10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Government consider the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the operations of the oil companies in Australia?
– At the present moment the Government has no intention of appointing a royal commission for the purpose. It has a considerable amount of information concerning the operations of these companies, and if at any time in the future it should be considered desirable to appoint a royal commission, or take any other step in connexion with their operations, the Government will not hesitate to doso.
– I wish to ask a question of the Prime Minister, and beore doing so, I should like to read two extracts I have here. The first is a quotation from something said by Mr. Wagstaff, general manager for Australasia of the British Imperial Oil
Company, in reference to some remarks made by the Minister for Trade and Customs -
It is astonishing that a Federal Minister should engage in a campaign of invective and misrepresentation against important oil organizations doing legitimate business in Australia, and make recklessly false charges without any attempt at justification.
The next extract is a quotation from an answer given yesterday by the Prime Minister to a question by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) regarding the supply of petrol to Mr. Cobham for his nights in Australia. The Prime Minister is reported to have said that-
Arrangements had been completed by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited’ at the request of Mr. Allan Cobham to provide him with petrol in Australia. Supplies were sent forward, but as a result of the representations of other oil interests, and an intimation that they would not supply petrol at other points, the arrangements with the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited were cancelled.
In view of his answer to the honorable member for Wentworth, does the Prime Minister consider that the actions of the oil interests conform with “ legitimate business,” and are consistent with the principles of British fair play and honesty?
– I can only refer the honorable member to the remarks I made last night, which I think constitute an answer to the question he has addressed to me.
– Does the Prime Minister intend to take action to give effect to the promise in his policy speech to deal with the question of child endowment this session?
– No measure will be introduced during the present sittings of the Parliament, which will probably come to a close in the course of a few days, but the whole question is being investigated.
Agreement with States.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received any reply to the communications he has. addressed to the State Governments concerning the Federal Aid Roads Bill?
– A communication was received last night from the Government of Western Australia, intimating that it proposed to submit the agreement to the Western Australian Parliament for ratification. This morning I received a communication from the Premier of Queensland to the same effect.
– On the 27th July, on the motion for the adjournment of the House,I mentioned a letter received from the Cessnock Shire asking whether anything could be done to assist unemployed migrants in the South Maitland Coalfield. The Prime Minister promised that he would look into the matter to see what could be done. I should like to know whether he sees his way to give any assistance to the unemployed migrants in the district referred to?
– After the honorable gentleman brought the matter under my notice, I caused inquiries to be instituted, and hope to-be able to give him an answer in the course of the next two or three days.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been called to a telegram front Sydney in this morning’s Age, in which the statement is made -
The Defence Department has invited tenders for the supply of Baltic pine to be used in the construction of targets for the Light Horse at the Murwillumbah Rifle Range. Baltic pine has been specified because it is said to resist whiteants, and was suitable for rifle targets, yet beech, bally gum, and blue fig, which grow in the Tweed di stric t, have similar attributes.
In view of the number of persons employed and unemployed in New South Wales dependent upon the timber industry, and the object lesson to be learned from the exhibition of Australian timbers now to be seen in the Queen’s Hall, will the Minister make inquiries to see whether a more liberal use of our nativegrown timbers cannot be made?
– I have not seen the paragraph to which the honorable member has referred, but I shall have inquiries made into the matter, and will give the honorable member an answer to his question at a later date.
– Following upon a question I submitted some little time ago to the Minister for Defence, I ask whether the honorable gentleman can inform the House of the number of returned soldiers suffering from tuberculosis who have applied for war pensions and developed the disease within the last four or five years, and since their return from the war, and also the number of women and children who are dependent upon these soldiers ?
– I think that, if the honorable member will refer to Hansard, he will find that I have given a full answer to his question.
– I think I did so, possibly during the honorable member’s absence. I shall look up the matter, and if I have not already answered the honorable member’s question, I shall obtain for him the information he requires.
– Is it within the power of the Minister for Defence, and also in his capacity as Minister for Health, to prevent men and women from obtaining old age and invalid pensions under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, which was passed by this House some years ago?
– Neither the Defence nor the Health Departments administer the Old-age and InvalidPensions Act. It is administeredby the Treasury.
– Then I ask the Treasurer why administrative influences prevent the granting and issuing of oldage and invalid pensions to persons who come within the scope of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act passed by this House ?
– The Invalid and Old-age Pension Act is being administered strictly in accordance with the law.
– It has come under my notice that mothers of deceased soldiers have been granted pensions of £1 a week, and when they have applied for, and obtain tie full amount of either invalid or old-age pensions, the Repatriation Department has, in some cases, reduced their pensions by 10s. a week. Is the Treasurer prepared to give effect to that section of the Repatriation Act providing for pensions for the mothers and widows of deceased soldiers?
– I am not aware that cases such as the honorable member has mentioned have occurred ; I was referring to the administration of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, which is administered by the Treasurer. The Repatriation Act is administered by the Minister for Repatriation.
– Have any steps been taken by the Governmentto provide a housing scheme as forecast in its policy speech?
– I have stated previously that the Government has been in consultation with the Commonwealth Bank Board to frame a scheme in accordance with the Government’s policy, and the negotiations are still proceeding.
– Does the Defence Department use only Commonwealth Oil Refineries’ petrol for aviation purposes; if not, what percentage of it is used?
– No Commonwealth Oil Refineries’ spirit is being used by the Defence Department for aviation purposes.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral able to make an announcement respecting the position of country institutes, soldier memorial halls, Sunday schools, and charitable institutions generally in respect of payments to the Performing Rights Association ? Will he say whether the singing of hymns and anthems in churches and Sunday schools render church authorities or singers liable to prosecution?
– Section 15 of the Copyright Act provides for prosecutions in the case of certain unauthorized per- formances of works respecting which performing rights exist, where such performances are for private profit. It would be a question of fact in each case whether the performance was for private profit.
I should hardly think that the singing of hymns in a church was a performance for private profit. Unless a performance is for private profit there cannot be a prosecution. It should be understood, however, that any public performance, apart altogether from the consideration of the element of private profit, may, if unauthorized, render the performer liable to civil proceedings in the Supreme Court of a State.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I have with me a copy of the Federal Capital Pioneer, issued 24th July, 1926. If it is a specimen of how this Government is pioneering the Federal Capital Territory, then God help the Commonwealth when the Government finishes its job. That publication contains this paragraph -
Canberra is coming into its own, in spite of vituperative vapourings. The statement of Mr. Yates, M.H.R., that the Federal Territory would not feed a bandicoot is a standing stigma to his name for careless handling of the truth.
I wish to explain that my statement was not original. At the time I simply quoted the words of Senator Guthrie, who is a man capable of judging the value of country. He has amassed wealth through that knowledge and his capacity to utilize country. After he viewed Canberra he said that it was a wild, bleak, wind-driven country, and would not keep a bandicoot. The paragraph also states, “ We can inform Mr. Seabrook, Labour’s representative from Tasmania.” I leave it to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) to make it clear that a good Labour man would not make the utterances that he has made respecting Canberra.
– In view of the fact that a motion for increased taxation through the Customs has been put before the House and that section 15 of the Tariff Board Act requires that certain inquiries shall be made by the board and laid on the table as soon as possible. Will the Minister see that the Tariff Board’s report is placed upon the table of the House within the next few days?
– I believe that I answered a similar question recently,and if that answer is not satisfactory I ask the honorable member to place his question on the notice-paper and I shall be pleased later to supply him andalso the House with all the information that I can obtain.
– What provision is being made to allow workmen at Canberra to record a vote at the referendum ?
– The only persons who can record a vote at the referendum are those who are entitled to do so under the existing electoral law of the Commonwealth. It would be impossible to alter the law prior to the taking of the referendum to allow other persons to vote.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether a sitehas been acquired for a military training centre in South Australia; if so,where; if not, when does the Minister expect to be able to make an announcement on this subject?
– The matter is still under consideration, and I hope to be able to make a definite announcement within the next three or four months.
– The Prime Minister said last evening that already several State Premiers have requested that, in order that main road construction should be continuous, certain advances should be made from the Federal Treasury. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether any such money has been advanced, and, if so, from what vote. Will he also inform the House how many States he will require to sign the proposed agreement before he will ask this Parliament to sanction it?
– Certain State Premiers expressed a desire that money should’ be available from the Federal roads grant so that in the event of delay in the passage of legislation ratifying the proposed agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, there would be no discontinuance of the works put in hand with the aid of last year’s federal grant. Under the Main Roads Development Act £500,000 per annum is available to the States for main road construction for a period of three years, and the Government has agreed to one-twelfth of that amount being spent monthly, pending the passing of legislation to ratify the proposed agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. If the honorable member will put a question upon the notice-paper, I shall let him know exactly what amounts have been paid out in accordance with this arrangement. In due course I shall announce what action the Government proposes to take in regard to the Federal Aid Roads Bill.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Railways whether the main roads grant for last year was fully applied for by the States.If not, is the unexpended balance still available to the States?
– The whole of the money has been applied for and expended or committed, with the exception of £12,000 for Tasmania.
Sydney City Council’s Contract
– The Prime Minister has refused to make available to honorable members the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the contract made by the Commonwealth Shipping Board for the construction at Cockatoo Island Dockyards of turbo-generators for the Sydney City Council. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether any member of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce has been supplied with a copy of the report?
– A letter from the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, giving certain interim information in regard to that contract, was received by my department, but no copies of it have been made available to anybody outside the department.
– Why has the Commonwealth Government initiated legal proceedings for an injunction to restrain the Commonwealth Shipping Board from manufacturing certain electrical machinery for the Sydney City Council?
– Apparently the honorable member misunderstands the action which is now being taken for an injunction to restrain the Commonwealth Shipping Board from proceeding with a particular contract. Certain people in Sydney desiredto take legal proceedings against the Commonwealth Shipping Board, and were advised by their counsel that they could proceed only by relator action, which involves the use of the name of the Attorney-General. Accordingly, application was made to the AttorneyGeneral for permission to use his name.
– More than that.
– There was nothing more than that. The Attorney-General, having satisfied himself that there was no other method by which the litigants could test their legal rights, and having received a certificate to that effect from their counsel, permitted his name to be used, subject to the usual undertakings in regard to costs. The Government is not concerned in the action in any way.
– A lot of Government money is involved.
– The Attorney-General is only taking an action which every honorable member will agree is proper.
– His duty is to defend the interests of the Commonwealth, and not to take action against a Commonwealth authority.
– I am sure that, on reflection, every honorable member will approve of the Attorney-General allowing his name to be used in order to permit certain persons to take action with a view to exercising what they believe to be their legal rights.
– Last night the Prime Minister said that if the foreign oil corporations passed the petrol duty on to the consumers, the Commonwealth Government would act as a trader and import oil and sell it direct to the consumers. Is not that declaration inconsistent with the action of the AttorneyGeneral in proceeding against the Commonwealth Shipping Board for undertaking a contract for the public?
– I said last night that the Government did not propose to engage in trading, but, if necessary, the
Commonwealth Oil Refineries would be assisted financially to take any action that might be required to preserve the rights of the Australian people. The honorable member is mistaken in thinking that the Commonwealth is taking any action against the Commonwealth Shipping Board. If the honorable member will consult a lawyer as to the nature of a relator action, he will be convinced that the Government is not an interested party in these proceedings.
– Will the Prime Minister place on the Library table all the correspondence that has passed between his department and the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures with regard to the electrical contract made by the Commonwealth Shipping Board?
– I shall look into the correspondence and see whether it can be made available.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform me who is the plaintiff and who is the defendant in the legal action in connexion with the Cockatoo Dockyard contract?
– The plaintiff is the Attorney-General on the relation of Mr. F. L. Edwards. The defendants are the Commonwealth Shipping Board and the Sydney Municipal Council.
– Is the Minister for Markets and Migration yet in a position to give me a reply to the question I asked him some days ago concerning the critical remarks that judges and magistrates have made recently with regard to undesirable persons with criminal records being admitted to Australia as migrants ? Another judge has made similar remarks since I asked the question.
– I am not yet in possession of the information the honorable member desires, but as soon as I have it I shall make it available to him.
– The Treasurer stated some time ago that the Government intended to introduce a bill this session to make pensions payable to Indians in Australia who have been enfranchised. As we are within a few days of the end of the session, and the bill has not yet been introduced, I should like to know the intention of the Government in the matter?
– The bill is ready for submission to the House, and I hope will be introduced within a day or so.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the discussions at the Imperial Conference will be confined to the subjects listed in the agenda that has been tabled, or will the dominions be permitted to raise other questions ?
– It is open for the dominions to raise at the conference any questions they desire, and certain questions which have not been specifically set out in the agenda will certainly be considered. For instance, Australia intends to introduce the subject of nationality, particularly in relation to married women.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Australian War Debt Funding Agreement - Australian Loans from the British Government.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the exceedingly favorable terms granted to Italy and France by Great Britain in the funding of their respective war debts, will the Australian Government approach the British Government with a view to a revision of the Australian War Debt Funding Agreement in the direction of having the interest reduced from 5 per cent. to at least the 3 per cent. rate prescribed in the Funding Agreement between Great Britain and the United States of America?
– This matter was raised by me at the last Imperial Conference.
The Government considers that the war debt of Australia should be regarded as part of the whole war debt of the Empire, and that the rate of interest payable to Britain should be the average rate paid by Britain, including, of course, the amount paid to the United States of America. I shall take the matter up again at the forthcoming Imperial Conference.
Mr.FENTON asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.Whether he will inform the House what was. the exact sum loaned to the Commonwealth Government by the British Government aswar loans?
DrEARLE PAGE. - The answers to the honorable. member’s questions are as follow:-
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - .
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
oodnadatta toalicesprings-Red Hill to Port Augusta.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– On the 29th July, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) asked the following questions : -
The Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has now supplied the following answers :: -
” KANGAROO “ BRAND BUTTER.
– On the 3rd August, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) asked the following questions: -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following replies : -
– On the. 29th July, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) asked the following questions^ -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Department - Estimates of expenditure, 1926-27 - Explanatory statement prepared by direction of the Minister for Defence.
War Service Homes Act - Report of the War Service Homes Commission, together with statements and balance-sheets, 1st July, 1925, to 30th June, 1926.
Ordered to be printed.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Statement by the Minister for Markets and Migration regarding the operation of the Act, together with the second report of the Dried Fruits Control Board, dated the 17th July, 1926.
Debate resumed from 3rd August (vide page 4784), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the paper be printed.
.- When moving yesterday that the agendapaper of the Imperial and Economic Conference be printed, the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) invited honorable members to discuss it freely, so that he would be correctly informed of their views. This House has never considered a more important subject, because the conference may effect an alteration of the relations between the dominions and the Mother Country. It is well known that the right honorable gentleman advocates an alteration of the present relationship to the extent of giving Australia a voice in the Empire’s foreign affairs. In order not to misrepresent his views, I quote the following passages from his speech of yesterday: -
Prior to the world war, the great dominions had reached virtually an independent status, with full self-governing rights, and controlling their own affairs, and carrying out their own destinies. . . . With the coming of the war there emerged a new realization of the obligations of the dominions as part of the
Empire, and of the necessity for the dominions to be consulted with regard to, and to have a voice in the framing of the foreign policy of the Empire from which those obligations arose. . . . With this new status there came a demand to be consulted with regard to the foreign policy of the Empire, and to have a voice in framing it. . . . Since we avail ourselves of this consultative system to our own entire satisfaction, it follows that we should be prepared to endorse policies about which our advice has been asked, and which we have had a share in shaping.
Clearly, the right honorable gentleman supports a change in policy whereby Australia will have a voice in foreign affairs. I join issue with him on that. What he advocates would not be in the best interests of the Empire, or of any of the dominions; and, in saying that, I do not fear that I may be misunderstood, for no one can doubt my loyalty to the Empire. This is a subject on which we should express our opinions with the utmost frankness. The full right of selfgovernment has been conferred upon us, and we have never been subjected to interference by the British Government. Under that policy, this country has made wonderful progress. We have never been compelled to take part in any dispute between Great Britain and a foreign nation. Why should we depart from a policy that has served us so well? Surely it is not right to claim, as the Prime Minister does, that, because of the great war in which we took part, we must, in future, be more closely identified with questions that concern the nations of Europe. Australia has always been loyal to the Empire, and whenever the Mother Country has been in trouble this dominion has responded readily with its help; but our assistance has always been given of our own free will; we have never been compelled to participate in any war between Great Britain and other nations. If we now change that policy, and adopt that advocated by the Prime Minister, we shall be compelled to fight in any war entered into by Great Britain. Some persons, including the Prime Minister, contend that, as we are a component part of the Empire, we ought to take part in every war involving the Empire; but my contention is that the people of this country ought to be allowed, as they have been in the past, to decide whether they will join in any particular war, and whether they will send Australians to fight overseas. Why should we be involved in every European dispute to which Great
Britain happens to be a party? The Prime Minister spoke of the attitude of some of the dominions on this question, and said he believed that that attitude would be the first step towards bringing about the disintegration of the Empire ; but, in my view, nothing would be more likely to disintegrate the Empire than to change the policy that has been in existence since responsible government was given to this country. As soon as we change our policy, and say that whenever trouble arises in Europe Australians must be sent to fight there, and that the people of this country have no right to decide for themselves
– The honorable gentleman has misunderstood me. I have repeatedly said that Australia must determine what her effort in any war will be.
– I understand that, and in order not to misrepresent the right honorable gentleman, I have already quoted his remarks on that subject. He has always advocated that Australia should have a voice in the Empire’s foreign affairs.
– Every Australian Government since 1919 has said that.
– That may be so; but as I differ from that view, this is the right place to state my opposition to it. I believe that the policy advocated by the Prime Minister will be the first step towards the disintegration of the Empire. My view is entirely opposed to his. If a war arises in Europe, and the Government of Australia is compelled to send soldiers abroad without consulting the people of this country, Australians will tend to lose confidence in the Empire. Why should we endanger the foundations of the Empire by making such a change? As the Mother Country has never had reason to complain of the loyalty of Australia, and as Australia has responded whenever the Mother Country has been in trouble, why should we make a hard and fast rule, and say to the people, “ You must take part in every war in which Great Britain is involved “?
– The Mother Country is not complaining; the change is being demanded by the dominions themselves.
– Canada and South Africa are opposed to the change, and they are two important dominions. There is no point in the inter jection of the right honorable member.
– There was during the war.
– Whatever may have happened during the war, we are now at peace, and the war hysteria has disappeared. It would be a bad thing for the nation if that hysteria had continued We have now, I hope, entered upon a new era; and whatever may have been advocated during the war, we ought to see the necessity, in our calmer moments now, for going no farther in that direction. On this occasion I should like to state the views of the Labour party regarding foreign policy. I said in the policy speech which I delivered at the last election : -
The Labour party stands for an Australian foreign policy developed in Australia in the light of day, developed for a people and by a people who are determined to uphold the rights which properly belong to a nation, and honest enoughto admit to at other nations have co-equal rights. It will prize “ selfdetermination “ not merely for itself, but as the heritage of all men in all lands.
