10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Leakage of Secret In formation.
– I desire to make a. personal explanation in regard to an answer which I gave to a question asked of me yesterday by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). The question related to the evidence of Commander Cresswell in the inquiry now being held by the royal commission upon wireless in Australia, and contained the serious allegation that attempts had been made to induce the Navy Department to exert its authority over that officer. I replied that the Government had no knowledge of any attempt to interfere with Commander Cresswell, and added that -
Very unfortunately, papers which came into Commander Cresswell’s hands in the course of his duties in the department, and were of a most secret character, dealing with a subject of great importance to Australia, were produced at the inquiry. That, I think, wag most undesirable.
Later, in Committee of Ways and Means, the matter was again brought up by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). In reply to what Be said, I dealt with the subject rather more fully, and stated that, in my opinion, Commander Cresswell had made public information which came into his hands as an officer of the Navy Department, and was of the most confidential character. affecting the defence of Australia. I intimated that I thought that most improper. When answering the question of the honorable member tor Yarra, and when speaking later, I had not had an opportunity of reading the minutes of the evidence taken by the royal commission. I had seen only a newspaper report. From that report I had formed the very definite opinion that Commander Cresswell had, in. giving evidence, disclosed information which came into his possession because of his official position, and had made known facts in relation to wireless of vital concern to the defence of Australia. Therefore, I felt it to be my duty to tell the House what I thought of that action. I have since seen the minutes of evidence, and have also ascertained that the First Naval Member, Admiral Napier, has read Commander Cresswell’s evidence, and has expressed his opinion that Commander Cresswell did not in it disclose anything that should not have been disclosed; that there was nothing in his evidence detrimental to the defence of Australia. In the circumstances, I feel that it is an obligation upon me to correct at once what I said yesterday, so that no injustice may be done to Commander Cresswell.
– (By leave)-! desire to inform the House and the country that Mr. James Scullin, the honorable member for Yarra, has been elected Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party.’
– Yesterday I asked the Attorney-General two very important questions. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman misunderstood me, or whether my interpretation of his reply is incorrect, but I wanted to ascertain from him how it would be possible to prevent the general possession of firearms. I therefore asked the honorable gentleman the following questions: -
I think I was entitled to ask those questions of the Attorney-General, who, like myself, is a servant of the people. I should still like to know what procedure ought to be followed to secure, either by the amendment of existing legislation or the introduction of new legislation, the prevention of the very general possession of firearms?
– The substance of the answer which I gave yesterday was that it is not the practice of this House for Ministers, in replying to questions, to express opinions on legal or constitutional subjects. Were that well-recognized practice departed from, the AttorneyGeneral might be besieged with legal conundrums of all kinds, and on his answers persons might take action. It is not the function of the Attorney-General to advise in general upon the interpretation of the law, and it would be a dangerous thing for him to attempt to do so. Reference to the rules set out for the guidance of honorable members in the framing of questions will confirm my statement. I add, for the comfort of the honorable member, that this at least is quite plain, that the Commonwealth Parliament has no power to deal with the general criminal law of the country; that is left to the States.
– To-day’s Commonwealth Gazette invites tenders for an aerial mail service between Adelaide and Perth. Is it intended that the service shall be for Perth and Adelaide only, or will mails be picked up and delivered at landing places en route. If that is not the intention of the department, will consideration be given to an amendment of the conditions of tender, so that intervening stations may get the benefit of the aerial service?
– When the tenders are received, that matter will receive consideration. No doubt mails for places along the route from Adelaide to Perth will be handled.
– Some time ago Australian artists were asked to lend their pictures for the decoration of certain public buildings at Canberra on the occasion of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the large collection of art treasures stored in the cellars of this building, and including many pictures by Australian artists, cannot be made available for that occasion?
– Historical paintings and drawings will be selected from the collection under the control of the Library Committee, and will be on view at Canberra during the royal visit. It is not possible, however, to allow these treasures to be distributed in different buildings; they must remain under the control of the Library Committee, and continue to be, as they were intended to be, part of the national library.
I take this opportunity to inform the House that, in addition to the marble bust of the late Sir George Turner, which is to be executed by Sir Bertram McKennal for presentation to the Commonwealth Parliament by the daughters of the deceased statesman, the Library Committee this morning accepted a generous offer by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) to present to Parliament a bust of himself by the late Mr. Derwent Wood, a very distinguished sculptor. The committee were grateful to the right honorable gentleman for his fine gift.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any information as to when the new telegraph line along the route of the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway will be completed?
– It is hoped that the line will be opened for traffic during the current month.
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be supplied to the honorable member as early as possible.
Children’s Display in Melbourne.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This is a function which is being organized and arranged by the State Government.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are -
Opening of Parliament House - Miss Nellie Stewart - Housing Conditions
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What is the interest rate being charged to the Federal Capital Commission for its loans for housing purposes, and what is the rate of interest being charged to public servants on their holdings?
– The rate of interest charged against the commission by the Commonwealth Bank for loans for housing purposes is 5^ per cent. The rate of interest on advances made by the Treasury has been fixed at 5J per cent, up to 30th June, 1927. In November, 192 G, the Commission advised that it would adopt 5£ per cent, as the rate of interest to be charged on the present housing programme.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether the additional gift of 12 ft. 6 in. of land, being portion of the property of the Commonwealth fronting Adelaide and Ann streets, Brisbane, and intended to form part of the Anzac Memorial Square, has yet been transferred to the Brisbane City Council?
– Executive approval has been given for the transfer of the land to the Government of Queensland, and the matter is now in the hands of the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor for the preparation of the necessary legal documents.
Inquiry into Commonwealth Shipping Line.
– (By leave). - In .a sub-leader the Age this morning attacked the Public Accounts Committee, of which I have the honour to be chairman, and charged it with dilatoriness in completing and presenting to Parliament its report upon the Commonwealth Shipping Line. The pertinent portions of the criticisms are -
For a year the committee has been inquiring into the finances and operations of the Commonwealth Shipping Line.
The inquiry was commenced ten months ago -
Citizens are curious to know what the committee has ascertained, and what conclusions it has reached; these things the committee declines to disclose. The patience of the public is severely strained, but, whether in inquiring or in reporting, members of the committee refuse to accelerate their pace. . . . These were some of the facts the Public Accounts Committee was invited to investigate, and it need be neither surprised nor hurt to know there is a wide-spread feeling that it has hastened with exasperating slowness. Fully allowing for the fact that the scope of the investigation was enlarged, it will be hard to convince the public that the committee could not have performed its task more expeditiously. Parliament itself is under some obligation to protest against the dilatoriness with which the committee has treated this important matter. Members of the committee cannot complain that the sittings of Parliament have imposed any strain on their energies and time. The many months of recess were available for their purpose.’ . . .
Apparently, the leader writer of that journal does not read what is published in its news columns. On the preceding day an article was published setting out why the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Commonwealth Shipping Line was decayed. That article stated, yesterday -
It was ascertained yesterday that the Public Accounts Committee has not yet prepared its report, nor has it agreed upon its recommendations.
A great deal of evidence was heard, but, in August last, the inquiry was suspended to enable the committee to begin another investigation, which, it is said, the Government desired it to undertake without delay. This was the investigation into the Islands mail service. Members of the committee visited the islands and heard evidence in various places, and it is now preparing its report on this subject. In the meantime the preparation of the report on the Commonwealth Line has been held in abeyance, and for the delay the committee accepts no responsibility.
I can only bear out what was stated in the special article in yesterday’s Age, that in the midst of our inquiry into the operations of the Commonwealth Shipping Board, the Government requested us to undertake another large inquiry respecting the shipping facilities of the Pacific Islands. Almost since the recess began the members of the committee have been engaged upon that inquiry. It was absolutely impossible for us to conduct two inquiries at once. During the inquiry into the operations of the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board 700 odd pages of evidence were printed, the committee examined hundreds of witnesses, and asked thousands of questions. It has done its work as well as any other committee composed of members of this House. In my capacity as chairman of the committee, I have amongst the ether members the name of being rather a nigger-driver. No blame is attachable to the committee for not having yet presented its report respecting the Commonwealth Shipping Board and the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.
– With the indulgence of the House, I wish to make a personal explanation respecting an alledged attack upon the Tariff Board by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) last night when 1 was absent from the chamber.
– Is the Minister referring to a statement made in committee i
– The Minister should refer to that matter in committee, because in the House there can be no official cognizance of what takes place in the committee.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House and U the best interests of Australia, the time has arrived for the repeal of all sections of the Navigation Act relating to the coastal trade.
In moving this motion I firmly believe that I am acting in the best interests of this great Commonwealth. No honorable member can conscientiously say that the Navigation Act as it now stands has been of any benefit to Australia. I have always been under the impression that the act was passed in order to build up an Australian mercantile marine, manned by an efficient body of Australian seamen, working under improved conditions. The British Government asked the Commonwealth Government not to give effect to this legislation because its operation would affect the whole of the Empire. The Navigation Act was passed for two ostensible reasons. One was to give the seamen better conditions and the other was to build up the Australian mercantile marine. As I have said, the British Government did its best to persuade the Commonwealth Government not to pass a Navigation Act. It advised that the Commonwealth’s powers, although paramount to those of the States, were not greater than those conferred on colonial legislatures, and the Commonwealth was informed that the British Government would be glad to give full consideration to any amendments of the Imperial acts which might be suggested from time to time. The Commonwealth Government was al:C informed that in exercising the powers of a central legislature His Majesty’s Government was always ready to meet as far as possible the views of any dominion government as to the steps necessary for the regulation of navigation. Subsequently Lord Crewe, then Secretary for State for the Colonies, wrote as follows: -
No doubt the shipping of Australia is still comparatively small, and the risks to which reference is made may, therefore, not seem likely to entail much loss upon the Commonwealth, but in this matter His Majesty’s Government believe themselves entitled to ask your Ministers to remember the great importance to the United Kingdom and to the Empire of the maintenance of the British mercantile marine, and not to take steps which, however little harm may be done to Australia, may cause serious loss to one of the most important of British industries. His Majesty’s Government feel assured that your Ministers are anxious in every way to assist in the development of the trade of the Empire, and will not willingly place obstacles in the way of that development.
Despite that, the Commonwealth Government passed the Navigation Act. Its action was contrary to the wishes of the British Government, which had given the Commonwealth the benefit of its wide experience in navigation. I wish now to refer to the speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) on the Navigation Bill, appearing at page 289 of last year’s Hansard -
– That speech was made in the present session. The honorable member may not quote from the Hansard record of the current session.
– When the Minister for Trade and Customs was delivering his second-reading speech on the Navigation Bill last year, he stated that section 99 of the Constitution prevented him from giving to Tasmania the assistance that had been given to other islands and the Mandated Territories. The Navigation Commission recommended that exemption from the provisions of the act should be granted to New Guinea, and the Government readily accepted that recommendation. If an exemption can be granted for one portion of Australia, surely it can he granted for another. Section 92 of the Constitution reads -
On the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, trade,commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.
I ask honorable members whether they think that Tasmania has had free communication with the mainland since the operation of the Navigation Act? The trade of Tasmania, Western Australia, and Queensland has largely been restricted as a result of that legislation. The intention was to give to the people of Australia the right to move themselves and their goods freely between one State and another. Although I have no legal knowledge, I maintain that section 92 greatly conflicts with section 99 of the Constitution. On an occasion in the past, when wine was sent from Victoria to be sold in Western Australia, and the Western Australian Government chargeda higher licence fee than it should have done, Victoria took action for redress in the High Court. Sir Samuel Griffith, in his judgment in the case, said “ Commerce is restricted, which the Constitution says shall be free”; and Mr. Justice Isaacs said, “ That is an organic law superior to any act of any Parliament, either Commonwealth or State.” In another case before the High Court Mr. Justice Isaacs said, “ It is beyond the power of any State Parliament, or even the Parliament of the Commonwealth, by any regulation of trade or commerce, to impair that fundamental provision.” The fundamental provisions of the Constitution are those for the carriage of goods and the transport of the people of Australia. The learned judge further said that, “ If any hold-up has occurred it is a breaking of the law.” It is generally thought that the ship-owners are in favour of the Navigation Act, and to refute that contention I submit this quotation -
There seems to be an opinion in many quarters that the Australian ship-owners are in favour of the Navigation Act, but the following extracts from a booklet issued by Huddart Parker Limited last year on the occasion of the company’s jubilee should dispel that idea. The booklet calls attention to the fact that in the directors’ report to shareholders in 1913 the following passage occurred: - “During the year the Navigation Bill was passed by the Federal Parliament, which it is feared will interfere with the development of Australia’s oversea shipping, while many of its provisions will handicap our coastal trade.” It then goes on to say: - “Worst of all, the new conditions induced a growing indisposition to work, which makes labour distasteful and unfits officers for responsibilities ever present in the navigation of ships.” “ Taking the returns of all steamers entered in the Australasian Steamship Owners’ Federation, it will be found that they showed a falling off from 1914 to 1922 of nearly 20 per cent., while the passenger steamers, which had been heavily handicapped by the Navigation Act requirements, showed a falling ofl’ of about S0,000 tons in the same period - more than the total tonnage, because the cargo tonnage had increased. Yet in the fifteen years from 1889 to 1914 the tonnage of the Australian companies had shown an advance of 84 per cent., and the coastal trade was served by a fleet of passenger and cargo steamers unexcelled in any other similar trade. The Navigation Act which came into force in 1921 involved the Australian companies in enormous expense and loss of earning power.” With the passing of four years since the date mentioned by Huddart, Parker Limited there has been no improvement in the position.
– What is the date of that report?
– Last year. If the Navigation Act has been the means of decreasing trade and hampering development, why does the Government retain the coastal sections of that act? In reply to a question asked by me - honorable members will find the answer recorded on page 4S61 of Ilansard for 4th August, 1.926- the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) stated that he did not attribute all the decrease in shipping to the Navigation Act. I should be interested if the Minister would now explain why ships formerly trading on this coast have been removed. In 1920, 33 of the finest ships in the world were trading on the coast of Australia, but now, five years after the Navigation Act came into operation, we have only seven ships left. Those that have disappeared were removed from the coast and sold. The act has been a direct means of raising freights, of hindering progress and development, and of increasing the cost of living. With such facts before it, can the Government justify continuing an act which is doing so much harm? In many instances freights have been raised by over 100 per cent. Some time ago the Tasmanian hopgrowers were placed in a difficult position, as the result of the competition of imported hops which should never have been allowed to come into this country. They had to send their hops to England. The freight on 225 bales from Hobart to Melbourne, a distance of 340 miles, was £186 7s. 10d., and the freight from Melbourne to Liverpool, a distance of 12,000 miles, was £244 ls. 2d. ‘ There was a difference of only a little more than £50 between the Australian freight for 340 miles and the oversea freight for 12,000 miles. Queensland and Western Australia have always been regarded as important markets for Tasmanian products, such as jam, canned fruits, and dried apples. The cost of shipping 1 ton of such goods to England is 50s., with which the rates to Australian ports make a very unfavorable comparison; Hobart to Brisbane direct, 43s. per ton ; to Brisbane via Sydney, 50s. per ton; to Gladstone, 78s.; to Rockhampton, 60s. 9d. ; to Mackay, 78s. 6d. ; to Townsville, 71s. ; to Cairns, 81s. Most of these ports are served by steamers which trade on the Queensland coast, so no expensive handling charges are included in the figures. The rates from Hobart to ports which involve an extra transhipment are as follow : - Port Douglas, 99s. ; Innisfail, 102s. 2d. ; Mourilyan Harbour, 104s. 2d. It would be cheaper to send jam and canned fruits from Hobart to England and back to Queensland than from Hobart to Queensland direct.
– That is a disgrace to the country.
– The freight rates from Hobart to Western Australian ports are as follow: - Fremantle, 66s. per ton; Perth, 72s.; Bunbury, 93. 3d.; Geraldton, 94s. ; Busselton, 104s. Any honorable member who would contend that conditions of that kind do not restrict trade would be lacking in mentality. The conditions that prevail on the Australian coast at present are serious to the whole country, and one wonders at times where we shall end. Tasmania is not the only State that suffers. I quote the following extract from the Brisbane Courier of 30th December last’: -
The Federal Government has done a distinct service to Tasmania by lifting for five months the restrictions of Hie Navigation Act that debar the mail steamers from carrying interstate passengers; it would be doing a still greater service for Australia if it would definitely cancel the restriction altogether for the whole of the Commonwealth. The Navigation -Act was brought into operation in 1.921, ostensibly with the object of protecting a local shipping industry that has to pay Australian’ wages and adhere to Australian conditions. That would have been very reasonable if the seamen themselves had appreciated the full meaning of that legislation. Instead of that, they immediately used the legislation to hamper Australian industries and to damage Australian trade. Undoubtedly, Tasmania, because of her peculiar geographical position, lias been very seriously injured, so seriously injured, in fact, that the State’s solvency now depends to no small extent upon the revenue derived from an art union. But why should the Federal Government permit Tasmania, or any other part of the Commonwealth, to be injured by an act which has become a shelter from behind which the seamen can wage their attacks? If the people for whomthe act was passed are so careless about their own obligations to the community, let us get rid of the act altogether. At all events, the restriction against passenger traffic ought to be deleted. The Australian people should be permitted to travel from State to State by any means that offer, and without any legislative embargo.
That indicates that Queensland also suffers because of the operation of the Navigation Act, and so does New South Wales. Just before the act came into operation we had 33 ships trading on the Australian coast, and now we have only seven; for the wrecked Cooma has not been replaced. Honorable members must realize that without an adequate shipping service it is impossible for a country to develop. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) has said that the Navigation Act is not wholly to blame for our unsatisfactory shipping service, but I point out to him that in five years from the 1st July, 1921, when the first portions of the measure were proclaimed, the Commonwealth lost more than 100,000 tons of shipping from her coast.
– The honorable member must remember that railway competition has increased.
– I remember that; but that is not the explanation of the situation. Tasmania has serious cause for complaint in that the vessels of the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers, which call at her ports during the fruit season, absolutely refuse to lift interstate cargo, for the reason, it is said, that it would mean competing with the coastal shipping service. It is a matter of history that the British Government, which had a Navigation Act in operation for more than 200 years, advised the Commonwealth Government not to enact this measure. Great Britain found that through the operation of her Navigation Act she was losing control of the seas. The United States of America endeavoured for 50 years to build up a mercantile marine by means of navigation legislation, but, after losing many of her ships and millions of her money, she repealed the legislation.
– She was building up a good service before she passed her Navigation Act.
