10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Sir GRANVILLE RYRIE presented the interim report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts upon Commonwealth Government shipping activities.
Ordered to be printed.
Report (No. 3) presented by Mr. Corser, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
– In view of the statement by Mr. Gepp, chairman of the Development and Migration Commision, that that body proposes to examine the present industrial and economic position of Australia, and will not recommend a rush of immigrants before the country is prepared to receive them, will the Prime Minister suspend present migration activities until the commission has made provision for absorbing the unemployed as well as future newcomers ?
– I said when introducing the Development and Migration Bill that the Government considers that development and migration must move hand in hand. At present the only persons brought to Australia by the Commonwealth as . assisted migrants are those nominated or requisitioned by the States, and a few boys nominated under different schemes. There is no reason why any action should be taken to limit such activities.
– Arising out of complaints which have reached me and other honorable members regarding maladministration and incompetency on the part of the Expropriation Board in New Guinea, I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Public Works Committee will be proceeding to Rabaul in an official capacity in September, he will consider the advisability of granting to that committee authority to make a full investigation,, while in Rabaul, of the alleged maladministration by the Expropriation Board?
– The Expropriation Board is under the control of the Treasurer. I am not aware of any reason for a special inquiry into the manner in which it is carrying out its duties, but if evidence to that effect is presented to the Government, it will be prepared to consider the advisability of authorizing an investigation by some body representative of this Parliament.
– Will the Treasurer see that the services of temporary officers employed in the Taxation Department, the majority of whom are returned soldiers, will not be dispensed with pending the passage of the proposed taxation repeal measures?
– In my budget speech I stated that the States Grants Bill would be so amended as to defer the operation of the new financial scheme until next year. That means that land tax and entertainments tax will be collected as usual this year. Therefore, I - give the honorable member the . assurance he desires.
Mr. MACKAY presented a report by the Public Works Committee, and minutes of evidence, relating to. the proposed erection of cottages at Canberra.
Ordered’ to be printed.
– When will- the Prime Minister be able to announce the personnel of the North Australia Commission ?
– I hope to be in a position to do so this week.
– The Minister for Defence stated yesterday that a board had been, or was about to be, established to advise the Minister in connexion with matters relating to the naval, military, . and air forces. As the Minister is about to leave Australia for some months, and Parliament will not be sitting again this year, will he give theHouse an assurance that the Advisory Board has no relation to a suggested joint board of control, which would enable an admiral to’ give orders and advice regarding cavalry, and a general to give orders and advice regarding the navy ?
-I refer the honorable member to my speech, on the defence estimates last evening, when I explained fully the purpose for which the board is to be created. Its sole function will be to advise the Minister. If necessary, this matter can be reviewed on my return from Great Britain.
– I call the attention of the Prime Minister to a flaming cartoon and advertisement in to-day’s issue of the Morning Post. It is similar to many advertisements that have been inserted in the daily papers during recent weeks. It is headed “ The Real Defence of the Empire,” and depicts a coolie with a pick. At the foot is the question, “ Ts Australia prepared to do her share?” I should like to know if there is any connexion, as rumoured, between this advertisement and contemplated legislation, and whether the Government will ascertain if there is any ulterior motive behind it?
– I am informed that the advertisement merely advocates the use of Australian-made goods by the people of Australia, and, as its motive must be apparent to every one, I see no need for instituting an inquiry regarding it.
– As honorable members representing city areas in the provinces and in the State capitals have been inundated with requests that the Federal Government should take into consideration the advisability of assisting road construction within metropolitan areas, aa well as in country districts, I wish to know whether the Government has given consideration to the matter.
– I am under the impression that this matter was discussed on the Federal Aid Roads Bill. The Commonwealth Government is giving financial aid to the States in connexion with a scheme of national highways, for the purpose of improving transport generally in Australia and promoting interstate trade. That assistance is essential, particularly where these highways pass through sparsely populated areas whose local authorities have not sufficient revenue to enable them to undertake this necessary work. The Commonwealth certainly could not assist the construction or maintenance of city roads unless they happen to be continuations of national highways. But, although the Commonwealth’s proposals are based on the principle of giving assistance to sparsely populated areas, if the States submit evidence showing that the construction of national highways could not be properly achieved without further assistance in the direction indicated, the Government will be prepared to give consideration to the matter.
– Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked you, without notice, a question relating to the employees of Parliament, and. on the honorable member’s behalf, I should like to know whether to-day you are in a position to give him an answer.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Reid asked me the following question : -
Whether there is any objection to the staff of Parliament forming ‘a trade union? If not, will provision be made to enable them to have the rights of appeal against remuneration and classification similar to those enjoyed bv other employees of the Commonwealth, namely, an Appeal Board, and the right to cite cases before the Public Service. Arbitrator?
I have been informed by the law officers of the Commonwealth that Parliament expressly amended the Public- Service Bill introduced in 1921 to reserve to itself the control of its officers and employees. The Arbitration Public Service Act contains no provision for the determination of claims of the officers and employees of Parliament. As to the appointment of an appeal board, I am making further inquiries. As Tegards complaints by officers, I find that sympathetic consideration has always been given by my predecessors to any matter brought before them through the regular channels, and that no complaints have been made recently through official channels. If representations are made in the regular way, they will receive every consideration.
– Last night on the Defence Estimates I asked the Minister for Defence whether it was true that the department had altered its policy in regard to the manufacture of power alcohol at the acetate of lime factory, Brisbane. The annual report of the Munitions Board contains the following paragraph : -
The Postmaster-General’s Department has been the principal consumer of power alcohol, the deliveries being 58,041 gallons to Melbourne and 5,048 gallons to Brisbane; 10.837 gallons were issued to various branches of the Defence Department, together with a small quantity to other departments.
I want to know if it is true that the’ acetate of lime factory has ceased operations, and, if so, why activities which have apparently been beneficial to the various Commonwealth Departments have been suspended.
– I regret that I overlooked the matter when replying to the debate last night. It is true that the acetate of lime factory has been closed, the reason being that a contract has been entered into with a private firm for the supply of all the acetone required by the department for the manufacture of cordite. ‘
– I should like the Prime Minister to state definitely whether Parliament will be called together in Melbourne in the early part of next year, or whether its next meeting will take place at Canberra.
– I cannot say definitely when Parliament will meet again.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories tell me if it is the intention of the Government to bring down a bill to authorize the construction of lakes at Canberra, as recommended by the Public Works Committee?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories, and furnish him with a reply as early as possible.
– I understand that tha agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Anglo-Persian- Oil Company, under which the latter was -to conduct oil boring operations in Papua, expired last month, and I should like to know whether a further agreement has been made, and what results have so far been obtained from the boring.
– Boring is still in progress, and so far reports are fairly satisfactory, the engineers being hopeful of discovering oil ; but in order to give the honorable member more explicit information, I shall submit his question to the Minister, and furnish him with a reply tomorrow.
– Will the Minister for Defence, while he is in England, consult with the imperial authorities with the object of arriving at a decision as to whether it will be necessary to erect big guns on North Head, Port Jackson? , I understand that this matter must be decided in consultation with them. . If a negative decision should be reached, will the Minister reconsider my request that at least half the area that is now held in reserve there for quarantine and defence purposes should be made available to- the public?
– I understand that the Prime Minister intends to go into the subject of coastal defences very fully with the imperial authorities,and I assure the honorable member thatit will give me pleasure if, on my return from abroad, I can supplement with something more tangible the sympathetic consideration that I have so far given to his request.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as -follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Classification: Taxation Department
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I am advised by the Public Service Board as follows: -
Efficiency in Industry.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If there is urgent need for the introduction of vastly improved methods in the working of many of our secondary industries, will he give consideration to the necessity for an investigation into the position of certain industries, with a- view to deciding1 as to whether they are of sufficient national importance as to warrant tariff protection?
– The matter will receive consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whether the Government will consider the advisability of subsidizing a motor service, such as that recently established by Captain Bagot, from Oodnadatta to the Katherine River, thus providing necessary communication through the Northern Territory from Adelaide to Darwin,
– This matter will be submitted for the consideration of the North Australia Commission, which is tobe appointed almost immediately.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view cif the condition of the dairying industry, will he consider the advisability of having full inquiry made into all the conditions surrounding the industry, with a view to the making of such recommendations for improvement as may ‘be deemed necessary, and, at the same time, draw attention to any hardships that may be pressing unduly, and the best methods of alleviating these hardships?
– The question of the position of this industry and. other primary industries will be a matter for examination by the recently appointed Development and Migration Commission as soon as it can conveniently be done.
– On the 20th May, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) asked the following questions : -
What would be the annual cost of -
I replied, on the 26th May, as follows : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following additional information : -
With a view to thoroughly investivating the matter, I have arranged for a conference between expert officers of the Public Service. The Chief Manager of Telegraphs and Wireless, the Engineer for Lighthouses, and the Deputy Director of Navigation for Victoria have been appointed as a committee to go thoroughly into the matter, and to report on the practicability of installing wireless telephones on small vessels and at lighthouses and other places ashore, and as to the cost of such apparatus and its upkeep. As soon as the report is available, the matter will receive further very careful consideration. In addition to this, the various StateGovernments have been communicated with, and ithas been suggested that action mightbe taken to require that vessels trading only within the limits of a State should comply with the same conditions as apply under the Navigation Act to a vessel trading interstate or oversea. The State Governments were found to toe generallyin favour of this being done, and New South Wales and South Australia have already prepared bills on the subject, while the Government of Victoria is favorable, and will consider submitting such a bill to Parliament. Western Australia and Tasmania were also . sympathetic, and, although very slightly affected, are looking further into the matter, while Queensland has no intrastate shipping which if trading interstate would be required under Commonwealth law to carry wireless).
Accumulated Leave of Absence
– On the 7th July, the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) asked the following questions : -
I replied as follows: -
The points raised are the subject of inquiries which have not yet been completed. I hope to be in a position to furnish a reply at an early date.
On the 21st July, I stated that certain reports on the matter had been obtained. I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
Australia and New Zealand
– On the 29th July, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde)- asked the Minister for Markets and Migration the following questions : -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
– On the 4th August, the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Perkins) referred to a state ment in the press that the Defence Department had specified the use of Baltic’ pine in connexion with the construction of targets for the Light Horse at Murwillumbah Rifle Range, and asked whether I would make inquiries to see whether a more liberal use of our native-grown timbers could not be made. I now desire to inform the honorable member that it is the practice to use Baltic timber for the construction of targets, because it is found to be more suitable for the purpose than the local timber usually available. The disadvantage of the latter is its liability to splinter. It may be mentioned that local timber is invariably used for the construction of the range and the supports for targets. The quantity of timber used in the target itself is inconsiderable, but instructions have been issued that where a suitable Australian timber is available it is to be used.
Dr. Smalpage Serum
– In reply to a number of questions asked by honorable members during the last two or three months, and in fulfilment of a promise given by me that a final report would be made in reference to Dr. Smalpage’s method of treatingtuberculosis, I now submit the following report: -
Statement in Connexion with Dr. Smalpage’s Method of Treatment of Tuberculosis.
On the 31st March, 1925, Dr. Smalpage wrote to me, as Minister for Health, stating that he would like to bring to my notice the experimental results of six years’ research on tuberculosis, and that he was prepared to place the whole evidence before me for my medical opinion and my ministerial action.
Dr. Smalpage stated that he had placed the routine of production of both extract and antitoxin in Dr. Penfold’s hands, and that he felt sure that I was the person best able to guard both his, and the general public’s, interests.
The report from the Laboratories was to the effect that the procedure of making extract and sera was given only in outline, which is so vague as to amount to a suggestion as to the course to be followed.” Dr. Smalpage was invited on several occasions to supply the information necessary to carry out the work properly; he did not, however, supply this information.
On the 11th May, in answer to further requests for full information as to his process, Dr. Smalpage forwarded generalities of no value for exact scientific purposes, and he was advised by the Director-General of. Health that the details given in his communications were “ insufficient to enable the Laboratories to put in hand the preparation of antitoxin, and that even with the details supplied a considerable amount of research would be necessary in order to determine the identity and stability of the end product and to stabilize the processes used.” He was further advised that the position was complicated by the application for patent rights,the Department being not clear as to the position, which had been created.
On the 12th May, 1925, Dr. Smalpage notified me that he was applying for patent rights.
On the 24th October, 1925, Dr. Smalpage wrote to me stating that what he required was to have a . bond for £100,000, due when his claims were amply proven.
As Dr. Smalpage had not, up to this stage, produced any evidence that his extract or serum had produced any improvement in any human patients, he was informed that, pending the production of such evidence, the Department would continue to prepare splenic extract and would prepare antitoxin if he would supply the necessary directions.
Dr. Smalpage was also requested to define the position as he saw it in respect of the credit to be assigned to the scientific workers at the Laboratories for any original discovery which might be made by those workers in the course of developing the process, the outlines only of which had been indicated by him.
In reply, Dr. Smalpage stated that the process was protected by patent, that he would rigidily withhold any right of publication based on his work, and that he would be prepared to go to Melbourne for a month to work in the departmental laboratories. He also stated that the whole of his research “ is in the hands of a research committee appointed by the Sydney University and the Medical Research Council of London.”
In response to this, Dr. Smalpage was invited to work in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories with the object of carrying on his investigations to a further stage.
In response to inquiries, the authorities of the Sydney University informed the Department that no such committee as stated by Dr. Smalpage had been appointed by the Senate of the Sydney University.
In a letter to me on the 22nd December, 1925, Dr. Smalpage stated that no further research was necessary.
Dr. Smalpage arrived in Melbourne on the 14th January, 1926, and I interviewed him on arrival. 1 arranged to pay him £20 per week in order to cover his out of pocket expenses, and to make the facilities of the Laboratories available for him to prepare splenic extract and serum, as well as to demonstrate the results of experimental tests on animals. Dr. Smalpage expressed his satisfaction at the result of the interview.
On the 15th January Dr. Smalpage interviewed Dr. Morgan and the Director-General of Health, and stated that he was prepared to hand to the Commonwealth Government all rights in the Commonwealth under his patent without any conditions, and that any question of recognition within the Commonwealth would be left to the generosity of the Commonwealth Government.
On the 27th January, 1926, Dr. Smalpage interviewed me again.He confirmed a state-, ment which had appeared . in the. daily press, after the interview of the 14th January, containing the following : “ Needless to say, I am extremely gratified at the result of th.e conference; I shall remain in Melbourne for some time to complete arrangements made at the conference.” At the same time he announced that financial conditions were not satisfactory, and that he now wanted a grant from the Government of £5,000, and that, unless he received this £5,000,he could not go on producing the serum, and would forbid,, under his patent rights, anybody tq make use of the discovery.. This £5,000 was to be. a grant without any condition as to the success or otherwise, of the work. After the position had been pointed out to him, he altered his attitude, undertaking to continue the work for the sum of £40 per week to cover his expenses, and agreed to certain arrangements which had been outlined for a test.
On the 12th February, Dr. Penfold, Director of the Laboratories Division, reported upon the results obtained. The report principally disclosed the following : -
That Dr. Smalpage would not supply the Laboratories with a copy of his published paper on his work.
That he had been asked repeatedly for a copy of his notes of the experiments he was doing, but, although promising to supply these, he subsequently stated that he did not. think it wise to do so, and that he would supply a copy when he had completed his case.
These notes have not been received.
With regard to the experimental work, the following results were obtained : -
Dr. Morgan made several attempts to produce fragmentation of the tubercle bacilli by means of the extract, but did not succeed.
Dr. Smalpage demonstrated appearances which he interpreted as fragmentation, but, in view of the fact that Dr. Morgan has not been able to reproduce these appearances, Dr. Penfold does not express an opinion as to the interpretation of these appearances. On the evidence available, he does not admit that they represent bacteriolysis as a result of the treatment by splenic extract.
On the 9th February, Dr. Smalpage left the. Laboratories and returned to Sydney without advising any senior officer of his intention so to do.
On the 12th February he wrote to the Director-General of Health, stating - “ I am directing things at the Laboratories by telephone.” Dr. Smalpage did not direct matters by telephone. He did not telephone until the 17th February, the only message then received being to continue making the extract and to write to him giving details of the work which had been done.
He also stated that he was treating patients in Sydney with serum obtained at the Laboratories.
On the 15th February Dr. Penfold wrote to Dr. Smalpage, informing him that the serum used on animals appeared to have the result of definitely hastening’ the death of the animals, and asking Dr. Smalpage whether he thought it wire for him to continue using the serum and extract on patients until he had completed the animal experiments.
On the 23rd February I considered it necessary to request Dr. Smalpage to return to Melbourne and interview me. At this interview the conditions for the test on human patients were decided with Dr. Smalpage, and he accepted the method of preparation of the extract and serum in use at the Laboratories, the method of selecting the cases, and the type of cases to be selected for treatment, and himself defined principles and method of treatment. As at a later stage Dr. Smalpage endeavoured to maintain that his treatment was suitable only for early cases, it should be mentioned here that he himself specified that the type of cases upon which the treatment should be used were -
The chronic type with some systemic intoxication ;
The chronic type resembling bronchiectasis ;
Haemorrhagic cases; and
Acute . pneumonic cases.
Dr. Smalpage wrote out the following certi ficate: - “ I here certify that the antitoxic serum and splenic extract distributed under my authority by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory nave been used as therapeutic agents in the treatment of tuberculosis without any untoward results, apart from those which arise in the use of other sera as therapeutic agents.”
At this interview Dr. Smalpage undertook to supply for Dr. Penfold’s information -
Directions for the treatment of guineapigs which had been inoculated with human tuberculosis.
The pamphlet describing the work which he had performed before he came to the Serum Laboratories.
The notes of the experiments which he had conducted at the Serum Laboratories; and
The avirulent strain of tubercle bacillus which he had been using in Sydney.
He supplied the pamphlet mentioned in (b), but did not supply either (a), (c), or (d).
The Laboratories continued to supply extract and antitoxin to Dr. Smalpage for his personal use (for which acharge was made to cover the cost of production), and to the specialist committee for testing the treatment (for which no charge was made). The charge was made to Dr. Smalpage, as he himself was charging fees to the patients for treatment.
On the 19th March; 1926, Dr. Penfold submitted a progress report on the treatment of bovine tuberculosis in. rabbits, which contains the following statements : - “ The sum total of . the experiments on bovine tuberculosis in rabbits therefore is this: out of fifteen animals treated not one has survived, and in two of the groups the treated animals died earlier than untreated, while in this lust experiment there was only the fraction of a day’s difference between the durr.tion of life of the single, control and the group of eight treated animals.
It is safe to conclude from this work that Dr. Smalpage cannot cure bovine tuberculosis in rabbits by the agents produced according to his methods and used in the treatment of the animals according to his directions.”
On the 25th March Dr. Smalpage wrote to me stating that he was advising everybody that he saw to wait the results of the clinical test.
The names of the specialists who carried out the tests in the different States are as follow : -
New South Wales.- Dr. S. A. Smith, Dr. C. B. Blackburn, Dr. Sinclair Gillies, Dr. H. H. Marshall
Victoria. - Dr. L. S. Latham, Dr. F. B. Lawton, Sir Henry Maudsley, Dr. R.R. Stawell
Queensland.- Dr. P. J. Kelly, Dr. Espie Dods, Dr. E. Russell, Dr. S. F. McDonald,
South Australia. - Dr. F. S. Hone, Dr. Darcy Cowan, Dr. C. De Crespigny, Dr. J. W. Browne
Western Australia. - Dr. D. McWhae, Dr. A. Juett, Dr. G. W. Barker.
Tasmania. - Dr. Brettingham-Moore, Dr. D. H. Lines, Dr. F. W. Fay
The committees selected the cases in accordance with standards prescribed by Dr. Smalpage and commenced the treatment. On the 12th April Dr. Smalpage came to Melbourne to see me in respect of the criticism which was being made by certain newspapers against the Tuberculosis Association in New South Wales. After this interview Dr. Smalpage announced that he would sever his connexion with the Tuberculosis Association.
On the 8th June Dr. Morgan submitted a report of the experimental results up to the 31st May; from this report the following information is taken : -
Rabbits infected with bovine tubercle bacillus were treated under conditions agreed to by Dr. Smalpage.
Experiments carried out under these conditions failed to show any beneficial effect resulting from the treatment with serum and extract. On the contrary, the serumtreated animals died earlier than the controls.
Free growth of tubercle bacilli occurred when these were added to the splenic extract, as was the case also with other organisms.
The experiments show the absence of a lytic principle in the splenic extract with organisms other than tubercle bacillus.
The assistant trained by Dr. Smalpage reports that she is unable to distinguish any difference between the tubercle bacilli treated with extract and the control organisms, even after seventeen days’ exposure to the extract. Dr. Morgan adds - “ In my opinion, disintegration and fragmentation do not occur following the treatment of tubercle bacilli with the Smalpage extract prepared by the method disclosed to us by Dr. Smalpage.”
Guinea-pigs were inoculated with human tubercle bacilli; the experiment was incomplete, but, so far as it had been proceeded with, the results indicated that neither the serum nor the extract had been of the slightest avail in saving the lives of guinea-pigs inoculated with human tubercle bacilli. On the other hand, the results indicated that death had been hastened by the use of these agents, for a large percentage of the treated animals had died, and all the controls were surviving.
Dr. Smalpage himself failed at the Serum Laboratories to produce a toxin which had a lethal dose which could be determined.
On 17th April, 1926, Dr. Smalpage wrote to Dr. Blackburn, of the New South Wales committee, stating that the object of the research was to prevent tubercular infection progressing to the highly infective and contagious later stages, and to put into the general practitioner’s hands a scientific, safe, and simple means of preventing the progress of early stages of the disease when first seen by him. He continued - “ I do not consider that any scientific treatment can repair the damage done after years and exampled in the late stages of the disease.”
On 15th May the specialist committee in Tasmania wrote stating that, in their opinion, patients at the sanatorium were showing no improvement, but, on the other hand, were steadily getting worse, and they were of opinion that the treatment should be discontinued. .
Interim reports were then requested from the committees, and the following are summaries taken from these reports : -
New South Wales. - The results of the test treatment, so far, are as follows : -
Victoria. - We are of the opinion that in no case did the use of this antitoxic serum control the toxic symptoms associated with clinical tuberculosis, and we are of the opinion that the serum sickness, associated with the use of this preparation in these patients, tended to aggravate the general symptoms.
Further, so far as our present investigation goes, we have not observed any improvement following the use of the lymphocytic or splenic extract, other than such a degree of improvement as would have been expected to follow general treatment.
Queensland. - The committee made a detailed examination of patients on the 20th May. With one exception, their condition was worse, and this man was of a type who would probably have improved for a time in any case. One patient died after the beginning of the treatment. Complete details of these cases will be submitted, if required, at a later date.
The committee, therefore, concludes that the serum has no beneficial effect whatever. If it is desired to continue the trial, it is probable that some of the patients at least will refuse any further treatment.
South Australia. - All the cases developed more or less severe serum rash after a few doses of the antitoxin-; in some of these the reaction was very severe, in two being accompanied by arthritis, and in one by serum sickness. This was not prevented in subsequent injections by the use of calcium, or by thyroid extract as suggested by Dr. Smalpage.
Taking all these results together, we can see no appreciable benefit resulting from the treatment in the cases under our observation.
Western Australia. - The opinion of this committee is that the treatment was harmful to the majority of the cases treated, especially to the early cases, and that there is no evidence that it is of any beneficial value.
The number of patients treated, however, was small. This was largely due to the intense reaction which followed the injection of the antitoxic serum. As a result of this both patients and doctors hesitated before going on with the treatment, which appeared to be so full of possibility of harm.
Tasmania. - We are of the opinion that, so far, no beneficial results have accrued to the patients who have been subjected to this treatment, in accordance with the principles laid down by Dr. Smalpage.
On 10th June Dr. Smalpage wrote to me as follows : - “ I heard over the wireless last night the preliminary report which has been given to you in connexion with the test of my serum. As the final report, I know, will not in any way change the tenor of this report, I wish to thank you sincerely for the facilities which you placed at my disposal, the comprehensive clinical test which you had carried out . . . ‘’
On the 16th June Dr. Smalpage wrote to me, withdrawing from the Commonwealth Government the tentative offer he had made of the patent rights of the therapeutic agents he used in tuberculosis.
On 17th June the following letter was received by the Director-General of Health from Dr. Smalpage : - “ In spite of the ‘ condemnation of the testing specialists 1 have had numerous inquiries from doctors for supplies of the serum and extract; as the agreement between the Minister arid myself ceases on the termination of the teste, I would be obliged if you will ask the Minister if sufficient supplies will be available to me for me to supply the rest of the medical profession. I do not propose to agree to your Laboratory directly supplying the medical profession unless a. busines s arrangement is entered into to recuperate my losses of the past six months.
If the Minister is agreeable to this, in writing, I will send to the Laboratory supplies of the toxin for injection into the horses, because they are not able to produce the toxin themselves; the secret of this I did not reveal, because my agreement did not entail such a disclosure, and Dr. Morgan was too prejudiced against the work to see clearly, as his report of the bacteriological work serves to corroborate.
I have withdrawn my tentative offer of the patent from the Commonwealth Government as from the 1st August next, and propose to go to America and offer them the Commonwealth as well as the American rights.
Test cases from nearly all the States have written me refuting the results as published.
Kindly let me know as soon as possible if you will supply me under the agreement mentioned above.”
On 24th June I replied to this letter as fol- lows : - “ With reference to your letter of 17th June, addressed to the Director-General of Health relating to arrangements for the further production of your serum and containing the statement that you did not reveal the secret of the production of toxin, I have to reply as follows : -
Your letter raises these issues -
Your attention is invited to the conflict between your statement that you intend to dispose of the Commonwealth rights in America and your inquiry as to whether the Commonwealth would make a business arrangement with you enabling it to supply the medical profession direct. The position, therefore, on this account is somewhat obscure.
With regard to your inquiry as to whether the Commonwealth would either -
The present position turns upon your statement that you did not disclose to the Department’s officers the method of preparing toxin, and in this connexion I would invite your attention to your letters of 31.3.25, 11.5.25, 29.5.25, 24.10.25, 21.12.25 and the record of your two interviews of 23.1.26 and 27.1.26 with me, in which appear repeated and unqualified statements by yourself that the whole of the process had been disclosed.
I would also invite your attention to the fact that you have permitted the prepara- tion of serum at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories by means of toxin prepared by the staff at those laboratories for the past three months, with full knowledge that these products were to be used by selected members of the medical profession for the express purpose of testing their value in the treatment of tuberculosis.
It is obvious that I have choice, therefore, between two alternatives only, either that your present statement that you did not disclose certain information is inaccurate, or that you have been guilty of a grave breach of good -faith in making statements that you had disclosed the whole of your process, and in permitting the manufacture of serum for use on the test cases and at the same time withholding the information essential to the production of a reliable toxin.