That is the attitude adopted by the party on this side, and any other attitude adopted at the Imperial Conference will not represent the Australian Labour party’s views in this matter. We represent a very large number of the people of Australia, and I say that if they were asked whether they would prefer to continue under the existing system or to make a change by the appointment of an ambassador in London to represent Australia in conexion with foreign affairs, it would be found that they are against any change in the present system.
– I remind the honorable gentleman that I did not suggest a change from the present basis. I referred only to the necessity for better methods of consultation.
– What the right honorable gentleman said last night was -
With this new status there came a demand to he consulted with regard to the foreign policy of the Empire, and to have a voice in framing it . . . since we avail ourselves of this consultative system to our entire satisfaction, it follows that we should be prepared to endorse policies about whichour advice has been asked, and which we have had a share in shaping.
The only inference to be drawn from that is that the right honorable gentleman now holds the view which he held three years ago, and believes that we should have a voice in the foreign affairs of the Empire. He will not be representing the views of honorable members on this side if he takes up that attitude.
– That means that honorable members opposite prefer to leave foreign affairs wholly to British statesmen.
– Our view is that the present practice has proved very satisfactory since we have had selfgovernment, and we see no reason to depart from it. I may here quote an extract from an article which appeared in the Age of the 27th March, in which the statement is made -
The persistently repeated statement that Australia demands a voice in the settlement of each item of Britain’s foreign policy is an utter misrepresentation. . . . Were we to be mixed up in all of Great Britain’s foreign troubles, largely arising from the business of British investors and manufacturers, causes of difference between the Commonwealth and the Mother Country . . . would become numerous and serious enough to threaten Imperial disruption.
I agree with that statement. I say that there is that danger. I refer to the matter in order that the Prime Minister may know that in the views to which he has given expression, he does not represent the opinion of the wholeof the members of this House, though he may represent the opinion of the majority. In support of the position he has taken up, the Prime Minister stated last night that it was Great Britain’s guarantee of Belgium’s neutrality that imposed upon her the obligation of entering into the last war, and that we were drawn into it in consequence. That is perfectly true, but it shows exactly the dangers which lie in our being linked up with British foreign policy. It is well known that when Great Britain entered into the war, even the House of Commons had no knowledge of the existence of the Treaty between Great Britain and Belgium.
– If we had been represented by an ambassador in London, we should have had knowledge of it.
– I donot know that we should. The House of Commons had no knowledge of it. When Sir Edward Grey made his statement on the floor of the House of Commons, to show that Great Britain was compelled to take action in connexion with the war, half the members of the British Cabinet had no knowledge of the Treaty to which I have referred. If members of the British
Cabinet did not know of the existence of such a Treaty, how should we have known of it?
– All that I have suggested is that that is a most undesirable position for us to be in.
– I am glad to hear the right honorable gentleman say that; but in order to avoid being in that position, he wants Australia to have a voice in the foreign affairs of the Empire.
– The Treaty which the honorable gentleman refers to would not be a secret treaty to-day.
– I am not so sure of that. Let me inform the right honorable member that since the arrangement of the Locarno Treaty a number of other treaties have been entered into, and some of them have not been registered with the League of Nations.
– Between member nations of the League ?
– Yes. I intend to deal at greater length with the question of treaties, but at present I am putting the view of the party on this side, so that the Prime Minister may know where we stand.I have dealt with the matter as briefly as possible, because I want to touch upon other questions, and time will not permit me to go into this matter at length.
I now come to the Locarno Treaty. This is a very important matter, and should receive full consideration at the hands of the House. The Locarno settlement is embodied in seven treaties or conventions, together with a formal statement explanatory of Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Of the treaties the most important is the Rhineland security pact between Germany, Great Britain, France, Belgium, and Italy. The Treaty does not affect the territorial status quo of the GermanBelgium and German-French frontiers, which are to remain as fixed by the Treaty of Versailles. Under the Versailles Treaty, Germany is not permitted military occupation of territory within 50 miles of the Rhine. That provision remains intact. Great Britain and Italy have guaranteed the Locarno Treaty. A Treaty has been entered into between Germany and Belgium, and between Germany and France,and Great Britain and Italy have guaranteed that those treaties shall be carried out in their entirety. The Locarno Treaty has been registered with the League of Nations. In thisrespect, it differs from treaties entered into prior to the war. It has been lodged with the League of Nations, and to that extent it may be said that an endeavour has been made to work in harmony with the League. I believe that many other treaties have also been registered with the League. I do not wish to debate that aspect of the matter at the moment further than to say that I doubt very much whether the entering of the nations into so many separate treaties will tend to disarmament and the promotion of world peace, even though the treaties have been registered with the League of Nations. It is quite possible that if nations continue to enter into treaties, and nothing is, done by the League to bring about disarmament, we may some day have a repetition of what occurred in 1914, as the result of so many treaties being in existence. The Locarno Treaty provides for arbitration. The machinery of arbitration provided by the Arbitration Treaties comprises, in addition to the Permanent Court of International Justice, a Permanent Conciliation Commission, to which the parties may, if they so choose, resort before carrying the case to the World Court, or some other tribunal. The treaties betwen France and Poland, and France and Czechoslovakia, which are identical in terms, make provision, in addition to the guarantee of mutual assistance, for reserving the rights of the signatory Powers as members of the League. These treaties are complementary to the main Treaty to which I have referred in the Locarno Pact. I want now to show what has happened since the Locarno Treaty was agreed to. In the Fortnightly Review for February, 1926, I find this statement in regard to Russia, andit deals with questions to which we should give some consideration -
Before the first meeting of all the delegates at Locarno, Soviet Russia did what it could to wreck the Conference by putting pressure on Germany. Chicherin went in hot haste to Berlin,but did not succeed in preventing German representatives from attending the Conference, though he did obtain a new commercial treaty, which was more favorable to Soviet Russia than to Germany. It must be supposed that this Treaty replaced that of Rapallo, which was concluded in 1922,and which provided for the mutual assistance of Germany and Soviet Russia in all economic undertakings that could contribute to a rapprochementbetween them.
That shows the attitude of Russia prior to the Locarno meeting.
– The treaty referred to is an economic treaty.
– Yes. Six months after the signing of the Locarno Treaty, Germany entered into a Treaty with Russia. I am sorry that the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) has had to go away, because the matter to which I am referring is worthy of his consideration when he gets to Geneva. If Germany has entered into a Treaty with Russia since the Locarno Treaty, guaranteeing her neutrality in the event of war with any other nation, even though it may be a member of the League, I want to know what is to be the real effect of the registration of treaties with the League.
– Is the honorable member still referring to the Economic Treaty?
– No, I am speaking now of a later Treaty. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 19th April, 1926, sets out the termsof the agreement, and from the following quotation honorable members will see what it means: -
The text of the Russo-German Treaty has been issued. There are four articles. It begins by stating that both countries will do everything towards maintaining peace, and are convinced that the interests of the Russian and German peoples necessitate intimate cooperation. The articles are: -
The basis of relations between the two Governments remains the Treaty of Rapallo, and they will remain in friendly touch in order to reach an understanding on political and economic questions.
Should one of the signatories, despite its peaceful attitude, be attacked by a third Power or several Powers, then the other signatory will remain neutral throughout the entire conflict.
If a coalition of three Powers is formed with the object of imposing an economic or financial boycott against one of the signatories, the other will not join the coalition.
The Treaty will last for five years, before the expiry of which both parties will keep each other informed in regard to further orientation of their political relations.
Since the Locarno Pact that definite treaty was entered into between Germany and Russia. Germany is a potential member, and Russia a non-member, of the League of Nations. Any member of the League that enters into an agreement with a non-membef of the League, undertaking not to take part in the wars of that nation, is acting in direct contravention of the rules of the League of Nations, and disregarding its obligation to assist other members that may be involved in wars in which they are not the aggressors. On this subject, the London Morning Post published the following paragraph : -
The Treaty may well cause perturbation in certain European circles, and it is likely to demonstrate the powerlessness of the League of Nations as a check to war. Germany hopes to become a member of the League, and must, therefore, subscribe to the covenant clauses 16 and 17, which provide that all members are hound to support each other in cases of aggression, whether by a member or a nonmember State. Yet Germany,by the neutrality clause in the new Treaty, pledged herself in advance to take no action against Russia. Furthermore, under the procedure, a unanimous vote of the Council is necessary before action is taken. Germany is now bound to veto any action against Russia. It is significant that this neutrality clause was included after the demonstration at Geneva and the anxiety of certain members of the League to change the unanimity vote into a simple, or two-thirds, majority.
Most of us will agree with that criticism. No country desiring a seat on the Council of the League is justified in making an agreement with Russia. If Germany is admitted to the League, and I hope that she will be - and is to have a seat on the Council, she will be a deciding factor in any dispute that is brought before the League. The decision of the Council must be unanimous, and if Russia at any time were involved in war with a member of the League, Germany, by opposing the general wish of the Council, could facilitate Russia’s operations. We debated this subject in the House, and the Labour party contended that the unanimity provision was unfair. I myself fluctuated in my views, because of certain recent happenings respecting the League itself. I did think of suggesting that a threequarters majority should be sufficient for a decision of the Council, but even that would entail grave danger. The Government has agreed to the unanimity provision. Once Germany is admitted to the League she will be in a position to decide whether any action shall be taken by the League in the event of war occurring between any of its members and Russia.
– The Locarno Pact does not take effect until Germany has become a member of the League, and when that happens all her treaties will be subject to the rules of the League, and will be admitted only if compatible with the rules of the League.
– I am afraid that the right honorable gentleman is wrong in his view. Any treaty entered into with members of the League would certainly be subject to the rules of the League; but a treaty between a member and a non-member of the League could not be subject to the rules of the League. We have either to refuse Germany admittance to the League, and a seat on the Council, or else she must abrogate her Treaty with Russia. We must not forget that it was entered into six monthsafter the Locarno conference, at which it was decided that Germany should apply for admission to the League.
– Perhaps Germany, -in making the Treaty, had some idea of the attitude that Brazil intended to adopt.
– I know nothing about that. We have to be very careful, and we should know exactly where these treaties are leading us. It may be that the numerous treaties that are being registered with the League will kill whatever hope we have of the League being an instrument to bring about disarmament and world’s peace.
– That part of the League is merely a publicity bureau.
– It seems to be so at the moment. Take the position of Italy, a signatory to the Locarno Treaty. The -Melbourne ‘Herald of the 29th December, 1925, published the following paragraph : -
Mussolini has made a speech that reeks of war. “ We are creating the third Italy,” he told his followers on the Italian Armistice
Day, “ and it must be greater than its predecessors. We must create it with ‘brains and brawn, and if necessary with blood. We must have an efficient navy, a powerful army, and air force, and above all we must keep alive the war spirit.” Strange words, these, for a man who had just previously signed the Locarno agreement, and joined in the fervent wishes for a new spirit of friendship in Europe. The fact is that Mussolini candidly ruling by force is suffering from a war complex. His country has a teeming population amounting, it is said, to a surplus of over half a million people a year. Italy is mighty in man power, but poor in resources. It is not a rich country either in agriculture or manufacture, when compared with its population. But it is growing every year. And its natural outlets are closed. Some time ago, Mussolini declared that only three solutions could be found for Italy’s surplus millions - birth control, immigration, and a war of conquest. The first the Duce dismissed as totally opposed to Italian ideals. The solution must ‘be either immigration or war. He pointed out that most of the other nations whose lands are suitable for absorbing Italy’s surplus population had closed their doors to her, and he said very definitely that unless these doors were opened then Italy was left with only the solution of war.
That is the attitude taken up by a member of the League of Nations, one of the guarantors under the Locarno Treaty.
– How does that bear on the Locarno Pact ? Does it increase our liabilities under it?
– It goes to show that Italy has little respect for the Treaty into which it has entered. We can place no confidence in a statesman who signs the Locarno Treaty and immediately afterwards threatens war. The Locarno Treaty has been the means of breeding numerous treaties to which no publicity has been given. Treaties have been entered- into between Germany and Russia and between Turkey and Russia. The Melbourne Herald of’ the 28th December, 1925, published this statement -
London, 27th December. - The Turco-Russian Treaty contains a secret clause guaranteeing Soviet support in the event of war. (Published in the Times.)
London, 27th December. - The Soviet agitation against the Locarno spirit flared up again in connexion with the treaty between Turkey and the Soviet, which is held, says the Riga correspondent of the Times, to have entirely frustrated Britain’s designs to create a near eastern Locarno, because it prohibits Turkey’s entrance. “ A Turkeyless Locarno in the Near East is unthinkable,” declares the -Russian newspaper, Izvestia, in mentioning the possibility of a Persian-Turko-Soviet alliance.
Germany and Russia have entered into a treaty that will tend to prevent peace in Eastern Europe for many years to come. A treaty has also been entered into between Roumania and Poland, both of which nations are members of the League. On this subject the Argus of the 21st June, 1926, published the following paragraph : -
A surprise announcement was made at a conference of the Little Entente (Czechoslovakia, Roumania, and Jugoslavia) that Roumania had concluded a treaty of defence with Poland for mutual protection of the frontiers of Poland and Bessarabia against Soviet aggression. The Czecho-slovakian and Jugoslavian Ministers took cognizance of the treaty, but reserved their judgment.
That Treaty has been entered into between two members of the League.
– It has probably, by now, been registered with the League.
-That maybe so. If the nations are to enter into specific treaties, to be registered with the League of Nations itself, what hope have we for its future?
– We cannot prevent treaties. The nations have been entering into them for hundreds of years.
– I admit that we cannot prevent them. The League should immediately call a conference of all the nations.
– That is why I suggested that America should be admitted to the League.
– I agree with the honorable member. Unless all the nations meet in conference to arrive at some common basis of bringing about disarmament, we shall achieve nothing. The making of numerous treaties between the nations, which are simply registered with the League in conformity with the Covenant, brings us no nearer to a world’s peace.
– Are not most treaties made with a view to preserving peace ?
– The same thing was said before the war. It has always been contended that treaties are entered into for purposes, not of offence, but of defence, and the preservation of peace, and yet the result has been war. History continues to repeat itself.
– The honorable member will admit that the element of reference to arbitration has been introduced into post-war treaties, and that they must be registered.
– I admit that; but even in the past, treaties that provided for arbitration in the event of disputes, did not prevent war. Whenever the subject of arbitration has been discussed, some difference of opinion has existed between the League members themselves, and, as a result, nothing has been achieved. That is the whole trouble. Seven years have passed since the Covenant was entered into, and can anybody say that we are nearer disarmament and world’s peace than we were before the war ? Is it not a fact that the armaments of the world are greater to-day than before the war, and that every nation is making further preparations for war? Lloyd George, who should be an authority on this subject, considering the great part that he played in the war, after referring to the Treaty entered into betwen Germany and Russia, according to the Melbourne Herald of the 17th June last, said -
The Russo-Germanic Treaty is causing much fluster, and not a little alarm, among the Locarnist Nations. There is no use disguising the fact that it is a formidable document.
Its actual phrasing is more ominous than the various disarming communiques issued from Berlin before itspublication would have led us to expect.
For instance, there is a sentence at the beginning which dominates the agreement, and indicates its spirit. It is the preamble which declares that the parties are inspired “ by the conviction that the interest of the German people, and of the people of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics demands that cooperation between them shall be continuous and mutually trusting.”
This is repeated and emphasized in Article 1 by an agreement to “ remain in friendly touch with one another in order to promote an understanding.” The words are startling in their significance. No wonder eyebrows are lifted pretty high and that shoulders are being jerked up violently.
The foolish manoeuvres which ‘brought the League of Nations into such contempt at the last meeting of its Assembly, is directly responsible for the conclusion of this momentous Treaty. Negotiations had been dawdling along in leisurely fashion for many months between Moscow and Berlin. But the more eager the former were for an arrangement, the more apathetic and indifferent ‘became the latter. Locarno turned the face of Germany towards the West Geneva swung it round sharply to the East.
On the face of it, the agreement is a fresh guarantee of peace. That is the very reason why Europe distrusts it. All these Pacts which have in the past provoked war ostentatiously proclaimed that their main purpose was to ensure peace amongst nations. The Belgian Treaty and the Franco-Russian Alliance, the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Italy, and the Anglo-French Entente, were all declared at the time to be so many devices to ensure the permanence and security of European peace.
Assurances were always given to that effect to other nations, but, nevertheless, between them they landed the world in the bloodiest war that ever stained its surface.
That statement is condemnatory of the practice of entering into separate treaties, and it is quite sufficient to cause us to be very careful in our attitude towards the Locarno Pact. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say last night that he would not ratify the Locarno Treaty until he had reported to this House. There was a little misapprehension on that point. I, like the right honorable member for Balaclava, was under the impres- sion that the Prime Minister had stated that the Commonwealth had agreed to the Locarno Treaty. I now understand from the Prime Minister that that is not so ; the Commonwealth Government has merely been kept informed by the Imperial Government of all proceedings in relation to the Treaty.
Mr.Watt. - And approval of it has not been expressed by the Commonwealth Government.
– That is so. The Commonwealth would not be justified in endorsing the Treaty, and so becoming a party to it. This country was not consulted in regard to it, and clause 9, which was inserted at the instance of the British Government, shows clearly that there is no obligation on the dominions to endorse it. Although the Commonwealth Government has been kept informed of what was happening, the fact stands out that the British Government does not desire to compel any of the dominions to be embroiled in troubles arising out of treaties with foreign nations. We have complete liberty of action in regard to these matters. It is well known that South Africa and Canada will not subscribe to the Locarno Treaty, and Australia would be well advised to adopt the same attitude. If at any time a crisis made it necessary for Australia to play its part alongside the Motherland, as it has done in the past,I have not the slightest doubt what the attitude of this country would be. But that is no reason why we should become a party to treaties relating entirely to European affairs. Australia cannot afford to become embroiled in the concerns of Europe. Our people should be free to work out their destiny in their own way. Under the Constitution handed down to us by the British Crown, Australia has progressed and prospered ; it is one of the best countries in the world, and having done so well under the existing arrangement, it is undesirable to make an important change that might in years to come involve us in trouble, possibly with the Mother Country. This Parliament should have absolute liberty to act as it thinks fit at any time andin any circumstances.
The Prime Minister said that he was favorable to the establishment of a naval base at Singapore. Owing to a change of government in the United Kingdom that work was not proceeded with, and the Commonwealth Government committed Australia to a defence programme, involving as big a financial burden as the country can carry. Now the Singapore project is to be revived, and notwithstanding the defence programme upon which the Government is engaged, the Prime Minister is prepared to consider favorably the granting of a sum of money towards the cost of establishing that base. On a previous occasion I stated my opposition to that scheme, and nothing has happened since to change my views. Acknowledged authorities upon naval matters have adopted the same attitude, as the following newspaper extracts show : -
London, 16th October, 1923
Arguing on the assumption that battleships are useless against modern defensive weapons like airships, aeroplanes, mines, torpedoes, and submarines, Admiral Sir Percy Scott, addressing the Australian Natives’ Association at the Royal Colonial Institute to-day, described the Singapore Base as “ a wicked scheme.” He expressed the opinion that the dominions should not contribute a penny towards it. Rather they should spend their money on modern defence methods. [Melbourne Herald, 26th March, 1924.]
