigorous. Some of them would receive short shrift. I commend the bill to the House, believing that it is a step in the right direction. In these matters no one can yet say the final word. The proposal contained in this measure is largely experimental; but it is an experiment which we ought to make. We should have the fullest possible information about the resources of our country, the methods of production, the way of handling our produce for export., and the means of preserving the purity of our foodstuffs, both that which is exported and that which is retailed among our own people. The advice of the experts to be appointed should be invaluable to Australia.
– Has the honorable member no good word to say regarding the work which has already been done? He assumes that nothing- has been accomplished.
– I did not say that-it would be a wrong statement. I know that good work has been done. My desire is that work like that of those who have laboured in the past should be placed on a better basis. This is also a proposal to co-ordinate, the work now being done. In no sphere is co-ordination and the exchange of ideas more necessary than in matters of scientific interest and importance. Scientific knowledge has been built up little by little by men who have studied different phenomena, and the sum total of the knowledge thus gained measures our progress. But coordination is essential. I do not deny that much has been done in the past. No one who takes even a passing interest in scientific research - and all men should be interested in it - can do other than pay a tribute to the men who have made sacrifices in the interests of science and of humanity. They have looked for no reward other than the benefit of their fellow men. Scientific men with reputations to uphold can generally be trusted to rise above the petty considerations which so often influence other people. I am prepared to trust them with sums of money, believing that they will use it in the best interests of humanity. These men are concerned for their reputations, and, generally, are so absorbed in their work that their remuneration and matters of finance are of comparatively little importance. As a result of scientific research and applied science, coupled with a sound organization of society - which we have not got to-day - I believe that, under wise and beneficent governments, future years will see the great burden of toil lifted from the shoulders of the mass of the workers, and will usher in an era in which the masses who produce the wealth of the country will enjoy it .more freely than they do to-day.
.- I intend to vote for this bill, the object of which is the socialization of scientific knowledge in the interest of the people. At present there is no co-ordination of the work of the scientists throughout the Commonwealth. Each State has its own staff of geologists and mineralogists, most of whom know little or nothing of the work done in the other States. The Public Accounts Committee, which inquired into the possibility of obtaining oil in Australia, realized the disadvantage of such lack of co-ordination.
It therefore recommended that the geologists of the various State departments should meet in conference with a view to greater co-ordination of effort. That was done, with beneficial results. This bill will also assist in that direction. The various State scientific departments could well be abolished, and their work performed by one federal authority. The only proof of the existence or otherwise of oil in Australia will be obtained bv boring. I believe that continued research, and increased scientific knowledge will, in time, justify the action of the Labour party in advocating a 44-h’our week. The application of science to industry should have the effect of easing the burden which to-day is borne by the workers. Australia should be grateful to those who in the past have devoted their energies towards improving conditions generally. Scientific research has resulted in two blades of grass growing where previously only one grew. It is conceivable that the work of the institute will result in three blades of grass growing where now there are two. The money to be spent should benefit the nation. Money expended in fostering scientific research, and in the accumulation of scientific information, is well spent. In no better direction could the federal surplus be used than in providing means for further scientific research. I desire to emphasize the need for the greater co-ordination of the work of the scientific departments throughout the Commonwealth. There should be no imaginary line of demarcation between the fields to be covered by them. As a result of my experience as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I am convinced of the necessity for greater concentration in these matters. This work should be done under one federal authority.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– In reply to a question to-day, I said that I would lay on the table of the House correspondence dealing with the attack on the Commonwealth Oil Refineries limited, and I also indicated that I would table correspondence relating to the action taken subsequently. I now lay the correspondence on the table..
Debate resumed from 26th. May (vide page 2335), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Although six years have elapsed since I made a somewhat optimistical speech on the subject of the Institute of Science and Industry, which was then being created, and although the activities of the institute have been somewhat curtailed, I am still optimistic enough to think that from the passing of this bill we shall realize something of what was desired when the original act was passed in 1920. Australia has not spent enough money in promoting scientific research. I make that criticism of all governments, irrespective of their political views. There are a thousand and one avenues into which the . activities of the new council should be extended. When honorable members from time to time have asked successive prime ministers for more assistance for the institute, they have been told that money was not available, with the result that six years, during which research activities on behalf of the people should have been carried out, have been wasted. That is almost a tragedy. Sufficient money has been available since 1920 to make the institute at least a live organization, yet, notwithstanding the refusal of governments to make money available, the institute, although greatly hampered, has done splendid work in restricted areas. But there are many questions waiting to be tackled, and they are important in their bearing on the development of this country. In manufacturing, in agriculture, and in the pastoral and mining industries there are prehistoric methods and wanton waste and incompetence, with the result that economic working is impossible. During the time that I have had the honour to be a member of this House. I have taken every opportunity to visit the factories of this country, and I’ very much regret to say that 70 per cent. of them are working uneconomically, with out-of-date plant and methods. In factory after factory one sees the man-handling of material that should be transported by machinery, and old-fashioned machines employed in the process of production. As a protectionist
I feel that I am partly responsible for the fact that manufacturers have not adopted up-to-date methods.
– As a protectionist, I feel the same.
– I make that statement notwithstanding that the free traders in this House will be able to say, “ I told you so.” In our desire to build up a great nation we have protected persons who have not done their duty to the nation that protects them.
– Sometimes the protection has not been sufficient to help them.
– I admit that; but I have in mind particularly two industries, which have ample protection against foreign competition, in which methods quite unworthy of Australia are employed. I hate to see men sweating over laborious tasks that should be done by machinery. Wherever one goes in this country, one sees prehistoric methods, outofdate machinery, and lack of organization and co-ordination. It may be said that that, after all, concerns only the manufacturer. The policy of the party to which I belong regards the organization of business as the especial care of the people. Every day governmental interference is becoming greater, and that is largely due to the instinct of selfpreservation. Most honorable members on this side of the House are of opinion that there should be still greater governmental interference, because private ownership, in the absence of wise direction, has failed. I realize that there are few members on the Government side of the House who will agree with those sentiments; but the fact remains that, on whichever side of the political fence one may be, he must be aware that an impartial investigation of Australian industries would disclose that many of the persons engaged in them do not understand the proper way to conduct them. It is there that the responsibility of the nation, as a nation, comes in. Owing to want of coordination and the use of prehistoric methods, the industrial development of this country is hampered. If articles are produced in this country by uneconomical methods, the people who buy them must pay an excessive price for them. My remarks are not intended as a wholesale condemnation of those who conduct our industries. Forty or 50 per cent. of the manufacturers of Australia appreciate the necessity for proper organization, notwithstanding the protection given to them. Many industries have their staffs of chemists and engineers constantly investigating new ideas from the other side of the earth, and, in addition, carrying on their own scientific research. But, notwithstanding the large amount of money spent in this direction by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the Davis Gelatine Company, the mining companies, and other private organizations, the nation, as a nation, has a responsibility in the matter. If only as a clearing house for the activities of the private institutions, the Government institute serves a useful purpose. In that direction, however, we have not reached the standard of the United States of America. I recently went over the Beale piano factory, and there learned, to my surprise, that all the information obtained by the manufacturers of America is available not only to Australian manufacturers, but also to competing manufacturers in America. There is a general clearing house of ideas in the United States of America, and everything discovered is made available to all.
– They have found that that is of advantage to all of them.
– And it is a wise policy. I have had three or four instances brought under my notice in which Australian manufacturers have discovered something of economic value, and have made it public. That is emulating the unselfish standard set up by the scientists of the world, who make available all possible information relating to their discoveries. There are many problems requiring urgent investigation in this country. We have investigated, with very little result up to date, the prickly pear menace. There is now about 29,000,000 acres of prickly pear in Australia, and the pest is spreading at the rate of over 1,000,000 acres a year. The tragedy of it is that the prickly pear usually selects fairly good country to grow in.
– Is it confined to one State?
– No. It exists in New South Wales and Queensland. I have passed through miles of prickly pear growing 10 feet high on agricultural land. It was an almost impenetrable mass, andtheroads through it were kept clear only by the constant knocking of the wheels of vehicles against the encroaching pear. In later years I have seen that 10 feet of pear replaced by 3 feet of wheat. A farmer who bought the land for a song put a large tractor on it, and rolled it backwards and forwards until he had reduced the pear to a mass of pulp. After that had dried there still remained a large growth which contained life. He continued to roll, and afterwards ploughed the land and sowed a crop. He obtained a wonderful result. After he had taken the crop off there still remained a large growth of pear, but he treated the ground again, and sowed another crop, with the result that he obtained more wheat and less pear than previously. To-day that land, comprising 400 acres, is entirely free from pear, and has produced many hundreds of thousands of bushels of wheat.