Quite apart from the fact that, by all the recognized principles of scientific work, it would be improper for the Laboratories staff to utilize for the production of an anti-serum a toxin over the preparation of which they had no control, and apart, further, from the impracticability of the Department undertaking to maintain a continuous supply for yourself or the medical profession without having control over continuous production “of the necessary primary reagent, I am obliged to state that the Department cannot undertake the further production either for your use or for the supply to the medical profession upon any terms which involve the necessity for reliance upon your co-operation. So great a breach of ordinary ethical principles and of good faith as is involved in your statement that you have failed to disclose vital information renders it impossible for the Department. to enter into any arrangements with you which would depend for their successful issue in any degree upon the good faith of either party.
The Department has in hand 150 litres of extract and 250 litres of serum, prepared according to the methods which you laid down. These are precisely the same products as have been used with your entire concurrence for the treatment of the test cases, and are available to you at the same price as you have hitherto been charged. After these have been supplied to you no further serum or extract will be available from the laboratories for your use.”
On 27th June Dr. Smalpage wrote to me questioning the reliability of the serum issued by the Department, and I replied to him as follows : - “ With regard to the main contention of your letter under reply that the toxin prepared at the Serum Laboratories cannot have been reliable, you are advised that the toxin which has been used throughout has been prepared by the assistant whom you personally trained, and there has been no deviation in the slightest detail from the method of preparation of toxin which you prescribed for that assistant. Neither Dr. Penfold nor Dr. Morgan has given any directions or instructions to the assistant in question in connexion with the preparation of toxin.
I would ask you to note that I do not propose to answer again any reflections upon the bona fides or reliability of the staff at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.” ‘
Final reports have been received from the various committees as follow : -
Victoria. - We beg to present our second report upon the investigation of Dr. Smalpage’s preparations in the treatment of patients Buffering from various forms of tuberculosis.
In our first report we set forth the experience of the first six weeks of treatment.’ We have now to record our observations for the remainder of the full period of three months specified in instructions’ received from you.
From our investigations we conclude thatin no case in any of the categories selected has there been, as a result of the special treatment, im- provement of symptoms or physical signs. We h ave not found that the treatment causes the tubercle bacilli to disappear. The majority of the cases treated are worse, and five of the seventeen have died.
In our opinion neither the serum nor the extract has proved to be of any value in the treatment of the cases of tuberculosis selected.
Queensland. - The committee came to the conclusion that any further continuance of the test was unnecessary and possibly likely only to injure patients. In addition, only three patients were still willing to continue treatment. Dr. Turner himself was exceedingly unwilling to give any more injections, although he expressed himself prepared to fall in with the views of the committee.
The committee conclude that the Smalpage treatment has no beneficial effect whatever in the class of cases treated. In some cases, e.g., Brown, the treatment seems to have definitely done harm.
Whether, as claimed in the letter of Dr. Smalpage to Dr. Blackburn, any improvement would have been obtained in very early cases, the committee is not prepared to state; but in view of the complete failure in cases which, according to Dr. Smalpage’s original communication, great improvement was to be ex- - pected in a few weeks, such improvement it is felt is exceedingly unlikely.
It has, therefore, been decided to terminate the experiment so far as Queensland is concerned.
Final reports have not yet been received from the other States.
It is important to state that, although Dr. Smalpage has received very large quantities of splenic extract from the laboratories, he has not obtained any serum for his own use since 23rd March.
I received from Dr. Smalpage a letter, dated 28th July, asking whether the Commonwealth Government would make an offer to him of £3,000 so that he personally should ‘ treat a number of cases of tuberculosis under supervision, and suggesting that I should obtain from Professor S. A. Smith his opinion as to whether the facts submitted before the British Medical Association (New South Wales branch) justified further pursuit of the subject.
Professor Smith, in reply to an inquiry, stated that he was strongly of the opinion that Dr. Smalpage has not produced any proof indicating that any good purpose would be served by requesting him to continue the treatment of cases of tuberculosis under his own personal care.
Finally, Dr. Smalpage wrote on 2nd August that, as a result of the meeting of the British Medical Association, he had definitely decided to abandon any further attempt to illustrate the beneficial therapeutic effects of his method of treatment of a national scourgs.
This brings to a close the investigation by the Government under proper scientific conditions of a method of treatment of tuberculosis which was advanced by Dr. Smalpage.
– I lay on the table of the House the report of the royal commission appointed to inquire into the operations of the British Phosphate Commission, and I move-
That the paper be printed.
The Government has decided, in view of the terms of the report, that it has no option but to dispense forthwith with the services of Mr. H. B; Pope, the Australian representative on the Phosphate Commission. Mr. Pope will be paid out of the funds of the Commission, in lieu of notice, a sum equivalent to three months’ salary. The Government will not proceed immediately with the appointment of a new commissioner, but will wait until I have been to Great Britain, and have had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and New Zealand, who are our co-partners in the Nauru deposit. Pending the appointment of a new commissioner, the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department will act as the representative of the Commonwealth on the commission. The Governments of Great Britain and New Zealand have both been communicated with by cablegram, and I have received an intimation that no fur- 6her steps will be taken with a view to the removal of the office of the commission from Australia to New Zealand until after the matter has been discussed between the three Governments.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act - Statement for 1925-26.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 104.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 10th August, vide page 5199).
Department of Trade and Customs
Proposed vote”, £909,229. Further consideration postponed.
Department of Works and Railways
Proposed vote, £330,574, agreed to.
Department of Health
Proposed vote, £200,000.
.- I congratulate the Government on having taken a forward step in the Health Department, although I deplore that it was not taken earlier. The vote for this department is increased by about £60,000. In view of the importance of the health of the community, it is deplorable that so little has been done to co-ordinate the activities of the Commonwealth and the States. I hope that the Minister will inform the committee of the result of the conference recently held with the States. The Commonwealth Department of Health should be in absolute control of health administration in Australia, and the States should attend to local matters under the direction of the Commonwealth. In reply to a question by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), the honorable the Minister said that when he reaches England he will make a further investigation into the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis. That disease, and cancer, are levying a heavy toll on the community. Parliament would be justified in voting to the Department of Health a much larger sum of money than appears on these estimates, particularly for the purpose of cancer re- search. I regret that the amount provided for cancer research is so small. The claims made on behalf of the Dr. Smalpage treatment for consumption raised our hopes to a certain extent, and I regret that those hopes have not been realized. I hope that Dr. Smalpage is working on right lines, and that the Government will do all it can to assist him and others who are doing similar work. I wish to impress upon the Minister the need for him to do his utmost to bring about a proper co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the States on health matters. I regard expenditure on health much as I do an insurance policy which a man takes out to provide for his old age. After all, I can’ think of no better investment for Parliament to make than the appropriation of money for the prevention and relief of sickness in the community, prevention, of course, being better than cure. Our aim should be to enable the workers and producers of this country to pursue their occupations without interruption due to ill-health. A tremendous toll is taken from the workers because of loss of work through sickness, much of which, as the Minister has frequently said, is preventable. The present lack of safeguards for the health of our community is tragic. If I remember rightly, the Minister, when a private member, said that there was more typhoid in Australia under peace conditions than in France during the peak period of the war, which would be when the greatest number of men were engaged. That is a positive disgrace, not only to the Government, but also to the municipalities concerned, because that disease could .be considerably reduced under a proper system of sanitation. The improvement of the health of the community must bring about a reduction of expenditure on invalid pensions. I am quite safe in saying that those unfortunate individuals who, in many cases through no fault of their own. have to approach the Department for assistance by means of invalid pensions would be only too pleased to be free of that obligation, and to be able to play their proper part in the production and life of this country. I trust that the vote for the Department will be judiciously expended, and that it is the forerunner of a more extensive programme under which the Commonwealth and the States will co-operate.
.- The Minister has stated that while absent from Australia he will make further inquiries into the Spahlinger treatment, but I would inform him that if he anticipates obtaining information in addition to what we already have, he will be sadly disappointed, because it is well known that for the last two years Mr. Spahlinger has been unable to continue his researches through lack of finance. Since that is the case. I already know what the report of the Minister will be when he returns to Australia. I ask the Minister and also the Prime Minister, to discuss this matter with the representatives of the British Government and the other dominions, because the position is serious. Tuberculosis is exacting a heavy toll of lives in this country, and if there is any . possibility of Mr. Spahlingers treatment proving effective, he should be given every assistance. Even if it cost us £40,000 or £50,000, the money would be well spent. Since a number of medical men have certified to cures brought about by them by the use of the Spahlinger serum, and as great suffering is caused humanity through- the ravages of tuberculosis, it is only fair to the community that he should thoroughly discuss this matter with Mr. Spahlinger and assist him to continue his work. I know that the Minister is opposed to Mr. Spahlinger.
– I am not opposed to the individual, but I am not satisfied with the evidence that has been obtained respecting his work.
– The Minister is not likely to alter his view, because the position has not changed for some years. I urge him to take a broader and more humane view, and to discuss the matter with- the British authorities to see if something cannot be done in co-operation with the different parts of the Empire, to assist Mr. Spahlinger. It may be asked why his own country does not assist him.
– The honorable member would not advocate further expenditure on the Spahlinger treatment unless the evidence warranted it.
– I think that if the Minister fully investigated the matter, and without prejudice, he would conclude that Mr. Spahlinger, in his researches, was on the right track. Accord ing to reports there is little hope of the Smalpage treatment being effective, but there is certainly evidence of many cures under the Spahlinger treatment.
– And positive cures, too.
– That is so. Certain sufferers from tuberculosis left these shores without any hope of recovery, but after being subjected to the Spahlinger treatment they returned to Australia cured. It is, therefore, necessary that we should assist Mr. Spahlinger. He has practically given his life in the interests of humanity. I’ have met him, and 1 appreciate his difficulties, and if it were within my power as an individual to assist him, I should certainly do so. He is a man, every inch of him. He has expended his own -fortune in research work in order to assist those who are suffering from tuberculosis. We should do everything in our power to combat this dreadful disease, and I suggest that the Government might invite Mr. Spahlinger to continue his researches in Australia. I hope that if the Minister interviews him there will be no repetition of what occurred when I was abroad. I requested Sir Joseph Cook to send Dr. Cumpston to interview Mr. Spahlinger, but that official, instead of arranging for an interview, telephoned the Secretariat of the League of Nations, and was informed that Mr. Spahlinger was away on holidays, when, in actual fact, he had. never left- his laboratory. As a result Dr. Cumpston failed to interview Mr. Spahlinger. I urge the Minister to carry out his investigations in a businesslike way in the interests of those suffering from tuberculosis.
– I should like to congratulate the Minister’ for Health (Sir Neville Howse) on the progressive programme he anticipated. I hope we can look forward to it as a step in the direction of the taking over by the Commonwealth of the whole control of public health in Australia, an obiective which I hope will be reached in the not too distant future. TJutil now, throughout the States - as I know, because I have been a medical officer of health in Queensland, acting in conjunction with- the International Health Board - the position of State medical officers of health is entirely unsatisfactory, chiefly because, of the limited nature of their powers. They amount to little more than bruff. The proposal to increase the vote for the preservation of public health will receive the commendation of ‘all sane thinking people, but I regret very much that up to the present time the preventive side of medicine has not received the consideration its importance deserves. If the Commonwealth accepts as its duty the assistance of the aged, infirm, and decrepit to the amount of something like £9,000,000 a year, surely it is equally its duty to protect the rising generation , This can only be done successfully by action on broad lines and the expenditure of a large sum of money. The work of public health centres is not as dramatic and self-advertising as is that in the sphere of curative medicine. For years pioneers in the field of preventive medicine carry on their work practically in obscurity, and it is only when they have made important discoveries of the trend of diseases that there is any public recognition of their efforts. Today we have only to road the newspapers to learn that a doctor has massaged the heart successfully, and the whole world is illuminated as to the stage at which surgery has arrived, while important’ work carried out in the field of proven-: tive medicine is overlooked and passes into oblivion. I hope that in the near future the preventive side of medicine will be far better catered for, and that the Commonwealth authority will gradually assume control of all activities affecting the public health. It is essential that it should do so. In the various States at the present time the practice is followed of appointing half-time medical officers. I do not wish in any way to detract from their work, but it is not unreasonable to assume that where they clash, the interests of private practice will almost invariably be paramount to those of public health. This is particularly likely to be the case in country centres wherepractitioners are well known. Existing conditions detrimental to public health may be allowed to continue because the improvement of those conditions in the interests of public welfare may bring into conflict the interests of public health and private practice. As it is acknowledged to be the duty of the
Commonwealth to protect the aged and infirm, I hope that as time goes on it will also be regarded as its duty to protect the rising generation, and also those who are not yet born. The holding of the recent conference of officers representing the public health interests of the States and of the Commonwealth was an important advance in the right direction, and all credit is due to the Minister for Health for having brought about that conference. It is, however, to be regretted, in my humble opinion, that, so much publicity and attention was given to cancer and, perhaps, greater and more momentous issues were side-tracked. Doubtless, it is a fact that statistics show that cancer is on the increase, but I think that can be accounted for by the fact that nowadays people live longer than they did formerly, and, as cancer is a disease which makes its appearance in the later stages of life, it appears to be more preva lent now than it was some years ago. Then, methods of diagnosis have become more certain, and various techniques have been improved in the diagnosing of the disease. In the circumstances I am of opinion that the increase in the disease disclosed by the statistics is relative rather than absolute. In New South Wales they have set out. with the laudable ambition of thoroughly exploring the various fields of cancer research, and, if it is done with a lavish hand, this research might be subsidized by the Commonwealth with very great advantage.
– How does Australia compare with’ other countries in the matter of the pre valence of cancer ?
– Very badly.
– I have not the relative figures for different countries. One question which, I think, has not received sufficient recognition, and to which I have drawn attent ion in the press and by interviews, is the application of practical eugenics to the preservation of public health. If we are not hypocritical, and get rid of the cant and hypocrisy associated with the consideration of the matter, we shall deal with the question of public health on a eugenic basis. A splendid opportunity is now afforded the Minister for Public Health to introduce legislation to make it compulsory that every individual within the Federal
Capital Territory shall, prior to marriage, present a certificate of health. It has been stated again and again that it is environment that makes the man, but nothing is further from the truth. If we take a diamond and a pebble, we shall find that the diamond only will take a polish because of its inherent qualities. They may be alike in their natural state, but no one would confuse the two when the diamond was polished. We shall never satisfactorily deal with public health until it is dealt with on the basis of eugenics. It is all very well to establish child welfare centres. They render important service by the application of the influence of satisfactory surroundings, and as a result of their work infants that would not otherwise have survived have been spared to become a national asset; but, despite the favorable conditions which may surround them, some infants are predestined not to survive, because of certain inherent defects transmitted by the parents which environment cannot overcome. Most of these inherent defects could have been detected in the parents by examination at the time of their marriage, and a close inspection of their family history. It must be admitted that our most valuable national asset is the individual citizen, and, as Mr. Lloyd George has said, we cannot expect to raise a first class nation from second class people. I trust the Minister will dive in at the deep end, and will go wholeheartedly for legislation in the Federal Capital Territory which will be a model on which the public health policy of Australia will be determined. He has a splendid opportunity to introduce legislation of this type.
Without unduly delaying the committee, I should like to refer to the activities of the Health Department in connexion with Dr. Smalpage’s recent experiments. The Minister for Health afforded every facility to Dr. Smalpage to demonstrate the value of his serum. As a qualified medical practitioner, he knew that before his views and theories could be accepted they would have to undergo the crucial tests which the department, prescribed. Those tests have been made, and the information given to the House from time to time indicates that the Smalpage serum has not been the success which we all hoped. The Minister is now about 1o make a public statement, summing up the whole experiment. To their credit, he and the department placed their cards on the table, and gave a fair test to technique which, unfortunately, has apparently failed. In regard to the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition, that the Minister should, while in Europe, make further inquiries into the Spahlinger treatment, I think that he would, as a medical practitioner of pre-eminence in New South Wales, and up to date in all the methods of his profession, institute further inquiries for his own satisfaction, and without any urging by honorable members. But I regret to say that I fear he. is doomed to disappointment. Mr. Spahlinger has received world-wide publicity, which apparently he likes; and he has not been treated with that disregard which some of his admirers allege. Numerous offers of assistance have been made to him in good faith. For instance, the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, offered to place its laboratory at his disposal, and to bear the expense of experiments, provided they ‘ were conducted under the aegis of the college. From time to time, private individuals claim to have made wonderful discoveries, and it is necessary that these pretensions should be properly tested, under the observation of responsible authorities, and by men who have spent a lifetime in research work. So far, Mr. Spahlinger has not indicated that he is ready to submit his serum to full scientific tests, before the millions of people who are suffering from tuberculosis are advised to undergo the treatment, for which they are almost hysterically eager.
– Is it not a prophylactic vaccine?
– -It is a prophylactic or protective immunization, and I trust that the Minister will let the community know whether experiments in Australia have passed the animal stage, and been applied to infants.
I commend to the Minister the suggestion made by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) recently, that the Government should consider the advisability of appointing to the industrial commission to America .men who could inquire into the relationship of public health to industrial efficiency. In many factories, ill-ventilation, dust, and other noxious features of industry have a serious effect upon the health and efficiency of the workers, and the industrial commission might well be asked to inquire into .combative methods in America. I congratulate the Minister upon the work he is doing. 1 hope that the infant of public health, which is under his care, will thrive and grow to manhood, and that during ihe life of this Parliament we shall see . a complete scheme of public health brought into operation throughout Australia.
.- Such is the importance that I attach to public health that I never pass a hospital without showing my reverence for it, and its function of curing or alleviating the physical ills of humanity. That reverence is quite equal to any feeling I have for a church or a religious institution. The benefits of a hospital are often more tangible than are those of religion, and I regard such an institution as a concrete argument in favour of the nationalization of health, which is too sacred a thing to be placed in the hands of money-making men. There are those among us who would make the health of the community a means of filling their pockets, but, thank heaven, they are a very small proportion of the medical profession. ^ doctor in a public hospital does not consider whether a patient can afford the fee for treatment ; he does his best for the sufferer regardless of monetary consideration. It is a stigma on our civilization that hospitals are so largely dependent upon private benefactions. In the lists of donations to charitable and benevolent institutions the same names recur regularly, whilst those of many people who could well afford to help are never seen. I hope to see hospitals placed beyond the need of private sub scriptions, although I would never block the stream of private benevolence.
I endorse the wish expressed by the Leader of the Opposition that the Minister for Health will inquire fully into the Spahlinger treatment. Many men in the medical and surgical profession in the United Kingdom, whose names are on the scroll of honour, have endorsed that treatment. That eminent physician, Dr. Mackeddie. who was commissioned by the Victorian Government to investigate the Spahlinger method, reported whole-heartedly in it:favour. There is no man in Australia whose opinion on a medical subject J would more readily accept; but how wai he treated ? Sir William Mcpherson, themean Treasurer of Victoria - who discontinued the compassionate allowance which Sir Alexander. Peacock, to his credit, had instituted, and which enabled any person who was in dire need, and could nol draw an invalid or old-age pension, to get relief from the State - actually signed the commission to Dr. Mackeddie, but later denied all knowledge of it. The Minister for Health has given the committee his. assurance that he will go to Geneva to consult with Spahlinger, and I know that nothing but death will prevent him from completing his mission. Why Dr. Cumpston failed in this regard I cannot understand. I” would have staked my life on the conviction that he would investigate this matter thoroughly while he was in Europe, and I am sure that if he went abroad again nothing would prevent him from doing so. The honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) referred to the aged and infirm. I plead for the sick also. The honorable member is far moreup to date in his profession than I am because for the last eighteen years I have not kept pace with the literature and practice of modern medicine, but he will agree with me that its tendency is not to rely only on curative drugs. Temporary use of them is permissible, but more attention is given todiet, about which few medical mer in my young days knew anything-. The modern system of medicine is founded upon prevention. The name of Calmette is blazoned on the scroll of medical fame, and I sincerely hope that his treatment of tuberculosis may prove as good as. or better than, that of Spahlinger, so that new hope may be given to many unfortunate sufferers. *I could not quite follow’ the argument of the honorable member for Herbert regarding environment. A human being is very like a plant. The vast majority of plants: need sunlight, fresh air, and food, without which they cannot flourish.
– If the seed is defective very little can be done with the plant.
– No, but on the et’her hand, though the seed may be perfect a plant will not thrive in a cellar. A plant which is deprived of light, water, or food cannot grow. The seed must be perfect, but the environment must also be good. How many children bred in slums have- a chance of living a long and healthy life? It is really wonderful that human beings exist in some slums I have seen. Eighteen years ago, when I was in Canton, I saw slums that made me think that the Chinese must be a very virile race to be able to exist in them. In Hong Kong, the death rate among Chinese is ten times that of the whites, and when we know that the birth rate of the Chinese does not exceed that of the whites, we must realize that Hong Kong could not continue as a Chinese settlement without a steady influx of population from the mainland. In the year of my visit yellow fever, plague, and small-pox were raging, and 200 dead bodies were put out into the street. 1 am afraid that we cannot induce the Minister for Health to become a supporter of the nationalization of health, but he will, no doubt, agree that hospitals should be better provided for than they are at present. The honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) will’ perhaps agree with me that man is the only animal foolish enough to try to work when he is not fit to do so. When a horse, a cow, or a dog “is ill, it lies down to rest, but the workman, who fears the landlord’s knock next week, or his inability to pay the butcher’s, the baker’s, and the bootmaker’s bills, will frequently try to work when he is not fit to do so, and unless lie belongs to a friendly society will hesitate to incur the expense of medical fees. If health were nationalized all his fears in that respect would be removed. At the first medical congress held in Melbourne in 1889 I took out the figures, and found that it would only cost about 5s. per head of the population to bring about a system that would enable life to be carried on much more safely than is possible under the present haphazard methods. With the nationalization of health, preventative medicine would be administered in a much more permanent and successful way than at present. I hope that the Minister, on his trip abroad, will investigate the Spahlinger treatment, and see that Mr. Spahlinger is given a fair chance to continue his research work. No one can accuse him of being a money maker. He has refused large sums of money to patent his preparation. I shall always honour his. name.
I agree with the Minister that it has not been definitely determined that chemical preservatives in food are the cause of cancer, but it is undoubtedly a fact that this dread disease has greatly increased since the world has begun to use preservatives in food. .1 am glad to learn from a reply given by’ the Minister to a question submitted to him by me that one preservative largely used” in the past has been prohibited in all countries. As Australia’s frontiers are the waters of” the ocean we ought to be able to insist that all imported food, preparations, especially those for the use of children’, shall have their formulas- printed on the labels-, so that purchasers may know exactly what they are buying. That would be a great step towards the prevention of disease. A committee has investigated this matter in Great Britain, and I have no doubt that all the documents and publications in its possession will be placed, at the disposal of the Minister on his visit to the Old Country. I trust that he will secure them and present them to the Parliamentary Library-. In conclusion, I wish the Minister good luck. I hope that he will make his inquiries and always keep in front of him the need for ascertaining if anything can be done to alleviate, if not get rid of, the scourges of cancer and tuberculosis. No doubt it will be a heavy task for him to undertake, but he must realize that in carrying out these investigations he will be doing good work, which, after all, is the greatest reward any man with a conscience can have.
,- Much as I should like to discuss the report of the Royal Commission on. Health, I do not think this is the time to do so, but I desire to say a few words on industrial hygiene, a subject which has not received in Australia the attention that has been, given to it in older countries’. The Commonwealth Government is espe- cially concerned in industrial hygiene, because if the health of the worker is not cared for he will ultimately become a pensioner on the Commonwealth. Therefore, if only for economic reasons, in order to reduce the huge sum which the Commonwealth annually paysto those who suffer from the effects of preventable diseases steps should have been taken long ago to bring about a closer investigation of industrial diseases and the health of the community in general. I agree with the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) that it is the duty of the State to see that those who marry should start off with a clean bill of health. The days have gone by when the individual should be able - to say, “That is my business.” To give these matters all the care and attention they deserve would take up a great deal of time. Cancer is one of the four great killing diseases, and takes a toll of about, 5,000 persons a year in Australia. Hitherto no discovery has been made of the real cause of cancer, and the Commonwealth cannot be said to be adequately represented in cancer research with an expenditure of only £5,000 a year.
-It is a. paltry sum.
– -To my mind it is a totally inadequate recognition of our responsibility in this matter.
– It is a start.
– But it is a most inadequate start. The drain upon the Commonwealth revenue for research, which may be regarded in the light of an insurance premium against invalidity and ill health, is altogether out of proportion to the appropriation for pensions. Tuberculosis is another of our great killing diseases. While we have a staff of very fine medical officers in the Commonwealth Service who know their duties and are performing them well, nevertheless they cannot engage in effective research work without assistance from. this Parliament. I regret to say that in the past the officials of our’ Health Department have not received that consideration they should have received. I am pleased, however, that this year’s Estimates show an increase. It is gratifying to myself and other honorable members in this committee, who take a keen interest in the welfare of the people’s health, to find that at last the Commonwealth Government is waking up to its responsibility, and is starting out to do more than tinker with this very important question.
I intend for the moment to confine my remarks to industrial diseases. Having been an underground miner, and having worked in such dusty occupations as rock chopping, I speak with some feeling on the matter, particularly as my experience was gained before the introduction of sprays, jets, and other hygienic mining appliances that are now employed. It is distressing to me that already many of the men with whom I worked at Broken Hill about twenty years ago have “ gone west.” The phrase “ gone west “ is significant in Broken Hill, for the cemetery lies west of the city. Most of the men to whom I refer died between the ages of 30 and 40 years, or a little over, some of them from accidents, but most of them from industrial diseases. Nothing was done in Australia to combat the ravages of industrial diseases until 1921, when we set up an industrial hygiene branch in connexion with our Health Department.Since then New South Wales and other States have set apart either -full-time or part-time officers to deal with this important matter. The few investigations that have been made show quite definitely that a large proportion of the ill health of our industrial community is preventable. That being so, we should do our utmost to provide such, working conditions as will prevent it. I have also had some experience in the gold mines at Reef ton, New Zealand, where phthisis is prevalent. While I was thereI contracted an ordinary cold, and when I went to a medical practitioner for treatment he said, “ I have been practising in this place for about 25 years, and whenever young men, like you, come to me to treat colds, I advise them to take a walk round the cemetery, and examine the tombstones, and I advise you to do so.” I took his advice, and made a note of the ages at which the men, in particular, had died. I was surprised to find that many had passed away at comparatively early ages, say, between 35 and 45, mostly from industrial diseases. I also ascertained that practically 60 per cent, of the men employed in the mining industry there were suffering from phthisis, and then I left the place. Gold-mining at Ballarat has practically ceased, but its effects may still be seen in the community there, which includes a large number of pensioners who are physically unable to work. Wherever men are engaged in mining operations in. hard gritty country, they contract phthisis in spite of all the care they may exercise.