– That is so. Surely the experience of these two great countries should have been sufficient to deter the Commonwealth from placing this measure on her statute-book. The Act has caused nothing but trouble all round our coast. The Minister for Trade and Customs interjected a moment or two ago that railway competition had grown; but surely the people should be able to please themselves whether they travel by rail or by sea. In any case, Tasmanians cannot travel to the mainland by railway. Residents of Hobart are forced to travel 133 miles in a train before they can board a steamer, if they wish to go to Melbourne, Brisbane, or Adelaide. A steamer runs weekly from Hobart to Sydney, and that is the only direct service between the Tasmanian capital and the mainland. The Navigation Act is responsible for that. Prior to its coming into operation the Union Steamship Company had vessels calling at Hobart every week, and passengers were conveyed to and from Melbourne and New Zealand. If a Tasmanian now wishes to travel to New Zealand he must first proceed to Melbourne or Sydney. One of the objects of the act was, ostensibly, to build up a body of Australian seamen capable of manning our own vessels; but we have not yet a sufficient number of such men. The report of the Director of Navigation shows that one-third of the able-bodied seamen on the Australian coast are foreigners. They comprise Greeks, Swiss, Norwegians, Russians, Poles, and even Chinese and Japanese; practically every nation under the sun is represented among them. It is admitted that they are employed under the best conditions obtaining in the world, and receive the highest pay; but Australia gets the poorest service. Since the act has been in operation there have been more strikes, more stopwork meetings, and more examples of job control than at any other time in the history of this country. Only last February . the one steamer that we have trading from Hobart to Sydney was held up in two successive weeks. In the first case the hold-up lasted for six hours, and in the following week, when there were 400 passengers on board, for twelve hours. Why was the vessel held up? Because two of the stokers left the ship and became drunk. The incident was arranged from the stokehold, as usual. The men who remained on the vessel behaved worse than those who became intoxicated. Even when men offered to take the place of the two absentees those in the stokehold would not move the ship from the wharf. The vessel was under the control, not of the captain, but of the irresponsible occupants of the stokehold. There is only one cure for that trouble; it is to repeal the coastal provisions of the act. Last year, the Parliament passed a bill to extend a benefit to Tasmania in this respect, and I believe that the measure was introduced because of a genuine desire to assist my State. It was pointed out in the report of the Navigation Commission that it was not expected that the overseas companies would avail themselves of any opportunity to carry interstate passengers to Tasmania, because they were afraid of their ships being held up in that State through the waterside workers retaliating by refusing to load fruit. Consequently those companies have refrained from carrying passengers to and from Tasmania. A few months ago the waterside workers went on strike. They handle cargo only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and the strike was due to the fact that certain workmen in Sydney asked to be allowed to earn an honest living. The union replied, “ No. You get out. We intend to have the work.” The men on the land are producing the whole year round, and when the strike occurred a large quantity of fruit was ready to be exported from Tasmania. We have a Labour Government in my State, and it was placed in the ignominous position of having to telegraph to the Trades Hall for permission for the waterside workers to load the fruit. The answer that the Premier of Tasmania received was, “Let them keep the fruit in cool stores.” Does the Government intend to allow the Trades Hall to dictate to either a State or the Commonwealth? It is high time the Government took action in this matter, and I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs will give it his serious consideration. Honorable members on the Opposition side, no doubt, will say that, if the coastal provisions of the act were repealed, black labour would be employed. That is one of the bogies that the Opposition always introduces. I have had as much experience of shipping as most honorable members opposite, and for 40 years I have known only one line of steamers trading with Australia that carries black labour. I refer to the P. and 0. Company, to which we owe a great deal for the way it has developed trade between Great Britain and the Commonwealth. It has always employed coloured labour, and it is doing so to-day, notwithstanding the Navigation Act. I stand for a White Australia; but, if we are to continue under the conditions that have obtained since the passage of the act, I. say “For God’s sake give us black labour.” We might obtain a degree of satisfaction from that; we certainly cannot get it from the labour we have to-day. I hope that honorable members will discuss the motion with open minds, and that, if it comes to a vote, they will vote, not in the interests of party, but in the interests of the Commonwealth, which I am sure it is the desire of all to develop in the best way possible.
– I formally second the motion.
.- I was rather surprised at the way in which the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) concluded his speech. He expressed a hope that honorable members would deal with the motion with open minds and in the interests of Australia, whilst at the same time he knows that ho has himself formed definite opinions on the subject with which it deals - which are not those which he has given to the House. I trust that, in the interests of Australia, the Navigation Act will not be endangered as the result of a motion by a private member. If the honorable member were aware of the history of the Navigation Act, he would know that it is the result of much thought and careful investigation by trained men having practical knowledge of seafaring. It was designed, not only in the interests of Australia, but of all engaged in the shipping industry. There is in the motion under consideration a covert attack upon the seamen of Australia. The honorable member for Franklin is like some other people who arc not satisfied unless they are attacking those who do the heavy work of the community. I know of no men who follow a more difficult calling than do those who go down to the sea in ships. Honorable members who have travelled on board ships will have formed some idea of the nature of the seamen’s work, and even though they may not admit it, must have come to the conclusion that it is really a form of slavery. Let honorable members get a view of the stokehold of a ship, or of the firemen when they come up on deck, grimy and black, in flannel shirts and knitted sweat rags, and remember that they are the men who keep the ship moving. Both the mover and seconder of this motion have travelled on shipboard in the tropics, and they know something of what the work of the stokehold crew must be when a vessel is going through tropical seas.
– Money will not mend that difficulty.
– We are not asking for money. I am merely reminding honorable members of the conditions under which seamen have to live. They are unable to enjoy any of the social amenities which make the ordinary man’s life worth living. They have to go to whatever part of the world they are called upon to go to, and risk all the dangers of seafaring men. I would not have such a job on my mind for five minutes. The Navigation Act in operation to-day is not as good a measure as it could be made, but it has improved the conditions of seamen. Prior to the passing of the act, we know how seamen were fed, that they had to carry their food about the decks and eat in the foc’sle, and we know what the foc’sle was like. They were herded in the worst part of the ship, whilst the passengers were provided with lifebelts and every possible safeguard against the dangers of the sea. On one occasion, I had some personal experience of what it is like to be down in the bottom of a ship. When at Alexandria, I had the bacl luck as a soldier to be caught for guard. I had to guard two or three prisoners who were brought on board the ship, for what reason I do not know. Perhaps as an instance of the madness which at times seemed to permeate the army, these men were taken clown into the bowels of the ship, where they were placed behind iron bars. It was my duty to trape up and down in front of the bars to see that the prisoners did not get out, although if they had done so they could not have escaped from the ship. I may say that we had a destroyer on each side of our vessel and an aeroplane overhead on the lookout for “ tin fish.” If a “ tin fish “ had struck us God help those in the bottom of the ship; they would have had absolutely no chance. I knew what it was, as a digger, to be employed in the bowels of a ship on a short voyage from Alexandria, but many seamen are employed under similar conditions from beginning to end of a long voyage. I have said that the Navigation Act has greatly improved the conditions of seamen, but it was long overdue before it was passed. It was passed by this Parliament years before it was proclaimed. In the meantime there were conferences on the subject with the authorities in Great Britain. It is now suggested that we should be influenced by the action taken by Great Britain in this connexion. I remind the honorable member for Franklin that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has just returned from Great Britain, and has informed us that we are to-day entirely independent of Great Britain in regard to our legislation. The mover of the motion is aware of the evidence which he and others obtained as members of a commission appointed to find out what was the effect of the Navigation Act upon Australia. He said that the object of the act was to create a mercantile murine for Australia, and secure better conditions for our seamen. I have admitted that the operation of the ae has improved their conditions. Amongst other things, the act provides for a manning scale which is decided by three independent persons appointed as a manning committee. No one can now take a ship to sea that is undermanned, and so expose those on board to unreasonable risks. Prior to the passing of the Navigation Act, the quarters in which seamen were often asked to live were more fitted for animals than for human beings.
– This has no bearing on the coasting sections of the act.
– It was only at the close of his remarks ‘that the honorable member himself referred to the coasting sections. He knows what would happen if in our coasting trade we permitted the competition of ships that may be undermanned or loaded over the Plimsoll mark, or manned with cheap labour. I was saying that the accommodation provided under the act for seamen is now ‘more fit for human beings, and every ship that can do so is now required to carry wireless equipment. No one will to-day contend that seamen should be denied the protection which science has brought to the aid of the people generally. The coasting sections of the act are my long suit. As a member of the commission inquiring into their effect upon Australia, I heard all the evidence given on the subject. Another thing which the Navigation Act has made provision for is hospital accommodation for seamen who are sick. In these days those in control of a vessel cannot as soon as a seaman falls sick land him upon the first island reached without caring twopence whether he ever gets home again or not. Under the Navigation Act, he must be returned to his home port, and if sick while on board his vessel must be put into hospital in the same way as a passenger. The seaman is a part of a money-making venture, and has to be as well cared for as the ship on which he is employed, which, when it leaches port is docked and overhauled. Another provision of the Navigation Act is that vessels engaging in the coasting trade must observe Australian rates of wages and working hours. That is the fly in the ointment. Those of us who live on land have all the advantages of regular hours and fixed wages, and our occupations entail no abnormal risks. But the risk to the seaman commences as soon as his ship draws out from the wharf. Apart from the ordinary risks of bad weather, there are the occasional cyclonic disturbances that without any warning cause the complete loss of ships. Honorable members cannot have forgotten the fate of the Waratah off the coast of South Africa, and of the Koombana on the north-west coast of Australia; both those vessels disappeared with all on board, and no trace of them was ever found. I admit that many seamen cheerfully follow their calling without any sense of danger, but we know that the danger exists, and if we can make their lives safer and the conditions of their employment more tolerable, it is our duty to do so. These men are part of the machinery of production and profit-making, and they are entitled to the consideration which the Navigation Act assures to them. It would be a travesty of justice if this Parliament were to accede to a request for the repeal of any part of a monumental piece of legislation which was enacted only after many years of strenuous fighting. In support of his motion, the honorable member for Franklin stated that the recommendation of the Navigation Commission that the act should not apply to the Mandated Territories was accepted. But the position of the shipping services of the Territories- is not at all analogous to that of the mainland coastal trade. In any case, Parliament accepted the recommendation of the commission in regard to the territories for no other purpose than to defeat an Australian shipping company. I made a recommendation that was much more in accord with Australian sentiment, namely, that to meet the requirements of the Mandated Territories, the vessels of the Commonwealth Shipping Line should, on their voyages between Great Britain and Australia, travel at intervals via the islands in the Pacific. The complaint of the people in the Territories was that they had to send their copra to Sydney and pay heavy freights and transhipment charges, and it was presumed that if the Navigation Act ceased to apply to them, they would get a better service from ships trading direct with the Orient, whence they get their supplies of rice. The Navigation Commission visited the Mandated Territories in 1924. I revisited them less than six months ago, and in reply to inquiries, was told that the exemption of the islands from the operations of the Navigation Act had not made more shipping available. They are still dependent upon Burns, Philp and Company, and so long as the Inchcape combine and its associated companies maintain such a stranglehold on the shipping of the world, the Mandated Territories will get neither more nor less service than the combine chooses to give them. If the utmost use is to be made of the Commonwealth Shipping Line, it must serve all parts of Australia and its dependencies. Some people have a lot to say about the., losses which the Line makes. My answer^ to that complaint is that not one developmental railway in South Australia pays its way. One line alone was showing a loss of £30,000 from the date of construction to a couple of years ago. Let it be remembered that railway lines are built only after exhaustive preliminary surveys and estimates by experts, and careful consideration by Parliament as to the best route to be followed, and the probable earnings. Yet they lose money. The Commonwealth Shipping Line, equally as much as a railway, has a developmental purpose, and if it does lose money, where is the ground for complaint? Railways are a State monopoly, and are subject to no competition except from motor buses; but the Commonwealth Shipping Line has to compete against the shipping of the world. The main purpose of the Commonwealth Line is to develop the Commonwealth and its territories by giving assistance to the producers, and so long as it does that, we need not be too critical of its balance-sheets. “When I hear people outback complaining of what is done for the more populous centres, I remind them that if all services were given by the State on a business basis, the man at Oodnadatta would not get a letter delivered for l£d., nor would water be conserved and distributed as cheaply in the outback country as it is in the cities. Government services must be based on co-operation and the principle of giveandtake in the interests of the nation as a whole. Similarly those of us who follow our callings on land have a right to see that those who endure the hardships and risks of seafaring receive some of the benefits and protection which we enjoy. The honorable member for Franklin said that Tasmania and Western Australia are suffering from the operation of the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act, and that Queensland trade has been restricted by them. The Navigation Commission obtained from the shipping companies records of the ships available for the trade offering, and they showed that in nearly every instance the passenger and freight requirements of the various ports are adequately met. Most of the ships and vessels that trade with Tasmania are not freighted to their full capacity. The passenger accommodation, also, is more than adequate, except in the tourist season, when there is a congestion of passengers, many of whom have to be content with “ shake-downs “ on deck. That state of affairs could not be provided against, even if the Navigation Act were repealed. The passenger accommodation that would be adequate in the brief tourist season would be altogether excessive for the remainder of the year. A ship could not be taken off the Western Australian route to cater for the seasonal traffic to Tasmania without injury to the western State. The commission obtained full statistics as to the number of berths available in the coasting trade, and the number of passengers travelling in each month of the year. It is well known that about the time of the Melbourne Cup racing carnival the demand for steamship berths exceeds the supply. That is inevitable, because many people in other States, even those who pretend not to have any interest in the Cup, seem to have a conference to attend in Melbourne about that time. Even the trams and trains are not able to provide seats for the rush traffic at such seasons, and one desirous of going to Flemington must either miss the firstrace or be a “straphanger.” It is on record, also, that the tourist traffic in Tasmania has increased enormously during recent years, notwithstanding the operation of the Navigation Ant. While the commission was in Hobart the Mercury published a leading article about a record tourist year, and upon investigation at the Tourist Bureau we found that the State had experienced a record year, even in respect of passengers from Queensland, notwithstanding all the alleged shipping disabilities. In discussing this matter last year, I quoted a letter written by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) when he waa Prime Minister, in which he refused to exempt Tasmania from the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act, because, he said, he did not think it desirable to alter an act of Parliament to meet the wishes of “ a fastidious few.” It is in the interests of that fastidious few that the restrictions were relaxed in respect of the mail steamers, but the owners of those parlour cars of the ocean dare not attempt to take advantage of the concession, and so endanger the working conditions of Australian seamen, because they know that the seamen have an extra barrel to their gun, in the sympathetic co-operation of other workers, who would refuse to load or unload the overseas vessels. It is by that co-operation of the unionists that Australia has become the finest country in the world for the worker. Any disabilities suffered by Tasmania in respect of either freights or passengers are not attributable to the Navigation Act. The coasting provisions of that statute do not cause men to strike; the repeal of such provisions will not prevent men from getting drunk occasionally. The honorable member for Franklin seems to think that if the coastal provisions are repealed the militancy of the seamen will be destroyed. He is mistaken. Last session we were told that if Tasmania were exempted from the coasting provisions it would get regular and continuous shipping services. That was also said in regard to Western Australia. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) well knows the slipping conditions on this coast. I admit that the number of our interstate vessels has been reduced from 33 to 7. The reason for that was made known to the commission by the shipping companies and was proved from their books. We did not take the mere assertions of witnesses. During the war, not only shipping, but everything connected with our daily life was disorganized. The whole of the shipping was placed underCommonwealth control, and vessels were allotted in accordance with the needs of the different States. The Commonwealth showed the shipping companies how to conduct the shipping business. McIlwraith, McEachern’s, Howard Smith’s, the Union Steamship Company, and the Adelaide Steamship Company were, before the war, running vessels in competition with each other, and not one of the hulls was ever filled. The people were paying the piper. After the war, when the shipping was handed back to its original owners, they combined and carried on the same control. They proved to us in evidence that they were meeting all the requirements of the travelling public.
– That is incorrect.
– I know that the honorable member will instance the case of
Albany. Vessels are sent there regularly once a month, and they carry all the passenger traffic that is offering. If the passengers do not care to wait until the vessel sails they can catch the east-west express. The honorable member will argue that those passengers are at a disadvantage. In 1878 I landed in Australia at King George’s Sound. Fremantle was hardly then in existence. Today few boats call either at King George’s Sound or at Albany. Sometimes vessels call at Albany at a loss. Inone instance not 100 tons of freight was offering. It has been argued that the vessels sent to Western Australia cannot carry all the timber on order from that State. The evidence taken by the commission shows that at the time we were there all the timber would be lifted within a few months, although there was a record output of timber that year. The commission went to Geraldton and Bunbury. At one time colliers used to call at those places with Newcastle coal. The Collie coalfields in Western Australia have since been opened, and Newcastle coal is not now used. In consequence, vessels are sent to Western Australia without cargo, and the back freight has to pay for the whole journey. 1 believe that 30,000 passengers are carried annually on the east-west railway, so that there is no need for vessels to call at Western Australia to the extent that they did before.
– The shipping companies carry more first-class passengers now than they did in 1913 and 1914.
– That proves my point. Although the number of ships has been reduced from 33 to 7 the shipping companies obtain more passengers per vessel than they did before. Western Australia has certainly not been neglected in respect of shipping facilities. Geraldton is in the same position as Bunbury since the Collie coalfields have been opened. Wool that used to come from the Murchison by boat is now railed to Fremantle, and sold there. Consequently, there is no inducement for shipping to cater for that traffic.
– That was because the shipping freights between Geraldton and Fremantle were too costly. The railways undercut the shipping companies.
– That may be so, but, as the vessels do not now carry Newcastle coal to Western Australia, they could not possibly charge the low prewar freights. That condition is not due to the coastal sections of the Navigation Act. The Commission went fully into the question of freights, and found Australia was no exception in respect of the general increase in freights. We compared freights between the various ports of Australia with those between ports on the coasts of South America, and Africa, and in nearly every instance our freights were lower. There is a certain amount of competition in oversea freights. Cement came from Cairns at a cheap rate solely because it was carried as ballast in the bottoms of the ships. The position of Queensland is like that of Western Australia to some extent. Fruit and meat, which were previously shipped, are now sent from Cairns southwards by rail. This .obviates handling on the wharf, and waiting for a favorable tide. The transport problem is being solved on businesslike lines, and the Navigation Act has nothing to do with it. Tasmania may be unfortunate in being separated from the mainland, and special measures may have to be taken so that that State will not be at . a disadvantage. Shipping companies are not philanthropists, and will not provide a service for Tasmania’s convenience unless it will return a profit. The Navigation Act cannot be blamed for that. The difficulties of Tasmania would be largely met if a shipping service between that State and the mainland were provided by the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers. There is no need to exempt that State from the provisions of the Navigation Act. In certain instances tariff protection is given to industries that will eventually be of benefit to this country. Why should tho Navigation Act be scrapped? It is the sole protection of the seamen, and of the shipping companies who have invested their capital in interstate shipping services to meet the needs of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Franklin will probably ask for tariff protection on hops, or cider, both of which are Tasmanian products, but he forgets that shipping is a necessary adjunct to the development of Australia, and has as much need for protection as any other industry.
– Is our shipping developing anything to-day?
– When tho Commission was making its inquiries, our shipping was proved to be meeting all the requirements of the Commonwealth.
– That is only the opinion of the honorable member.