– Unfortunately, most of the pear is found near scrub and forest country.
– Most of the country covered with pear in the particular area I refer to is suitable for agriculture. That does not apply to the pastoral country in north-western New South Wales and western Queensland. Any country which will grow pear will undoubtedly grow crops, provided that it has the necessary rainfall. Recently the opportunity was afforded of witnessing an interesting experiment in the production of power alcohol from prickly pear. If one were able to accept the figures relating to the matter, and the result of the demonstration, the pear problem would appear to have been solved by the particular scientist concerned ; but I am sceptical regarding the possibility of producing from a ton of pear a sufficient quantity of power alcohol to cover the cost of the collection and treatment of the pear. Still, I believe that, if scientific research is properly directed, the pear will ultimately return a sufficient amount to pay for its own clearance. We have also in Australia the white ants and the borer pest. White ants are responsible for a very heavy annual loss to the people, not only individually, but collectively, through their governments. Upon railway works and in government buildings the borer and the white ant carry on their work of destruction continuously, day and night. Although investigations costing many thousands of pounds have been carried out, both privately and by governments, the solution of the problem of how to destroy them has not yet been discovered. We have preventive measures; we can take out one board and substitute a new board; but the proper method of coping with the ravages of the pest has yet to be found, and I hope that it will be discovered by the proposed Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. The Minister (Sir Neville Howse) has reminded me of the blow-fly pest. That pest is. particularly hurtful to the pastoral industry, of which many of us have had experience.
– You may minimize the ravages of the blow-fly pest, but you will never get rid of it.
– Whilst I was secretary of the western branch of the Australian Workers Union I travelled throughout the north-western district of New South Wales. I interviewed a number of men, and I learned that not less than a quarter of a million pounds were lost through the ravages of the blow-fly pest in a period of something like six months. I speak of the country down past Bourke and north of Bourke. That is an excellent argument in favour of cutting up the large estates which are to be found in that district. The holders of that country found it impossible to handle their sheep. If their areas were cut up into 5,000 or 10,000-acre blocks, there would be little or no loss.
– Is that an annual loss ?
– The sum I have mentioned was lost in that particular year. Very heavy rains were experienced, with a consequent prolific growth of herbage, offering a splendid opportunity for the fly to carry on its operations, and cause heavy mortality among the sheep. Very extensive investigations have been made into the blow-fly pest. The honorable member for Wannon interjected just now that «ve could not proceed very far with the investigations of that problem.
– I did not say that. The correct formula for the destruction of the fly has been discovered, and it is now only a question of utilization ; but you will never get rid of the fly.
– Investigations have been proceeding for a considerable number of years, principally in New South Wales. Good results have un doubtedly been achieved in minimizing the effects of the pest, but I believe that we can go still further. In New South Wales and Queensland it has been decided to employ cochineal insects, and other insects of that species, in an effort to destroy the prickly pear. Id the short period of three months the effect has been undoubted, and ultimately the cochineal insect may prove to be the solution of that particular problem.
– Only with certain classes of pear.
– There are three main classes of pear in Australia, and my information is that although the cochineal insect has a preference for certain classes it will attack all. We may also be able to discover a parasite that will similarly attack the blow-fly pest. I am not prepared to accept the dictum that we have gone as far as it is possible to go in that direction. Information as to the loss that the blow-fly causes to Australia is not available, but I think that we have sufficient grounds for saying that it amounts to not less than half a million pounds a year. The pastoralist may be the direct sufferer, but the loss ultimately falls upon the people generally. Every pound of wool or meat that is destroyed is a national loss, and the matter must therefore be given national consideration. There are many subjects upon an investigation of which we might embark, but my view is that the most important is the manner in which we are dealing with our fuels. There are vast deposits of fuel in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, and we are using them as though the supply were unlimited. I am not sufficiently versed in chemistry, nor have I sufficiently investigated the matter, to compute the loss upon a ton of coal with our present methods. I grant you that some manufacturers have applied scientific methods to the consumption of their fuel. Om municipal by-laws have in a great degree been responsible for that, because the municipal authorities will not allow black smoke to issue from the chimneys of our factories. But the fact remains that not less than half the quantity of fuel which Is put into the average boiler is lost in the form of smoke and very valuable gases. All over the world there has been a scientific investigation of that problem. With properly applied methods we could do an equal amount of work with half the quantity of fuel that is now consumed. Sir Frank Heath, in his valuable report to the Government, specifically referred to the wastage of our fuel. Two years ago I w;as approached by some opal miners who were mining near Tintenbar, in New South Wales. The field was in a wash, and the opal had remained in water so long that it had become practically permeated with moisture. When it was taken to the surface the moisture dried out of it so quickly that cracks immediately occurred in it. In the hope of discovering some means of dehydration of the opal, the miners sought my assistance. I took the matter to the Institute of Science and Industry, which tried in every possible way to discover how the cracking could be prevented. A good deal of time was spent upon the investigation, but the Institute had not sufficient money to employ a man to make extensive experiments. On another occasion a group of miners working on refractory ore sands containing gold asked me to see what I could do for them. I sent that particular problem to the Institute of Science and Industry, but on account of the lack of facilities and funds it had to pass it on to the Mines Department of the State. Those are but a couple of instances, chosen haphazard, of the problems that confront the people throughout Australia. I believe that the scheme which is now proposed is a sound one. Each of the States will handle the activity that is peculiarly applicable to it. New South Wales, being the principal coal State, will handle that matter. Victoria and New South Wales will deal with forestry matters, in conjunction with the main Forestry School at Canberra. A reference to forestry inevitably inclines one to refer to agricultural and pastoral activities, but particularly to the former. Although it is provided that there shall be an agricultural section, I am not at all satisfied with the provision that it shall be included in the activities of the proposed council. In’ the United States of America the Federal Government spends annually £6,000,000 upon agricultural research. Whilst all the agricultural States of America have their own bureaux of agriculture, the work of those bureaux is coordinated and supplemented by the Federal Bureau! In Australia we have State bureaux of agriculture or organizations with other names, serving the same purpose, and investigating problems brought forward from time to time. The activities of these organizations are not being co-ordinated, and as the Federal authority this Parliament has a responsibility in that regard. The Commonwealth is in a better position, financially and in other respects, than are the States, and it is our job to create in Australia a Federal Bureau of Agriculture as has been done in America. I am hoping that ultimately the agricultural section will be taken from the proposed council and made< a separate section. I trust that the Government will make sufficient money available, not only this year, but in succeeding years, to render this council a live organization. Natonal development and the national contentment of the people should be our paramount considerations, and not merely of profit or money. The preservation of the health of the workers, and the prevention of accidents to them should nave our first attention. In the United States of America insurance companies, and particularly accident insurance companies, spend large sums of money to secure the adoption of methods and apparatus to prevent accidents in mines and factories. There are many works available showing what is practically a standardization of methods and apparatus for the prevention of accidents in wood-working and other factories. Apparatus is designed to surround machine belting and machinery for sawing and other high revolution machinery. There is apparatus attached to wood-working machinery which makes it almost impossible for a man’s fingers to be cut as the result of an accident. Most of this apparatus is automatic, and some is semi-automatic. Information concerning these methods and apparatus for the prevention of accidents is available, and the matter is one which should be’ dealt with by such »n institution as that proposed to be created under this bill. It might be said that this is one of the exclusive concerns of the States, but in view of the fact that we pay invalid pensions, and are ultimately affected as a nation in this connexion, t)i;s Parliament should do all that is possible to secure the prevention of accidents to workers by the standardization of apparatus and methods for their protection. Six years have passed since the Institute of Science and Industry was first established, and I hope that when the next ‘six years have passed the council proposed to be created by this bill will be a live institution which will achieve something, and that its finances will not be starved by the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to- -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Science and Industry Act 1920.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
In committee (Consideration of bill resumed) :
Clause 1 (Short title and citation).