Smuts Supports Macdonald
The dominions correspondence regarding Singapore has been published.
General J. C. Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa, expressed whole-hearted agreement with the Government’s policy. He declared that the proposed Base would be out of keeping with the spirit of the Washington agreement. He sincerely trusted that Mr. Bruce, Prime Minister of Australia, and Mr. Massey, Prime Minister of New Zealand, would acquiesce, because no promise of real security for them was contained in the Singapore proposals, as European troubles wouldprobably synchronize with any future tension in the Pacific, and make it out of the question to move the Navy to Singapore.
London, 29th January, 1925
In a special article published in the Daily Chronicle, Commander Kenworthy, Liberal M.P., affirms that the Singapore project was never properly examined on strategical grounds, either here or in Australia. Were this done, he felt sure the public would agree that better value could be obtained for the expenditure on the existing dockyard at Sydney than on a “ white elephant “ at Singapore.
London, 27th March, 1925
Mr. Toyo Hikokagawa, the Japanese Labour leader, and editor of the Japanese Labour News, has arrived in London in the course of a world tour.
In an interview, Mr. Hikokagawa said he wondered why Great Britain, after twenty years, had begun to doubt Japan’s friendship. He was convinced that the Singapore Base was directed against Japan, whose intentions were entirely pacific. Japan was trusting to the League of Nations, and she still had faith.
I agree with the contention that the construction of a base at Singapore is not in keeping with the, spirit of the Washington Conference. When that gathering decided that the signatory countries should destroy their battleships, nobody contemplated that all of them would embark on a policy of increased cruiser construction. But America, France, Great Britain, Japan, and Australia are strengthening theircruiser fleets. This policy, taken in conjunction with the proposal to establish a naval base at Singapore, indicates that, instead of promoting the peace of the world by disarmament, the nations are preparing for further wars. It is idle to say that armaments are an assurance of peace; history has proved that this policy usually culminates in war.
I turn now to the agenda for the Economic Conference. Overseas settlement will be one of the most important subjects discussed at that gathering. I wish to make clear to the House and the country that the Labour party is not opposed to immigration, but it does not believe in bringing people here without having previously prepared for their reception. If employment can be found for more people, we are justified in bringing migrants to Australia; but at the present time people are being brought from abroad to swell the ranks of the unemployed. I, personally, approved of the proposal of the Government to create a development and migration commission to inquire into the possibilities of land settlement and industrial development, with a view to determining the country’s capacity to absorb more population. But until that commission has completed its investigations, and has shown clearly that the country can find profitable employment for more people, it is not right to encourage immigration. Not only are many of the new arrivals unemployed, but statements which have been published indicate that the selection of migrants at the other end of the world is careless. I quote this paragraph from the Melbourne Herald of 30th July last -
Three assisted immigrants - one with a bad record in the United Kingdom - were among the seventeen prisoners sentenced by Mr. Justice Schutt in the Criminal Court to-day.
An official of the Crown Law Department said there had been an alarming increase in the number of assisted immigrants arrested in Victoria for housebreaking, larceny, and other offences.
Men of that class are not wanted in Australia. If we are to carry out an immigration policy, let us take care that we bring here men and women who will become reputable citizens. We should not bring criminals to this country.
– Yes. Crime generally is on the increase in Australia; I do not say that that is entirely due to the immigrants, but facts such as those contained in the newspaper paragraph I quoted, indicate the need for greater care in the selection of migrants. I hope that, at the Economic Conference, the Prime Minister will explain that Australia is appointing experts to take stock of its economic resources and requirements, and that arrangements will be made for a large influx of migrants only after a scheme has been completed for their absorption. I am assured by. letters and telegrams from my own district, that hundreds of newcomers there are out of employment and are dependent upon relief works on the roads.
– Are they assisted migrants ?
– I think most of them were nominated.
– They could only come to Australia in accordance with nominations, and requisitions by the State Governments.
– I am not blaming the Commonwealth Government, but some action must be taken to prevent the influx of people for whom no employment can be found. There is no advantage in increasing our population, if many of the newcomers are to become a charge on the States.
Inter-imperial trade is another important subject to be dealt with by the Economic Conference, and I hope that the Australian representatives will urge Great Britain to do a little more than has been done in the past to increase the consumption of our products. I know that I may be charged with asking too much of the people of Great Britain who, in many respects, are worse off than the Australian people. But if this country is to absorb Great Britain’s excess population it is fair that the Mother Country should, in turn, arrange that as large a proportion as possible of its imported requirements should be purchased from the dominions, and so give increased employment to its own people who have settled there. At the present time enormous quantities of dried fruits and other products are imported into Great Britain’, mainly from countries outside the Empire. In Australia, thousands of returned soldiers have been settled upon the land; many of those who are engaged in the dried fruits industry are unable to make a living. In the Mildura district alone 20,000 people are dependent upon that industry, and the Commonwealth is spending a lot of money on the River Murray Waters Scheme. When this is completed, and people are settled on the new irrigation areas, we shall have to find markets for their products.
– The solution of the problem is, to some extent, the establishment of cool stores, and the increasing of our storage facilities generally.
– That is so. I advocated that in my policy speech during the last election. In a recent issue of the London Times, Mr. Amery, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, said that Australian wages were ls. 9d. an hour, whereas the Greeks receive only 3d. an hour. He pointed out that the 1925 preference was .7s. a cwt. for sultanas and raisins, and 2s. a cwt, for currants; and that Great Britain derived her main supply of these commodities from Greece, the United States of America, Turkey, Spain, Australia, and South Africa. He went on to say that in Turkey each person who depended on the dried-fruit industry for a living bought only 8d. or 9d. worth of British goods per head per annum; whereas similar figures for the United States of America were 9s. 2d.; for Spain, lis.; for Greece, 18s. 8d. ; and for Australia, £10 3s. Surely these figures indicate that there are substantial reasons why the sale of Australian dried fruits should be pushed on the English market. I know that some steps have been taken to do this, but a good deal more could be done in the same direction. The same argument might be used in regard to Australian meat. A newspaper cable from London, dated 29th July, appearing in the Argus of the 31st July last, contains the report of an interesting speech by Mr. J. H. Thomas, who was Secretary for State for Dominion Affairs in the British Labour Cabinet. Mr. Thomas is reported as follows: -
If within the British commonwealth of nations we could encourage and develop trade, it was our bounden duty to do so. Nothing was more discouraging than to hear of the Dominion people talk of being robbed. An Australian deputation told him that they were getting 4Jd. a pound for meat which was sold at Smithfield for ls. 8d. and ls. lOd. The Government should require to be given .an authoritative explanation of such a thing.
That is a matter that could be well submitted to the Economic Conference for consideration. Surely no one will argue that there can be any justification for charging the British people three or four times as much for the Australian meat they buy as the Australian producers receive for it. An exhaustive investigation should be made into the prices charged by the middle-men who handle our produce in England. Matters of that kind could be discussed with advantage to both Great Britain and Australia, and I trust that the Prime Minister, and whoever accompanies him, will do their utmost along these lines. I do not know whether the Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson)- is to accompany the Prime Minister, but if he were chosen, I should congratulate him. It would be fitting for him to go.
Another matter which the conference could profitably consider is ways and means of bringing about a thorough cooperation between Great Britain and her dominions in regard to research work. We have recently reorganized our Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and I hope that it will be able to do valuable work for the country. Undoubtedly, there is scope for it to do so. While I was in London, I visited, in company with Sir Joseph Cook and Mr.
Gepp, the fuel research station at Greenwich, where experiments were being made in carbonizing coal and extracting oil. I was much interested in all that I saw. “We were informed that a ton of coal, under the process then in operation, would yield from fifteen to eighteen gallons of oil, as well as a number of valuable by-products. Experiments were also being made in blending different coals for coking and steam purposes, and it was mentioned to me that by mixing different coals, a much higher speed could be obtained by our steamships. Although, at that stage, commercial success had not been achieved in some of the operations, investigations along those lines are highly desirable. But we should secure as much Empire cooperation in this matter as possible. There should be no reason, for instance, for us to carry out in Australia experiments which are similar to those being conducted in Great Britain. It would probably be advantageous also if we could exchange research officers.
– They are anxious in England to have some of our men over there.
– It would be a good thing in the interests of the respective countries, and would undoubtedly tend to prevent overlapping. These also are matters which could be well discussed at the conference.
The Prime Minister, in his address yesterday, said nothing about the item on the agenda-paper which refers to the liability of State enterprises to taxation. This subject was on the agenda-paper of the previous Imperial Conference, but when I inquired from the Prime Minister what it meant, he replied that he believed it referred to shipping. I should like some further information on it. If any suggestion is made that State enterprises shall be subjected to taxation, I sincerely trust that the Prime Minister will entirely disagree with it.
– It has nothing to do with the Imperial Conference. That line on the agenda-paper must refer only to shipping.
– And it does not seem to get much further forward.
– I trust that it will not if that is what it means.
I am sorry that there is no indication on the agenda-paper that any considera tion will be given to evolving a measure of reciprocity between the various Imperial dominions with regard to widows, old-age and invalid pensions ; but, as the Prime’ Minister has said that matters that are not among the agenda may be introduced, I trust that he will consider bringing- this forward. It is regrettable to me that many aged persons who have been in the Commonwealth for ten, fifteen, or even eighteen years, are denied the pension because they have not the residential qualification of twenty years. In many cases, these persons have served the Empire well in Australia as well as in the Home Land, and had they remained . in England they would have been entitled to a pension. I can see no great difficulty in evolving a reciprocal plan to meet their cases. It is hard that some of them should have to suffer severely on account of their inability either to work or tosecure the pension. For invalid pensions the residential qualification is only five years. I urge the Prime Minister to bring these matters under the notice of the conference.
I wish the right honorable gentleman well on his mission, and. trust that he will be able to report to Parliament, subsequently, that useful work has been accomplished. But when he makes his report to honorable members next year, I urge him to keep economic matters separate from defence matters, and to give honorable members an opportunity of voting on one part of the report without having necessarily to accept the whole of it. When the last report was made, the right honorable gentleman submitted the defence proposals and economic matters in one motion, with the result that honorable members of the Labour party, being opposed to the defence proposals submitted, had also to vote against the imperial preference proposals, notwithstanding that they were heartily in accord with them. I trust that they will not be placed in a similar position when the next report is submitted.
. As I do not intend to address the House at great length, I shall confine my remarks to the general principles underlying inter-empire relations, and to the more important questions set down for discussion at the Conference. These Con- ferences axe now a recognized instrumentality of Empire government, and although measured by years, they are but things of yesterday; they are an integral part of its structure, and essential to the maintenance to the two great principles upon which it rests - the autonomy of the parts, and the unity of the whole. At these conferences, representatives of the Empire sit round the council table on a footing of absolute equality. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is in the chair ex officio, but he is merely the first amongst his equals. In the discussions that take place this fact is emphasized over and over again. We are speaking of the governance of the British Empire, and the word “ Empire “ is grotesquely inappropriate to the league of British nations to which it is applied ; but I use it in the sense in which it is understood by us. The Conference, although essential to Empire government, is not by any means a perfect instrumentality, and certainly will never enable us to solve all our problems of Empire government. Most of these problems, as a matter of fact, are not capable of solution in the ordinary sense of the word. They arise from the geographical circumstances of the Empire. It can easily be understood that government in a country like Holland, or even Great Britain, is a different thing from government in the United States of America, or in Australia. The ordinary difficulties and problems of governments are interrupted, and new ones created by the extent of territory over which it is exercised. Many of the difficulties which face Imperial Conferences arise in consequence of the vast area over which the various governments of the Empire exercise sway.
The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both referred to the approaching Conference as one of extraordinary importance, and, indeed, of more vital importance than any that have preceded it. That is a quite natural and perhaps excusable exaggeration of the position. The reasons given do not support the contention. The Leader of the Opposition observed that this Conference may completely change the status of the different parts of the Empire and their relations inter se. Such an opinion rests upon a complete mis apprehension of the position. The Conference can do no such thing, and if it could do so, I should most emphatically object to it making the attempt. The reason why it cannot do so is plain. As the right honorable the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday afternoon, the nations which make up the British Commonwealth are absolutely free and, in all but name, independent. There is literally nothing that they cannot do save that which is physically impossible. Whatever limitations exist arise out of their geographical and other circumstances, or are imposed of their own free will. This Parliament, which is a typical parliament, has the power - I speak not of constitutional fictions, but of realities - to do everything that a sovereign parliament can do. It can even sever its connexion with the Empire; although it cannot do so under the terms of its constitution. The British Parliament, in its turn, is literally a sovereign parliament. It can dethrone the King, and place any other person in his place. It can dismember the Empire. It does not do those things, but it has the power to. do them. The component parts of the Empire are free nations; nothing can give them greater freedom than they now have. Nothing that the Imperial Conference can do, and nothing that any collective body of men can do, will endow this Parliament with greater power than it has at this moment. So when we talk of altering the status of the dominions, there is only one way in which we can alter it - by diminishing their power, by imposing limitations upon them. Any attempt to limit our powers under what is called the Constitution - and there is actually no such thing - or to reduce our powers to writing, will inevitably fetter our limbs. As things are, we can do everything necessary to protect and preserve our interests, no matter how our circumstances change. It .is impossible to conceive what powers we shall require in 10 or 50 years’ time. It is plain enough that the eminent men who drafted the Constitution which created this Parliament, and who acted with wisdom and foresight, saw “ as through a glass darkly.” They did not know what powers we should require in 25 years’ time. All written constitutions are necessarily exposed to these dangers. The Constitution of England does not exist, save in the hearts, minds, and traditions of the people. Since we have established this Parliament, there have been revolutions in England, and they have proceeded constitutionally, because, there being no constitutional limitations, the people can do as they please. It was proposed at the last two Imperial Conferences that I attended to reduce what is called the Constitution of the Empire to writing. I opposed that proposal, and it went no further. The Prime Minister admitted yesterday, that no limitations are imposed upon us; and that being so, it is clear that the Imperial Conference can give us nothing more, although it can take away that which w»have. I am irrevocably opposed to any attempt to define our powers. I am content merely to declare that they are without limits. Anything that a free people demands is, and must be, within their power - that is the Constitution of Australia; and, what is more, it is the constitution of every self-governing dominion. The people of a self-governing dominion may declare, and seek to attain, by what are called constitutional means - that is to say, by peaceful, legal means - whatever they choose.
I turn from that aspect of the subject to consider the position of the Empire as I see it. I have already stated that there are two principles which, though inconsistent, yet run side by side. One of these is autonomy, the other is unity; and, in the nature of things, neither of them can be pushed beyond a certain point, except to the exclusion or limitation of the other. It has been the happy, the unique experience of this commonwealth of nations to be able to attain complete autonomy and yet achieve a unity the like of which the world has not previously seen. There never have been, in ancient or modern times, nations so free as we are, nor has there ever been a group of people so united under the stress of circumstances. The war, which found us united, left us still more firmly united; the severe solvent of war failed to disintegrate vh; we were one and we remained so. The strength of this Empire is unity. The honorable the Leader of the Opposition does, not seem to understand that fact, nor does he appreciate the privileges and responsibilities of the free governments which are part of this great Empire. Free men do not shirk their responsibilities. The badge of freedom which they wear shows that they are prepared to accept their responsibilities and to uphold their claim to freedom. Unity requires us to accept responsibilities, not to endeavour to put them on to others. One of our responsibilities is that of defence. I have said that the Empire is united, or it is nothing; it is either a thing, or a figment. If, as I believe, it is a living force, and the greatest force in the world to-day for the preservation of peace and the advancement of civilization, it is surely worth preserving. I would impress upon honorable members that, arbitration or no arbitration, League of Nations or no League of Nations, this Empire of ours must be preserved in the interest not merely of ourselves - although its preservation is vital to us - but also of civilization. We have to face the facts of life, and war- is now, as it has always been, possible. Just as surely as death will overtake us all, so will war come again to the world. When the conference comes to consider the question of defence, the principle that ought to be adopted is that although local defence, as the right honorable gentleman said last night, in his severely restricted interpretation of the term, is the proper business of each of the dominions, the defence of the Empire is the business of all. I am sorry te say that previous conferences have not accepted or applied that principle; but until it is applied, the safety and unity of this Empire does not rest on granite rock. Some of the dominions seem to imagine that, because their circumstances are such that danger seems to be completely walled off, they are free to regard the dangers of others complacently. Canada is happily situated. Her frontier for 4,000 miles marches with that of the great Republic of the United States of America; she is able to look to the east, the west, and the south, and say that war cannot come near her. Humanly speaking, she is as safe as it is possible for a nation to be. But her present position - although some Canadians do not seem to recognize the fact - is due to her membership of the British Empire. In my opinion Canada’s duty, as a part of this
Empire, is to contribute on a population basis to the defence of the Empire, and what applies to Canada applies to us and to every other part of the Empire.
