10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet decided towithdraw the tariff concession in respect of imported peanuts?
– For a long time a by-law has been in existence underwhich peanuts for the manufacture of oil used in secondary industries is admitted free of duty. Last week representations were made that a sufficient quantity of peanuts grown in Australia and of suitable quality for the manufacture of this oil is obtainable, and I immediately initiated inquiries. These investigations will be completed at an early date, and if they prove that the representations are correct, the concession item will be withdrawn.
– Canthe Prime Minister inform the House whether any further developments have occurred in connexion with the copyrght demands by the Performing Rights Association, which is practically holding up to ransom every municipality in Australia and other proprietors of halls?
– “ Holding up “ is the right term.
– This action amounts to absolute bushranging. What steps docs the Government propose to take to protect the people against this iniquitous combine?
– This matter has been referred to many times, and presents many difficulties. The Government has been endeavouring to get definite information of these copyright charges having been actually demanded.
– The department received some information on the subject yesterday.
– The matter is being closely watched by the Government, and if the agreement which we hoped would be the outcome of a conference that took place some months ago is not being realized, it may be necessary to call the parties together again in order to endeavour to arrive at some satisfactory arrangement.
– Has the Attorney-General received the communication I forwarded to him, mentioning at least one instance in which fees had been charged by the Performing Bights Association and paid by a friendly society under protest ! Does he propose to investigate the matter with a view to taking definite action ?
– I received a communication from the honorable member yesterday. That and a similar letter are the only instances which have reached the department of fees having been definitely demanded by the Performing Bights Association. Inquiries are being made into these specific cases and Others concerning which correspondence has reached me. If, after examination of the circumstances, the charges appear to the Government to be unreasonable, and if the parties are not able to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement, the Government will reconsider the whole matter. As I have pointed out on other occasions, this is an extremely difficult problem and will require careful consideration before action can be taken, owing to the international significance of the Copyright Act, and the effect that any action might have upon the rights of Australian authors, composers, and artists in foreign countries.
– Is the ActingMinister for Defence able to make any announcement in regard to the proposed extension of the aerial mail service from Cloncurry to Normanton?
– The Government has approved of the extension of the service to Normanton. The contracting company had expected to commence the service immediately, but owing to a recent mishap to its aeroplane, has advised that it will not be able to start before the latter end of June.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received from the British Government any definite information as to the success or otherwise of the tests of beam wireless communication between Australia and the United Kingdom?
– The British Government has not yet Bent to the Commonwealth Government any advices regarding the success or otherwise of the recent tests.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government has considered the Tariff Board’s report on the saw-milling industry? If so, will he make a statement of the Government’s intentions?
– The answer is in the negative.
– Last year the remuneration of parliamentary employees was mentioned in this House, and honorable members were told that the revision of the salaries would receive consideration upon the transfer of the officers to Canberra. They are about to bo transferred, and I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether any arrangement has been made for increases to be paid this year on account of the transfer?
– The salaries of the parliamentary staff are under consideration in connexion with the preparation of the estimates for the next financial year.
– Having regard to the serious loss of life in connexion with shipping on the Australian coast, does the Minister for Trade and Customs contemplate action to ensure that all coastal vessels shall be equipped with wireless?
– Following a suggestion by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) some time ago, I wrote to the State Governments, which control intra-State shipping. The replies received were lacking in unanimity. I shall continue to endeavour to have this matter placed on a more satisfactory footing, because everybody must realize the desirability of all coastal shipping being equipped with wireless. In the absence of agreement by the States, the Commonwealth is powerless in regard to intra state shipping.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether a limit has been placed on the number of Canberra commemorative stamps that can be bought by any individual?
– The issue is limited, but no restriction is placed upon the purchases by any individual.
-What are the denominations of the stamps?
– There is only one stamp - the one penny-halfpenny.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether the Tariff Board has yet reported on the crystal glass industry? If not, when does the Minister expect to receive a report?
– No report has yet been received, but I understand that an inquiry into the industry has been commenced.
– In regard to the putting out of commission of the training ship Tingira, and the proposal of the Government that the age of training boys for the navy shall be extended to nineteen years, and that training shall take place at Osborne House, Geelong, I ask the Acting-Minister for Defence whether there is any truth in the rumor that the Naval Board proposes to make use of certain accommodation at Jervis Bay College for the training of boys, and to revert to the commencing age of fourteen years ?
– There is no truth in that rumor. The Government has approved of boys being entered for training at Flinders Base at seventeen years instead of nineteen years. Itproposes to transfer from Sydney to Flinders a vessel on which about100 boys can be trained. It is not intended to send any boys to Jervis Bay for training.
Accommodation for Members of Parliament
– Yesterday honorable members received from the Minister for Home and Territories a circular letter setting out the boarding accommodation that will be available for honorable members at Canberra. Ample provision appears to have been made for bachelor members but none for members who desire to have their wives with them. This is very important to married members, particularly those who represent distant States and must make their homes in Canberra during the session. Will the Prime Minister consult with the Minister for Home and Territories and the Canberra Commission with a view to the provision of accommodation for married members and their wives equivalent to what could be obtained in Melbourne or Sydney?
– I think the last paragraph of the communications referred to states that for members accompanied by their wives the hotels and hostels at Canberra will be available, and the prices of accommodation are stated.
. - (By leave). - It is within the knowledge of the House that Sir Neville Howse has for the past two years been administering the Departments of Defence and Health and also dealing with all questions regarding repatriation, war pensions, hospitals, and medical treatment for returned soldiers. All honorable members will agree that the burden that the honorable gentleman has borne, particularly having regard to the manner in which he has dealt personally with all matters affectingsoldiers and their pensions, has beer rather heavier than one individual should be asked to carry. Sir Neville, within the last few days, has askedme whether it would be possible to relieve him of some part of the administration of the departments that he is controlling, and I am glad to say that I have been able to arrange for that. The Department of Defence will cease to be administered by Sir Neville Howse, and Sir William Glasgow will take the portfolio of Defence, Sir
Neville Howse continuing to administer the Department of Health and to deal with all questions relating to repatriation, war pensions, hospital treatment, &c. Major Marr will succeed Sir William Glasgow as Minister for Home and Territories. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), who for the past two years has been in charge of one of the most difficult administrative departments, has, acting on medical advice, asked that he be granted leave of absence for four months. All who know what the administration of that department means, and the infinitude of the details that have to be investigated by the Minister himself, will realize that the honorable member is indeed entitled to some relief from his arduous duties. We hope that his health may be benefited by the rest, and that he will return to carry- out (his duties as heretofore. During Mr. Pratten’s absence the administration of the Trade and Customs Department will be undertaken by Senator Crawford, who has been acting as assistant to the Minister during the past year.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) that lie desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The case of Robert Denholm, formerly employed in Parliament House.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– This being the last day that honorable members will have an opportunity of speaking in this chamber, and at the earnest request of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews), I shall endeavour as I did on my first appearance here 38 years ago, to . right a wrong. There has, in the case of Robert Denholm, been a tangle of legal and other opinion whch has been unjust to that unfortunate man. The history of the ease is briefly this - When the awful epidemic of influenza was raging in Australia, an order was sent out that every person must undergo the serum treatment. The treatment was compulsory in respect of public servants who were receiving wages, and I believe that even highly-paid officials were inoculated. At that time there was nothing to justify tho view that the serum treatment was an absolute cure. I do not know that medical men to-day believe the treatment to be a cure, but that it may be a form of precaution I am willing to accept. The following is a portion of this man’s own statement: -
My injuries arose from the time I was inoculated under the compulsory vaccination against influenza, when all public servants were compelled to undergo such treatment. I was compelled to resume my duties at Parliament House three weeks after I left St. Vincent’s Hospital, where I had been an inmate for six weeks, suffering from meningeal irritation and typhoid fever. There were no signs of any after-effects from my illness, as I was examined by the hospital doctors on my discharge from the hospital, and also by the Government Medical Officer, Dr. Douglas Stephens, before I waa inoculated.
I am making no attack on Dr. Stephens, because I have heard a good deal in his favour from many of his patients; but I do not think that at that time he understood that this man had had a severe attack of typhoid complicated with brain irritation. Otherwise, I doubt whether he would have used the serum. Honorable members may wonder why I, as a medical man, take a conservative view of the treatment with serum, and I can only refer them to this episode. At one time in the treatment of disease in England bleeding was considered a cure for all ills. That it saved some lives I do not deny, but that it was the means of losing many lives I certainly affirm. In fact, Queen A’ Victoria would never have come to the throne of England had it not been for the bleeding treatment received by Princess Charlotte, who was bearing an heir to the Crown. Baron Stockmar in his memoirs stated that he could not understand why a young and healthy woman performing a natural function should be bled, and bled to death. For every labour pain a pint of blood was taken, so that the woman and child were sacrificed to that then-acknowledged form of treatment. The fact that Princess Charlotte was bled to death under that treatment ia mentioned in Playfair’s second volume on midwifery. T wish to show to honorable members that Robert Denholm should never have had the serum passed into his arm. So alarming were the symptoms after the treatment that Dr. Stephens himself did not repeat the injection. At that time, to complete the treatment, injections were given two or three times. Upon my advice, this man underwent a course of electrical massage. There ia clear evidence that his present state of helplessness is the result of the injection of serum. Had this man been in ordinary outside employment, he would have had a claim under the Workmen’s Compensation Act; but, unfortunately, Parliament House is not subject to its provisions. The Government might, during the recess, consider the advisability of bringing parliamentary affairs under that act, and also the Public Service. This man is in debt. I admit that he has had good treatment. He obtained admittance to the Home for Incurables at Heidelberg, which institution can be mentally likened to Dante’s Inferno, above the entrance to which was inscribed “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” This man is in receipt of an invalid pension, but it is of little help to him. I hold in my hand a final report of the select committee on this case, and I thank ex-Senator de Largie for the great work that he did in this man’s cause. The recommendation for a joint committee would have been accepted had not objection been taken under parliamentary rules by an honorable member who before he died expressed to me his heartfelt regret for his action. Any one who reads the report will see how Robert Denholm suffered. He afterwards received £50 which the Minister, in. his kindness of heart, granted; but I do not think that the Minister imposed the stringent conditions under which the money was given. Mentally, Denholm is very clear, and always has been. This is what he writes -
The application for a compassionate allowance was sent to the Treasurer on 12th March, 1925. Six months later, from information T received, I telephoned the Treasury Department. T was told that my case had been finalized, and the Joint House Department would pay me a compassionate allowance. A week later, 25th September, I got a friend to take me to interview the Secretary of the Joint House Depart ment. Owing to the state of my health I wa« not able to go about by myself. I interviewed Mr. U’Ren, the Secretary of the Joint House Department at 12.30 p.m. I asked him had he a compassionate allowance that was to be paid to me. He replied that there was a compassionate allowance for me, but lie had been too busy to see about it, and if I wanted it 1 would have to sign a deed of release. I told him I was ill, and in need of the money. Hp told .mo to call back later in the day. As 1 did not understand the deed of release, I asked him for a copy of the deed of release, but my request was refused. I interviewed Mr. U’Ren again at 2.30 p.m. He told me to go to Mr. Broinowski’s room and he would pay me. Mr. Broinowski put two papers before me to sign. I was too ill to read them or understand what was read to me. It was an effort for me to sign my name. After signing my name, Mr. Broinowski had not got the cheque to pay me. He sent for an officer of the Senate, Mr. Barnett, and told him to take me across to thi? Treasury Department and see that I received the cheque. I received no notice from the Joint House Department about the deed of release other than what I hare stated. Had I received notice, I would have got advice before I was compelled to sign. Had I known the signing of those papers would end my claims, I certainly would not have attached my name to them.
Granted that the deed of release is a legal discharge, there still remains a moral claim, and if I did not, from the bottom of my heart, believe that to be so, I should not be speaking on the man’s behalf on this, the last, day of the present sittings. Before I conclude I wish to make a public apology to a Parliamentary official whom I have greatly wronged; I allude to Mr. Broinowski, of another place. Every time he came into my presence I used to insult him by asking him what he hal done with a certain two guineas. To mv deep regret, I did him a great wrong. There is an official higher than he who took the two guineas, and I leave him with his conscience for his punishment. If he was wrong in taking the miserable two guineas, he was still more wrong in allowing a junior officer to be insulted unjustly by me. I leave him, with his increasing years on his shoulders, to reflect on those two wrongs, and to settle with his conscience whether he acted rightly. When Denholm- was employed in this House, he was an active man, and every one who came in -contact with him can testify to his activity and willingness. He was here for ten years, or thereabouts, and did whatever he was told. When a man, in a subordinate position like his is told by his superior officer to do something, he accepts his instructions almost like a soldier receiving a command on the battlefield; thus he underwent the treatment advised ; and I say here, as in the presence of my Maker, that I believe the serum administered was the cause of his illness.
.- I support the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) in their efforts to obtain justice forRobert Denholm, who, for many years, was an attendant in this House. I have interested myself in the case, and, on many occasions, have accompanied those two honorable members when they have interviewed the Treasurer, and the ex-President of the Senate (Senator Givens). Denholm was an employee of the Joint House Committee, and, in 1914, in the course of his employment, met with an accident. Although, at a later period, he stated the nature of his accident, it was impossible to obtain proofs from the records of the Parliament of his absence from duty owing to the accident; but, in the opinion of Dr. Kerr, the accident was a likely cause of his disability. In his report the doctor said -
It is hard to be sure of the right decision in this case, but, my opinion is, that in the absence of better knowledge of this disease, it is possible that the accident tothe head and the meningeal irritation following later brought about in this case the condition of the spinal cord, known as syringomyelia, perhaps beginning with a small haemorrhage.
Consequently, I felt that if it is at all possible after confirming the truth of the head injury as described by Mr. Denholm, as I had only Mr. Denholm’s statement to go on, every consideration be given to the granting of a compassionate allowance in view of the fact that the alleged injury to the head was sustained when Mr. Denholm was employed at Parliament House.
Later, as the honorable member for Melbourne has stated, injections of serum were given, and immediately the man’s disability became so severe that he had to relinquish his employment. Several honorable members, who knew him before and after his disability, have been trying for years to obtain justice for him. The negotiations reached the stage at which he was to receive a compassionate allowance of £50, but when he went to draw the allowance he was asked to sign certain papers. He states that he did not know that he was signing a final deed of release. When a man, in ordinary commercial practice, has made a claim and had it satisfied, documents are signed to close the matter; but, in this case, Denholm did not know that he was signing a final release. He asked for, and was refused, a copy of the document. He was not in a condition to know what he was signing, and, unfortunately, the machinery of this Parliament was used to trick him in a way which was, in my opinion, to say the least, sharp practice. I do not blame the officer who, acting under instructions, protected the Government, but I do say that those who were responsible for using officers of the Parliament to do such things, indulged in very questionable practices.
– To what action does the honorable member refer?
– The action of some one in authority in instructing a subordinate officer of this Parliament to place the document before Denholm in circumstances that were not merely questionable, but unjustifiable. Two papers were placed before him for signing, and he was not allowed to have a copy of them. Those of us who have watched this man’s increasing disability, from the time when he was apparently quite well, until now, when he is an invalid, know quite well that he would not be in his present condition but for the unfortunate accident. No doubt the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott), and the honorable member for Melbourne, with their medical knowledge, can speak with more authority on that aspect of the matter; but it is safe even for a layman to say that to expect an invalid to transact legal business while refusing him a copy of the documents he is required to sign, so that he may take them away and obtain advice on them, should not be condoned by this Parliament. The position now is that this Parliament holds a final deed of release from Denholm, who therefore has no legal claim.