.- I have no wish to delay the committee at any length, but there is one phase of the bill in which I am particularly interested. I give the measure my whole-hearted support, and regard it as a move in the right direction. The proposed Council of Scientific and Industrial Research will afford a better opportunity of securing the corporate wisdom of the scientists of Australia, and their concentration on the problems submitted to them, than is given under the existing act, with one man in charge of the institute as director. There is one point upon which I should like to have heard the Prime Minister at greater length ; I refer to the all-important matter of proposals for the application of science to industry. This country lacks almost any measure that, in return for the grant of protection, ensures to the people that goods of any specific standard shall be produced. It is generally acknowledged that the standards of Australian goods are not up to the standards of our world competitors. The system adopted in all highly scientific manufacturing countries includes a process for linking up industries with scientific research through such bodies as that to be created under this bill. Organizations are created, such as standardization boards and panels, which secure the linking up of every branch of industry with the scientific bureaux. Whilst the findings or specifications of the panel in connexion with each industry have not the force of law, and are not binding upon manufacturers, they are so accurate and scientific as practically to have the force of law, and secure the production of highclass products. I take the case of cement as an illustration for this country. When 1 looked into the matter, I found that there were in use 27 different kinds of cement. There was no standard specification upon which manufacturers, builders, and, for the matter of that, governments could rely. With responsibility for the construction of public works, the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) will appreciate the fact that if standards determined by panels were published throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, governments undertaking public works would be in a position to specify materials according to standards laid down and approved. If the same principle were applied to the whole of the products of the nation, it would be impossible for “ shoddy “ of any description to reach the market. The published specifications would become the known standards of the country. It is time that Australia woke up, and established some means by which manufacturers might be induced to make goods of high quality in return for the handsome benefits they receive under our policy of protection. Scientific research is a beginning, but to leave the matter there would not give a return to the country for the money spent upon the organization proposed to be created. The bill offers limitless opportunities for discussion, but I content myself with directing the attention of the Prime Minister to the necessity for the establishment of standardization boards.
, - I entirely agree with the honorable gentleman as to the transcendent importance of doing- something to bring about a better system of standardization throughout Australia. The Standards Association has been doing very valuable work, and I trust that it will go very much further in the future. Up to the present it has been able only to operate by trying to bring interests concerned together, and get them to agree as. to a basis of standardization, and then adopt the system laid down. One hopes that these standards may, as time goes on, be embedded in legislation in the various States. This is another of the questions which should be dealt with on a national basis. We should not rely solely upon
State legislation to ensure the adoption of the highest standards of production. Already the Government is doing what is possible to further the work of the Standards Association.
.- I said, when speaking at an earlier stage of this bill, that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research will do more immediate good if it studies the health of the people than if it applies itself to abstruse problems, the elucidation of which may, in the dim future, benefit Australia. In the words of Ruskin, “Health is the only wealth.” I have just received a letter from one of the most noted dietists in Australia, in which he says : -
The reply given by Mr. Atkinson to your questions in the House of Representatives seems to evade the real issue at stake. The Minister admits that natural foods withoutadded chemical preservatives are the best for health. It is now well known to science that cancer will not attack healthy tissue, or a healthy organ. The only way to keep the body healthy is by natural foods, and to prevent the average daily dose of 8 grains of chemical preservatives coming into the system, which are now looked upon as cancer poisons. In the laboratory, cancer is produced by rubbing certain chemicals into the skin of animals. The time has arrived for the Federal Government to take action to ensure that the public get natural unprocessed foods, free from dangerous chemical preservatives, as a means of keeping the masses healthy. The adding of chemical preservatives is like dropping the danger signal, while the danger is still on the line, for the simple reason that these added chemicals do not kill the dangerous germs in our foods. They are only sleeping, to wake up when they arrive in the intestines. The Federal Government owe a duty to the people in stopping this unnecessary doping of foods.
Geo. E. Payne Philpots, President,
The Food Education Society.
A German scientist actually planted cancer in the skin, and it failed to grow. His experiment proved conclusively that cancer cannot thrive in a healthy tissue. This proposed council should be asked to investigate the foods’ of the people, declare which foods are most nutritious, what proportion of preservatives may be used without detriment to health, and so forth. People in the back-blocks should be taught how to make water fit for drinking. Hydatids are most often caused by the drinking of impure water that has not been boiled.
– Is boiled water as good as unboiled?
– I have drunk boiled water for 40 years, for I have not enough faith in the water supplies of Melbourne and Sydney, good though they are. Butter can be made without the use of preservatives, and I propose, with the assistance of the Minister for Health, to make known those brands of butter which contain no preservatives, so that the people may have an opportunity to buy them Proper attention to food may save countless lives, and prevent growing children from becoming weak, and, therefore, more susceptible to disease. If honorable members will help to give the people a good food supply, they will be laying the foundation of a community of healthy adults, which is the greatest asset any nation can possess.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
After Part III., the following Part and sections are inserted: -
Partiiia. - ‘State Committees. 12a. - (1.) The Governor-General may appoint a State committee in each State consisting of such number of members as is prescribed. (2.) The terms of the appointment of members, and the method of appointment of the chairman of each State committee, shall be as prescribed. 12b, The function of each State committee shall ‘be to advise the council with regard to -
the general business of the council; and
any particular matter of investigation and research.
– In South Australia, the State Advisory Council of Science and Industry has been in operation for many years, and has issued seven reports. The Prime Minister stated that the Commonwealth desired to avoid overlapping and duplication ; and I understood him to say that this bill has the general approval of the State Premiers. To what extent will the State committees to be appointed under this measure co-operate with the existing State committees? It appears to me that the new bodies will be either additional to the existing State committees, or will supersede them. The committee in South Australia has done valuable work, and has attracted the voluntary assistance of a large number of public-spirited and well-informed citizens. It would be a misfortune if this legislation forced that committee out of existence.
– I do not think that is contemplated.
– I should be glad to have a Ministerial assurance to that effect. The bill seems to contemplate the establishment in each State of a branch of the federal body, regardless of existing State committees. Alternatively, the State committees may carry on more or less in competition with the Federal bodies. Nothing is more deplorable than quarrels between scientific men and bodies engaged in the same researches. I hope that the services of existing State committees will be utilized to the maximum. Co-ordination of effort is most desirable, and that will not be achieved if any new body invades a sphere already occupied by a State body, and seeks not to co-operate with it, but to displace it.
– The Government hopes that by the extension of the functions of the council, it will obtain the cooperation of all the States. The council will seek advice from those who are appointed to the State committees. Some States already have such committees, and we shall ask those -who have not to appoint committees to act in coordination with the central council.
.- I . understand that the intention is really to invite the State Governments to nominate some of their own expert officers to the State committees. Those experts will really be lent to the Commonwealth for special work. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) questioned the position of State committees. We should all deplore the enforced abandonment of existing State committees which have done, and are doing, very good work. I think that the intention is to co-operate with existing bodies, and to invite State Governments to appoint officers from their departments to State committees, which, if necessary, will consult outside persons interested in special subjects. They will really act as advisory committees to the central council.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Bonuses for discoveries by officers).
– I should like the Prime Minister to explain why sub-section g of section 11 of the principal act is to be omitted? It reads -
The collection and dissemination of information regarding industrial welfare and questions relating to the improvement of industrial conditions.
I have no doubt that the Prime’ Minister has in mind the handing over of this work to another authority. It is essential that work for the industrial welfare of Australia should continue. The success of industries in the United States of America has largely been due to the close co-operation of employer and employee, bringing about a community of interest; which, as we were told at the last election, is one of the aims of the Nationalist party.
– The Government attaches great importance to the work of industrial welfare, but believes that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research- is not the proper authority to deal with it. The Government contemplates bringing down other proposals to deal with the subject of industrial welfare and the improvement of industrial conditions, which is one of the most important and far-reaching problems with which we are faced. The general question of economics, statistics, industrial conditions, and the appointment of a staff of trained economists who will be able, not only to collect statistics, but also to draw proper deductions from them, is at present occupying the attention of the Government. The honorable member may rest content that the omission of sub-section g from the act does not mean that the work of collecting and disseminating information will be discontinued in future. We intend that it shall be carried out by an authority other than the council.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) that this provision is of extreme importance so far as it relates to efficiency in industries. In the United States of America the collection and dissemination of information regarding industrial welfare and the improvement of industrial conditions is controlled by the Department of Labour, and an invaluable amount of information is distributed throughout the world. The Government would be well advised to establish an industrial department on the lines of the American Department of Labour. There is in Australia an enormous field of information to be gathered, and the establishment of an industrial department here would have a very beneficial result.