That brings me to the question of the Singapore Naval Base. The honorable the Leader of the Opposition is opposed to that undertaking, and he deplores that the Treaty of Washington, which but yesterday was in all men’s mouths, and was welcomed as marking the beginning of a new era, has ushered in a period of increased activity in naval shipbuilding. Whether that is true or not is not material, but if it be so, what of it? We have to face the facts. I am one of those who are prepared always to throw down their arms - but not first. When I see that other men are armed to the teeth, I am not such a trustful fool as to throw down my sword and buckler, and to bare my breast to the envenomed darts of a world in arms. Let the Leader of the Opposition, therefore, direct his remarks to the nations at large. When they abate their keen desire to be prepared for the worst, we shall be ready to do the same. We are not swashbucklers. Our withers are unwrung and so are those of Britain. At the Washington Conference Britain was asked to do a hard thing, and she did it ; and we were asked to do a hard thing,and we did it. But we are the guardians of a great house with an open door; we are surrounded by a thousand million people, and are, therefore, entitled to take at least those ordinary precautions which a prudent citizen would take for his own protection. As none will deny we have a right to defend ourselves, the question arises, how shall we best do it? We are a part of the Empire, and ‘by nomeans at- our command can we defend ourselves either now ar within the next quarter of a century. Happily for us we are a member of a league of nations - not a league on paper, but a league in fact, which has been through the fire of trial. We are able to call to our friends in that league, and one of them, Britain, has taken the lead, as she has always done, although her obligations in this particular case are no greater than ours. It is true that she has great possessions, but they are not vital to her existence as is the safety of Australia to ours. What can a man lose more than his life? If we wish to retain this country, we surely ought to be willing to make such arrangements as will, under ordinary circumstances, give us reasonable prospects of retaining it. Of the strategic value of Singapore - I speak of the principle involved and not of the site - I shall say no more than that it was my lot to take part in the original discussions on the selection of this base, and it was sufficient for me, as 1 have said before, that two men like Admiral Jellicoe and Admiral Beatty should agree upon the matter. I was prepared to accept their opinion . I know that there are men of some eminence who have criticized the selection of Singapore; but I am content to accept the advice of those upon whose shoulders rested the responsibility for the greatest navy the world has ever seen during the greatest war the world has ever known. Accepting the facts that Australia is a member of the Empire; that the maintenance of the Empire is desirable, and that it has supported and will support us in our hour of trial ; and that Singapore is necessary for the protection of Australia, India, and the Eastern possessions of the Empire, we have to consider what our contribution ought to be. That is a matter the Government must consider, and it is the duty of the Prime Minister not only to speak of what we are able to do, but to protest emphatically against any part of the Empire evading its proper responsibilities in this matter. The mere fact that we happen to guard the portcullis does not absolve from responsibility those who are situated away in the hinterland. Itwould be absurd to contend that all responsibility should fall ‘ upon us, while those with whom we fought shoulder to shoulder in the Great War, who glory in the fact that they, too, are under the banner of Empire, should, merely because of their happy geographical circumstances, for the time being, “ pass by on the other side.” My opinion is that the proper basis of naval .defence of the Empire is a fair per capita levy on the white populations of its various parts. I do not deny that Great Britain may not fairly be asked to pay more than the dominions because she has other possessions overseas.
I come now to the Locarno Pact. The Leader of the Opposition raised a number of questions connected with the treaties into which Germany and other nations have entered prior to or’ since the signing of the Locarno Treaty. I am not going into that matter at all. Without looking closely into those treaties, I could not say what they contain; but I make bold to say that they will not increase our liabilities or risks under the Locarno Treaty. With that I am content. As to the honorable gentleman’s fear lest out of a multitude of treaties for the promotion of peace there should come war, I have no more to say than that the alternative to a multitude of treaties is one treaty which would cover all mankind. We know that the law of life is evolution. If we are not to wait until some pretentious protocol, still more imposing and glittering than the last, spreads its white wings over the whole world; we must proceed treaty by treaty. I venture to say that the Treaty between Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Great Britain, called the Treaty of Locarno, ought to be ratified. It represents a distinct advance. It is perfectly true that the possibility of war is everywhere. The Treaty between Germany and Russia, which has been referred to, may lead to war some day. An economic treaty may lead to war, and so may any other treaty. But we have to deal with the facts as they are ; and when we remember the traditional attitude of those age-old enemies, the German and the Frenchman, that revenge has burned in their very hearts, and that each has prayed that the day may come when he can plant his dagger in the other’s heart; when, knowing these things, we learn that these people, have made an arrangement not- to go to war with each other, I say that that enormously improves the position of the world, and has removed to a distance the dark prospect of immediate war. No doubt the Locarno Treaty will impose certain obligations upon us. The Leader of the Opposition speaks about peace as though it could be bought without price. It cannot. What did the Protocol of the League of Nations rest upon? It rested upon force, which was to be applied by the various nations which subscribed to it. There was behind the promise of peace the certainty of armed force ready to batter into insensibility any nation that dared to break that peace. There is no other way of ensuring peace. You must either actually batter the disturber into insensibility, or by a display of overwhelming force convince him that resistance is hopeless, so that he submits as a man submits to a policeman, knowing that it is useless to resist. It is within the memory of honorable members that a year or two ago, in the very street in which this building stands, within an hour or two after the police of this city had refused duty, we saw how little some of our citizens would be lawabiding without compulsion. When we sheathe the sword or beat it into a ploughshare, unless others have done it before us, we must look for trouble. Treaties of peace are useless without some sanction - some force - behind them. I am in favour of the Locarno Pact, because it deals with a present evil. It removes the greatest danger to the peace of Europe, and we know that that which disturbs Europe must disturb Britain, and, therefore, imperil our own peace. This brings me to the ratification by this Parliament of the Locarno Treaty. I am sorry that the Prime Minister is not gong to submit the Treaty to this Parliament for its ratification at the present time. Bus arguments against that course were inconclusive, his reasoning most unconvincing. I understand that he regards the Treaty as a good one, and approves of it, and that this Parliament is to be asked some day to ratify it. Why not now? If it is a good treaty, it ought to be ratified by us. There is nothing to be gained by postponing the submission of it to this Parliament. It has been contended that, because other dominions have adopted a hostile attitude towards the Treaty, the discussion at the Imperial Conference would be less free if this Parliament now took any action to ratify the Treaty. That is a counsel of despair. We believe in unity, and we approve the Treaty. Great Britain has signed it ; and though we are not required to do so, if we refrain from its ratification because some other part of the Empire opposes it, those who do so may work for the disintegration of the Empire as they please, whilst those who work for unity have their hands tied. The Prime Minister overstated the position when he said that the Empire is entirely British; it ia controlled by men of that race, but it is not entirely British. I speak not at all of its coloured population, but of what is notorious; that there are 2,500,000 French-Canadians who are certainly not predisposed towards England, and that in the Union of South Africa nearly half the white population is Dutch. We .who believe in the Empire ought to emphasize its value by doing what we can tq ensure united action whenever we have the opportunity. Putting that aside, I ask the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) what would be the position if we did not ratify the Treaty. We are not now dealing with a hypothetical question’. Great Britain has already signed the Treaty, which, when Germany has been admitted into the League, will take- effect. If war arises out of it, Great Britain will be” involved, and, as the prime Minister saidlast night, when Great Britain is at war we are at war. Therefore, whether we ratify the Treaty or- not, we are com:mitted to all that may arise from its violation. What we have to consider is, not whether the Locarno Pact should be ratified, but how we are going to lessen the risk of war. I turn now to the question of foreign policy. It appears to me that the Leader of the Opposition is short-sighted. He says that he is opposed to any change in the method of conducting foreign policy, which, has served us so long, and that if a plebiscite were taken the people would favour the continuance of it. I do not k’now whether that would happen; but this I do know, that it is the right of a free people upon whose shoulder rests grave responsibility to have a share of the go:vernment of the Empire. ‘ The fundamental principle .of our national civic life is .no taxation without representation. As out of the foreign policy of the Empire may come war in which we should be involved, we ought to have an op- portunity of moulding that foreign policy, he Prime Minister said yesterday that we should take a part in a business that concerns us, and so we should. That will not involve us in any greater response bility than is now ours. If Great Britain declares war, we are involved. Honorable members talk as if a detached and remote view of these things was possible. Let them read the oath to which they subscribed at this table, and try to imagine a state of affairs in which the King of England was at war. and the King of Australia, to whom they have vowed allegiance, was at peace. The idea that Great Britain could be at war and* we at peace is absurd. .-‘ Bub. it would be an entirely different question; whether we should aid Great Britain in the event of that country being at war. . We could if we liked sit cravenly in our homes and wait until war was forced upon us. So, too, could a man living in Yorkshire or Scotland. But we should, nevertheless, be belligerents. Our cities would be liable to bombardment, our merchant fleet to capture, and our trade to destruction,’ All this is part of the price of Empire,” and in return we get such protection as has enabled us to come through 140 years of history with only one serious war, and that waged 12,000 miles away. I am strongly in favour of whatever arrangement jean be made to give us a more effective ,share in- the ‘ moulding of our foreign ‘policy.. How that, can be done is another matter. Personally, I do not believe’ that anything except an improvement of our means of. communication will materially help us. Great Britain is the heart of. the Empire. London is ‘ the nerve centre to which from all over the’ world comes- the news of what is happen* ing here, and there, and everywhere. The Empire’s interests are as wide as the world, and the possibilities/of war aTe almost as -the sands of the seashore iri number. Australia is 12,000 miles, from Great Britain; Canada, 4,000 miles-; and Africa, 7)000 or ‘8,000 ‘miles, and it is extremely difficult for any statesman in London; who may be endeavouring to do his best for this vast Empire, to ascertain ‘ the views of our Prime’ Minister or those of the Prime Ministers of the other’ dominions. When communications have so improved that it will be possible- for Downingstreet to ring up Canberra; Ottawa, Johannesburg and Wellington, and to take counsel with the heads of Dominion Governments there, we shall have advanced some steps along the road of progress. I know from my own experience that the Government of Great Britain is only too anxious to give the dominions every opportunity to make themselves familiar with the affairs of the Empire. At the Imperial Conference there is 3et out in detail everything that has been done, and the broad .principles of what it is intended to do. Those principles are determined .there, and the dominions have as much sky about them as the representatives :of Great Britain. But the danger lies in applying these, principles to the ever changing circumstances of a world-wide Empire. Fire may come from any spark. Who can say what will cause war? No one could have foreseen that a world war would arise from the assassination of an Arch Duke and an Arch Duchess at Sarajevo. It might not be possible to inform Ottawa or Canberra of the serious consequences likely to follow such an event. But so far as humanly possible it is desirable that the dominions should havea share in the moulding of the Empire’s foreign policy. And there is another aspect that needs to be touched upon. Some may suspect those who control the foreign policy of Britain to be men of imperialistic ideas. If there be any truth in this nothing is more likely to tone down their views and to make for peace than collaboration between Great Britain and her great oversea diminions. We, in Australia, desire peace; we have no ambition for conquest, but only to be left alone to develop our great heritage. We not only speak of peace, but act as men who are resolved to deserve peace. We are willing to be judged by our deeds. We will walk circumspectly, and studiously avoid giving offence to other nations. We ought, therefore, to see that the foreign policy of the Empire is free of all taint of jingoism, and purged of all suspicion of offence. The Empire must walk warily. We will be no parties to any imperialistic scheme. None of the grandiose schemes that enter the minds of some of our friends ought to receive the support of the oversea dominions. I know that the representatives of the dominions see eye to eye in this matter and the demand by them for more effective control ought to be backed by the world, because it makes for a greater assurance of peace.
There are many other points that might be touched on; but I am satisfied to leave the matter where it is. I hope that this conference may bring forth good. It can do great work in the promotion of trade, and smooth the way for immigration. Above everything, it can emphasize to the peoples of the dominions, and to the rest of the world, the fact that we are a united people, and that we understand that our duty to the Empire is not a divided one. As a citizen of Australia, I say that our duty is first to this country and next to the Empire. Australia is a member of the League of Nations, and we should speak plainly. When our duty to the Empire conflicts with our duty to the League of Nations, we must do our duty to the Empire and not to the League of Nations.
.- Judging by the state of the House, I imagine that honorable members generally are not vastly interested in the fate of the motion before them, and I could not help thinking as I have listened to the three very interesting speeches we have had - two to-day and one yesterday - how different the appearance of this Chamber from that of another parliament in this city, where the galleries are crowded, and the members all agog because the fate of the Government is involved. Yet the matters before us are of far greater importance, and of more lasting concern than anything that may happen in the Victorian Parliament. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has done well to give ample time to the discussion of the agenda paper of the Imperial Conference, as he did for the discussion of that of the League of Nations. I could not help feeling that, while the utterances of the Prime Minister yesterday were interesting and informative, they were also a little disappointing. I am not reflecting upon his ability or desire to give the House full information; but on some things he was definite, and on others not quite so definite. While the sketch that he gave us of the circumstances and conditions of the day, in relation to Empire affairs, was unmistakably clear and true, unfortunately he omitted on several points to tell us exactly what the views of the Government are. It is with the object of filling perhaps two or three lacunae that I have risen to speak. The object of the Prime Minister’s submission of the motion is, I suppose, to seek, before he goes to London, not by resolution, but by free and voluntary expression of some of the minds in this Parliament, the view of the House on issues that he will have to consider and deal with, if not finally settle, there.
Let me at once tell him what I agree with chiefly in his speech. I might regard one of hisstatements as the postulate of all his utterances ; I refer to his statement that, although the members of the Empire are scattered throughout the world, it must be kept in mind on all occasions, and particularly when the family foregather at their head-quarters, that, notwithstanding our geographical severance, we are still one people and one nation. No truer statement ever fell from the lips of an Australian statesman. The Prime Minister reminded this House that it was Great Britain’s genius for colonizing and pioneering new country that made for the severance and dispersal of her people, but that it did not alter their hearts and instincts. If, when he goes to London, he tackles the Empire problems with that recognition ever present in his mind, he, I venture to suggest, will make no mistake, because that eternal truth is unchangeable, as if written by the finger of God on the heart of man. Although we may make mistakes in promulgation of policy, it is because we do not see that truth always that we make the difficulties that the Leader of the Opposition has endeavoured to make today. Our difficulties are geographical, but not insuperable. A policy of give and take would in nine cases out of ten overcome them. These changes in status which were brought about, wisely or unwisely, during the war, should not blind us to the fact that, although we may be a commonwealth of nations, we are one people, with an indivisible destiny, with one mind, and with one system of development. I, therefore, think the Prime Minister was wise in telling us that some of the floating debris of public opinion in other parts .of the Empire, to which he alluded, should be frowned upon by this most far distant of all the King’s dominions. In the dominion of South Africa the suggestion was made by men who have borne the responsibility of government that the British Empire should declare, for the information of the outside nations, that its component parts are not only separate entities, but are entirely independent, although allied. If that were done, the outside nations would laugh. Intended as a gesture, it would be regarded as a jest. The dominions have complete domestic freedom and independence, but that truth is for internal consumption within the -Empire, and not for external proclamation. The world’s concept of this Empire is clearly that it is one entity, and although other nations know that the British families have migrated and established large branches in different parts of the world, they still believe - and our strength is centred in that belief - that the British people are just as unanimous and united as if they all lived in the Homeland. I am glad that the Prime Minister dealt with that phase of the question, because though men may regard the doctrine as jingoistic or imperialistic, the fundamental fact of British life is well established by it. Having dismissed these preliminary and axiomatic considerations concerning the conference, I shall turn to two or three points upon which- an expression of opinion has been invited.
We know .that the scheme for the establishment of a naval base at Singapore emanated from the British Admiralty, at the suggestion of Lord Jellicoe. It was first definitely broached in this country by that distinguished sailor when he visited Australia at the invitation of the Commonwealth Government, and by permission of the British Government and Admiralty. He proposed a combination fleet, in which Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and, possibly, South Africa and Canada, would be represented by ships and personnel, and based on Singapore, to protect the south-eastern and Pacific dependencies and interests of the Empire. At that time circumstances were rather adverse to the formation of a composite fleet, and it was set aside, perhaps to be revived later when the Empire is ready to face its problems in a different spirit; but the idea of a naval base at Singapore .persisted, and Great Britain proceeded to establish it, without waiting for the co-operation of the dominions. The best informed minds of the Empire - I do not speak merely of naval and military experts, but of studious citizens and public men - believed that, at this stage, and following the Washington Disarmament Treaty, it is a permissible act of defence, and not of offence, to erect a fence between Asia and Australia. I, too, hold that view, notwithstanding the mistakenly narrow and Little-England view voiced and acted upon by the Labour Government in the United Kingdom, and I believe that the southern dependencies of Australia and New Zealand are more interested than is any other portion of the Empire in the establishment of a naval base somewhere in the south-eastern islands of Asia. We have urged Great Britain to proceed with the scheme, but so far as I am aware, we have never definitely said that we shall contribute ourshare towards its cost.
– There is a school of naval thought in Great Britain that Australia should proceed with the building up of its own navy, and not contribute towards the cost of the Singapore base.
– If a man who knew more about the politics of the Empire presided over the British Navy, that view would not be held by the Admiralty. Lord Beatty has never seen, as many of the other great British admirals have seen, the southern dominions of the Empire. He has never served on a southern station, as Lord Jellicoe did, and, as a result of conversations I have been privileged to have with eminent Britishers, I believe that, although opinion on this subject may undergo changes, there is yet a strong desire for Australia to contribute its share towards the cost of the Singapore base. Already Australia has done a great deal in defence, and as the Prime Minister showed, relatively more than any other dominion ; but that comparison is not final or satisfactory. How does Australia stand in comparison with the Homeland, and how has it stood through all the years in which it has enjoyed selfgovernment, before and since federation ? The working people of Great Britain, who, beforethe war placed heavy taxation upon the wealthier sections of the community, built and supported the navy, did far more than we, their much richer cousins, have done to maintain the defence of the Empire on sea and land. Compared with what is being done by the people of Great Britain, Australia is still doing too little, though, in comparison with Canada, South Africa, and other parts of the Empire, it is doing a great deal. It is probably true that our naval policy has altered since the British Labour Government rejected the Singapore scheme; but this country ought still to pay something towards the cost of that big project. It would do more for us than the mere guarding of our trade routes by cruisers, and the arming of our land forces would do, because, so far as we are able to judge, if trouble does brew in the next 20 or 50 years, and break across the bosom of the Pacific on these southern white communities, it will assuredly spring from some of the nations of Asia - I speak of them, not singly, but as a group. For Australia, the point of insurance is in the north where Singapore lies, and as a British people we should welcome the establishment of a base there, and contribute towards its cost as much, as our resources will permit. ,
I shall touch briefly upon the subject of Australia’s direct communication with the League Secretariat. Its membership of the League of Nations gives Australia a right, not merely to send representatives to the annual Assembly, but also to maintain perpetual touch with the Secretariat of the League. Communications pass more or less regularly on more or less important subjects, and I suggest that in the present and probable future state of the Empire difficulties will arise, and chinks in the armour of the British peoples be disclosed, if all of the six or seven parts of the Empire that have a right to membership of the League can state directly and separately their individual views without prior family consultation. To a cablegram from the Secretariat in regard to the alteration of the Council of the League, particularly to provide for the admission of Germany, the Prime Minister, with the aid of his colleagues, recently gave what appeared to me a well considered and valuable reply. But I should like to know what Canada said.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I have a communication to that effect.
– What did South Africa do?
– Those dominions are members of the League, and when asked their opinion upon the subject, they said nothing. I do not accuse any Government of having made a mistake so far, but there are elements of danger in the direct line to the. Secretariat of the League, and I suggest that, as far as may be practicable, differences between the views presented by the various dominions should be prevented by pre-consultation. In addition, it would be a valuable corrective and education if, when Parliament was sitting, it were made acquainted with such communications, and, unless for any particular reason the Government considered that the interests of the Empire would be badly served by their publicity, they should be laid upon the table of the House. In this way, “the Houses of Commons of the various parts of the’ Empire could become sounding boards to check the actions of cabinets, and, with or without family preconsultation, harmonize to some extent the views of the different dominions.
– Hear, hear! At present, we have no control over executive actions in these matters.