– What was the nature of the accident?
– Denholm met with an accident in the dining-room, and sustained injuries to the head. He was taken to the hospital, and later developed meningeal irritation, from which he is now suffering. I am informed that his condition could be caused by an injury to the head. If, in the opinion of honorable members, there is even a possibility that his invalidity was caused, or contributed to, by the accident, the duty of this Parliament is clear; the deed of release ought not to absolve us from paying compensation, if compensation is due. I feel very strongly that if there is the slightest suspicion in the minds of honorable members that we owe a debt to this exemployee, we should pay it. I ask the Treasurer and honorable members generally to deal sympathetically with this application.
– I remember this young man when he was employed in this House. He was a mere youth, with his life opening out before him; he was bright, intelligent, and normal in every way, and seemed quite healthy. I have seen him at various times within the last twelve months, and have noticed that to all intents and purposes the gates of life have now been slammed against him. He is a shattered wreck. His condition resembles that of a shellshocked soldier; his case seems similar to one which was unhappily before our eyes for some years in this chamber. Denholm alleges that from robust and joyous health he has been brought to a state of death in life by reason of an inoculation he was obliged to undergo while employed by this House. Some ground for that belief is provided by the fact that he was given a sum of £50 by this Parliament. Like the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), I am not skilled in medicine, but it is evident that in the minds of the President and Mr. Speaker, or of the House Committee, or of whoever was responsible for the settlement of this matter, there was doubt as to whether the man’s condition was not due to that treatment. I do not know what defence may be offered on behalf of the authorities concerned, and until we have heard the defence we cannot make any counter charge. It would be idle to say that inoculation does not, in some cases, completely wreck the lives of the persons inoculated. “While it may prove salutary or defensive in 999 cases, it may kill the 1000th case. There is a duty upon us in this case, to compensate with money, so far as that is possible, the injury received by this officer. It would be idle to say that his condition arose spontaneously, for there must always be an anterior cause. Assuming that there is certain probable cause in this case, no sensible medical man would deny that the state of the man’s health at the time that this cause arose is material to the consequences produced by the inoculation. Clearly Denholm’s health was reduced below par by the inoculation. That, of course, is not always the result of inoculation. I have been inoculated several times. I was inoculated a couple of days ago, but I was able to make a speech here shortly afterwards. Please God I shall inoculate myself in the future and make more speeches. But that happy result does not follow in every instance. If I had to deal with this case I would put this man in the position of being sure at least of the ordinary comforts of life. It is true that he was only a humble attendant and not a. member of the Parliament; but, nevertheless, we met him every day and he was one of our number. To put it in another way, he was a private ip. an army in which we are officers. He was stricken down while doing his duty. Surely we are not obliged in such circumstances to examine with microscopic exactness into the precise causes of his trouble. Let us treat-the case as human beings, and give the man something. We have been in occupation of these buildings for 26 years; let us on the eve of our departure do at least one just and generous act.
.- I have been very interested in this case, which was brought under my notice in the first place by a circular; but I did not know until the Treasurer-stated.it by interjection that this unfortunate man was in the condition that is medically known as syringomyelia. I venture to suggest, and I think the Treasurer will agree with me, that the case has been fairly and amply put by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). The honorable member for Darling said the man’s neurotic condition was the consequence of an accident which he sustained through falling on his head, when several stitches had to be inserted in the wound. The honorable member for Melbourne $Dr.
Maloney) attributed bis condition to serum inoculation.
– When the patient was not .fit to receive the inoculation.
– I do not think that either of the reasons that I have mentioned buttress the case from the medical point of view. The man’s condition, the ideology of which is imperfectly understood, cannot be attributed or explained by the serum inoculation; still I think, on the compassionate grounds advanced by the right honorable member for North Sydney, it is the obvious duty of Parliament to assist this man and free him from the need of relying upon individual and private charities to make his remaining days something more than an existence. I feel sure that I am doing the right thing in supporting the claim, although I could not support it on the medical suggestions that have been made. It would be unfair to allow the suggestion to go abroad that the serum injection to which this man was subjected had the damaging effect that has been attributed to it. The anaphylactic effect of a serum injection cannot be compared with the untold benefits that, accrue from it. I support the claim purely on compassionate grounds.
, - Undoubtedly the case of this man deserves our deepest sympathy. The man’s condition is incurable, and it must become worse as time goes on. In -..consideration of his condition he was awarded an invalid pension some years ago. The Government has considered the case sympathetically from the time when it was first brought under notice two or three years ago. I personally have very carefully looked into it to see whether there is any possible justification for the claim, that the man’s condition is due to anything that occurred while he held his position ‘as an officer of this Parliament. As the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) has stated, the relationship, if there is any at all, is extraordinarily remote. Mr. Denholm is only 34 years of age. He was employed here for a long time as a temporary liftman and casual waiter. He states that in 1914 he accidentally received a knock on the head from a plank, and had to have several stitches inserted in the wound. Unfortunately, there is no record of the accident, nor of his having received leave of absence at the time, though I have no doubt that what he ‘says is quite correct.
Five years later he was inoculated with influenza serum, and although he suffered a rather severe re-action I do not think that it can be maintained that his present condition is due to the inoculation.
– With what serum was he inoculated ?
– With influenza serum, which contained several antibodies. I do not think that it could be possibly established that his syringomyelia has anything to do with the influenza inoculation. It is true that inoculation might brine into existence a certain degree of meningitis, but it could not possibly cause syringomyelia.
– A continual series of symptoms has fallowed the inoculation through all these years.
– With all due deference to the honorable member as a medical practitioner, I am of the opinion that- the inoculation could not possibly have caused this man’s spinal condition. I have examined the case most carefully. The position is not quite as the honorable member for Melbourne put it. The officers of this House come under the provisions of the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act. As evidence of that, may I remind honorable members of the case of an unfortunate officer who was killed some years ago while running across to the Government Printing Office in the execution of hia duty. His dependants were dealt with under the provisions of the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Dr. Maloney.But that would not have been so if the man had not had an envelope in his hand at the time of the accident.
– He was killed in the execution of his duty. It surely cannot be claimed that the Government is under any obligation to find medical treatment for all its employees, whether their condition is caused while they are doing their work or not. Medical attention can only be provided for officers who are suffering from circumstances which have arisen in. the course of their employment. Otherwise the Government would have neverending responsibilities. When the matter was brought up we submitted it to the President of the Public Service Superannuation Board, who gave it careful consideration. The board made every effort to establish some ground on which a definite claim could be based, but it failed to do so. The board reported that every effort had been made to obtain confirmation of the statements regarding the accident, and that it had endeavoured to discover if there was any possibility of the case being dealt with under the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act. As an act of grace the board recommended the payment of a compassionate allowance of £50, based on Mr. Denholm’s length of service, including his casual service as a waiter. The payment was made on the definite understanding that there was no admission of liability on the part of the Government. I join issue with the honorable member for Darling, who suggested there was sharp practice on the part of the Joint House Committee in connexion with the signing of the deed of release. I assure the House that the ordinary procedure was followed.
– He would have to sign under duress.
– Not at all. The honorable member for Darling suggested that Mr. Denholm was ignorant of what took place. As a fact, the matter was fully explained to him, and, as the honorable member for Melbourne, remarked, his mind was very clear upon it. The question now arises whether the Government, which has already given him a permanent invalid pension, should also provide medical treatment.
– The honorable member for Darling said that he desired to take the document away in order to obtain advice as to its meaning, but was not allowed to do so. Is that true?
– I am not clear on that point. Mr. Speaker may know something about it, because the case was dealt with by the Joint House Committee. As the honorable member for Herbert has said, there is no relation between Mr. Denholm’s service in this House and his present condition. It is entirely for the House to determine whether it is to accept responsibility for his medical treatment.
– Does the Treasurer contend that inoculation could not have produced the condition?
– It is most unlikely. Nothing is impossible, but it is beyond the bounds of probability that his service here had anything to do with it. Unfortunately, cases of this nature are not uncommon. Provision is made in the large medical institutions for the proper treatment of this condition by massage, &c., and that treatment is available to the community. Probably those institutions are the best places in which suitable treatment can be obtained. I suggest that the Commonwealth cannot make itself responsible for the permanent medical treatment of any of its employees, the cause of whose illness has not been definitely traced to employment in the Commonwealth Service.
– Could not the man be given the benefit of the doubt?
– We have done that. The honorable member for Melbourne has stated that the case was dealt with in a very reasonable manner.
-That is not so.
– I certainly made no such statement.
– We dealt with the matter sympathetically.
– Scrooge would not have given him less.
– The right honorable member for North Sydney drew attention recently to another case which had been brought under the notice of a previous Government of which he was the head, which did nothing in the matter. The Government is responsible to the public at large for the proper administration of public funds, and where cause or relation can be established, it is anxious, as far as possible, to meet its obligations.
– Would the Treasurer, as a medical man, inoculate against influenza, a man who had had a severe attack of typhoid?
– Most certainly.
– Then God forgive him if he should do it !
– This matter came under the notice of my predecessors, but a request was made to the Joint House Committee recently which caused me to obtain the papers and investigate the history of the case. I found it to be this: - A former lift attendant, who entered the Commonwealth Service in 1915, remained for about six and a half years, and left in 1921. He was inoculated some two or three years prior to leaving the Service. After he had left it, he claimed that, as a result of the inoculation, he had become ill. The matter was gone into fully by the then President of the Senate, and the circumstances of the inoculation were investigated. On the 13th of March, 1925, Senator Givens addressed a letter to the Department of the Treasury in which the following passage occurs: -
Some time after leaving the Service he developed some peculiar condition, which practically left his arm useless, and he claims that that condition was due to the inoculation against influenza. However, I have seen no medical evidence which would confirm that statement.
The Joint House Committee made inquiry to ascertain if there was any relation between the officer’s condition and his employment in the Service. Dr. G. Stephens, an eminent medical man, declared that he could not affirm that the man’s injury was due to inoculation. As however, the man’s condition rendered him unfit for employment, Senator Givens, viewing the case sympathetically, recommended it to the Treasurer for early and favorable consideration. The case was looked into by the Treasurer. An additional statement was that the man’s condition was due to an accident which had taken place at a very much earlier date. Inquiries were made of the parliamentary officers, and the following reference to it was found in the files, dated the 24tb June, 1925-
Mr. Denholm further stated that, in 1914, while employed as a waiter at Parliament House, he accidentally knocked his head against a plank.
Inquiries were immediately made, and on reference to the files showing the various occasions on which leave of absence had been granted, there was nothing to show that a report or complaint had ever been received, or temporary leave of absence applied for, in connexion with any such accident in 1914. I have before me a record of the details submitted to the Treasurer. The particulars of sick leave granted to Denholm are as follow: - “Four days, March, 1916 (gastritis); three days, April, 1916 (bronchial catarrh) ; two weeks from 18th November, 1918 (influenza) ; four weeks, December, 1918, and two weeks, January, 1919 (nature of illness not stated). A minute bearing on this case, said to be an extract from Dr. Kerr’s report, is as follows : -
It is hard to be sure of the right decision in this case, but my opinion is that, in the absence of better knowledge of this disease, it is possible that the accident to the head and the meningeal irritation following later brought about in this case the condition of the spinal cord known as syringomyelia, perhaps beginning with a small haemorrhage.
There is nothing to confirm the statement that the accident occurred in the course of employment. I noticed that, in the petition presented today, no reference is made to the accident. The first question, therefore, is whether Mr. Denholm suffered any injury in the course of his employment. There is no definite evidence to show that the injury resulted from the inoculation. I find that my predecessor reported to that effect to the Treasurer, and the compassionate allowance was made in the circumstances which the Treasurer has described. There are one or two comments I desire to make in connexion with this case. The honorable member for Darling suggested, in the first instance, that there had been sharp practice on the part of the Joint House Committee. I think that he withdrew that expression; but he indicated that Mr. Denholm, as the latter said in his own petition, had been practically compelled to sign the deed of release or receive nothing. Mr. Denholm stated in his petition -
I was compelled to sign a deed of release, being told by the secretary of the Joint House Department, that if I did not sign the deed of release, I would not receive the money. I waa ill at the time, and in need of the money. I had no other option but to sign.
The secretary of the Joint House Committee said that that was not correct. The document was sent on to be signed, and Mr. Denholm was pleased to receive the money. There was no sharp practice, and no application was made for the document. What motive would that officer, in the ordinary course of his duty, have for acting as was alleged^ The practice on all occasions has been to deal with the officers in a sympathetic rather than in a stern manner.
– The report puts an entirely different view of the case.
– I am dealing with it sympathetically. An application was made that we should give Denholm the position of lift attendant. In his own statement, he said, “ There is a general improvement in my condition. I am able to get about.” The matter of the compassionate allowance was concluded by my predecessors. When I took my present position, the deed had been, signed, and the grant had been made. So far as the files disclose, the most sympathetic thought appears to have been given to the case, and the opinion evidently was that, although no relation could be established between the man’s condition and his previous employment, something might be done as an act of grace.’ That has been done.
Dr. MALONEY (Melbourne) [11.45 J. -I am greatly disappointed with what I have heard, as I did expect that some sympathy would be expressed in this case. 1 asked the Treasurer whether he would give the serum in the case of a man who had a severe attack of typhoid complicated with symptoms of brain trouble. The honorable gentleman said that he would; but, although I have put the same question to dozens of the best medical men in Melbourne, and some in Sydney, none of them gave me a similar answer. The fact that Dr. Stephens did not give a second injection shows clearly that he was alarmed at the symptoms. If I took the Treasurer on the hop in asking the question, I am sorry, because I think that, upon reflection, he will agree that I have been right in what I said.
– Was this man supposed to be suffering from typhoid fever when he was given the injection for influenza?
– He had recovered from an attack of typhoid fever.
– What was the interval between his recovery and the injection of the serum?
– The injection was made some three weeks from the time the man was carried out of the hospital after an attack of typhoid. “ I was not treating this man as a medical man. I sent him for treatment to men better able to deal with his case. I ask honorable members in a spirit of justice to look through the evidence taken at the inquiry. The y-ung man’s mother made a sworn declaration that she had never said a word against him, although she was accused by a high official of another place with having sent him a letter in which she complained of the young man. That letter could not be produced. If we had a national system of insurance in force, appeals of this kind would be avoided. When men speak with feeling they sometimes say things which would be better left unsaid. If I have said anything offensive to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), I hope he will pardon me. I appeal to him now to make this man some allowance until the Government and the Parliament, in their wisdom, bring into operation a national system of insurance. I would cut my tongue out before I would make such a request if I thought that this man was a malingerer.
– That is not suggested.
– Men who knew this young man as I did are not now in this chamber, and the majority of the present members of the House know very little about the case. I hope that something will be done to carry this man over the interval between now and the time when a national system of insurance will be brought into operation.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The replies are- 1 and 2. ‘The cases of officers compulsorily transferred to Canberra prior to the 1st of July, 1927, will be considered by the Public Service Board in connexion with the grant of Canberra allowance under the provisions of Public Service Regulation 97b.
Roads in Kennedy Division, Queensland.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether any application has yet been received from the Queensland Government for his consent or approval under clause (9) of the agreement under the Federal Aid Roads Act 192C to the carrying out at once of certain work in Queensland by day labour instead of contract, and particularly -
To what value or estimated cost has the Minister up to this date consented to or approved of road construction by day labour in lieu of contract in the State of Queensland?
– The information asked for is being obtained, and will be supplied to the honorable member as early as possible.