– And they will continue to do so unless they use respirators, which are very uncomfortable to wear at work.
– Any one who has worn respirators at work knows that slowly but surely the working of the jaws causes the mask to slip, and that dust gets past it. The following paragraph, taken from the report of the Royal Commission on Health, is significant: -
An inquiry made by Dr. D. G. Robertson, Director, Division of Industrial Hygiene, Commonwealth Department of Health, into the sickness experience of 95,244 officers in various department’s of the Government services of the Commonwealth and the States of Victoria and New South Wales for the years 1920-23, showed that during those years the total number of days lost by male officers, of whom there were 70,741, was 479,685, or an average of 6.8 days per annum per employee. Of the female officers, 24,503 in number, the total number of days lost was 277,677, or an average of 11.3 days per annum per employee. The average loss of time by male and female employees was 7.9 days per annum. The loss of time due to epidemic or infectious diseases was 24 per cent., injuries 21.3 per cent., digestive diseases 21.5 per cent., respiratory diseases 12.3 per cent., and diseases of the nervous system S.8 per cent.
In addition to the investigation made by Dr. Robertson, Professor Chapman examined about 7,000 miners at Broken Hill some years ago; but, apart from these two investigations and another that has been made into the condition of the sewer miners in the sandstone tracts around Sydney, practically nothing has been done in Australia, even in a preparatory way, to counteract industrial diseases. It is a poor tribute to successive Commonwealth Governments that, so little has been done in this regard.
– The trouble is that the seriousness of the situation has not been realized.
– That is -so. The general tendency of the community is to pay as little attention as possible to health matters. Our people are reluctant to look at- the sad side of life any more than they can help, and this characteristic has been reflected in our public men, with the result that the responsibility of waking the public up to the facts of the case has been left to a mere handful of interested persons. People generally are, of course, sorry for the afflictions that overtake their fellows, but they do very little to help them to carry their cross. I should like to know how it is that the present Minister for Health has been able to influence the Government to place so much on the Estimates for the Health Department. Previous Ministers of Health have been able to do very little to stimulate activity in the department. Perhaps more has been done by this Government because two of its members are medical practitioners.
– I heard the Minister say, when he entered Parliament, that he came here for the purpose of drawing attention to the subject of national health.
– That is so; and he should be congratulated on his work. He will shortly be leaving Australia, and we do not know how long he will be away.
– I hope to return by the 3rd January next.
– I do not know whether officers of the Health Department will accompany him, but I urge that they should, so that they may acquire valuable knowledge and experience. The Commonwealth has now started out for the first time earnestly and seriously to grapple with health problems, and our officers need to be fully informed of the latest, developments in other countries.
On many occasions I have asked three successive Ministers to extend special consideration to the workers of Broken Hill, who suffer from industrial diseases, probably more than any other body of workers in Australia. The diseases which prevail at other mining centres like Kalgoorlie and Bendigo exist also at Broken Hill, with lead poisoning added. Phthisis, other lung complaints, and lead poisoning are deplorably common. I have urged that a laboratory for the investigation of industrial diseases should be established in that city. About 6,000 men are working along the line of lode, and close on 7,000 are subject to the risk of industrial diseases. Many of those who are not entitled . to compensation under the Workers Compensation Act passed by the New South Wales Parliament, are drawing pensions from the Commonwealth Government. They are the men who left the industry before the New South Wales scheme came into operation, and it is now the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to see that they do not want. Although the compensation provided under the Act, passed specially for the benefit of Broken Hill, and the later Workers Compensation Act in New South Wales, is very good, the responsibility of the Commonwealth has not ended. A laboratory similar to existing Commonwealth laboratories should be provided at Broken Hill to assist the State of New South Wales to protect the health and prolong the lives of the workers, and I nope that when the Minister returns from abroad lie will honour the long deferred promise to establish it.
. - I cannot allow this vote to be passed without saying something on the vital subject of national health, which is all important. Unless the community is healthy the country cannot progress. We have, perhaps, been lulled into a false sense of security by the absence, during recent years, of virulent epidemics; but wo should always be ready to meet epidemics, for at any moment disease may spread like wild-fire through the community.
I have a complaint to make regarding the quarantine station at Manly, New South Wales. Manly is one of Australia’s most populous and popular summer health resorts, and it attracts all classes of persons from every part of Australia. They congregate there every holiday season in tens of thousands. Adjoining Manly is an area set apart for a quarantine station, and for purposes of defence. It is an enormous area, out of all proportion in size to the purpose for which it is used. It is about 600 acres in extent, but more than half of it is not used. It would -be a splendid site for recreative purposes. The Defence Department holds portion of it, so that big guns can, if necessary, be erected at North Head. I fail to see that this enormous area is required for a quarantine station. Most of it is virgin land. It is too large to be effectively policed. If it were half the size, control of the inmates would be easier, and there would be less possibility of them escaping to Manly. During an epidemic of small-pox some of the patients climbed the fence at a quiet spot and attended a dance at Manly. Such laxity may result in disease being spread from the quarantine station to all parts of Australia. The proximity of this station to the populous area of Manly is a menace to the whole of Australia. The Health Department has said, “Show us another site”; but that is not for us to do. I suggest that a quarantine ship might be employed. There are no quarantine stations in England. The Minister ought not to be put in his place by his chief departmental officer, but should do what he himself regards as right. Dr. Cumpston seems to “put it. right over” the Minister, who ought to say, “ This is my job, and I insist upon something being done with this quarantine area.” If the quarantine station cannot be removed, it would be some satisfaction to the people of Manly if half of it were converted into a recreation reserve. To leave it as it is, is dangerous. I have been worrying the Government on this subject . for seventeen or eighteen years, and I do not seem to get any nearer to finality. I have taken the Treasurer, a former Minister for Health, Dr. Cumpston, and members of the local municipal council, over the area, and, after talking with them, I thought I had accomplished something; but when they returned to their offices in Melbourne, I received the same familiar, formal reply - “ The request cannot be considered.” Such treatment almost breaks one’s heart; I am tired of it, and if the Minister does not do something to meet me, I shall take action which he will regret. I hope that he will give favorable consideration to my remarks.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m. .
– I wish to compliment the Government on having placed £200,000 on the Estimates for purposes of health. I am confident that the people of this country will not grudge this expenditure, since it will be used’ in furthering research work respecting both cancer and tuberculosis. I hope that the Minister when abroad will thoroughly investigate the Spahlinger treatment, which I think has already been successful. It is a great pity that Mr. Spahlinger has been hampered in his research work through lack of finance. It is to the discredit of the world that such a man, who has devoted his whole life to discovering scientific methods of preventing the spread of tuberculosis, should not be able to continue his researches. Thousands of lives are lost in Australia every year through this dread disease, and the sufferers’ belief that there is no cure for it, hastens their deaths. By assisting Mr. Spahlinger to continue his work we shall be taking active steps to imbue sufferers from tuberculosis with hope of a new lease of life. The Leader of the Opposition. (Mr. Charlton), who interviewed Mr. Spahlinger at Geneva, has demonstrated that his treatment has cured people even from this country. We have living testimony to the efficacy of his methods. I urge the Minister to interview Mr. Spah-linger, and , if possible, invite him to Australia to continue his work. I have no complaint about the administration of the Health Department. The Minister hasalways shown sympathy for cases- of distress, and on many occasions has assisted returned soldiers by restoring to them their pension rights.
The honorable member far Warringah (Sir. Granville- Ryrie) attacked the Government for not removing the quarantine station at Manly, but I believe that it is in the interests of this country that that station should remain where it is. Quarantine Bay is just inside the North Head, and affords a sheltered anchorage for quarantined vessels. The present site is ideal for quarantine purposes. The honorable member for Warringah referred to the congested state of Manly, and said that it was causing a spread of population towards the quarantine station. I would point out to him that there is plenty of land in the vicinity of Manly towards the north, such as Freshwater Bay, Collaroy, and Narrabeen. The removal of this station would benefit only land jobbers and speculators.
– The area could be made a public park.
– Even when public parks and open spaces- are established, when settlement takes place about them, the demand for subdivision becomes persistent. There is no congested population, at Manly. It is an ideal place to live in, and the residents there have beautiful homes. The honorable member for Warringah -complimented the Ministeron his efforts to safeguard the health of the people, and yet he is agitating for the removal of a quarantine station, which, if brought about, would certainly endanger the health of the people. The honorable member stated that persons frequently escape from the quarantine station, and go into Manly. I admit that the stone wall on the boundary of the quarantine area is not difficult to scale.
– The wall is a considerable distance from the hospital.
– There is really no danger from persons escaping over the. wall, because, the actual contacts would be closely confined. .The whole of this agitation is to suit the interests of a few persons. The honorable member for Warringah has blamed the Minister for not removing the quarantine station, but I would remind him that it was not removed when he himself was a member of the Ministry. I know that it is his duty to try to please his constituents, but no honorable member should blame another for not doing what he himself could not do. More than £1,000,000 has been expended in erecting buildings at the quarantine station, and why should this- expenditure be wasted to suit a few faddists at Manly ? The quarantine station is a public utility, and- its surroundings arebeautiful. The honorable member - for Warringah has suggested that a vessel should be used for quarantine purposes. I would point out to him. that persons who are placed in quarantine have often to be operated upon, and that a quarantine station requires many facilities that could not be afforded on board a vessel. I hope that before the Minister considers a proposal to remove the quarantine station from Manly, this Parliament will have an opportunity of discussing the matter.
, - As a resident of Manly, I wish to endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Ryrie). I do not agree with the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) that the suggested removal of the quarantine station concerns only a few persons at Manly. I own land in the vicinity, but in a different direction from that of the quarantine station, and the spread of Manly towards my land would be more beneficial to me than the removal of the quarantine station, to enable that city to spread there. Manly is a. congested area, being bounded on two sides by the sea. An extensive park in the immediate vicinity is an absolute necessity. I remember visiting Manly, when a raw youth from the country, with four or five companions. We met a sailor or two., and chatted with them. We entered a hotel for light refreshments, and, during the course of our conversation, they informed us that they had escaped from a vessel that had been quarantined for small-pox. Needless to say, our interview was cut short. That is proof that persons escape from the quarantine station, and, therefore, are a menace, not only to Manly, but also to the country at large. I. believe that the large area of the quarantine station gives ample opportunity for escape from it. I admit that it is easy to ask for the removal of the quarantine station, but that it would be difficult to find another suitable site. There -is no island available in the vicinity. . But surely something could be done to relieve the congestion at Manly. It is seldom that the quarantine station is used, and its area could be considerably curtailed. I trust that the Minister will favorably consider the suggestion of the honorable member for Warringah, that this area should be resumed for park land. The resumption of a portion pf the quarantine area for recreation purposes would be a. blessing, not only to the residents of Manly, bint to the residents of Sydney, because I suppose Manly is visited, on the average, about three times every year by the whole population of Sydney and its suburbs. I hope that the Minister will be able to see his way to give effect to the suggestion for a reduction in the present area of the quarantine station.
– The chief argument of honorable members seems to be that the present area of the quarantine station at Manly is too large. That view is based on the assumption that it will never be necessary to provide there for more than an infected ship, with a few passengers and a comparatively small crew ; but, in the event of an epidemic of disease, there might be eight or nine vessels quarantined with passengers and crews numbering some thousands. In such a case it could not be contended that the area of the quarantine station is too extensive. As for danger arising from the proximity of the quarantine station, it may be said that Manly is one of the finest health resorts in Australia. The quarantine hospital is isolated at the extreme end’ of ‘ the station, and is separated from the areas in which contacts are accommodated by a rigid fence. To suggest that contacts or infected persons leave the quarantine area, and attend socials i:u Manly is absurd. The honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Eyrie) suggested a floating hospital, but those who have known the quarantine station for a number of .years will remember, as I do, that thirty years ago the old Faraway was used there as a floating hospital, and was totally unfitted to cope with an epidemic. If the quarantine station were removed to some more remote place along the coast, the land around it would be occupied as development took place, and then similar objections would be urged against the new location. There is no island adjacent to the coast suitable for a quarantine station, and, in my opinion, the Minister is wise in refusing the requests made to him to remove the quarantine station from its present position. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) was quite right in attributing the agitation for the removal of the station to land jobbers, who would like to get hold of this ideal residential area for speculative purposes. The public health should be the first consideration, and the Minister is to be commended for his determination to retain the site at North Head as the quarantine station for New South Wales.
, - A few years ago, Ave were accustomed to pass the few .items that appeared on the Estimates for the Public Health Department almost without discussion, and if there is one thing which pleases me more than another it is to know that to-day great interest is taken in the work of the department,, and in the spread of information for the preservation of the health of the community. We know the toll that is taken in Australia by many of the diseases that afflict humanity. From the reading of lectures and opinions often expressed in the newspapers, one might believe that Australia is one of the most unhealthy countries on the face of the globe. As a matter of fact, that is not at all the case. As I have shown on previous occasions, statistics disclose that the mortality rate in Australia is lower than in any other part of the world with the exception of NewZealand. This should not prevent us from adopting every possible safeguard against the ravages of disease. I am very glad to know that medical men generally, and particularly those who are members of this House, are to-day displaying a greater interest in preventive medicine than medical men have ever done before. Work for the prevention of disease is of even greater importance than work for its cure. In this connexion I should like to say that I have long been of the opinion that the bad condition of the teeth of the people is more responsible for their ill health than anything else. I think that in nearly every case ill health can be traced to the defective condition of the teeth. I speak as a layman, and possibly the Minister does not agree with my statement.
– There is a great deal of truth in it.
– That being so, it appears to me that we might do a great deal for the prevention of disease by giving proper attention to the teeth of the people, and particularly of the rising generation. The spending of money for the construction of main roads, to encourage the production of cotton, and to increase facilities for primary or secondary production, can,- of course, be justified, but, after all, it is not as important as expenditure upon efforts to improve the health of the community.
– There was never more attention given to teeth than is given to-day.
– That is so, and I have already said that it gladdens my heart to note the attention devoted, today, to the work of the Health Department. It is only by educating the public to take a genuine interest in the preservation of the public health that we can look for necessary advance in this direction. I know that the Minister will say that there are qualified dentists in all of the States; but we have in Victoria in the person of Dr. Philpots, one who is doing splendid propaganda, work to impress upon the people the necessity for the care of the teeth. He is responsible for the statement, which I presume lie did not make without research, that the teeth of 95 per cent. of the children of Australia are defective. It is admitted by medical men generally, aa well as by dentists, that attention to a child’s teeth in the early stages of decay very often prevents it from having a mouthful of bad teeth within a comparatively few years. Though I agree that we should pay considerable attention to the advance of the dread disease of cancer, and to the cure of tuberculosis and other diseases which carry off people in thousands, I should like to see a great preventive campaign .undertaken in Australia to secure attention to the teeth of the people and particularly of the children. It might be suggested that this would, be entering a sphere that peculiarly belongs to the States. The States now have control of .education, and I am glad to pay my tribute to every State Government for the considerable advance made in this connexion. To-day, the teeth of the children attending State and private schools in Australia arc given more attention than they were ever given before, hut, apparently, the States do not command sufficient funds to carry out an Australian-wide campaign to improve the condition of the teeth of our children. The Minister for Health (“Sir Neville Howse) is a big-hearted man, he is eminent in his profession, and possessed of persuasive, power, and these qualities combined have enabled him to induce the Treasurer to agree to increase the estimates of the Department of Health. I hope that when the next Estimates are brought down it will be found that a very substantial sum is placed in the hands of the department, so that it may co-operate with the State .authorities in bringing about a better condition of affairs than now exists. I am not greatly concerned about au intrusion upon State rights, where the object is the preservation of the public health, and I believe that if arrangements were made for the dentists of the country to attend to the teeth of the children in State and. private schools, we should.be contributing more to the efficiency of the nation than wo could do in any other way. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) referred to some examinations made by Dr. Robertson of members of the Public Service, who may be said to be engaged in fairly ideal employment. The honorable member disclosed the fact that in the Public Services of the Commonwealth,
Federal and State, there is an average loss, due to illness, of seven days per officer per annum. That is a very serious loss. I know that we can discount some of the figures we get from America, but medical testimony proves that the efforts made in that country for the improvement of industrial hygiene and the health of the people have resulted in the saving of millions of days of work each year. When Mr. Roosevelt was President of the United States of America he ordered an investigation into the health of the people employed in industry. It was found that 42,000,000 persons were so employed at the time, and the loss of employment per annum due to illness averaged thirteen days per employee. President Roosevelt carried out some reforms in factories and other places, and as a result of better medical attention and the coping with disease in time, the loss of employment in the United States of America- was reduced from thirteen to eight days per annum per employee. That was a wonderful saving, even if regarded only from the monetary point of view. If we look for efficiency in Australia our first and best attention must be given to the health of the people.
.- I am very pleased, indeed, to note the substantial increase in the vote for the Department of Health. I should like to see more co-operation in this matter between the Federal and State authorities. At present, medical supervision in country towns is probably as good as the limited revenues of local authorities will permit. Those who reside in the country districts will be aware, for instance, that the Board of Health regulations affecting boarding establishments are very stringent. I have in mind many small . establishments about Healesville, Croydon, Warburton and Marysville, which are compelled to have fly-proof doors, and the serving of a cup of tea or a light luncheon, is forbidden, because the sleeping room is too close to the room where the food is served. If conditions of that kind are a real injury to health, how much greater a menace is the lack of sewerage in large towns. Every town throughout the Commonwealth with a population of 4,000 or more should have a sewerage system. It is impossible for the local authorities to incur the necessary expense, and if the State Governments shouldered the responsibility they would be very heavily penalized. I, therefore, ask the Minister to consider the possibility of co-operation between the Commonwealth “and State Governments in assisting local authorities to establish sewerage systems and thereby improve the health of the community.
! - I cannot allow this debate to close without drawing attention to the services of public health rendered by the profession to which I belong. The Minister for Health has been eulogized to-day, because he has been active to some extent, but the real guardians of public health are the sanitary plumbers and engineers. In every city where modern principles .of sanitation are practised the death rate has been reduced. Prevention is better than cure; the doctor comes on the scene only after the damage has been done, but practical sanitation prevents illness. All epidemic diseases are due to dirt.
– What about bacilli and bacteria ?
– They’ breed in dirt. The favorable health statistics of New Zealand and Australia are due to their sanitation methods. Both in Melbourne and Sydney the mortality rate has Steadily declined since the installation of sewerage systems. I believe that those two cities are better sewered -and ventilated than, any other cities in the world. Dirt diseases are more prevalent in country districts than in the cities and towns, where the principles of sanitation are understood and practised. The community would be better served by teaching boys and girls public hygiene than by the education of doctors to treat ills which have been caused by bad sanitation. In following my profession I have visited kitchens in. Sydney that were hotbeds for the propagation of typhoid and other diseases. To-day typhoid is very rare in that great city, and the few cases that do occur are usually traceable to a country origin. This disease could be almost entirely eliminated if the principles of sanitation were more generally applied. No doubt a health department is necessary, but the removal of the causes of disease is of more importance to the community. We owe more to the sanitary plumber and the municipal health officers than to anybody else for the protection of public health. In New South
Wales these officers are required to undergo a sanitation course at the technical colleges ; this training is more beneficial to the public than all the lore acquired by medical men at universities. I have discussed this matter with the Minister, and I know that he endorses my views. If effect were given to the policy I advocate, many doctors would be deprived of their means of livelihood. I would be pleased if that occurred, because a community that is dependent upon doctors will never know real happiness nor make progress.
I trust that the Minister will resist the agitation for the removal of the quarantine station from Manly. Although I live close to the harbour and represent a constituency which includes some of its most beautiful features, I have never regarded the quarantine station as a menace or eyesore. I was in Sydney when the small pox epidemic occurred, and the Government made the serious mistake of segregating the patients on a vessel anchored in the harbour. It was found that the patients who were treated ashore made progress, but those on board the ship, did not. The removal of the quarantine station would be a disastrous error, because .no better situation for it could be found- Sydney is a cosmopolitan port that is visited by ships from all parts of the world. It is therefore peculiarly liable to the introduction of diseases from abroad, despite the most stringent medical regulation of vessels and passengers, and a conveniently situated quarantine station at which patients and contacts can be isolated and treated is essential. Thanks to the Navigation Act, which was placed on the statute-book by a Labour Government, and the perfect sanitation of Sydney, very little use is made of the quarantine station, but we must be prepared for any emergency, and I estimate that the establishment elsewhere of a station as complete and up to date as that at Manly would cost not less than £1,000.000. Dr. Cumpston, our principal medical officer, is well acquainted with this matter. We are fortunate in having his services. When he was first appointed some doubt was expressed as to his ability, but he has proved to be the right man in the right place. I hope that the Health Department, in drawing up regulations, will not ignore the advice of sanitary engineering plumbers, more particularly in respect of regulations applying to country districts, where at present sanitation is sometimes deplorable. The cost of installing the highest ideals achieved by sanitary engineers is not 2 per cent, more than the cost involved in installing in a house a sewerage system that is likely to lead to all sorts of disaster. My constituents, who live in the most congested portion of Sydney, are. not afraid of the quarantine station at Manly, and the- people of Manly itself are mostly those who reside there to enjoy the surfing which is so beneficial to health.
.- I have no intention of traversing the whole of the matters referred to by honorable members during the course of the extremely interesting debate we have had on the Health estimates. To the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who has devoted much time to public health matters, I may explain that the Health estimates this year “ show an increase of £63,000 over last year’s vote for the obvious reason that there has been shown on both sides of the chamber greater interest in matters affecting the health and development of the people, and that is reflected in this larger appropriation. Since 1924, when I made my first review of the public health of Australia, honorable members of all parties have clearly recognized that this is a non-party question. Honorable members opposite recognize that they are equally interested with honorable members o.u the Government side in the preservation of the public health ; that that is a national matter to which party considerations do . not apply. A public health sense has been rapidly growing in Australia absolutely independent of political opinions. The programme which has been laid down by the Government will be carried to a definite conclusion, and I hope that the recommendations contained in the valuable report of the Royal Commission on Health will to a large extent be put into effect. An honorable member has regretted that the amount that has been placed at my disposal is so small ; but I am satisfied that the vote is as much as I can reasonably and economically spend this year in laying the foundation of a definite public health policy in no-operation with the States. It has been pointed out that the £10,000 set down for research work is very small. I did not ask for more, because it is absolutely impossible to carry out research work in cancer or any other disease without trained men and properly equipped laboratories to do the work. To-day, we have not the men; but we are training young Australians for the work. The object of the vote of £10,000 for the last two years has been gradually to develop a system by which young Australians, who in all occupations, including scientific research, have shown themselves to be the equals of men in other parts of the world, may have an opportunity to conduct research work in their own universities, where still younger students may be trained to carry on this valuable work in the future. I assure honorable members that the matters they have brought forward to-day will receive consideration. I say that even of the subject referred to by the honorable member for Warringah (Sir Granville Eyrie) for the third or fourth time during my short term as Minister. I thought that I had already dealt exhaustively with his request for the removal of the quarantine station from Manly, but I premise him that I shall give the matter further consideration. Honorable members have asked me to bring about cooperation between the Federal and State health departments. When I am in Great Britain with the Prime Minister I shall have an opportunity for further study of matters connected with public health, and I hope to give to honorable members, on my return, a review of public health, not only in Australia, but also in other parts of the world. I have already been able to show that, in Australia, the public health is not satisfactory.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), who as every one knows has taken a keen interest in public health, has referred, very sympathetically, to the vexed question of treatment for tuberculosis, and has asked me to review the Spahlinger treatment with an unprejudiced mind. I can assure him that I have never approached it in any other way. My mind is absolutely open on the subject. Indeed, I should be recreant to the trust reposed in me by the Government and the confidence expressed by honorable members, if I could not ap proach any matters of vital interest to Australia in an unbiased . manner, more particularly questions affecting any one of the three departments I control - Defence, Health, or Repatriation - into the administration of which party political considerations do not enter. I am certainly safe in saying that in regard to health and repatriation matters, and there is very little doubt that we all desire that Australia should be in a position to defend itself, although there may be differences of opinion as to how wo should provide for that defence.
– Can the Minister give me any information as to the results obtained from the Calmette method of saving infant life?
– Certain experimental work is proceeding in reference to the Calmette treatment for tuberculosis. A number of preparations have been received from France, and experiments are now being conducted at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. I regret that I have had to give to the House a very unsatisfactory report on the Smalpage method of treating tuberculosis. It may, however, be, as one honorable member has said, a lead towards something valuable in the future.
– In cases where a serum has proved to be of little or no use, has the Government any power to prevent its being exploited for profit?
– The general public has to decide the line of treatment it will accept. The treatment of disease varies considerably. Persons have been regarded as having been cured by the Spahlinger and Smalpage treatments; but a big London clinician stated a few years ago that he was able to find evidence of organic disease in only 50 per cent, of the people who came to him for treatment. Assuming that he had overlooked the presence of disease im u other 20 per cent. there would still remain 30 per cent, who were sufferiig from merely imaginary ailments. Possibly, we may agree with Sir John Lubbock that we are not entitled to take away from mankind the pleasures of the imagination, among which is the pleasure of imagining ailments that do not exist.
Mr. PARSONS (Angas) [3.38).- I wish to pay a tribute to the Minister for Health for the manner in which he has improved and brought up to date the Bedford Park Sanatorium in South Australia. It is only fair that when praise is well deserved we should voice it. In conversation with a friend who is an inmate of the institution through being gassed at the war, I learned that there was nothing to be done for the patients that was not being done by the Repatriation Department.