– From time immemorial, British Parliaments have never attempted to exercise any control over the executive in regard to diplomatic affairs, except in times of crises. The mind of diplomacy works on, and is never disclosed to Parliament. On any day the British House of Commons may be heard dealing with a London County Council Bill, or a measure relating to the gas supply of Glasgow or Edinburgh, but rarely, except at times of crises, does it deal with the relations of Great Britain with other countries. I leave that matter, hoping that Parliament will be allowed to know the nature and extent of this channel of communication, and the use that is made of it. If we produce for publicity the exchanges that pass between the Commonwealth Government and the Secretariat, probably Britain and the other dominions will do the same, and thus the education of the Empire in Empire sentiments, and affairs, and the operation of the machinery of the Empire, will proceed.
As to the method of consultation between the Motherland and the dominions in regard to international affairs, I join issue with the Leader of the Opposition, who does not desire to be involved in the consideration of these matters. He is prepared to leave foreign affairs to British statesmen. It is an extraordinary thing that the Leader of what may be regarded as the most democratic party in the Commonwealth, should be content to delegate such fundamental matters to people over whom he has no control, and over whom he declines to attempt to exercise influence. We have had great faith in British statesmen in the past - but not always. I said on a former occasion, and I repeat now, that for 500 or 600 years the British people never failed in any task that” was set them ; but scores or hundreds of times during that period British statesmen have failed to lead the people aright. I have more faith in the people of Britain than in their - statesmen, and in saying that I do not wish to derogate from the grave responsibilities that those statesmen are endeavouring to discharge. But I wish to see one of the most educated and thoughtful sections of the British Empire given a fair chance to express its view, so that, ‘if it may not mould, it may at least influence, the judgment of the parliaments and governments which .have finally to decide matters at the heart of the Empire. There are,, as the right honorable member for North;. Sydney has stated, great physical dia- culties in perfecting our arrangements forfamily consultations. We have these periodical conferences, and, of course, they are necessary and wise. They are like gatherings of the sons and daughters of the directors of the old firm to crystallize their views on general principles ; but only general principles. For example, the situation that will confront the Prime Minister in Britain in a month or two may have totally changed before he gets back to Australia.
– So, also, may governments and policies.
– But, notwithstanding that, this gathering of the men who are the responsible leaders of their respective peoples and parties, to check their views on the general situation, may do abiding good.- Dispatches come to us regularly, and wonderfully illuminating documents they ‘ are at times, but . when they reach us they are often out of’ date with respect to the important and fastmoving questions with which they deal; and even if they are not altogether ou* of date, they would be modified if they could be re-written at the time of their reception. Cablegrams, also, come to us, and perhaps they are the most valuable of all our means of communication; but every honorable member who has held ministerial office knows, that it is impossible in a cablegram to give fully the whole of an important situation. It can be but a sketch, vague and possibly inadequate at that. That brings us up to the point we had reached when the Prime Minister visited London three years ago. On his return he told us that, in his opinion, it would be wise to have officials here and’ in London in touch with the British’ Foreign Office to pass on to the Common-‘ wealth Government all the information’ that the British Foreign Office could make available. Officers were appointed for that purpose, and I think that was s sound step. I believe it has resulted in much useful information reaching the Commonwealth Government, the value and service of which is probably altogether unknown to us. I believe that, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, the present methods are effective for normal times. I ask, as he did, what is likely to happen to us in the event of a crisis occurring ? That, of course, is the vital point. Diplomacy goes on ceaselessly year after year ; but the bulk of it is useless, and we hear nothing about it ; but the vital thing is that, in the event of a real storm breaking upon us, we shall know what it is all about and how it occurred. The test of these relationships is whether they can prevent the stupefaction and surprise that overtook us when the Great War broke out from being repeated in the event of a similar calamity occurring. If the somewhat grisly anticipations of the right honorable member for North Sydney should be realized in the next few years, I think we should find ourselves very little better off than we were in 1914, except that we should be able to learn things more quickly. If international problems should develop under existing conditions, I think that we should not be adequately equipped to decide, .without further consultation, the attitude we should adopt towards them. The Prime Minister’s ideal is that we should have continual consultations; which should be of an intimate character. But how does he propose to secure them ? Three years ago he suggested that an Australian Minister re- sident in London would be a satisfactory solution to the problem. He sketched very lucidly the objections to such a proposal, and how far it would meet the difficulties of the situation. Yesterday h6 suggested that the High Commissioner might function in some more intimate way than he is now doing in conjunction with the British Foreign Office or the British Cabinet, and advise the Government in a distinctly political way, on the development of international situations as they arise. If the High Commissioner is to discharge such vitally important duties as these, we must make quite sure that the right man is selected for the position, and that he is not overloaded with social and commercial routine work.
– And does not suffer from swelled head.
– The honorable member himself seems occasionally to be afflicted with what the French term tête montêe. In the light of the knowledge he has gained on former occasions the Prime Minister should look the situation over carefully when he reaches Great Britain, and if he considers the appointment of another officer in England advisable - whether he be called a Minister, an additional High Commissioner, or an ambassador- he should propose that the appointment be made. It would be a small price to pay for the information and guidance that a man of our own mind could give us on problems that mean so much to us.
– In any case we should not be able to alter tie direction of British foreign policy.
– Nor would the honorable member or his leader do that, for they decline to express an opinion about it. Rightly or wrongly, since 1919 we have been reaching out for opportunities of consultation on foreign affairs, and claiming the right to offer advice about and to influence British public opinion; now that we have been granted them we must invent machinery to use them. We must face our responsibilities, or our kinsmen in the Old Country will not understand what we have been about.
– The Lausanne Treaty and the Locarno Pact hardly support the right honorable member’s contentions.
– We have now to make machinery to enable us to offer our opinion when it is invited. The British statesmen have expressed the utmost goodwill towards us, and have invited and encouraged us to express our opinion on these matters, and the information in the possession of the Foreign Office is at our disposal. I admit that there is a question as to the wisdom of our participation in these discussions, but I believe that it is wise for us to do this. I believe that we can democratize the deliberations of the British Foreign Office as no other community in the British Empire can do. It is our duty to do all we can to influence the mind of British statesmen. We should not leave our destiny in the hands of men, most of whom have never seen any of the imperial dominions except Great Britain. I suggest that the Prime Minister should give some consideration, during the progress of the coming conference, to devising means which will implement our freedom by improving our communications with the British authorites.
I wish now to deal with the Locarno position for a few moments. I understood the Prime Minister to say last night that the Australian Government had expressed approval of the Locarno Treaty, and that it was consulted as the Treaty was being developed just prior to its signature; but I realize now that I was wrong, for the Prime Minister has made the position perfectly clear, and the Leader of the Opposition apprehends it as I do. The Government was consulted on the matter during the negotiations, receiving certain information, and was asked to pass its judgment on the completed document, but did not do so. I think that a laconic way of stating the facts. Whether it was wise to send no reply, I take leave to doubt. The right honorable member for North Sydney stated that, in his opinion, the Treaty should have been ratified by us. I hold a different view. ‘ I believe that it is of no use for us to have opportunities to express an opinion on these matters if we intend ‘to evade them, though, on this occasion, the Government might have thought it proper to make an exception and not run the risk of saying anything. But we cannot always do that. If we have information and are asked to act on it, we should do so. If, when the S.O.S. was sent out by Mr. Lloyd George in regard to the Chanak incident, before the present Government came into office, we had been told how the British had been backing the Greeks and France the Turks, we should have been in a much stronger position to deal with the .invitation, “Will you join us in arms against Kamel Pasha ? “ That was the last message of its kind to go round the world. It was a shock to the people of Australia to learn that their statesmen knew so little of what was going on in the councils of the Empire. The message should not have been sent ; and, as this Parliament was in session at the time it was received, an answer should not have been dispatched without consulting Parliament; but it was. We cannot expect to be kept perpetually in close touch with what is going on unless we do some thing. We cannot be merely receiving.” stations. The Government of Great Britain will not keep on telling us all that is -happening, and asking us for our views if we never respond. It is for that reason that I say the -failure to reply in the case of the Locarno Treaty must not be taken as a precedent ; neither must it be used as a discouragement to Britain to send us information about developing international affairs. I admit that it made little difference, whether we sent an answer or not in the Locarno case, for it is perfectly clear and beyond any dispute that Britain, having signed this Treaty, the dominions are technically bound by it so long as they remain within the Empire. That, as the right honorable member for North Sydney rightly said, is the price of Empire. But, as I have said previously, it is a small price to pay for such splendid partnership advantages. If we were asked to pay a much bigger price it would be worth our while to pay it. Great Britain paid the price of admiralty in untold millions of money and thousands and thousands of lives, to win her Empire’; and upon the achievements of admiralty, which our British forefathers won and the men of the present generation have kept, rests the freedom of the individual countries of the Empire, and the absolute protection of all the white people who live under our flag. . We should not whimper about it. We can shake free from it if we please. We are absolutely at liberty to do that, and no restraining or. detaining hand would be laid upon us by Great Britain. But, apart from all sentiments of honour and of filial respect and gratitude, is it not obviously a magnificent thing for us to remain in such a strong partnership? The instinct of selfpreservation, past, present, and future, will, I think, make us hug, not the chain of Empire, but the silken cords that hold us together. We should not grumble, but cheerfully face the situation. The Locarno Treaty having been signed, whether after consultation with us or not, every daughter of the Empire is technically and internationally bound by it.
– What is the value of these consultations?
– If the honorable member would not make his naturally keen mind so obtuse, he would see that we, the daughter members of the Empire, -can probably influence policy more in the direction of peace and stability than can some of the statesmen of Britain, who have had charge of . these questions for generations. The Prime Minister has not finally, put aside the question of the submission to this Parliament of the Locarno Treaty. He thinks it is injudicious at present, before the Imperial Conference to discuss and decide, anything definite. He proposes to take an opportunity to ascertain the views of the conference members, but I hope that, whether his final opinion is in favour of or against this Treaty, he will give this Parliament an opportunity to say definitely what it thinks of it. That is the only way in which we can preserve the relationship wie have established, and keep the spirit of Empire alive. That is a view which any man who believed or disbelieved in the Treaty might express. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) believes that the Treaty is right, and should be ratified by this as well as the British Parliament. I do not object to the motive of the Treaty; that is above suspicion and criticism. The motive undoubtedly was to preserve European peace and consequently the peace of the world. It does not collide in any way with the spirit or precedure of- the. -League of Nations; it is not antagonistic, but complementary to it. Therefore, I can offer no objection from that point of view; but I am somewhat amazed at the faith that some honorable members, and some journalists of this country, express in treaties. Probably the preamble of 99 out of every 100 international treaties states that the object of them is to promote peace, progress, and stability; but they just as often promote war. If one were to” search for the basic causes of war, as history has revealed them for the past 300 years, one might find that treaties had done as much to promote as to prevent war. Ferdinand of Aragon would sign a treaty every five minutes of the day, and he did not care whether he honoured it or not. He boasted- that no treaty could bind him if it was to his advantage to break it. Innumerable monarchs- Charles I. of France, and others throughout history - have shown the same tendency. Because certain papers have been signed, we must not assume that we are assured against aggression. The awkward fact about treaties is that they are often broken when it is most important that they should be kept, and when it is too late to inflict punishment on the culprits. I need not specifically mention any treaty, but honorable members are aware of the most famous treaty signed during the hundred years following the Napoleonic period. There were three parties to it. One of them declared neutrality on the outbreak of the great war, and, later, joined our allies against the other belligerent parties, although she was bound by the Treaty to fight on the other side. There are many cases of that kind, so we must not have absolute, implicit, undying faith in a document because it is called a treaty. Personally, I believe the Locarno Treaty makes for good, because in it Germany, France, and Belgium say, “We wish to respect the frontiers determined at Versailles.” That is practically . all it says, and it asks one power to the north, and one to the south of ‘ those countries, to act as guarantors that the peace will be kept. I am rather sorry that Britain became a guarantor under that Treaty. There is no reciprocal arrangement which confers any direct benefit upon either Italy or Great Britain, which are th« guaranteeing powers. There, is no give and take in it. Historically, Britain has declined to commit herself to any policy of intervention, with one notable exception and that was the guaranteeing of the neutrality and integrity of Belgium, which she honoured at great cost. She would have acted as she did whether she had given that promise or not, because her self-interest, if not honour, would have been keenly engaged. Britain’s historical attitude has been that she has reserved decision, and made no promises as to what she would do in a particular war until the facts and circumstances were known to. her, when, with the knowledge of all the parties that were working for the destruction of peace, and of the forces behind them, she would decide whether she would abstain from the war or strike on one side or the other. That would be her strongest position to-day, and it is merely because of her benevolent view of world politics that she has decided to abandon that policy of splendid isolation and independence, and become a guarantor with one other nation in respect of the possible quarrels of three other European nations, two of them the most powerful military forces of the world. I do not know what article 4 of the Locarno Treaty precisely means, and I shall ask the Prime Minister to enlighten me. As Britain will not in the future, any more than she has done in the past, repudiate the honour, apart from the letter, of her obligation, she will, whatever Italy, her co-guarantor may do, go in up to the neck to fulfil her guarantee, if ever the dreaded occasion demands it- that is to say, if ever Germany breaks with France or Belgium, or France or Belgium breaks with Germany. From an excerpt of portions of the Treaty . I take the following paraphrase of the article: -
It contains the guarantee that Great Britain, as one of the contracting parties, will come to the support of Germany if she is attackedby France or Belgium, or of France or of Belgium if either of them is attacked toy Germany.
But the charge that such an attack hasbeen made must he reported at once to the Council of the League.
Only if the Council holds that the charge is true does the guarantee come into operation.
The Council of the League is representative of all the great powers. It is important that, inside and outside this House, we should educate public opinion as to what is taking place and is likely to take place. It is not so clear that, as this article is framed, whether a charge must be made and lodged with the League of Nations. I do not know how long it would take the Council to assemble, but the personnel of the Council will probably by then include a representative of Germany, and, in any case, the other parties are already members. Is this not a reference to a body which must give a unanimous decision, and may hold up a question of this kind for a long time ? In other words, could not the ineffectivity of the Council of the League render nugatory the whole of the Locarno arrangements of guarantee? I am not referring to the spirit of the Treaty. I ask the Prime Minister, is it obligatory on a party that feels that aggression has taken place under the Locarno Treaty to report at once to the Council of the League, and are the guarantors called upon to act if that is not done ?
– There is a further provision that in the case of unprovoked attack action may be taken without waiting for a decision of the League.
– In that case, the question is not referred to any one. The particular party that feels inclined to accept the obligation of the guarantor can step in and say that it is an unprovoked emergency. There is presumed much good faith and mutual trust between the parties that make the treaties, and so long as that is preserved, there will be no difficulties of interpretation; but just when an attempt is made to apply the treaty, the whole thing may break down.
– Our obligations under this Treaty aresimilar to those imposed upon us by the Covenant of the Leagueof Nations.
– The Treaty is good from the standpoint of the peace of Europe, and the motives of the parties. I give all that in ; but it would have been much better if Britain - I speak now. of the whole British family the world over - had not, because she wanted to act in a grandmotherly way to nations that should shoulder their own responsibilities, voluntarily undertaken obligations from which she can hope to reap no direct practical advantage. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), by interjection last night, said the Treaty seemed to group the nations in a similar way to pre-war treaties. To an extent, that is so ; but, as the right honorable member for North Sydney has said, until we can have one canopy treaty to cover all nations, we must proceed step by step. We are merely doing what has been done for centuries, with the difference that we now have the arrangement for arbitration and registration, which, for the member nations, means publicity, and this is a long step in advance. In addition, this Treaty, instead of being general, like the old Triple Alliance, and the AngloAmericanJapanese Treaty, is special, or specific. It deals with certain frontiers round which three nations rest. It does not affect to deal with the conditions in Russia, or on the waters of the world. Therefore, it ought to be the more easily interpreted.
I hope that the Prime Minister, on his return, will be able toshow that there has been some more decidedly definite step by the conference on the question of Empire defence. When he returned from the Imperial Conference, on the last occasion, he told us that the decision was that we should look after ourselves - if each man swept before his own door, the whole street would be clean. That may be right for us individually, but this Empire is so far-flung that there must be co-ordinated thought for defence in emergency. It is impossible, either from a naval or a military point of view, to defend this Empire effectively, by thinking each from his own. dugout, whether here, in Canada, or elsewhere. There must be co-ordination for naval and for military defence throughout the Empire.
– There is, by the Admiralty.
– I am aware of that; but when we are told, as we were by the resolution of the 1923 conference, that each portion of the Empire should effect its own defence, I say that that was a breakdown of the Haldane and the Admiralty theory, that, in addition to local defence, there should be co-ordinated Empire defence. I join with the right honorable member for North Sydney when he says that the 1923 conference fell down in its dealing with Empire defence. I hope that the ensuing conference will evolve a courageous scheme, particularly for the southern portion of the Empire. We talk of the dangers of a war in the Pacific. None of us can read the future, but neither New Zealand nor Australia is in a position to meet any strong predatory power under present conditions. Even ifwe do what the Prime Minister is trying to do, make provision for a number of protecting cruisers, that will be only of temporary advantage. If ever the day comes when Great Britain is prevented from rendering swift help to her children in the south, we shall have to depend for some considerable time upon our own resources, and, therefore, the sooner New Zealand and South Africa and Australia think in coordination, at any rate concerning southern risks, the better. I am looking forward hopefully, if not with confidence, to this as one of the results of the coming conference.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bruce) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 3rd August (vide page 4815).
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ canned fruits “ means canned apricots, canned clingstone peaches, canned pears, and such other canned fruits as are prescribed; “ cannery “ means, in relation to any election under this act, a factory, of which the production of canned fruits, during the canning season of 1925-1926, was not less than one hundred and twenty thousand tins, each containing thirty ounces ; “ the Board “ means the Canned Fruits Control Board constituted under this act; “ the fund “ means the Canned Fruits Export Fund established under this act.
.- As I said last night, this bill makes provision only for the export of canned apricots, peaches, and pears. I realize that there is a surplus production of these canned fruits, and it is quite proper that they should be dealt with as proposed; but I point out that quantities of apples, plums, gooseberries, currants, and raspberries, fruits which are being and can be canned, go to waste every year in Tasmania, yet, if includedin this bill, their production could be made a commercial proposition. They should be included in this measure. If they are not produced in sufficient quantities for export, then no further action regarding them need be taken. I move -
That after the word “ pears “ the words “ apples, plums, currants, gooseberries, raspberries,” he inserted.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).Before I accept the amendment, I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that it would not involve an increase in the amount of the appropriation.
– As I explained last night, there is power under the definition of “canned fruits” in clause 3 to include fruits other than those mentioned. The definition reads - “ Canned fruits “ means canned apricots, canned clingstone peaches, canned pears, and such other canned fruits as are prescribed.
It will be seen that it would be quite an easy matter to hare additional fruits included within the scope of the bill if application were made after the bill is passed for that to be done. It would be necessary, of course, to have some evidence that the growers of those fruits desired their inclusion within the scope of the measure. I am afraid that I cannot, at this stage, accept the honorable member’s amendment. We have no evidence .from the growers of the fruits he has mentioned that they desire that they should be included in the bill.