– This morning I promised the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) that I would supply him with information regarding this matter. I am now in a position to do so -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies are-
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Whether any regulations have been issued under section 9 of the Peace Officers Act 1925, and, if so, will he makethem available for the information of the House?
– No regulations have been made under the Peace Officers Act 1925.
Duty on AluminiumWare.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies are-
Introduction of Diseases
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The replies, which apply also to the questions asked a few days ago by the honorablemember for Herbert (Dr. Nott), are -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Government will carefully consider the suggestion that a second Country Health Laboratory should be established in South Australia, and in doing so will give every consideration to the claims of Mount Gambier, which, it is recognized, is the centre of a large and rapidly progressing community, and is at a disadvantage on account of its isolated situation. A communication is being sent to the Government of South Australia on the matter.
Australian Claims for Compensation
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The following replies to these questions have been supplied by the Department of the Treasury, which deals with this subject: -
Mr. INIGO JONES.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whether, in view ofthe favorable public reception accorded Mr. Inigo Jones’s seasonal weather forecasts and the interest shown by scientists abroad, the Minister will review the decision refusing permission to Mr. Jones to inspect the meteorological records of the State of Queensland?
– Mr. Inigo Jones’s reports have received, on numerous occasions, the earnest consideration of Ministers. He has been fully advised of the views which the Department’s expert advisers hold in regard to his theories. It is not proposed to vary the decisions already conveyed to Mr. Jones.
Tenders for Furnishings
– On the 23rd of March the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) asked the following questions: -
I then informed the honorable member that the necessary information was being obtained from the Federal Capital Commission. The commission hasnow advised as follows: -
-Referring to the question asked me yesterday by the honorable member for Bass relative to the prices of English and Canadian newsprint, the information is not yet complete, but it will be furnished to the honorable member during the recess.
– On Wednesday, the 9 th of March, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) asked the following questions: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
The following papers were presented : -
Taxation - Tenth Report of the Commissioner, years 1923-24, 1924-25, and 1925-26.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act. Determination by the Arbitrator, &c, No. 1 of 1927 - Amalgamated Engineering Union.
Northern Territory - Report of Acting Administrator for the vear ended 30th June, 1926.
Papua - Annual Report for the year 1925-26.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended, Statutory Rules 1927, No. 26.
Appointment of L. D. Lyons, AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
Royal Australian Naval College - Annual Report, 1926.
– In to-day’s metropolitan press there appears a letter over the signature of Augustus Wolskel. This gentleman is manager of the Co-operative Phosphate Company, and in the course of his communication to the press he makes four detailed charges against myself. I do not propose to weary the House by going through those charges in detail. Mr. Wolskel, of course, takes great exception to my saying that he was wilh the Co-operative Phosphate Company for eight years, and did not deliver the goods, because he manufactured no manure. Mr. Wolskel took an interest in this phosphate company when he disposed of his own concern to the farmers, becoming general manager, and he has failed since to produce manure for the farmers.
– With those preliminary statements I shall deal with the charges made. Mr. Wolskel, first of all, refers to “ Mr. Rodgers’ attack on the Phosphate Co-operative Company.” I made no attack on the company or its shareholders, and never at any time placed any impediment in its way. I challenge any one to deny that statement. I refer now to Mr. Wolskel’s fourth charge, which, after all, is the gravamen of the accusations he has made against me. He says -
Mr. Rodgers’ role as a champion of cheap superphosphate is interesting, in view of the fact that the now discredited sulphur duties were imposed during his term as Minister for Customs, and that he strenuously resisted their withdrawal.
All I have to say is that the sulphur duties were not imposed during my time as Minister for Trade and Customs. They were included in the Massy Greene tariff brought down to this House when 1 was not in charge of the Trade and Customs Department. Deferred duties were proposed to come into operation on a date fixed. In the interval changes of office took place; Mr. Massy Greene went to the Defence Department and I took charge of the Trade and Customs Department. In the ordinary course of events I signed the proclamation bringing the duties into force, but no representations were made to me on the subject by anybody. Those are the facts, and they cannot be disputed. Mr. Wolskel says that I strenuously resisted the withdrawal of the sulphur duties. In this connexion I may say that a deputation, which was more in the nature of a demonstration, waited upon me on this subject. After hearing the representations of the deputation, I referred the whole case to the Tariff Board for reconsideration. The Tariff Board recommended that the duties be not withdrawn, and they have not been withdrawn ; they have been merely suspended, and a bounty has been paid, but not on the recommendation of the board, which has consistently adhered to its original attitude. The letter continued -
At the same time, he supported the new duty on superphosphate.
Everybody knows that that duty is inoperative. That statement is another portion of a deliberate fabrication to deceive the shareholders; but it does not deceive the country. Another statement is: -
The duties were replaced by a sulphur bounty, but no Australian sulphur has yet been produced.
In that paragraph also subtle deceit takes the place of truth. The Government never pretended that sulphur could be produced in Australia. Sulphur is not a constituent of superphosphates, but sulphuric acid is, and the Commonwealth has paid over £170,000 in the form of bounty on locally-produced sulphuric acid. Statements of this character, made deliberately for the purpose of misleading the public and honest co-operators who have invested in the company, are unworthy of the person who made them. In my opinion, the time has arrived when a royal commission should be appointed to investigate the operations of this company, which has been holding the farmers’ money for years.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate, without request.
Messages from the Governor-General transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c., for the financial years ended 30th June, 1925 and 1926, and recommending appropriations accordingly, reported.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s messages) :
– There are four sets of Supplementary Estimates to be dealt with, and I have arranged with the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) for the preliminary resolutions, to be disposed of and the appropriation bills to be introduced and carried through the secondreading stage without debate. A full discussion can take place in committee on the first item in the schedules.
Motions (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That the following further sums be granted to His Majesty to defray .the charges for the year 1924-25 for the several services hereunder specified: - The Parliament, £2,971-; Prime Minister’s Department, £19,855; Department of the Treasury, £97,641; Attorney-General’s Department, £11,256; Home and Territories Department, £43,530; Department of Defence, £16,922; Department of Trade and Customs, £82,641; Department ‘ of Works and Railways, £53,250 ; Postmaster-General’s Department, £790,407; Department of Health, £8,756: Department of Markets and Migration, £1,529; miscellaneous services, £179,493; war services, £28,073; refunds of revenue, £62; total, £1,336,386.
That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1924-25 for the purposes of additions, new works, buildings, &c, a further sum not exceeding £2,672.
That the following further sums be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1925-26 for the several services hereunder specified : - Part I. - Departments and services other than business undertakings and Territories of the Common wealth. - The Parliament, £1,977; the Prime Minister’s Department, £9,768; the Department of the Treasury, £59,403; the Attorney-General’s Department, £8,536; the Home and Territories Department, £5,502; the Department of Defence, £10,502; the Department” of Trade and Customs, £23,431; the Department of Works and Railways, £8,771; the Department of Health, £11,138; Department of Markets and Migration, £26,577; miscellaneous services, £77,106; war services, £49,061; total Part T., £291,772. Part II.- Business Undertakings. - Commonwealth Railways, £588; Postmaster-General’s Department, £161,747; total Part II., £162,335. Part III. - Territories of the Commonwealth. - Northern Territory, £2,603; Federal Capital Territory, £96; Papua. £24,066; Norfolk Island, £446; total Part III., £27,211. Grand total, £481,318.
That there bo granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1925-20 for the purpose of additions, new works, buildings, &c, a further mim not exceeding £29,741.
Resolutions reported; Standing Orders suspended and resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means founded upon resolutions of Supply reported and adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Dr. Earle Page), read a first and second time.
– It is the custom each year to provide on the Estimates a vote “Advance to the Treasurer.” This provision enables the Treasurer to make advances to the various Commonwealth Departments to meet expenditure not provided for in the ordinary divisions of the Estimates. Particulars of such expenditure must afterwards be included in a parliamentary appropriation. The Supplementary Estimates now submitted to members relate to the accounts of the year 1924-25. It is usual for such Estimates to be submitted after the annual report of the Auditor-General and the Treasurer’s financial statement have been presented to Parliament. As the last Parliament closed shortly after the end of the financial year 1924-25, it was not possible for those documents to be laid on the table of the House before the new Parliament met in January, 1926. Pressure of business during the first period of this session was so great that there was no previous opportunity to bring forward Supplementary Estimates. The vote for the Treasurer’s Advance for 1924-25 was £1,500,000, and the expenditure therefrom was £1,339,058. Details of this expenditure are now submitted to honorable members in the Supplementary Estimates for 1924-25. The summarized totals are as follow : -
The items making up these amounts were included in the statements of’ receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth, which were circulated when the budget for the year 1925-26 was presented. They have, therefore, already been under discussion by this House. Reference w:s- also made to the main items when I made a statement of the financial position of the Commonwealth to members, on 3rd July, 1925. Details are also set out in the Auditor-General’s report anc?
Treasurer’s financial statement for 1924- 25, copies of which have been circulated among members. Under the circumstances, it is not necessary to refer at length to the expenditure which is now submitted for the approval of Parliament.
.- The reasons given by the Treasurer for now discussing Supplementary Estimates for 1924-25 are really not sufficient. We should be discussing not those Estimates, but those for this year, 1925-26. The trouble with this Government is that it is always rushing to recess, and honorable members are not given an opportunity at the right moment for proper consideration of the business and the financial position of the country. I make that protest and reserve my general remarks until the committee is dealing with the Supplementary Estimates for 1925-26.
– I am willing to meet the wishes of the Treasurer, particularly as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition offers no objection to the course proposed. But I wish the Treasurer to make clear whether honorable members will have an opportunity to discuss Customs items for the year
– There will be an opportunity given for a full discussion on both the 1924-25 and 1925-26 Supplementary Estimates.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented, and on motion by Dr. Earle Page, read a first and second time.
– I wish to make clear that this is the stage at which the general discussion on the whole of the Supplementary Estimates may take place. The Auditor-General has submitted his report to Parliament for the year 1925-26, and it is now necessary to obtain approval of the Supplementary Estimates for that year in respect of expenditure made out of the vote “Advance to the Treasurer.” The vote for Treasurer’s Advance for 1925-26 was £1,500,000. The expenditure amounted to £511,059. Details of this expenditure are now submitted to honorable members in the Supplementary Estimates for 1925-26. The summarized totals are : -
Further details are contained in the financial statements published with the Auditor-General’s report for 1925-26, and also in the schedule of Supplementary Estimates 1925-26. Copies of these documents have been circulated among members, and it is unnecessary to refer at length to the expenditure which is now submitted for the approval of Parliament.
.- We are now considering appropriations of money that has already been expended. The control of finance has been taken out of the hands of Parliament.
– There can be no opportunity to discuss the Treasurer’s Advance before it is expended, because the expenditure is unforeseen.
– An opportunity should be given of checking the expenditure as soon as possible after it takes place. We are now discussing the expenditure of huge sums of money in 1924-25 and in 1925-26. Parliament has therefore not retained proper control of the public purse. Honorable members, whether freetraders or protectionists, should have an opportunity to express their views on tariff schedules that are laid upon the table of the House. I am. a strong believer in protection, and I consider that I should have an opportunity of discussing tariff schedules, with a view to improving them. All honorable members should have that right. I know that the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), and other honorable members who share his views, will differ from me, for they are not protectionists, or, at least, are not such high protectionists as I am; but we on this side have the right to complain, because the procedure adopted by the Government does not give us an opportunity to endeavour in this House to make the incidence of the tariff more protective. So, from every point of view, the method is wrong. Yesterday there was laid on the table a schedule imposing a duty on rice. I entirely agree with that duty; but there are other industries which are pressing urgent claims that should be discussed. The list of those industries is a long one; they have been enumerated again and again during tariff discussions. Surely we are entitled to an opportunity of presenting claims on behalf of industries that are being destroyed by foreign competition. Yesterday, when the schedule for the duty on rice was placed on the table, I asked for progress to be reported, because it was not possible for me, on the spur of the moment, to discuss that schedule, or even to decide definitely whether the proposal was good or bad. I recognize that a tariff schedule must be placed on the table without notice being given of the intention to table it, so that it is impossible to obtain information about it in advance; but, the schedule having been placed on the table, the proper procedure is to adjourn the discussion. I was well aware, when I asked that progress be reported, that it was probable that we should not deal with the subject again this session, and other honorable members were well aware of that, too; but honorable members on this side were forced to accept the schedule or, by raising an objection to it, risk losing protection for an industry that is badly in need of it. If, knowing that it was the Government’s intention that Parliament should rise this week, we had demanded time for discussion, we might have delayed the granting of protection to an industry that needs it at once. Although at all times I am ready to safeguard the rights of honorable members, I had to be practical and recognize that the alternative in this instance was to let the industry go unprotected. The protectionists in the House chose the less of ‘ two evils. We acquiesced in the schedule being passed, not because we approved of the procedure, but because we recognized that the industry needed protection. Last year a schedule was placed on the table imposing duties that I support, extensions and additions of which I should probably be prepared to urge from this side of the House; but the opportunity to do so has been denied to me. The earliest opportunity we can have now will be in September next, and it may be denied to us even then.
– The honorable member must know that no tariff schedule has yet been placed on the table of this Parliament and discussed immediately.
– I cannot agree that the Minister’s statement is correct. Tariff schedules have been placed on the table and have been discussed within a few weeks. I can recall the tariff imposed when the late Mr. Tudor was Minister for Trade and Customs. It was discussed almost immediately afterwards. It is true that no considerable amendment of the tariff can be discussed immediately, but there is a vast difference between discussing a thing immediately and allowing it to remain undiscussed for twelve months or more. In the history of this Parliament there has been every session a rush to reach recess, and we have consequently been denied opportunities for proper discussion. The Treasurer has said that in 1924-25 we were unfortunately rushed to an election. “Unfortunately rushed ! “ From the Government’s point of view, I should think that they were most fortunately rushed.
– The honorable member and his party asked for it.
– Not at all. The invitation came from persons outside, who were doing a few things that suited the book of the Government, who wanted a stunt election. The Treasurer’s explanation does not excuse the Government for not allowing the tariff on that occasion to be discussed. That tariff was discussed months afterwards. What about, the next year? The tariff was laid on the table in the dying days of the last session, and there is no reason why it should not have been tabled earlier. Why did the Parliament close in such a hurry last year? The Treasurer has said that it was because of the referendum; but there was no need to rush that referendum. One of the greatest disservices rendered to those who seek an alteration of the Constitution was the rushing of that referendum. The procedure gave the electors no proper opportunity to hear the side of the case that could be put only from the public platform, and they were left at the mercy of the public press, which was unanimously against the proposed alterations. In these conditions, the referendum was, from the beginning, doomed to failure. Many honorable members warned the Government of what would happen. Really the Government rushed into recess because the Prime Minister was leaving to attend the Imperial Conference, although it then had two alternatives. Parliament could have been called together earlier in the year, or it could have continued sitting after the Prime Minister had left for Great Britain. This is surely not a one-man Parliament! Surely it can continue to transact business while the Prime Minister is abroad ! The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), has had sufficient experience, and possesses enough ability to enable him to conduct a tariff debate in the absence of the Prime Minister. I pay him the compliment of saying that he conducted the last tariff debate ably, and received earnest assistance from this side of the House.
– And able support too.