– No. I am giving facta. The honorable member has plenty of opportunity to disprove my statements; he has access to all the records and documents that were submitted to the Commission. In reply to the question, “ Is our shipping increasing ? “ I would ask : Is our trade increasing ? Are we retrogressive ? What is the reason for the departmental opulence of the Minister for Trade and Customs? What do the Customs returns show ? What do the returns of primary production show for the years that the Navigation Act has been in existence? What do the statistics of manufacture in this country show? What do the banking statistics show? Because this Act is beneficent in its operation to a most important section of the people of Australia, it is attacked on behalf of Tasmania. The honorable member referred to the other States, but it is Tasmania that is his principal concern. He knows nothing about the effect of the Act on Australia, and I doubt whether he cares what it is. He has told us, “ I am in favour of a White Australia, but if it pinches me in the matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, then I am for a black Australia.” No doubt the apples that come from Tasmania are good, but those with the black spot are condemned immediately. I suggest that the honorable member is comparable to the apples with the black spot. One of the points made bv the honorable member was that since the 1st of July. 1921, when the Navigation Act was proclaimed, we have lost 100,000 tons of shinning. That is easily explained. A re-organization of the service has taken place. The shipping companies have discovered, for example, that one ship a week is sufficient for Western Australia. The men who control the shipping business are keen, business men, not fools, and they know the ramifications of Australian trade,, its exigencies, arid its requirements. They know on which side their bread is buttered. But in disposing of their ships they have left no one forlorn. We have not heard of any .firms going bankrupt because of the high freights charged by the shipping companies. The honorable member compared the freight rates from Great Britain to Australia with those from Tasmania to Adelaide. An oversea freighter cannot carry freight satisfactorily between Australian ports. If the oversea ships did that business they would only pick the eyes out of it, or do it only when they wanted to do it. In order to cater for the fastidious few, the honorable member suggests that we should scrap the coastal provisions of the act. I have no hesitation in telling the honorable member that there would be a big fight before that could be done. If we are going to act, regardless of our obligations to the seamen, as the honorable member suggests we should, the seamen themselves will attend to the business. They can be trusted to see that they are not left out in the cold. Although some of us may think that their methods, at times, are wrong, their ultimate object of retaining to themselves the right to live as decently and comfortably as people do on shore, provides some justification for their action. If we attempt to tamper with the Navigation Act we shall find that there are more ways of killing a pig than choking it with butter.
– Is that a threat?
– No. The honorable member knows that it is not a threat, but he makes that interjection so that it may be recorded in Hansard, and the impression may go abroad that I made a threat. I speak in this way because I know the people concerned, and I know their psychology. If I . was out of this House, and circumstances justified it, I should advise them to take action that would counteract the desire of the honorable member for Franklin. They have some rights, and they would not be Australians if they were not prepared to fight to maintain them. I am merely directing attention to the inevitable consequences of doing anything silly.
– The honorable member is not a democrat.
– On the contrary, that is where I excel. I have two little epigrams on democracy that I always keep by me; they come from two ultra-conservatives. Mr. W. J. Seddon once said that the public galleries of Australia were a real democracy, because every one had the right to go to them on an equal standing ; and the right honorable member for North
Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said the war gratuity paid to the Australian soldiers was of the essence of democracy, because all were treated alike. That is my brand of democracy, and I believe that the day will come when all will be treated alike; when some will not be in want, while others ride in motor cars built for them ; and when some will not live in castles while others exist in hovels. We shall then come nearer to the ideal of Christianity, to the conditions of the Garden of Eden, and shall live in amity and enjoy the full fruits of the earth. It is not democratic to try and scrap the Navigation Act. Although I may not be alive to see the mature growth of it, I shall help to plant the seed that may grow into the realization of my ideal. I have no apology to make for my views of the ultimate ideal of the world. I wish I could bring it about by compulsion, ana force honorable members to accept it. When we decided to place the finance of this country in the hands of the Commonwealth, the Argus said, “Australia is going to be pushed over the precipice.” Australia is not over that precipice yet. What we abhor to-day we appreciate to-morrow. Some people refuse to see the writing on the wall; but it is being written, and we, on this side, will not have it obliterated by the honorable member for Franklin. He wished us to follow the example of Great Britain and the United States of America by scrapping the Navigation Act. I am not satisfied that we cannot teach the United States of America and Great Britain something about reform. It was South Australia that introduced the ballot system at elections, and there are many things in which Australia has shown the way to other parts of the world. There has never been a sphere of activity into which Australia has entered, whether of art, science, sport, or war, in which she has not produced a champion. We win out every time ; and if we can do it in those spheres of activity, why not in the matter of legislation ? A representative with the industrial delegation to America told the Americans that we were miles ahead of them in our industrial legislation, and in the management of this country. In the matter of navigation we do not want any lessons from America ; we ask them to keep their hands off Australia, and we will provide for ourselves, and do the job well. Australia has nothing to be ashamed of in her legislative experiments ; but we have a lot to be proud of. If it had not been for the democratic and free life led by Australians, and for what that life puts into a man, we should not have had the war record of which we sing so proudly. The Australian Imperial Force was not the product of a country that was down-trodden, or did not know how to manage its own affairs. Our soldiers were tried in a fire in which we never expected they would be tried, and they more than justified themselves. 1 do not fear comparison with America or Great Britain. Let us deal with the question on its merits. Let us consider the facts. Let us consider the operation of the act generally, and not its effect on a small section of the community. Let us not take action that will please a few and injure the many who have to earn their living in the industry. The honorable member said that the industrial troubles that have occurred during the past six years were avoidable. They would not have been avoided by scrapping the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act. There have been ebullitions in the shipping world, but they will occur in any large body of men. But the service rendered to the community by the seamen of this country is comparable with that rendered by the seamen of any country where there may not be a Navigation Act. The honorable member said he could not understand why the Government, know ing the position, retained the coastal clauses of the act. I cannot understand why the Government, knowing the position, and having read the report of the royal commission, consented to listen to the honorable member. I cannot understand why it was not suggested to him that he was barking up the wrong tree, and should remove his notice of motion from the business paper. Having been a member of the Navigation Commission, and knowing what he knows, the honorable member has no right to ask for what he asks, or to make the statements he has made. All the evidence he heard while sitting on that commission was opposed to the statements he has made this afternoon. I hope that the Minister will make it plain to the honorable member that his proposal is not worthy of consideration. It would be immoral, in fact, to remove this act from the statute-book. The honorable member spoke of the raising of freights by over 100 per cent. He knows full well, and could inform honorable members, that that increase is not peculiar to Australia, and is not due to the coastal clauses of the Navigation Act. He knows about the reconditioning of the services, and he knows what the facts are in regard to freights to Western Australia and Queensland. To find a remedy for high freights he must get the profiteers, the men who inflated prices during the war, by the ears. He must pillory the commercial magnates of this country, or adopt the Treasurer’s suggestion to load a gun, fire it from Parliament House, and blow them out of Flinders Lane.
– It was not the Treasurer who said that.
– It was the Treasurer who said he would turn on the light and compel them to drop the loot.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 119.
Orders of the Day, General Business, postponed to 7th April.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Debate resumed from the 16th March (vide page545), on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That, towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of she year 1927-28, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £5,851,495.
.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) was reported by a section of the press this morning to have made some remarks in his speech yesterday which really amounted to a personal attack upon members of the Tariff Board. The words he is reported to have used were -
He had been bitterly disappointed in the capacity of the board to deal with primary industries….. The mentality of the board was not capable of understanding the difficulties of the primary producers.
If the honorable member was correctly reported, I wish him to understand that I am entirely out of sympathy with such observations. I came into the chamber yesterday after the honorable member had commenced his speech, and did not hear him make use of the words quoted, or I should have replied to them immediately. The four members of the Tariff Board are undoubtedly men of probity, integrity, and honour, “who are doing very difficult work to the very best of their ability.
– They are also men of capacity.
– They are not in a position publicly to reply to statements made in Parliament, and I very strongly deprecate any observations which might be understood as personal attacks upon them.
– I wish to reply to certain statements that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Y”ates) made earlier this afternoon in regard to the Navigation Act. The honorable member occupied so much time in delivering his speech that I may well describe him as a monopolist defending monopolies. The Government should take very definite action to alleviate the evil effects which the Navigation Act is having upon Australian trade and commerce. The honorable member for Adelaide rightly observed that the bill for the act took a long time to formulate and introduce; and for that reason he seems to regard its provisions as sacrosanct. But we are not much concerned with the time occupied in placing it on the statute-book; what we ought to consider is the deplorable effect it is having upon our commercial life and the development of our country. Overwhelming evidence is available to show that it is retarding Australian development. It is even bad for the Australian seamen whom it is supposed to protect, for it limits the number who may be employed here, and debars lis from building up our mercantile marine. We have less shipping on our coast .now than we had before the passing of the act. The Tariff Board, which has been defended this afternoon by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), has stated, after the fullest investigation, that the operation of the Navigation Act is nullifying the beneficial effects which the tariff is designed to have. A royal commission recently appointed to inquire into the dis.abilites under which certan States suffer, made exhaustive inquiry, and in their report referred definitely to the handicaps which the measure has placed upon Western Australia and Tasmania. Surely the reports of the Tariff
Board and the royal commission on the act should outweigh the bare opinions of the honorable member for Adelaide. By a majority report the royal commission to inquire into the effect of the operation of the act on Australian trade and industry and development of Australia recommended that Parliament should repeal the coastal provisions of the act. We have had additional evidence in the last two or three days that the act is seriously interfering with the development of our mercantile marine, for Mr. J. M. Dunlop referred to the matter in the presidential address which he delivered at the opening session of the conference of Associated Chambers of Commerce in Perth. The Argus commented as follows upon his remarks: -
Whatever may have been the purpose of the Navigation Act, it waa not to reduce coastal steamer services; but that has occurred. In his presidential address to the Associated Chambers of Commerce, in Perth, yesterday, Mr. J. M. Dunlop pointed out that while i” 1913 there were 43 passenger vessels in tho Australian coastal trade, last year the number had fallen to thirteen. In the same period, the population of the .Commonwealth increased from 4,872,059 to G,07G,432. An added population of 1,204,373 is thus served by a fleet about one-third as large as that of thirteen years ago. The results are increased fares and freights, greatly inferior passenger service?, and tho anomaly of magnificent overseas liners travelling round the Australian coast with many empty cabins.
It must be manifest to honorable members that that gentleman’s statement is correct. How can thirteen ships adequately serve the requirements of war over a million more people than 43 ships formerly served? It is quite obvious that they cannot do so. On the 14th of January this year I decided that I would travel from Western Australia to Melbourne by boat, instead of by train, as I usually do, for I was suffering from a certain nervous complaint. I called at the Perth office of a coastal steamship company that day, and requested that three berths should be booked on the boat which was scheduled to sail on the 29th of January. The officer whom I approached said, “I am sorry that the list is full.” That was fifteen days before the sailing date of the vessel. 1 learned three days afterwards that thecompany had been unable to provide berths for 30 other intending passengers. It is most unfair that the people of that far off State should be denied ordinary travelling facilities simply because a shipping monopoly and a trade union monopoly are operating. When I was refused the berths for which I had applied, I asked the officer, “ Have you advised the Comptroller of Shipping of this condition? “ He replied, “ Oh, no.” I thereupon said, “ Then I will do so.” That night I had a telephone message from the company to say that the three berths that I required would be available, though I do not know what steps they took to secure them for me. The Parliament of this country should be supreme in matters of this kind, and should ensure to the people in the various States reasonable travelling facilities. The country should not be held up by these two monopolies; but, unfortunately, we Slave given them carte blanche to conduct their affairs as they please. In the course of its investigation, the royal commission on the Navigation Act examined many witnesses of vast commercial experience. One of these was Sir Mark Sheldon, who has been trusted by this Government with very important duties. In his evidence, Sir Mark Sheldon said -
The effect of the act ha.-i undoubtedly been to diminish the facilities for communication lind distribution between the States, and at the present juncture, at any rate, this is very detrimental to the interests of the producers. There has been a curtailment of the facilities that existed in the past.
H © was then asked -
Do you think that a regular, efficient, and frequent shipping service around the coast of Australia would tend towards tlie development of this country?
His reply was, “ Nothing would do more in that direction.” It seems extraordinary that goods are carried more cheaply from New York to Western Australia than from Adelaide to that State. As the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has remarked, shipping was controlled by Parliament through a board during the war period. The shipping companies certainly learnt a lesson or two at that time; but we should not impose war-time restrictions in times of peace. Immediately the Navigation Act was passed the shipping combine in Australia recognized that it had been given a monopoly, and, therefore, it decided to piece out the trade among the various interstate companies, instructing two of them to take alternate trips to, say, Western Australia. The advice given to them by the combine was. “ Charge these freights and fares, and laugh at anybody who complains.” Will the honorable member for Adelaide, or anybody else, approve of a monopoly, which is retarding the progress of the country? The number of seamen employed is less now than it was prior to the passing of the act. As I have already mentioned, the Tariff Board has declared that its operation has nullified the benefits of the tariff. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) drew attention to the extortionate cost of sending jam from Tasmania to portions of Queensland anc Western Australia, and said that it would be cheaper to send it from Hobart to London and back to Cairns than to send it direct from Hobart to that Queensland town. Can any sane business man defend such a position ? When the Navigation Commission visited Cairns a striking example of the manner in which freights were killing trade came, under its notice. The Calyx Pottery Factory in Western Australia manufactures excellent crockery, and evidence was given by Mr. Stillman, a business man of Cairns, that he was so impressed by its quality, which was equal to that of the best English goods, that he ordered four crates of it. He did not repeat the order because the freight charged was 90s. a 36-ft. ton, although English crockery came out at 70s. a 40-ft. ton. When Mr. Samuel McKay, of the firm of H. V. McKay Limited, was giving evidence before the commission, he was asked if he used much Australian timber in the manufacture of agricultural machinery. He replied that there was plenty of suitable Australian timber, but very little of it ““was used because it was too costly by the time freight had been paid. He said that although there was plenty of excellent timber available in Queensland, his company used wood from Noumea. Asked why he did not utilize Australian timber he replied, “ Because it would further increase the price of our machines, which are already costing the primary producers too much.” He pointed out that the freights charged on Queensland timber made its use absolutely prohibitive. That is one of the reasons why the Tariff Board has stated that the Navigation Act has nullified the protective incidence of the tariff. Protective duties give a tremendous advantage to the people living close to the factories in the centralized portions of Australia ; but the best policy for Australia would be one that encouraged decentralization. We have often been reminded that goods can be sent from New York or London to Fremantle more cheaply than from Adelaide to Fremantle. Who will contend that that is helpful in the development of a young country with 13,000 miles of sea-front ? When we had 43 passenger vessels trading round our coast there was a degree of competition. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) made much of the need for good working conditions for the seamen. I am in favour of giving them good conditions ; but the trouble caused by the Navigation Act has been responsible for higher operating costs than obtain in any other part of the world. The seamen receive overtime to the extent of about 30 per cent, of their regular wage, and they show no appreciation of their good fortune ; they do not return the best service that they can render. One of the principal arguments advanced in favour of the act, was that it would enable an Australian mercantile marine to be built up. But that hope has not been realized. The shipping companies fought the act tooth and nail during its passage through this House, and when it was passed they naturally trimmed their sails to the wind. Lord Inchcape, who practically controls the world’s shipping, bought in and now controls the Australian combine.
– Parliament gave him the opportunity to do so.
– Of course. It opened the door to him, when it passed the Navigation Act. If an interstate passage by one of the overseas vessels were asked for, even by the Prime Minister, and were refused, the Inchcape combine would be totally unconcerned. If I reported to the Controller of Shipping, and to the Minister for Trade and Customs, that I could not obtain a passage by an interstate ship, and that there happened to be a P. & 0. vessel available, the overseas company would reply that it could not give me a berth. The matter would have to be reported, and by the time an inquiry could be held the ship would have left. The permit system has fallen to the ground. It is doubtful whether I could obtain a pasage from Fremantle to Melbourne on one of the vessels of the Inchcape combine, even if I had a permit. It is remarkable that the Labour party is backing up that combine, and helping it to cripple the trade of this country. Parliament has determined that Australian seamen shall be provided with certain wages and working conditions; but it should not be done at the cost of retarding the natural development of Australia. Between the Inchcape combine, and the combine of the Labour unions, the people are handicapped right and left. The States are being paralysed, because of the need of a regular and efficient service. The honorable member for Adelaide, referring to Albany, said it had not, at times, 100 tons of goods to lift. I point out that the population of the Albany district is 25 per cent, greater now than it was when the act was passed, and still that port has to be satisfied with one ship where it formerly had eight. The country has been committed to the expenditure of millions of money on land settlement in Western Australia, including the Albany district; but must the men on the land raise 100 tons of perishable produce before a ship can be supplied 1 Development cannot be expected under such conditions. Messrs. Burns, Philp and Company pioneered the trade of the Pacific Islands, not under the Navigation Act, but in a free sea. The company built up that trade and rewarded itself by calling whereever produce was waiting to be lifted. We can build up Australia only by providing our people with adequate” shipping facilities, and its development is being retarded by the operation of the Navigation Act, which gives scope to combines to levy unreasonable imposts upon the industries of the country. The honorable member for Adelaide * (Mr. Yates) told some doleful tales about the. men in the stokehold, but they need not influence the committee very seriously in view of the fact that we are fast getting rid of stokeholds. We should have a great many more oil-driven ships than we have, and if our aspirations are to be realized we must have, far more efficient vessels than (hose now employed on our coast. The honorable member for Adelaide based the whole of his remarks upon the necessity of consideration for the seamen. I do not say that they should not be given every consideration, but we should consider the harmful, ns well as the beneficial, effects of our legislation. Euclid declares that the whole is greater than the part; and if the Navigation Act is to operate to strangle the development of the country, this Parliament should consider whether it is wise that it should continue in force.
– The evidence is all against the conclusion that strangulation of development is the result of the operation of the act.
– The honorable member is a greater monopolist than even Lord Inchcape or the Seamen’s Union. He would monopolize the whole of the time.
– I was only correcting the honorable member.
– I have expressed not merely my own opinion, but that of a great many of the people of Australia. The primary and secondary industries cannot co-operate as they should in this country, because of the cost of shipping under the Navigation Act. The honorable member for Adelaide referred to coal at Geraldton and Bunbury, and said that wool was brought from Murchison by rail. The reason why it was brought by rail was, as stated in evidence before the commission, that it was cheaper to bring it by rail. No stronger indictment of the Navigation Act could be made. For the first time in this case it was shown that land carriage was cheaper than water carriage.
– It was because the colliers did not go to Geraldton.
– That makes no difference, because the Dalgety boats might have called there. The real reason was, as I have said, that rail carriage was cheaper; and that was due entirely to the provisions of the Navigation Act. I wish to refer to some remarks which were made about the trade in copra from New Guinea. Until recently a very big percentage of the copra produced in New Guinea and the Mandated Territory was ear-marked for the subsidized steamers of Burns, Philp and Company. Recently the Commonwealth sold the expropriated properties in New Guinea, and so can no longer barter with its products in making a contract. The expropriated properties are now in private hands, and it was given in evidence only late last year that there is now a greater number of ships calling at New Guinea for the direct shipment of copra from Rabaul to Europe. We are subsidizing, to the tune of something like £55,000 a year, a steamship company which has a monopoly and defies competition. Even that company does not bring its own copra to Sydney. It charters boats to carry copra direct from its plantations to America and Europe.
– It brings copra to Sydney and takes it back to New Guinea, as the honorable member knows.