I wish to supplement the remarks of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) in regard to dentistry. The death occurred recently of Dr. Hayes Norman, who had been practising dentistry for 50 years in Adelaide. Dr. Norman was always an advocate of early attention to children’s teeth, even years ago, when it was considered almost a fad. He carried on a campaign, with most successful results, against caries, the microbe of dental decay. In the course of his experiments he discovered a method of nerve capping, which rendered unnecessary the extraction of the nerve. Honorable members who know anything about the subject are aware that the extraction of the nerve from a tooth shortens the period of its usefulness, and may even lead, at a later stage, to disease of the jaw-bone. At the time of his death Dr. Norman had communicated the details of his discovery to only one brother dentist, who is now resident in Sydney ; but I am glad to say that his widow has given her permission for this wonderful discovery to be made available to humanity generally. One of the leading dental journals of England stated some time ago that if Dr. Norman had discovered a . practical method which would render unnecessary the extraction of nerve pulp from teeth after exposure, he had -discovered something that humanity had been anxiously looking for. Over 30 years ago I had exposed nerves in one or two of my teeth, and Dr. Norman capped the bleeding pulp with such success that I still have the teetE sound in my head. I know of one person in Adelaide who had a nerve capped in a similar way 50 years ago, and has not felt anything from that tooth since, whether her food was very hot or very cold. Dr. Norman was always very practical, and he told me at one time that he had done his best to point out to parents who consulted him the unwholesomeness of white bread, and the evil of giving biscuits to children when they were retiring for the night. He was a strong advocate of whole-meal bread. He carried on an extensive correspondence in the press in advocacy of his views, and even sent letters oversea. He urged that children should be given an apple, or some other fruit, in preference to biscuits, just before they went to bed. One of his favorite sayings was that the tooth-brush was the fad of fashion and the tooth-pick the salvation of teeth. I trust that the Minister for Health will do his best to see that this great discovery is made available for the benefit of the whole world.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Markets and Migration
Proposed vote, £110,277.
.- I was pleased to read the statement of Mr. Gepp, the newly-appointed chairman of the Migration Commission, which was published in the press this morning. Mr. Gepp gave expression to views which have been held by honorable members on this side of the chamber for many ‘years; and he appears to have a good understanding of the duties that he is expected to discharge. He advocated that we should take stock in Australia . to ascertain how new-comers may best be absorbed into- the community, and said that he did not think we were justified in bringing people here while we had a large number of our own population unemployed, lt was essentia], he added, that new avenues of employment should be opened up before new-comers were introduced.
– Those views have also been expressed by honorable members on this side of the chamber.
-Probably so. The Labour party has never been opposed to the introduction of suitable migrants provided they could be absorbed, for it recognizes the necessity of increasing our population and developing our . empty spaces. This morning I asked the Prime Minister whether he would see that there was no further influx. of people here; at least until the Migration Commission had formulated its plans and put them into operation. His reply was that people were only coming here as nominated migrants, . apart from a few that were being introduced under various boy migration schemes. It seems strange to me after this Parliament has made agreements with the various States - and that within the last few weeks - to spend a sum of £34,000,000 in five years to introduce migrants into the country, if none are being brought here. I understood that we were expected to introduce 45,000 fresh migrants each year.
Some little time ago I drew the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that a considerable number of our recentlyarrived migrants were out of work. One of my informants was the officer of a shire council in my division, who said that a good many of the men who had applied to him for relief work were recent arrivals. He also stated that the , position did not become acute until the money voted for relief work had been expended. The Prime Minister promised that he would make inquiries into this matter, and yesterday he substantiated everything that I had said. It is unfair to the State Governments to bring persons here without making provision to employ them, for the burden involved in their unemployment, or in succouring them,’ falls on the shoulders of the State Governments and not of the Commonwealth Government. It is also unfair to our own people that newcomers should be brought here to swell the already extensive ranks of the unemployed. But what is perhaps more serious still, is that it is unfair to Australia. If word should go abroad that migrants who come here are unable to obtain work, Australia, will get a bad name, and the result will be that even though the newly-appointed commission may make adequate provision for the employment of the persons it expects to introduce, it will find it difficult to con- vince the people of the United Kingdom that it has clone so. It would be far better in present circumstances, to inform the British authorities who recruit our migrants that, for the present, work is not available in Australia for newcomers; and request them to stay their hands at least until the Migration Commission is in a position to promise definite employment toall who wish to come here. We cannot reasonably expect the States to spend their revenue in providing relief work, for, with one exception, they are faced with deficits in their finances.
– Is not the unemployment in New South Wales the result of the amended Workmen’s Compensation Act that has been put into operation?
– It is not, for these newcomers were out of work before that.
– I met men in Sydney who were out of work because of it.
– The act . does not affect the unemployed whom I have in my mind, and to whose plight I directed the attention of the Prime Minister. I urge the Government, in the interests of prospective migrants, our own people, and the Commonwealth itself, to direct our migration officers abroad to suspend operations until the Migration Commission has intimated that it is ready to receive newcomers. To have a successful migration system, we must provide work for the migrants when they arrive here. It is easy to say that we can take 1,000 migrants a month for land settlement; but that does not solve the problem. A thousand people selected indiscriminately in Great Britain, would probably include 750 persons who were unsuitable for land settlement, and who, on arrival here, would join the unemployed in the cities. I supported the appointment of the Development and Migration Commission, because I held that we needed a properly defined scheme. I am glad that Mr. Gepp realizes the need for such a scheme, without which we are not justified in bringing migrants here in large numbers.
. - I am somewhat disappointed that, the Government has not made an announcement that the wine bounty will be continued. The wine industry probably provides more employment per acre than any other primary industry. The bounty for the past two years has amounted to £217,108, and the excise paid by the industry on fortifying spirit was £427,945, leaving a credit to the industry of £210,837. It is, therefore, incorrect to say that anything has been given to the industry, which has been, in fact, taxed to the extent of £210,837. During the past few years, it has established itself in Great Britain, from which country I have received letters, which I had much pleasure in reading in this Chamber recently, to the effect that Australian port wine is equal to any other port wine. A quantity of wine has been exported at as low a price as1s. 6d. a gallon. The industry would cease to exist but for the assistance of the bounty, unless the Government relieves it of some of the excise duty on fortifying spirit.
The bounty affects not only the wine industry, but also the dried fruits industry. The value of lexias and currants overseas is very low, and during the past two years, growers have exported their surplus at a loss. The estimated advantage of the bounty to the growers, for the 1926 season, is -
T.n view of the benefits of this bounty to the dried fruits industry, as well as to the wine industry, I hope that the Government will announce, at an early date, that it will be continued.
– I would not have intruded myself into this debate and broken that masterly silence which I have practised during this session, but that the Minister, in introducing the Canned Fruits . Export Control Bill, said that the board appointed under a sister bill, The Dairy Produce Export Control Board, had done wonderful work. He claimed that the board had saved a large amount of money in insurance, and had controlled the export of Australian butter in such a way that great advantage had resulted to the producers in this country. Knowing as much as I do about that business - knowing-, in fact, exactly what happened - I doubted whether the Minister knew all the facts, and I decided to- ask him a few questions in order to probe the matter. I preface my remarks by emphasizing that I do not wish to say anything derogatory of the board or its members. I have the greatest possible regard for several members of that board, who are among the ablest and best men in the trade; but I have a rooted objection to combines of all sorts. I have never been, and never will be, in a combine. The members of the board, capable though they are, would have rendered better service to the industry if, instead of being members of a combine, they had operated on a competitive basis. The answers I received to my questions were so astonishing that I wish to place the facts on record. I do not believe that the Minister intended to- mislead me or other honorable mem bers. He probably acted innocently; but he claimed incorrectly that the board had saved a large amount of money in insurance. My questions were -
The answers to those question were -
The answer to the first question is a contradiction of the answer to the second. If the policies effected were favorable, why should the board try to alter them?
– It was formerly the invariable Australian practice to adjust claims on the basis of the market value at the date of sale.
– I know that the board obtained cheaper policies, ‘ but the insurance companies carried less risk, aud that is why the shippers lost so heavily on the Cathay shipment. I know a lot about insurance policies, and I know all about this business. The facts are that owing to the omission, of a protecting clause almost universal in former policies, th, insurance companies were able to pay on a deflated market. Consequently, heavy losses were sustained by Australian shippers. The Minister’s answer to my second question proves that. The practice was to pay on the price at the date of the arrival of the butter.
– That is the overseas * practice; but I referred to the Australian practice.
– I am dealing with shipments to the United Kingdom.
– The honorable member is dealing with overseas insurance companies ; but I was dealing with Australian companies.
– What difference does that make ? If the shippers did not receive the money they should have received, the policies effected were not favorable. That- is all I am contending for. There is no doubt that the claims were adjusted on the price ruling in a deflated market. The insurance companies had that option; and if the market had been lower at the date of shipment, they would have taken that basis instead. Many thousands of pounds were lost on the Cathay shipment. I do not say that the board is entirely to blame. It certainly tried to effect favorable insurance policies; but it ought not to claim credit for things it did not do. The next questions I asked were : -
The answers to those questions were: -
I referred to the requirements not of New South Wales and Victoria, but of Australia. I did not state the figure of 70,000 boxes; I merely asked the question. Where the Minister obtained his information, I do not know, but it is not correct, and the answer, is not fair. T did not ask how much the butter was selling for in London ; I asked for the f.o.b. price here. The answer must have been supplied to the Minister, who simply passed it on to me. It did not answer my question. The facts are that a certain quantity of New Zealand butter that had been contracted for, was diverted from Australia owing to the congested state of the Australian market and the unfavorable reports from London. It is admitted by the board that 53,000 boxes of New Zealand butter, at an average cost of 196s. a cwt., did not come to Australia. At that time Australian * Kangaroo” brand of butter was being exported at an average price of certainly not more than 142s. a cwt. Much of Chat butter remains unsold, and it is faced with a depressed London market. I do not ‘think that it will realize more than an average price of 140s. a cwt., since much of it is being regraded because of deterioration through long storage. I am not blaming the board for this, but merely placing the facts on record. The following report to the board was cabled on the 23rd” July ‘: -
Future difficult to forecast, but position .is as follows : - Stocks in United Kingdom, 1,000,000 boxes.
That would not be all Australian butter, a lot of it being New Zealand and other brands. I cannot get the correct figures.
– I understand that the stocks included 180,000 cases of Australian butter.
– I cannot prove that. The cable continues -
Heavy supplies in Canada, continental makes heavy, industrial situation in United Kingdom extremely bacl, financial situation continent chaotic. Unless drought affects position, which seems unlikely, new season will open at about present prices, with little prospect of any increase. At a meeting of distributors to-day, it was agreed, in view of present outlook, f.o.b. advances should not exceed £135 a ton.
– What percentage is advanced ?
– That depends on the market. An over advance must be met from the next shipment.
– There is no fixed trade percentage ?
– No. On the 29th July, I asked the following question: -
The following extraordinarily amazing reply was given : -
I have before me a list of the steamers on which Australian butter was shipped during the months of April, May, June, and July, and I find that instead of 900 tons, 2,075 tons of butter of “ Kangaroo “ quality were exported during that period. Instead of 36,000 boxes, actually 83,000 boxes of butter were exported, after allowing 24 per cent, for buffer of inferior quality. This included 49,000 boxes of best butter from Queensland; 23,000 boxes from New South Wales; 11,350 boxes from Victoria. The total quantity . exported was 65,000 boxes from Queensland; 31,000 from New South Wales, and 13,000 from Victoria. The information that the Minister supplied was incorrect.
– Was it not necessary to import butter from New Zealand to meet the shortage in Victoria?
-There is an explanation of that.
– There is an explanation of everything.
– I wanted to know what amount per ton was netted by the producers in Australia for butter sold in London, or what the British consumers paid for it. What has the subsidy of £28 a ton under the stabilization scheme to do with the price paid by the British consumers? Nothing whatever. That subsidy is paid to assist the dairymen, and rightly so, and I pay a tribute to the Minister for attempting to do something for them. The price of 190s. per cwt., as given by. the Minister, is incorrect and inflated, even if the subsidy and freight charges are added. Actually the butter did not net more than 142s. a cwt. Honorable members will understand that I have been forced into this position. Had my questions been answered correctly I should have said no more on the subject. My questions were asked mainly to arouse the board to a realization of its obligations. I do not object to the board’s operations, and I believe that its members are capable men.
– Did the honorable member work out the cost of transportation?
– It is approximately 20s. a cwt., and to that must be added storage charges in London if the butter is not sold immediately.
– The total charges amount to about 2½d. a lb.
– The Minister’s replies placed me in an invidious position. I want the board to do- better work. This is the first year of its operations, and no doubt many initial difficulties had to be overcome. We cannot establish new systems without making mistakes. The fact remains that the export of our dairy produce this year has been a failure, and everybody knows it. The board should have admitted the position, and stated that next year it hoped that the scheme would work satisfactorily, and result in great benefit to the producers. No one could have objected to that. I shall now refer to what happened in connexion with the importation of New Zealand butter. In March and April of this year, Victoria experienced a very dry period and it seemed likely that there would be a great shortage of butter. Queensland had plenty ofbutter, but it also had a combine. The whole of this country is riddled with combines.We are combining against one another, and, if the truth were told, fleecing one another, and that is what I strongly object to. At that time the f.o.b. value of export butter was 142s. a cwt. exclusive of the subsidy of £28 a ton. The producers were advised by the board that there was likely to be an increase in values, and they confidently anticipated that the amount advanced would be at least 190s. a cwt. They, therefore, demanded from Victoria 190s. for their butter f.o.b. Brisbane. The Victorian agents realized that, with the cost of freight, the price in Victoria would be 195s. a cwt., and they, therefore, imported butter from New Zealand, which any merchant would do. They could do nothing else because they anticipated a shortage of butter. The drought did not eventuate, and both New South Wales and Victoria produced a lot of butter, and consequently the attempt to stabilize prices ended in a fiasco. I do not object to the stabilization scheme, although I think that the producers would have been better assisted by a bounty from the public revenue. I am afraid that the producer will receive little of the present subsidy, because it has to pass through so many hands. The fact remains that Australia was paying 196s. a cwt. for New Zealand butter when our own butter was being sold overseas at less than 142s. a cwt. To-day it would not bring anything like that price. I hope that the board will prevent a repetition of last year’s experience. I do not blame the board for it, because it came about owing to a fortuitous set of circumstances, but I strongly object to the board claiming the credit for success for the stabilization scheme, when only failure has resulted. No honest person would do that. I regret that the Minister answered my questions incorrectly, but no doubt his department was responsible. I advise him in future to prove his ‘figures before he submits them to the House. I find myself somewhat in the position of a certain old African chief. Away back in my boyhood days I knew a brokendown missionary named Josiah Tomkins. He told me that, in his enthusiastic youth, he went to Africa to Christianize the savages in a hurry. He got on all right until he overdid things. This is not sacrilege. I have no desire to speak in tones of levity of anything sacred or religious. I quote the missionary’s own words. He said, “ Over there I found that the chief did all the thinking and acting for the whole tribe.” That is about what the leaders of political parties do to-day.
– Does the honorable member do that for his party ?
– I do, and nob very much of it, either. I am badly in need of help, and perhaps the honorable member would assist me. The missionary met a chief who controlled a very big tribe. He was very amenable to suggestion, and was a very nice old chief. The missionary began to tell him of the miraculous things which had occurred, like the crossing of the Red Sea, and the sun standing still. The old chief said, “ Yes, J believe that. That is possible.” He told his tribe that they had to believe it, and they did. Then the missionary got a little further on, until he came to the story of Jonah and the whale. The old chief said, “ That is tough, all right. It is pretty hard to believe that; but I will believe it.” That is the. kind of thing I have been trying to do. The old chief believed that story, and waved his arms to his crowd to let them know that they must believe it also, just as, possibly, the leaders of political parties do. Josiah Tomkins said then that he was getting on so well that he overdid it, and he went on to tell the chief about the rain and the deluge, and then the chief said, “ You can go, I do not believe that, or the fish story either now.” I have being doing my level bestto believe a lot of things that 1 have found it very hard to believe. Some of them strained my credulity almost to the breaking point, but I believed they must be right, because they were vouched for by such good men. But, when I’ receive answers like those to which I have referred, I cannot help saying, “ I know that to be wrong, and there are a number of other fish stories which I do not believe.”
.- I wish to support the protest which has been made concerning the way in which migrants are introduced into this country. In any migration scheme provision should be made for the proper supervision of the migrants. While honorable members on. this side are not opposed to a proper scheme of migration, we realize that it is of no use to bring people here if they are to be added to the unemployed in the capital cities. I read in a newspaper the other day of some happy lord in England who evolved the idea of solving the coalmining trouble in that country by sending a lot of migrants to Australia to become farm labourers. This man had himself visted Australia. I know something about coal-miners, and while I do not say that, if taken young, they would not make as good farmers as other people, still a general scheme for the migration of miners would simply mean the bringing of miners here to follow their own calling, to find that there was no employment for them. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has pointed out that, on the Maitland field, there are scores of migrants unemployed, who came to Australia under a promise that they would be found employment. That kind of thing would kill any migration scheme. There is nothing so calculated to prevent the success of a migration policy as migrants, after arriving here, writing of their experiences to their friends in the Old Country. They will not advise their people to come to Australia when they cannot find employment here themselves. The present scheme can only end iu disaster, and it is unfair to unemployed Australians as well as to the migrants. I know that the one object of the scheme is to bring down wages in Australian industries. “When the new Development and Migration Commission begins to operate, the Minister will do well to advise the commission, not only that a careful selection of migrants should be made, but that a scheme should be formulated for their employment after their arrival in Australia.
.- There is a matter that I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister before the estimates of his department are disposed of. I see that provision is made for the expenditure of £5,400 for dealing with and investigating stock diseases and pests, including cattle tick and the Buffalo fly. There is another matter of vital importance to the pastoral industry which I trust will form the subject of investigation under this department directly or through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; I refer to the taking out of salts from grass as the result of drying it. We all know of cases in which people have bought sheep on their wool clip on certain country, and the same sheep, moved on to other country, have given neither the quantity nor the quality of wool which they had previously given, clue, doubtless, to some indistinguishable differences in the constituents of grasses apparently similar. We know that wool, as to quantity and quality, is affected by the nature of the pasture. We also know that grass loses its nutritive quality in varying degrees. Some grass, such as Flinders grass, retains its nutritive qualities when dry. Other grasses such as Mitchell and blue grass lose their nutritive qualities rapidly. There are still other grasses which, when dry, have practically no nutritive quality at all. There are, again, grasses which retain a quantity of nourishment, and are suitable, if notf r fattening, at least for holding the condition of stock, until they are affected by the first touch of frost. I am now speaking particularly of basalt and tableland grasses. With the first touch of frost these grasses immediately lose all their nutritive properties, and stock will die from absolute lack of nutrition with grasses of this kind up totheir knees. If some investigation could be made, on scientific lines, of the reasons for the changes “ in the character of grasses and pastures, very great advantage would accrue to the pastoral industry. It might be possible to ascertain what salts or mineral constituents disappear from grasses and herbage during or after drying. If this could be ascertained, a great deal might be done for the pastoral industry by providing, in the form of licks and other artificial means, the qualities which the grasses and herbage ha vo lost.. This matter has been the subject of numerous discussions between the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) and myself, and is engaging the attention of pastoralists generally; and of certain scientists who arc, however, working at their own expense and under difficulties. I have received, from far away Winton, a letter from a very experienced pastoralist friend of mine, Mr. Fergus McMaster, from which I quote the following : -
We might be able to do something that would assist in placing the wool industry upon a more sound and profitable basis, and that is to endeavour to get a department of the newly established Institute of Science and Industry allotted to the pastoral industry. There are many problems to be solved here which, if left to pastoralists, will take years to solve, but which might very easily be solved by scientists at very much less cost to the industry. As you know, we suffer heavy losses, and in some seasons more than in others, for no apparent reason, when the grass grows dry. If an analysis of grasses could be made in the green state, and also in their drying stages, and we could find out what salts are missing, these salts could be supplied for the sheep in the shape of licks or in water troughs. The industry is subject to heavy losses also from the blowfly and other pests. It is further known that sheep will give a different result both as to quantity and quality of wool if placed upon a different holding, even in the same district. Then waters, sub-artesian, artesian, and creels and river waters, contain different salts.
I think there is’ sufficient in what I have quoted and what I have said to justify me in bringing under the notice of this department a question of this importance. The value of our wool for the last year for which I remember the figures, 1923-24, was something over £63,000,000. It is recognized that the pastoral industry is one of our main staple industries. It is the largest export industry in Australia,, and one in which we stand pre-eminent. If something could be done along the line indicated there is not the slightest doubt that, not merely the pastoral industry, but the whole country, and every phase of our economic and industrial life, would benefit. 1 commend this matter to the Minister in the hope that something may be done in. the direction I have indicated.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) quoted a statement by Mr. Gepp, chairman of the newly-appointed Development and Migration Commission, that’, until development had taken place which would enable migrants to find employment,, people from overseas would, not be encouraged to come to Australia in large numbers. I quite agree with what has been said by Mr. Gepp and the Leader of the Opposition in that regard, but some people seem to be under the misapprehension that the Commonwealth is endeavouring to bring migrants here on its own initiative. There are only two avenues through which assisted migrants can reach the Commonwealth; they must be either nominated by friends, or requisitioned by a State Government. Under the former’ system, the nominators undertake to find employment’ for the nominees, or to maintain them until they do find employment, so that they shall not become a charge upon the State during the first twelve months of their residence in Australia. That has been the most successful form of migration. All. nominations must be approved by the State Governments before the Commonwealth Government will grant assisted passages to the nominees.
– By whom is the cost of transport borne?
– The ordinary third-class fare from the United Kingdom to Australia is £37, but it is reduced to £33 for migrants. That cost is shared equally, in the case of families, by Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and the adult migrants. A single migrant has to pay half his own fare, and is assisted by the Commonwealth and State Governments with respect to the remainder. In all cases the nominations must be approved by the Governments of the-
States within which the migrants intendto settle. In regard to requisitioned migrants, the direct initiative is taken by the State Government, which says, in effect, to the Commonwealth, “ We want per month 200 farm labourers, 100 domestics, and 50 boys for farm work.”: The Commonwealth Government merely acts as agent overseas in selecting, medically inspecting, and shipping to Australia the best types available to fill, the State Government’s requisition. No migrants are brought to Australia on the initiative of the Commonwealth Government; therefore, the number arriving, here is controlled entirely by the States.. In regard to the £34,000,000 agreement, the statement has been made that, during the ten years of its operation, people will be brought to Australia at the average rate of 45,000 per annum. In -the year 1912 this country absorbed, without any dislocation of industry or the labour market,. 46,000 assisted migrants. The war kd. to a substantial reduction of migration, and the numbers coming to these shores yearly are much less now than they were fourteen year3 ago. Under- the agreement we shall endeavour to gradually restore the pre-war flow. It is proposed that, in the first year, we shall aim at assisting 31,000 migrants, that number increasing at the rate of 3,000 per annum until, in the final year of the decade, the influx should be 58,000. I remind the committee that 31,000 represents only about i per cent, of Australia’s present population. Honorable members will surely not suggest that that rate of increase will be sufficient to cause a dislocation of the labour market, especially as many of the new-comers will be women and children, and, therefore, not competitors for employment. In the last year of the decade, if the scheme develops as intended, the increase of 58,000 will beequal to about f per cent, of the then probable population.
– Is this scheme applicable to the- Northern Territory?
– At the present time no migrants are being assisted to come to Australia, except at the express wish, or with the approval of, the State governments. Reference has been made to . boy migration . In that field the Big Brother movement is doing good work, and during the last seven months has’ brought to Australia 847 boys between the ages of fifteen and nineteen years. These boys are placed in the country and undertake to remain in rural occupations. A questionnaire sent by the organization to the boys elicited the gratifying information that 98 per cent, of them are well placed and contented, and are saving a substantial proportion of their earnings. There is in the Big Brother scheme of handling these boys a human touch that is lacking in the ordinary official methods, and I believe this to be one of. the most successful schemes by which we can bring to this country good British material for conversion into young Australians.
The wine bounty, to which reference was made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook), is at present under consideration by the Tariff Board. I realize that although the bounty will not terminate until the end of August, 1927, it is necessary that the Government’s intentions in regard to its continuance should be announced as soon as possible, because those engaged in the industry have to make their selling arrangements a long time ahead.
– The vital point is that they are receiving every day orders for their output for three or four years ahead, but they cannot make contracts until they know how they will be treated by the Government.
– As soon as the report of the Tariff Board is received, it will be considered by the Government, and, as the Prime Minister announced a few days ago, if Parliament is not then sitting, the Government may announce its intention through the public press. The wine-making industry has benefited in several ways. It is receiving a rebate of excise to the amount of ls. a gallon, a bounty of 4s. a gallon on exports, and a preference of 4s. a gallon in Great Britain. When the bounty was first granted the preference was only 2s. per gallon, but it has since been doubled. It is little wonder that the industry has responded to such favorable treatment. I hope that the Government will be able to announce its intentions in regard to the bounty at an early date.
I turn now to the criticisms by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board. Apparently, in commerce as in politics, the honorable mem ber is an individualist; he does not believe in political parties, or in organized marketing. He said that I had spoken in superlatives of the operations of the board ; but nothing I said can be regarded as all over-statement of the facts. I said that the board had saved to the producers of Australia, directly and indirectly, approximately £50,000 in respect of marine assurance. That statement can be proved. By collective bargaining, it succeeded in getting from the underwriters much better terms than individuals would have been able to get, and the direct saving thus made on the butter exported was about £20,000. In addition, a considerably larger amount was gained for the producers because of the sympathetic increase in price on the local market which inevitably’ followed the reduction of exportation expenses. The honorable member for Fremantle said also that I gave to the board undue credit for its work and that of its agency overseas. My statement was that it had been able to make the marketing conditions more stable than in previous years.
– But it did not sell the butter.
– In reply to a question by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) to-day, I stated that between the 1st August, 1925, and the 21st January, 1926, the board disposed of 20,000 tons of Australian butter in Britain. It is true that in the corresponding period of the previous year 21,000 tons was sold, but in that year our exportable surplus was 65,000 tons, as against only 43,000” tons this year. It will be seen from those figures that the board disposed of proportionately more butter in the final half of 1925 than in the corresponding period of 1924. Another statement made by the honorable member for Fremantle was that the insurance terms obtained by the board were less favorable than would have been obtained by a private individual.
– I said that the terms obtained by the board were not as favorable as had been obtained by private exporters in previous years.
– The suggestion of the honorable member was that the terms arranged by the board were not as favorable as they might have been. It is not my province to defend the business arrangements of the board, although it is controlled by my department, but I point out to the honorable member that there is a slight difference between the conditions laid down by Australian insurance companies and those of overseas insurance companies. The honorable member mentioned that in the event of damage being done to a cargo of butter the overseas companies will pay the value which that particular grade of produce undamaged would have brought on the date of the arrival of the vessel. The practice in Australia, I understand, is to pay the value which that particular quality of butter would have brought on the actual day when it is sold, had it not been damaged. The honorable member will realize that there is really no vital difference between the two practices when they are. averaged. Should the market appreciate during the period when a settlement is pending, the arrangement with the Australian companies might prove to be extremely profitable to the owner of the butter.
– In connexion with the shipment I referred to, some of the butter was sold at 208s. and 200s., but the subsequent settlement wilh the board was oh the basis of 175s.