.- I point out to the committee that, once the bill is passed, it may be a very difficult matter to secure the inclusion within its scope of any additional fruit. It is much better that any which might be profitably dealt with under the bill should now be included within its scope. I cannot see why its operation should be confined to apricots, peaches, and pears. The fruits I have mentioned in my amendment, as well as pineapples and other fruits, should be included before the bill is passed. The Minister says that he has received no intimation from the growers of these fruits that they desire their inclusion in the bill. Tasmania is the only State in which gooseberries, currants, and raspberries are grown in any quantity. Every year in that State thousands of bushels of plums fall to the ground and rot because there is no market for them. It seems a shame that good, wholesome fruit should be allowed to rot when it would be appreciated in markets on the other side of the world. An enormous quantity of apples, which, because of their lack of colour, are not marketable as fresh fruit in Australia, is wasted every year in Tasmania when it might be profitably canned and exported.
– Are apples canned in Tasmania ?
– Certainly they are. I am dealing with canned fruits. The fruits included in my amendment are canned or bottled, and they could be canned for export. I have here correspondence from canning factories in Tasmania, asking me to have these fruits included within the scope of the bill. The Government should be prepared to give the same consideration to growers of apples and the other fruits included in my amendment as it is prepared under this bill to give to the growers of apricots, peaches, and pears. Tasmania produces the finest dried apples in the world, and can produce apples for canning as well. I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment, because it would make no material difference to the bill.
– I am surprised that the Minister has refused to accept the amendment. I understood from his second-reading speech that the door was open to canners of fruits other than those mentioned in the bill to come within its scope. Surely they have made some representations to the Government.
– They have not yet done so.
– The Minister will not say that producers of fruits other than those mentioned in the bill need no assistance. The difficulty of marketing is common to all canned fruits, and it is ridiculous for the Minister to say that representations have not been made to the Government by certain growers. Sub-clause 2 of clause 2 reads -
A proclamation under this section shall not issue unless and .until, at a poll of owners of canneries taken in the prescribed manner throughout the Commonwealth, a majority of votes have been given in favour of the act being brought into operation.
This measure will not be given effect unless the majority of the owners of canneries are in favour of it. The Minister is not assuming that the majority of the growers are in favour of the bill, so why should he object to giving the canners of fruits, such as apples, plums, currants, gooseberries, and raspberries an opportunity to come under the bill. The Minister has said definitely . that the door is open to them. What will be the position if, after the bill has been passed,, these canners make representations to the Government to be brought within its scope ? Will, it then be necessary to pass further legislation I
– No, because whatever alteration is then necessary can be made by regulation.
– Then why not give those canners an opportunity now to come under the bill?
– The Government requires some evidence that they desire to do so.
– Many- of our fruit-growers who . suffer; .disabilities are not in the habit of running to the Government for assistance. Perhaps they lack organization, and the .fact that they have not made representations to the Government to come under the bill would be no indication that ;they do not wish to do so. We can easily ascertain their views by allowing. them to vote at a poll. They may be in need of assistance to a far greater extent than are the growers of apricots, peaches, and pears. That they Iia ve made’ no representations to the Government is no reason why they should not be permitted to come within the scope pf the bill.
– I have received word that they wish to do so..
– I trust that the honorable member will place his information before the Minister. The disabilities of the fruit industry are common to all its branches. Why discriminate between the growers by .allowing one section to take a poll to decide whether it. shall come under the bill, and another , section later to come within its scope by regulation without taking a poll at all ? I see nothing in the bill to warrant such a course being taken, and - I sincerely .trust that the Minister will accept the amendment moved by the honorable, member for Franklin.
Mr. DUNCAN-HUGHES (Boothby) “[-6-173 . - I hope that the Minister will hot accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook), even though he and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) are for once in agreement. The Government proposes that canned fruits, such as apricots, peaches and pears shall come within the scope of the bill, in accordance with representations made to it by those .interested in the canning of those fruits. The honorable member for Franklin has said that other fruits, such as apples, plums, currants, gooseberries, and raspberries should also be included in the bill; but if it is necessary to include them, why draw a line of demarcation at all? Why not include all canned fruits? Why does the honorable member exclude pineapples and cherries? To be consistent he must include all canned fruits. The words “and such other canned fruits as are prescribed “ give ample opportunity for those “who are interested in other- canned fruits to have them brought within the scope of this measure; but they must first express a desire to that: effect, and the Government must be. satisfied of the propriety of their request. I do not agree with those who think that all canned fruits should be brought within the scope of this legislation, whether the producers are willing or unwilling. If the producers desire at any time to take advantage df this legislation, they can convey their wishes to the Government. It is reasonable that they should have the right to contract themselves under this legislation, and not be brought under it willy-nilly.
.- I understand that some honorable members have received a communication from those engaged in the canning of strawberries, apples, plums, gooseberries, currants, and raspberries; and I hope that the views of those producers will be disclosed to the committee. The Minister should accept the amendment, and include canned pineapples also. At the present time, the whole of Queensland’s output of pineapples is ‘ absorbed by the local market, but cultivation is increasing rapidly, and many soldiers are engaged in the production of this fruit, and I foresee the time when there will be an exportable surplus of it. Although it is not an immediate necessity, provision should be made in the bill for canned pineapples. Having visited Tasmania, I know that the fruit industry is as important to it as the wool industry is to Queensland and New South Wales, and if those engaged in the canning of apples, plums, and raspberries desire the benefit of this legislation, the responsibility for moving the Government should not be thrown upon them. Why should this bill be confined to canned apricots, peaches, and pears? The Minister said that if the producers so desire later, other fruits can be included, but the Parliament may be in recess for six months, and if Ministers are holidaying in their electorates, consideration of such a request may be deferred until next year. The committee now has an opportunity to safeguard all producers of canned fruits; To throw upon them the onus of first applying to the Government is to shirk our responsibility. I have seen tons of plums, currants, and raspberries rotting on the ground. The growers are sometimes forced to sell their fruit at less than the cost of picking and carting it to market. I wish to guard against the exclusion of the growers of these fruits and of pine-apples from the benefits of the bill.
– Their exclusion is guarded against by the provision that they can apply at any time for inclusion.
– Why not specifically include the other fruits in the bill? The honorable member forFranklin (Mr. Seabrook) is thoroughly acquainted with the fruit canning industry of Tasmania, and realizes the possibility of developing an export trade in currants, raspberries, gooseberries, and plums. The producers are labouring under great disabilities ; some of them are making a bare subsistence. They are hard-working people, and being unfamiliar with the methods of moving governments, are, for all practical purposes inarticulate, but members of Parliament are paid to act for them, without waiting until they move for the specific inclusion of their products within the scope of this legislation. The amendment is reasonable, and I urge the Minister to accept it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
.- This measure will undoubtedly assist the fruit industry; but I cannot understand why its beneficial effects should be restricted to the fruits specifically mentioned in it. No less than 53 per cent. of the fruit that will be handled under its provisions is grown in Victoria, and of the remainder 32 per cent. is produced in New South Wales, 8 per cent. in South Australia, and7 per cent. in Tasmania. The Minister’s reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) were not convincing. I do not see why it should be necessary to amend the measure later to include other fruits than thosestated ; we should now make it comprehensive.
– It will not be necessary to amend it, for clause 3 is almost all-embracing.
– The honorable member for Franklin pointed out that a great deal of fruit grown in Tasmania is allowed to rot under the trees simply because insufficient encouragement is given to the growers to market it. Seeing that the growers themselves have to find the money to finance this scheme, I think they should all be permitted to come within its provisions. I do not at the moment propose to press for the inclusion of pine-apples, although the payment of a bounty on their production would be most beneficial.
– This measure has nothing whatever to do with a bounty. The money that will be levied will beexpended solely in administering the board and in propaganda.
– I should like the Minister to explain why only canneries with an output of 120,000 tins per annum are to be given voting power. Small canneries which do not market anything like that quantity of produce should not be excluded.
– No cannery with less production than that specified has an export trade.
– I am surprised to hear that. I hope that the Minister will give careful consideration to the amendment that has been moved; or at least assure us that immediately representations are made to bring other fruits within the scope of the measure, they will be given favorable consideration.
– There seems to be a good deal of misconceptionabout this clause. The Government has no desire whatever rigidly to exclude from the benefits of it any fruits that are suitable for canning, and in respect of which there is an export trade. Only a negligible quantity of many of the fruits mentioned by the honorable member for Franklin is canned, and very little, if any, of it is exported. The canners interested in the fruit mentioned in the bill have requestedthe appointment of the control board, andhave agreed to pay the levy which the bill imposes ; but no desire has. been expressed for the inclusion of pine-apples, or of many of the fruits mentioned by the honorable member for Franklin. The pine-apples produced in Queensland are all sold on the local market. If at any time there should be an exportable surplus of pineapples available, and the producers requested that they should be dealt with under the provisions of this bill, no doubt the board would give the matter favorable consideration. The definition of “ canned fruits “ in clause 3 is really of a drag-net character. It reads- “ Canned fruits “ means canned apricots, canned clingstone peaches, canned pears, and such other canned fruits as are prescribed.
I suggest to honorable members that it would be inadvisable at present to add to the list of specified fruits, for no desire for it has been voiced by the fruitgrowers. In regard to the . question raised by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay)respecting the voting qualification, I point out that a production of “ not less than 120,000 tins, each containing 30 oz.,” is only one day’s output for the Shepparton cannery, and is equivalent to only about 100 tons of fruit. The canneries in Australia with a smaller seasonal production than that, have no export trade, and no object would be served by bringing them within the provisions of the bill. The principle of restricting the commodities which the export control boards shall handle was adopted in regard to both the Dairy Produce Export Control Board - which handles only butter and cheese, but not condensed milk, dried milk, or other dairy products - and the Dried Fruits Control Board - which handles only specified dried fruits. The producers of dairy produce not controlled by the Dairy Produce Control Board, and of dried fruits not controlledby the Dried Fruits Export Control Board, have expressed no desire that their products shall be controlled, and the Government has no intention of compelling them to accept the principle.We have no wish to make the ‘bill exclusive for all time, and honorable members may rest assured that any representations that are made for the inclusion of other fruit will be carefully considered.
– Would it be possible to bring tomatoes within the provisions of the measure?
– Probably, if they were canned for export.
– What procedure would have to be adopted to bring canned plums within the provisions of the bill?
– No hard-and-fast procedure is laid down. The best course for the producers concerned to follow would be to approach the board on the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Canned Fruits Control Board).
.- I wish to accept the opportunity that is afforded me of correcting a wrong impression that the Minister was labouring under last night, and to inform him that there was a board in control of the canned fruit exported while I was in charge of the Customs Department. The board that controlled the canned fruit exported while I was in office in the Customs Department, was appointed, and had determined the advances that would be made and fixed its prices, before I assumed office. Accordingly, the Minister did not register a bull’s-eye last night, but only an “ outer.” No board, irrespective of whether it is controlled purely by the growers or is subject to Ministerial supervision, can absolutely assure the growers that they will receive the top market price for their products; all it can do is to market the products under its control in what it conceives to be the best possible way. This measure, unlike most that come before honorable members, emanated, not from the Government, but from the fruit-growers ; and the board that will be appointed pursuant to its provisions can only discharge its duties in what it conceives to be the best interests of the producers concerned. It is an experiment that the general public will watch with interest. I hope the Minister will not be over-confident that any governmental board can take the place of the world’s experts in trade and commerce, who have been able to tap markets as the result of a wide survey of world’s requirements.
– I hope that this board will consist of experts.
– The Minister knows that there are very few Australian experts in the marketing of canned fruits. That work is done mostly with the great merchants and eating houses on the other side of the world. This is an experiment in direct sales, and I wish it well. It may be said to be a system of collective bargaining between the growers of Australia, massed together in pool formation, with a vendor board at this end and an advisory board at the London end, and buyers abroad. Mer- chants, business men, and producers will watch with great interest the success or failure of the experiment. It is an experiment because it marks a distinct period in the public life of Australia, when the Government, after deliberation, came into the trade and commerce of the country and took a semi-directing hand in the marketing of primary produce. I hope that the board will function well, and will justify the high hopes that the Government and the growersentertain of it.
.- When will the members of this board be elected, and in what manner? The success of the board will depend largely upon its personnel. It is essential that the Minister should appoint the best men obtainable, and, if possible, they should be men whose interests will not conflict with those of the board.
– The canners and producers will elect their own representatives.
– That is as it should be; but I hope that this board will not have on it men who are engaged in importing. I am not satisfied with the actions of certain members of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board, who. in their private capacity, imported butter from New Zealand. The Government will appoint one representative on the proposed board, and the clause under review permits the Ministry to prescribe certain conditions. I received the following letter this morning: -
It is very significant that three members of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board have recently been the largest importers of New Zealand butter, ostensibly for sale on this market, but as a matter of fact it has been re-exported sub rosa elsewhere at big prices.
No wonder Mr. Paterson would supply no information.
It is the greatest scandal since the Butter Commission.
I wish to know whether it is possible for the Canned Fruits Export Control Board to have on it men, who, in their private businesses, are engaged in importing pri mary products. I have received communications from Queensland butter factories and primary producers’ associations protesting against members of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board importing butter from New Zealand, and it is well that we should get a statement from the Minister on the matter.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The honorable member is carrying his remarks rather far as an illustration.
– While I agree with you, sir, in nearly everything you say, 1 contend with all due deference that I am entitled to mention these facts as an illustration of the anomaly that may arise in regard to the Canned Fruits Export Control Board unless great care is exercised in the appointment of its members. So far as I know them, the members of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board, particularly the representatives of the co-operative companies, are estimable men. I say nothing against them personally, but I protest against the appointment to these boards of men who are engaged in their private capacities in importing primary products to the detriment of the primary producers of this country. Queensland exports two-thirds of the butter produced in that State.
– The honorable member must not follow that line of reasoning.
– I know that it is not in accordance with the Standing Orders to discuss butter, except in so far as the two bills are related. What closer relationship could there be than that described by the honorable the Minister when he said, “ The two bills are sisters.” Can the Minister give an indication of the remuneration that will be paid to the members of the board 1 We ought not to spend too much money on large salaries to men who, in their own businesses, are earning large incomes by importing primary produce. We have a surplus of 42,000 tons of butter, and also a large surplus of fruit, and if the marketing were properly controlled there would be no need for importation. The question I am raising is exercising the minds of the primary producers, who would like a definite assurance from the Minister.
– Although it is perhaps outside the provisions of this clause, I may be permitted briefly to reply to some ofthe allegations of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) regarding the Dairy Produce Export Control Board. In a few words I can, once and for all, dispose of . the foolish rumour regarding the members of that board importing butter. I have seen a good deal of correspondence relating to the matter. The gentleman to whom the honorable member referred, imported butter in, their private capacity only after they had been assured by the Queensland , butter interests that Queensland could not at that time supply the butter required by Victoria. Repeated attempts were made to obtain sufficient butter from Queensland to meet Victoria’s needs,and it was only after Victoria had been assured again and again that Queensland could not supply its requirements, and after the gentlemen concerned had been invited by Queensland to purchase requirements in New Zealand, that orders were sent there.
-It is not correct that the members of theboard were “ invited “ to purchase butter from New Zealand.
– The correspondence shows, without any doubt, that Queensland butter traders, being unable to fill orders from Victoria, advised that the only thing left for Victoria to do was to purchase from New Zealand. With regard to the composition of this board, one member is to be appointed by the Government, and he must have no pecuniary interest whatever in the industry. The other two members are to be elected by the canners and producers themselves. One is to be elected by the privately-owned canneries and the other by co-operative canneries, including the Leeton cannery, which is a State-owned cannery in New South Wales. About 62 per cent. of the production is co-operative and the remainder proprietary. Those entitled to elect members of the board have agreed between themselves upon the proposed allocation of its members. I have here a letter which contains a resolution passed by the Australian Fruit Canners’ Association on the 12th January last. It is in the following terms : -
That this association approves of the personnel of the proposed board of control, consisting of three members, one representing proprietary interests, one representing cooperative and State-controlled interests, and one Government representative.
The meeting at which the resolution was passed was fully representative of the association, and the Leeton cannery was also represented at it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
The members of the board, and the deputies of members of the board, while acting as such, shall receive such fees and expenses as are prescribed.
.- The Government must know what fees it is intended to pay the chairman and members of this board, and it is only right, if the producers are to find the money, that they should know what the fees are to be. If it is the intention of the Government to pay this board from the amount of £500,000 set aside for markets and migration, I have no more to say, but if the growers of the fruit are to bear the expense, not only of the board and its officials in Australia, but also of a board and its officials in England, they may rightly object if they are asked to pay a very large amount of money. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, suggested that the expense would fall upon the growers; and, if that is so, they should know what they are likely to be called upon to pay. They are at present struggling for their existence, and the introduction of this measure is due to the difficulties with which they are confronted; but, if they are to be heavily penalized to provide large salaries for membersof the board, the result of the measure will be to drive them off the land instead of keeping them on it.
– The honorable member is labouring under another misapprehension. There are no salaries’ to be paid under this bill. The board may meet as frequently as does the Dried Fruits Control Board, which meets monthly, sometimes for two days and occasionally for three days.
– Who pays their expenses ?
– They receive fees for each sitting. They do not receive salaries because they do not devote the whole of their time to the work of the board. The members of the Dried Fruits Control Board receive a fee of four guineas each per sitting.
– Why not include the fees to be paid to members of the board in the bill?
– One reason why that is not done is that, by providing that the fees shall be “as prescribed,” the Minister is given some control over the expense so incurred. Should the board make a certain recommendation as to fees, the Minister will be in a position under the bill to exercise a certain amount of oversight and prevent the payment of unduly high fees. I point out to honorable members, some of whom have expressed the opinion that the best men and the best brains should be obtained, that a man who is not worth £4 4s. a sitting at infrequent intervals is not fit to be a member of the board.
.- This is not a new thing. We have a control board dealing with dried fruits. Surely the best men, with the best brains, are needed on that board, and if its members, who are receiving £4 4s. a sitting, are not good enough they should be removed. If a fee of £4 4s. per sitting is a fair thing for a member of the board to be established under this bill, it should be stated in the bill, so that the growers of these fruits may know exactly what they will be called upon to pay.
– I can see no objection to setting out in the bill the fees to be paid to members of the board. I understand that the maximum amount to be collected in the form of fees to meet salaries, travelling expenses, and propaganda on behalf of the canned fruit industry here, and particularly overseas, is £10,000. I want to see the greater part of the amount so collected spent’ upon very necessary propaganda overseas. The finding of markets and advertising of the industry overseas is very badly needed. If there is to be an unlimited sum paid in fees to the board, there may not be a sufficient amount available for that important work. We should insert some provision in the bill limiting the fees to be paid to members of the board. The Minister has said that the members of the Dried Fruits Control Board receive a fee of £4 4s. each per sitting. It is not suggested that persons holding such positions will be so unscrupulous as to hold unnecessary sittings; but w.e are dealing with a board, ‘the personnel of .which we know nothing about at the present time, and must take wholly upon trust. The board is to. consist of three members, and if each is paid £4 4s. per sitting, the .expense may amount to a considerable sum in a year.