-The honorable member refers to copra from the expropriated properties, and not from the plantations owned by Burns, Philp and Company. That shows the ridiculous way in which the Navigation Act operates. Under it copra was loaded at Rabaul, and taken to Sydney, to comply with the Act, and then was taken back to Rabaul, where it was loaded for transport to Europe.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Owing to the peculiar circumstances under which we have met, I take this opportunity to direct attention to a matterof some importance tohonorable members, because there will be no further opportunity to do so before we meet at Canberra. I want to refer to an incident which occurred last year, when the iron and steel duties were submitted. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) brought down a tariff schedule imposing new duties on iron and steel in the customary manner. Immediately after the Minister had spoken, and according to the usual procedure, the Leader of the Opposition rose and made a few very desultory remarks on the new schedule. He then, in tones which scarcely reached across the chamber, said, “ I have no objection to reportingprogress,” and sat down. Before any one could understand what was going on,the Minister for Trade and Customs rose in his place and moved that progress be reported. Under the forms of the committee, that meant that no other honorable member could address himself to the schedule. Further discussion of it was entirely prevented. The schedule was laid on the table, the committee adjourned, and that schedule has been in force for six months. It is said that it has imposed upon the people of Australia an extra cost of £1,000,000 a year, and no discussion of it has been permitted. We all realize the importance of having set forms, and rules of procedure, and we know that those we have are based upon history and experience. But those forms are for the protection of the rights cf honorable members, and they should not be taken advantage of to deprive honorable members of their undoubted right to discuss a matter of this sort.
– I hope the honorable member does not suggest that I tried to prevent discussion.
– I have the greatest personal regard for the Leader of the Opposition, as the honorable member knows, but I point out that the circumstances of the incident to which I refer suggest that he knew that the Minister for Trade and Customs wanted to report progress right away, and knew what the effect of that would be. He was probably the only member in the chamber at the time, other than the Minister, who realized what the effect would be. T presume that he had been consulted by the Minister, otherwise, why did he resume his seat with the words, “ I have no objection to reporting progress,” and why did the Minister immediately rise and submit the motion? The Leader of the Opposition holds an official position in this House, aud, with all respect, I think it is a part of his duty to protect the interests of minorities in the House.
– Does the honorable member realize that the Leader of the Opposition had no choice to do other than what he did ?
– I do not think the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin’) can have followed me. I want to be perfectly fair to the Leader of the Opposition. I say that his action on the occasion I refer to suggested that he had been consulted by the Minister for Trade and Customs, and knew that progress was to be reported. Sitting in the place from which I am now speaking, I only just caught the words I have quoted, and did not realize what was meant until the Minister had moved to report progress. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition consented to the arrangement, that progress should be reported, and that discussion of the tariff schedule should be stopped.
– I do the same thing on many occasions. It is the Government that is responsible for the conduct of the business of the House. If the honorable member had any objection to what was being done, it was1 his duty to be here and take exception to it.
– I was here and tried to take exception, but the Minister was on his feet, and as the Leader of the Opposition knows, when a Minister rises he is given precedence by the Chair. In such circumstances, a private member is powerless to assert his rights. I tried to do so, but was quite rightly ruled out of order by the Chairman of Committees. I still submit that what was done was an abuse of the rules of procedure.
– Does the honorable member suggest that some improper course was taken by the Chairman of Committees at the time referred to?
– No, I have just said that the Chairman was quite right in what he did. I am not disputing his action, but I am questioning the method adopted of bringing business forward and preventing its discussion ‘by deliberate arrangement. When I made my complaint, the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), who was present at the time, said that I had my remedy, but had not taken it. What remedy had I ?
– The honorable member should have spoken before the Minister rose to speak.
– The honorable gentleman should be fair. I have explained that as soon as the Leader of the Opposition sat down, the Minister rose and was, as always, given precedence.
– Yet the honorable member blames the Leader of the Opposition.
– I say that the Leader of the Opposition knew what was done, and that it would prevent discussion. Why, otherwise, did he say, “ I have no objection to reporting progress?”
– I have said that dozens pf times, when Ministers have expressed their wish to do so. The honorable member is making serious allegations.
– I think the Leader of the Opposition knew perfectly well what was going to happen. Does the honorable gentleman deny that he knew what would happen? Every member of this House should be careful about the maintenance of his privileges. Honorable members may not agree with me on tariff questions, and may assume that I am referring to this matter because I was prevented from speaking on a subject inwhich I am particularly interested. That is not the case, and I point out that what may hurt me to-day may hurt them to-morrow. It is not a question of a particular subject, but the procedure and the method adopted for burking discussion that I object to.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Standing Orders should be altered?
– No, but that Ministers should not abuse them. I think I have made it perfectly clear that they were abused on the occasion I have referred to. The House adjourned on the day following the incident to which I have referred.
– No, two days later. The Estimates were discussed on the following day.
– My point is that there was no further opportunity for dealing with the matter. The tariff schedule has lain on the table ever since, and the duties have been enforced without the authority of the Parliament.
Mr.Prowse. - That will obtain for another six months.
– I am not aware of the intentions of the Government, but rumours are current that further duties will be tabled during this brief session. Apparently the same procedure will then be followed again, because, obviously, no new schedule can be discussed in the time at our disposal before the royal visit. Duties which impose a tax of millions of pounds on the people were tabled last year and have never been discussed. The previous tariff schedule lay on the table of the House for four months before an opportunity to discuss it was afforded. This Government definitely promised the people that it would restore parliamentary government. Complaints have been made that previous governments used arbitrary methods in conducting the government of the country. This Government said that the rights of honorable memberswere to be preserved, parlia- mentary control was to be restored not merely in form but in fact. The procedure of which I am complaining is the result.
– It is for the Parliament to preserve its rights.
– That is what I am pleading for. Our procedure can be righted only by every honorable member standing up for his rights and supporting the protest I am making.
– The honorable member should answer to the crack of the party whip.
– If the party whip is cracked too frequently this House loses its right to free discussion. Parliamentary forms have a purpose and should be properly observed. There is, unfortunately, a dangerous tendency to abuse them. As was said last week, “It is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” Inevitably the abuses of which Ministers are guilty will recoil upon them. A great wrong has been done in depriving us of an opportunity to discuss the last tariff schedule. Parliamentary government is being superseded by government by ministerial decree. I know that duties become operative as soon as they are tabled so that the revenue may be protected against wholesale clearances and withdrawals from bond, but that procedure was never intended to permit of duties operating for six months, and possibly thirteen months, without the will of Parliament being ascertained. I know that in a House constituted as this is the duties tabled by the Minister last year will be confirmed, but the honorable gentleman has no right to assume that. In any case they should not be confirmed until opportunity has been allowed for protest against them. Before Parliament has a chance to say whether duties shall stand, a vested interest in them is created.
– Fortunes have been made out of them.
– And fortunes have been lost, I suppose.
– So far as I can see nobody has lost a fortune except the community which is paying more than it should for certain commodities. There is a growing tendency to adopt irregular methods. It is the acknowledged right of the Leader of the Opposition to object, if he so desires, to any improper methods, and if he does not protest the Government may think it is justified in going ahead.
– I suppose the majority of honorable members agreed to the long recess ?
– Yes. But there was no reason why the duties should not have been tabled earlier so that they might have been discussed.
Mr.Fenton. - That might have prolonged the session for months.
– There was only one little schedule to discuss. A government has always some excuse to offer for a long recess, but when. Parliament is closed from August to March, and then sits for three weeks only before adjourning for another seven months, it is not given a reasonable opportunity to do its work. It is idle to say that there is not time to attend to these matters, when Parliament has been so long in recess. I protest against this system of government by ministerial decree, which places heavy imposts upon the people without parliamentary sanction.Whether honorable members agree or disagree with my fiscal views, they should support me in the defence of our rights and privileges. It is not for me to teach the Leader of the Opposition his duty, but I suggest that he has an obligation to protect the interests of all minorities in the House.
– Surely it is not his duty to protect the interests of the Ministerial party?
– I am not asking for that.
– That is what the honorable member’s request amounts to.
– No. If the Leader of the Opposition does not conceive his duty to be to protect the interests of private members, they must rise, as I have done, to protest against their privileges being taken from them.
.- I take this opportunity to emphasize the imperative and urgency of assistance to the timber industry, which has long been in need of help. There is danger that this Parliament may go into recess until September next without doing anything to save the industry from destruction. During the last fortnight, two deputations have waited upon the Minister for Trade and Customs on this subject, and he knows the views of myself and other honorable members. But I am glad that the presence of the Treasurer enables me to address a further appeal to the Government. The timber industry has suffered probably more than any other in the Commonwealth, because the protection it needs has been withheld. Two years ago, the Tariff Board inquired into it, and, although we have not seen the board’s report, we have been told that it was not favourable to an increase in duty. I and other honorable members asked the Minister for Trade and Customs last year to instruct the board to re-open the inquiry, and we stated reasons which evidently satisfied him that that course was necessary. At any rate, the board was instructed to go to Tasmania to make such investigations as would enable it to decide whether the public inquiry should or should not be re-opened. After travelling through the forests and visiting all the important mills, the board decided that the condition of the industry was such that further inquiry should be made. That investigation has taken place in Melbourne during the last two months. I do not know what the recommendation of the board will be, but I judge from the evidence and the remarks and questions of members of the board during the inquiry, that the Minister will be advised that further protection is essential if the industry is to be saved. It is now in such a parlous condition that without help it must perish, and thousands of workmen employed in it must seek other markets for their labour. During the last few years, many of the employees of the industry have been thrown out of work and compelled to leave Tasmania in search of employment. Millions of pounds have been invested in the industry, and vast forests still remain to be cut and marketed for the building of houses. Instead, millions of pounds worth of timber is being imported from Canada and foreign countries each year. The industry can endure only if it is given protection proportionate to that which is given to other great industries in the Commonwealth. Like many other primary industries, it is suffering from the high cost of production caused largely by the duties imposed for the protection of manufacturers. The full facts are known to the Tariff Board and the Minister, who, I believe, is sympathetic, but, unless something is done during this brief session, the Tasmanian timber industry will go out of existence. I am informed that the position of the industry in other States is nearly as critical. I desire that my State shall have a fair chance, in competition with other portions of the Commonwealth, to develop its natural industries so that it may become self-reliant; but, unless it is given a fair measure of tariff assistance, it will have no chance to do that. I plead with the Government that before the House goes into recess, a new schedule be introduced to give to the timber industry that amount of protection which I believe will be recommended by the Tariff Board. The Minister has stated that the board’s report will not be available until to-morrow. The Minister told a deputation that waited upon him that, because the report was not yet ready, and because Parliament would probably rise next week, it would not be possible in the time available to bring down a tariff schedule providing for an increased duty on timber. We have just been reminded that in August last, when this House was in session, tariff proposals were placed on the table of the House and have operated ever since. If this could be done for the iron and steel industries, why cannot it be done now for the timber industry? It can be done if the Government wishes to do it. Honorable members have been discussing a number of comparatively unimportant subjects, waiting until the States Grants Bill passes another chamber. There are still six sitting days to elapse before the House adjourns, and surely the Minister can come to a decision in that time. I should imagine that he has the subject at his finger-tips, and knows precisely what he can and will do if Cabinet consents to the revised protection. I am satisfied that the Minister does not want six months in which to prepare a tariff schedule for timber. He probably knows more of the timber industry than of any other industry that needs tariff protection. What we want to know is whether an increased protection is to be given during ‘this session. I ask the Treasurer to take this matter up with Cabinet, and to convey to it my message that the position of the industry is so desperate that thousands of men will be thrown out of work unless immediate assistance is forthcoming from the Goverment. If we have to wait another six months before ascertaining the recommendation of the Tariff Board, the industry will practically be ruined. This is a vital question, not only to thousands of timber workers, but also to the great mass of people in Tasmania, and I ask the Minister to come to an immediate decision.
.- I wish, on behalf of the timber industry, to add my plea to that of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell). For a considerable time the timber industry has been in an extremely parlous condition, and, unless those engaged in it receive adequate tariff protection, the industry in Tasmania will die. I believe that the same position exists in some of the other States. The Tariff Board has been making a rather long inquiry respecting this industry, but a lot of information was gathered at a previous inquiry; and, although the evidence may be bulky, a great deal of its contents is already well known to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten). The Government must come to an immediate decision if any benefit is to be given to the industry. Those engaged in it, both the timber workers and the saw-millers, say that unless assistance is forthcoming immediately the industry cannot continue. There are excellent timber propositions in Tasmania, as there are in some of the other States, and it would be a great set-back to Australian afforestation if this industry were to die. The people of Tasmania have to pay indirectly for the tariff protection that is afforded to certain large industries, principally in Victoria and New South Wales; and, in view of their sacrifice for the benefit of those States, surely they have a claim for adequate protection for an important industry of their own.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) moved a motion this afternoon with the object of inducing the Government to abolish the coastal sections of the Navigation Act. If the Government cannot see its way to go so far as that, I suggest that it should get in touch with the British Government and the other dominion Governments, with a view to holding a conference so that legislation may he framed to meet the shipping requirements of the Empire. I am satisfied that the Navigation Act has done little or no good for the shipping industry of Australia. I was present in the chamber when the act was passed. The late Mr. Tudor had charge of the bill, and he handled it very well indeed. He was thoroughly acquainted with the shipping conditions of Australia. A number of honorable members, including myself, spoke favorably of the bill. One of its objects was to provide better conditions for the seamen, and another was to protect the Australian mercantile marine from the operations of shipping companies abroad. In consequence of the operation of the act large ocean-going boats belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Line and the Orient Line were withdrawn from the interstate trade. At that time a number of splendid ships were plying on the Australian coast. In 1910 there were 43 passenger vessels belonging to Australian companies, with a tonnage of 116,516. In 1.926 that number had been reduced to thirteen vessels, with a tonnage of 61,416. The Australian shipping companies are trying to dispose of their passenger vessels, and when they do sell any, they refuse to replace them. There has been no additional tonnage except for freight purposes. The shipping companies will not cater for the passenger traffic. In fact, one large company has gone out of the passenger business altogether. Something is wrong. In 1910 we had a magnificent fleet, a credit to this young country, with so sm.all a population. Today that fleet has been reduced to thirteen vessels. I do not say, as the honorable member for Franklin has urged, that this is wholly due to the Navigation Act. What is really wanted is not actually a return to the Merchant Shipping Act, but legislation framed at an Empire conference to meet all our requirements. Unless some such action is taken we shall soon .have no Australian vessels on our coast. The balance-sheets of the Australian shipping companies show that they are earning dividends, not from their fleets, but from their coal mines and subsidiary interests. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) seemed to think that the abolition of the coastal sections of the Navigation Act was asked for merely to cater for a fastidious few. I do not know to whom he is referring unless it is to those wealthy people who years ago used to take the .apple trip. Had that round trip not been discontinued by the operation of the Navigation Act, a great many wealthy people from Brisbane, Sydney, and the northern parts of Australia would have flocked to Tasmania instead of the few that go-there now. Plenty of people in Australia to-day refuse to visit Tasmania simply because they cannot travel by mail boat.
Mr. Franklin. ; They are afraid of being held up.
– Tasmania would be more prosperous but for the frequent holding up of shipping in recent years. Some extremely serious shipping strikes have occurred. On one occasion the pneumonic influenza interfered with the tourist business, but generally strikes have been the cause. Quite recently the honorable the Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson) waa lucky in not being held up in Launceston. Fortunately for him, two boats were leaving on the same day ; otherwise he would not have been able to reach Sydney until too late for his purpose. But for shipping hold-ups, Tasmania would have a thousand tourists, where she receives a hundred now. The tourist business is capable of great development, because the best parts of the country for tourist purposes have not yet been opened. Tasmania lends itself admirably to the tourist business. There is variety of scenery everywhere, and large numbers of mountains and lakes, many of which are still inaccessible. The attractions for tourists are comparatively close together, and only short roads are required to provide the necessary communication. The day is not far distant when a tourist will be able to start at Cradle Mountain and travel for 30 miles through mountain and lake country. There is nothing else like it in Australia, and perhaps not in any other country. It will soon be possible for tourists to stay at a wellappointed chalet. Tasmania’s scenery, and its incomparable climate, which is extremely pleasant in the summer months when the people of the mainland need recreation and change, make it an ideal resort for tourists. I am more interested in the general effect of the Navigation Act than in its particular effect on the tourist traffic. When I was a member of the Ministry the Government’s programme included a proposal to alter the Navigation Act, and this Parliament had no sooner assembled than the promise was redeemed. It is not the fault of the Government that the Orient and Peninsular and Oriental boats do not carry passengers from mainland ports. They are apparently afraid of industrial trouble. I should like the Government to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Franklin, and bring down a proposal to delete the coastal sections of the act. I recognize that there are great difficulties in the way of doing that, because interwoven with the Navigation Act is the Arbitration Act. But the Governmerit can do something, and the time is fast approaching when something must be done. We had 43 coastal passenger steamers in 1910, and to-day have only thirteen, and the companies are anxious to sell those that they have. If they sell more ships they haveno intention of replacing them with passenger vessels. That sort of thing cannot continue. The problem of navigation must be seriously tackled by this or some other Australian Government. I urge the Government to get into touch with the British Authorities, confer with them, and try to evolve something to remedy the serious conditions to which I have referred. If that could be done the whole Empire would benefit. Present conditions are no good to the seamen, or to any one else. The principal object of passing the Navigation Act was to give the seamen proper treatment, and to bring their conditions up to the same standard of comfort as Australian workers enjoy in other walks of life; but that objective is not being realized. The second object, the protection of the shipping companies, must have failed, or they would be taking advantage of the act by enlarging instead of curtailing their fleets. A more striking argument cannot be found than the reduction in the number of passenger steamers, and the intention of the com- panies not to replace the ships that they sell. I am heartily in sympathy with the object of the honorable member for Franklin.
– I have received a letter about the operation of the amusement tax. It is written by a constituent of mine, a well-known public man, who conducts a prosperous business. The letter reads-
I think that people who are compelled to make a deposit under the regulations of the Federal amusement tax should receive a prompt return of their balance, and not be kept waiting three or four days. I deposited £5 as good faith. I have had the returns put in within twelve hours - last Tuesday, the 1st March - and the lady clerk said I would receive my balance within two days. It is not the question of the money. I refer to the delay in the transaction, compared with any business house, which would have completed the business in a few hours. Would you please favour me and make some inquiry in the interest of others who do business with this Federal department?
It is strange that the department should take £5 from those promoting a performance and retain it for some time after those concerned had paid all dues to the Government. I hope the Treasurer will make arrangements for the prompt return of such deposits.