.- I am not quite satisfied with the explanation of the Prime Minister. He has said that something will be done later to enable the question of industrial welfare and conditions to be properly dealt with. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research might very well inquire into the conditions of factories in which acids are used and injurious fumes arise. These matters vitally affect the community. The latest American and English industrial journals show how necessary it is that the employees should be represented on boards of scientific research. It is quite possible that factory processes may be detrimental to the health of the employees in an establishment.
– That is all covered by the bill.
– It should be set out in the bill. I hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to the matter raised by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
– I assure the honorable member that such questions as the effect of industrial processes upon the health of the community will be fully dealt with. It is contemplated that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research shall investigate important matters affecting the promotion of primary or secondary industries. Sub-section g, which it is proposed to omit from the act, merely deals with the collection and dissemination of information. The Government believes that that work could be better handled by a central authority, whose job it would be to collect information. In any case the actual research work would be the function of the council.
Clause agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 1.1 to 2.15 p.m.
Clauses 12 to 17 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce), by leave, proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- I wish to emphasize the need for close cooperation between the States and the Commonwealth in connexion with the administration of this bill. It would appear from the drafting of the bill that the Commonwealth is not so keenly desirous of associating with the States as it should be; and I ask that in the framing of regulations relating to the appointment of State committees the need for co-operation with the States be kept constantly in view. So far as possible the Commonwealth and the States should work in harmony and as one.
– I regret that among the three members appointed to the central council there is not an expert mining authority. A great part of the area of Australia, in addition to being auriferous, contains valuable minerals other than gold. Mining men with whom I have come into contact recently have expressed the opinion that the Minister - should nominate a mining expert as a member of the council. Much of the progress of Central Australia in the future will depend on the development of mining, not only for gold, but also for the other minerals with which Australia is naturally endowed. Although the original act made provision for co-operation with the different colleges, universities, and technical schools, that co-operation has not been brought about to the extent that it should have been. I understand that the administration of the institute in the past has been too highly centralized. We have had an example of the evil effects of that in Perth, where a committee, of which the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) was a member, was appointed under the act. The committee dissolved because of the lack of interest in its work shown by the institute in Melbourne. It made valuable investigations, particularly into tanning, and the production of wood pulp also engaged its attention. Mr. Boas, who did splendid work in connexion with the committee, became disgusted at the way in which his efforts were cramped. Eventually his services were secured by a company in the eastern States, at a salary two or three times as great as that paid by the Federal Government. He did not leave because of the higher salary offered to him, but because he knew that no attention was being paid to the efforts of him or his committee. I hope that the reconstructed institute will get into touch with all the schools of mines in the Commonwealth, and will avail itself of their services. Those schools have done valuable work in mineralogy. There is a notable school at Ballarat, about which the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) can speak, and splendid work is being done in the School of Mines at Kalgoorlie, where investigations are being made into the flotation oil process for the treatment of gold-bearing minerals. That process promises to revolutionize the gold-mining industry if the Government will subsidize that industry as it has subsidized almost every other industry in the Commonwealth. I see in the bill a recognition that the institute, although it did good work in its old dress, fell far short of what was expected of it. We hope that in its new dress the co-operation which has been lacking in the past will be brought about. The outstanding cause of the failure of the institute in the past was undoubtedly that the administration was too centralized. It did not make use of the knowledge acquired in the different States. The head of the new institute should visit the different States and personally investigate the work being done there, so that it may be co-ordinated and made use of by the central institute in Melbourne.
. Both the honorable members who have just spoken may rest assured that their views are to a great extent shared by the Government, and that it is intended in the administration of the bill to give effect to those views. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) expressed a desire for more cordial co-operation with the State Governments and the authorities that are carrying. out research work all over Australia. I can assure him that that is what is contemplated. Steps have already been taken in the appointment of the State committees to ensure that there shall be representation of every section and every interest in the community. During the past week the State Premiers, with the exception of the Premier of New South Wales, have been in Melbourne, and the Government has had an opportunity to discuss this question with them. It is proposed that three members of each of the State committees shall be appointed by the State Governments. The Premiers have expressed their sympathy with the Government’s objective, and their readiness to co-operate in every way possible. The co-operation which, it has been suggested, was lacking in the past, will be, as far as possible, assured under this bill. It is expected that there will be representation of all important interests and of every branch of science. That council will consist of the three members appointed by the Government, and the chairman of each of the State committees. The chairman of the State committees will unquestionably possess knowledge of a wide range of subjects; but if it is found that the council does not include a representative of a branch of science which should be represented, there is power under the bill for it to co-opt, with the consent of the Minister, such additional members as may be required. If, for instance, it was found that there was no mineralogist on the council, such a person could be coopted. The difficulty which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) foresees will, therefore, be overcome.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section 1 1 of the principal act is repealed.
Section proposed to be repealed -
No Crown lands in the Territory shall he sold or disposed of for any estate of freehold, except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this act.
.- This is a very important provision, and it requires careful consideration. A big principle is involved. It is extremely doubtful whether the application of the freehold system to the Northern Territory will be beneficial. The provision in section 11 of the act was expressly made not to apply to contracts that had been entered into prior te the passing of the act. Now, fifteen or sixteen years later, we are asked to repeal that provision so that the Crown lands of the Territory may be alienated. If this provision is agreed to, extensive tracts of country may be sold outright to individuals, syndicates, or companies. The whole question of land settlement in Australia is opened up by this proposal. It is well known that to-day many of the State Governments are hampered because the fee simple of their lands has passed out of their possession. Had they continued to control thoselands they could now settle people upon them, instead of having to allow them to remain in the hands of big corporations, which have not their headquarters in Australia but are drawing large revenues from them. Such a policy in no way benefits Australia. Before we agree to the adoption of this proposal we should consider the resultthat it may have upon tho different States. In every State the land that is at present available for settlement is in the “ never never,” far removed from railway or other communication. Close to Melbourne there is a great deal of land that could be put to much better than its present use; it should be producing crops instead of carrying stock.
– It is sometimes a fallacy to suppose that because land is carrying stock it is not being put to its best use.
– There may be something in that contention; but it does not alter the fact that in every State there is land which, although suitable for the raising of agricultural products, is devoted to cattle, whereas cattle could be raised on land further inland that is not arable.
– Sometimes the rainfall is the determining factor.
– Of course; rainfall is a factor in everything.
– I refer to territorial rainfall; it might be so great as to prevent the carrying on of agriculture.
– That might be the case in exceptional circumstances. But surely the honorable member does not contend that the rainfall generally would be so abnormal as to preclude successful engagement: in agriculture! Statements have been made regarding the desirability of settling people on small freehold areas; but they should not affect the consideration of this matter. With leasehold tenure, you can safely dispose of very large areas where the land is not suitable for small men, but if you alienate the freehold you will prevent subsequent settlement in ‘small areas, should it be otherwise possible. Our greatest need in the Northern Territory is population. We must populate the northern part of Australia if we wish to hold it. How will it be possible to provide for a big population if we give away that vast territory in areas of hundreds of square miles? That is the danger which I apprehend from this proposal. -No one can say that the continuance of the leasehold system will hinder the development of the Northern Territory. At present the land is held by the Crown, subject to certain leases, which have a number of years to run. If you give a free title to the land who will get it? Will it not be those individuals who hold it under lease to-day ?
– That could not be done under this bill.
– I am not saying that it could; but it is proposed to adopt a principle which will ultimately have that effect.
– Why can it not be done under the bill?
– The land could not be given away in large areas.
– There is nothing to prevent that.
– Yes; there is.