– We accept the compliment, and he will receive the same support again to build up Australian industries. Nevertheless, we demand the opportunity to discuss the tariff. We want to express, with all the vigor we have, the views we hold as to the need for building up Australian industries; but we are not given the opportunity to do that. I venture the opinion that if we had the opportunity, we could impress the Minister with the need for a tariff schedule for industries not now protected. I could mention an industry in connexion with which I have introduced deputations to the Minister - an industry which is, no doubt, within his knowledge. It may be out of existence before this Parliament meets at Canberra. Those engaged in it have put forward one of the best cases ever submitted for protection; but after we meet at Canberra it will be too late to protect an industry that has, in the meantime, gone out of existence. A striking thing happened in connexion with the industry for manufacturing aluminium ware. Before it was established in this country, we had to pay enormous prices for aluminium articles ; but as soon as the local ware was on the market, prices dropped to less than a half. The Minister has been furnished with the figures, and if the industry is crushed out of existence, for want of protection, this country will again be at the mercy of manufacturers abroad, and prices will again rise. That industry is not protected, and I was in great hopes that during this session a schedule would be tabled to give it a measure of protection. The timber industry also requires serious investigation, and, I believe, adequate protection. Opportunities to discuss these matters are denied to us, and we are here now, within a few hours of the closing of this Parliament, and shall not have an opportunity until the end of the year to deal with these urgent matters. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) said a few days ago that it was the duty of the Leader of the Opposition to preserve the privileges of members of Parliament. ).t is at least the obligation of the Leader of the Opposition to do what he can to protect the privileges of members of the Opposition; but may I suggest to the honorable member for Perth, and to any other honorable members who criticise the Government from that side of the House, that in their hands lies the means of shaping the Government’s programme. Theirs is the responsibility, and theirs is the opportunity to say what the Government shall do, when it shall do it, and how it shall do it. All we, on this side, can do is to stand up and criticize; we have not the numbers to force our views on the House. I lodge this protest, not because I am in sympathy with the object of the freetraders, who want to reduce duties, and not because I want to discourage the Minister from protecting industries. I recognize that the Minister is only one member of the Cabinet, and of his party, and if he finds that he is not allowed to provide an opportunity to discuss the tariff, but must present schedules as he has presented the schedule for the rice duty, I prefer him to do it in that way rather than not at all. At the same time, I protest that it ought to be done in a way that will protect the privileges of honorable members.
I protestagainst the delay in tabling the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. I asked the Treasurer the other day a question about the report, and he replied that it was being prepared. That report is usually laid on the table on the last day of the session. It is the report of an officer who collects and controls more millions than any other department, except the Trade and Customs Department. He has control of all the direct taxation imposed by the Commonwealth, and this reportis an account of his actions, and of the work of his department, for the year 1925-26. Honorable members are not being given a proper chance to discuss it. On a previous occasion I had to protest that one of the Commissioner’s reports w,as not presented for three years. Since then we have been presented with a report each year, usually on the last day of the session, and on one occasion within twenty minutes of the close of it. Before we can properly discuss the financial affairs of the country, we need the information that these reports contain respecting the collection, assessment, remission, and reduction of income and land taxation. The Treasurer tabled only the other day an important report relating to taxation remissions, and we have not had an opportunity to discuss it. I make no charges against the Commissioner of Taxation ; but I hold that as the custodians of the public purse we should have within a reasonable time the informationwhich he is required by statute to supply to us.
The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden) during question time this morning raided the subject of the salaries of the officers of Parliament. I venture to say that practically every honorable member of the committee will agree with me that the parliamentary officers are not being fairly treated. They are the branch of the public service which seems most diffident about making complaints, and I have not received any complaints from them; but we should not tolerate the treatment that is being meted out to them. From the humblest cleaner and messenger to the highest official, our parliamentary officers are rendering us faithful service, and it is only because they are so attentive to their duties, and do their work so well, that the parliamentary machine works smoothly. There is not a. member of the Parliament who is not under a deep debt of gratitude to the officers of theHansard staff. A claim for a revision of salaries was made on behalf of the officers twelve months ago, and no decision in respect to it has yet been announced. Six months ago a definite promise was made by the President of the Senate (Senator Newlands) that the matter would receive attention, and several replies have been made since then that it was being considered. Since the outbreak of the war the cost of living has risen by 74 per cent. , but the average increase in the salaries of our parliamentary officers has risen by only 25 per cent. Some officers, as a matter of fact, have received only a 12 per cent. increase. The increase in the pay of the general public service has averaged 70 per cent., so that even the public officers outside of Parliament have not received enough to cover completely the increased cost of living, but the parliamentary officers, who are nearest to us, and under our eyes practically every day, have been left in a shocking position. I make an appeal for something to be done for them at once. Some officers of this Parliament who have held their positions for 20 years are receiving less than £4 10s. a week.
Honorable Members. - Shame !
– It is a shame. Some of these men who will be transferred to Canberra, will actually have to incur debts in order to pay their way. That is a deplorable state of affairs. The transfer is a serious matter for the whole staff, from the bottom to the top, and the officers are not receiving the consideration that should be given to them. It has been said that salaries will be adjusted after the removal to Canberra; but why should the matter be delayed? Whatever allowance is made to officers in consequence of theirremoval, should be quite apart from the increases in salary which are due to them. I was glad to have the assurance of Mr. Speaker (Sir . Littleton Groom) this morning that the matter will be given consideration. I trust that it will be considered at once. The increases that are granted should be made retrospective to the date of the claim.
– Mr. Speaker stated this morning that the matter was being considered only in connexion with the preparation of next year’s Estimates.
– That is quite wrong. The claim was made twelve months ago, and the increases should be retrospective. If private employers delay the hearing of claims before the Arbitration Court in the hope that they may save money, the judge takes care to frustrate them by making the new rates retrospective to the date of the claim. If we consider that that is a proper policy to apply to private employers, we should apply it to ourselves. It is easy to delay making awards, and then grant them only from the date on which a decision is reached; but it is not fair to .do it. I ask the Government to give every consideration to these claims.
For many years the whole of the Commonwealth Government printing has been done in the Victorian Government Printing Office. I understand that we have paid half the expenses of the printing office; but it seems to me that, as a matter of grace, if not as a matter of justice, though, perhaps, the interests of both would be served, it would be a reasonable thing, now that the Commonwealth is about to sever its connexion with the State Printing Office, for it to make a grant to the printing office employees in recognition of their arduous work in our behalf. The employees there have often had to work from 5.30 p.m. till 4 a.m., and sometimes even for fourteen hours on end, to keep our work up to date. It would be a fitting thing for. the Government to make an inquiry and grant some monetary recognition to the men whom they consider deserve it. for their extra work.
In conclusion, I feel constrained to urge again the fairness of giving immediate consideration to the claims that have been made on behalf of the parliamentary officers.
I trust that, when this Parliament meets in its new home at Canberra, we shall change our methods considerably, and deal with our business in such a way that honorable members will be able to discuss it fully.
– I emphasize the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) respecting .the delay in tabling revised tariff schedules. I greatly regret that nothing is likely to be done in the near future to increase the timber duties.
Some of the mills in New South Wales will probably have to cease operations before we shall be able to give consideration to this matter next September. I dislike the imposition of high duties, and am glad that we have constituted the Tariff Board to advise us in respect to the rate of duty which should be imposed on various commodities; but unfortunately, the board has been overwhelmed with work. It is highly desirable, in my opinion, that another member should be appointed to the board, and that the act should be amended to enable the commissioners to take evidence individually.
The attitude that the Defence Department has adopted in meeting claims for compensation in respect of trainees who are killed in training operations is most unsatisfactory. The department, in cases where it is not proved that relatives are dependent on the trainees who lose their lives, makes a grant of only £15 towards funeral expenses. I am afraid that I must accept the responsibility for fixing that amount; though, on my own behalf, may I say that I increased it from £10? I now know that that figure is quite inadequate. The Navy Department has adopted the practice of making a grant of £50 in respect of the death of trainees on service, regardless of whether there are dependants ; and that vote is not at all too large. It often happens that the family of the deceased trainee is not in a good financial position, and is sometimes seriously embarrassed in consequence of the expenses that must be incurred. I have in mind the death of a young man named Aitcheson, at the Liverpool camp last year. The father of the boy is a railway pensioner, and neither he nor his daughter could prove that there was any actual dependence upon the lad, who was in the last year of his apprenticeship. Both of them, however, were expecting to receive considerable help in the following year, when the young- man expected to begin work as a journeyman tradesman. Eventually the Military Department agreed to pay the whole of the funeral expenses of the boy, which amounted to about £30. I urge the Minister for Defence (Senator Glasgow) to make the practice in the Military Department uniform with that which is followed by the Navy Department. Our young men are compelled to enter camp, and in the cases where death overtakes them in camp the least we can do is to ensure that their relatives shall not he financially embarrassed by the fact.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 1.45 p.m.
.- I rise to join in the protest made yesterday by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), against the procedure adopted by the Government in introducing tariff duties in the dying hours of the session. I do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of duties, either on rice or on iron and steel; but I protest against the highly irregular procedure that has been observed. On 12th August last the schedule of the iron and steel duties was laid before the House the very day before the Parliament rose for the year. The schedule dealt with highly important items, and provided for heavy increases of duty on iron and steel, including fencing wire, wire netting, barbed wire, and other articles of first importance to the farming community. I recognize that no notice can be given by the Government of the introduction of such schedules, and it is true, as the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) remarked this morning, that it is not usual to have them immediately adopted; but, as indicated by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, at least some reasonable degree of decency should be observed in the matter. The iron and steel duties were brought down last year before the Tariff Board’s inquiry into all phases of the industry had been completed. I believe that one copy of the board’s report was in the hands of the Minister. The Leader of the Opposition saw it, but I did not, and have not yet seen it. Although a considerable time has elapsed since the schedule was presented, honorable members have not received the complete report of the board.
– The report has not yet been tabled, because it has not been completely dealt with by the Government.
– Was there not a progress report?
– No .
– That makes the position all the more extraordinary. I take it that the investigation has been completed, and the report is not yet issued; but honorable members are entitled to the reasons for the introduction of the schedule. There was a carefully prepared plan of campaign in the agitation for the iron and steel duties. For many months prior to their introduction there were half-page and full-page advertisements in the press, calling attention to the importance of the industry. Simultaneously, there was an application to the Tariff Board, and evidence was given by highly skilled accountants on behalf of the companies interested. Nobody can complain about that. Our letter boxes were filled with expensive and wellprepared literature - not pounds of it, but literally hundred-weights of it. What I do object to, however, is that when the honorable member for Perth and I asked for permission to discuss the proposed duties it was refused, and the House rose for the year. Now the present session is drawing to a close, and no opportunity has been given to us to debate that matter. I call attention to the manner in which tariff legislation influences the business community. The day after the presentation of the iron and steel duties there appeared a report in the Melbourne Herald stating that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s shares were in strong demand. The report showed that shares which, on the 31st of March were quoted at 26s. had, through successive stages, closed that evening at 32s. 4d. in an excited market.
– But were not those shares already 6s. above par?
– Yes. The Morning Post of the 14th August, the day after the House rose, announced that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company advised having sent a cablegram to its office in London, stating that its profits for the year ended 31st May amounted to £303,000, after allowing £293,000 for depreciation. I do not suggest that the Commonwealth Government is in league with the large business concerns in a scheme to increase their profits; but the introduction in the dying hours of the session of legislation that has such a profound effect upon the financial and business world should not be tolerated.
– A blunder is sometimes worse thana crime.
– I am speaking of the procedure, and I protest against it.
Legislation of this nature is based almost entirely on reports of the Tariff Board.
– Does the honorable member say that the board is bribed?
– That is the honorable member’s suggestion.
– The honorable member has hinted at it.
– I am hinting at nothing; but I protest against the insinuation that opponents of the iron and steel duties are unpatriotic Australians. I have gone into the outback country and opened up scrub land. I live in the Mallee at the present time, and rightly or wrongly I protest against the fiscal policy of this country, not because I wish to destroy a match factory at Richmond, or a boot factory at Collingwood, but because I wish to save the primary industries of Australia from destruction. The action of the Government in permitting important legislation to be rushed through the Chamber should not be countenanced. We have no chance to debate the merits of these proposals. The iron and steel duties were introduced last year.
– In a similar manner to that now under consideration.
– Yes, in a similar manner, as the honorable member rightly reminds me. After we rise this evening, we may not have an opportunity before next September, and perhaps not even then, to discuss a tariff schedule introduced in this House in August, 1926. It is possible that it may not be considered before 1928. Surely the Government must admit that this procedure is very undesirable. Surely there is no motive behind its adoption. It is a part of the rush policy of the present Government. Members of the Government appear to think that if they want to have anything done they must rush it. If you want to win an election, rush it. If you want to win a referendum, rush it - but in that case the rush tactics did not come off. I have no wish to make a party issue of this matter, but we are all deeply interested in the Tariff Board’s reports.
– Honorable members will get them in time.
– We should have them in proper time, and the Government should withhold legislation of this kind until honorable members have had an opportunity of digesting the Tariff Board’s reports. We are entitled to more evidence before these tariff proposals are brought into effect. Whether it is due to the influence of the Minister for Trade and Customs or not, I do not know; but the Prime Minister and other members of the Government seem to be under the honorable gentleman’s thumb. If this is because the honorable member is determined to be an absolute dictator, then I must congratulate him upon having achieved his object; but, as his assumption of such a position is not good for the country, I protest against it.
– As time passes, and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), during one of his infrequent visits to the House-
– The honorable gentleman must be bard up for argument.
– Has again raised a matter which he has already referred to several times, I desire, as the Minister responsible for the Trade and Customs Department, to have a word or two to say. Listening to the honorable member, one might think that the Government, and I in particular, are adopting a course which was never previously followed.
– I said that the Government was following an undesirable course.
– Let me remind honorable members that the 1902 tariff was introduced by Mr. Kingston on the 8th October, 1901, and was not assented to until the 16th September, 1902.
– But it was debated during the interval.
– The tariff of 1907 was not discussed for a number of months. The Tudor tariff of 1910-11 was promptly dealt with. The tariff resolution submitted in 1914 by Mr. Tudor was never dealt with, and lapsed when the tariff of 1920 was introduced.
– That was owing to the war. Why does not the honorable gentleman be fair?
– The tariff schedule laid on the table by Mr. Massy Greene on the 24th March, 1920, was discussed towards the middle of the year 1921, and was passed in December of that year. The tariff schedule which I had the honour to introduce was laid on the table in September, 1925. At the time there was no thought of a general election, but two or three weeks later a general election was decided upon, and the tariff schedule to which I refer was passed by this House in March of last year. There has been a number of instances in which tariff resolutions were laid on the table, and were not discussed for some considerable time afterwards. This practice is not without some benefit to the House as well as to the commercial community. I shall refer shortly to the specific matter about which the honorable member forWimmera has complained. If he will look up the remarks I made in tabling the resolutions covering the iron and steel foreign duties in August last, he will find that the Tariff Board had reported certain things to the Government regarding the position of the whole industry, and that there was a threat from the continental steel trusts against the iron and steel industry of Australia, which demanded the most urgent action. I am proud to be able to say that, when these matters are discussed, figures will be submitted which will show that the imposition of these duties entirely checked the threatened assault on that basic industry. I said at the time of the introduction of that tariff schedule, and once or twice since, that the Government has not yet completed its consideration of the recommendations made with regard to the British side of that great basic industry. I say now, deliberately, that the Government has not yet finalized its policy with regard also to other items of the tariff. I am, however, very hopeful that in the not very distant future we shall be able to submit up-to-date necessary tariff legislation for the further protection of Australian secondary industries. In view of the precedents which can be quoted, I contend that the Government is pursuing a course which has the entire approval of a majority of the members of this House. Now I come to the question of profits, and the - shall I say - subtle and sinister suggestion that the Broken Hill people engaged in the steel industry have done something they had no right to do?