– The- board will sit about two days a month.
– There is nothing in the bill to limit its sittings to two days a month. Each member of the board will have four good reasons - four guineas - why the board should meet often, and we do not want this board to be meeting when there is no work for it to do. I agree with the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) that the bill should limit the amount which -may be drawn by the board in fees.
– It will be about £100 per member per annum.
– Then why not say so in the bill ?
– The Government has before it the experience of the Dried Fruits Board.
– That is so; and that is what it is acting upon.
– If the Minister considers that a fee of £4 4s. is reasonable-
– He will probably prescribe that fee.
– Then why not insert it in the bill?
– I see no reason why we should depart from the practice followed in the other two similar measures.
– The Minister has agreed with me that the most important thing for the industry is propaganda, and the larger the amount paid in fees to members of the board, the less money there will be available for the propaganda work necessary, overseas in the interests of the industry.
.- -I am to a certain extent in agreement with the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) ; but I can see no reference in this bill to the financial aspect of the matter.
– It is not dealt with in this bill.
– The honorable member for Hume was right in drawing attention to the necessity for propaganda in London, and what the London agency is to receive. I think it will be impossible to get a man properly to carry out the work to be done in London for less than £2,000 a year, and there will be necessary also a sub-manager at at least £1,000 a year. If men willing to accept smaller salaries are appointed, we shall not get the right men for the work. I shall defer further remarks on the subject until we come to the clause dealing with the London agency. I think that it is better that the fees to be paid to members of the board should be left “ as prescribed.” That is an elastic provision, and is, in my opinion, better than providing for fixed fees in the bill.
.- I had hoped that the Minister would give reasons for leaving the clause as it stands. I do not like signing blank cheques. I do not take quite the exception to the clause that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) takes to it. If we are to get the right class of men as members of the board, we must pay them good fees. If we secure the service of a first-class man he will be the main factor in the selling of the pack. He will save the fruit-growers of Australia very heavy commission charges, and will substantially reduce the cost of handling the pack. I know one or two men of master mind and big vision, who have an expert knowledge of the canned-fruit business of the world. I do not think that their services are now available, and outside of them I know of few people suitable for the position of chairman. The producers of Australia have made a great mistake in the past in not offering a salary sufficient to obtain the services of big men. They have retarded the activities of their cooperative institutions by failing to recognize that big men are required for big concerns. I agree that the Minister should be permitted to bargain in order to obtain the services of the best men available, because good results will not be obtained by cheeseparing in the cost of management.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 -
.- Will the Minister indicate whom the Government has in mind for the position of chairman of the board ? The clause states that he will be a government representative. Much will depend upon the chairman, because he will practically control the export of our canned fruits. A good deal of the anxiety respecting the future success of this board, would, I think, be completely allayed if the Minister were to indicate the name of the probable chairman of the board, and whether he is to be a member of the Public Service or the best man obtainable outside. The success of the industry depends largely upon the proper marketing of canned fruits, and a capable and conscientious public servant might be absolutely useless as chairman of the board.
– I can assure the honorable member that, so far as I know, the Government at present has no one in mind to fill the - position of chairman of the board. The Government’s appointments to the Dairy Produce Export Control Board and the Dried Fruits Control Board have proved that it can be trusted to find an able business man to fill the position of chairman. Both the co-operative and proprietary sections of the canned fruits industry have expressed the wish that the government representative should be appointed chairman of the board.
.- What is the special reason for practically disqualifying the chairman in advance? Why should we appoint as chairman an individual who is not engaged in the industry, and knows nothing about it ? Are we to depend upon suddenly finding an inspired person who knows all about canned fruits, its preparation and . grading, syrup contents, and oversea marketing?
– I did not say that the chairman would know nothing about the industry. I said that he would have no pecuniary interest in it.
– If he has no pecuniary interest in the industry, he will have no special knowledge of it.
– The Government, in the case of the Dried Fruits Control Board, was able to secure the services of a business man who was not particularly connected with the industry, but his business capacity is such that he has been able to benefit it greatly.
-He may be a man of good business instincts, but should not the chairman of the Canned Fruits Control Board be capable of judging whether the Australian pack was up to standard, whether the flavor of the fruit was affected by our climatic conditions, whether it was in all respects fit to compete with the Californian pack, which may have been produced under ideal conditions, and whether the prices offering warranted the export of our canned fruits ? Is there any special reason for the Government deciding that he shall not have a pecuniary interest in the industry?
– The chairmen of the two other boards have no direct connexion with the industries concerned.
– That does not affect this bill. The chairman of the Canned Fruits Control Board should be a man interested in the business, and I should like to hear the Minister’s reason for thinking otherwise.
– I see no reason why we should not follow the practice that has been adopted respecting two other boards. The honorable member is quibbling over a small matter.
– I do not think that the Minister has appreciated my remarks. I have raised a definite point that has a pertinent relationship with the effective sale of our canned fruits overseas. We should not leave to chance the appointment of the chairman of the board, nor should we handicap the board by appointing a person who has had no previous experience of the industry. Why place a ban upon the appointment of the chairman ?
– I have placed no ban upon that appointment.
– The Minister has stated that the chairman shall have no pecuniary interest in the canned fruit industry.
– The Government intends to follow the previous practice of appointing a chairman with no pecuniary interest in the industry concerned.
– I think that I have made my point clear to the committee, if not to the Minister. We are starting off on the wrong foot, and reducing the efficiency of the board, when we practically disqualify the chairman.
.- The farther I go to sea on this subject, the rougher it becomes. I am beginning to think that the contention of the hon- orable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodger s) is right. Under clause 11, the London agency will receive its orders and directions from the board sitting in Melbourne. The duty of the London agency will be to sell the Australian pack of canned fruits. The members of the board in Melbourne, forsitting at two meetings a month, will receive £4 4s. each meeting, amounting to £96 a year. Surely a board sitting twice a month will not effectively control the sale of our canned fruits in London, which I hope later will realize millions of pounds. If we appoint as chairman of the board a member of the Government Service at a salary of £1,000 a year, how could we very well appoint a subordinate in London at a salary of £2,000 a year That will certainly ‘be a source of trouble. We have reached an impasse on this clause. When thebill was introduced, I welcomed it because our returned soldiers engaged in this industry have practically been burning their produce. There is a market for our canned fruits in the East and in London, and honorable members would be staggered if they knew the facts.
– The clause appears to be generally misunderstood by honorable members. The Government representative on the board will, no doubt, be the best business man that can be obtained.
– For a payment of £4 4s. a sitting?
– I did not say that. I said that the members of the Dried Fruits Control Board received £4 4s., and the chairman. £5 5s. a sitting; but that under this bill the payment to the members of the board was left entirely open. Honorable members can rest assured that the Government will obtain the services of the best business man that is available.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 - (1.) The board may constitute an agency of the board in London (in this act referred to as “the London Agency”). (2.) The London Agency shall consist of such number of persons as the board from time to time determines, one of whom shall be appointed by the Governor-General, and shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General, and the othersshall be appointed by the board, and shall hold office during the pleasure of the board. (3.) The London Agency shall keep the board advised as to current prices of canned fruits and as to other matters relative to the disposal of Australian canned fruits in England or elsewhere, and generally actas the agent of the board in accordance with the directions of the hoard.
When speaking last night on the second reading, I stressed the importance of the London market to our canned fruits. England to-day imports from other countries 4,000,000 dozen tins of canned fruit, and only 20 per cent. of her requirements is obtained from Australia.
– Great Britain takes all the canned fruit that we can export, and would take more.
– Great Britain will be an excellent market for ourcanned fruits, providing that the industry is handled properly. The trade will soon develop if the producer knows that there is a market in Great Britain for his product. Eighty per cent. of Great Britain’s requirements of canned fruits are imported from California, where Asiatic labour is largely employed in the fruit industry. The people of the United Kingdom have a greater sentimental bond with Australia than with California, and I am convinced that by judicious propaganda they could be induced to give preference to our fruits, especially as throughout the Commonwealth thousands of returned soldiers are engaged in their production. The London agency will be such an important part of this scheme that I doubt whether the total amount of £10,000 mentioned by the Minister will be sufficient to finance it. The annual expenses of the board in Australia may be estimated at not less than £500. A good man to preside over the London agency will not be procurable for less than £2,500 per annum, and it is possible that the wages and salaries of other persons assisting him will amount to £4,000, making an approximate total of £6,000. In addition, there will be rent and other office expenses. For effective propaganda in Great Britain the £3,500 left will not go far. We must have men of the right type in charge of this business in Australia, and in London, and expense must not be stinted. Many Australian commodities that now have difficulty in finding a market in London could be sold mustmore extensively if judicious and effective propaganda were employed. In that respect Australia House has absolutely failed. I ask the Minister to assure the committee that the London agency will not be stinted in respect of money, and that funds will be available to employ the best men available, and carry on propaganda with a view to enabling Australia to develop her export trade in canned fruits, and supply within a few years, not a mere 20 per cent., but 60 or 80 per cent., of the canned fruits imported into Great Britain. The principle contained in this bill is sound, and if the right kind of men are chosen to give effect to it, and they are given the necessary financial backing, success will be assured.
– I propose to give briefly to the committee the results of inquiries I made regarding this business in the United Kingdom, China, and Japan. An Australian visiting London isdisgusted at finding so little known of the Commonwealth and its products. Australia House usually makes a fine display of canned fruits, but in Regent-street or Piccadilly, at the Army and Navy Stores, or Selfridge’s, Australianfruits can rarely be purchased. No doubt that is partly due to the frequent strikes in this country, which prevent continuity of supplies. A London merchant entering into a contract for a supply of Australian fruit never knows when he will get delivery, but when the goods are available they are sold promptly. There is an immense market in London and the provinces for our products, and it should be thoroughly exploited. Onecannot help noticing in London how poorly Australian goods compare with those of California in respect of packing and grading. When will the Australian producers learn the wisdom of putting their fruits into good and artisticallylabelled tins, and packing them well, so that they will not be dented? Most of the Californian fruits are contained in bottles which display effectively the grade, quality, and colour of the contents, This bill does not, at present, relate to the marketing of canned fruits in the Orient, but the Minister indicated that its scope may be extended later. Proper labelling and grading are just as essential in the oriental market as in London. The Minister has handed me some sample labels, which are .a distinct improvement on those I saw in other parts of the world. I am glad that there are no pictures of birds on them. When I was in China I was the guest of a big merchant, who was very keen on Australia, because he had spent seventeen years here and had accumulated a fortune. He controls great emporiums,- and was anxious to sell. Australian canned goods. An influential Canton buyer entered one of his stores and asked to be shown Australian canned peaches. He was shown sample tins, but, seeing the Ibis on the label, he said, “ I want tinned peaches, not tinned birds.” That one incident was the means of Australia losing a contract worth thousands of pounds, because that buyer had been ready to market Australian fruits in Canton and throughout the provinces. My Chinese host also complained of the uneven grading. He explained that if four men in a restaurant ordered tinned peaches and were served from the same tin, one might get a large half peach, another a small one, a third a. green one, and the fourth an over-ripe one. I. hope that the proposed board will insist upon proper grading, packing, and labelling, and that the inks employed on the labels will not deteriorate in . the damp atmosphere of the tropics. In regard to the London agency, I estimate that it will be necessary to pay the manager not less than £2,000 per annum, a sub-manager about £800, and two other assistants at least £5*00 each. With office assistance, the administrative costs in London will be over £4,000; and propaganda in the metropolis and the provinces will not be successful unless at least £5,000 is spent each year on advertising. These amounts account for £9,000 of the total of £10,000 which the Minister mentioned as the pro,bable maximum cost of this scheme; but I hope that he will not hesitate to ask Parliament for further money if necessary. The head of the London agency will require to be a man of strong personality, who can hold his own against the brainy and energetic men who are selling the products of other countries. The smart men on our racecourses could not hold a candle to the chaps engaged in selling wares in London. They have not an ounce of patriotic sentiment. They are on the look-out for the goods that they can buy most cheaply and sell at the highest price, regardless of whence they come. Dr. Hayden Guest, a Labour member of the House of Commons and a personal friend of mine, did a great service to the Empire by visiting Smyrna, and subsequently describing to the House of Commons the conditions he saw in the fruit-packing establishments of that country. He mentioned, amongst other things, that the Turks use their dirty and diseased feet to pack fruits. Unless the man we appoint in London is clever enough to beat the other selling agents at their own game, this legislation will be ineffective. Whilst I believe in preference to Australians and returned soldiers, I. doubt whether a stranger to London, without previous experience of this trade in the United Kingdom, would be successful. If the Minister can get a capable Australian who has been resident in London for some years and has business experience, ‘ well and good. I ask the Minister to exercise every care in seeing that the appointees to these boards are men of high standing and well qualified to beat the tricksters on the other side of the world, to whom I have referred. He may have to ransack” Australia and London to get his manager, submanagers, and juniors, but I trust that he will leave no stone, unturned to find the right men. I congratulate him upon having introduced the measure.
.- I do not know whether it is the intention of the Government to appoint, at an early date, a London commercial representative; but it seems to me that one really capable man in London could easily supervise the marketing of all our exported commodities.
– We have one man managing the affairs of the Dairy Produce Board and Dried Fruits Board there.
– Then I take it that it would be an easy matter to bring our canned fruits also under his general supervision. It is fairly obvious to any one with a business mind that, although we export a number of commodities which are handled by different boards, it should be practicable for one man of resource and ability to push the sale of all of them in Great Britain; but it might be advise able for him to have under his control an expert in each line that he is handling. . > <
.- I should not have participated in the debate, did I not represent a number of persons who are vitally interested in the provisions of the bill. We should do our best to express in the measure the wishes of those engaged in the industry, and I believe the principles set out in it are similar to those embodied in the Dairy Produce Export Control Act and the Dried Fruits Export Control Act, which have given fairly general satisfaction. The object of the bill is to enable the canned fruit producers to do a little collective bargaining. I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), and also in the sample labels he has circulated. A few months ago, I had the honour of opening the agricultural show at Angaston, South Australia, and I was particularly struck by the excellent display of canned fruits that was made there. The labels on the canned products of Messrs. Trescowthick Brothers were singularly attractive. On them were represented the fruit contained in the can, and not pictures of birds like those which the honorable member forWentworth saw on tins of canned fruit in China. A good deal of trouble has been caused overseas through the use of inferior labels on our canned fruit, and I am in hearty accord with the remarks of the honorable member in that connexion. I trust that this, board will do its best to see that our products are marketed attractively and effectively. I intend to support the bill as it stands.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
For the purpose of enabling the board effectively to control the export, and the sale and distribution after export, of Australian canned fruits, the Governor-General may by Proclamation prohibit the export front the Commonwealth of any canned fruits except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister subject to such conditions and restrictions as are prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the hoard.
.- When the Minister was delivering his second-reading speech, I invited him to describe how clause 13, which is really the mainspring of the measure, would be administered; but he did not accept my invitation either then or later when he replied to the debate.
– I said that the clause was the crux of the bill.
– That is an additional reason why the Minister should have explained it. We should make clear lines of demarcation in dealing with our different exportable produce. This measure provides for semi-government control. Throughout my political life I have been nurtured in the political school, which upheld freedom of export. “ Hands off the export trade of the nation,” was the slogan of the old Liberal party. I can well remember the late most respected member for Maranoa, Mr. James Page, a man of wide outlook and great courage, deliberately refusing to associate himself with certain of his colleagues in the Labour party, who were endeavouring to place a measure of prohibition on the export trade of the nation.
– No matter what its standard or grade might be ?
– I am glad of that interjection. If the Treasurer does not know, he ought to know that grading regulations are formulated and enforced by our Trade and Customs Department.
– Surely that is government control ?
– But subject only to grading regulations, there has never been, until recently, a definite ban on exports. The Treasurer has championed throughout Australia the co-operative production and marketing of our primary produce; and subject to certain limitations I agree with that policy. But I do not believe in what I may call the conglomerate idea of co-operation, for it is nothing but a cloak for inefficiency. Something is to be said in favour of the co-operative handling of certain products, such as butter and dried fruits, but that is a very different thing from co-operatively handling all sorts and conditions of produce. I invite the Treasurer, as the admired champion of co-operation, to consider for a moment that this bill contains the element of compulsion. Indeed the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) said quite definitely that it is a compulsory pooling scheme, subject to conditions which the Minister may lay down on the recommendation of the board. Compulsion and co-operation cannot live side by side. Compulsion destroys co-operation. There can be no true co-operation where there is compulsion. Co-operation is the voluntary adoption of machinery for carrying out certain undertakings, bub there is no compulsion with genuine co-operators.
– There is in Denmark.
– I think we may enunciate principles like this without going outside of our British dominions. The prohibition of export is in my opinion a dangerous experiment; but I informed the Minister in my second-reading speech that I would keep an open mind on the matter until he explained how clause 13 would operate. I wish to know quite definitely how he proposes to exercise the power of veto which the clause reposes in him. Of course, he cannot imagine the circumstances under which recommendations will be made from time to time.
– That. makes the position more serious from my point of view. I wish to know definitely what circumstances he would consider a justification for prohibiting -the export of canned fruit. This board will have great powers and responsibilities in deciding the conditions under which the Minister should exercise the power of veto. I shall be obliged to go a long way towards abandoning a principle which I have held throughout my public life, and which has stood the test of time in all British communities. I ask the Minister to name any other British community that prohibits exportation.
– New Zealand.
– That is so; and the Minister is following the example of New Zealand in this measure.
– It is a good measure, too.
– I am not sure of that. I read with interest the other day an article by Mr. Arthur Vickery, an able and well-informed man, on the subject of meat export under licence. I take leave to say that it is not the board or the licence or the absence of a licence, that constitutes world markets. In the main it is the available visible surplus that governs world prices in everything. Every wheatgrower knows that the wheat east of the Rockies used to be one of the greatest factors in the corn exchange of the world ; but now the world is waking un to a different system, and there is to be a great central pooling scheme in Canada and the
United States of America for control purposes. If every country organizes pools against every other country, it will mean governmental control of products and the pitting and fighting of governments one against another.
– They are doing that already with tariffs.
– Tariffs are surely a sufficient regulator to trade and a sum.cient shelter tq home markets withouthaving compulsory pools. This is, so to speak, a super tariff. If the system were applied in all countries, control might become so tight that it would affect us at the port of shipment. For the first time since I have come into this House I meet this principle, and not in a spirit of anger, I take leave to question whether it is the right thing to do. I repeat again that it is moulding - a model, and furnishing it with equipment that may be used by our friends in the Opposition when their turn comes to control this Parliament and the import and export trade of this country.