– If the freehold system of tenure is adopted, those who now lease the land will have a preference when it comes to be alienated in fee simple. What was the experience of New South Wales in the early days? In that State as large an area as 1,000,000 acres was given to one company, which, until recent years, when the imposition of the land tax compelled it to sell, practically kept that land out of use. For almost a century that land could be used for no other purpose than to grow timber and run a few cattle. Yet it was eminently suitable for settlement. Right up through the Gloucester district, which I represented for a considerable time, hundreds of settlers have become established in the twenty years since the company threw the land open. We are all hopeful that the Commission which is to be appointed will effect a big improvement in the development of the Northern Territory. Why should we establish a principle that may be detrimental to that development ? Why should not this matter be left in abeyance until the Commission has had an opportunity to decide upon the best course to bo adopted? I have not been to the Northern Territory, but I have gathered a lot of information regarding it from the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), and from certain Ministers who have been there. Every report which has been made upon it has shown that it contains large areas that are suitable for settlement. The Commonwealth has inaugurated an immigration policy, and is making available a great deal of money for the settlement of people upon the land. In New South Wales the cost of settling one person is in the vicinity of £3,000. If our Commissioners find that there is sufficient suitable land to absorb 100,000 white people in the Northern Territory, why should we not devote our expenditure to their settlement there? Twelve months after its appointment, the commission should be able to report upon the land that is suitable for closer settlement. If it is shown to be possible for us to absorb in a given number of years 10,000, 15,000, or 20,000 settlers, what a big thing that will be for the Northern Territory! We are relying too much upon the ability of the States to absorb the immigrants who arrive in Australia. Honorable members who have recently been in New South Wales will bear out my statement that there are hundreds of applicants for every block of suitable land that is made available in that State. Every other State has a similar experience. If there is good land in the Northern Territory, why should we not devote our attention to it? Every Government that has been in power in the Commonwealth since South Australia handed over the control of the Northern Territory has failed to make a success of it. Why ? Because the Ministers were not in sufficiently close contact with it, and did not understand its problems. It is hoped that success will follow the appointment of a commission of competent men. Would it not be a fair thing to allow those men to say what policy should be pursued? Surely this bill might be allowed to stand over until the Commissioners are appointed, and given time to suggest a land policy for the Territory. We are not in a position to decide for ourselves the best way in which to deal with its lands. Having decided that the appointment of the commission is in the best interests of the development of the Territory, the Government would do well to await its advice before submitting legislation to deal with these lands. I do not think that it is in the best interests of the country to adopt the freehold system in the Northern Territory. We have recently had reports from the Federal Capital Territory which go to show that the leasehold system adopted there is best in the interests of its development. Sir William Lunn, who is on a visit to the Commonwealth, and is acquainted with the conditions obtaining in America, has said that the policy adopted for dealing with the land in the Federal Capital Territory commends itself to him. He considers that it was a wise step to retain the freehold of the land there. I agree with him, and I say that we should follow the same course in the Northern Territory. I ask the Minister in charge of the bill whether he cannot see his way clear to defer its consideration for a time.
Mr.SCULLIN (Yarra) [2.47]. - I hope the committee will reject this clause. Although this is a most inoffensive looking bill of three clauses, it is revolutionary. It strikes at one of the biggest principles laid down in the original act governing the Northern Territory. After a lapse of sixteen years the Government, without any reason given, and with very brief explanation, proposes that section 11 of the principal act shall be repealed. That section was deliberately inserted by the Parliament when the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth, to prevent the sale of the great leaseholds. The section reads -
No Crown lands in the Territory shall be sold or disposed of, for any estate of freehold, except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this act.
– What is the date of the act?
– I have quoted the section from the Northern Territory Administration Act of 1910. The principle embodied in that section has been adhered to by succeeding governments ever since. On the general question of the relative advantages of the freehold and leasehold systems, I agree with my leader (Mr. Charlton) that the greatest obstacle to the progress of the development of the country has been the granting of the feesimple of land, it has been the foundation upon which land monopoly has been built up. Once the fee-simple of land is parted with it is impossible to prevent land monopoly. The practice of dummying has been indulged in in every State. When the fee-simple of land is granted to individuals, it is impossible to prevent the aggregation of large estates. Then we have the farce of the State buying back lands, at an enhanced value, and later generations are burdened with the increased cost of the land. One thing which confronts this nation is that we shall have to expend millions of money upon the Northern Territory. That money must be taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers. If it is expended upon the development of a country which . remain s in our hands, there will be some justification for the expenditure. If Ave are going to spend millions upon the construction of railways and other development works, and at the same time to hand over the fee-simple of the land to individuals who will enjoy the unearned increment of value given to the lands by public expenditure we shall be false to the trust imposed on us. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) says that under this bill it will be impossible to grant a freehold title to large areas of country. I ask him to point to anything in the bill which would prevent it. The measure proposes to repeal one of the most important sections of the principal act, and the only section which prevents the sale of the freehold of land in the Territory. Once we repeal that section the Government will be able to sell every foot of land in the Territory. I understand from the Minister that contingent upon the passing of this bill a certain ordinance will be laid on the table, which will confine the sale of the freehold of land to town lands, agricultural lands, garden lands, and tropical lands; but there is nothing in this bill to so limit its application.
– The ordinance will govern the matter.
– The ordinance is not before us. If the committee passes the clause now under consideration, the Government can sell any lands in the Northern Territory. It can bring down any ordinances it pleases, and amend them from time to time as it thinks fit.
– And plead the passing of this bill as its justification.
– Yes; it can plead that it received the sanction of Parliament for what it proposes to do. Once the freehold of land is parted with a step is taken which cannot be retraced. One of the things which reconciles the people of Australia to the huge expenditure of money at the Federal Capital is that at some day they will get it all back, because the enhanced value of the land there will be retained by the Commonwealth.
– The people are not reconciled to the expenditure there.
– I understand that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is not reconciled to it, and does not propose to move to the Federal Capital, but the people are to some extent reconciled to the huge expenditure of money’ there, because of the operation there of the leasehold system. The Northern Territory is a sink for public money. We are contemplating the construction of a railway line there which will cost millions, without any prospect of immediate return. Now the Government proposes to hand over to a few people the value added to lands in the Territory by the construction of the railway. I have said that once we repeal section 11 of the principal act we shall give free hand to any government to sell 10,000 acre blocks on the Barkly Tableland. Let us examine for a moment the proposed limit upon the sale of land to be imposed by the ordinance which is to be made. First of all it is proposed that the right to part with the fee-simple of lands shall apply only to town lands. Those are the very lands which will be the first to benefit by the expenditure of public money. Those who secure the freehold of those lands will be the first to reap a reward in the unearned increment due to public expenditure, which should be retained for the people. In the next place the sale of the freehold of land is to apply to agricultural lands. But these again will be amongst the first to benefit by the expenditure of public money in the construction of railways and public works. This applies also to garden lands. What is meant by the “ tropical land “ to be dealt with in the promised ordinance I do not quite understand. We are told that the ordinance will lay it down that no land shall be sold for less than 2s. 6d. per acre. The Government proposes to part with the freehold of land in the Northern Territory at 2s. 6d. an acre as a minimum price. We talk of building up a huge population in Australia, and say that there should he 100,000,000 people here. What inheritance does the Government propose to leave them in the Northern Territory when it gives to individuals the right to ‘ acquire the freehold of vast tracts of land at prices ranging down to 2s. 6d. per annum? We are informed that under the promised ordinance the maximum area for first class land will be 1,280 acres. We all know that under the land laws of this and other States there were limitations of the area which might be secured by one individual. But I could take honorable members through the beautiful and fertile Western District of Victoria, and show them the ruins of old schools and little homesteads occupied by early settlers who were neither more nor less than dummies for the men who now monopolize blocks of 30,000 and 40,000 acres in the garden portion of Victoria. We know the tragic history of every State in regard to the alienation of its land. We talk of the men who went out into the country pioneering, the squatters who fought the blacks and developed the country; but it was their dummies who did the work of pioneering. The sons of the early squatters who secured their lands by dummy ing are to-day retarding the progress of this and other States of the Commonwealth. This morning we were talking of science and industry, and I had a few words to say about the destruction of our forests. What has led to that destruction in every one of the States? If you march through the Western District of Victoria you will see a single homestead of 30,000 acres of beautiful land monopolized by one individual as the result of the aggregation of a number of freehold titles held by dummies. Small settlers, sons of the real pioneers, coming along later in the search for land were sent down to the Otway Forest or the Heytesbury Forest to hew out a living on the forest grants of the country. They had to cut down the beautiful fiddleback, blackwood, and other timbers, which, if converted into furniture, would have been an ornament in any drawing room. After spending 15 or 20 years of their lives there they have had to leave their lands because they were of little value, and yet. beyond the fringe of the forests there are the beautiful rolling plains of the Western District, 100 acres of which would be sufficient to maintain a family. The argument put forward by the Minister is a specious one. He says that we shall encourage men to go out and pioneer tie country by giving them freehold titles to land, because they can borrow money on their freehold titles for the development and stocking of their lands. Let us examine that argument. First of all, the settler must use every penny of his capital to purchase his freehold, and must mortgage the whole of his assets to a bank or other mortgagee, to enable him to stock it. The Minister says that this land is of only nominal value, but, if so, the freeholder will be unable to borrow money on it to stock it. One argument of the Minister contradicts the other. The men. who are given opportunities to make good upon the land in this country are those who go to States like Queensland and New ‘ South Wales, where leaseholds on reasonable terms can be obtained, and the settlers’ savings can be spent in stocking and developing their land. We talk of bringing out thousands of immigrants to make land settlers of them, but a man who had enough money to buy the freehold title of a reasonable farm in Victoria would have nearly enough, to retire upon. What is the special virtue of a freehold ? I remember a member of Parliament saying in the Warrnambool district that he did not believe in leasehold,” and that men should be given the freehold as an incentive to. work the land; and yet, in that rich area, nine-tenths of the men on the land did not own a foot of it, and were paying tribute to the landlord. What is the vaunted virtue of the freehold system? All. it does is to afford opportunities to a small number of men to aggregate large areas of land in their own possession, and hold in subjection their unfortunate tenants, who pay rents that are like a halter about their necks. When I have heard the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) speak of the woes of the dairy farmer, my heart has responded to his appeals. I know of their struggles, but the real cause of their hardship is the exorbitant rents they are required to pay. I know of areas, in the Terang and Camperdown districts from which, when they were devoted to sheepraising, the landlord was getting 5s. or 6s. an acre, but which, when subdivided for dairy farming, yielded £3 an acre. That is an instance of the burden which the freehold system places on tho men and women who actually work the land. I have seen families working like white slaves, for twelve to fourteen hours a day, in order to make a living under the burdensome conditions imposed by the landlord. I have read the history of other countries, and of men driven from their native land by the curse of landlordism. We desire to preserve the Northern Territory from that evil. Since it was taken over in 1910 we have protected it from the incubus of landlordism, but this Government is taking the first step to break down the barriers by parting with the freehold title. This is only the thin end of the wedge; if the Government gets the opportunity, the freehold system will be further extended, until a few land sharks have obtained possession of the Territory upon which the Commonwealth has spent millions of pounds, and future generations will be doomed to be their tenants.