I wish to speak on the treatment of incapacitated returned soldiers, which was raised by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). I shall not abuse the Government, because I believe it hasdone much for the returned soldier. As far as records of war go, perhaps Australia has set an example. The soldiers who were fit and well, and accepted the gratuity, relieved the Commonwealth of further responsibility to them, for they accepted a bonus for the services they had rendered to the country, and there the contract ended, apart from the gratitude that the community owes to, and still feels towards, them. But the man who is injured or sick cannot be compensated with money. If a man has lost his arm, ear, or leg, or has had his sight impaired, he will feel the loss every day of his life. The Government has spent millions of pounds in trying to be fair to the returned soldier; but many of those who remained at home, who flag-wagged the soldier home, robbed him when he got home. If they had not done that, the Government would not now have to write down the value of the land on which themen are settled. I have been talking recently to men on the Murray lands, and the stories they told me about the way fa which money had been expended were appalling. The man who is supposed to carry the burden cannot do it. Certain individuals who pretended to act on behalf of the soldiers, got the thick end of the argument and all the profit out of the transaction. All we can do is to make the best of that. Those soldiers, however, have had at least something given to them, and they have the opportunity, if they are fit and well, of making good, so that instead of looking back upon, the war with regret, they may be able to feel grateful for the opportunities it has given them. Rut the mau who is injured deserves all we can do for him. The tubercular returned soldier is particularly unfortunate, and the Government should extend more generosity to him. The Treasurer, as a medical man, knows that if a doctor is in a difficulty about diagnosing a complaint he will question the patient fully to find out how the disease was acquired, and may even investigate the medical history of his relatives. A tubercular ex-soldier was subjected to 1 similar cross-examination. Just after the House rose last August I met a man in Adelaide whose case aptly illustrates the plight of many ex-soldiers. This man is a fine young fellow, who stands about C ft. 8 in. in his socks. I met him near the Trades Hall, where I always meet f oik who wish to see me. He said “ Yon do not know me?” I said, “ Oh, yes I do; you are Cave.” He and four or five other fellows of the same type were the life of the .Mitcham camp when I was 1 here. At that time this man was a fine specimen of Australian youth, and he has since grown into a splendid man. He is a journeyman carpenter, who has been in business for himself, and has no desire to batten on the Commonwea1th. He merely wishes to provide for his wife and child. He told me that he had been under medical attention, and that his own doctor, being unable to diagnose his case, had called into consultation Dr. Verco, one of the most eminent physicians in Adelaide. Dr. Verco, after questioning him. for some time, ascertained that he had been in France, and immediately told him that his trouble was an ulcer in the stomach, which was caused through his having been gassed at some time, and that it would have to be removed. The man then applied to the Repatriation Department for a pension, but was told that it had not been proved that his in- capacity was due to war service. His looks would not cause one to pity him. His object in interviewing me that morning was to get me to make representations on his behalf, and I did so. On my return from Rabaul just before Christmas, I received word that he had been accepted as a war case, and was being treated accordingly. Unfortunately, not every man is able to get a member of Parliament to plead his case, nor is every man similarly situated able to get a doctor to say definitely, as Dr. Verco did, that his trouble was due to Avar service. A man’s military record in the Defence Department is not at all conclusive as to whether he suffered from any disability while he was on active service. Let me draw on my own experience to illustrate that statement. On one occasion, as I have already told the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse), my gas mask had been collected for the purpose of having triple eye-pieces put in it, and I had no mask. That night I was directed, with my companions, to go over the top. It was a court-martial offence for me to go without a mask, but what could I do? We crawled into our funk holes, and remained there for an hour and a half until Fritz dropped a short one, and the five of us, including the spook, had to separate. I was directed to get over to the spook’s dug-out. I had to throw a blanket, damped with neutralizing acid, over my head and do the best I could. I had only been in the locality a short while, and did not know it very well. My companion told me that we had to run about 300 yards on the right front before we could reach the dug-out. He said to me as we started out, “When I duck, you duck,” and I did so. We reached our objective safely, and after daylight next morning, when Fritz had eased his firing, we collected our fellows and went back to the pits. I had to spend the whole of the next day in my bunk, for my head was going nineteen to the dozen, and was swollen to an abnormal size. The doctor did not come round that day. so he knew nothing of my condition. The next day, having had enough of remaining in the pit, I went on parade, and Captain Orr, who was in charge of the line, seeing my condition, said, “ You have had a dose of gas.” I had lost my voice, but I indicated to him that that was so. Nothing more was said about the matter, aud the incident was not noted on my record sheet. If I should ever have need to refer the department to it, I should have only my word, supported by that of Andy Mackay, who I believe is the only member of the party still living, for Captain Orr is dead, to bear out my story. Many ex-soldiers are in a like position. Senator Elliott has truly said that not until the death of the last digger will the responsibility of the country to its soldiers be known. No one can say how many of our soldiers have the seeds of serious diseases lying latent in them. The tubercular mau has perhaps more difficulty than any other to prove that his trouble is due to his war service, for he cannot say when the disease may have laid its hold on him. Take my own case again. I well remember one night being ordered up to the pits. It had been raining all day, and was still raining. I went up to the line, and there was the usual coffin pit waiting to receive me; but with this difference, that the galvanized iron roof over it was about a foot too short, and the rain that fell on it ran straight into the trench, which had 4 inches of water lying in it. I said to the man in charge of the party, “ You do not expect a man to .spend the night in there.” He replied, “ Bail the water out.” The four men with whom I was associated had gone up earlier and were tucked away, one under each corner of a tarpaulin, so I placed myself under the middle of it. We were wet through then, and we remained wet through all night. The seeds of tuberculosis might have been sown in any one of us that night. That experience was common to practically every man who went to France. It may be argued that even allowing that I am right in this instance, I have not covered the case of men who never saw the front line, but are claiming pensions for incapacities. Well, I submit that the rigours of camp life were quite sufficient to undermine the health of men who were unaccustomed to that mode of living. I shall never forget the first night I spent in the cattle pens at the Adelaide Exhibition building. Long before daylight I was aching in every bone of my body, and it took me moTe than a week to recover. When we got to England we learned a little more of camp life. It was late in February when our battalion went into camp near Amesbury, where we had only a heap of straw and a couple of blankets for our bed. One night I was overcome with a severe attack of dysentery, and had occasion four times to leave the warmth - such as it was - of my bed and go out into the bitterly cold, wet niGht. Was that not enough, apart from anything else, to seriously impair my health and lay the foundation in me of this dreaded disease? The plight of tubercular men is far worse than that of men who have lost a limb or who suffer from some other injuries, for they are actually under sentence of death. I earnestly urge the Government to give favorable consideration to all cases of the kind I have described. Our pension liability is diminishing, and the number of cases of this character is not large, so that they would not be a. severe strain on the public funds. All tubercular men who claim that their incapacity is due to war service should be granted a pension that will keep them and their families in at least the necessaries of life. Such a recognition of their claims would be nothing in comparison with the sacrifices that they made, or the value of the services that they rendered to the nation in its hour of great need. The annual report of the association formed in South Australia to give aid to tubercular soldiers makes sad reading. To-morrow week buttons are to be sold in the streets of Adelaide because this association is at the end of its tether financially; it must cadge money from the public to discharge what should be recognized as a liability of the Commonwealth Government. These men should receive the pension, whether the complaint was contracted in the course of overseas service or not, because it would in no way recompense them for the great sacrifice they made in responding to their country’s call.
Yesterday I asked the PostmasterGeneral a question regarding the manholes constructed in connexion with the undergrounding of the telephone wires in Adelaide. When the thermometer showed a temperature of 106 degrees in the shade, I noticed men, working with hammer and drill to break down concrete work put in not more than two years ago. The object of the question was to bring the department to a sense of its responsibility, and the reply that I received was as follows: -
I promised to investigate the replacement of concrete manholes, to which the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) referred on the 2nd of March. The facts are that, during the past twelve months, it has been found necessary to enlarge 22 manholes. They varied from approximately 3 ft. 6 in. x 3 feet to 4 feet x 3 feet, and the new manholes which have been built are of three sizes - 6 feet x 4 feet, 0 feet x 6 feet, and 7 feet x 6 feet. The original manholes were constructed about 1911, and since that time very considerable telephone developments have taken place. It has been necessary to provide cables muchbeyond the capacity of those contemplated fifteen years ago. It would have been impracticable to develop the system without reconstructing the manholes in question.
The reply of the department would make it appear that I was complaining of something that happened fifteen years ago; but the undergrounding of the telephone wires in Adelaide was not begun at that time. The department has misled the Minister. The telephone conduits are earthenware pipes containing about seven chambers. Even fifteen years ago the engineers of the department should have known how many conduitswould converge at the street corners, and should have realized that a manhole measuring about three feet square would not provide room for a workman. The holes should be at least eight feet square, and if it is found that they have to be enlarged at some future date, the department will be unable to deny that its attention was directed to the necessity for larger holes than are now being provided.
I desire to refer also to the reply given by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) regarding the carrying of firearms. He said -
It is not the practice for Ministers, in replying to questions in the House, to give opinions upon matters of law or of constitutional power.
I contend that an honorable member has a right to ask the Attorney-General a question regarding the powers of the Commonwealth. The honorable member did not ask for a legal opinion.
– Everybody is supposed to know the law.
– But we have to seek this advice of lawyers in interpreting it.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I understand that, during my absence yesterday, a statement was made regarding my speech on tobacco. A quotation was made from a very condensed report that appeared in one of the Melbourne newspapers, and seemed to cast rather severe reflections upon the mentality of members of the Tariff Board. The Hansard report of my speech, however, shows clearly that I did not reflect upon their intelligence. As one who has had much to do with the members of that body, I have the greatest admiration for them, and it was not my intention to cast any reflection upon them for the way in which they carry out their arduous tasks. I wished to convey the impression that the members of the board who had been manufacturers could not understand the psychology of the primary producers sufficiently to enable them to grasp fully the problems confronting them. I repudiate any suggestion that I desired to be spiteful, or in any way malicious towards the members of the board, for all of whom I have the greatest respect and admiration. I think that the complaints made in this chamber prove conclusively that the hoard, as now constituted, is unable to cope with its work. It is about time we had two boards, one to deal with secondary industries, and the other with primary industries. If the Government desires to see justice done to the primary producers, it should create a subsidiary board, composed of men who thoroughly understand the difficulties of the men on the land. This second board could devote its time exclusively to those problems, and thereby eliminate the delay that now occurs in dealing with them.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to8 p.m.
.- The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) gave a vivid description of his personal experiences at the front, and, as one who in past years practised medicine and surgery, I can quite understand the deductions he made; but for the life of me I cannot understand why the Defence Department refuses to treat in military hospitals every man who has been a soldier. I am glad to have received a ropy of The American Legion Weekly, dated the 5th January, 1926, from which I make the following quotation: -
The impossibility of making a positive medical decision whether a disability is or is not of service connexion - either produced by war service or aggravated by it-led tlie Government to adopt a policy of giving free hospitalization to any service man needing it, regardless of the origin of his disability. The American Legion fought long and hard for official adoption of this policy. As a result of the policy many thousands of service men have in tlie past few years been given, in Government hospitals, care and treatment which otherwise would have been denied them. In years to come many more thousands of service nien, now apparently strong and healthy, but slowly giving away without knowing it to the delayed effects of wounds or diseases acquired in the war, will have cause to bless the Legion for establishing the principle which will enable them to get hospital care when they need it.
Honorable members will agree that that suggests a good example for Australia to follow. A returned soldier whose illness it is possible to trace to pre-war causes lias no chance of getting justice in this country. I put my protest against this state of affairs in the most striking language I oan use when I say that a. murderer, a thief, or a felon, has, in the courts of this country, a better opportunity of rebutting evidence brought against him than is given to a returned soldier or his dependants seeking assistance. My records pf cases submitted to me week after week prove conclusively that if a doctor acting for the Department of Defence definitely says that a returned soldier’s illness is not due to pre-war causes, his word is taken even against that of a man of the highest medical attainments. Some day I hope we shall follow the splendid example of the United States of America in our treatment of returned soldiers.
Referring again to the tobacco industry, I have already shown that there is only one instance in the world in which the great American tobacco combine was conquered. It was defeated by Japan, and it takes a whole nation to fight that combine. I have said that the combine offered France for her monopoly of the tobacco industry in that country the enormous sum of £120,000,000 in gold. I believe in the nationalization of the tobacco industry, and I hope I shall live to see it brought about in Australia. I have nothing but praise for the way in which those controlling tobacco factories in this country have looked after the welfare of their employees. At an entertainment to which I was invited, I told those engaged in the industry that I regarded tie tobacco factories as belonging to my country, and said that, if those controlling them treated their employees generously, when the time came for the Commonwealth to take over the industry it would be found not only just, but generous, to all who had considered the welfare of their employees. The War Service Homes Department and that having charge of the erection of State homes would do well to look into the splendid system adopted by the tobacco combine to enable its workers to own their homes. The system was started upon an actuarial basis; at first at a cost of 3^ per cent., and later of 5 per cent, to the employee. I make these statements in justice to the American tobacco combine, though’ when I can get them I smoke only anti-combine cigarettes. A splendid factory has been established in Western Australia to manufacture cigarettes from Egyptian and Australian tobacco. The cigarettes made from Egyptian tobacco are called “ Mena “ cigarettes, and those made of Australian tobacco are called “ Golden West.” I am satisfied that Mr. William Cameron, though head of his fine factory, will agree that there is a great deal to be said for the nationalization of the tobacco industry.
I wish to add a little in support of what the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) said regarding the treatment of public servants. The heads of the departments always look after themselves, but if they are really good men they will consider also the welfare of those under them. I make the complaint that in no branch of the Public Service with which I am acquainted, and not even in the service of this Parliament, can an Australian boy entering on the lowest rung of the ladder expect to rise to the highest position in his branch of the Service even if he has the nece3sary ability. There is a line drawn as plainly as that between the aristocrat and the serf. I know of no instance in which a youth who has entered the “ General “ division of the service of an Australian Parliament has risen to be Clerk of that Parliament. We appear to be trying to establish a class of aristocrats or patricians and plebians as in the olden days of Borne. The Greeks had helots’ faces as white as their masters’, yet in Sparta when it was desired to imbue boys with the love of war they were sent out with arms and told to practise on the helots the awful art of killing. Even England sent white Englishmen to the tobacco fields of America to work as slaves, and persons rich enough to bribe magistrates were in this way able to get rid of their enemies. I resent these class discriminations. The franchise should be regarded as the greatest possession of the people, and no Parliament elected by the people should be dominated by the public servants. They are not called upon 1o face the electors, and those who mind their p’s and q,S, and are possessed of moderate attainments, may rise to positions in which they will be better paid than members of Parliament. We should make the Federal Capital a city of Australians. We should not say to the lowerpaid public servants. “ You must live in that, part of the Capital,” and to the highly-paid, “ This is the splendid place reserved for you.” We do not want to breed any second-class Australians. We desire that all shall be first-class. The American mother looking at her babe is able to say that if he has the necessary ability there is no reason why he should not attain the Presidentship of ;,he United States of America, and govern more than 110,000,000 of Englishspeaking people. We want the mothers of Australians to be able to say to their sons that it is open to them to rise to the highest positions in the land. No one should be able to tell any man where he shall live, or how he shall live, at the Federal Capital. No one there will be able to say, “ I own this land,” because the Federal Capital Territory belongs to the people. Some day when the people become sufficiently wise they will say thatall land in Australia shall belong to them. Honorable members can imagine the revenue of Victoria if the land in the splendid city of Melbourne belonged to the people. It is not the owners of land but the whole of the people who make its value, and the unearned increment of land should belong to the State, and should be used to wipe out our enormous debts. Let us put an end to the creation of class distinctions at Canberra. It has been stated that land there which cost the- Commonwealth £5 per acre, is now valued at £400 per acre. The rents charged to public servants at
Canberra should be based on the actual price paid by the Commonwealth for the land, and consideration should be given to the increased cost of living at the Federal Capital.
I am opposed to the building of the Singapore Naval Base. I look upon :t as an insult to Eastern nations. A paragraph which appeared in last night’s Herald sets out the Japanese view of the proposal. It says -
The Japanese press says Britain is endangering the prospects of the next conference through her insistence on the Singapore plan, and the creation of an Indian Navy, which strengthens Britain in the Far East, while she urges Japan to decrease armaments.
As an Australian loving my country I regard the building of the Singapore Base as throwing down the gage of battle to the Eastern nations. I have it from a naval man that Singapore is surrounded by a number of little islands which would give shelter to submarines. The statement has been published in the Japanese press, that it would be as impossible for a British Fleet to reach the Singapore Base as it was for the Russian Fleet to reach Vladivostock during the Russo-Japanese War. Honorable members will recollect the fate that overtook the Russians, and I hope that history will never show another such debacle. We should concentrate all our defence preparations on the sea and the air; we should rely upon aeroplanes and submarines. The £9,000,000 which one big battleship costs would be sufficient to encircle Australia with air stations. The striking power of an aeroplane is limited only by its cruising range. The longest range of any gun used in the great War was 75 miles, that being the distance from which “ Big Bertha “ bombarded Paris. If an aeroplane is able to cruise 1,000 miles, that is the range of its projectiles, for having reached its objective it is able to drop bombs directly and accurately on to the target. Aeroplanes are the most mobile and speedy force in war; they are cheap to build and maintain, and only two lives are risked with every machine. For that reason they would be a particularly economical yet effective form of defence for Australia. What commander of a hostile expedition comprising, say, 20,000 men, would care to approach our shores if he knew he was liable to attack by a flotilla of 20 aeroplanes. We are living in a fool’s paradise. Some of
England’s greatest experts, including Admiral Sir Percy Scott, and “Jacky” Fisher, and eminent American admirals have declared that the nation that commands the air will dominate the world.
I turn for a brief moment to the situation in China, and I propose to read to the committee a statement of the nature and objects of Kuomintang. I sympathize with the aspirations of the Chinese, although I have always been a believer in a “White Australia. In my first election campaign I instructed the members of my committee not to ask any Chinaman or Indian to vote for me, because if I had been born in the East I would not vote for a man holding my opinions. Later, I was able to render some service to a fellow Australian of Chinese birth, and that prompted the Chinese citizens of Melbourne to support me politically. They know that I have no opposition to them as human beings ; my prejudice against them is not racial, but economic. Owing to the low standard of living of the Chinese people, they would, if allowed to come here in great numbers, be used by employers to reduce wages. That policy has been followed by the employing class in Australia from its earliest days. The squatters offered great opposition to the discontinuance of the convict system, because it would deprive them of cheap labour. The brilliant articles regarding the early history of Australia that are being published in the Saturday issue of the Labour Daily of Sydney, are worthy of the attention of every Labour man. The democracy of Kuomintang is unsurpassed by any political organization of which I have knowledge. The nearest approach to it is the Australian Labour party; but even that is not more democratic than that of the Chinese national party. I quote for the information of honorable members the following information: -
What is the Kuomintang? It is not a Communist Society.
Tlie “ Kuomintang “, translated, means the Nationalist party. It is the direct descendant of the secret revolutionary society, the famous Tungmenhui, which was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of the Manchu dynasty. From being a secret society that organization, in 1912, became a political party under the name of Kuomintang. The founder and leader of both was the late Dr. Sun Yat Sen. Thrice organized, it assumed its present form in 1924. lt is at the present time the only political party in China, in the sense that the term is known to European and Australian democracy. It has definite political principles, which have been publicly announced and adherence to which entitles any man or woman, irrespective of nationality, to membership. These principles are fixed and fundamental, although, of course, the manner of their application to the political and economic problems as they arise front time to time must necessarily vary.
What ARE the Principles of the Kuomintang ?
They were formulated and expounded by the late Dr. Sun himself in his writings and lectures, which have been collected and published in book form and a.re procurable in any book shop. They are known as the “ Three Principles of the People.”