– I agree with what the honorable member says, but the point I wish to make is that the overseas insurance companies adopt a certain practice. When butter is damaged in transit, if the market price is 200s. on the day when the ship arrives in port, they pay on the 200s. basis, even though the butter, having been damaged, is sold some weeks later, when the market price has perhaps dropped to 180s. They do not pay on the basis of the price ruling on the actual date of sale.
– Exactly; those are the terms of their policy.
– But if instead of the butter having dropped 20s. in price, it appreciates 20s. in price during the interval, advantage is gained by insuring with an Australian company.
– That is not so.
– -It cuts two ways.
– No, it cuts one way only.
– By insuring with an Australian company the owner of the butter loses if there is a drop in price, but he gains if there is an increase in price.
It will require stronger arguments than those advanced by the honorable member to prove that that is not the case.
– The honorable member for Fremantle has been engaged in the butter industry for years.
– I am quite aware of that, but I do not think that any honorable member will say that the Australian Dairy Produce Control Board acted wrongly in insuring with an Australian company. Having given its business to an Australian company, it must abide by the conditions laid down by that company.
– The Minister has already answered me by saying that the board is trying to arrange its insurance on the other basis.
– I understand that the board is asking the Australian companies to adopt the same terms as the British companies, and if they do so, the arrangement will in the long run work out much as that now prevailing, as under the present Australian conditions there is a fifty-fifty chance of doing better or worse.
The honorable member suggested that there was no need to bring into Australia a large quantity of butter from New Zealand. It is probable that no one regrets more than do the importers themselves the fact that they had to import so much, but the total quantity brought in from New Zealand was only a little more than 1 per cent, of the total season’s production of Australia. Those engaged in the dairying industry may be good business men, but they are not good weather prophets.. At the end of February, and early in March last, there was an acute shortage of butter in the southern parts of Australia. In February the position was beginning to be acute in South Australia, while a little later it became very acute in Victoria. Efforts were made by the trade to obtain supplies from Queensland. I have seen correspondence which shows why these efforts were unsuccessful. As butter was being exported from Queensland all the time, one would naturally think that it was uneconomic for that State to be exporting and importing butter at the same time; but, although it was actually exporting butter, it was sending away only a comparatively small quantity of the highest grade that Victoria requiries. The other grades are quite unsuited to the Victorian trade. Having attempted to obtain butter from Queensland, and having been informed by the trade there that their requirements could not be supplied, the Victorian butter men were at their wits’ ends to know what to do. Finally, they did what the Queensland trade advised them to do. I have seen letters in which the Queensland people who were approached to supply Victoria with butter advised that there was nothing else to do but to obtain supplies from New Zealand. The outlook was bad, the weather was dry, and they ordered, as it afterwards turned out, more butter from New Zealand than they required, because almost immediately we had a bountiful measure of rain in more than one State, and production increased. But the contracts with New Zealand could not be repudiated, and consequently more butter was imported than proved to be needed.
– Does not the arrangement whereby Australian consumers have to pay another 3d. per lb. impose an obligation on the butter people to supply the market requirements if they have butter available in storage ?
– There should be no connexion whatever between that scheme which bears my name and importations, because the scheme is based on the principle that a price shall be maintained which will not provide an incentive to importation.
Another point mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle was that the board, by holding certain produce in London for some weeks longer than it should have been held, had obtained a lower price than would otherwise have been secured.
– I said that the butter which was held had to be regraded, and consequently had to take a lower price.
– The net result was that it brought a lower price. I do not know whether these business details ought to be discussed in the Chamber, but if butter is worth 190s. in April, and the price drops to 170s. in June, it certainly would have been better to sell the whole quantity in April.
– Yes; if it could have been sold in April, it should have . been sold then.
– But if the whole of the butter available had been sold in April the price might have dropped then to a still lower figure. Surely it is better to get 190s. for half the . quantity, and 170s. for the other half, than to get 170s. or less for the lot. as would probably have happened if it had all been offered at the one time. It is one of the principal duties of the Control Board to - feed the market, as it can absorb our produce, and I believe it is attempting to carry out that practice to the best of its ability. ‘We have had large shipments arriving in London from Australia and New Zealand within a few days of each other. Great Britain can take all our surplus, but cannot be expected to swallow the whole of it at one meal. That is practically what it was expected to do in the past, whereas the Control Board is now endeavoiuring to spread arrivals over a longer period, and to market Australian produce in a more orderly manner. I believe that the producers of Australia will derive great benefit from the operations of the board.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) has’ referred to certain investigations which he thought might profitably be undertaken by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. I agree with the honorable member that the matters he has mentioned might, with advantage, be brought under the notice of that Council, but, as they are dealt with by the Department of the Prime Minister, I suggest that he should bring them under the notice of the Prime Minister.
.- The speech of the Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson) following that of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) has been somewhat of a- revelation to the committee. The honorable member for Fremantle is to be commended for having given honorable members some enlightenment upon the operations of some of the butter schemes that have recently been brought- into existence. The honorable member said that the Dairy Produce Export Control Board was not to blame for anything thathas happened. I am inclined to think he is correct. . The Minister made a defence of the Board’s operations, and I believe his defence is on solid ground. But this discussion has served to show that, apparently, a spanner has been thrown into the machinery of the Export Control Board, and that spanner is the Paterson butter scheme. Let me examine the facts so far as I can state them.
– The honorable member would not have said that if he was still representing Corangamite.
– I would say what I believe to be true, no matter what part of the country I represented, and I propose to say one or two things on behalf of those people whomI formerly represented in Corangamite. The Minister said that as there was a shortage of butter early this year, arrangements were made to bring butter from New Zealand.
– After a failure to got it in Queensland.
– I am pleased to hear the Minister emphasize the fact that inquiries were made in Queensland, because I propose to show why the efforts to procure butter from Queensland failed. It. is asserted by the honorable member for Fremantle, and admitted by the Minister, that no contract would have been made to get butter from New Zealand if the efforts to get butter from Queensland,where there was a surplus, had not failed.
– The butter trade in the south could not get nearly enough from Queensland.
– From the Minister’s own statement, there was a surplus of butter in Queensland, because he told us that they were exporting all the time. Does not that prove that there was a surplus of butter in Queensland?
– But it was not the choicest butter. That is the point.
– At the time, choicest butter was being exported from Queensland.
– My figures dealt only with the choicest butter.
– The honorable member quoted nothing but the exports and price of the choicest butter.
– And I quoted the shipments.
– The Export Control Board entered into contracts to import butter from Now Zealand, and so, I understand, did private persons, with the result that in April, May, June and July, 2,000 tons- of butter were brought into the country.
– One thousand three hundred tons is the correct quantity.
– At the time this importing was being done, Queensland was exporting, choice butter from Australia. I wish to know the reason for that. An Export Control Board should surely have 1 something to do with imports. The trouble is that it has no control over the manipulators of the butter market in Australia. The speculators who have withheld butter supplies that should have been placed on the market, and not the peopleof Corangamite, or of Cororooke, to whom the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) referred, are responsible for this situation. We are using butter imported from New Zealand at a cost of 196s. per cwt., while our producers are exporting butter from Australia at 142s., f.o.b. If the Australian producers had been paid the price that was paid for the butter imported from New Zealand, they would have received 196s. a cwt. instead of 142s; if, on the other hand, the producers did not get this extra price, our consuners should have been getting their butter for approximately Gd. a lb. less than they have been paying for it. Either the producers or the consumers have been suffering. Why would not Queensland supply butter for the southern States? Probably it was because of the Paterson scheme.
– It was not, for the Paterson scheme provides for a sympathetic increase in the local price, as well as for a bounty on export.
– That is begging the question. Had the Queensland suppliers of butter sold to Victoria they would have received only the Australian price.
– They would not: they would have received the Australian price plus the bounty.
– Then how does the Minister explain the- refusal of the Queensland producers to sell their butter in the southern States?
– They had only about one-sixth of the quantity that was required.
– But it has been shown that they exported” 39,000 cases.
– That was later.
– Presumably they wanted to retain their own market abroad.
– All that I have to say in reply to the ‘honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) is that if the Federal Parliament appoints a board to control butter, , or any other commodity, it should take an Australian-wide outlook, and not a State outlook. If we set up machinery to help the butter producers of Australia, Ave should also do something to protect the consumers. We should not allow the producers of one State to have an advantage now, and the producers of another an advantage later on, while the consumers suffer all the time. It appears at present as though the speculators are. the only people who rake off, and that they are doing it all the time. By means of the Paterson scheme private irresponsible bodies, without any official standing, are interfering in industry in this country in a way that should not be tolerated for a minute. . It is amazing that these gentlemen who have only so recently been converted to government control, and to whom the very name of socialism was anathema, should seek to set up a system of control by private combinesof monopolies. If we are to control industry, letus control it under the authority of the Government, in the interests of both the producers and the consumers. That is the way to prevent exploitation by outside irresponsible bodies. I venture to say that the Government should take cognizance of this private scheme of control, and either terminate or supervise it.
I am not at all clear about the insurance position, to which both the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) and the Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson) have referred. If the Minister’s statement is correct he has effectively met the complaint of the honorable member. I regret that one or two interjections which the honorable member endeavoured to make while the Minister was speaking were not permitted, for they would probably have led to a complete clearing up of the position. I agree with the proposition that our goods should be insured by Australian insurance companies in preference to others.
– Surely it depends upon the terms offered.
– But there is still a better way out of the difficulty. We should set up out- own national insur ance scheme, particularly as so many of our products are being exported under Government control. Do the British companies maintain that in case of damage they should pay on the basis of the value of the butter or other commodity on the day it arrives, while the Australian companies agree to pay for any damage on the basis pf the value of the goods the day they are sold ?
– That is not quite the position.
– I gather from the honorable member’s speech that the insurance company concerned in the Cathay shipment of butter held that it had the right to pay on the basis of the price on the day of arrival or on the day of sale.
– If the market had gone up after the Cathay arrived and before the butter was sold the producers would have benefited.
– There was not a chance of that.
– The universal practice is to pay on the basis of the value on the day of the fire or damage.
– The correct thing would be to pay on the basis of the value of the- date of delivery. That seems to me to be reasonable. An insurance policy covers the entire journey, and the market value of the goods on the day the journey ends should be the basis of settlement in the case of damage. The market price of choice ‘butter the day the Cathay arrived was 200s. a cwt. ; but the shipment was held for some time, and in the meanwhile the price fell to 175s. a cwt.
– Had it advanced to 225s. a cwt. the producers would have reaped the advantage.
– The whole position seems to be obscure. The principal fact that has emerged from this discussion is that, during four months in which the Dairy Produce Export Control Board has been operating, 2,000 tons of butter were imported into this country from New Zealand and sold at approximately 6d. a lb. more than the net price paid to producers who were, at the same time, exporting butter from Australia. Thatkind of thing should not be permitted.
I wish to make a few observations on migration matters. The remarks of honorable members on this side of the chamber cannot be swept aside with the mere statement that our present rate of migration is only equal to . 5 per cent, of our population. If the Minister for Markets and Migration represented some of the people whom I represent, and had them coming to his door clay after day, as I have, he would he as unwilling as I am to allow 40,000 or 50,000 people to enter this country annually to swell the ranks of our already large army of unemployed. I agree with the view of the newly-appointed chairman of the Migration Commission, Mr. Gepp, that we should not spend money to bring migrants here while our own people are unemployed.
– The onus in this connexion is entirely on the States. The Commonwealth does not bring a single individual into the country unless the States have requested it to do so.
– The Government cannot evade its responsibility in that way. Even if State Governments request that migrants shall be brought here, the Commonwealth Government should refuse to introduce . them until unemployment has been banished from the country. If, for instance, the Victorian Government should request the introduction of 50,000 migrants, the Commonwealth Government should say, “ You must provide work for your own unemployed before we will consent to the introduction of a single migrant.”
– I have heard that argument for the last 30 years.
– The very fact that the argument has been repeated for 30 years is a condemnation of the various governments that should have solved our unemployment problem; and I assure the honorable member that he will hear it for the next 30 years if he and the Government he supports will not do something to solve it. Surely nobody will pretend that this expensive migration commission should be permitted to introduce largo numbers of migrants here, without making some provision for them to open up our great undeveloped areas. I had people come to my door only to-day and ask me to help them to get work. If honorable members opposite had had visits from people in similar distressing circumstances, they would not be able to regard this problem in their present smug, self-satisfied fashion. While we are talking about introducing migrants, the Postmaster-General’s Department is dismissing employees. One gang, in particular, is being reduced from 45 men to fifteen within the next few weeks, and other gangs are being retrenched in the same way. Men who have been working on the underground telephone lines, and as linesmen in the country, even in the Postmaster-General’s constituency, have been dismissed; and, notwithstanding that, £250,000 is to be spent on passages to this country for migrants. There seems to be a disposition on the part of honorable members to brush the matter aside. Honorable members on this side who represent industrial constituencies, have to solve the problem of the man who calls upon them to beg, not for money, but for the right to work. We have lists of names so long that we cannot write them out. Yet honorable members opposite gibe, and appear to be satisfied ! They speak of these things as of matters of no consequence, and, having made a cold, arithmetical calculation, reduce them to terms of percentages. People who are hungry cannot be fed by that means. Although we make some provision for old-age and invalidity, we make none forunemployment, and that is one of the scandals of this country. Surely before we talk glibly about bringing 50,000 migrants to these shores, and spending for that purpose revenue collected in part from men who are out of work in this country, the employing departments of this Commonwealth ought to be able to say, “ We are not putting men off, but are taking them on.” One department is dismissing gangs of men while another is formulating a scheme to bring large numbers of migrants to this country.
.- I apologize to the committee for raising again the question of the wine bounty. I have endeavoured to state the matter forcibly in this Chamber three or four times during the past few weeks. It is necessary that there should be a prompt decision by the Government as to the future payment of the bounty. It is about six months since the Prime Minister received a deputation that came all the way from Renmark and Mildura to place the facts before him. The Commonwealth is not asked to find the money for this bounty, because . these poor, unfortunate, halfstarved people pay many times more than the bounty in excise duty on fortifying spirit. When the excise was first introduced, the rate was 4d. a gallon. It was intended not for revenue purposes, but to cover the cost, of inspection. As the business extended the tax was raised to 8d. a gallon, and later to ls. a gallon. When the war broke out, and the Commonwealth had to look for money in every direction, the excise on fortifying spirit was suddenly increased to 3s. a gallon, and,- as the needs of the Commonwealth became more pressing, it wa3 lifted by stages from 3s. to 6s. a gallon. The revenue from this source has been a large item for several years. The Murray waters scheme is a great national work, but is- essentially a. soldier settlement scheme. At one time 80 per cent, of the products of the Murray valley were consumed iu Australia. This is a burning question, and the men in the industry must be relieved by the Government to the extent of returning to them at least ls. of. the excise duty. Honorable members know that Parliament had to come to their rescue three or four years ago, and on that occasion honorable members of both parties cheerfully supported the Government’s proposals.
– And the end is not yet.
– And the money that was voted by this House is not yet, because the products of the industry were not worth one half of what it cost to produce them. That money has gone, and other- money is in the balance. Portion of the bounty is paid by the Commonwealth Government out of the proceeds of the excise duty, and the remainder is paid by the British Government under the system of trade reciprocity. It enables Australian wine makers to sell the whole of their product in the United Kingdom, and they have exported more in the last twelve months than iu the previous ten years.
– Is much of it sold ?
– I have told, the honorable member that more has been exported in twelve months than was exported in the previous ten years. I wish the honorable member had a little bit of decency. Assistance has not been given to the people in this industry in heaps, as it has been given to Tasmania.
– That is the most ridiculous thing the honorable member has ever said.
– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) said a most ridiculous thing. It is time that the representatives of Tasmania were told the gospel truth. The bounty has not bee* paid by Tasmania.
– Some of it has.
– Not any of it.
– Some of it has, and I do not grudge it..
– It is not paid even by the Commonwealth Government,, but by the unfortunate men . and women in the industry, included among whom are many returned ‘ soldiers. Before the bounty was granted the distilleries were full to their roofs. The Berri distillery, the largest in Australia, and one of the largest in the world, is owned cooperatively by the settlers.
– They will do more business when they have the- third rail.
– The honorable member will do better when he has a bit of decency and manhood. I am pleading for men who are in great need. I do not know of any settlers in Australia that have had a harder struggle. Every gallon of wine in the distilleries is sold, and every gallon that will be produced duri ug the next year is sold. The British market has been captured, and every week we. hear more cheerful accounts of the impression that Australian wines are making, on the British market. The large merchants at Home are offering to take the product of some of our largest wineries for the next two or three years. The Government has agreed to continue the bounty until the 31st August next year, but it is necessary that, an announcement, should be made immediately as to whether it will be continued beyond that date. There is no difficulty about selling next year’s output - I believe it is already sold - but it is impossible to do more than that without an assurance that the bounty will be continued. Even when the bounty is taken into consideration, there is not 6d. a gallon left as profit to the producer. The payment of the bounty will not make the men iu the industry wealthy, because if they sell their output for five years under present conditions they will still be poor. Is not the industry worth encouraging? There is urgent necessity for an immediate decision. The wine producers are every day turning away tremendous orders. They cannot speculate in future sales beyond the date on which the bounty ceases. Representatives of Australian wineries have gone to England especially to sell our wines. One man whose wines pre famous, and have been so for the last 30 years, is there anxiously awaiting the decision of the Government. This he must know before he attempts to do any business. Honorable members have spoken of the dried fruit industry, and the privations of those engaged in it. The Government has assisted the dried fruit producers, especially the returned soldier settlers,. by means of a bounty, which has assured the success of this year’s operations. It was given on the vital condition that the grower only should receive it, and this has meant that instead of starving, the growers have sold the whole of their produce at a price of not less than £5 a ton. They are, therefore, on the highway to success. When I told the Prime Minister the other day that this bounty -was the most successful of all, he agreed with mc. At one time we had no market for our dried fruits. It is well known that our sultanas and lexias are the best in the world. We cannot export all that we produce, but the bounty has enabled the distillers to use every ton of the surplus. To delay the decision respecting the continuation of the wine bounty would be criminal. Every one knows that when once a market is established it must be kept supplied. When supplies fail, it takes perhaps five years or more to re-establish the market. Tbe Prime Minister, when in England, should do everything in his power to induce the Imperial Government to alter the terms of the treaty between -Great Britain and Portugal. That treaty, which I understand has nearly expired, provides that only Portuguese wine imported into Great Britain is to be labelled as “ Port.” It is well-known that in Australia ever since the establishment of the wine industry we have produced port wine, and surely it would be no infringement of the treaty with Portugal if the Prime Minister could induce the Imperial Government to allow our port wines in England to be labelled “ Australian Port.” I believe that the . Prime Minister thinks that there is a likelihood of removing that obstacle to the successful marketing of our wine in Great Britain. We have expended millions of pounds in locking the river Murray, and irrigating adjacent areas, and unless the bounty is extended we shall be deprived of the benefit of those works. It is all a matter of policy. There is no need for the Tariff Board to inspect the river Murray areas, because one of its members is a fruitgrower and vigneron. Before Parliament adjourns the Government should announce to the settlers on the river Murray areas, and to the public generally, that the bounty is to be continued for at least a period of five years, to enable a permanent market for our wines to be established in Great Britain.
.- The Department of Markets and Migration is undoubtedly of great importance, and honorable members on this side have shown by their speeches that they are fully seised of this fact. The Labour party’s views on immigration have been clearly placed before honorable members, and I shall not labour that subject except to say that it is useless for this Government to encourage thousands oi migrants to come’ to this country before making some provision to absorb them.
– The Commonwealth Government does not bring one migrant here on its own initiative.
– The Commonwealth provides the money, which is the main factor. The Government has appointed a Migration and Developmeut Commission, and the chairman, Mr. Gepp, madein the press to-day some very pointed remarks respecting its policy. I agree whole-heartedly with that portion of his statement which has been quoted by honorable members.
– I think that we all do-.
– Queensland in the past has absorbed migrants, taking the excess of immigration over emigration,’ in greater ratio than any other State. Thousands of people from the other States are attracted to Queensland because of its large open spaces and opportunities for becoming prosperous. A resident of “Victoria called on me a few days ago and asked what hisprospects of success would be if he went to Queensland. I gave him a good account of that State, but he referred me to certain remarks made by the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) at a meeting of the Australian Women’s; National League, at St. Kilda.
– Will the honorable member give the name of the person who consulted him?
– I shall give it to the honorable member privately. He told me that, in view of what the honorable member for Herbert had said, he was chary of settling in Queensland. I gave him a glowing account of’ that State. It is a pity that the honorable member for Herbert should allow party considerations to come before the interests of his own State. The honorable mein Der for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) and myself were to-day approached by a gentleman who proposed to establish a secondary industry in Queensland and a branch at Townsville, and he also quoted the speeches that were delivered by the honorable member for Herbert at the University and at the St. Kilda meeting. Both speeches were published in the press, and were very derogatory to Queensland.
– And they contain nothing but facts.
– The people of Queensland are patriotic, and they refuse to condemn their State, knowing as they do that it offers greater opportunities for prosperity than any other State. The report of the speech of the honorable member for Herbert reads -
The socialistic station hands had eaten more bullocks than they had prepared for sale. . . The brilliant socialist financiers had started State fish enterprises, possibly believe ing that fish made brains. If that were a correct presumption, then the Labour administrators of Queensland should be fed on whale for the rest of their lives. During the last nine years 30,000,000 acres went out of cultivation, because people realized the futility of .combating the socialistic administrators. Industrially, Queensland had fallen back, and capitalists refused to. invest money in undertakings which would be heavily penalized by the Government.
I can quite understand that the honoraable member for Herbert had a sympathetic audience at St. Kilda. Evidently the Age reporter was a humourist, because, he reported the proceedings in this way -
Yesterday afternoon the St. Kilda branch of the A.W.N. lj. held its first combined monthly meeting in the supper room of the St. Kilda Town Hall. The orgy of the night before had not been completely cleared away, and the room presented quite a bizarre appearance with the gay-coloured streamers and yellow and black lamp-shades. Add to all this about 359 vigorous, Nationalistically-inclined ladies, and you get some idea of the setting…..
The shivoo had been timed to function at 2.45 p.m., and when the hands of all rightthinking clocks had swung round to 3 p.m. the ladies ‘began to tire of chatting of washing and the theory of relativity. Madame president, in the person of Mrs. F. G. Smith, also began to show signs that the patience facility was not sparking on all six. What could have happened? Did any one know? Wonderful to relate, the ladies maintained a profound silence. The two public gentlemen had properly tricked them. Then Madame president’s resourcefulness came out finely. Supported, metaphorically of course, by some of the chosen, she mounted the platform and informed every one that the two gents, had not turned up yet.
– Can the honorable member connect what he is reading with the matter before the committee ?
– Yes, I connect it in this way : Statements have been made which if believed would have a prejudicial effect on the good name of the State from which I come. People would be discouraged from going to Queensland to settle if I did not avail myself of this opportunity to defend its good name, and many of the migrants who are to be brought out might be diverted from Queensland to the other States. The Age article continues -
It was suggested that a lady should sing till the gents, arrived, and if the tuneful damsel had accomplished such a feat gramophones would have gone out of date at once. After, a few songs and sidelong flickers towards the swing-doors, Madame president decided that tea would be a good thing. Anything to stem a probable stampede! The tea administration was in good hands, and, apart from a lady loaded up with a tray of full cups barging into an inconspicuously placed chair, all went well. Then the tea influence began to wane….. Then there was some whispering, and it transpired that some one had ascertained that one of the gay lads, M’r. Nott, had left Parliament House at a quarter to 4 en route for the rendezvous. Whether he had taken his luggage or hig notes, or both, was not definitely known, but he was coming. Who got the news was not said, but possibly the C.l.D. could throw some light on the subject. Everyone seemed to make ready at this news, and, when the big swing-doors opened and Mr. Nott hove in sight, he was favoured with over 300 stares that would have made any ordinary man feel like a Polar explorer in summer underwear. But not so the doughty member from up north. The man who defeated Theodore is not the sort of fellow to refrigerate thus, even though he is married. He’s the sort of man the ladies like - straight eyes, firm mouth, determined jaw and straight legs. He came, he saw, and he had tea.
After he had tea the honorable member was ushered on to. the platform, but his audience was pretty cold. He found it was necessary to get on to a subject which would warm them up, and he then dealt with what he .alleged to be the socialistic government of Queensland, which he said was running the country in such a way that capitalists were leaving it. According to him people refused to invest their money in undertakings that would be heavily penalized by the socialistic government of Queensland, that was bereft of brains. Any one has merely to go to Queensland and compare the Opposition in the State Parliament with the Government party there to learn that all the brains are on the Labour side. In the last State election for Herbert there was a Labour majority of 10,500, which does not auger well for the honorable member for Herbert at the next Federal election for that division. I want now to refer to the honorable member’s statements regarding the area of land that has gone out of cultivation in Queensland. In reply to his remarks I quote the figures of the Commonwealth and State statisticians. I find that in 1914 the area of land in occupation under all classes of tenure, except pastoral holdings, was 69,000,000 acres, and in 1924, after ten years of Labour rule it had increased to 92,000,000 acres. The value of crops was £5,679,000 in 1914, and £13,992,000 in 1924, an increase of £8,313,000. The value of dairy products - butter, cheese, condensed milk- was £2,393,000 in 1914, and £4,726,000 in 1924, an increase of £2,333,000. The production of wool in 1914 was £6,707,000, and in 1924 it was £15,563,000, an increase of £8,846,000. The number of owners engaged in cultivation was 22,048 in 1914, and 29,719 in 1924, an increase of 7,691. The number of dairy establishments, exclusive of factories, was 18,029 in 1914, and 22,599 in 1924, an increase of 4,570. The value of primary industries in 1914 was £51,099,000, and it had increased to £71,129,000 in 1924, an increase of £26,030,000. The capital value of rateable lands in shires was £44,482,000 in 1914, and £51,858,000 in 1924, an increase of £7,376,000. One might point to other figures that are even more convincing. There has been a wonderful increase in wealth production in Queensland since the Labour party came into power in that State. The honorable member for Herbert was a very popular visitor at St. Kilda, and, although wildly extravagant statements might go down with 300 women behind closed doors, they will not be accepted by fair-minded people. We must deal with facts when the good name of a State is at stake. During the rule of Labour in Queensland wealth products increased from £51,000,000 to £85,000,000 per annum. The output of manufactures increased from £25,000,000 to £38,000,000 per annum. The value of farm products increased from £6,700,000 to £12,200,000 per annum. The Savings Bank deposits increased from £10,100,000 to £21,400,000, and the deposits per head of population from £14 19s. 6d. to £24 “19s. Id. The total asets in all banks increased from £24,600,000 to £59,900,000. The population increased from 670,000 to 850,000. There is no evidence from these figures that capital is leaving Queensland or that people are afraid to go there to settle. What are the figures of the excess of immigration over emigration for the different States! These are the figures supplied for last year by the Commonwealth Statisttician-
I ask honorable members and others who may have been influenced by what the honorable member for Herbert said, to consider the facts I have submitted, and the further fact that at the last State elections the Labour Government was returned with a greatly increased majority. All the members returned for electoral divisions included in the Commonwealth Division of Kennedy were Labour members, and, with one exception, all the member* for the State electorates included in the Federal electorate of Herbert. The people of Queensland have spoken since the last Federal elections.