– Let the honorable gentleman dispute my figures.
– There was some insinuation of a relation between the action of the Government and what was contained in the newspaper extracts read by the honorable member for Wimmera.
– The honorable gentleman cannot dispute what is contained in those extracts.
– I tell the honorable member, now, that the accountants of the Trade and Customs Department have investigated the books of the Broken Hill Iron and Steel Company, and have found that the profits he has referred to were not made from iron and steel production, but from another branch of the company’s business.
-Let the honorable gentleman give us his evidence. What branch of the company’s business did make the profits?
– In due course, when the Government is ready, the whole of the information will be placed before honorable members to enable them to see what the actual position is, before these matters are decided. I would like to say a good deal more about the political inconsistencies of the honorable member for Wimmera.
– Say it.
– Shall I remind the honorable gentleman of dried fruits, and of an application for an extra duty on dates ?
– When was that application made?
– The Mildura Council of the Dried Fruits Association waited upon the Treasurer as a deputation introduced by the honorable member for Wimmera, and submitted a request.
– Was that supported by me?
– The deputation advocated that an export bounty of £10 per ton should be paid on currants and lexias, and that the duty on dates should be increased to 3d. per lb., and reciprocal trade established with New Zealand.
– I did not advocate that, I merely introduced the deputation.
– The honorable gentleman introduced a deputation that made those claims, and I challenge him now to say that he believes in a free market for dried fruits. He knows that he could not save his political skin if he advocated that. This is the gentleman - and all credit to him for the action he took in this case - who sent an order to Thompson’s for locomotive engines, agreeing to pay an extra price in order to secure that the engines should be manufactured in Australia. But it is useless for any member of this House to blow hot and cold on the fiscal con- troversy. I want to tell the honorable member that his constituents, the dried fruit-growers, have benefited to the extent of almost £250,000 yearly from the protection given to the dried fruits industry, and that the people of Australia without complaint are paying £20 per ton more than the industry can secure for the dried fruits it exports overseas. The honorable member blows hot and cold on the fiscal issue, and while I have no objection to his supporting the dried fruits industry, he ought not, in fairness, to attack other industries.
– I join in the protest against rush legislation, whether dealing with the tariff or any other matter.
I wish to refer to the levy being made on local authorities and public bodies throughout the Commonwealth by a firm in Australia that controls the selling and performing rights of practically all the saleable music composed throughout the world during the last 50 years. If at all possible, the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) should take action to check these people. Theremust be over 10,000 public halls of entertainment controlled by authorities upon whom the Performing Rights Association levies tax. That is not in accordance with international copyright.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is the employment of Italians on public works. As in the course of the next ten years this Parliament will have voted some £20,000,000 for the construction of roads in Australia, it should be vitally interested to know who are to receive payment for work done on those roads. The Croydon Progress Association, in conjunction with the Australian Workers Union, has made a protest in regard to the employment of Italians on road work, and according to a report in the Age of the 16th of March-
Mr. J. McPherson, secretary of Melbourne district branch of A.W.U., yesterday reported having interviewed a Britisher who complained that he had been rejected by the contractor in favour of an Italian. This man had informed him that when he asked the contractor for a job the contractor told him that if ho were wanted ho would be sent for. Ho was not sent for, though afterwards foreigners were engaged.The man who was thus treated had enlisted from Australia, and on his return from the war set up as a dairy farmer, but was forced to relinquish it on account of adverse conditions. Unable to get sufficient work to support his wife, he was sending her back to England, while he, disgusted at the treatment meted out to him, was packing up his swag and going into the country to look for work. Mr. McPherson said this practice of giving preference to foreigners was growing to be a common occurrence. The moment a boatload of Jugo-Slavs, Italians, or Maltese arrived they were snapped up, in many instances, because they would work for less than award rates.
Croydon, I believe, is in the constituency of the Prime Minister. In yesterday’s Age appeared the following telegram from Rochester, which is in the constituency of the Premier of Victoria. -
Italian Labourers Employed.
Rochester, Tuesday. - The Blue Metal Quar ries Co., who secured the tender of the Country Roads Board to re-form seven miles of the main road between Echuca and Rochester, are employing all Italians on the job. The tender was about £12,000, and the wage sheet will be £600 a fortnight.
Unless we take a determined stand against the wholesale admission of southern Europeans, there will be a big row in this country. These people are given employment as soon as they arrive.
– They are being encouraged by the Government of Queensland.
– Not at the present time. While native-born Australians and Britishers are tramping the roads in search of work, road contractors, who are probably spending Commonwealth money, are giving preference to Italians The time has arrived for Parliament to express its will in regard to this matter. Some time ago 99 per cent. of the Australian population was of British origin; to-day the percentage is down to 97 per cent. Is this dilution of our population to continue? It is high time that this Parliament adopted some policy which would ensure that 98 per cent. of Australia’s population shall be of British origin. I have nothing to say against any man on account of the country of his origin; but by means of the tariff, wages boards, and Arbitration Courts, we have built up in this country standards of living and working conditions which must be preserved, and the Government should do everything possible to prevent foreigners being admitted and given preference of employment to the detriment of the sons of Australians, many of whom are farmers and orchardists.
.- In regard to a matter which ha3 been mentioned to-day, I cannot remain silent and yet be true to the 70,000 electors I represent in this House. I add my emphatic protest to what has been already said against the irregular and growing practice of tabling schedules of new tariff duties in the last moments of a series of parliamentary sittings. This procedure is tantamount to holding members of this House in the utmost contempt; through the Minister for Trade and Customs the Government is holding us much top cheaply. The new duties on rice will increase the cost of living of every household in Australia. Rice is an important foodstuff that gow. into universal consumption; yet the Minister for Trade and Customs tabled an increase of duty which will make this com modity more costly, and the duty immediately became operative without any explanation or justification of it having been offered to Parliament. The cost of living was thus increased by an arbitrary Ministerial action which I regard as entirely unjustifiable and unparliamentary. We had to submit to the same indignity- last year in connexion with the new steel duties. The cost of what is a parent material in Australian industrial life was increased without the representatives of the people of the House’ being consulted or allowed to express any opinion. My protectionist principles” cannot be suspect, for, except on two occasions, I voted with the Minister in support of last year’s list of new Customs imposts. But I have become somewhat wearied of hearing the honorable gentleman testifying from his place in this House to the extraordinary .prosperity and increase of production and employment which have followed each new increase in the tariff. What is the true economic position ? In the great city of Melbourne the cost of living is already higher than in any other city of the world, with two exceptions, and a further increase is involved in the new rice duties which, without one word of explanation or discussion in Parliament, are now being collected. Despite all that the Minister has told us of the increased employment given by the fostered industries, the ratio of unemployment during the last four years has been higher than at any pre vious time in the history of this country, and it is almost twice as high as it was before the war. These facts are exceedingly serious, and should dissuade the Government from further increasing the cost of living with, possibly, a further increase in the ratio of unemployment, without giving to this House an opportunity to express its opinion.
I sincerely associate myself with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) in the plea he made on behalf of the staff of this Parliament. I have been familiar with many of these officers almost from the inception of federation, and I have had from them nothing but courtesy, kindness, and valuable assistance. I hope that the time is near at hand when the parliamentary staffs will be removed from the direct and special control of Parliament, and will, like all other public servants, have their conditions of employment regulated by the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator.
– So far as my knowledge goes, the Minister for Trade and Customs was totally wrong in saying that the majority of members of this chamber approve of his action in tabling new tariff duties, and not affording Parliament an opportunity to discuss them. As a member of the Country party, representing a purely rural constituency, I strongly object to that practice, and I protest against the tremendous power that is being vested by the Government and the Parliament in the Tariff Board. That body has become- the most potent instrument for good or ill ever established in this country, and I do not think that honorable members realize the harm that it can do if it is not properly curbed by Parliament. A few days ago I suggested that the time ha3 arrived for the tariff machinery to be overhauled. My own opinion is that the Tariff Board has become overloaded and unworkable. It consists of four members, three of whom represent the great secondary industries, and it is gradually assuming control, not only of the secondary industries, but also of the primary industries. In this way its scope . and power are being enormously increased, and it behoves Parliament to consider the effect of this development upon the economic life of the country. The board is probably doing ite work in an able and conscientious way, but it is unable to cope with the tremendous tasks entrusted to it by the Government. Practically every industry, secondary and primary, is being investigated by the board with a view to giving some measure of tariff protection or other f017 of assistance. That being so, it is not fair to place the primary industries at the mercy of the board. Many of the primary producers do not know where they stand, because their industries are being investigated by the Tariff Board, and no reports are being placed before Parliament. In the tobacco industry, two or three hundred growers are awaiting the board’s report, which we were told would be placed before Parliament during this session. It has been in the hands of the Minister since the 7th March, and he has told us that he has had no opportunity to bring it before Cabinet for consideration. That means that it will not be presented to Parliament before the end of this year, and the industry will be practically held up for twelve months. This is but one instance of the utter incapacity of the board to carry the gigantic burdens which have been placed on its shoulders. I therefore suggest that the Government should, without delay, reconsider the constitution of the board with a view to the appointment of a separate authority to investigate the primary industries: If that is done the present delay in investigating industries and having their conditions considered by Parliament will be avoided.
One matter that has received very little attention recently is the proposal of the Government to appoint a Constitutional Select Committee. Newspaper references and replies by Ministers to questions have indicated the definite intention of the Ministry to appoint a Select Committee, of not more than fifteen members, to sit during recess, consider proposed amendments of the Constitution, and report to Parliament prior to the holding of a special constitutional session. We have had no announcement about a constitutional session, although we were given to understand that one would be made during this session. The Parliament will now adjourn until almost the end of the year, and nothing will be done. We have been told by the press that a difficulty has arisen respecting the representation of the various parties upon the proposed constitutional select committee, and that, as the result of the objection made by the Labour party to the proportion of party members proposed to be allotted to that committee, it is not likely to be appointed. This will be a great disappointment to a large number of people who are watching with keen interest this novel proposal to get down to tin-tacks, and to draw up some scheme for constitutional reform. The matter is of such vital consequence to the future of Australia that it would be absurd in the extreme for the Government to allow such a small difficulty to kill this promising proposal. As it is a non-party matter, the actual representation of the parties on the committee is not of great concern, and I think that the Prime Minister would be acting reasonably if he tried to meet the wishes of the Labour party. I am sure that any such action would meet with the approval of most honorable members. Some honorable members have suggested the appointment of a royal commission instead of a select committee; and, if the Government has any definite policy on this matter, it should make an early public announcement, so that the people may know that not only this Government, but also this Parliament, is sincere in its promise to tackle the question of constitutional reform.
– On Tuesday last, by moving the adjournment of the House, I brought before honorable members the variation of prices of superphosphates in Australia and New Zealand, and pointed out that the difference in price for similar phosphate in the current season was £1 5s. a ton. I had occasion to be away from this chamber yesterday, and, on returning, I took the opportunity to read two statements, one by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and one by the trade. The trade stated, in effect, that apparently I did not know the facts. Well, no one has challenged my figures. It is a question, not of facts, but of figures, and mine are unchallengeable. I have had them confirmed by cable from New Zealand, and I challenge the trade or any one else to refute them. Neither the Prime Minister nor the trade has done so, but both have referred to the trade war in New Zealand. If a trade war has started there, is it not obvious that there was a necessity for it ; that the primary producers of New Zealand have revolted against the prices charged them? That was the casus belli, of which honorable members might well take notice. Meanwhile, our primary producers are paying 25s. a ton more for superphosphate than the primary producers of New Zealand, and to that extent are handicapped i n the markets of the world. Our dairymen are to-day seeking an increase of the duty on butter, to protect themselves from the competition of the New Zealand dairymen, who ure at a decided advantage, because they pay less for their superphosphates. I certainly expected from the Prime Minister something more than he has promised. I am sorry that he is not present in the chamber. I am not satisfied with his statement that an investigation of the position will be undertaken by Mr. Olive McPherson, the newly-appointed Australian representative to the Phosphate Commission. I want a first class investigation of the superphosphate industry of Australia, from the hewing of the phosphate rock to the manufacture of superphosphates. I want to know, on behalf of the Australian primary producer, if the rock is being hewn, put on board ship, and carried overseas on the most economical and scientific basis. A complete investigation should be made into the manufacturing process and method of distribution in Australia. I know Mr. Olive Mcpherson, and I have a personal regard for him. He is a first class man of the land. The Minister may be assumed to be a man of the land, too, but he would scarcely have the presumption to investigate a highly scientific industry, and to decide whether the process of manufacture was economical or even right. A primary producer is not competent to undertake this inquiry into one of the basic requirements of the man on the land. I can point to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) who served with distinction an an agricultural chemist in . Western Australia, and to other honorable members with long experience of primary production, who could be appointed to a royal commission to investigate this subject. I would have no objection to Mr. Clive McPherson being a member of such a commission. He is new to his office, and he has yet to familiarize himself with the whole conditions of the Phosphate Commission.
– He is an experienced business man.
– He is an estimable man of the land, and as such is not capable of undertaking an investigation of this description. He must rely upon second-hand information. He has no technical knowledge, and therefore could not, after inquiry, present to the Government a report that would satisfy it that he had scientifically and intelligently examined the industry from every possible angle. The Government is primarily interested in this matter, because it is in partnership with the Governments of Great Britain and New Zealand in this great enterprise. The Government is primarily responsible for the supply of the raw material, and it cannot escape responsibility for the conditions of manufacture in Australia. It has put its hand to the task, and it must not place the industry entirely at the mercy of the trade. This subject is far too important for the Government, in the dying hours of this session, to brush aside, in the hope that it will be forgotten. It will not be forgotten by me or by the primary producers of Australia. The supply of superphosphates is fundamental to Australian production. To satisfy the primary producers, the Government should appoint a strongly equipped royal commission to investigate the industry from beginning to end. Such an inquiry would probably bring about a cheaper and more liberal and satisfactory supply of superphosphates. Why should the primary producers be supplied with superphosphates on a hand-to-mouth basis? The Prime Minister the other day, in reply to my statement, said that there was an excessive demand for superphosphates, and that’ the price had consequently increased. My experience . is that the greater the output the lower the cost of production. That is the economic factor in all businesses. An increased output means reduced costs of production and distribution. The whole industry is in an unsatisfactory position, and I hope that the Government, even at this late hour, will consent to the appointment of a royal commission to investigate and report upon it.