– Did not the honorable member administer a fruit pool?
– That was in a great national emergency. The pool had been created before I became Minister. It was immediately following war time, and there was a crisis in’ the industry. But for the pool the fruit would have rotted on the ground.. I am anxious that the Minister, when he next rises, will speak, not in a carping frame of mind, and will not lecture the committee, but, with clarity and good sequence, will explain in detail the operation of the machinery by which he proposes to put clause 13 into operation. My mind is open on this question until the Minister says how a limited power of prohibition of export can be .put into operation. The general policy of the nation and the Government’s mind on the matter have to be considered.
– As the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) supported the second reading of the bill, he has already swallowed clause 13.
– There was no call for a division on the second reading.
– As the honorable member did not himself call for a division he could not have had any serious objection to the bill. I voted for the bill, and this clause, and I was able to compliment the Government on having at last travelled a considerable distance along the road we have been pointing to for many years. I was not surprised that the honorable member for Wannon reminded honorable members on his side that even as late as the last election they referred to proposals of this kind as “ the socialization of industry.” Those honorable members said that if the Labour party came into power it would, by doing these things, bring disaster on the community. As the Government now proposes to do the things that it said we would do in a similar way - as, in fact, it has adopted our policy - I see no reason for opposing the bill. The honorable member for Wannon has given good and sufficient reasons, from his own point of view, for opposing the bill. I look upon him as one who is taking longer than other honorable members to renounce the old theories. The reason he gave for administering the fruit pool was that there was then a crisis in the industry, and by that remark he gave away his whole case. He virtually admitted that when a crisis arises private enterprise fails, and the producers have to ask the Government to assist them out of their difficulties. There is to-day a crisis in the fruit industry, and private enterprise is so incapable of handling it that those engaged in the industry have had to come to the Government, and ask it to take charge. In other words, the canners have asked for a little of that government control which most members of the Government have for many years condemned. The honorable member for Wannon has reason to complain that the Government has adopted a principle which for years it has denounced ; but as it has now adopted the policy of the party on this side of the House, we have reason not to condemn, but to congratulate, it. The honorable member for Wannon has shown himself to be one of the “ diehards “ on the other side ; he is taking longer than the Minister to see the light.
– As the honorable member for Hume and I support the Government, the bill ought to be taken as a whole.
– The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) has been of this way of thinking for some time, and he has not hesitated to express his views. He said that government control of dried fruits, and of butter, was the only way to save those industries. I believe he would go further with me, and say that those who are standing outside the scheme should be compelled to come in. The bill says to those in the pool, “You cannot export your fruit unless you obtain a licence from the Government “ ; but it does not say to those who refuse to come in, “ You must not sell on the local market when the rest of the fruit has been exported.” One section of the industry should not be allowed to score off another. I believe in compulsory pools, and without compulsion such a scheme as this is a sham. The policy should be “ one in, all in.”
– The honorable member surely knows that the Commonwealth Government has no power to control the local market.
– Clause 16 provides that “ the board may accept control of any canned fruits placed under its control for the purposes of this act,” and I see no reason why that clause should not read, “ The board may take control of any canned fruits for the purposes of this act.” That would not be outside the powers of the Government. The honorable member for Wannon does not like to give up the old shibboleths and relinquish the old ideals. He must, however, be forced to the conclusion that the industry cannot besaved but by legislation of this kind.
– Who now stands for cooperation in Australia?
– This measure includes the principle of cooperation, because as the honorable member knows, its purpose is to bring those engaged in the canned fruit industry together to decide upon the best means of disposing of their product.
.- There is a good deal in what has been said by both the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) and the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney). I regard this as a very dangerous clause. The honorable member for Hume put his finger on the real difficulty when he referred to clause 13, which provides that -
For the purpose of enabling the board effectively to control the export, and the sale and distribution after export, of Australian canned fruits, this Governor-General may, by Proclamation, prohibit the export from the Commonwealth of any canned fruits except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister, subject to such conditions and restrictions as are prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the board.
Before this fruit can be exported, the canners have to purchase it from the growers, and when they have it ready for export the board is given the power, under the bill, to say that they shall not export it. The board may consider that the market in England is glutted, but in any case it will have the right under clause 13 to prohibit the export of canned fruit from Australia. What I want to know is whether, if it allows but a limited quantity of the canned fruit produced to be exported, will it take over the balance? Clause 16 provides that it may accept control of any canned fruits placed under its control for the purpose of the measure, but that is not sufficiently explicit in the interests of the canners. We are not to permit the canner to do his own business and send his product to eastern countries. He may be unable to sell it in Australia, and yet the board may prohibit him from exporting it. to the Old Country.
– Where does the honorable member see that in the Bill?
– It is in the bill. I think the Minister cannot have read the bill. He is not keeping in touch with the business. Clause 13 provides that the Governor-General may, by proclamation, prohibit the export from the Commonwealth of any canned fruits. Does not the Governor-General, as used in the clause, mean the chairman of the board?
– He is not the chair- man of the board. We do not anticipate such an illustrious head for the board.
– Clause 16 provides that the board may take control of the balance of canned fruit not exported, but what I wish to know is what is to be done with the balance. If the board prohibits the export of canned fruit it should be bound to take over that fruit. The honorable member for Wannon says that clause 13 is the crux of the bill, and I agree with him. So far as the pack of canned fruit is concerned, we have no need to worry very much about it. The pack now being put up in Australia is a very excellent one. That is to a large extent due to the inspectors placed in the canning factories to see that they put up a good article. If the board is entitled to prohibit the export of canned fruits, it should be compelled to take over what it does not export. With reference to the pool which has been referred to, I am in a position to say that it was a failure. In Tasmania, owing to delay in export, thousands of tins of fruit pulp were dumped overboard in the river. The tins became pitted by the acid in the fruit, and the fruit went bad, and much of it was fed to the
.- There is something in the point made by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook). The board, under this bill, could, in certain circumstances, prohibit the export of a consignment of canned fruit. The honorable member for Franklin asks what is going to be done with that fruit. This brings into strong relief the far-reaching nature of clause 13. By the introduction of machinery to organize and control the marketing of the exportable surplus of canned fruits, we may disorganize the marketing of canned fruits in Australia. Last night, I pointed out that the bill does not go far enough. If the Government lays down the principle of the compulsory control of the export, and the sale and distribution of primary products overseas, I ask by virtue of what principle does it adopt that provision for the export market, and not for the much larger market within the Commonwealth, which we are so often wrongly told is the best market. Under legislation suchas this, providing merely for partial control, the local market may quite conceivably be the worst market for the distribution of any product. The Minister told us last night that the Government has not the power under the Constitution to control local marketing, and I say that the sooner we get that power the better it will be for the primary producers.
.- I. consider clause 13 absolutely essential. We have had a lamentable experience in connexion with the export of our products. Dealers and speculators here have ruined the market for our primary products at Home. We had a distressing experience in connexion with butter and with canned fruits. Almost the whole of the export of our primary products of every kind is manipulated by private speculators. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) made a first class speculator’s speech. The board, under this bill, must be given power to exercise some control over export. The honorable member for Wannon asked what would be the result if the Labour party came into power. Could any one be more short-sighted? Does the honorable member not know that whatever party gets into power will owe its position to the will of the electors of Australia? We have been invited to consider what an undesirable thing it wouldbe if this board were to prohibit exports. What sane board would prohibit the export of canned fruits, if to do so were not, in its opinion, in the best interests of the industry. The whole of the argument I have heard against this clause has confirmed my belief in its necessity.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 - (1.) Where the Governor-General isues a proclamation in pursuance of the last preceding section, the Minister may grant to any person desiring to export canned fruits from the Commonwealth a licence to do so. (2.) A licence under this section shall, subject to this section, be for such period as is specified in the licence, and shall be granted upon such terms and conditions as are prescribed. (3.) Where the Minister is satisfied, on report by the board, that any person, to whom a licence under thissection has been granted, has contravened or failed to comply with any term or condition upon which the licence was granted, the Minister may cancel the licence.
– This is another very important clause from the point of view of the fruit canner. I referred to it last night in my speech on the second reading of the bill. I think that the licence given to fruitcanners should cover a specific period, and I, therefore, move -
That after the word “ licence “, line 5, the words “ for twelve months “ be inserted.
A permanent licence should be issued for twelve months. The trouble is that when a person wishes to export canned fruits from Tasmania, to fill orders from England and the East, he has to rush to the Customs Department to obtain a licence, and when he receives it, after numerous delays, shipping space is frequently not available. Canned fruits and jam can be shipped only when oversea vessels call for apple consignments. A lot of delay is caused to the exporter through the redtape methods of government-controlled bodies. Only a few companies and manufacturers export canned fruit from Tasmania.
– Is the honorable member advocating that the manufacturers should have the right to export their products during a period of twelve months without inspection or renewal of licence?
– Most decidedly. These men should have a twelve months’ licence. I do not think that the board would prevent canned fruit from being exported provided that it had been inspected in the factory. We must encourage the canners if we are to build up the export trade.
– The amendment moved by the honorable member is quite unnecessary. This has been proved in connexion with two similar measures. Sub-clause 2 states -
A licence under this section shall, subject to this- section, be for such period as is specified in the licence, and shall be granted upon such terms and conditions as are prescribed.
The honorable member for Franklin will agree that it is highly desirable that the industry should not be hampered in any way by governmental restrictions. He suggests that there should be a certain amount of governmental restriction by providing a definite period of licence. The Dairy Export Control Board found it necessary to grant licences for twelve months, but they may be cancelled at any time. The Dried Fruits Export Control Board issues licences for a shorter period. The honorable member seems to approach the bill with the idea that the board will restrict and repress as much as possible those engaged in the industry, but the intention is decidedly to the contrary. The amendment that the honorable member has moved is unnecessary, and I assure him that the term of the licence will be sufficiently long not to hamper the operations of exporters.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance, and I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 -
The board may accept control of any canned fruits placed under its control for the purposes of this act.
– The clause should he amended to bring within its scope all persons engaged in the canned-fruit industry, and I suggest that it should read somewhat in this way : “ The board is hereby given power to take control of any canned fruit for the purposes of this act.” The Dried Fruits Export Control Act fell short of requirements and was not so satisfactory as was anticipated, because a large number of growers did not come within its scope. I am afraid that, if we do not bring all those engaged in the canned- fruit industry under the bill certain persons will take an undue advantage of the improved local market, consequent upon the extension of the export market. In the interests of all concerned we should make it compulsory for every section of the industry to come under the bill. Will the Minister indicate his objection to such an amendment.
– I think the honorable member is confusing two matters. He desires that something be done to compel those who sell on the local market to bear their proper share of the export trade.
– The Commonwealth has no constitutional power to lay its hands on goods which any person are restricted to goods voluntarily exported, and this clause allows persons to export through either the board or ordinary business channels, subject to a licence issued by the board. It might be dangerous to the industry to attempt to compel the marketing of all fruit through one bottle-neck. It is often advisable to keep open as many channels of distribution as possible, so long as they can be controlled by licence.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 -
Moneys held in the fund uninvested by the board may be lodged in an account at call or on fixed deposit, or partly at call and partly on fixed deposit, with the Commonwealth Bank, or with any other prescribed bank, and while in such bank shall be held to be moneys of the Crown.
.- I move-
That the words “or with any other prescribed bank” be omitted.
The purpose of the amendment is to restrict this business to the Commonwealth Bank.
– There are canneries where there are no branches of the Commonwealth Bank.
– That is a very poor argument. A semigovernment board should do its business with a government bank, and branches of the Commonwealth Bank should be established throughout the country. In the huge State of Western Australia there are only two branches of the Bank, and in my large rural electorate only two. A town like Leeton, where a big can nery is in operation, should have a branch of the Commonwealth Bank. There is no excuse for a government instrumentality banking with private institutions. All government and semigovernment bodies should help to build up the Commonwealth Bank, . and this Parliament should not sin against an institution of its own creation.
.- I am at a loss to understand how the Minister can defend the clause in its present form. We have always looked forward to the time when the Commonwealth Bank would occupy the position which the Labour party intended it should occupy, and do the business of the Commonwealth. The London branch of the bank will be in a better position than any private bank to conduct the operations of the board. Since the security is undoubted, better facilities will be assured to primary producers who will come under the operation of this scheme. The Minister will be well advised to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hume. Private banks operate, not on their capital, but on the credit of the community. The words complained of were struck out of the other measure.
– They are to be found in both the Dried Fruits Export Control Bill and the Dairy Produce Exports Control Bill.
– It is, I think, in the best interests of all concerned that the banking business of the board should be done exclusively by the Commonwealth Bank.
– Some little time ago I was doubtful whether there was need for the retention of the words “or with any other prescribed bank,” which the honorable member for Hume suggests should be struck out, and I can assure the honorable member that, if I now thought they were not- necessary, I would accept the amendment. It is conceivable that, asis the case of the Dairy Produce and the Dried Fruits Exports Control Boards, the board to be appointed under this bill might have to do business in a country where there is not a branch of the Commonwealth Bank. In that event, it may be necessary for the board to place to its credit in a bank which is the agent of the Commonwealth Bank a certain sum of money, for advertising or perhaps other purposes. If the words are eliminated, as suggested, it will be impossible for the board to do that. I can assure the honorable member for Hume that the Dairy Produce and the Dried Fruits Exports Control Boards are using the Commonwealth Bank exclusively, and I have no doubt that the Canned Fruits Board will adopt the same course. The position is safeguarded by the words “ prescribed bank.” The board will not be permitted to work through any bank other than the Commonwealth Bank except with the consent of the Minister. It is inconceivable that any Minister would permit the banking to be done with any other bank than the Commonwealth Bank, except for very good and valid reasons.
.- When the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited was established, a certain sum of money was placed to its credit with the Commonwealth Bank, but when Sir Robert Gibson was appointed to the board I understand that its business was transferred from the Commonwealth Bank to a private bank of which he was a director. I questioned him about this when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, and he told me that the business had been returned to the Commonwealth Bank. If any profit will accrue from the banking operations of the board it should undoubtedly go to the Commonwealth Bank. Shareholders in private banking concerns do their utmost to increase the business of their banks, and, as we are individually interested in the success of the Commonwealth Bank, we should do our utmost to increase its business; more particularly as the Commonwealth is bearing such a painful financial “ blister “ in the shape of war debts.
– Will the Minister give me an undertaking that the whole of the business of this board within Australia will be done with the Commonwealth Bank?
– I assure the honorable member that wherever Commonwealth Bank facilities are available they will be used.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 23 to 26 agreed to.
Clause 27 -
.- The latter part of the clause entitles the board to take charge of a producer’s canned fruits without his authority. That is an outrageous provision. I consider that the board has altogether too much power. I move -
That the word “without “be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ with.”
– I point out to the honorable member that clause 27 must be read in conjunction with clause 16, which provides that the board - may accept control of any canned fruits placed under its control for the purposes of this act.
It will be seen, therefore, that clause 27 deals only with fruit that has been voluntarily placed under the board’s control.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 28 and 29 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) agreed to-
Standing orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Paterson and Mr. Bruce do prepare and faring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Paterson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
It is intended to impose a charge of 3d. a dozen tins or¼d. a tin for each 30 ozs. of canned fruit exported. On a conservative basis it is anticipated that this will provide about £10,000, which, of course, is a much larger sum than will be necessary to administer the Canned Fruits Board and its London agency, but it is desirable that there should be a sufficient surplus to conduct certain propaganda work in Great Britain. The other boards now in. operation are spending certain sums in advertising in Great Britain, which the Commonwealth is subsidizing on a £1 for £1 basis. The British Government is also doing its share in making available £500,000 this year, and £1,000,000 next year, most of which will be used for educational purposes, not merely to benefit Australia, but to assist in the sale of Empire products generally.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– This afternoon, when the subjects listed for discussion at the forthcoming Imperial Conference were under discussion, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), and thehonorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), rose concurrently. The honorable member for Reid immediately resumed his seat, but I have been informed by him, that in doing so, he did not desire to give up his right to speak, and I understand the Prime Minister had no intention of concluding the debate. With the concurrence of the House, I therefore propose to give the honorable member for Reid the right to continue the debate when the motion is next under consideration.
– That will not deprive other members of the right to speak?
– No, as I understand, it was not the intention of the Prime Minister to conclude the debate.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity of indicating to theHouse the action taken by the Government in connexion with the announcement I made last week concerning the dispatch of an Industrial Commission to America. A communication in the following terms has been forwarded to the Trades and Labour Councils or the Trades Hall, whichever may function in an individual State, to the Employers’ Federation, the Associated Chambers of Commerce, and the Associated Chambers of Manufactures -
Idesire to inform you that, in accordance with the recent announcementmade by the Prime Minister, it has been decided tosend an industrial mission to America, for the purpose of investigating the conditions under which American industry is conducted. The Governmentproposes that the mission shall consist of four representatives of the employees of Australia, and four of the employers. It is desired thatboth sections of the industrial community shall be able to inform themselves, through competent representatives, of the matters to be investigated, so that they will be in a position to consider whether methods found to be successful in the United States are applicable to Australian conditions, and how far they might tend to the promotion of greater harmony and efficiency in our industrial life. It is obviously important that such amission shouldbe satisfactorily representative of Australian industry, and the various interests involved therein. For this reason, the Government desires to leave the greatest possible freedom of choice in the hands of organizations representing the two great parties to industry throughout the Commonwealth, in order that the delegates may possess the entire confidence of those whom they represent. In order to ensure this main object, it is also clearly necessary that industry shall be represented by men familiar with existing conditions, so that they may assess the conditions investigated with an expert eye, and be able on their return to submit a full, exact, and authoritative report upon what they have seen and learned. It would, undoubtedly, be a waste of opportunity if organizations in each of several States made nominations which might be the best in each State, but which would overlap in regard to the particular branch of industry with whichthe nominees were familiar. It would be equally unfortunate if employers’ and employees’ organizations, acting independently, chose delegates representing similar industries, which might lead to the result in the absence of meansfor making a final choicethat certain industries had undue representation,while others of equal importance remained unrepresented by either an employer or an employee. In order to combine the two essentials of freedom of choiceby the parties represented, and diversity and balance inthe completed personnel of the delegation, it has been decided to invite nominations in each State from an organization representing employees, and a similar number of nominations from organizations representing employers. From these nominations, the Government will finally select eight delegates in such a way as to include representatives of as many branches of industry as possible.
A final paragraph varies according to. whether the letter is directed to a Trades and Labour Council, a Trades Hall, or an employers’ organization. Three names of employees’ representatives will be sent in from each State; and as the employers are organized on a federal basis, three organizations will be invited to submit six names each. Thus eighteen names of employees’ representatives will be submitted, three from each State, and eighteen names of employers’ representatives, six from each of the three organizations I have named. From that number, the Government will endeavour to appoint a well-balanced delegation representative of the different interests in the community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 August 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260804_reps_10_114/>.