– I agree with the honorable member for Yarra that the departure which this bill makes from the leasehold principle is fundamental, and, for that reason,’ I welcome it. Last night I listened to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and this afternoon to the honorable member for Yarra, both wellinformed city dwellers, who think they are better able to define the conditions under which happy and prosperous land settlement may take place than are those whose families have been for generations upon the land.
– Both of us spent our youth upon the land, and we know what we are talking about.
– The leasehold and freehold systems have been well tested during the history of land settlement, and in some States selectors have bad the option of taking freehold or a lease in perpetuity; the overwhelming majority of them plumped for freehold, which would give them a piece of land that they could call their very own. The honorable member for Yarra spoke with warmth of the evils of landlordism. I know something of the story of landlordism in other countries, and I am under the impression that people came in great numbers to Australia, in order to escape from the clutches of the landlord, and become possessed of a piece of land which would never be subjected to rack-renting, and from which no landlord could shift them. I admit that there are some lands which, because of their altitude, rainfall, and other natural conditions, are not suitable for closer settlement, and therefore should always be held in lease. In Victoria and other States a fundamental mistake was made which I hope will not be repeated in the Northern Territory. Before ‘a decision is made as to whether land should be sold or leased, the whole of it should be classified. In Victoria that was not done. The freehold was disposed of on provisional licence then, at a price of £1 per acre. If, after a few years, the holder proved that he had not the capacity or temperament for rural life, his block reverted to the Crown or passed into the possession of some other landholder or squatter. But in the wheat districts no big stations had been aggregated; there are no squatters in the agricultural areas, because the sons and grandsons of the original selectors still own their holdings, pay no rent to landlords, and in the Wimmera district, very few pay interest to mortgagees. That great belt of territory, which was designed by nature to be held in small areas, is a pleasing example of the virtue of freehold conditions.
– The honorable member knows that there is less settlement in the Wimmera to-day than there was 40 years ago:
– That is not so. We hear a great deal of the unearned increment. Who is entitled to the increment in land values ? Should it. go to the city dweller, who does nothing to prove the fruitfulness of the land, or to the men who, with their families, spend their lives on the soil, working for years for practically no return to bring their holdings to productivity. Similarly, a pioneer manufacturer like the eminent Australian, the late Mr. H. V. McKay, who persevered and laboured throughout life, in the development of his industry, until a small engineering shop evolved into the monumental industrial suburb of Sunshine, is entitled to the rewards of his work.
– The majority of the men on the land are being exploited by the big land-owners.
– No. I welcome the subdivision of the States that are capable of agricultural development; but other areas seem to have been designed by nature for wool-growing or stock-raising. The Tower Hill district, near Warrnambool, to which the honorable member for Yarra referred, required no act of parliament to settle it. Settlement developed naturally out of economic conditions, and to-day that district, one of the richest in the world, is held in small1 - some in pocket-handkerchief - blocks, mostly by the people who work it. As population increases economic conditions will bring about settlement in other areas that nature has fitted for closer settlement. I hope, however, that the alienation of lands in the Northern Territory will be preceded by a fundamental classification of them.
.- I am one of those unfortunate Australians who, although reared on a farm from boyhood, could not stay on the land, because, owing tq the evils . of the freehold system, it was impossible to -acquire a holding at a reasonable price. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), as .a supporter of an alleged business Government, should apply business principles to, .the subject now under discussion. He knows that land sold for 2s. 6d. and 5s. an j acre has been, after the expenditure pf millions of pounds of public money, and: the burdening of the country ‘with a huge debt, re-purchased by the State at ten - and even twenty times its original value. Thirty years hence the people of the Northern Territory, too, will have to buy back the land which this Government is ready to alienate at nominal prices. The Governments of Victoria have expended huge sums of money in repurchasing estates with borrowed money for purposes of closer settlement, and very often the areas so purchased have been so unsuited for settlement that tip men put upon them were doomed to failure. Some of the returned soldier settlements illustrate that. The Honorary Minister said that men in the towns of the Northern Territory desire to acquire the freehold of little residential blocks. That argument is npt very conclusive, because owing to the land system that obtained in the Northern Territory prior to the Commonwealth assuming control, opportunities already’ exist for people to acquire freehold blocks. Progress reported. ,;
Motion (by Mr. BRUCE) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act relating to development and migration.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. .Bruce) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable the remaining stages to be passed without delay. ‘
– I- move - >
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill deals with the populating and development of this country, which is one of the most important questions that face us to-day. It is our responsibility and duty to exploit the great natural resources of our vast heritage, and to develop our primary and secondary industries, and this we cannot do unless we have an ever-increasing population. The measure is designed to enable us to deal ‘ with the two great fundamental problems -of migration and settlement upon a scientific basis. Before discussing its provisions, I shall briefly set out some of the reasons that have rendered its introduction imperative. Australia is the greatest undeveloped country in the world., and the eyes of the people of all nations are upon us to see what we intend to do with it. If in the future wars are to cease and the nations are to be ruled by international law. it is necessary that wa should develop this country to the fullest and use its resources for the benefit of all nations, because, if justice, equity, and right are to be the. guiding principles of the world, the public conscience of nations will not allow. this great continent to remain in the hands, of a few millions of people, when its : resources if brought to full development would probably solve most of the economic problems that, face the world to-day. If the prospect of future peace becomes assured under the rule of international law, we in Australia will inevitably be called to the bar of the world’s opinion, and be asked what we are doing with this great continent. And if, on the other ; hand., nations continue to tread the path that they have followed, throughout all history, and the strong are to prey upon the weak, and those’ who are too weak to hold are to lose to those who can take their possessions from them, we must so increase our population and resources that we shall have sufficient power and wealth to defend ourselves. Those considerations must be in the mind of every Australian who has studied the present position of his country. Other nations, because their populations are increasing beyond the ability of their economic resources to maintain them, are looking f»r outlets for their surplus people. During the past twenty years we have increased our population by some 2,000,000, which is’ not altogether unsatisfactory; but the rate of increase should be very much faster, because our numbers - are still so small. During the same period the United States of America has inneased its population by 30,000,000, Canada by 3,750,000, India by 20,000,000, China by 41,000,000, and Japan by 13,000,000. Yet of all these countries, Australia has most room, and provides most opportunities for settlement and development. Those figures must bring home to us the fact that we shall run a terrible risk unless we take steps to increase our population more quickly, and to strengthen our claim that we are doing everything possible to develop our latent resources.
– What are the percentage increases?