– I wish to reply to observations made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), who, I regret, is not in the chamber at the moment. I made a specific charge against the Government. 1 complained of the procedure adopted in presenting tariff schedules in the dying hours of the session, without permitting honorable members to have access to the reasons which actuated the Government in presenting them. I made no reference to the merits or demerits of high or low duties on iron, steel, or rice. Yet the Minister has seen fit to make a personal attack upon me. He made reference to my infrequent visits to this chamber; which presupposes that I am neglecting my duties as a representative of the people. That charge I emphatically resent. It ill becomes a Minister who, by the full and free acquiescence of honorable members, obtained four months’ leave of absence only this morning. The Minister also referred to the action that I took when a member of the Bruce-Page Ministry in connexion with a certain engine contract. What on earth has an engine contract, entered into years ago, got to do with the speech I made to-day complaining about the introduction of tariff schedules in the dying hours of the session 1 The Treasurer went to my constituency last week and referred to the same thing. Both those honorable gentlemen know that by virtue of my position at that time as a member of the Cabinet, I am unable to make the most effective of all replies to that charge; but I go so far as to say - for I shall not sit down under this kind of treatment - that as the Minister for Works at that time I made a certain recommendation, and I challenge the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Treasurer, to read it to the com- .mittee. I leave the matter at that. The Minister for Trade and Customs, in looking for something to allege against me, wandered to the field of dates, and waved most dramatically a document which - to use the phrase of the man in the street- was going to blow me “ kite high.” He read what he would ‘ lead honorable members to believe was unimpeachable evidence of my inconsistency. He said that a certain deputation introduced by me advocated a duty on dates, and when I asked him to read the speech that I made in introducing the deputation, he did not do so. All he has proved is that a certain deputation, which I introduced, made a request for a duty on dates. When the time comes I shall make my attitude clear on that matter, or on any other, but the honorable gentleman jumped right away from the point that I made. I admit that he was hard up for an argument, and had to draw half a dozen red herrings across the trail; but, allowing for all that, he might have been a little more decent in what he said. He spoke of a sum of £250,000 that had been handed to the dried-fruits industry in the form of protection, but he did not say that those engaged in the industry are paying a much larger sum than £250,000 in the increased cost of production resulting from the protection of secondary industries. He did not say that they were receiving Australian prices for one-fifth of their produce, and were paying Australian prices for 100 per cent, of their requirements. Although the protection of the industry has undoubtedly been responsible for its development, I challenge the honorable member - and he has plenty of secretaries to search the records for him - to point to one speech that I have made advocating duties or increased duties on dried fruits. What I have objected to is not the imposition of duties, for I am prepared to agree that in certain circumstances duties are permissible, but the continual increasing of duties. If the Government brought forward a proposal to remove all duties I should oppose it as vigorously as would the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins)’., or the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). I assert that the enormous revenue now being derived from Customs duties is of no value to the primary producers, and I respectfully suggest that it is doing no good to the secondary industries.
I wish to join with my honorable friend, the member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), in protesting against the increase in the price of superphosphate : and I join with him, also, in expressing the hope that the Prime Minister will grapple with this subject as one that calls for immediate action. Superphosphate is a vital necessity to the primary producer ; its use is increasing year by year. I hope that the representations of the honorable member will have the serious attention of the Government.
.- On the 8th of this month I initiated inquiries in this chamber into the fastapproaching termination of the permission to export to Great Britain butter containing preservatives. I then asked the Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson) what the Government was doing in the matter, and he gave me a reply which, apparently, was his own.
– The question was asked without notice.
– I am aware of that, and it is not my intention to gibe at the Minister. The reply he gave to me was -
The matter referred to by the honorable member has been dealt with very fully by the newly-appointed Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and has also been gone into very fully by the Commonwealth grading staff. It is hoped that before the regulation becomes operative some means will be found by which we can ensure the export of our very best quality butter without the use of boric acid.
Ten days later the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) asked a somewhat similar but more technical question, prepared, he was good enough to inform me, by technical officers associated with the industry. He received a reply which was framed, no doubt, by the technical advisers of the Minister, ,and included this statement : -
The addition of bicarbonate of soda to cream for neutralizing purposes in connexion with the manufacture of butter will not be regarded as a contravention of the regulation.
Does the Minister still stand by that statement ?
– The Minister read only part of the British health authorities’ regulation. I purpose to read the whole of the definition of “preservatives “ -
Preservative means any substance which is capable of inhibiting, retarding, or assisting the process of fermentation, acidification, or other decomposition of food, or of masking any of the evidence of putrefaction, but does not include common salt, saltpetre, sugar, acetic acid or vinegar, alcohol or potable spirits, herbs, hop extract, spices and essential oils used for flavouring purposes, or any substance added to food by the process of curing known as smoking.
Clearly there is a prohibition against the use of any neutralizing agency.
– There is no prohibition against bicarbonate of soda.
– Then there is a positive conflict of opinion between the Minister, his technical advisers, and the technical experts of this country. My object in reopening this question is to create a public conscience on it. This Parliament will not meet again until September or October next, which will be the rush period of the butter export season, and before that period is over the regulations at present in operation will have lapsed. On the 1st of January next the use of preservatives will be completely banned by the British health authorities. It is useless for the Government to say that the industry can cope with the situation. Such a general statement is not definite enough. It is the bounden duty of the Government to give the lead.
– We have already placed the matter in the hands of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the only body that can deal with it.
– Has the Minister had any trial shipments made of butter without preservatives?
– A great many.
– With what result?
– With varying results.
– The subject has been referred to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and trial shipments have been made with varying results ! What does that mean to the Australian dairyman ? It is not my affair alone, for the matter is regarded by the expert dairymen of Australia and their representatives with great fear. We have gone to a lot of trouble in this country, in connexion with a movement with which I was directly asssociated, to establish the “ Kangaroo brand,” which has lifted the butter industry to a level it had not previously reached. Unless a definite and positive assurance is given to the industry that the prohibition of preservatives will not injure the butter trade, the effect will be a substantial reduction in the output of first grade butter. What were previously high grade and first grade butters will become, before they reach the consumers in Great Britain, inferior but- ters. The Minister was once a dairyman, and no one ought to be more conscious than he of the crisis that now faces the industry. That crisis can be met only if the Government and its advisers produce before January next a positive formula that will enable the dairyman to manufacture and export butter without the use of preservatives, and to land it in a condition that will admit of its being sold as first class butter. I make no apology for taking up the time of the House with this matter. This is the last opportunity I shall have to speak on this subject before the export season opens. I wish to read a short extract from the report of the Dairymen’s Conference, held in August, 1926- “Australian manufacturers of butter will be in a serious position from January, 1928, when the use of preservative in butter exported to Great Britain will be prohibited,” said Mr. J. Proud, at the butter factory managers’ conference. Mr. Proud is the representative of the Association on the Australian Dairy Council. “ The Victorian butter manufacturers are unanimously in favour of the use of boric acid, and will bo particularly hard hit. The whole industry will have to face a most critical period on account of the British Government’s action.”
The President of the Association, Mr. L.W. Lucas, said that on the whole non-boric butter entered for the Association’s competitions was a failure.
A serious crisis faces au industry which is, even to-day, struggling for its existence. No other industry has been so hard hit by economic conditions, and I should like from the Government a definite and positive assurance that it has taken fundamental action, and will be able to make an announcement shortly as to whether butter can be satisfactorily exported without the use of preservatives. The Government must have realized the seriousness of the position, because it approached the British Government and obtained a postponement of the date of operation of the regulation. In a country so wide, and with a climate sp varied as ours, the problems associated with the production and marketing of butter are extremely difficult of solution. There may be certain localities where, on account of climate, soil, or herbage, butter can be made without preservatives and shipped successfully; but in a hot climate the butter business is surrounded with serious difficulties. I await a positive statement - something more than generalities - from the Minister.
.- I protest against this method of introducing amendments to the tariff schedule. Honorable members are not given a chance to discuss the new duties, although they immediately become operative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or request : -
Wire and Wire Netting Bill.
Petroleum Prospecting Bill.
War Service Homes Bill.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1924-25.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1924-25.
Bill received from theSenate, and (on motion by Dr. Earle Page) read a first time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) For the purposes of this act there shall be a Fresh Fruits Overseas Marketing Board. (2.) The Board shall consist of -
two representatives elected by growers in the State of Tasmania;
.- I move -
That the word “two” be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the word “ three “.
The composition of the board is vital from the point of view of the Tasmanian producers, and they contend that they will not be fairly treated if they have only two representatives on it, for they export twice as many apples and pears as the producers in the other States. The board will have power to make regulations and, generally, to control the marketing of our fruit overseas. The Tasmanian apple-growers would not agree to the appointment to the board of men like the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) or Mr. Smith, M.L.C., of Victoria, who appear to have a set against Australian fruit. The following sentence appears in the last report of our High Commissioner in London: -
Tasmanian apples were clean and well packed, but the apples packed in these cases were of a very common type.
I have yet to learn what is a “ common type “ of apple. Possibly the officers who advised the High Commissioner consider that the Codlin, Ribstone, Hollow Crown, Prince Alfred, and Alfriston are common apples. If so, I disagree with them. The High Commissioner’s report also stated that these common apples were produced probably from old trees. That shows how little the writer of the report knew about fruit-growing. Old trees grow fruit which has better keeping qualities than the fruit grown on new trees.
– I cannot permit the honorable member to discuss the varieties of apples under this clause, for it deals with the appointment of the board. .
– Possibly one of the first documents that will be placed before this board after its appointment will be the High Commissioner’s report, and I wish to give reasons why the report should not be seriously considered, insofar as it relates to apples. The board might decide that apples of the class I have mentioned should not be exported, and that would be fatal to the Tasmanian apple industry.
– I cannot permit the honorable member to deal with hypothetical cases.
– The average size of Codlin apples is between 2 and 3 inches.
– The honorable member must not continue along those lines.
– This legislation is likely to have a much more serious effect upon Tasmania, than upon the mainland, for apple-growers on the mainland have a local market for their fruit, while Tasmanian growers have to export the bulk of their fruit. The bill is therefore of vital concern to Tasmania. The measure was introduced on Tuesday morning, and was debated for ten hours. We had reached clause 5 when the debate was adjourned. I regret that the Minister did not bring the measure up for consideration yesterday.
– This has no relation to the clause under discussion.
– A measure of this importance should not be rushed through the chamber.
– I cannot accept the amendment. When I was recently in Tasmania I was told by many growers, who were keenly interested in the matter, that while they would prefer to have three Tasmanians on the board they regarded that, after all, as a matter of minor importance, and were prepared to accept two. At the outset of the board’s operations there might be a slight doubt as to the attitude of the representatives of the various States; but soon the board would function very much as the board of directors of a company. During the last two years, the Dried Fruits Export Control Board has had. many discussions, and it has always come to unanimous decisions, although it is composed of four growers, and three commercial men, representing different States. Any distrust that may now exist regardthe proposed board will quickly disappear, because its members will adopt an Australian rather than a parochial view.
.- I am opposed to the amendment, to the clause, and to the whole bill. When the measure was brought forward before I was attending an important fixture in my electorate. The fruit-growers in the various States are not unanimously im favour of the Government’s proposal, and I think that the Minister should be content with the boards of control that already exist. The Government has constructed machinery for a form of control that it may some day wish to abolish. Boards have been appointed to deal with the export of butter and dried fruits’, and in New Zealand even meat export is controlled in that way. We had the sorry spectacle a. week ago of the British butter market being thrown into a state of chaos through lack of judgment on the part of a board in New Zealand. Surely it will soon be realized that in a country like
Australia we cannot control the world’s markets by the formation of boards. While New Zealand was holding its butter the Danes were taking the best of the trade.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Wannon has been permitted to discuss the butter trade, while I was prevented from talking about apples.
– The honorable member for Wannon was endeavouring to give reasons for his opposition to the appointment of the board. He mentioned, by way of illustration, the results of the operations of other boards, and the Chair was watching carefully that he did not go into too great detail.
– I have no objection to Tasmania conducting its own apple business; but I object to a control board.
– Even when the growers ask for it?
– The orchardists of Australia do not ask for it. Tasmania produces more apples than the other States, but the quality of the fruit is not superior to that grown on the mainhind of Australia. I notice that the bill provides for a representative of Western Australia. No better apples are obtainable than those grown in that State, except, perhaps, those of Victoria.
.- I support the amendment. More than half the apples exported from Australia are grown in Tasmania, and that State produces far more varieties than any other part of the Commonwealth. Experts have stated that Tasmania produces the best specimens of eating apples grown in the Commonwealth. I am in accord with that opinion ; but, after all, the most important consideration is the favorable judgment of the public of Great Britain. The Minister referred to the Dried Fruits Export Control Board, and suggested that the experience of that body showed that State differences were sunk. I point out that dried fruits are produced on the mainland, and the interests of the growers in the various mainland States are identical. But Tasmania grows different varieties of apples from those produced on the mainland, and if the other States, through their representatives on the board, placed an embargo on a num ber of varieties grown in Tasmania, that State would be injured in its export trade.
.- On further examination of the clause, I see that there are to be two representatives of Tasmania, one for Victoria, one for New South Wales and Queensland, and one each for South Australia and Western Australia. An unequal representation of the States is provided for. The amendment of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) would give Tasmania three representatives and New South Wales and Queensland half a representative each. That is a glaring inequality of representation. I have examined the bill to see what provision i s made for the election of representatives; but I do not see any. Are there to be nominations by the growers and a poll?
– Is every fruitgrower to be entitled to vote independently ?
– Every grower who exported this year or last season 100 cases of fruit.
– Who is to nominate the representatives ?
– The growers.
– Will it, then, be competent for any fruit-grower to nominate himself? Is no special consideration to be given to organizations of fruitgrowers? I see nothing in this clause to warrant me in supporting it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Fees and expenses).
.- Can the Minister give the committee some idea of the fees which are to be paid to the members of the board?
– The board will fix the fees. I am not going to suggest to the board what it should do.
– Then we are asked to pass a bill without knowing what it will cost the taxpayers.
– The growers of these fruits will pay, and not the general taxpayers.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 (London agency of board).
.- It is customary in these bills providing for the control of the sale of primary produce to have provisions for the appointment of London agencies. I should like to have from the Minister a general statement of the experience he has had of the work of the London agencies of other boards which have been created. How are we to know that the practice of appointing London agencies is working satisfactorily? A London agency takes Australian products out of the open market to sell them in a particular way, and we are entitled to know what has been the effect of this practice, and how the system of appointing London agencies of these boards has worked.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 - (1.) For the purpose of enabling the board effectively to control the export and the sale and distribution after export of Australian fresh fruits, the Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the export from the Commonwealth of any fresh fruits except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister subject to such condition’s and restrictions as are prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the board. (2.) This section shall not apply to the export of fresh fruits to any port ‘between the Ninetieth and One hundred and eightieth degrees of East Longitude and North of the Thirtieth parallel of South Latitude.
.- In my opinion the passing of this clause will jeopardize the whole apple and pear industry. I move-
That the following words be added to subclause 1 - “ Provided that such licence shall not be required in the case of a bona fide purchaser in Australia for export abroad.”
Buyers come from Great Britain to Australia and spend, a great deal of money here in the purchase of fruit. This practice has been of great assistance to the industry, but this clause, if agreed to, will put an end to it. Conning from Tasmania, I may claim, to represent those interested in 75 per cent, of the fruit sent overseas. I have had meetings of growers in my own district, which were attended by the Minister for Markets and Migration when he was in Tasmania. He told the growers that the board would have power to divert a shipment of apples consigned to one port in Great Britain to any other port.
– To avoid a glut.
– Firms in London desire to be able to handle for themselves the fruit which their buyers have purchased in Australia. If the board is given power to divert shipments of fruit from, the ports to which they are consigned, many firms will not buy fruit again in Australia. What would be the position of the woolgrowers to-day if. buyers did not come to Australia to buy wool ? The clause gives the board altogether too much power. The growers are to have the right to vote for representatives on the board, and I intend to go through my electorate and inform the growers that the bill is not what it was represented to them to be when the Minister for Markets and Migration was in Hobart. I directed attention to this clause at meetings at which the Minister was present, and said that it would interfere with buyers sent from England to purchase fruit in Australia. The Minister assured the meetings that it would not have that effect. I have since had a good deal of advice, and it seems that the board, under this bill, will have complete control of all the fruits exported from Australia.
– Does the bill limit the Minister’s responsibility for the action of the board ?
– The London agency of the board will have all power to deal with fruit exported to England.
– Then we cannot review its action here?