The first may be translated as the principle of thu people’s Nationalism. This doctrine seeks the freedom and independence of the Chinese nation. It was a power in bringing about the downfall of the Manchu domination. It now seeks the liberation of China from foreign political and economic domination. While emphasizing the peace-loving nature of our people, Dr. Sun calls to them to awake and rise and stand on their own feet. ‘Hie great Chinese nation must no longer be a semicolonial or worse still sub-colonial state, to be exploited by foreign powers, but should take its rightful place in the family of nations and deal with other members of the family on a footing of equality.
The second principle is that of the people’s sovereignty, or, for short, democracy. The people should have the vote, initiative, referendum, and recall, of course, after due preparation and education. The division of the powers of the Government into the three branches of legislative, executive, and judiciary.
The third principle is that of the people’s livelihood, or, if you like, socialism. Socialism is, of course, a term which may mean anything .from workmen’s insurance to denial of property. Dr. Sun’s doctrine, however, besides providing for an improvement in the economic welfare of the .people in; general and the agricultural and labouring population in particular, such as may be found to-day in the statutebooks of England or Australia, has two important characteristics - (1) preventing land from being .monopolized by a few. whether speculators or “land sharks.” With this end in view, there should’ foe legislation providing that landowners should themselves report to the Government the value of their holdings. Land taxation is to be based on such reports, find in order to guard against the tendency of low valuation, the Government is to have- the option of purchase at the same figure(2) Enterprises which are monopolistic in character or which are vital to the economic life of the people should not be left to private exploitation, but should be undertaken bv the state.
That is following the Few Zealand legislation. There property is valued for taxation purposes by the owner and the
Government has the right to resume it at any time at the owner’s valuation -
These are, very briefly, the principles which constitute what is called Sunyatsenism and the political creed of the Kuomintang. The following is the expounder:
People’s Nationalism is “government of the people.”
People’s Sovereignty is “ government by the people.”
People’s Livelihood is “government for the people.”
In the carrying out of these principles Dr. Sun did notnaturally contemplate that the thing could be done at once. Some things could not be done immediately, others would need a period of preparation, more or less lengthy. For example, to give universal suffrage to thepeople without previous training and education would be nothing short of disastrous.
Why is the Kuomintang, in the Eyes of foreigners, so closely identified with Communism ?
This is due to misunderstanding or ignorance. In the first place, foreigners who so glibly identify Kuomintang with Communism, do not know,in99 cases out of 100, what the rudiments of the Kuomintang principles are. Communism would, for instance, abolish private property and make war against capital. There is not the remotest suggestion of either in Dr. Pun’s teachings. In the second place, theydo not know the history of the admission of the Communists into the Kuomintang. When, three years ago, they requested admission, Dr. Pun gave them permission to come into the party, on the same condition that anybody elsehas to observe, viz., adherence to the party principles. Needless to add, not every Communist is a member of the Kuomintang, and those who are members form a very small percentage of the Kuomintang. isthe Kuomintang Divided into a Left and Right Wing.
No. These terms are currently used to designate on the one hand those Kuomintang members who are concurrently Communists, or who have leanings toward them; and, on the other, those who are not. It may be convenient for outsiders to use such terms, but I think it is highly improper for Kuomintang members to employ them. There should not be Lefts and Eights in the party, but only those who honestly believe in Dr. Sun’s triple principle. Those who do not believe in them are nominally not honest with themselves or with the party. This does notmean that no Communist can be a true Kuomintang man, because he may believe in his Communist principles and yet think that for the next generation or two Dr. Sun’s principles arc what China needs. It is sufficient that while acting under Kuomintang colours he should do Kuomintang work. So you see there is no division between Lefts and Rights, for the very good reason that there is no variation in the party doctrines.
I thought it desirable to read that long explanation in order to clear up a popular misconception of the meaning of the present Nationalist movement in China. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Sun Yat Sen, and formed the opinion that he was the best friend that Australia had in the Orient. We discussed the 21 terrible articles which Japan forced on China during the war, and of which the Washington Conference eliminated 19. Dr. Sun Yat Sen said to me, “That is very good, but the two remaining articles will enable Japan to control China, and she will try to use China as Germany used Austria - as a recruiting ground for soldiers, and a source of coal and iron. With 70,000,000 Japanese allied with 420,000,000 Chinese, what would be easier than to appeal to India in these terms - ‘You are Asiatics. Join us in demanding Asia for the Asiatics, and if you choose to go further we can conquer the world.” If China, Japan, and India combined in that way, they could lose 10,000,000 men every year and yet continue fighting for ever. But China is a peace-loving nation; and I hope that we shall ultimately forgive all the evils that the West has done to our country during the opium wars and subsequently, and that the world will be peaceful. We desire to be allowed to govern ourselves, and control our own Customs duties.” When the guns of the American warships were ready to fire on Canton during a dispute over the Customs duties, Dr. Sun Yet Sen reminded the Americans of the Boston Harbour tea incident in connexion with their fight for liberty, and pointed out that the people of China were contending only for what they believed to be their rights. “If,” he said, “the American fleet fires upon us when we are discharging what we conceive to be our duty, I shall regretfully declare that my opinion of the American people has been wrong.” The American fleet did not fire. I shall pursue that matter no further. We must try to preserve peace in the world. The horrors of war are too terrible to be lightly provoked. No mother who kneels and prays to the Creator that her son may grow into a healthy man, could face theprospect of his body being destroyed later by poisonous gases or mutilated by high explosives.
-The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I had not quite finished my remarks on the north-south railway when my time expired last night. Regarding the agreement with South Australia to construct this railway, we all recognize that it must be observed, but we also know that no specific time is mentioned for its fulfilment. I contend that the Government would-be quite within its rights and acting legally if it postponed the building of the railway indefinitely.
– The AttorneyGeneral has stated the opposite in this House.
– I understand that no specific time is mentioned in the agreement.
– The AttorneyGeneral said that the railway had to De constructed within a reasonable time, and I remind the honorable member that seven teen years have elapsed since the agreement was made.
– There is nothing about a “ reasonable time “ in the agreement, although, of course, that may have been the interpretation of it. There may be a moral right to the building of the railway, but as it, if constructed, will be a white elephant, and will not. develop country or settle population to any extent, I think that it would be far better, even at this late stage, to approach the South Australian Government with a view to modifying the agreement. I believe that many people of South Australia, and particularly in Adelaide, believe that the railway, when built, will bring a great amount of trade to that State, but not knowing the conditions of the Northern Territory they do not realize the true position. Last night I showed clearly that very few stock would be carried on the railway. Mr. Hobler, a man of great experience in the Northern Territory, who has recently been appointed a member of the North Australia Commission, has said that the expectations of revenue must be confined mainly to the pastoral industry. The only pastoral industry possible in the Northern Territory - which is light carrying country - is the cattle industry. In any case, only occasionally would cattle be carried on the railway, principally because the freights would be too high, and it would pay the growers to travel cattle rather than to truck them. Evidence to that effect has been given by witnesses before the Public Works Committee. This railway, when constructed, will benefit only a few settlers on its route. It would perhaps benefit 200 or 300 settlers altogether, and to do that we are to spend something like £15,000,000 or £20,000,000, or, for the first section of the line to Alice Spring3, probably £3,000,000.
– The cost of the first section will be £1,700,000.
– That is the estimate, but is likely to be largely exceeded, as estimates usually are. Some people think that, with a railway, that country will be stocked with sheep, but that is quite out of the question. I have calculated the cost of improving that country. In the first place a great deal of it is unsuitable for sheep, because of the grass seed, which kills them. Some of the country in the south would be suitable for sheep but it would have to be improved. It would take at least 20 acres to carry a sheep, and the country would have to be dognetted to keep the dingoes out, subdivided, and watered, and wool sheds, stores, and other improvements would also be necessary. The cost of improvements would be at least £5 or £6 a sheep. No one but a madman would attempt to settle in that country under such conditions, seeing that in parts of Victoria and New South Wales freehold land in settled districts with a safe rainfall can be purchased for less money. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) interjected when I was speaking last night that the railway was perhaps necessary for defence purposes. I would inform him that the military authorities, including Sir Henry Chauvel, have definitely said that that railway, if constructed, would be of no use for defence. If it were required for that purpose, I should have no objection to its construction. What the military authorities require for defence purposes is a railway connecting the eastern States with Western Australia. I suggest that, instead of building the north-south line through inferior country, a railway should be built from Camooweal, in Queensland, across the Barkly Tablelands, which is all fine country, through the Victoria River country, connecting with
Derby, Broome, or Wyndham, in Western Australia. Such a railway would open up a fine tract of land, settle a lot of people, and might be useful for defence.
– Has the honorable member followed that proposed route from one end to the other?
– I followed it from Oodnadatta to Darwin. I then went through the Barkly Tablelands to Newcastle Waters, Camooweal, and Western Queensland. I have not seen the Victoria River country, but, judging by the evidence given before the Public Works Committee, it is very fine.
– There is fine country at Victoria River.
– That is so. While I am altogether opposed to the construction of the north-south railway, I think that the Government should have some consideration for the pioneers of the Northern Territory. These men were really heroes to settle in that country. They have an impossible task, and every consideration should be given to them. What would satisfy most of them would be a good road from north to south, which could be constructed at a comparatively small expense. A fairly good road already exists through most of the country, but the rivers and creeks would require to be bridged. The present track is good, and, with a little repairing, would make a passable road for motor transport. I suggest that the Government should ob tain a full report from the North Australia Commission respecting that proposal. Very likely the South Australian Government would agree to it, because its cost would not be more than one-tenth of that of the proposed railway. Probably £1,000,000 would provide ‘a good road right through the Northern Territory. Should South Australia not be prepared to modify the agreement in the way that I have suggested, it would be far better to pay that State £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to cancel the agreement altogether. This railway, if constructed, will be the. greatest “ white elephant” that Australia has ever known. It is, in my opinion, nothing short of a tragedy to waste millions on such a project and leave good country undeveloped.
I thank the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) for his sympathetic reference to the rice-growers in the
Murrumbidgee irrigation area, and I am glad to know that the Government intends to give them some relief by imposing a duty on rice. As I pointed out last night, they are practically the only producers who have no tariff protection, although they have all the disadvantages of this country’s protection policy. They pay through the nose for their requirements in a protected market, but when they sell their rice they have no protection at all. I regret that the Minister was not more explicit in stating when a duty will be imposed. The growers will be harvesting their crop next month, and I hope the Government will agree to impose the duty in time to cover that harvest. If that is not done, the growers will be in a very unfavorable position. They ought not to be. singled out as the one section of the community that is not protected, particularly as they have to suffer the disabilities resulting from the protection afforded to others.
.- The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) spoke of the north-south railway, and reminded me of a railway which is very necessary from Bourke, New South Wales, through Central Queensland towards Cloncurry, and thence across the Barkly Tableland to a point in the Northern Territory on the north-south railway. If that line could be built, it would in periods of drought save Queensland and New South Wales millions of pounds worth of stock. It is estimated that in the recent drought 7,000,000 sheep died in Queensland, chiefly along the route of the suggested railway, and that involved an additional loss of 2,000,000 natural increase. The total value of the sheep lost was approximately £10,000,000. It is estimated that 2,500,000 cattle also died. During portion of that period there was good grass in south-western Queensland, but the cost of transport from the Longreach district to Rockhampton. thence south to Brisbane, and west to Charleville was too great. If a line from Longreach down to the Charleville-Cloncurry district, and thence to Bourke, had been in existence, hundreds of thousands of sheep could have been removed to good pastures, and Queensland would have been saved enormous losses. I know there are difficulties in the way of this Government building that line.
– Is not the honorable member speaking of the proposal placed on the notice-paper by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) ?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).If the honorable member discusses that notice of motion he will be out of order.
– I have no desire to discuss the notice of motion of the honorable member for Macquarie. I wholeheartedly endorse his proposal, which deals with a matter that the Commonwealth Government should take up with the States. The Railway Commissioners of the Commonwealth and the States affected should confer together and report on the carrying out of this great national project. I should like the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) to note particularly what I have said on this subject.
I protest against the Government hurrying into recess while there are so many things yet to be done, and so many promises made by the Prime Minister in his electioneering manifesto still unfulfilled. The Leader of the Government and his followers made promises of all kinds which Avon the support of thousands of electors, and they ought, before they go into recess for six months, to give effect to some of them, or at least to outline the Governments intentions. Consider, for example, the proposed housing scheme. Honorable members, no doubt, expect a statement from the Prime Minister of the Government’s intentions in that regard. Thousands of workers were led to believe that if they voted, for the Nationalists they would have nothing to do but to go to the Commonwealth Bank to obtain a loan for the building of a comfortable home, and those men are justified in asking what the Government is doing to fulfil’ its promise. The Government promised an expenditure of £20,000,000 on that scheme, but, apparently, nothing, will come of it.
The proposal for childhood endowment was a specious promise designed to catch votes, and its non-fulfilment has placed many of the State Governments in a most embarrassing predicament. It is essentially a national scheme, which should be handled by the central Government. This Parliament should legislate on the matter for the whole of Australia, and thus place the employers of all States on an equal footing. The party on this side wants to know what the Government intends to do. Not one word has been said by the Government on the subject, but it intends to rush into recess for six months. Half the session has already gone, and the people have a right to be informed before we go into recess of the details of the Government’s scheme.
Promises were also made about a national insurance scheme. The Prime Minister said, “ Put my party in power and you shall have national insurance.” Honorable members on this side are now asking what the Government is going to do to honour that promise. A definite promise was made ; but nothing at all has been done.
I have received communications from public servants in Queensland protesting against interference by the Government with awards of the Public Service Arbitrator. Public servants throughout Australia are seething with discontent because of the action of the Government in seeking to set aside an award of the Arbitrator. When that official was appointed, we were told that he would have plenary powers to determine all industrial matters within the Service, provided that he carried out his duty equitably. His duty is to regulate wages and conditions of employment, and, so far as we know, he has done it conscientiously and well. After an inquiry at which the Public Service Board was represented, he decided that the maximum salary in respect of which child endowment should be paid should be increased from £500 to £600. He made an award, and the decision was accepted by the Public Service Board, and endorsed by the Executive Council. I understand that some of the allowances under that scheme have already been paid, but that notwithstanding, the Government has moved a motion in another place to disallow the award. I take strong exception to that action, and the public servants have genuine cause for complaint. If they were members of one of the militant industrial organizations outside, the incident would provide them with ample reason for bringing about a big industrial upheaval. The Government says that arbitration is its policy, and that employers, as well as employees, should abide by the awards that are made; but in this instance the Government steps in and endeavours to set aside an award applicable to its own employees. The Government has a majority here and in another place, and will no doubt bo able i:o have the decision of the Arbitrator set aside. If that is done, it will be a grave injustice. The public servants were justified in holding a meeting of indignation and in protesting against such high handed action by the Government. They were given the privileges of arbitration as far back as 1911, and this, so far as I know, is the first time that a government has tried to thwart the decision of the Arbitrator. It is a matter of grave importance to the Public Service. I ask the Government, before it is too late, to withdraw the motion carried in another place, and preserve the rights of the Public Service. The Arbitrator’s determination had no relation to Government policy, past, present, or future, because child endowment is an integral part of the wage-fixation system in the Service ; it is part of the basic wage declarations of the Arbitrator. The basic wage to-day is fixed at £204, plus child endowment, and if child endowment had not been paid, the basic wage would have been £215. The raising of the maximum of the salary in respect of which there would be childhood endowment eligibility from £500 to £600 was expressly due to consideration of the relative values of salaries. The Government, if it overrides the award, will be doing a gross injustice to public servants, who will be justified in taking extreme measures to show their resentment of such high-handed action.
I wish to associate myself with the protests made by other honorable members regarding the treatment of public servants about to be transferred to Canberra. Not enough consideration has been shown to men who have to break up the associations of a lifetime, accept living conditions not nearly so good as those they have been accustomed to in Melbourne, and live in houses which they know are quite, unsuitable for them. One of the biggest insults that has been offered to public servants is the announcement that those receiving less than £336 per annum will ho provided with only second class railway passes from Melbourne to Canberra. Mrs. Public Servant whose husband is in receipt of a salary not exceeding £336 per annum will, with her children, be obliged to travel to Canberra second class, and sit up all night, while Mrs. Public Servant whose husband is in receipt of a salary of £380 per annum or more will, with her children, travel first class and go to bed in sleeping berths. That is petty and ungenerous on the part of the Commonwealth. All the officers and their wives and families should be granted first class travelling facilities.
Another grievance that public servants have, is the lack of information in regard to the design and material of construction and the locality of the houses they will be expected to occupy. It is surely only reasonable, seeing that the transfer is imminent, that officers should know the purchase price or rental terms of tho houses that have been allotted to them, and also the cost of fencing, the amount of rates, and other details necessary to enable them to ascertain their financial obligations. The Chairman of the Federal Capital Commission, Mr. Butters, believes in the use of electric light and power, and is not favorable to the installation of gas at Canberra; hut I have been given to understand that an expert has reported in favour of providing gas there. It is time that a definite decision on this matter was announced.
The Commission assumed control of the Federal Capital Territory on the 1st of January, 1925, but it has not achieved nearly all that was expected of it. In order that the officers of the Public Service who are to bc transferred should be able to render the commission every assistance in their power, the Canberra Public Servants’ Committee was formed in Melbourne early in 1925. Its object was to investigate any grievances referred to it, and generally to offer suggestions to the commission for effecting a smooth and easy transfer. Soon after its appointment the committee suggested that officers who had been informed of their likely transfer to Canberra should be consulted as to the type of house they desired to occupy there. Representatives of the committee interviewed the chairman of the commission at Canberra in October, 1925, and were informed by him that the housing problem was one of the least difficult with which he had to deal, and that within six weeks of that time he would be able to make available to officers a booklet showing designs of houses and the estimated cost of them on a rental or purchase basis. That booklet was not issued until six months afterwards, and even then it was hurriedly prepared. I am advised on reliable information that the draughtsmen of the commission were given only 48 hours’ notice to prepare designs of 24 different types of houses which the commission proposed to construct.It is not surprising, therefore, that many designs are included in the booklet which are totally unsuitable for a climate like Canberra. Some of the houses have no verandahs whatever, and are so constructed that the rain will beat in under the doorways.
– The commission has built the houses and now it cannot dispose of them.
– That is so. It has on its hands at present about 100 houses of these unpopular designs. Nearly three months before the pamphlet was issued the commission called for tenders for 500 houses, and shortly afterwards accepted tenders for 300. This was before the officers were even consulted as to the type of residence they desired. Previous to that . time, the Canberra Public Servants’ Committee had made the reasonable suggestion that before finality was reached in the acceptance of the tenders, it might be given a fortnight in which to conduct a plebiscite of the servants concerned to ascertain the type of house desired. The commission should have gladly accepted that offer, but instead it seems to have taken umbrage that it was made. By the way, it does not refer to the public servants as public servants, but simply as servants. We are now within one month of the transfer of the parliamentary establishment to Canberra, and within six months of the transfer of what has been called the first wave of officers: and hardly any of the persons concerned have been given information respecting the type of house allotted to them. Such treatment is both ungenerous and unjust. It must be apparent to the commission and the Go vernment that without the hearty cooperation of the Public Service it will be impossible satisfactorily to transfer the Seat of Government to Canberra.