– Taking percentages we, of course, compare very well with other nations, but our population at the beginning of the period I have taken was only 4,000,000 as against America’s population of between 80,000,000 and 90,000,000. We must bring people here at a much faster rate if we are to justify the retention of our territory. This question may be viewed from another angle. Australia is part of the British Empire. Despite what may occasionally be said in the heat of the moment, the majority of our people are proud of our British origin and connexion, and know that our future safety depends upon the British Empire maintaining its position in the world. One factor that will ensure this is the better distribution of the white population of the Empire, and we in Australia could probably do more towards bringing that about than any other part of it. Still, I ask honorable members, in considering this question, to think not in terms of Great Britain or of any other part of the Empire, but in terms of Australia, and of our own material interests. The better distribution of the white population of the Empire will benefit us more than any other part of it, and it will also tend to solve the great economic problems with which Great Britain is faced to-day - the maintenance of her commercial, industrial, and financial position. It is to our interests that Great Britain should solve this problem, because she affords the great outlet for our own produce. We must go forward, obtaining more people, and thus bringing about an everexpanding production. But for that production, we must have a market, and Great Britain will be our best market in the future, as she has been in the past. It is easy to see why that is so. We know our position vis-a-vis the great republic across the Pacific, the United States of America.
We know the trend of trade between the two countries, and what an enormous balance there is in favour of the United States of America. We shall have a market to some extent in that country, because she is reaching a position in which, instead of having an exportable surplus, she will hardly be able to provide for her own people; but she will never provide a great market for our products. Nearly every nation through its history has directed its efforts towards agricultural production. France, Belgium, and nearly every other European country produces most of its own agricultural requirements. We know how Germany was able to maintain herself during the war without foreign supplies. Great Britain determined many years ago to become the workshop of the world, and, in pursuance of that objective, neglected her agricultural development, with the result that to-day she cannot provide for her requirements. She needs everything we produce, and will need nearly everything we shall be able to produce in the future. If Great Britain is prosperous, and her purchasing power is good, Australia must benefit, for Great Britain provides the market we want for our development. All these things indicate that Australia’s problem of development can best be solved by the migration to Australia of persons of ‘ our own race. Every Australian is proud to be a member of the British race, and if we keep Australia a British community we shall keep it free from the racial problems which have afflicted other countries. The United States of America allowed unrestricted immigration, and she is now faced with a serious racial problem. She recently passed a law providing for immigration on a quota system, based on a recent census; but when the act had been in operation for a little more than a year, she had to alter the basis by adopting a census taken as far back as 1890. That was done in order to keep the proportion of Nordic races as high as she wanted it. Australia has the example of other countries to guide her, and we ought to make sure that we do not copy their mistakes. The fundamental fact that we have to recognize is that the interests of Australia can best be served by promoting a flow of migrants from Great Britain to assist us in developing and populating this country.
I shall now say a few words about the history of migration. For many years
Australians have talked about the desirability of and necessity for migration, and we have generally added the proviso that it should be of the same stock as ourselves. Yet when attempts have been made to bring the necessary number of migrants to this country some difficulty has always stood in the way. A few years ago a scheme was propounded under which the Commonwealth and British Governments agreed to give assistance to the States to place British migrants on the land. Experience showed that that scheme involved an expenditure of from £1,000 to £2,000 per immigrant, according to whether he was settled on Crown or on purchased lands. It is obvious that a great country like Australia cannot be populated at that cost.
– Some of the migrants cost as much as £3,000.
– I agree that some of them cost a very large sum, and that the scheme is financially impossible of realization. There is the further important fact that most of the British migrants are not the most suitable persons to place on the land in Australia. Many of our own people, who are familiar with Australian conditions, are more suitable. When I went to the Imperial Conference in 1923 I discussed this question with members of the British Government. I told them that what was being said in Great Britain at that time about migration to the dominions was utter nonsense, and that the British people were being deceived by the statements that were being made. It had been announced earlier in the year that there would be an imperial conference, and that, associated with it, there would be an economic conference. At that time Great Britain had 1,500,000 unemployed, and this acute unemployment created a difficult political problem. As soon as the conferences were announced members of the Government and the Parliament made speeches on the subject all over the country, and said, in effect, “We are going to have a conference with the dominions. Look at the vast undeveloped territories they have. When we meet the dominions’ representatives we shall settle this problem of unemployment by a great migration movement to the outer parts of the Empire.” When I reached London I pointed out that the idea was absurd. I told them that we could possibly solve the problem over a period of five or ten years, and that, having so solved it, Britain need never fear a recurrence of it. We were receiving migrants to the number of about 25,000 a year at that time, and could unquestionably have taken more, although the number we could absorb was limited by our state of development. I pointed out to them that the only way in which we could solve our problem of populating Australia, and the only way in which they could look forward to solving1 their problem of economically providing for their people, was by progressively linking up the development of this country with the absorption of migrants. I also said that Australia could absorb many more migrants than it was absorbing, but that we should need to spend a large amount of money, the interest on which we could not afford to pay with our small population. I suggested that the British Government might help us over a period of ten years with the interest burden on money used for developmental purposes, and that at the end’ of that period we should take over the whole burden ourselves. That was the basis of the scheme arranged between the British and Commonwealth Governments, and it has now been accepted by all the States except New South Wales. The scheme recognizes that we can absorb only a limited number of migrants, but that we can increase that number by carrying out useful and wise developmental works. There are very few persons in this country who would say that we cannot do with more population; but many of them say that there is a limit to the number of migrants we can take. I entirely agree with that view, and have maintained it ever since I have been associated with this question. It is generally agreed that there is hardly a limit to the number of migrants we can absorb if we create new industries and add to our national wealth, but we must find more population and develop the country concurrently. In carrying out such a scheme we must make sure that we do nothing to lower the standards we have created for ourselves. We must increase our efficiency, we must bring science to our aid, and we must do many other things with a view to increasing our power to absorb migrants. The question of how to promote development in Australia should be fully examined, and every step should be taken to ascertain the directions in which development can best be promoted. There is a “feeling in the minds of many persons in Australia that if more migrants are brought here the quantity of work available will be lessened. That is not so, if we, at the same time, extend our productivity and move forward by creating new industries and opening up new country. Every man placed in useful employment requires the services of others to supply his wants. The United States of America, which is smaller than Australia, contains from 110,000,000 to 120,000,000 people, but the cry in America is not that they have too many people, for whom they cannot find work, but that they have not enough people to handle the great industries they have created and to develop their vast natural resources. The idea that bringing migrants here will act detrimentally to the workers is refuted by history, which shows that when a country is developed and new wealth created, the number of people absorbed can be progressively increased.
– The United States of America is restricting immigration.
– Yes ; but for the reason that it wishes to obtain immigration of a particular type. The Government proposes to create a commission of four members, whose task will be to deal with the problems of development and migration. Those two problems are linked together inseparably. We cannot develop unless we have more population, and we cannot absorb more migrants unless we develop.
I shall not speak of all the provisions of the bill, but I wish to explain the duties of the commission. Its powers and functions include -
The consideration of matters in relation to the development of the resources of the Commonwealth, whether by co-operation between the Commonwealth and the several States, or otherwise.
We have never, in this country, really faced the problem of development.We have never had a stocktaking of our resources with a view to determining the industries that, having regard to our natural advantages, should be promoted. The commission will consider all schemes submitted by the State governments, or that come before it from other sources, and generally, it will advise the Government in relation to all questions of developmental policy, in order to ensure the best utilization of our resources and the most effective and rapid method of dealing with them. It will also consider Australia’s requirements. Those requirements have never yet been analysed. We have not yet determined to what extent we are able to produce many of the things which we now import. Honorable members would be amazed if they saw a list of the articles which are brought to Australia, and,obviously, should be produced here. Similarly, we endeavour to produce some things which we are not very well able to produce. On these matters the advice of the commission should be invaluable. Another function of the commission will be to examine Australia’s labour needs. Hitherto, no steps have been taken in that direction. There is nothing to guide us as to the labour requirements of our various industries, or the extent to which we are endeavouring to supply them. That position should be cleared up. The arrival here of migrants of a certain class might benefit every section of the community, and yet their introduction might be opposed by some sections of the community through ignorance of its effect. The very people who would benefit most by their presence might be the most hostile to it. The commission would investigate such matters and submit reports on them.
– Is not the primary consideration the absorption of the existing unemployed ?