They, are on the. spot; they know the facts,, and they returned the Labour’ Go.vernment again to power. I have obtained from ‘the Queensland Lands Department figures -showing the total area under occupation in Queensland under short grazing and ‘ pastoral leases. These are altogether different from the perpetual- leases. I admit that there has been a falling off in the area under occupation under grazing and pastoral leases, but that is a system of land tenure that was in vogue long before Labour came into power in Queensland, and it has nothing whatever to do with socialistic administration. Other factors operating were the fall in the price of meat which rendered the meat industry unprofitable, and the spread of prickly pear, which is increasing at the rate of 1,000,000 acres a year in Queensland. The total area in occupation under short grazing and pastoral leases was 332,287,599 acres in 1915, and in- 1925 it was 298,525,256- a decrease of 33,762,343 acres. I have quoted figures to show the very great increase in the area under occupation under other systems of tenure, amounting, approximately, to 30,000,000 acres, which quite offset the last figures quoted. In speaking’ of the reduction in the area under occupation, the honorable member for Herbert referred to the area under grazing and pastoral leases, and not to agricultural land at’ all. The figures he quoted are, I. submit, accounted for very largely by the ‘depression in the meat industry. From 1915 to 1919 fabulous prices were obtained for Queensland meat. There, were certain contracts with’ the British Government which made the rearing of cattle profitable during the war period and for some time later. But the bottom fell out of the; market for meat. The Argentine during the war retained its position in the London meat market. It also improved the transport facilities for stock, and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in building up its herds in order to breed an early maturing and better type of beast. By that means it captured the British mar-; ket;. furthermore, it is a fortnight nearer the world’s market,, and when the meat agreement with the British Government expired, Australia had lost most of its former customers. In consequence, there-.was serious.
Mr. Forde. loss in Queensland; people” were forced to. accept from 30s. to £% per head for their’ cattle, and millions of acres of inferior lands, held- on short leases, oni which cattle had been- run, were abandoned. Furthermore, fully i0,000j000 acres were rendered useless by the spread’ of prickly pear. For these things the Labour Administration was in no way responsible. As a matter of fact,, it stood four-square behind the Commonwealth Government in regard to the payment of a bounty on the export of meat, in order to assist Queensland cattleowners. In the brief time at my disposal this afternoon I have said sufficient to convince people who have been thinking of migrating to Queensland not to be diverted from their intention by the anti- Queensland speeches of the honorable member for Herbert. He did not intend his speech at St. Kilda to be published in Queensland, but its’ publication in the Victorian press did great damage to the good name of the State he is supposed to represent. The Queensland Government provides for its people much more generously than does any other Government in’ Australia, and, as a result of its beneficient administration, it has been continuously in office since- 1915- a record that cannot be equalled by any other Australian Government. If Labour rule were as bad’ as the -honorable’ member for Herbert said it Was, would the people of Queensland tolerate its continuance! It is true that the railways Of. Queen’s, land show a deficit : but the policy of the Labour Government is not to increase fares and ‘freights in order to make the railways- pay: but to subsidize’ the raH-* ways from ‘general revenue, arid thus give1 ‘ cheap freights on “ produce, and cheap fares to people who live in the back-blocks of Queensland. The honor bie member did not tell- the ladies of St. Kilda, and, through the press, the people” of’ Victoria’ what the Labour party in Queensland is doing for women who are not so well circumstanced as the members of the Women’s National League. Maternity hospitals have been established throughout the State to provide the best 7ssible attention for noor. people, and save them from the extortionate fees charged by profiteering doctors. The ladies at St. ; Kilda would have been keenly interested to know- that the Labour party has established, throughout Queensland, chains, of free ‘baby clinics, in charge of competent nurses, in connexion with which doctors lecture weekly so that mothers may be educated in the care of their offspring. The honorable member for Herbert did not tell the ladies of tha National League that, as a result of Labour rule, the allowance in Queensland for orphans has been increased from 4s. to 10s. per week. He did not tell them of the success of State insurance, and the miners’ phthisis allowances, and increased compensation paid thereunder. All this the Labour . Government has done without imposing excessive taxation on the poor man. In fact a man with a wife and three children and in receipt of not more than , £500 per annum is exempt from taxation. The honorable member said that the people of Queensland are being fleeced. The Labour Government taxes those who are best able to bear the burden of taxation, but Queensland is essentially the place for the man who is prepared to work, and the Government stands for giving him decent wages and living conditions. The Brisbane Daily Mail wrote in February, 1924, after nine years of . Labour rule-
Secondary industries have made such progress in Queensland that the output of factories are valued at £40,000,000. New industries are opening every week.
Those figures do not substantiate the statement of the honorable member for Herbert that people will not invest capital in Queensland. As a patriotic Queenslander, I believe that State to be one of the most prosperous in the Commonwealth, and, as a patriotic Australian, who does not believe in taking advantage of party political meetings to defame the land of his birth, I am glad to know that Queensland welcomes people from other parts of the Commonwealth, and provided they can be absorbed in industry, people from the United Kingdom who will help us to make that State the brightest gem in the diadem of the Commonwealth. In his unpatriotic speech at St. Kilda the honorable member for Herbert considered a petty party advantage of more importance than the good name of his State and Australia generally.
.- It is a true statement that when a Ford- gives trouble one should look for something amiss under the bonnet. The backfiring to which “we have’ just listened indicates that something is wrong with the ignition of the’ honorable member - for Capricornia. -I have no desire to help him in getting that publicity in his electorate which he so keenly seeks; but I propose to deal with some of the wild hallucinations from which he seems to be suffering. -Apparently the success of the meeting at St. Kilda made him turn green with envy. I was delighted to have the opportunity to place a few facts before the Australian Women’s National League, not lest in their political enthusiasm they should be misguided enough to turn their eyes towards the Labour horizon. I believe that had that been necessary I would have succeeded in removing all danger of such an occurrence; but it was not so. At the outset of my address to them I deplored the fact that Queensland, with potentialities which made it the most promising of all the Australian States, should have its progress retarded by being afflicted with such a government as that of which the ‘honorable member for ‘ Capricornia is so. ardent a supporter. I referred to the first nine years of the Labour party’s rule in that State, and I am . surprised - that the honorable member should doubt statistics which I quoted on the authority of Mr. Theodore and the Auditor-General, Mr. Muir Robertson. It is plain to any impartial observer that, during those nine years, Queensland offered no inducement to persons to invest money there. Fortu.nately responsibility and experience have blown some of the froth from Labour politics, and the Government is not proceeding, further with some of its most radical legislative experiments.
– The majority of the electors in the State electorates within the honorable member’s division evidently value Labour higher than the NationalistCountry party combination.
– The electors of Herbert took the right view at the last Federal election and will, I am sure, continue to do so. The honorable member for Capricornia endeavoured to show that Queensland is. a paradise for the immigrant. It is true that its population has increased during recent years, but, concurrently, there has been an enormous increase in unemployment; in fact, wherever and whenever Labour has been longest and strongest in office, the greatest number of unemployed can be found. Last year Queensland paid out in unemployment doles £278,000, notwithstanding that for twelve years it had beguiled the people with promises to abolish unemployment. The honorable member for Capricornia has little occasion to pride himself on the result of the last State elections in Queensland. In every electorate whose allegiance to the Labour party was in doubt, mushroom camps of workers were brought into being before the election. Not even the honorable member for Capricornia can deny that a month before the election 200 men were shifted from Brisbane to the North of Queensland, only 40 of whom had employment.
– Two hundred men would not make much difference to an election.
– I am citing only one of many instances of the kind. The honorable member should be the last to provoke a discussion upon the success of the Labour party in the last State election. He quoted statistics regarding trade development, and sought to create an erroneous impression as to their significance. He does not realize that it gives quite an erroneous impression to quote the value of the output of any commodity to-day and compare it with the value of the output of that commodity in 1914. The honorable member knows perfectly well, from his own figures, that the State cattle stations have consumed more fat bullocks than they have sold. I have no wish to detract from the humanitarian legislation introduced by any government, and I am always willing to give it my support; but the Queensland Labour party is merely extending the humanitarian principles laid down by its predecessors, notably the administration led by Dr. Kidston. The honorable member for Capricornia, who knows the facts, should have the courage to state them. He should not go out of his way to misrepresent them. However, I am glad that he has had an opportunity to satisfy his vanity. It is the second effort he has made to embody in Hansard the ebullition he has worked off this afternoon. I do not blame him. He must work particularly hard to keep his seat, and if propaganda of this sort will enhance his chances of re-election he is welcome to make as much use of it as he can.
On various occasions learned judges and others have made caustic comments upon the mentality of some of the recently arrived immigrants who have come under their notice. It is true that in many instances men of the criminal class, and others who are mentally deficient, are finding their way to our shores, and I urge upon the Minister the necessity for issuing instructions to the health officers overseas, who carry out the examination of migrants, to see that each migrant produces, in addition to a certificate as to his character and state of health, a family history sheet, which’ is the most important thing in any medical examination. It is perfectly obvious that if families have mental deficients they will be only too glad to get rid of them. Thinking that a change of environment may have a beneficial effect, they are only too willing to promote the emigration of these mental deficients. In these circumstances, in the interests of the” immigration scheme we are all anxious to see succeed, the Minister would be well advised to issue instructions for the production of a family history sheet covering at least two generations. I am sure that would be the means of excluding from our shores many persons who are mentally deficient. No insurance company accepts as final the preliminary medical examination or the clinical history sheet of an applicant. A final decision is not arrived at until the referee has read the family history sheet of the person who is seeking to be insured. He knows full well that a close scrutiny of a family history sheet may indicate many transmissible mental diseases and defects ‘ which make a man an incubus on society in general, and show only when he becomes of mature age. In conclusion, I wish to give the honorable member for Capricornia a little more food for, reflection by reminding him that only last week, under the socialistic regime in Queensland, railway fares were once more increased, by 12 per cent.
.- I take the earliest opportunity of refuting some of . the erroneous statements made by the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott). It will be noticed that as the honorable member had not a sympathetic audience of ladies, such as he had at St. Kilda, he was obviously punctured and flat. He made a very poor exhibition, and he could not stand up to the extraordinary statements he made to a sympathetic group of women. He could not show that there is, to-day, more unemployment in Queensland than there was in 1914, because the facts are that in 1914, under a Liberal Government, the unemployed in the State numbered 17.7 of the workers in industry, whereas last year, under a Labour Govern- ment, they numbered 6.55 per cent. In 1924, when the number of unemployed in Queensland was 6.4 per cent, of the population, the number of unemployed in Victoria, the State- which the honorable member holds up as a paragon of political virtue to the rest of Australia, was 7.1 per cent. In the following year, the percentage of unemployed in Victoria had increased to 8.6 as against 6.55 in Queensland. Under Labour Government, the population of Queensland has increased from 670,000 to 850,000. It would be only reasonable to expect that in an attempt to absorb that great increase there might have been some difficulty in providing employment for every one, but the Labour Government has so far succeeded that there are now fewer unemployed in the State than there are in Victoria. If the Queensland Government had been indulging in a destructive policy such as that alleged by the honorable member for Herbert at his St. Kilda meeting, would the increased population have been absorbed, would the. number of factories have increased, and would there have been a greatly increased production from the farms, as compared with the previous decade under a Liberal Government? The honorable member has advised me to speak in quantities and not in values. The figures relating to quantities tell the same tale as the figures relating to values. The following table shows” a substantial increase in production during the ten years from 1915 to 1924, under Labour rule, as compared with the previous ten years under Tory rule: -
These figures do not bear out the honorable member’s argument that a huge socialistic octopus is strangling the man on the land in Queensland. The increased output of sugar has been made possible by the encouragement given to the producers through the establishment of cane prices boards on which the farmers have some voice as to the price they should be paid for their sugar, and by the sugar agreements initiated by Labour. For 1923-24, the value of production in Queensland per employee was £865 as compared with £730 in Victoria. As an Australian I want to see the whole of Australia developed, but as a representative of a Queensland electorate, I resent the unpatriotic speech made by the honorable member for Herbert at that meeting of ladies at St. Kilda. When it becomes known in the Herbert electorate the honorable member’s fate at the next election will be that of the national candidates at the last State election, who were 10,500 votes behind their successful Labour opponents.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
.- Some time ago, the Government was requested, on behalf of the pearl-shellers of Western Australia, Thursday Island, and elsewhere on our coasts, to undertake the control of pearl-shell for export from the Commonwealth, and a draft bill was subsequently forwarded with the expectation that it would be proceeded with at an early date. On other occasions. I have pointed out to honorable members that, at present, the pearl-shell industry is in the hands of monopolists in the United States of America, for the British market has been closed since the war. It is essential, if this industry is to prosper in Australia, that those engaged in it shall have some measure of protection. I should like the Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson) to intimate whether the Government intends to make the bill one of the first measures for consideration next session.
– I shall reply to the honrable member when the vote for “ Miscellaneous services “ is being considered.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– In behalf of the Library Committee, I present a report in connexion with the Hardy Wilson collection of drawings of old Colonial architecture, and ask the Clerk to read it.
The Clerk read the report as follows : -
The Library Committee has the honour to report as follows with reference to the Hardy Wilson Collection of Drawings of Old Colonial Architecture : -
This collection consists of 100 pencil and crayon drawings of the best examples of Colonial buildings in New South Wales and Tasmania, erected between the years 1790 and 184.0, together with 50 large sheets of measured line drawings and architectural plans. Mr. Hardy Wilson, a leading architect in Sydney, devoted ten years to the making of this collection, and searched over 20,000 square miles of country to discover the best types of buildings to be depicted; some of the finest examples have since been demolished, while others, such as Burdekin House and Governor Macquarie’s Barracks, are already doomed. Indeed, it can safely be said that in a few years’ time few examples will remain of what is regarded as the most interesting and important architectural style that Australia has produced; in fact, the name “Macquarie Architecture” has been coined for it.
In March, 1925, the collection was offered to the Commonwealth National Library for tha sum of £3,500. After inspecting the collection the Library Committee obtained from the Art Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Historic Memorials Committee a report. In that report the Board unanimously “ recommends that the Commonwealth National Library should acquire the whole collection.” It further sets out that “ the collection is unique on account of its great historical, architectural, and artistic value,” and “that the price, viz., £3,500, placed upon the collection is a moderate one.”
Conditional upon’ the Government being willing to make the money available the Committee offered £3,000 for the collection, which was agreed to by Mr. Hardy Wilson. The Chairman of the Library Committee then approached the Treasurer, but without success. On the 17th April the Committee applied to Cabinet, but its recommendation was not approved, though Cabinet expressed its willingness “ to consider the purchase of ten typical examples.” To this the Library Committee replied pointing out, not only that the value of the collection consisted in its completeness; but, also, that the price that would have to be paid for a selection would be out of all proportion to that at which the whole collection can be acquired, and repeating its request that Cabinet should review its decision. In’ response to this second appeal, and in the face of an overwhelming mass of support by architects, historians, and artists, including the offer by two prominent .gentlemen of Melbourne, each to contribute £250, so that thecollection might he preserved to the nation. Cabinet re-affirmed its former decision.
.- I move -
That the report be printed.
I trust that the Government will give honorable members “an opportunity to discuss this important matter to-morrow.
– The Government is quite prepared to do so.
– In that case I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted;, debate adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or request : -
Federal Aid Roads Bill. - Customs .Tariff Bill.
.-I, . move-
That the schedule to the Customs tariff 1921-26 be further amended as hereunder Bet out, and that on and after the twelfth day of August, 1926, at 9 o’clock in the forenoon, Victorian time, duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs tariff as so amended.
That, excepting by mutual agreement or until after six months’ notice has been given to the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand, nothing in this resolution shall affect any goods the produce or manufacture of the Dominion of. New Zealand entering the Commonwealth of Australia from the Dominion of New Zealand.
I regret that I have not been able, on this occasion, to provide honorable members with a table showing the extent of these proposed alterations in the tariff schedule, but it will not be difficult for them to follow my verbal explanation. No alterations are at present proposed in British preferential tariff on any item referred to in the motion. The intermediate tariff has been altered in some cases, but as that is not operative at present owing to our reciprocal treaties, only the general or foreign tariff is affected. The alteration proposed in the general tariff in sub-item “ (c) (1) bar, rod other than, wire rod in coils, angles, tees,” &c, is an increase from £4 to £6 per ton. No alteration is proposed in sub-item (c) (2), which is included in the motion simply to retain its connexion with the items that surround it. The general tariff on subitem “(e) (1)’ Wire of No. 15 or finer gauge,” is raised from 35 per cent, to 45 per cent. The present rate for sub-item “ (e) (2) Wire, fencing, of gauges 18 to 14,” &c, is- -British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent ; foreign, 10 per cent. It is now proposed to increase the general tariff to £6 per ton. It is proposed to increase the general tariff on sub-item “ (e) (3) Wire, other,” from £4 10s. to £6 per ton. On item “ (p) (1) Hoop iron one-eighth of an inch in thickness,” &c, has been raised from £4 15s. to £6 per ton.
– The British preferential tariff has not been raised at all ?
– It is not affected by any of these proposed alterations. The general tariff on sub-item “ (f) (2) hoop, n.e.i.” remains unaltered, but the deferred duty on it is raised, under the general tariff, from £4 15s. to £6 per ton. The general tariff on sub-item “ 154 (a), Rails weighing 50 lb. per yard and over,” is raised from £3 15s. to £5 per ton; on sub-item 154 “ (b),” from £4 5s. to £6 5s. per ton; and on sub-item 154 ““(c),” from £4 15s. to £6 5s. per ton. In sub-item c the foreign duty is raised from £4 15s. to £6 5s. In item 155 the two sub-items are raised from £4 10s. to £6 5s. In item 157 the general rate is increased from £5 5s. to £9. In item 158 the foreign, or German, rate is raised i from 10 per cent, to £.10 a ton, which will make the duty, roughly, from 25 to 30 per cent. In item 159 the first sub-item is not altered. In the second sub-item the. foreign duty is raised from £4 10s. to £6 per ton. It will be noted that the resolution provides for a substantial alteration in, and addition to, the foreign duties on many important items of iron and steel manufacture. The intermediate rates have also been increased, but they are not operative in the reciprocal trade relationships now in force with other countries. This industry in Australia affects about 15,000 men directly, and sustains a population of at least 100,000 people; and the mining and shipping of iron ore, the mining of limestone, coal, fluorspar, and manganese in the States greatly extends the direct employment given, and increases the value of this, the biggest industry in the Commonwealth. The Tariff Board commenced its inquiry into this industry on 12th January, 1926, and submitted various reports to me, the last of which was received on the 17th ultimo, less than four weeks ago. The main report consists of nearly 100 pages, and there are 400 or 500 pages of evidence. The Government has not yet finished the consideration of these reports, and will be engaged upon that task for some time to come. In addition to the investigation and report by the Tariff Board, a close investigation of some of the items has been made by the department. The proposals now before the committee are the considered conclusions of the Government, after a careful analysis of all the facts. I freely admit that all the items in connexion with this great national basic industry have not yet been considered, and that they must be considered from many stand-points. For instance, iron and steel is, to a large extent, tlie raw material of other industries, and further fiscal proposals may therefore have a repercussive effect on other industries. The effect upon transportation, and tlie principles of British preference recently laid down by this Parliament, have also to be kept in mind. In the short time available, the Government has had, consequently, to concentrate upon some of the vital and most urgent requirements of the industry. Although consideration could not be given to the whole of the detailed requirements of the industry, it was felt to be essential, even at this last moment of the session, to take the opportunity before Parliament adjourns to safeguard the industry from the cheap labour and unfair competition of foreign countries. The necessity for such action, is accentuated by the effect of the changed conditions in the operation of the Industries Preservation Act. As honorable members are aware, towards the close of last year, owing to the stabilization of the German currency, it was not possible to place any dumping duty on imports from that country. The effect of that was not fully appreciated for some months ; and I am assured, and have, seen definite proof from the leading hardware distributers of Australia, that within the last two months iron and steel products have been offered on the Australian market from the continent of Europe at prices which would paralyse the local industry. During the past few weeks my attention has been very forcibly drawn to the precarious state of our local industry through the attack which is being made by the representatives of foreign steel interests. Prominent and representative hardwaremen have assured me they were continuing to stand by the local companies only because of the promise of the Government to do something to protect the local industry. These leading distributers have stated definitely that if nothing were done to restrict the competition of foreign steel, they would be forced, in self-defence and for purposes of self-preservation, to cease dealing with the local companies and to place themselves in a position to meet their competitors by purchasing lowpriced foreign material. The only possible result would have been that the local companies would have had to close their works.For these reasons the Government felt that it was imperative that some action should be taken immediately to safeguard the iron and steel industry from this attack. It is pointed out that the British industry is suffering severely owing to importations into the United Kingdom of continental steel manufactures. The quantity of iron and steel imported into Great Britain last year approximated 1,500,000 tons, valued at nearly £8,000,000.
– Some of which will reach Australia with a British brand on it.
– Not if I can help it.
– The Minister will need to be very clever to prevent it.
– I agree with the Leader of the Opposition, that it will be a difficult task; but steps have already been taken to give effect to the intention of Parliament. I assure honorable members that if I find too much difficulty - and I fear there will be difficulty - in proving that importations of iron and steel from Britain are bona fide, I shall, as the Minister responsible to this Parliament, throw the responsibility and the onus of proof on the importer. The same invasion that is crippling British steel interests also menaces Australia. The Government felt that it must do something to meet the competition of the gigantic German steel trust, which has been formed to develop the export trade of that country. Honorable members will appreciate the condition brought about in the iron and steel industry in Great Britain by the disastrous coal strike in that country ; and it has to be remembered that even if this strike is settled almost immediately, a considerable time will elapse before the British industry will recover from the blow that has been dealt it. The Government considers that the revision of the British preferential rates should be postponed until next year - I hope early in the year - when I promise that an opportunity will be given to honorable members to discuss any alterations in the British preferential tariff on iron and steel, which the Government may consider advisable, in order to safeguard the Australian industry against British competition.
– In other words, this schedule is only an instalment of the tariff.
– In addition to the suggestions of the Tariff Board, the department has, ever since the board’s reports were received, most exhaustively analyzed the position so far as foreign duties are concerned.
– When will that report be printed ?
– Not until the Government has completed its consideration of it. I have, together with the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, given considerable attention to this most important matter. The necessity for the duties now proposed by the Government against foreign importations has been clearly demonstrated, owing to the recent attacks from the Continent of Europe upon this industry. Although the duties now proposed are in some cases substantial, I assure honorable members that there is no alternative to them if the industry is to be preserved. No Commonwealth Government can last unless it cares for that great basic industry of iron and steel. As an indication of the urgent necessity for increased protection against European continental competition, it may be pointed out that the wages for a skilled fitter in the engineering trades are: - Germany, £2 3s. a week; and Australia, £5 6s. 6d. a week. The wages for an unskilledlabourer in the same trades are: - Germany, £1 3s. 5d. a week; and Australia, £4 13s. a week. I have had a vivid illustration to-night of what the effect of continental, and particularly German, competition will be unless we care for our own industries. A gentleman who manufactures a line of iron goods came to me and said, “ Can you do anything for me. I must go out of business, because of German competition. The agents of that country kept back their imports and their attack upon me until after the tariff was finished.”
– Did he prove his statement ?
– I believe that he is present in this chamber, and if the honorable member wishes, I shall introduce him to this gentleman, who is a reputable citizen, and has rendered fine civic service to Australia, so that he may hear of his experience from his own lips. I have the assurance, which I believe can be accepted, that there will be no alteration in prices to the consumer as a result of these increased foreign duties. It will be realized by honorable members that a subject so far-reaching and important as this must have the closest consideration of the Government, and I promise honorable members on behalf of the Government that the fullest analysis and attention will be given to the vital and proved requirements of this industry, so far as other phases are concerned, and any further conclusions arrived at by the Government will be submitted to this Parliament as soon as possible after it meets again for the ratification of these and any other tariff proposals found to be necessary.
– I ask the Minister to report progress, and also to make available to honorable members as early as possible the report of the Tariff Board on this industry.
.- The Tariff Board’s report will be made available to honorable members before any ratification of the tariff schedule is asked for, but. at present it is still under the consideration of the Government in respect of various other aspects of the industry. I move -
That progress be reported.
.- I wish to briefly discuss the tariff schedule.
– The honorable member cannot discuss the schedule at this stage of the proceedings.
– Will the Minister give an assurance that we shall have an opportunity to discuss the schedule before Parliament adjourns ?
– There can be no discussion on the motion before the committee.
Motion agreed to; progress reported.
Question proposed - That the House will, at a later hour this day, again resolve itself into the said committee.
.- I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without protesting most emphatically against the procedure which was adopted in committee in connexion with this important schedule.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask whether the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) is in order in discussing the tariff schedule.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Perth have, so far, been in order. He has entered a protest against the action of the committee.
– I protest against this motion, because it prevents this House from considering one of the most important matters that has been brought before it. The method by which the tariff schedule has been introduced is most unusual and extraordinary. We have been prevented from debating the schedule, because, under the Standing Orders, no discussion can take place when progress has been reported. The business of the committee has been taken out of its hands..
– The honorable member cannot discuss what took place in committee.
– Before a vote on the motion is taken, I wish to know from the Minister whether honorable members will be given an opportunity to consider this schedule before the House rises for some months, as is - generally supposed it will, to-morrow. Surely more information is due to honorable members respecting the business still to be transacted ? If we are to be used simply as pawns on a chessboard I, for one, most emphatically protest against this undignified and unworthy proceeding. Rumour is rife that it is intended to prevent any discussion on this schedule this session, and if so it is a very improper procedure.
.- I rise to support the objection raised by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). I am aware that I cannot discuss the tariff schedule, but I protest against this procedure, because of the special nature of the business that it is proposed to postpone. The mere moving of a motion such as that, the discussion of which it is now proposed to postpone, brings it into operation. The honorable member for Perth, myself, and other honorable members, are surely entitled to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) whether we are to be permitted to discuss this matter later to-night or to-morrow, or whether the procedure adopted is an attempt by the Government to shelve any further discussion of it this year.