– That is so. The clause is a very arbitrary one. The object of my amendment is to protect the operations of buyers of fruit in Australia for oversea firms, and to ensure that the firms to whom Australian fruit is consigned will have control of it when it is landed in England.
– I have already indicated that I am opposed to the bill in its entirety. This clause, and clauses 19 and 20, are the vital features of the measure, and I propose to say a few words in support of the amendment. When speaking on the second reading, I quoted from the leading fruit newspaper in support of my argument that this industry is not analogous to other industries which are already under control. That journal made it very clear that a system which may be good for one industry is not necessarily good for another, and I expressed doubt whether the measure of success which has attended the control boards already in operation has been sufficient to justify the extension of the principle to almost every form of primary produce. There are already three control boards in existence,’ and the same principle is operated by the Meat Council. No claim to success has been made on behalf of the Meat Council, which, I understand, has gone into recess but has hopes of being reconstituted.
– There is no analogy between the Meat Council and the board proposed in this bill.
– The analogy consists in the fact that both bodies are for the purpose of controlling export. I am opposed to the principle of prohibiting any producer from exporting his fruit. The Government already has power to see that only sound fruit of high quality is sent abroad, and three years ago I joined the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) in protesting against the granting of a licence to export bad fruit, from Tasmania. ‘As we predicted then, detriment to the whole fruit trade of Australia was caused by that and later shipments, and I object to a Government which has not exercised to the full the authority it already possesses, being given radical powers to regulate the export of apples and pears, regardless of the State of origin. I am prepared to go to a division on this clause in order to record my disapproval of the whole principle embodied m the bill. According to sub-clause 2, no licence will be required for the export of fruit to Asia. Why is a distinction made between Europe and Asia? Are we to assume that Asia will take anything we choose, to ship, and that bad fruit sent there would not be as detrimental to Australian trade as would bad fruit sent to Europe ?
– That is a most unusual provision.
– It does not seem either logical or consistent. The main purpose of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin is to retain the f.o.b. buyer. A great deal of the export trade - in tome States 50 per cent, of it - is done through the f.o.b. buyer, who will not come into the Australian market to operate under the restrictions that are proposed in this bill. The position of the f.o.b. buyer of fruit is different from that of the f.o.b. buyer of other primary products, and I suggest that the committee should bear that fact in mind. The bill provides that the buyer must first apply for a licence to export, which the board may or may not grant. Having been granted a licence, any contract for the shipment of the fruit abroad must be made by the board or in conformity with conditions approved by the board. If other control boards had been demonstrably successful, it would not necessarily be wise to extend the same system of control to fresh fruit, but in any case the committee should not apply to the apple and pear industry, which is in need of all the assistance that can be given, a form of control which may make its position worse than it is at present.
– The honorable member for Franklin stated that the provisions of this bill are different from what I said they would be when I spoke in Hobart. I have never made any attempt to misrepresent the purpose of the measure, and I stand by every word I uttered in Tasmania. The best answer to the statement that f.o.b. sales will not continue if this bill is enacted is that f.o.b. sales do continue in the butter industry, despite the existence of a similar provision in the Dairy Produce Export Control Act passed by this House some years ago.
– But butter is different from fruit.
– The f.ob. conditions of the two industries are analogous. The clause now before the committee is the vital part of the bill, and if the amendment were accepted we might as well throw the bill into the waste-paper basket, because it would be useless. The extent of the control to be exercised by the board under this and subsequent clauses would be set out in the conditions of the licence. The board would have no power to interfere with any business arrangements made by f.o.b. buyers, unless it included in the licence a. specific condition relating to such sales. It is inconceivable that members of the board, elected by the growers at a time when a huge majority are in favour of retaining the f.o.b. trade, would’ do something inimical to the growers’ interests, and break down a system in which they believe. The fact that the growers’ representatives will operate the scheme is the best assurance that this clause will operate without detriment to the industry. 1 cannot accept the amendment.
.- This clause contains a vital principle to which several honorable members object. Water this provision down as we may with control by a board and representation of growers, this is a provision to enable the prohibition of export. Complete power is to be given to a board not yet created, and the Minister says, “ Trust the board.” That is too clumsy a method of legislation. Some growers want this form of control.
– Very many.
– Very many do not.
– Was not the honorable member in favour of the same principle when embodied in the Higgins wool scheme ?
– I certainly was not. 1 was never in favour of giving to Sir John Higgins and his board power to prohibit the export of Australian wool. I shall never compromise on the principle of freedom of export. The day may come when a Ministry not so sympathetic with the primary producer is in office, and, having established the principle of control, we shall not be able to object if control is exercised in the interests of the consumers. We are playing with fire. Never since Australia has enjoyed selfgovernment has any Ministry sought to take from the people the right to export their produce to the markets of the world. The Minister has said that the real control will lie with the board. For how long can he guarantee the existence of a board that he may help to create? Will succeeding governments be bound by the provisions of this bill ? Cannot another form of control be substituted ?
– The growers themselves can put an end to the board if they so desire.
– This bill establishes the principle of control, and a future government may take the authority from the growers, and constitute the board of Trades Hall representatives.
– If we are to prohibit the export of apples, why not apply the same principle to everything else?
– Yes. We started with the control of butter, and then applied the principle to dried fruits. Is this the last of these bills, or is it the policy of the Government to go on until we have hobbled the free export of the primary products of Australia? I make no apology for taking up the time of the committee. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Markets and Migration know my views. I cannot compromise on the question of shackling the export trade of this country. This Government may safeguard the producers’ interests, but the day will come when a Government of a different political creed will use these control boards for its own purposes, and this Government is showing it the way. I ask the Minister not to persevere with the bill, because there is a great deal of opposition to it in the country. I had the opportunity of examining the whole of the correspondence that took place in connexion with the agitation last year respecting the control of fresh fruits, and I was amazed at the unanimous tone running through all the letters in opposition to the proposal. Many growers have established their own overseas markets - special markets for special kinds of fruit. They have established an export trade, and they have now to place their apples and pears in the hands of a board, the members of which have not yet been appointed. The Government is making a fundamental and vital departure from the principles that govern the export trade of this nation. There is no pressing need for the bill, because the Australian apple crop is light, excepting in Tasmania. That State is sending apples to New South Wales and Queensland, and to-day the fresh fruit market is excellent. I do not propose to stop speaking so long as I can protest against this bill. My obstruction of its passage is justifiable.
– The honorable member is taking advantage of the fact that there is little time at the Government’s disposal.
– The Prime Minister knows me well enough to understand that I shall not yield my point merely to convenience the Government.
– Why did not the honorable member speak on the second reading?
– I was absent at the time. When I left, the second reading was not even on the notice-paper.
– The honorable member must know that the Government could have_ passed this bill three days ago.
– I cannot yield in my opposition to the principle of the bill. I believe that I am voicing the opinion of an overwhelming majority of the growers. Organization is necessary to the fruit industry, but in no part of the machinery of the Fruit Council will there be found Government or semi-Government control. The growers of all the States joined this great voluntary movement. The Customs Department, in an endeavour to uplift the industry, altered the regulations governing the grading of fruit; but there were at that time few inspectors in Australia capable of grading or examining fruit for export, and even to-day the number is not sufficient. The council appointed additional inspectors, and I have no doubt that the Minister has done so. The fruitgrowers will rigidly insist on the carrying out of the grading and inspection regulations.
– The honorable member is using the forms of Parliament to obstruct the passage of this measure.
– I am neither using nor abusing the forms of Parliament. If I am exceeding my time, the Chairman of Committees will notify me to that effect. I have endeavoured to confine my remarks to the bill. I strongly object to its principle, and I believe that I am voicing the opinion of the majority of the growers.
– Then why not let them have a voice under this measure?
– Why should we ask them to accept this legislation? The growers know their business. This Parliament should keep as far away as possible from the trade and commerce of Australia. Through the Customs we have great power.
– May I make a last appeal to the honorable member. He knows that it is impossible for Parliament to sit. to-morrow to continue this debate, and I ask him to allow the committee to vote on this clause.
– In view of the light fruit crop this season I urge the Government to withdraw the Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 to 30 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- Is it the Minister’s intention to establish at an early date the machinery of this legislation, or will he permit it to stand over until next year? I ask him to give the growers time to take action in connexion with the bill, because those who favour it are naturally better organized than those who oppose it.
.- It must be obvious to honorable members that it would be absolutely impossible to establish machinery under this bill in time to deal with this season’s crop, and the Government has not the slightest intention of doing so. We are legislating for the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) agreed to -
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Paterson and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Paterson, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
By agreement with those engaged in the apple industry it has been decided to impose a levy under this bill of1d. a case, to finance the Overseas Marketing Board. A smaller levy may be made, but1d. will be the maximum charge.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That, with a view to preserving the records of the presentation, at Canberra, on the 11th October,1926, of the Speaker’s Chair so generously given by the members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, and as an expression of appreciation on the part of this Bouse, the report of the proceedings be incorporated in Hansard.
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS AT PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA,11th OCTOBER, 1926, ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE SPEAKER’S CHAIR TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BY THE UNITED KINGDOM BRANCH OF THE EMPIRE PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION.
The joint Presidents of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association (Senator the Hon. John Newlands, C.B.E. (President of the Senate), and the Hon. Sir Littleton Groom, K.C.M.G., K.C. (Speaker of the House of Representatives) presided. The gathering included members of the Overseas Delegations, members of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch, the Federal Capital Commission, and representatives of official and civic activities within the Federal Capital Territory.
The Hon. Sir LITTLETON GROOM, opening the proceedings, said: -
My Lord, Members of the Visiting Delegations, ladies and gentlemen. - On behalf of the members of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association, we extend to you a very hearty welcome to our Federal City, and particularly to what is to be our future home. This is not the first occasion upon which a delegation from the United Kingdom Branch has visited us, but we are honoured in this instance by the company of members of, not only the parent branch, but also branches throughout the whole of His Majesty’s Dominions.
We have met to witness a most interesting ceremony, and it is my privilege to perform the conventional duty of introducing the speakers who will participate in it. I have much pleasure in inviting the Rt. Hon. the Marquess of Salisbury to address you. He bears a name that is honoured in the annals of the British Empire, and we may truthfully say that he has added lustre to it.
The MARQUESS OF SALISBURY (Chairman of the Overseas Delegates). - In responding, with no small amount of diffidence to. the invitation which you, Mr. Speaker, have so kindly extended, to me, I think it fitting that, as a humble colleague of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, I should, at the outset, read a letter which he has addressed to me in regard to the present ceremony. He writes : - “ On the occasion of the presentation of the Speaker s Chair, and the Parliamentary Conference at Canberra, I would like you to convey to our colleagues in the Parliament of the Australian Commonwealth, and to the representatives of all other Parliaments of the Empire gathered together for the first meeting held in the new Federal Parliament House, the best wishes of myself and my Government.
I feel that this first meeting in the new H ouse is of a historic character, nol only on account of the presentation of the Chair, which will, I hope, be a symbol for all time of the goodwill of Members in the Parliament of Westminster for Members in the Parliament of the Australian Commonwealth, but because of the valuable interchange of views which should result from the informal discussions amongst members of all parties in all Parliaments.
With every good wish,
I remain, yours sincerely, (Sgd.)STANLEY BALDWIN.”
For the moment I divest myself of the high honour of the chairmanship of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation which has been conferred upon me, and on be the Association offer to you, as representing the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Speaker’s Chair. In doing so, I feel that my position, is somewhat singular. This is a Chair for the House of Representatives; but I am not a Representative. I am a member of the Upper House, which sils in, shall I say, not a representative capacity, in the Old Land, and I am called ‘upon to stand here on behalf of my co-delegates from the British House of Commons, any one of whom would be better fitted than I to make this presentation. I can only plead, Sir, on my ownbehalf, that I have been in Parliament for no less than 40 years, and that seventeen of those years were spent in the House of Commons itself. In the circumstances, therefore, my colleagues of the House of Commons will, perhaps, forgive me.
This is, indeed, a most notable occasionThis gift, to a modern Parliament, representing a community which has a great future, is from the House of Commons and the House of Lords, whose roots stretch back into the far distant past. Even the material of which the chair is composed speaks of some of the greatest moments of British History. It will remind you of a glorious period in British history when a great hero of the sea added lustre to British arms, and you will be reminded by it also of an old building, representing in the highest degree the triumph of British art, which stands in the historic setting of Westminster, and has been the scene of many mighty events in our annals. Since this chair, in its material, and in its signicance as a gift to the Parliament of the Commonwealth, is a personification of our institutions in the Old Country, I may be allowed to say a word or two upon that subject. We are told that democracy is on its trial, and that representative institutions are no longer fitted for the age in which we live. Mr. Speaker, it is possible that representative institutions as we know them in the Empire to-day, do not suit other countries. After all they are a British conception. They are an accurate representation of the British conception of government, and they fit v,s, and, may I say, our children, as the skin fits a human being. They have grown with our growth; they have adapted themselves to our successive experiences. They are English of the English, British of the British, and I am never surprised when I hear that foreigners cannot manage them. Indeed, they are a splendid example of the genius of our race - a living organism, changing, of course, but changing within certain limits which maintain their great traditions. Much of the practice which governs them is unwritten. As every member of Parliament her”., to whatever1 branch of the legislature ho belongs, will recognize, it is not only the Standing Orders which govern us, but a great traditional practice. The whole is subject to the influence and government of what is called the feeling of the House, which is supreme, and, in its very essence, depends upon public opinion. It represents public opinion. It is the embodiment of the opinion of the electors, and the public opinion of the elected, ‘and the principles for which it stands can be properly applied only in a spirit of loyalty to the institutions to which we belong, and of consideration for the minority. That’ is the very essence of our Parliamentary institutions. Every Minister in office remembers that some day he must be in Opposition, and every Leader in Opposition hopes that some day he will be in office. The consideration which those reflections import is responsible for the high courtesy which characterizes the proceedings in our Houses of Parliament. Everything in England - everything in Britain - everything in our great self-governing dominions depends upon the majority and the influence of public opinion. Ministers are in office to represent, not their own views, but those of their supporters, and the growing practice of which I have spoken, adapting itself to the needs, of the moment, is of intense value to a great community. It is not well to be too precise. There are always reserve powers in our Constitution which can be used when public opinion demands them. I have tried to sketch, in a few words, what this living organism - this all-powerful Parliament - is. I know it is governed sometimes by party spirit. Of that I am not ashamed; I myself have always been a party spirit there must be, if the institution is to succeed, a sense of deep responsibility, a determination to make the institution work, and a high regard for what the interests of Parliament and the country demand. If we work in that spirit, then the symbol, which in a moment I shall unveil before you, will stand for, all time as the embodiment of the ordered Government of a great people, and as an example to the rest of the world of what the political traditions and adf ministrative genius of the British people can accomplish.
I have here, Mr. Speaker, a roll upon which are recorded the names of those who have joined in making the present which I am about to unveil, and I hope it will be accepted by you, Sir, on behalf of the Parliament, as a record. I have only, in conclusion, to express my humble thanks for the kindly attention with which you have listened to me, and our profound appreciation of the welcome - the “ brotherly “ welcome, if I may use the phrase - which you have afforded us. I can assure you that, to the last days of our lives, we shall recollect with gratitude the kindness of the people and Parliament of Australia.