The commission is attempting to dispose of the unpopular houses it has on its hands by forcing them on to public servants who were a few days late in submitting their applications for houses. I have in mind six typical cases of the kind. The last date for receiving applications was the 31st of July, and these applications were not in the hands of the commission until the 10th of August; but they were in the hands of officers of the Home and Territories Department in ample time for them to have been forwarded to Canberra before the 31st of July. The officers concerned received a letter from the commission, dated the 28th of September, 1926, to the effect that their applications were being considered with a view to making the suggested alterations to the type designs, and’ that they would shortly be advised further on the matter. On the receipt of that advice, the officers quite naturally concluded that things were proceeding satisfactorily; but on the 28th of February this year they were advised by the commission that as their applications had not come to hand until after the 31st of July last year, it would not be possible to provide them with the type of house applied for, and they would have to accept whatever class of house was available. These officers have good homes in Melbourne, but are being forced to accept inferior and unsuitable places at Canberra. They will be obliged to cut up their linoleums and carpets, which are at present in nice large rooms, to make them fit pokey little rooms in the unsuitable houses that have been allotted to them. I submit that a great injustice is being done. On the 29th of July last the chairman of the commission gave evidence before the Public Works Committee on the housing conditions at Canberra, in the course of which he said -
If the public servants are not prepared to accept the 60 houses for which contracts have been let. I have no hesitation in saying that we shall be able to dispose of them all to private people within two days.
I suggest that the Government should advise Mr. Butters to dispose of these houses, not in two days, but before next August or September, and take steps immediately to build houses of a design suitable to the public servants who will be expected to occupy them.
Some time ago I asked the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) whether the Government would provide an aerodrome at Rockhampton to meet the growing demands of civil aviation in Central Queenslaud. As honorable members are aware, the climatic conditions there are favorable for aviation, and the long distances that have to be covered make it a most effective and desirable means of transportation. The land required for the aerodrome is estimated to cost £3,170, and the buildings required would cost £330, so that the total cost would be only £3,500. On the 15th of July last I asked the Minister for Defence the following questions, upon notice : -
His replies were -
At present any planes coming to Rockhampton have to land on the Rockhampton race-course, and are liable to strike stumps and other obstacles. I sincerely trust that the Government will accede to the request to provide this aerodrome. It would encourage aviation. It would enable residents from as far west as Longreach, Springsure, Blackwall, Winton, and other places to travel by aeroplane to Rockhampton to do their business. Rockhampton is a city with a population of 30,000, and is the commercial centre of the district.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
When the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) was speaking yesterday, he made a number of charges against me, and I regret that I have not had au opportunity until now to reply to him. He began by saying that on my return from abroad I had broadcast statements depreciating the quality of Australian products. He also said that, although my passage money and expenses while abroad had been met by the Government, and although I had bee.n commissioned to make a report to Parliament, I had violated my trust and used for my personal benefit the information that I had acquired. When I challenged the honorable member’s statement as to my passage money, he withdrew it, but he maintained that my expenses had been paid by the Government. In that respect he was entirely wrong. I paid for my passage to England and defrayed my expenses there wholly out of my own pocket. My expenses on the return journey also were borne by myself. I wish to make that perfectly clear. When I decided to visit Great Britain, one of my main objects was to inquire into the marketing of Australian products. The honorable member stated frequently, and in a loud voice, that he had the interest* of the primary producers at heart. If he takes my advice, he will continue to make that statement ; but there is no need for me to make such a declaration. I have devoted so much of my life to endeavouring to promote the interests of my fellow-producers that I do not need to announce, even in quiet tones, the fact that I have their interests at heart ; my actions have proved it. The honorable member charged me with having made statements that I did not make. I interjected at the time that the honorable member would probably have been better advised had he waited until he had heard what I had to say. Very often a wrong impression is gathered from a newspaper report. At Perth, for instance, I spoke for twenty minutes, and the telegraphed report of my speech occupied only about 4 inches of newspaper space. Such an abbreviated report could not possibly give a fair account of what I said. My remarks were in no way depreciative of the products of Australia, but were intended to show that the majority of our producers who are placing an excellent article on the markets of the world, should be allowed to do so without being prejudiced by those who will not meet their responsibilities. I intend to continue speaking on those lines. When I arrived in England, I found that the conditions were exactly as had been described to me from time to time. A friend of mine who had spent eighteen months there, and returned to Australia about two and a half years ago, had discussed the matter with me for hours, and his inquiries had led him to the same conclusions as those which I have formed. I found that, in many instances, Australian products were being marketed in a way which could only bring discredit upon the producers of this country. On the day of my arrival, I was interviewed by a representative of the London Daily Telegraph, and I stated that, on returning from the Geneva conference, one of the principal things I wished to do was to investigate the methods of marketing Australian products. In the course of a conversation with the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse), he told me that, as soon as the Imperial Conference was over, he would like rae to go into the matter with him. I indicated that I should be only too happy to do so. In the meantime, I prosecuted my inquiries on my own account. When the Minister for Defence became. ilL the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) asked me if I would continue the work and report to him. I cheerfully agreed to do so, and I wish to make it perfectly clear that I was glad to accede to the request to supply the Prime Minister with a confidenial report. That report was placed in his hands before he left London. The letter that he. gave me, authorizing me to conduct an inquiry for the Government, was invaluable to me; but the typing of my report and even the paper on which it was written, was paid for by me. I should not have alluded to this fact had it not been for the statement of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. I do not believe that because I am a member of the Federal Parliament I should dip my hands into the public Treasury on every possible occasion. In practically all cases, I found that Australian products were not being marketed as they should be, and that in many instances dishonest practices obtained. I was gratified to notice the excellent methods adopted in the marketing of Australian butter. Although I spoke severely on the marketing in Great Britain of the 2nd, 3rd, and pastry grades of butter, I said nothing of a derogatory nature concerning the first grade article, nor did I say that the butter was not as represented by the grading. The Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 1st March last, published confirmation of my assertion in the following sub-leader, headed, “ Why Australia Loses Trade.” -
It has long been a serious complaint that bad grading and bad packing are responsible for die loss of a lot of trade that might otherwise be secured by Australia. There is nothing wrong with Australian produce, and the Australian worker is as good as can bc found anywhere in the world; but it has to be admitted that we have a good deal to learn in the art of presenting our goods in the most attractive form.
Mr. Manning, M.P., who has recently returned from a trip abroad, is the latest one to bring this matter under notice. Australia, he says, can hold her own anywhere in the quality of goods produced; but in too many cases thI methods of preparing the goods for export do not satisfy the buyers.
That newspaper did not misunderstand what I said, and did not accuse me of being a “ traducer of the producer.” The honorable member for Maribyrnong, after a few general statements, confined himself to my remarks concerning butter, and I intend to deal mainly with that subject in my reply. I shall not go into the subject of marketing generally - I think that the proper time for its discussion will be during the debate on the resolutions of the Imperial Conference. The honorable member produced figures which he said showed my figures to be altogether wrong. Before I arrived at any conclusions, I did my best to get into touch with everybody in Great Britain who was connected with the butter trade, and to inquire thoroughly into the marketing system adopted. I first went to the London agency of the Dairy Produce Export Control Board. I had an interview with all the members - Sir James Cooper, who is chairman, and Messrs. J. R. King and O. G. Norton. I suppose that I was in their office on half a dozen occasions. I asked them to tell me the proportion of butter that came under the different grades, and I was informed that of the butter shipped from the Commonwealth to the United Kingdom from the 1st August, 1925, to the 30th June, 1926, 48.96 per cent, was graded “ choicest,” 26.68 per cent, was classed as first grade, 17.38 per cent., second grade, 6.5 per cent., third grade, and .48 per cent., pastry grade.
Butter that left Australia after the 1st July last, was not included in those figures. I was glad to hear the figures quoted by the honorable member, but I think that they related to butter shipped from the 30th June, 1925, until the present time.
– No, I gave the latest figures - those for 1926-27. The honorable member’s information is eighteen months behind the times.
– No. The financial year ended on the 30th June last. I challenge the honorable member to produce the uncorrected’’ pull “ of his speech, which was given to him this morning. He will find that his figures related to the position since the 30th June. The figures I quoted were given to me by the London agency of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, and were right for the time to which they referred. If the figures given by the honorable member for Maribyrnong covered eighteen months or twenty months, they were wrong, as we have in London a market for every grade of produce we may send there. I may be asked why I am opposed to permitting the export of second, third, or pastry grades of butter. We have a registered brand - the Kangaroo brand - which is put on cases containing butter that grades up to 92 per cent., or better. There is also first-grade butter which grades three points less, and this is very nearly equal to butters carrying the Kangaroo brand. The Kangaroo brand butter is being very largely advertised in Great Britain. A great impetus to the sale of all Australian produce was given at the Wembley Exhibition, where magnificent advertising for Australia was done, and millions of people in England realized for the first time what the Empire could supply. This created the beginning of a voluntary preference which should be of the greatest value to us, but we have failed to take full advantage of it. Last year we sent abroad Mr. Hyland to carry out a special advertising campaign. He is a most capable man, and he was able to command the services of Mr. Barnes, a born advertiser who did very fine work at the Wembly Exhibition. They have brought the three Australian products which they have advertised before the people of Great Britain as they have never previously been brought before them. Retailers and consumers were asked to write in to Mr. Hyland and say if they could not obtain Australian products. Thousands of letters were received from people who said they could not get them. This is where the damage to Australian goods arises. I speak only of a limited number, but there are grocers who buy the cheapest butter, and being unprincipled men, out to make large profits, sell it to customers as the best Australian butter. Naturally people who have bought such butter as the best Australian do not want any more of it. If we are to take full advantage of voluntary preference we must put an end to that kind of thing, and we cannot do so whilst we put second, third, and pastry-grade butter on the English market. We all know that when the milk comes from the cow it is all right, and it is the human element that is responsible for second and third grade butter. The percentage of milk produced which would not make good butter is so small that it need notbe taken into consideration. I know that in pioneer districts difficulties in transporting cream to the factories very often account for the fact that it is not first-grade when it reaches the factory, but honorable members will agree that that can account for only a very small percentage of the second, third, and pastry grade butter that is made. If the only second, third, and pastry grade of butter made were that manufactured from such cream the Minister for Markets and Migration would not need to carry out the campaign he has been engaged in for the production of butter of the highest grade. I wish to touch upon the Kangaroo brand, because, although it is a registered brand, it is really a grade mark. No retailer in England can sell Kangaroobrand butter.
– Why is that?
– Because the public do not buy butter by the case. Customers purchase 2 lb., 1 lb., or½ lb., of butter at a time, and the Australian Dairy Produce Board will not permit of packet butter being sold as Kangaroo brand butter. Mr. Gough, who is in charge of the Overseas Farmers’ Selling Organization, an important organization carrying out very valuable work, told me that he had tried to obtain permission to put Kangaroo brand butter in packets under official supervision, but the board would not allow that to be done. He was compelled, when putting Kangaroo brand butter into packets, to use another brand, and marked it “Fedco.” All the departmental stores in London are now vieing one with another in displaying Empire goods. The manager of one of these stores told me that they bought Kangaroo brand butter, and as they could not sell it under that name, in packets, they sold “ Fedco.” When that was explained to Customers, they became at once suspicious that they were not getting the genuine article for which they asked. The packet butter trade could be extensively developed in England, and the Australian Dairy Produce Board will have to permit of Kangaroo brand butter being put up in package form and sold as Kangaroo brand butter. Only by doing this can we compete against the sale of “ blended “ butter.
– Where would it be put up in packets?
– That would have to be done on the other side, as the butter must be sent from Australia in bulk. At one wholesale store which I visited I was shown three cases of Australian butter. The cases were dirty and broken at the edges. I was told that that was typical of Australian butter, and it was not like the New Zealand butter. I was shown twenty beautifully clean cases of New Zealand butter. I told Major King what I had seen, and he said. “ That is absolutely incorrect. Come over with me now and see that it is.” We were near London Bridge at the time, and we walked across the bridge, where we saw a very large shipment of Australian butter being unloaded. There was not 3 per cent. of the cases with the nails drawn. This butter was consigned to A. J. Mills and Company, and there were men there re-coopering any cases that happened to be injured. There could be no doubt that I had previously been given wrong information. The Australian wired butter cases which I saw were in better condition than any other butter cases that I saw in the London market. I went to Mills’ showroom, where fourteen eases of Kangaroo brand butterwere opened, showing the factory brands, and ready for buyers to see. Mr. Mills said : “ I will defy a better sample of butter to be put up anywhere in the world than you have in those cases.” I understand that the Londonagency agrees that it would be of great advantage if we did away with the different factory brands and shipped in larger lines as New Zealand does. At present, Kangaroo grade butter from one factory will bring 5s. per cental more than butter similarly marked from a different factory. I understand that the Sunny South organization here insists on a grade of 93, which is one point more than is required for the Kangaroo brand. In New South Wales we have Norco, Nambucca, Alstonville, Casino, and other factories that could be mentioned, putting up an article of the highest grade. While this difference in value exists we cannot expect these factories to agree to a common brand. I am not one who goes in for destructive criticism; but I say that this Parliament will have to step in and see that nothing but first grade butter is exported. The honorable member for Maribyrnong quoted Denmark as the best example of organization in butter export. That country absolutely prohibits the exportof any but first class butter. I remind the honorable member that Esthonia and Latvia, two Baltic states created since the treaty of Versailles, are importing the best cattle and machinery, are going in for dairying on right lines, and will become our serious competitors. They absolutely prohibit the export of anything but first grade. Finland does the same. We must follow on similar lines or we shall fall by the way. We are not doing our duty by the people who are playing the game, and making a name for Australian produce second to none in the world unless we do. At present New Zealand is beating us all along the line in prices; but we are getting very nearly up to that dominion in the price obtained for butter. I must commend the way in which the London agency of the Australian Dairy Produce Board and our commercial representatives at Australia House are doing their work. Messrs. Farraker and Plunkett are two of the keenest business men one could meet. I desire to help them, not to disparage them. My only object in speaking inside and outside this chamber is to use my position as a federal legislator to help our producers, and I propose to continue that endeavour.
– On two of the points raised by the honorable member for Macquarie, I can furnish a little information which will enlighten him and other honorable members. He mentioned that he had been given figures which showed that in the year ended 30th June last, the proportion of butter lower than choicest and first quality was about 24 per cent. Although that proportion does not agree exactly with the figures that have been given to me officially, it is sufficiently close to be not worth quibbling about. But from 1st July, 1926, to the present date the butter exported to the United Kingdom has included about 88 per cent, choicest and first quality. Thus, in one year we have reduced the proportion of second grade from 24 per cent, to 12 per cent., which the honorable member will agree is a matter for commendation rather than criticism.
– Even 12 per cent, of second grade is too much to export.
– I admit that, but one has to take into consideration the fact that several of the butter producing States are still in the pioneering stage. They have not got as good railway facilities or roads as have the older settled States, and it is more difficult in certain parts of Queensland, for instance, to get the cream to the factories in an absolutely fresh condition than it is in Victoria. 1 share the view of the honorable member that the sooner we are able to prohibit the export of butter of lower than choicest and first quality, the better it will be for the reputation of the Australian producer, but we must beware of going too fast and too far. The honorable member suggested that it would be to our advantage if butter could be sold on the London market in small packets bearing the Kangaroo brand, so that the customer would be protected against risk when buying small quantities out of boxes. That proposal has been considered by the Dairy Export Control Board, but has not been put into operation yet, because of the danger that without proper supervision second or third grade butter might be sold by unscrupulous persons in prints bearing the Kangaroo brand, thus damaging the reputation of Australian produce.
– I suggested that it should be done under the supervision of the Dairy Export Control Board.
– At the present time I am considering a proposal to send an expert grader to London who would take care that if print butter were put on the London market it was taken only from choicest Kangaroo bulk.
.- I would not have risen but for the two speeches made by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen), in wholesale condemnation of the Northern Territory. The honorable member is a pastoralist; I am not, and therefore I do not propose to set my opinions against his. But I shall content myself with refuting his statements by further extracts from the evidence of the witnesses whom he quoted, not very fully, last night. The honorable member said that Central Australia was not fit for white people to live in, and I interjected that his statement was ridiculous. I shall endeavour by quoting the evidence of people who have lived there for many years to prove that my interjection was justified. One witness mentioned by him was Mr. J. A. Breadonwho was quoted as having said that it would not pay to send cattle to the far north in drought times; it would be better to let them die. Prior to making that statement, Mr. Breadon had said -
I have been 44 years in this country and 22 years on this property. I was here before the railway was built to Oodnadatta, and had to walk my cattle to market. The railway, when it came to Oodnadatta, was a great advantage. My opinion is that, if the railway goes through to the north it will be of great benefit to a large number of settlers, and will probably attract more settlers.
Mr. A. D. Breaden said ;
I do not think there is any doubt that a white man could live and work in the northern part of the Northern Territory.
Climatically, the north is the worst part of the Territory, and the statement that the Macdonnell Ranges and the centre of Australia are unfit for white people to live in is ridiculous in the extreme.
– I did not say that of tho Macdonnell Ranges; I spoke of the country generally.
– Even so, the statement was preposterous. The climate of Central Australia is superior to that of the coastal part of North Queensland, where the humidity during the hot summer months makes life very trying for white people. Nevertheless, they breed a very virile race. Mr. Johannsen, a pastoralist, of Deep Well, near Alice Springs, said -
I consider a fair-sized selection which will perm it a man to make a decent living in the Northern Territory is 100 square miles, if his block contains well or bore sufficient to water 500 head of cattle.
The honorable member for Riverina quoted Mr. Johannsen as having said that it would be nice to have a railway so that he could go south to see his friends; but he did not give this continuation of the statement - which is not easy at present, when you have to travel 300 miles by buggy. If a railway was constructed anywhere within 50 miles of us, it would be a great benefit. I am convinced that, if the railway could be put through and the country cut up into smaller blocks, it would be all taken up.
The honorable member also quoted from other settlers as to the area required for a man to make a living. On that point I call the attention of honorable members to the evidence of Mr. Leonard Rosenbaum -
At present I hold 195 square miles, which is a small area for this country, but big enough for a man to make a good living on, and I am doing very well.
I shall quote from some other small settlers who are “ digging in “ very successfully. H. E. Tilmouth said-
I came here in 1910, and have got an area of 240 square miles of country, and am just about ready to start stocking it. I think any man can make a living here if he is game and steady.
That evidence was given in 1921. Mr. Tilmouth is now on a bigger area north of Alice Springs, he and a partner having purchased an area 50 miles west of Ryan’s Well, on which Mr. Lynch made a small fortune.
– I know that area; it is one of the best patches along the route.
– Henry Lance Hughes, sheep overseer on a property 70 miles east of Alice Springs, said -
I have been in this district since 1903, and have had charge of sheep here for about ten years. It is very good country for sheep, but the cost of getting supplies up and sending wool back is very expensive. Sometimes it is very difficult to get the wool down at all; the last cam el team came up here about Christmas time - and has not gone back yet.