– If I speak now it may prevent further discussion of this matter at the present stage, which would probably be unprofitable. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) complained that he had been deprived of the right to discuss the motion of the Minister for Trade and Customs. That is not so.
– The honorable member missed his opportunity.
– What opportunity?
– The opportunity to speak on the matter in Committee of Ways and Means.
– No opportunity was then given.
– Yes ; the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) spoke.
– He merely asked that progress be reported.
– Order ! It is not in order for honorable members to discuss what took place in committee.
– The Leader of the Opposition asked that progress be reported, and the Minister for Trade and Customs agreed. The Government has no desire to prevent discussion on this matter if honorable members wish to discuss it. The Government thought it was consulting the convenience of honorable members by the procedure adopted. If there is a general desire on the part of honorable members to discuss the matter, the Government is prepared immediately to give the assurance than an opportunity will be provided for its discussion.
– Before we rise to-morrow ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply:
Consideration resumed (vide page 5298).
Proposed vote, £464,904.
.- I want to bring under the notice of the Treasurer the position of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). As honorable members are aware, his election took place about a month later than that of other members of the committee. This was due to the very large area which the honorable member represents. I now suggest to the Treasurer that, in the matter of salary, it is very unjust that the honorable member for the Northern Territory should occupy a position different from that of other honorable members. His salary should date from the same time as that of other honorable members. I think I need say nothing further on that subject.
There is an item in the Miscellaneous Estimates of £200 for maternity allowances paid under special circumstances. I wish to bring under the notice of the Treasurer the great injustice done to many women in Australia who are denied the maternity allowance. The act provides that, if a mother is an Asiatic, she is not entitled to the allowance. That provision has operated very harshly. I do not think that there is one member who took any part in the passing of the Maternity Allowance Act who anticipated that it would debar from the allowance females who came to Australia in their infancy, were reared here, and married Australian citizens. I could refer to’ several cases of hardship, but I shall mention only one. I speak of the case of a woman who when she came to Australia was a child in arms. She was born at Mena in Syria; she married an Australian native, and has now a family of four children. Each time she made application for the maternity allowance it was denied her on the ground that she was not a British subject, and was, by birth, a Syrian. I did my best to have this case dealt with. The case was brought under the notice of the Home and Territories Department by an application on the part of this woman to be naturalized.For the information of the Treasurer, I quote the reply she received from that department: -
In reply to your letter of 21st June, relative to naturalization, I ‘desire to inform you that you are deemed to be a British subject by virtue of your marriage. Regarding your claim to maternity allowance, that is a matter which concerns the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions, Sydney, with whom , you should communicate.
There is clear evidence that the Home and Territories Department recognizes that any woman who marries an Australian becomes a British subject. Yet, while this woman is a British subject, and has resided in Australia since she was less than twelve months old, she is not entitled to the maternity allowance. That is very unfair. If an Australian woman marries a Chinaman, although her husband is an Asiatic, she can obtain the maternity allowance. We could remedy the matter in five minutes, and the time has certainly arrived when this Parliament should do justice to these people.
– I very much regret that provision has not been made in the Miscellaneous Egtimates under the control of the Treasury Department for the payment of salary as suggested to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). Now that the matter has been raised’ in this Chamber, I shall, with the approval of the committee, take steps to see , that an amount equivalent to a month’s salary, from 14th November to 15th December, 1925, is paid to the honorable member out of the Treasurer’s Advance, to be subsequently appropriated by supplementary estimates.
With respect to the other matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) the law, as it at present stands, definitely excludes from participation in the maternity allowance all women of Asiatic birth. Although many Syrians are of the Caucasian or European race, they are undoubtedly of Asiatic birth. I admit that the case quoted is a hard one. The trouble up to the present has. been to find a form of words to overcome the difficulty. Today, the Leader of the Opposition mentioned the matter to me privately, and I believe we have since been able to find a form of . words to overcome the difficulty. I intend to submit it to the Government, and will bring down, if not immediately, then as soon as the House resumes after the recess, a measure ‘ to remedy what is undoubtedly an injustice.
– In connexion with the nonpayment of maternity allowance to women of Asiatic birth, I may inform honorable members that in North Australia persons are admitted to the Commonwealth as Greeks, but when they make application for the maternity allowance they are informed that they are Asiatics.’ If they are Asiatics they should be debarred from coming into the country under the Aliens Restriction Act. If they are allowed to enter as Europeans they should be entitled to the maternity allowance.
.- In the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) who, I am aware, is engaged in very important business, I ask the Treasurer to bring under the right honorable gentleman’s notice an item appearing in the Miscellaneous Services Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department - “ New Hebrides, Grant for special services, £1,000.” I am aware that we have no right to, in any way, dictate conditions regarding the New Hebrides. They are ruled under a Condominium, but we are interested in them in so far as they are jointly controlled by the British and the French. It is proposed to grant £1,000 for special services in connexion with the New Hebrides, and I am not quite sure what items are covered by the vote. Probably the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) knows more about it than any other member of the committee in the absence of the Prime Minister. What I wish to say is that we certainly have had some alarming reports about the New Hebrides from missionaries who have gone there from Australia, and if we can do anything to improve the condition of affairs there, socially and morally, it is our duty to do so. As the Prime Minister is about to attend the Imperial Conference, I think it right and proper to bring these reports under his notice. The islands lie in close proximity to Australia, and I think the Prime Minister should bring the condition of affairs there under the notice of the British Government. If he desires detailed and accurate knowledge of the conditions in the New Hebrides, I suggest that the Rev. Mr. Paton, of the Presbyterian Church, is very well informed on the matter. Some of his. revelations are indeed astounding.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Refunds of Revenue (£800,000) agreed to.
Advance to Treasurer (£1,500,000) agreed to.
War Services Payable out of Revenue.
Proposed vote, £1,119,006.
.- At this stage I desire to draw your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the fact that it is increasingly difficult for honorable members sitting on the corner benches to hear what is said by Ministers, and at times to follow the business being transacted. Moreover, votes are being hurried through the committee at a galloping pace. This afternoon, the pro posed vote for the Works and Railways Department was taken so quickly that the estimates for the greatest spending department of the Commonwealth were agreed to without discussion, merely because honorable members did not understand what was happening. It is the responsibility of the Chair* to protect the interests of honorable members.
– I assure the honorable member that every protection will be afforded to honorable members. I shall endeavour to see that their right of speech is safeguarded.
– My complaint does not apply to you, sir, but I ask that the Chair shall clearly state to the committee each proposed vote.
.- For some years, honorable members have been accustomed to hear strong criticism of the War Service Homes administration throughout the Commonwealth. Now that the department is functioning more successfully, it is only fair that anything which one knows in its favour should be said. Recently I had an opportunity to inspect some of the work of the War Service Homes Commission in Sydney, and I deem it my duty to inform the committee of the conclusions at which I arrived. In Adelaide, I inspected the Thousand Homes scheme, of which the people of South Australia have every reason to be proud, but I can justly say that the War Service Homes Commission in New South Wales is doing even better work. I saw a large number of houses which had been built by the commission, and in respect of price, design, and internal comfort, they compare favourably with work done in any other part of Australia. It is surprising that the Federal Capital Commission has not copied some of the methods of the War Service Homes Commission. Honorable members may be surprised to learn that five-roomed, brick, tile-roofed buildings, are costing from £700 to £850, including land. These homes are being purchased by the occupiers, who repay principal and interest at the rate of £3 19s. 4d. per month, over a term of 37 years. They are not merely artisan’s cottages; 60 per cent, of them are occupied by clerks, and some by professional officers. It might be supposed that Sydney offers special facilities for cheap construction, but evidence before the Public Works Committee disclosed that houses are being built in country districts at equally satisfactory prices. For instance, at Goulburn, a five-roomed brick house, containing 1,000 square feet of floor space, cost £770, including land ; a five-roomed house at Yass, with 1,250 square feet of floor space, £850; and another at Bowral, of the same dimensions, £822. I have a large list of homes in country centres, built at costs ranging from £58 6s. to £73 per square. I mention these facts so that honorable members may realize the good work that the War Service Commission is doing. The Federal Capital Commission is anxious to maintain a high standard of construction at Canberra, but, obviously, officers drawing under £400 per annum cannot be expected to rent or buy dwellings at the prices which the commission is asking. I do not insinuate that construction under its control is unnecessarily expensive; the evidence taken by the Public Works Committee shows that building costs at Canberra are approximately 20 per cent, above those in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, but the fact remains that the houses being erected at Canberra are too expensive for the majority of the officers who will be expected to occupy them. I, therefore, suggest that the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories should draw the attention of the Federal Capital Commission to the excellent work that is being done by the War Service Homes Commission. Whatthe latter body has been, able to achieve in different parts of New South Wales should be possible at Canberra.
.- I appreciate the remarks of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay), and I take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the magnificent work done by the late Senator E. D. Millen in connexion with the housing of returned soldiers. He conceived the scheme for the provision of homes for soldiers on the land and in the towns and cities. One fact of which sight has been lost is that every soldier who was provided with a home by the commission paid only the actual cost price. No profit was made by the commission. Some . phases of War Service Homes administration may well be forgotten, but this gratifying fact should be remembered, that- if all the soldiers’ homes were, submitted to auction -not simultaneously, of course - the aggregate return would show a magnificent increment on the original purchase price. In a scheme so gigantic there were bound to be errors, and worse than errors, but the commission is now on a sound basis, and its practice of letting contracts to working artisans might well be followed by the Federal Capital Commission. Under this system, the large margins which contractors are bound to allow in order to. protect themselves against possible variations of awards, are obviated. Reputable working artisans, forming what are practically small co-operative groups, can be financed with safety from public funds, and their operations supervised by offioers of the Works Department in the Federal Capital area. Such a system might bring about that reduction in the cost of housing which is long overdue.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £626,368.
.- The general management and conduct oi the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway is excellent. The conductors are more like superior ship stewards, and attend to the comfort of passengers in a manner that is unequalled on any other railway system in Australia. The catering also, having regard to the difficulties associated with it, is of a very high standard. For some time,- however, I have felt dissatisfaction with the slow progress in the ballasting of the line. Plenty of labour is available. The mining industry on the eastern goldfields of Western Australia has not fared well in recent years, and a large number of men have been thrown out of employment through the closing of one of the largest mines on the Golden Mile. When a fine class of workman is available at Kalgoorlie I think it is a suitable occasion for undertaking a work that should be completed at the” earliest possible moment. The Commonwealth Railways Department has splendid quarries along the line which could be opened up, and many among those who are now unemployed should be eminently suitable for this class of work. The speed of the transcontinental trains is limited by the fact that for half the distance the line is npt ballasted, andI have been told- by those who ought to know that the journey could be reduced by several hours if the whole of the line were ballasted. I hope that the Minister will see that more money is provided for this purpose.
.- A very strong deputation waited on South Australian members in Adelaide on Saturday morning last, and two gentlemen from the Alice Springs district have come to Melbourne to interview the Minis,ter for Works and Railways and the Minister for Home and Territories to ask that proper attention should be given to the wells “on the stock route from Central Australia to the head of the railway at Oodnadatta. They complain that although the cattle season has commenced they cannot get their cattle down to the Adelaide market in good condition owing to the fact that some of the wells on the stock route are completely neglected, while others which are in charge of adjoining settlers do not supply sufficient water. In the case of these latter wells the lessees utilize the water for themselves, and their stock eat out the whole of the country for miles around. The trouble in regard to the other wells, for the upkeep of which no one seems to be responsible, is that drift sand gets into- them, and when a mab of cattle comes down they have no possible chance of getting water. As the wells are far apart it is a calamity to the owners of cattle to find no water where they expect to water their beasts, and the result ‘is that although their stock are fat, when they leave the stations it is. impossible ‘ for’ them, to reach the market in good condition. The gentlemen from Alice Springs say that when the State had - charge of this portion of Australia they never experienced any difficulty in regard to this stock route; that even if there was no food available, there was always plenty of water. In- those days the route was properly patrolled and the wells were kept in good order.
– They were patrolled by officers of the Commonwealth Government until recently.
– I know that the Commonwealth Government formerly patrolled the route, but the patrol has . evidently been abandoned or else it is absolutely inefficient. It would be infinitely more appropriate for the Government to look after the wells in its own territory than to spend money on great national highways in the States. The outlay required would not be considerable. No better man could be employed than Sergeant Scott. He could make use of the natives, through whose aid he formerly got a. really effective service. As a matter of fact, he lias done a lot of. work for a tithe of what would be spent under a red-tape system. But, in any case, this stock route ought to be properly patrolled, and sufficient accommodation should be provided for travelling stock.
– Are there enough wells on the route?
– The gentlemen from Alice Springs declare - and the honorable member for the Northern Territory endorses it - that in earlier years the provision of wells was thoroughly satisfactory.
– It is agreed that the immediate future, development of the Northern Territory will be based on stock raising, but before stock can be successfully and economically handled stock routes must be in such a -condition that there will be a reasonable chance of talcing cattle to the market in a reasonably fat condition. At present in some cases they have to travel from 70 to 90 miles without water; and when it is realized that 8 or i0 miles is a good day’s travel for stock this means that sometimes they have to go seven or eight days without water.
– More wells are required.
– It means’ that the wells now in existence are not in good repair. Many have been neglected and have fallen in. I received a telegram the other day informing me that another well had fallen in. When the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) and I were in Central Australia we were told by the stockmen that certain wells were out of order, and that it was impossible to draw water from them. We sent urgent telegrams to the Minister in reference to the matter, but on our return we were informed, from official sources, that all the wells were in good condition on a certain date. It is more or less true that, all the wells were in a workable condition on the date mentioned, but it would not’ have been true had the date been a day earlier. As the result of our telegrams to the Minister, police constables and others were sent out with ropes and buckets that should have been provided all along. At present it seems to be no one’s duty to attend to the stock routes in the Northern Territory. In the northern portion of the Territory the routes are fairly good. There, huge earthen tanks hold many hundred thousands of gallons, so that 5,000 to 10,000 head of cattle may be supplied with water already drawn. In the south, however, the stock are dependent on 10,000-gallon tanks at wells. In view of the prominent part that cattle will play in the development of the Territory, it is not asking the Government too much to put down wells at 10-mile intervals, so that travelling stock in the droving season, if they miss water at one well, may not have to go for more than two or three days without water. Under existing arrangements it is impossible for stock to get the necessary water in the droving season, for the simple reason that the tanks at the wells do not hold a sufficient supply. One or two mobs can be watered, but subsequent mobs must go without water. I have seen cattle, already five days without water, arrive at a well and wait another five days before they could get a drink. There are 20,000 gallon tanks on these wells, and these are leased to small settlers who, as the honorable member for Wakefield has just pointed out, not only utilize the well water, but also eat out the whole of the country for hundreds of miles around. The effect of this policy is to make a stock route almost valueless. Unfortunately these settlers do not keep the tanks full. Where there is a 20,000-gallon tank quite full the first mob of cattle arriving will drink 10,000 gallons, leaving 10,000 in the tank for a second mob. If a second mob arrives on the next day it will drink the remaining 10,000 gallons, but in another two days a further 8,000 gallons should be stored so that a third mob may get a drink. Quite recently one particular tank was three parts empty, and the first mob of three travelling along the route drank all the water in it, leaving none for the two following mobs; and although these had just completed a dry stage the only courses open to them were to wait Until the tank filled or set out upon another dry stage of 50 miles. I have frequently asked the Minister to attend to these matters. I am told that there are men employed in sinking wells. I happen to know that many competent well-sinkers are available in Central Australia, but for some unknown reason the department seems to let all its contracts for well sinking to a pastoralist who employs natives to do the work for him while he attends to other matters. The result is that many of these wells have been in progress of sinking for upwards of eight months without being completed.
– Is not that contractor awaiting certain tank material in order to finish one or two of the wells?
– No. A returned soldier named Sharp sank a well in eight weeks, while another well, which was in hand eleven months ago, is still unfinished .
– What is the average depth of the wells?
– The deepest is about 200 feet, but the average depth is 50 feet. The difficulty is that the contractor employs natives, and there is no one to supervise them. The natives will not work unless they are supervised.
– Sharp is a most useful man.
– He is one of the best well sinkers in the Territory, and if the Government would give him charge of its wells he would keep them in good repair. Any one who knows anything about mining knows that in sandy soil wells and shafts fall in immediately the timbers are displaced, and they need constant supervision to be kept in order. I trust that the Government will give this matter early consideration.
Stock-owners in the Northern Territory have been anxious for a long time for the Government to permit them to hire trains of a minimum of fifteen trucks instead of 25 as at present, in order that they may rail their stock to market more economically than at present. A man in a certain belt of country which gets rain a month earlier than that a few miles away, has cattle ready for market a good deal earlier than his neighbours, but if . ‘he is only in a small way of business and wants to truck, say, 200 head of stock to the market, he does not require a train of 24 or 25 trucks for the purpose. If the Government would allow a minimum train of fifteen trucks, I believethat it would be advantageous to all concerned. And surely these battlers in the pioneer industry of the Northern Territory are worthy of that consideration. Representatives of the stock salesmen’s associations and the stock-owners’ associations interviewed >a number of members of the Federaland South Australian Parliaments . on the 7th August, and made representations along these lines. Thememorandum of the interview contains the following paragraph -
Mr. McLachlan, in introducing the matter for discussion, stated as a result of a deputation which had previously waited on Mr. Artlett, the Commonwealth Railways Superintendent at Port Augusta, the . minimum number of -vans necessary to constitute a special cattle train -from -Oodnadatta., had -‘been reduced from 25 to 22, -but agents and owners alike were very insistent that it was imperative . that this number should bc reduced to 1’5. It was admitted that, owing to drought conditions obtaining, the Commonwealth Government had temporarily reduced . the numbers to 15,but the trade . required that 15 trucks should at any time constitute a starting train from Oodnadatta, which, of course, should be added to at any down-.theline station where cattle were waiting. It is considered that if the Commonwealth Government insisted on 22 trucks, it will possibly result in a loss of haulage, because small owners, being unable to fill up the 22 trucks, will he compelled to walk the . cattle further down the line, thus showing a loss to the Government, and also to the possible detriment of the cattle.
That is surely worthy of the earnest consideration of the Government. .
The cattle raisers in the- Territory . are also of the opinion that when they hire a special train for their own purposes they should be entitled to use it to bring in their annual stores from the south; but that is not permitted at present. If the Government would concede this to these pioneers, it would be an incentive and an encouragement to them.
. -I take it that the item of ?13,400 for expenditure on railways in the Federal Capital Territory is required for the existing line between Queanbeyan and Canberra, which, by the way, is the only
Commonwealth line that is showing a profit. But something will have to be done to maintain it in proper order. I once more urge the Government to agree to the construction of a line from Yass to Canberra. I know that this proposal was adversely reported upon by the Public Works Committee a few years ago.
– The New South Wales Government promised years ago that it would buildthe line.
– I know all about that matter. Ata conference held sometime ago between the late memher for Eden-Monaro, Sir Austin Chapman, and the New South Wales Minister for Railways, Mr. Ball, at -which I -was present, Mr. Ball intimated that as soon as the Commonwealth was prepared bo carry out its agreement New South Wales would begin to construct the line. I have no desire ‘to cast reflections upon the Public Works Committee, but it is regrettable that it had such a limited vision. Since it made its inquiries, however, Queanbeyan has grown into a town with a population of 5,000; the population of Canberra has increased from 2,00.0 to 5,000 ; . and Yass has become one of the -most progressive towns in New South Wales. Railway connexion with Yass is imperative if the Federal capital is ever to become the city that we expect it to be. I have . no doubt that the Public WorksCommittee determined this matter according to the evidence submitted to it, but the decision should be reviewed. One member of the committee told me that he would never vote for the building of this railway ; ‘but that is an entirely wrong attitude to adopt. He also said that the country between Yass and Canberra was altogether too poor to justify a railway. I disagree with him. The parcel of wool “for which the highest price was paid in New South Wales last season was grown on country between Yass and Canberra. That may not indicate that the country is . first class, but it is certainly evidence that it is not poor. If that locality had not been chosen for the Federal Capital, I feel certain that the State Government would long ago have provided it with railway facilities.. Our failure to build this line is not only delaying the progress of the capital, but it is also considerably adding to the cost of building there, because of the congestion on the Goulburn-
Queanbeyan railway. If the YassCall.berra line were built the southern States would be brought about 100 miles nearer to Canberra. I feel sure that, had there been an honorable member from New South Wales on the Public Works Committee when this matter was considered, it would have been more favourably determined.
– That is a parochial view.
– I do not think so. I trust that the Government will again refer it to the committee, for the line is indispensable if Canberra is ever to become a hub of interest. I say that, not because I represent that locality, but because I earnestly believe that it is ‘true. It is not only my own opinion. Recently a meeting of honorable members of this Parliament interested in the development of Canberra carried a motion in favour of the construction of the railway, and the Canberra Vigilance Committee in Sydney carried a similar motion. I am pleased to say that these meetings were not confined to members from New South Wales.
– The honorable member is desirous that other than New South Wales money shall be spent on this project.
– The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) would be ready enough to vote for the expenditure of public money at Ballarat, but Ballarat is only a village compared with what Canberra will be in the future.
.- When the Commonwealth assumed control of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway, it was said that the working expenses of the line would be considerably reduced, “but that has not been the case. In 1924- “.25 - the last full year that the railway was controlled by South Australia - the expenditure on it was £172,000; last year, during half of which the Commonwealth had control, it increased ‘ to £284,000; and this year it is estimated that it will be £286,000. I have no doubt that the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) can explain why those marked increases have occurred, and I trust that he will do so.
Requests have been made on numerous occasions that our transcontinental railway should be provided with wireless faci lities. It has been said that this is not practicable, but as the great Canadian railways and the railways of Germany have wireless facilities, I can see no reason why the East- West railway should not have them. If that suggestion were adopted, passengers travelling by rail across the continent would be able to keep in touch with civilization. As it has been done in Canada and Germany, it can be done here.
Second class sleepers are provided on the transcontinental railway, and are much appreciated. From Perth to Kalgoorlie, on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, second class sleepers are also available. It is true that there are six persons in a cabin, but they, at least, are able to lie down. The price was 3s. 6d., but I believe it is now 5s. a night. From Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, second class sleepers, of a very fine type, with four passengers to a cabin, are provided. On the South Australian express, however, from Adelaide to Melbourne, a second class passenger, after spending three nights on the train from Perth, cannot have a sleeper, because the Victorian and South Australian railways do not provide them. In that respect, the State railways are behind the times. Second class sleepers are provided in Queensland.
– Second class sleepers may soon be provided on the joint rollingstock of the Victorian and South Australian railways.
– May we have them soon ! In the meantime, second class passengers are having a hard time. I know that the Minister has approached the commissioners of railways in Victoria and South Australia. One would have thought that- a man like Mr. Clapp, who, in other respects, has a railway system that is ahead of the times, would follow the example of the Commonwealth railways, and provide second class sleeping accommodation. Second class sleepers should also be provided on the New South Wales railways.
– I wish, in a few words, to reply to the lecture delivered to the members of the Public Works Committee by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins). I do not know whether the honorable member has taken the trouble to read the committee’s report on the proposed railway from Yass to Canberra, but, if he does so with an unbiased mind, he will agree that no one at the time the inquiry was made could have recommended the building of that line. It was stated in evidence that there was no possibility of the railway paying. The estimated cost was over £400,000, and would result in the huge loss to the taxpayers of £90,000 to £100,000 per annum, and that there would be really no demand for it for several years. It was stated that passengers from Melbourne would lose only about four hours by having to travel via Goulburn. I am surprised that any member of the committee should be condemned by the honorable member, and I should like to know the name of the member to whom he referred. The committee always endeavours to make its recommendations according to the evidence placed before it.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) is aware of the fact that the east-west railway is 1,051 miles in length, and that the ballasting of the line is a heavy job. Over 500 miles have been ballasted, and the Treasurer has provided £50,000 this year to continue the work. I should like to see the work completed at once, but it is quite impossible to realize all our hopes in that direction. I give .the honorable member my assurance that I shall push on with the work, and, so far as the money available will permit, shall endeavour to employ some of the men who are out of work at Kalgoorlie. I have no doubt that such men will be very satisfactory for the job.
– What will it cost to complete the work?
– I am unable to give the honorable member that information. Ballast costs the Railway Department from about lis. a yard, but recently we obtained tenders from private firms, .who asked from £2 15s. to £3 a yard.
I travelled along the stock route between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs, and north of Alice Springs, about twelve months ago, and inspected all the wells. A supply of only 600 gallons a day was available for stock at Deep Well. At Maryvale a large amount of water was stored in the well and the adjacent tanks. Burt Well, Connor’s Well, and Ryan’s Well, north of Alice Springs, were in excellent condition. Recently the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) complained that one of the wells was out of order. I regret to say that some one had misused that well; the bucket had been allowed to nin to the bottom, and the rope was snapped and the bucket destroyed. The Government has to consider whether it is a right policy to provide more wells on that route. The sum of £1,700,000 is being spent on railway construction between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs, and it is a question whether more money should be spent on wells which will enable graziers from the north to travel their stock along the route in competition with the railway. We are building this line at great expense for their benefit, and although the Government should keep the wells that are there in good order, I hold that it ought not to provide more wells that may tend, to induce the graziers not to use the railway. I saw stock being travelled, and I realize the difficulties that exist in the dry season. I saw 350 cattle between Alice Springs and Deep Well. They were expecting to be watered at Deep Well, but when they arrived there little or no water was available. I made inquiries of Johannsen, who was in charge of the well, and I have no doubt that .he ensured that his own cattle had plenty of water. The well, however, was providing very little water. The cattle were then travelled to Maryvale, and we overtook, them 8 or 10 miles from there. Although there were competent stockmen-, with the herd, it was almost impossible- tO’ restrain the animals. They could smelL the water; the pack horses had bolted,, and the cattle were out of condition. I have no hesitation in saying that between Alice Springs and Maryvale the value of the cattle depreciated by about £2 a head.
In all railway concerns a minimum size for trains is fixed. If ihe consignor wishes to take advantage of the low rates at which we convey stock in train loads, he must provide us with train loads, for obviously, we cannot give him’ the same concessions if he provides only half train loads. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie will readily see that the losses or» that linehave been great, but they wouldbe even greater if we carried the- stock at reduced rates.. During the last twelve months there has been an unparalleled drought on the: Oodnadatta Railway, followed by serious floods, the likeof which we had not previously seenfor 40 years. The result has been that many miles of railway earthworks have had to be re-made, and bridges and culverts have, had to be repaired and replaced. Therefore, a large amount of money is. required to meet expenses thisyear.