– Save for that floating proportion which cannot be absorbed under any system, I hope that the general policy of development provided for by the bill will ensure that we shall have no unemployed. The commission will also be required to keep in touch with those who are controlling industries in Great Britain and other countries, with a view to discussing with them the possibility of the establishment of branches of their business in Australia. Since I have been Prime Minister, I have been approached by very many men having command of capital, and controlling great industries in Great Britain, who have asked me for information regarding the possibility of establishing their works here. At present, it is nobody’s duty to obtain and furnish such information. I have had to look as wise as I could in discussing such matters with those who have called on me ; but how can any Prime Minister know the ramifications of the many industries of this country? Moreover, the Prime Minister is not the right person- to deal with this matter. But the commission should be able to give invaluable help. The various schemes which may be suggested under the migration agreement with the British Government will be submitted to the commission. Honorable members are aware of the experience of Australia in connexion with the doradilla grape. To prevent a repetition of such happenings, the commission will necessarily have to keep closely in touch with the Minister for Markets and Migration, and advise him as to the possibility of obtaining a market for the things which it is contemplated shall be produced in Australia for export. Many of the problems which during the past few years this Parliament has been asked to solve have arisen by reason of the introduction of schemes to extend our production before proper regard has been taken to ensure a market for that product. Close attention to such matters will save us from repeating the mistakes which, unfortunately, have been made in the past. The task of investigating all undertakings or schemes proposed by the States under the main migration agreement, and the supplementary agreements entered into between the States and the Commonwealth will rest with the commission. Under those agreements, it is contem- plated that the States shall submit to the C ommonwealth schemes for the development of Australia. Those schemes are subject to approval by both the British and the Commonwealth Governments. As the British Government has its representative in Australia, no delay will be occasioned through the schemes having to be referred to Britain for consideration. Already a number of schemes have been submitted.
– Will the schemes submitted by the State Governments apply only to the States submitting them?
– The schemes submitted by any State will be confined to that State only. Western Australia has already submitted schemes involving an expenditure of . £9,000,000. Schemes have also been submitted by South Australia and Victoria. In due course they came before Cabinet for consideration. But I say emphatically that no Cabinet is fitted for this work. The British Government looks to us for a lead regarding the desirability or otherwise of such schemes, and an exhaustive examination of each scheme is necessary, necessitating, probably, a visit to the State submitting it, before a conclusion as to its practicability, or the justification for its being approved by the Federal Government can be arrived at. That work it is proposed to entrust to the commission, and it will later submit reports to the Government. Schemes which would not only develop the country, but ensure that Australia would receive more than value for the money expended would be of incalculable value to us. On the other hand, to give approval to schemes whicli would not give a full return for the money expended, or assist to develop our lands, or increase our power of absorption, would be a tragedy. “While I do not suggest that any State Government would do anything improper, I point out that they, like all governments, are subjected to a great deal of political pressure, and sometimes might have difficulty in refusing to forward to the Federal Government a scheme submitted by influential persons. But the Commonwealth cannot be satisfactorily developed on that basis. There must be a thorough and impartial examination of every scheme before it is approved. Any scheme to which assent is given must be one the success of which is assured.
– Can the Commonwealth, under the bill, impose a scheme on a State?
– The bill provides that every scheme must be examined by the commission, which will then submit a report on it to the Government. The final decision rests with the Government. There is, however, the provision - and to this I direct particular attention - that the Government shall not approve of any scheme concerning which the commission bas reported adversely. That has been put in deliberately.
– A scheme cannot be proceeded with unless the commission has recommended it?
– That is so. While the Government can reject a scheme approved by the commission, it cannot go on with any scheme which the commission, after an exhaustive examination, has rejected.
– The Imperial Government in this matter must depend on the Federal Government.
– Yes. If we are to deal with development and migration in a practical manner, so as to obtain value for the money spent, we must, first, be careful about the personnel of the commission, and then be guided largely by its recommendations. It should not be possible for a Government, for political purposes, to step in and approve of a scheme which the commission, after exhaustive examination, has reported adversely upon. To do that would defeat the object we have in view. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr: Scullin) referred to the initiation of schemes. All the work in connexion with the schemes will be undertaken by the individual States. Under the migration agreement it is contemplated that schemes shall be initiated by the States; but that, with regard to developmental questions generally, the commission shall advise the Commonwealth Government. It is contemplated that everything shall be done through the States. At the same time, the commission should have the power of initiation, for this reason, that one of the handicaps from which we are at present suffering is the lack of personal touch so far as the Commonwealth and State Governments are concerned. If the Ministers of the Commonwealth and the States could meet constantly for the discussion of the problems affecting them mutually, an atmosphere of giveandtake would be generated, and I am confident that a great deal more would be accomplished. It is contemplated that the commission shall acquaint itself with the schemes that have been submitted to the State governments, and discuss them with those governments. If it has a really first-class personnel, it will exercise a tremendous influence, and its assistance will be welcomed.
It is also proposed that the commission shall take control of the Migration office, and handle the whole question of migration on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. That question must be handled by persons who can devote the whole of their time to it, because it requires the constant attention of minds of the best type.
– Is it contemplated that particular interestsshall have representation on the commission?
– It is the desire of the Government to make the commission representative of the whole of the people of Australia; so that they may have the utmost confidence in it; otherwise it would not be able to function successfully. Its principal task will be to bring it home to the people that the problem of migration is wrapped up in and part of the problem of development:. Upon that point a great deal of misunderstanding at present exists.
-Will the commission have power to settle Australians upon the land!
– It will not have control of any land. The Commonwealth itself controls only the lands of the Northern and Federal Capital Territories. It will be quite open to the commission to initiate and submit to the Commonwealth Government a scheme relating to land settlement in the Northern Territory; but the States will have to initiate schemes for the settlement of people within their own borders. The clause in the latest agreement made between the Commonwealth and Imperial Governments which required the settlement of only British migrants with the money advanced by the Imperial Government has been withdrawn, and it is now competent for us to provide for the settlement of the Australian-born so long as 50 per cent. of the farms created are given to British migrants who arrive within a specified period. At present a Minister of the Crown has control of migration. He may be developing an admirable idea, when he is confronted with some such irrelevant problem as how to account for the alleged presence of arsenic on apples exported to Great Britain. Besides, it is impossible for him to devote the whole of his time to questions relating to migration. There must be the closest linking up of the activities of the States, the Commonwealth, and the commission in connexion with migration. At present there is no co-ordination of effort. It is anticipated that the commission will in that respect effect much-needed reform.
I do not thinkI need deal now with the other provisions of the bill except to make a brief reference to the control which Parliament will exercise over the expenditure that will be incurred by the commission. Under the Science and Industry Endowment Bill provision is made for a direct appropriation of revenue ; but the council will have to submit estimates to Parliament. Under this bill the question of the submission of estimates does not arise, for the reason that the commission will have no funds other than what Parliament makes available to it. The proposed expenditure of the commission will be placed upon the Estimates under a developmental and migration commission vote.
I am certain that the people of Australia recognize the necessity for action that will enable us to develop and populate this country much more rapidly than has been possible in the past, and in that I believe that these proposals will be of great assistance. I commend the bill to honorable members, stressing the fact that there is nothing in it of a party nature. It is a sincere attempt to solve what every one recognizes to be a very difficult problem of which a solution ought to be found.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation, for the purposes of this bill, reported.
Returned Soldiers in Postaldepart- ment- Interferencewithcostal Shipping.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That theHouse do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the House a letter that I to-day received from the postal sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers’ Association. It points out that my predecessor in the representation of Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) secured the insertion in the Repatriation Act of a provision under which men whose enlistment prevented them from’ qualifying for certain positions in the Postal Department could be appointed to those positions upon the recommendation of their superior officers if they had the ability to perform the duties pertaining to them. The letter is not the first communication on the subject I have received. It protests that this provision of the act is not being honoured. It mentions specific instances in which it has been honoured, but it says that in other instances it has been abruptly departed from, and says that the Public Service Board has declared that it will no longer do for these returned soldiers not only what they were promised would be done for them, but also what this Parliament decided should be done for them. In view of the happenings last night, I mention this matter now to showhonorable members that there was more justification than they might suppose for my remonstrance that returned soldiers were not getting that support from this Parliament to which they were entitled.
– I wish to draw attention again to the holdup of shipping on the Australian coast. The way in which industry is being constantly held up, and the people in general penalized, is absolutely deplorable. I trust that the Government will endeavour to take some action in the matter, . and that it will not allow a few agitators ruthlessly to destroy industry as, apparently, they arc attempting to do.
– The Government appreciates the seriousness of the position when the vital industries of the country are held up by industrial turmoil, and it is very closely watching events.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 May 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260528_reps_10_113/>.