He was speaking in June -
Surely the honorable member for Riverina is willing to help these people to get good transport so that they may fence their holdings and dispense with the services of the blacks. In reply to a question I asked of him, Mr. Hughes said -
The number of sheep you can carry per mile depends on the water. In ordinary good seasons, with water, I should say you could carry 20 sheep to the mile. All the country about here will carry sheep. For years this country within a radius of 3 miles has carried 1,500 goats, besides horses, cattle, and some sheep.
Robert Scott, of Alice Springs, said -
Taking the Northern Territory as a whole, I consider the climate is a healthy one. They get malaria in the north, and the heat at times is oppressive, but not for a very long period. I put in 28 years in the north, and ten years here, and have never been better in my life. It would be safe to say that from here for a distance of 500 miles to the north the climate is perfect.
Mrs. Crook, of Wycliffe Well, said ;
The climate is quite suitable for a white woman. The mosquitoes and flies are very bad, but my daughters and I generally have good health, although I suffer from rheumatism in the winter. It would be much nicer, especially for the girls, if we had some neighbours.
Will the honorable member for Riverina deny these people a railway, which is the only means of getting additional people into the country? Mrs. Crook continued -
I have never tried to grow English potatoes, although I grow sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, beet, &c. We grow tomatoes alt the year round. The nearest white woman is about 180 to 190 miles away. Two years ago, we saw a white woman passing through here, the wife of a drover, who was travelling with him.
That is isolation! I quote now Mr. William Curtis, who has country to the east of the telegraph line at Barrow Creek, which the honorable member for Riverina said he had not seen, but believed to be sour. I rode on horseback over80 miles of that country, and I considered it very fair. I am not putting forward my opinion so much as I am the opinion of Mr. Curtis, who said -
I think that when the Frew River station was stocked with cattle the holders sunk two wells on the Whistle Duck, one on the east side and one on the west side, and got good water at 50 feet. That is all very good pastoral country.
I shall conclude my remarks by quoting Sir Sidney Kidman. Although some honorable members have differing opinions of that gentleman, I do not think they will gainsay that he knows what he is talking about so far as pastoral country is concerned. He said -
I know the purpose of this inquiry. I know both routes of the proposed line. I have known the track from Oodnadatta to Macdonnell Ranges for many years. I originally owned Owen’s Springs, next to Alice Springs, in the ranges. The climate there is one of the best I have been in; it is always cool at night, and I have never known a. drought. I have a horse station and a bit of a cattle station there, and I never saw the horses poor. There is the best spinifex that is found in Australia, and that is the best drought-resisting feed we have.
That gentleman concluded by saying -
As to the Northern Territory being a small man’s proposition, the Macdonnell Ranges ought to be carrying tens of thousands of cattle. If the blocks were cut up into 200 or 300 miles, a man, if he had not to pay wages, and had a few hundreds, ought to do very well. I think a railway from the Macdonnell Ranges would quickly help sheep-raising in there. Sheep do well about Charlotte Waters. Of course, sheep would help the railway to pay better than cattle, but South Australia requires some other place to depend on besides Queensland. There arc hundreds of miles each side of the telegraph line, but people will not go there because of tho cost of loading. If this line were carried to, say, Aiice Springs, or thereabouts, it would, I think, become a payable proposition in a few years. The line needed more than any other in Australia is the direct north and south line. There is splendid country on the left, and I think that in years to come it will carry tens of thousands of cattle. I should say that such a line would pay indirectly, and it would help lo make the line pay to Oodnadatta.
– That applies to only a small portion of the Territory.
– It applies to the centre of Australia. The honorable member admits that the Barkly Tableland and the Victoria River country is good pastoral land, and I entirely agree with him : but I do not wish the statements made by the honorable member last night to go out to the public unrefuted .
.- While the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) has certainly seen a portion of the Northern Territory and given his own opinion of its value for pastoral purposes, yet the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) has quoted the actual evidence of those who have settled there. Their opinions should at least guide this Parliament respecting the nature of the country.
– I saw those settlers again five years later.
– The north-south railway was the first subject that I discussed in this House, and at that time I spoke with the authority of a commission’s report. I have no knowledge of the Northern Territory, having been no further north than Farina or Leigh’s Creek, but I am prepared to rely on the opinion of men who have lived most of their lives in the Northern Territory. We must acknowledge that Sir Sidney Kidman knows the cattle-raising industry and its possibilities. A previous commission, consisting of Mr. Lindsay and Mr. Coombe, who were appointed by this Parliament, elicited evidence similar to that quoted by the honorable member for Bass. The construction of this railway affects the development of Australia, and if the pioneers of the Northern Territory think that a central line is essential, we must have regard for what they say. Our early pioneers anticipated going right through to Darwin. The overland telegraph line was constructed by South Australia, a colossal task for a central State with a. small revenue. In addition, it carried the railway line as far as Oodnadatta, and a great mistake was made in not carrying it another 80 miles to bridge the gap of poor country with a rainfall of only five inches. From that point, the rainfall starts to improve and so does the country.
– Very little.
– The evidence quoted by the honorable member for Bass, and also that given before the previous commission, is against the opinion of the honorable member for Riverina. We know that there is good country in the Territory, and with the construction of the railway to Alice Springs with branch lines as has been suggested, there will be many opportunities for development. I am prepared to pin my faith to that project. Only a person who takes ai parochial view would object to this railway being built, even as an experimental line for the development of Australia. If it does not pay financially, it will pay in expanding the activities of the Commonwealth in years to come. I am satisfied that the north of Australia will never be known until some better means of transport is provided. Motor transport, of recent years, has enabled many persons to gain a knowledge of the conditions in the Northern Territory. It is certainly not right that a white woman in that country should be . 190 miles from other white women. The Commonwealth should make it possible for the settlers there to take a periodical holiday in the south. They do the pioneering work of developing Australia, and as far as possible we should give them the opportunity of enjoying social amenities.
– Would not a good road do that?
– It would cost just as much as a railway.
– That is so. Road transport is too spasmodic. Some people cry out for buses just because they can take them to their doors; but if the tram rails were torn up, and the people were left to the tender mercies of the bus proprietors, they would soon start to squeal. Tear up the railways and leave only road services, and the people will soon want the railways back. The bus service is efficient because the Government has made good roads for them to run on. South Australia is dealing with that problem at present. Why should a Government expend its capital in providing good roads to enable private enterprise to use them, and to compete successfully with State railways and tramways ? Those who use the buses are satisfied, because they find them convenient; but they forget that they are under an obligation to keep the trams and railways running. In my opinion the roadway will not do. It may suffice for spasmodic transport, but something is wanted that will ensure development. I did not rise to discuss that subject, because I am a city-bred man, knowing only the metropolitan area; but I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), put the contrary case to that advocated by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen). Railways that are run into the most fertile parts of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, have on each side of them some ofthe best land in the country, and it is locked up by gentlemen who meet at Scott’s Hotel and similar places to decide issues. If there is any sincerity in the advocacy of migration, in the desire to expand this Commonwealth, and to increase the number of backs to bear the burden and participate in the next war, the men who are holding this land should disgorge it. Newcomers should be settled on land that is adjacent to the cities instead of being sent out into the back-blocks. It is not fair to send them into the back-blocks when we have an opportunity to settle them nearer the cities, and they will be so settled when there is a government in power prepared to legislate for Australia instead of for a privileged . few of its people. I belive that the north-south railway will justify itself, and that the time will quickly come when it will. have to be carried through to a Northern port.
I rose mainly to speak of the tariff, because the Minister, when speaking last night, did not mention an important industry that is being started in South Australia in association with similar businesses in the other States. I allude to the manufacture of aluminium ware. That industry is closely associated with the homes of the people, and aluminium ware will take the place largely of tinware in the hardware trade. I happen to know what tinware manufacture means to a State in which it is successfully carried on. I worked in a tinware factory for seventeen years, and for another ten years was in the warehouse and travelling. I have often been twitted with having made a millionaire in South Australia; but I believe that the protective tariff made that millionaire. If he had not been the shrewd man that he was, and made provision for the time when he would pass from, this mundane sphere, his will would probably have been proved at £1,000,000. I believe that his holdings would have approximated that amount if they had been capitalized. I worked for his firm, and, while the tariff made that gentleman wealthy, it also made what is one of the biggest and most thriving industries in South Australia. It is argued that, by protection, we make capitalists and monopolists here; but, if we send our orders oversea, we make them in other countries,, without having an opportunity of calling the, tune. We have some control of them if they are here, and they at least have to observe the conditions imposed by arbitration court awards. I have received from the firm concerned a letter, which reads -
Our Adelaide sales manager has just returned from a -visit to Melbourne, andhas found that very large orders are being placed overseas for aluminium goods which couldall be made in Australia if sufficiently protected. Our own plant is only working at a fifth of its capacity, and its further development is purely a matter of confidence of being able to trade in the Australian market.
Our capital is wholly Australian.
Our machinery is Australian.
Our men are Australians.
We want an Australian market for our goods. Output reduces overhead and, as time goes on, will menu a reduction in the price to the consumer.
– Where does the firm obtain its aluminium?
– For the time being it imports it, and may have to do so for all time unless the metal is discovered in this country. It does not follow that because the raw material has to be purchased from abroad it ought not to be manufactured here. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron) saw the factory, and I am familiar with a similar establishment, which needs only the opportunity to become of great benefit to this community. As protection is the established policy of the Commonwealth, I do not see why we should hesitate to go the full length in encouraging young industries. The quality of the goods is comparable with that of goods produced by any other factory. We were shown the ware side by side with the imported ware. Tricks of the trade entered into the matter. A 5-pint saucepan made in this country actually held five pints, but the so-called 5-pint saucepan from overseas, which was a little shallower, and a little wider, did not hold five pints; and in quality the two were not comparable. I was told that many people bought the imported article in preference to the local article. We were informed that importers in many cases were able to land the finished product at a lower price than the firm can purchase the metal. It was interesting and encouraging to see the work that was being done. Any one who delights in seeing anything clever accomplished, cannot but be pleased that Australia can do this sort of thing. The machinery that is used is made in this country, and is most intricate. Any one who knows anything about the dies needed for making the heavy stampings for stewpans, must be astonished at the ingenuity employed in making them. Manufacturers provide a great opportunity for the development of the brain-capacity of the engineers of the Commonwealth. Speaking along these lines reminds me of the Bryant and May match factory in Richmond. To see there not only what has been copied from overseas, but also the improvements and new ideas that have been added, is most grati - fying; and to inspect the machinery made in the firm’s factory should cause any one who is proud of his country to say there is no need to import the article manufactured there. I confess, too, that I was greatly astonished at what I saw in the smallarms ammunition factory.
The development of industries likethese is far better for Australia than the mere growing of wool and wheat, which is sent overseas, manufactured, and then returned to us. From the financial stand-point great changes have occurred since the late Senator Millen remarked that if the woolgrower obtained 6d. per pound for wool he thought he was doing all right; and if he got 8d. per pound he thought he was doing very well; but that nobody had dreamed of ever getting1s. 31/2d. per pound. Since then 3s. and 4s. per pound has been paid for wool.
– But it costs a great deal more to produce it.
– The pastoralist gets a far bigger cut than the working man out of the larger price. I have never shorn a sheep in my life, and have only seen sheep shorn at shows and such places, but I know that formerly the woolgrower gave his shearers rusty bacon and weavily meal to eat.
– That was a long while ago.
– I am glad that the time has come when the shearer is treated something like as we’ll as the sheep which grow the wool.
– For ten years before the acquisition of the first wool clip by Bawra, the average price of wool was 10d. per pound.
– It appears as though the war was the best thing that has ever happened for the wool-growers as well as some other primary producers. I well remember seeing cartoons during the war which had printed beneath them, “ Oh Lord, keep the war going ; there is money in it.”
– It is extremely doubtful whether there was money in it for the pastoralist.
– If there was not, then our statistics lie. The accumulated funds in the banks, and the figures showing the wool production and the prices paid for wool, are quite misleading if the honorable member for Riverina is right. The statistical information on which my statements are based was prepared by experts, and if it is not reliable we had better dismiss all our statisticians and rely solely on any Tom, Dick, or Harry in the street who cares to express an opinion.
– It is a fact that after the outbreak of war the wool market collapsed and thousands of bales of wool could have been purchased for 21/2d. per lb.
– When the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) proves his point, I shall believe him. Who was it that suggested that the surplus wool should be taken out to sea and thrown overboard? That was not done; but a strange thing happened about that time. A destructive fire occurred in the premises of a big wool-shipping company in Sydney, and many thousands of bales of wool went up in smoke. I am not suggesting that there was any connexion between the suggestion to throw the wool overboard and the fire in which it was burnt ; but it was a coincidence. Let me remind honorable members that when Senator Millen made the speech from which I have quoted he said, “ Do not forget that I have been a wool-grower myself.” Nothing brings a hornet’s nest around one’s ears so quickly as the suggestion that certain people made money out, of the war; but facts are hard to gainsay. I know that the wool-grower has improved the quality of his wool, and that a heavier fleece is being produced in these days; but the market has held up wonderfully.
– Everybody connected with the industry is better off than formerly.
– And no thanks are due to honorable members opposite for that. At least one of them would scrap all our arbitration machinery to-morrow, and revert to the old law of supply and demand, and freedom of contract. I well remember the Honorable A. Poynton, standing in his place in this chamber years ago, and telling us that between shearing seasons he worked for the squatters for 10s. a week at making roads. Honorable members opposite may argue as much as they like about the insecure position in which the wool-growers and wheatgrowers find themselves, but I should be willing to change places with any one of them to-morrow. In spite of their overdrafts they could buy me out twenty or thirty times over. The “ cocky “ is not so often called a “ cocky “ in these days, nor is he often seen driving the old buckboard with two horses. The time was when he was pleased to drive a “ tin Lizzie,” but when one visits country towns on sale days or market days “now, he sees very few “ tin Lizzies.” Quite a large number of farmers aspire to own, and many actually drive, a Rolls-Royce. Yet we are told there is nothing in farming. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron) knows very well that when the Canowie Estate, in South Australia, was cut up and sold twelve or eighteen months ago, every block of land in it was purchased by landowners who resided nearby, and not less than £11 10s. an acre was paid for it. A fine losing proposition it must be that will permit men to pay such a price for land !
– There are men in this chamber who have become wealthy out of wool and wheat.
– Yes. I am glad that those industries are thriving; but I am making a request on behalf of a number of men who are prepared to put their capital into the aluminium industry to supply goods that Australia needs. Although they are quite able to do the work, they are unable at the present time to stand up against the massed capital arrayed against them, and they ask the Government to take cognizance of their position. I believe that the Minister for Trade and Customs has received a deputation on this matter, and I hope that he will give it his earnest consideration. The subject did not previously receive the attention to which it was entitled, because, in the inquiry by the Tariff Board, the industry was associated with the enamelling industry, which has some relation to it. The Adelaide Advertiser of the 23rd February last contained the following article: - “ One of the least protected of the secondary industries in Australia is the manufacture of aluminium goods,” said Mr. A. Errey, manager of the Austral Sheet Metal Works, Ltd., on Thursday. “ Unless further protection is provided, many of the factories in this country will be unable to withstand the overseas competition.” In Adelaide, he said, the position was not so serious as in Victoria. There, one firm had reduced the number of its employees from 28 to five in eighteen months, and another from’ 23 to four.
The minimum tariff imposed on overseas goods at present is 25 per cent. The factories, however, are unanimous that at least 45 per cent, is required as a protection. Mr. Errey pointed out that the Australian manufacturer employing labour in conformity with the high standard of living in this country, was at a disadvantage compared with the overseas manufacturer. These conditions confined him to his home market,and, owing to the heavy original outlay, a large output was necessary if the industry was to continue. There was evidence that action was being taken by overseas exporters to drive Australian manufacturers off the market. It was thought that the line would be included in the schedule at the last revision of the tariff, as it was understood that the Tariff Board had recommended an increase in duties.
In January, 1926, when the question of duty on aluminium came before the board, the issue was somewhat confused by joining the application with that of enamel ware.If a clearcut issue could be obtained on aluminium alone the position would be greatly simplified.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Government has always shown keen sympathy with those people who, in their declining years, are in need of pensions. Under the present law, however, a number of persons who, owing totheir long residence in Australia and their inability to earn, would be entitled to pensions, cannot obtain them because of the fact that they are living apart from their spouses, who are property-owners. In a number of instances men who follow pastoral occupations have left their wives and families in towns or townships, and in the course of following their employment, and developing the outlying parts of the Commonwealth, they have become estranged. In some cases, through incompatibility of temperament, they have preferred to live apart, and have agreed to separate. In the interests of their childrenthey realize that it is unwise for them to quarrel. In certain instances the husbands have given their wives what money and property they have, and have started out in life afresh. The very fact that a spouse possesses property of a certain value prevents the other party to the marriage from obtaining a pension. I admit that such cases present great difficulties, because the law presumes that married people live together. There are times, however, when it is almost immoral for them to do so. The fact remains that old people so circumstanced should not be forced to live on charity or starve. If the matter is. considered by the Minister I feel sure that sympathetic consideration will be given to it.
– There are worse cases than those cited by the honorable member.
– Yes, but this class has been brought prominently under my notice through the refusal of three applications on the ground that the spouse possesses means and property. In each instance the two have been living apart for many years.
Another matter that I wish to mention is that of an extension of the aerial service from Cloncurry to Normanton. There was recently a cyclone in North Queensland, and bad weather conditions prevailed. From the 4th January until early part of March no mail had been delivered at gulf ports, in spite of the fact that the Postmaster-General’s department had done everything in its power with the means available to carry the mails. The settlers were without communication except by telegraph. An aerial service from Cloncurry to Normanton would soon become reasonably selfsupporting, and would place those people in touch with the rest of Australia. Such communication is necessary for their wellbeing and for the successful settlement of the northern portion of Queensland. I ask the Government to give the subject early consideration.
.- I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs to the fact that millions of feet of timber in Tasmania cannot be sold, because of the enormous quantity of foreign timber coming into Australia. If action is not taken before the end of the session, the mills will have to close down, and that would mean that the employees would go to the mainland. Much evidence has been taken by the Tariff Board on this matter from people who are not sawmillers, but are merely boxmillers engaged in the manufacture of packing cases. I hope that the Minister will endeavour to bring the matter before Cabinet thisweek.
– The honorable member overlooks the fact that there have been thousands of pages of evidence taken on the matter by the Tariff Board.
– The honorable gentleman might find in 300 pagesall the evidence he requires andwe could trust him to select the right pages. In fairness to the saw-millers, the Government should give them some satisfaction. On the last day of last session a measure was introduced to increase the duties on steel for the protection of the Australian steel industry. The Prime Minister, in announcing the introduction of the measure, said that it was to save the steel industry. It was quite right for the Government to take that action, but it should take similar action for the benefit of the saw-milling industry. Travelling through my electorate I know that the saw-millers will be unable to carry on if something is not done to assist them, and I appeal to the Government to bring forward a measure, even on the last day of this session, to save the saw-milling industry from ruin.
Order of the day for the second reading of the bill, discharged.
The following paper was preseuted : - immigration Act - Regulation - Statutory
Rules 1926, No. 185.
House adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 March 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1927/19270317_reps_10_115/>.