The sum of £13,400 has been placed’ on the Estimates for the railway line in the Federal Capital Territory. That amount is the least we can do- with. In addition, there will be capital expenditure required for the extension of the station yards at Canberra, and for making deviations to raise the line between Canberra and Queanbeyan above flood level.
Although good second class- sleeping berths are provided on the transcontinental railway, and are very much appreciated’ by passengers, I. regret to. say that we have not been able to induce either the Victorian or the South Australian Government to provide second class sleepers between Adelaide and Melbourne. We have done all we can in that matter, which now rests entirely with the States.
Proposed vote agreed to..
Proposed vote, £9,655,480.
.- A large amount of money is provided: on these? Estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I congratulate the Postmaster- General on the facilities he has provided in country districts, but- I am amazed at the difference between the amounts to be spent, in the different States on new post offices1 and alterations: to existing post offices. In Victoria, 29 alterations are to be made, ‘ and 27 new offices are to be built ; in Queensland, nine alterations are to be made, and 30 new offices are to be built–
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Makin). - That item is not before the committee.
.- I wish to refer to wireless communica tion between England and Australia, and other equally important, places in the world’.. I ask. the Postmaster-General whether the Commonwealth’s final contribution of: £250,000 to the capital of. Amalgamated Wireless Limited has been: paid in cash, or whether, it- includes a valuation of the. stock and plant taken over by the company under clause 6 of the Wireless Agreement. I assume that that valuation runs into some thousands of pounds.
– A sum of £56,500 has been deducted for stock and plant taken over by the company.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral make available for the perusal, of honorable members a copy of the agreement between Amalgamated Wireless Limited and the Marconi Trust, under which an undertaking was entered into that we should have . a. wireless service with Great Britain, according to the liberally extended schedule, in February, 1926. The Commonwealth is not really a party to that agreement; but seeing that we are indirectly dependent upon its fulfilment for the service that has’ been promised to us, I think that we are entitled to discuss it. As- a matter of fact, we know that the agreement has not been fulfilled. I am looking’ forward with great confidence to- the month of October; because, after many postponements, we have- an “ultimate and absolutely final” promise that the service will be established not later- than that month. The- PostmasterGeneral seems’ to labour under’ the quite erroneous impression’ that I have somewhere said that the service which Amalgamated1 Wireless Limited has undertaken to’ give to- Australia1 can never at any time be accomplished. I should he very foolish to say that, and certainly would be the last to presume to set limits upon scientific advancement in that or any other department of knowledge.
– I did not suggest that.
– I am glad to have that assurance. If the PostmasterGeneral clearly understands me as having said that, in 1922, when this company entered into certain covenants to give us a wireless service, there were no scientific data that could justify any such covenants, I am satisfied. If he agrees with me- when I say that, when it broke its agreement in 1922) therewere still no scientific data upon which the company could enter into further covenants to give the same or a similar service in 1924, then I am satisfied as to that breach also. And if he admits that there are still no scientific data upon which this company can guarantee an effective service during this year, then I am satisfied that my case has been completely established up to date. I have not the slightest doubt but that it will be for me next year to point out that Amalgamated Wireless Limited is still in default.
– I hope that the honorable member is unduly pessimistic.
– I hope so, too. Some day, in the unknown future, I confidently expect that we shall have such a service as the company has agreed to give us, but by constantly re-contracting with the company to do something at some future date, which we know it cannot, then do, we bring about an absurd and indefensible position, which the Government ought not to be content to occupy. The company has repeatedly failed to honour its bond. When the PostmasterGeneral tells me that I have discussed this matter at least three times in the past, I tell him that if I am spared health and strength; and the right to represent the people in this Parliament, I shall bring it up- so long as the Commonwealth Government continues to hazard the people’s money in. a company that has repeatedly broken its obligation to this Parliament. On each successive occasion that I bring this matter before Parliament, my case will be stronger. The Prime Minister was good enough to say; on one occasion, that I had spoken some arrant nonsense in connexion with Amalgamated Wireless Limited, and its assets, at the time that we entered into the contract with it. Speaking of myself, he said that if I were investing some surplus wealth - an experience which I have not yet enjoyed - in a company, I would not proceed to examine’ the title deeds of the company, nor1 would I appoint a. valuator to check its values. The “ arrant nonsense,” I think, comes from the- Government. Is it not arrant nonsense- to sug’- gest that any individual or any government is’ justified in contracting with another party; which claims to have assets to the value of £500,000, and requires the second contracting party to put up cash to the same amount - is it not the height of absurdity to say that the second contracting: party would not be justified in a close- scrutiny and valuation of the assets of the party invitinginvestment. The right honorable gentleman said that back in. 1922, I did not raise the question of the value of the assets of Amalgamted Wireless, their patent rights, their freehold land and premises, their stock, their furniture and fittings, and so on. Possibly I did not do so in 1922’, but even if I did not, and I do not admit it, that is no excuse for the Government not. looking into the matter in 1926, seeing that it has been proved, to demonstration, that no reliance can be placed upon the representatives of this company in regard to any of these matters, and that the company has- constantly broken its agreements with the Commonwealth. I wonder would the Postmaster-General, if he were invited to put £1,000 into a- company’ whose only asset- was £1,000, and consisted of patent rights in certain inventions extending over a number- of years - would the honorable gentleman who administers the post office in a businesslike way, just as he administers his own affairs, be persuaded to put £1 into at venture: of that kind without close examination and analysis of the assets and capital of the other partner or partners in the company? He would not- be guilty of such monumental folly. No one knows that better than the Prime Minister, who appeared to think that in this matter strength of language can make up. for weakness of argument. He would force it down the throats of honorable members on this side that it was- folly to suggest that an investor should inquire into what really constituted the capital, actual or fictitious, of a company in which he was asked to invest. I do not claim- indulgence to answer categorically a number of misrepresentations made by the Prime Minister when speaking on this matter in the course of another debate; but as the right honorable gentleman has ventured, to challenge my political honest in dealing with the question, so far as the balancesheet of the company is concerned, I propose to put in the balance-sheet of
Amalgamated Wireless to the 30th June, 1925. It is not very long, and here it is : -
That is the latest available balance-sheet of the company. When referring to it before I called attention to the fact- that operating expenses, directors’ and’ auditors’ fees, and general administration expenses amounted to £128,291. I referred to that figure for the purpose of showing, as I now repeat, that this Parliament has no check whatever upon the expenditure of this company, in which its money is invested. I pointed out from the directors’ report, that the managing-director, Mr. Fisk, was touring the world with his staff, without any control or supervision whatever by the Commonwealth, whose money was put into this concern with such a lavish hand. I quoted this figure, not for the purpose of making, at the moment, any comparison between working expenses and receipts, or to show whether the company was or was not paying. I merely mentioned it as an illustration of the amount of money that, in fact, was being expended in the management of this company, over which the Commonwealth has no control, but in which it has a very substantial pecuniary interest. In this regard, I stand by everything I said on the subject. In answer to my contention regarding the the impracticability at present of providing the service that the company has agreed to provide, the Postmaster-General assured us -
The Rugby station is transmitting to Australia every morning to every morse reader who has a set that will receive on the wave length of that station.
He proceeded to say that he had conversed with Senator Marconi, who had assured him that, in his opinion, the service could be continued during at least seven hours of the day. That may be possible, but I am not greatly impressed with Senator Marconi’s opinion - not because I have a poor opinion of his scientific knowledge, but because we have become accustomed for a long time to hear indirectly from him that this service was capable of realization, while, in truth and in fact, it has not been realized. One is not allowed to make wagers in this Chamber, but I prophesy that there will be no commercial service between Australia and Great Britain in October next, as promised in the company’s latest undertaking. This House will not re-assemble until after October, and if, when it does meet, Amalgamated Wireless Limited is transmitting between Australia and the United Kingdom at the rate of 21,000 words a day each way for 300 days in a year, or for any lesser period to which a fair test can be applied, Ishall concede that, if the company has not justified its association with the Commonwealth, it has at least done something to repair its frequent breaches of the agreement. I have. not the slightest doubt that ultimately satisfactory commercial services will be established throughout the world. Any one noting the various improvements that are being effected in the system, and being in a moderate degree optimistic concerning the advancement of science, must realize that almost anything is possible in wireless.
– The company must continue experimenting or it will not achieve anything.
– But must it continually make agreements to do things which it is not doing? That is the only matter with which I am concerned. The company has pooled the Commonwealth into this agreement on representations which were vain and false. It contracted to do that which it knew was impossible, and now it is promising to establish a service at a certain date, when it knows that that also is impossible in the present state of knowledge.
– Does the honorable member say that the company knew that its guarantee was false?
– I do, indeed. When the Parliamentary Committee took evidence from all the available experts in Australia, none would take the responsibility of saying that this service was scientifically possible within the contract time. The only man who said that it was easily possible was the gentleman who was trying to pool the Commonwealth into the agreement - the managingdirector of Amalgamated Wireless Limited, Mr. E. T. Fisk, who tried to bluff the committee until the acid was put upon him, and then he backed down and admitted that he had not the facts to justify his undertaking. He had not got them then, and he has not got them now. If he lives long enough, and continues repeating statements that he knows are not justified by the facts, some day, like the punter on the racecourse who is constantly backing losers, he may back a winner. Up to the present, he has been consistently wrong. This is not the time for reconsidering all the facts concerning this more or less discreditable agreement with the Marconi Trust, into which the Commonwealth has been drawn, and by which the development of wireless in Australia has been deliberately and wrongfully hampered. If we had not bound ourselves to Amalgamated Wireless Limited and the Marconi Trust, satisfactory tests between Australia and England could have been carried out long ago. The British Government will have nothing to do with the Marconi Trust, except within well-defined limits, and “upon secure conditions, and will not hand , over (wireless communication between the heart of the Empire and the various dominions to any foreigncontrolled trust. In that attitude, the British Government is absolutely right, and in harmony with the policyof the Labour party. Every political party in Great Britain has successively taken the same stand. By our alliance with the Marconi Trust, we deliberately retarded the progress of wireless in this country. The Prime Minister excused the. company’s repeated non-fulfillmentof the agreement by saying that the Marconi Trust could not get a licence from the British Government to erect a high-power station in Great Britain. We all knew that it could not get such a licence. The Prime Minister took the responsibility of saying that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when called as a witness before the committee, had declared that he had not the slightest doubt that the British Government would give the necessary licence to Amalgamated Wireless Limited. The . right honorable member for North
Sydney had no more right to express that opinion than had Mr. E. T. Fisk to say that a commercial service, such as -that undertaken to be rendered by Amalgamated Wireless Limited, was then possible. But the British Government did not grant the licence that the right honorable gentleman said he had not the slightest doubt it would grant. I say not only that the British ‘Government . did not grant such a licence, but also that the Tight honorable gentleman had no basis on which to make that declaration.
– That is not correct.
– I am putting that forward as my view.
– The honorable member is not in a position to say anything about the matter.
– I here and now invite the right honorable gentleman to tell this committee on what evidence he based that -declaration. If he can satisfy the committee, himself, and me, the debate will not have been entirely fruitless.
– The honorable member’s statement does not affect the position in any way.
– My contention is supported by the statements of various governments in Great Britain that have had to do with the matter. It is not my ipse dixit; I rely on the quotations that I have made in this Chamber and elsewhere,_ and the evidence that I have adduced in this debate, and on previous occasions, to the effect that it. was totally against the policy of the British Government to give such a licence so long as the Commonwealth Government was a pawn in the hands of the Marconi Trust.
– That was not the reason.
– It was one of the reasons, and the main one.
– The honorable member will, no doubt, indicate where the words that he alleges were uttered by me in this House are to be found.
– I refer the right honorable member to the speech of the Prime Minister.’
– I shall be judged only by my own words. The honorable member, as a lawyer, ought to know that the Prime Minister’s words are not evidence against me.
– I was a member of the committee that investigated the matter, and I heard the evidence presented to it. My recollection of that evidence-
– Is not evidence against, me.
– What I heard is evidence, and my recollection is that I heard the right honorable gentleman say that it was a certainty that we could get the necessary licence for the erection of the corresponding station in Great Britain.
– Produce the bond.
– There is no bond. The evidence was given by word of mouth.
– Where is it?
– It was not recorded, but it was heard. If the right honorable gentleman was wrong, a vital part of the Prime Minister’s case is destroyed.
– These “ if ‘s “ are nothing. If the honorable member had not been born, he would not have been elected for Batman.
– I told the committee what I heard the right honorable member for North Sydney say, and I claimed that that was corroborated by what the Prime Minister had said. If the Prime Minister was wrong in what he and I attribute to the- right honorable member for North Sydney, a vital part of his case falls to the ground, since the corner-stone of his argument was that the British Government had misled the Commonwealth Government as to the granting of a licence for the erection of a corresponding station in Great Britain. The speech of the Prime Minister will be found in Hansard of the 21st July last, at page 4424. No doubt it is true that if we had built the high-power station in 1922 at a cost of £500,000, the cost estimated by Mr. Fisk, we should have acted wrongly, because with the march of science it has been proved that, whatever defects there may be in the beam system, at least it entails much less expenditure in the erection of stations than the high-power system. Probably the beam station that we have erected at Rockbank will be found unsuitable to meet the changing conditions arising from the advance in scientific research. It all proves what I have been saying; we have been accepting as established scientific facts theories that are entirely in the melting pot, and instead of conducting our experiments by communication with Great Britain - the dominion with the heart of the Empire - in a direct and in the least expensive manner possible, and in a manner in respect of which we should have had the entire sympathy of the British people and Government, we have tagged ourselves on to the Marconi Trust. We have antagonized the British Government, and have delayed by years any useful experiments that might have been made in connexion with this important matter. I can only hope that, eventually, we shall disentangle ourselves from our ill-fated association with the trust. Many opportunities have presented themselves. Every time the company breaks an agreement, we shall be justified in withdrawing from the arrangement. Doubtless, we shall have further grounds for withdrawal in another month or two. I suggest that we take advantage of one of these golden opportunities, and end an alliance that has proved futile and unprofitable to the Commonwealth ; and that we get back to the policy advocated by the Labour party and adopted by British Governments - Labour, Liberal, and Conservative - of dealing with matters of national communication on national lines, instead of handing over our interests to a private company or the adventurers employed by it to mislead this Government in the manner adopted by Mr. Fisk, its managing director. T contend that we should have proceeded with a bona fide experimental attempt between ourselves and our friends of the British Post Office, and in that way we should have eventually achieved results of some value to the people of the Commonwealth, although less profitable to certain interested persons, associated with the Marconi Trust and Amalgamated Wireless Limited.
– At this late hour I cannot be expected to follow the honorable member for Batman through the maze of his charges. He seems to be one of those who thinks that much repetition can take the place of arguments and serve instead of facts. For about the fifteenth time he has to-night repeated statements he has made during the last four or five years, producing no more evidence than at the outset. His attitude towards this proposal was hostile in the beginning. He is well known to be one of those who most often see the world through glasses of dark prejudice. When he sees clearly the world is an elysium, and everything is fair : but when his vision is clouded the world seems to him peopled by evil things, and nothing is right. In the main his contributions towards the national development of Australia have been singularly rare. He is afflicted with mental strabismus, he looks at everything asquint. The honorable member has ‘attacked the Amalgamated Wireless corporation, and the proposal to connect Britain and Australia by means of beam stations. I shall not attempt to reply to his charges in detail; but I propose to say one or two words upon the broad general issue, and explain the proposal which I had the honour to submit to this Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) admitted that the course I took was singularly fair, because I co-opted on an investigating committee a number of honorable members of the Opposition and of the Country party, thus making it absolutely representative of all the political parties then in the House.
– But the right honorable gentleman did not want a committee. It was not his suggestion. He opposed it.
– If I had not wanted a committee, how could there have been a committee 1
– The honorable member for Batman was a member of that committee.
– Of course ihe was. Even the greatest of men make mistakes, and I admit that it was a mistake of mine that the honorable member was on that committee. Be that as it may, after long and careful consideration the committee made certain recommendations which the House accepted by an overwhelming majority - I think without a division. It was recognized then, as it has been recognized ever since by all except the honorable member for Batman, that the proposal of that Government was national in its scope. Its purpose was to do that which ought to have been done long ago, and would have been done had it been possible with the knowledge then at our disposal, to bring nearer the different parts of the Empire, and’ to make communication between them more rapid and more economical. Australia suffers from its relative isolation. Its people depend for their livelihood largely upon selling their goods in the markets of the world, and it is vitally important that they should know what is happening in the world, and be able to communicate freely with the people of all nations. For many years, we have had to depend for this communication upon the cable company. No one can say that the people of Australia are well-informed on Empire or foreign affairs, though it is of vital importance that we should be so informed on both. The proposal (under discussion is one which, if it succeeds, will bring Australia within one-seventh of a second of the most distant places on the earth. For all practical purposes, we shall instantaneously be in touch with what is happening in Great Britain, Canada, and South Africa, and through those sources of information with what is happening in every other part of the world. So desirable was that object, that it was generally agreed that the Commonwealth should co-operate with the only company that was prepared to pioneer this scheme. The honorable member for Batman has said a great deal about Amalgamated Wireless, and has condemned that company because of its more or less hypothetical relationship with the Marconi Trust. He has spoken about the highpower station that was contemplated, and has talked of the march of science since that station was contemplated. Yet who has been responsible for the march of science in this matter but the man for whom the honorable member has nothing but sneers and condemnation. We owe to Marconi, whatever may be said of his company, practically everything that wireless now promises to the world. He has pioneered wireless. He has invented and perfected the beam system. The honorable member gloats over the possibility of the failure of this system, though it should cause him to weep tears of patriotic sorrow, because if the system fails our money will have been expended in vain. That in itself would be bad, but it would be worse if we were prevented from securing that close and intimate association” with our kinsmen overseas which is essential to the governance of the Empire. Perhaps the honorable member does not remember the circumstances surrounding the genesis of this pro- posal. Let me relate some of them. At the Imperial Conference in 1921 this matter was considered for the second or third time. It was unanimously agreed that a scheme to link up the Empire was essential. A proposal, known as the Norman scheme, was placed before the conference. It was not a Marconi scheme, but provided for relays at distances of 2,000 miles, beginning in England and finishing in Australia. Under that scheme the Australian station would have been the fifth or sixth from Great Britain, and consequently Australia would be the greatest sufferer from any delays that might cause congestion. At the time it was considered, by the opponents of Marconi that direct communication was impossible. I submitted that direct communication was essential to the welfare of the Empire, and the Government of Great Britain, directly and without reservation, gave Australia authority to establish a direct service. That authority carried with it everything that was incidental to the successful operation of such a service, including a station in Britain. That is the statement to which the Prime Minister was referring - a statement made by me in 1921 and which I repeat here this evening, namely, that everything that was done in this House in 1921 was done as the result of an agreement between the Governments of the Commonwealth and Great Britain. That authority is in writing, and before a proper tribunal I shall be prepared to produce it. The British Government in 1921, as now, was in favour of the control of Empire wireless in Britain being vested in the British Post Office.
I come now to the charge of the honorable gentleman that Amalgamated Wireless Limited, in entering into the arrangement, deliberately agreed to do what it knew to be impossible, and never intended to attempt. To put it mildly, that statement is false. There is no evidence to support it. It is a gratuitous and unprovoked insult. When pinned down to the point, and asked ‘ what it was that I had said about the arrangement, he was unable to do it. I challenge him to do it now. Whatever I said in 1921 I am prepared to stand by. Having failed to produce any statement of mine, the honorable member fell back on secondhand evidence - a reference by the Prime Minister to a statement made by me. The honor- able member should produce the statement that he says I made. He could then deal with the Prime Minister and with me, but until he produces it, he has no case. Amalgamated Wireless Limited is prepared to carry out its pledges - these “ monstrous and fantastic proposals in which no successful man would invest hi3 money.” I have nothing to do with the success or non-success of the company as a business venture; what I am concerned about is the proper investment of government money, and the success of a direct wireless service with Britain and Canada and South Africa. The reason which actuated me in what I did in 1921 exists to-day. This is a national enterprise, the success of which is essential to the welfare of this country. I shall do everything within my power to help it to success. I believe that it will be successful, and that belief is shared by multitudes of people in this country and in Canada, South Africa and Britain. The beam system, it is true, has not yet been subjected to a practical test over the vast distance that separates Britain from Australia. But it soon will be. This company is the pioneer of a great enterprise, and for that is entitled to honour and credit, lt may not. be a money -making concern ; but will any one say that its enterprise is not one in which some one should engage? It is strange to hear honorable members on the other side of the chamber condemn a company because it does not make profits. Usually the gravamen of their charges against capitalism is that it makes very great profits. Yet here is a company which, from that point of view, is free from stain, seeing that it has made no profit, and seeks only to provide the people of this’ country with cheap and rapid means of communication with the outside world. Without such communication we perish. Neither this Government nor this Parliament is concerned whether the company makes a profit, so long as it puts Australia by means of wireless telegraphy en rapport with England, Canada, and South Africa. That, I believe, it will do. It is true that some years have elapsed since the agreement was signed; but I remind the committee that this is no child’s play, it is a mammoth enterprise. I ask the honorable gentleman and all who oppose this proposal, who has succeeded, if we have failed? There have been highpowered stations - there is one in Britain - but they will not do what the beam system will do. Our withers are unwrung. The Rugby station has not provided the constant stream of communication which the beam system will provide, and the cost is enormous. Moreover, we are not in the position to send messages in return. All that Rugby can do the beam system will do and do much better. The beam system will put us in touch with Canada and South Africa; it will link up all parts of the Empire. It will permit the press of this country to obtain cheap news, and will enable the people of Australia to be better informed on world affairs. This is a great national enterprise, and the Commonwealth was happily advised when it embarked upon it. I believe that before the end of this year we shall see this scheme in active operation. Its success will cover the honorable member with confusion. For my part, I am satisfied to stand as one who believes in this proposal, and rejoices that circumstances prevented us from erecting high-powered stations by substituting a scheme which will save us hundreds of thousands of pounds, and promises much better results. I have only this further to say, that it is quite untrue that the British Government would have acted differently from the way in which they have acted had we adopted the Norman scheme, which was to place the control of the British end of our wireless operations in the British post office. While I never approved of that, it is only fair to repeat that the British Government Lave always stood fast by it. They contended for it in connexion with the Norman scheme, and the adoption of the beam system has not altered their attitude. Whether the post office is the best channel through which this service should pass is another matter. Britain must be mistress in her own household, and wo should not - at all events, publicly - criticize what she does there. In the avalanche of words which fell from the honorable member for Batman, there was not the slightest evidence to support his statement, nor the faintest trickle of reason for turning our backs upon this national scheme, which is expected to do so much for Australia and the Empire.
.- I said that the right honorable member for North Sydney gave evidence before the Wireless Committee at the end of 1921, or at the beginning of 1922, to the effect that he had not the slightest doubt that the British Government would give the necessary licence to Amalgamated Wireless Limited to erect a high-power station in Great Britain to give effect to its agreement - that was my recollection of the evidence that the right honorable member had given to the committee in my presence. I said, too, that my recollection of that evidence was corroborated by the statements made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). On the 21st July, 1926, the Prime Minister, referring to the right honorable member for North Sydney, said in this House -
The right honorable member told the committee that there was not the least shadow of doubt that the erection of such a station would be permitted, and that the station would be licensed by the British Government. Subsequent history disproved that statement.
– Where is the report of the evidence?
– The evidence of the committee was not reported. Only a summary of it was published. The evidence of the right honorable member to which I have referred was not regarded as of sufficient importance to be mentioned in the summary. I should like to ask the right honorable gentleman whether the statement of the Prime Minister that I have quoted is true or untrue?
– I have not read it.
– I have just read it to the right honorable member.
– I do not know whether the honorable member read it correctly.
– Then I invite the right honorable gentleman to turn to page 4,425 of Hansard and read it for himself. I leave the matter there, for I consider that I have amply proved my point.
.- I consider it a fair thing that I should tell honorable members what I can remember of the facts in this matter. When the right honorable member for North Sydney was speaking a few moments ago, he said that the only honorable member who opposed the ratification of this agreement was the honorable member for Batman. I have a distinct recollection that when this matter was before the Hmm towards the end of the session that year, an endeavour was made to rush it through. I, together with other honorable members on this side of the chamber, objected to that course being taken, for although the country was involved to the extent of £500,000, and was subscribing £1 more than half the capital of the company, it was not being given a majority of directors on the board of management. After discussion, it was agreed that” the whole matter should be referred to a committee of honorable members to report back to the House at a later date. So it is hardly correct to say that the honorable member for Batman was the only member who was against the ratification of the agreement.
– I said that he was the only member of the committee.
– If that is what the right honorable member said, I misunderstood him. I thought he said that the honorable member for Batman was the only member of the House who was against the agreement. The result of the committee’s investigations, of course, was that instead of the board of Amalgamated Wireless Limited being composed of a majority of non-Government directors, it was composed of an equal number of Government and non-Government directors with an independent chairman. Those are the facts of the matter as I recollect them.
.- I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the desirableness of giving more consideration to the position of allowance postmasters and postmistresses. According to the Estimates the business undertakings of the department will return a profit on the year’s operations of £147,520. In these circumstances something could surely be done to relieve the officers to whom I have referred of some of their burdens. Allowance post officers are not only obliged to find an office in which to carry o?ut their duties, but when they leave on holidays they are obliged still to provide the office in which their work can be carried on, and to provide a substitute to carry out their duties during their absence, and thus they receive no salary while they are absent. That appears to me to be an injustice. I ask the Postmaster-General to allow these officers a fortnight’s leave on full pay by the department providing a substitute aud paying the rent of the office; but if he cannot go so far as that, 1 trust that he will at least relieve them of the obligation to pay the rent of the office in which their work is carried on during their absence.
I commend the Postmaster-General and the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland for the satisfactory work they are doing, and I trust that they will continue to increase the postal facilities to people in country districts. These folk have sufficient hardships to endure without being called upon to subsidize their postal service. In answer to a question that I asked the PostmasterGeneral some time ago, he gave a list of the persons and companies in Queensland which are subsidizing their mail service ; but I did not find in it the names of quite a number of station owners, selectors, and others who, I know, are subsidizing the service they receive. This is a special tax on one class in the community,’ and, for my own part, I would rather see 2d. postage restored than l£d. postage continued at the expense of these unfortunate country dwellers. There are some mail services now w.t operating, though they were in active operation so long as 30 years ago; and, as a consequence, people out in those parts pioneering and opening up the country are suffering serious inconvenience and being much hampered in their activities. There are several pastoral areas affected in this way, but I am referring, particularly to the mail service to Lawn Hills mines. That is a very wealthy portion of the State awaiting development, and it is lacking communication.
Motion (by Dr. EARLE Page) agreed to-
That the House at its rising adjourn until 11 o’clock a.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 August 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260811_reps_10_114/>.