The Marquess of Salisbury having unveiled the Chair, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (the Hon. Sir LITTLETON GROOM) then delivered the following address: -
My Lord and Members of the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association. - The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia accepts most gratefully and with pride the magnificent gift which you have presented. It will long be treasured by (he people of Australia as one of their ‘ most sacred historic possessions. It stands here as a connecting link between the great mother of Parliaments and the free Parliament of the great Commonwealth of Australia, as emblematic of Parliamentary Government, and of our Parliamentary institutions. If there is one gift for which civilizaton has to be thankful to our nation, it is the gift of a model of a free Parliamentary institution. The mother of Parliaments has presented that gift to all the great Dominions across the seas, and we here recognize that, in our legislature, we power through a well-known institution for the purpose of securing freedom, liberty, and justice amongst the citizens of the Commonwealth. To-day, in your presence, we desire to express our grateful recognition of this great inheritance.
This Chair also stands for the authority of Parliament, for its honour and for its dignity. Be assured that this presentation will inspire us all as members with the desire to worthily maintain the traditions of that great Parliament across the seas. We do not forget that in a Chair like this, for a long period of time, a line of illustrious men has presided over the destinies of the House of Commons. They have preserved its sacred privileges, and secured freedom of speech and liberty to all its component members. Their precedents arc accepted as rulings, binding all through the British Empire, wherever Parliamentary institutions exist, and by preserving these precedents and, following them, we have been able to secure that fall-matured deliberation of measures combined with freedom of discussion that is absolutely essential for the making of sound laws and the maintenance of a great nation. We are grateful to that line of speakers for their fine traditions, and this Chair will ever be a reminder to us for their grand work.
It speaks also, from the historic associations connected with it, of the great statesmen who have spoken and offered their views before such a chair in the mother of Parliaments. We in this land are ever grateful to those statesmen, great men of the past, who by their wisdom, judgment, and foresight have rendered it possible to build up the Empire on the stable foundations of selfgoverning communities. We are not forgetful of our historic past. We know, as far as we are concerned in Australia, that the history of our people does not begin from the date of the occupation of this continent by the British. For the proper understanding of our very existence, and what rights and privileges we possess, we have to go back to that island across the seas. We study these rights and privileges and take pride in them, deriving inspiration from them for the building up of the Greater Britain across the seas. We gratefully acknowledge to you our indebtedness to our Motherland. When we gaze upon this Chair we shall be ever mindful of those traditions, and will be careful that Australia will derive from this Chair in this building fresh inspirations to enable us to follow in the steps of your great land. Not only with admiration shall we look upon this Chair, but with deep-rooted affection and goodwill.
This is a unique ceremony. We are about to commence the enactment of national legislation in our own home here in Canberra, where, we hope, free from the dominating influence of any State to express the will of the Australian people, so that our laws may reflect the matured judgment of the whole of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia. We are a new country facing new conditions, necessarily taking a new outlook upon things. We are adapting old principles to new conditions. Our eyes are still turned towards the seas regarding the history of our own race, hoping that, by the guidance of the wisdom and experience of statesmen of the past, we, too, may temper our actions in the future so that we may develop a greater nation here in the Commonwealth of Australia. We rejoice that this is an occasion when all parts of Eis Majesty’s Dominions are here to express their goodwill to us. We all are here in the spirit of unity. By the personal touch. we have been privileged to enjoy the grip of the hand of true fellowship. May we henceforth cherish the vision of that brotherhood, of the great commonwealth of nations, realizing our ideal, so that it may be an organization for the maintenance of the peace of the world, and the promotion of the material and spiritual welfare of all peoples. We thank you for this gift. It will be dear to us because it is from the hands of you whom we know to be members of each of the parties of the House of Commons, who have sent us some of their most capable representatives. We feel honoured by your visit, and I hope, Sir, when you return, you will tell your colleagues in both Houses how truly grateful we are for this magnificent and historic gift, and that you will also convey to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom our appreciation of the kind wishes conveyed in his most welcome letter.
The Hon. EARLE PAGE (Acting people, the Parliament and the Government of Australia, I tender to the Members of the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary. Association our thanks for the gift of this Speaker’s Chair, which is to grace the National Parliament in its own permanent home here in Canberra. We are deeply sensible of the honour which has been done its by the visit of the leader of the Delegation which is presenting this chair - a man who not only has rendered notable service to the Empire, but comes of a family whose distinguished services have been valuable to the nation for hundreds of years. The people of Australia very deeply appreciate this practical expression of interest, on the part of the British Parliament, in the establishment of the Federal Capital of Australia. Next year we are to have a further demonstration of that interest in this venture of ours when their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York will come to Australia to open the first sitting of the Parliament, in this its permanent home, just as 26 years before His Most Gracious Majesty the King opened the first session of the Federal Parliament which was then housed in its temporary quarters in Melbourne.
We feel that the establishment of this national capital will do much to promote an all-Australian sentiment. It will teach us to think more and more of Australia as a united whole, and also to foster a more intense Australian patriotism. We deeply appreciate this gift to the Australian Parliament from the mother of Parliaments - a gift to the future, as well as the present legislators of Australia. The Chair will be a fitting and abiding reminder of the loving bond of unity between the British people and this Parliament, and, in fact, the Parliaments throughout the whole of the British 4 Empire. There is no doubt that the sentiment which binds the Empire is founded largely on the kinship of blood, b’ut, to a very large extent, it is due also to the Parliamentary institutions throughout the Empire. These institutions, which sprang from the British people, whose emblem is really in the Chair you have presented to us, stand for the security of the people in all those matters that affect the liberty, freedom, and welfare of the nation.
The material of which the Chair is constructed, quite apart from its beautiful workmanship, makes it of special interest to us. Part of its wood, we understand, has been drawn from Westminster, from the mother of Parliaments itself. It will be to us always a reminder of the wisdom of the statesmen of that great Parliament, and the eloquence of its orators. It will briny vividly to our recollection the illustrious Speakers who have presided over the House of Commons, and have there shown, as the noble Marquess has said, how well Parliamentary institutions work in English-speaking countries.
Another part of the material of the Chair comes, we understand, from II. M.S. “ Victory,” Lord Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar. Its wood is of special interest to us. The sight of British oak, drawn from that source, will not only remind us always of the steadfast character of the British people, in prosperity or adversity, but also of the national victory of Trafalgar, as the outcome of which ‘ the Empire has had undisputed supremacy of the seas for the last century and a quarter. That was really the factor which permitted the sound and safe development of the various colonies established by Britain throughout the world, permitted the growth of our nationhood, and made possible the formation of the great British commonwealth of nations, which is now becoming a most potent factor in the prosperity and progress of the world. We feel that a Chair, drawn from such sources, will afford inspiration to our statesmen, and assist us to build up gradually a tradition which will be not unworthy of those with which the mother of Parliaments endowed us at the beginning of our national existence. I have much pleasure, Mr. Speaker, m moving a very hearty vote of thanks to the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association for this, gift to the Australian Parliament and to the Australian people.
- I have very much pleasure in seconding the motion which has just been moved by the Hon. the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page). It is true, occasion, lt is unique not only because this is the first ceremony that has taken place in the new home of the Commonwealth Parliament, but also because we have gathered here in the Federal Territory more representatives of the Empire Parliaments than have ever before met in conference. I am very pleased that we have tha delegates with us, and that they have been able personally to present to the Australian Parliament this beautiful Chair, which you, Sir, at present adorn.
While listening to those who have preceded me it occurred to me that the description of the British Parliament, as the mother of Parliaments, is most apt. So far as our own Parliament is concerned, every time a difference of opinion arises on a question of procedure, it is debated upon both sides of the House, and then you, Mr. Speaker, promptly quote May to us, and rule accordingly. Thai is the beginning and the end of the matter. The relationship of the several portions of the Empire may be likened to that of the members of a family with each other and with their mother. When a member of a family is about to set up a home for himself or herself, the mother will present him or her with some token of affection and goodwill. ‘That gift, whatever it may be, is always regarded by the recipient as the most valuable in his or her home. Members of the Federal Parliament, and may I go further and say the people of Australia, will realize that this Chair, the gift of our Mother across the sea, indicates that, although thousands of miles separate us, she does not forget us in Australia. Nothing could have been presented to this Parliament which would better convey to us the goodwill of the members of the British Parliament. The gift of this replica of the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons, by Members of the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association, will evoke the admiration of every Australian citizen. I hope that when the delegates return to their homes, after what we all trust will be a pleasant sojourn here, they will take with them a wider understanding of our problems in Australia, and that the free and frank exchange of views will be followed by a solution of some of the difficulties that confront us. I would ash them also to carry back to their colleagues, in the House of Commons, the appreciation and sincere thanks of every Member of the Australian Parliament, and of the citizens of Australia for their magnificent gift.
- I am going to ask those present to break away from Parliamentary tradition and to carry the motion in an extraParliamentary way. An additional advantage will accrue from that procedure in that it will enable Australian citizens, who are not Members of Parliament, and who are with us to-day, to join in the adoption of the motion.
The motion was carried by acclamation.
The rendering of the National Anthem concluded the proceedings.
Message recommending appropriation reported .
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purpose of a bill for an Act to provide for the erection of a memorial in connexion with the occupation by the Commonwealth Parliament of the Parliament House of the State of Victoria.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Bruce and Dr. Earle Page do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
In making this motion I desire to voice the appreciation of this Parliament, and, I believe, of the people of Australia, of the courtesy of the Government, the Parliament, and the people of Victoria, for having made this building available to the Commonwealth Parliament since the commencement of federation. We shall have an opportunity, on another occasion, to acknowledge our obligation more fully, it being proposed to invite the members of the Parliament of Victoria to a banquet in this historic building before we finally leave it for our new home at Canberra. But as we are now terminating our last meeting in Melbourne, the Government feels that, as good tenants, we should not only leave this building in good order, but should also do something to provide a memorial in it of the fact that, for the first 26 years of federation, the Commonwealth Parliament sat in these halls. The bill of which I have moved the second reading provides for an appropriation of £50,000 to meet the cost of such a memorial. Every member will, I think, agree to this proposal. This Parliament first met here when no man knew what would be the result of the experiment in government that was then being entered upon. To-day the people of Australia realize the great benefits of federation. Those who were the peoples of a number of separate colonies have been welded together into one great nation, which passed through the crucible of war and has proved itself worthy to enjoy the great destiny which we hope awaits it. The statutes which embody the great Australian ideals of to-day were initiated in this chamber, and came into existence during the years in which this Parliament has sat here. The briefest survey will show how much that period of political history means. The White Australia policy, which aims at the purity of our race and the preservation of the highest standards of social and economic life, was first enunciated here, and was here carried into effect. Within these halls we have seen the fashioniug of all the legislation on which to-day we pride ourselves; here we have established an Australian Navy, and an Australian system of defence. During the past quarter of a century Australia, from being almost a dependency of the British Crown, has become one of the great self-governing peoples which constitute the commonwealth of British nations. It is desirable, therefore, that there should be a permanent memorial of the period during which the Federal Parliament has sat here, to preserve the memory of this building’s association with many historic events in the building of the Australian nation. We hope that the memory of the men who, in this place, began the work of federation and have now passed away, may be an inspiration to succeeding generations of legislators, both in the Federal Parliament and those who will sit on these benches when this building reverts to the State.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, I support the proposal to provide for a permanent memorial to mark our gratitude to the State of Victoria for having allowed us to occupy this building for the past 26 years. It is to be regretted that the time now available does not permit of honorable members giving full expression to the sentiments which this historic occasion must provoke in us all. We are meeting for the last time in this building, which has housed the Federal Parliament from the beginning. . The occasion can but be regarded with sadness, because, although, as members, we are not parting from each other, we are leaving forever a place which has become dear to us, so fondly does memory cling even to inanimate things which have been long familiar. The objects which surround us recall those who preceded us and many who once shared with us the work of this Parliament. I hope that what they accomplished will be a guide and an inspiration to others in days to come, and that when the Commonwealth Parliament meets at the Seat of Government at Canberra, the permanent capital of the continent of Australia, a new era will dawn, bringing to the masses of our people an even better and brighter life than is now their privilege.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) (by leave) agreed to -
That leave of absence foe given to every member of the House of Representatives from the termination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the next sitting of the House of Representatives take place in the building known as Parliament House, Canberra, at the Seat of Government.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until such time on Monday, the 9th May, 1927, as is fixed by the Speaker, which time shall be notified by the Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) (by leave) agreed to -
That Sir Granville Ryrie be discharged from attendance onthe Joint Committee of Public Accounts, and that in his place Mr. Grosvenor Francis be appointed a member of the committee.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) (by leave) agreed to -
That Mr. Malcolm Cameron be appointed a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in plaice of Mr. Gregory, resigned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short billto amend section 124 of the Defence Act 1903-1918. The section deals with the particular matters which may be prescribed by regulations under the act. At present there is no power to control the erection of buildings within certain areas near forts, nor is there power to prohibit the smoke nuisance from factories in the vicinity of forts during or immediately before any military or air force practice. It is most advisable that these matters should be subject to regulation. It is essential that the efficiency of the fortifications should not be affected by the proximity of private buildings, and that in the interests of the nation any industrial works vital to our economic needs in a time of active operations should not be liable to attack and pos sible destruction. The Government has communicated with the various State Governments on this matter, and they all agree with the provisions of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That in accordance with sub-section 3 of section 17b of the Science and Industry Research Act 1920-26, the undermentioned additional estimates of expenditure of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the year ending 30th June, 1927, be approved and passed : -
Section 17a of the Science and Industry Research Act appropriated for investigations an amount of £250,000, which was paid to a trust account termed the Science and Industry Investigation Trust Account, from which expenditure is made in connexion with the various researches. Sub-section 3 of section 17b of the act provides that no money shall be expended from the trust account except in accordance with estimates of expenditure which have been passed by both Houses of the Parliament. The Estimates already passed this financial year made provision for expenditure from the trust account amounting to £35,300 on investigations, but that provision has proved insufficient. The amounts already appropriated under these specific items are - No. 1, £5,400; No. 4, £4,000; No. 5, £1,500; No. 6, £600. From the nature of the work which the council is called upon to perform, it is impossible to foresee all the problems which may arise during the financial year, and the present motion is to grant authority for further expenditure on unexpected and urgent investigations. In particular no funds are available for the work of the State committees, the appointment of which is authorized under section 12a of the act. This motion does not seek to authorize the appropriation of further moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, it merely authorizes the expenditure of certain funds which have already been set aside in the trust account. Under these circumstances it is unnecessary to introduce an additional appropriation bill, and the consent of the House to this expenditure is therefore being sought by means of the present motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-21, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations : -
Briefly summarized the recommendations of the committee were: -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Marr) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-21, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and on which the committee has duly reported to this House the result of its investigations: - National Museum of Australian Zoology, Canberra.
Sitting suspended from4.45 to 5.18 p.m.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment orrequest: -
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1925-26.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1925-26.
Fresh Fruits Overseas Marketing Bill.
Fresh Fruits Export Charges Bill.
Victorian Parliament House Memorial Bill.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
We all, I am sure, are saddened by the knowledge that when we leave this Chamber to-day we shall never again assemble here as the members of a Federal legislature. By long association we have become attached to this building, which we are about to hand back to the people of Victoria, to be re-occupied by the Parliament of that State. When the Commonwealth Parliament first met in Melbourne in 1901 the opening speech on the AddressinReply in this Chamber was delivered by the. late Mr. W. H. Groom, the member for the electoral division of Darling Downs, and father of the present Speaker, Sir Littleton Groom, who succeeded him in the representation of that district, and has retained the seat ever since. He said -
Will you allow me, Mr. Speaker, in the first place, as the oldest parliamentarian in this chamber, to congratulate you on the very high position to which you have attained? I trust that the dignity that characterizes your conduct of business in the Chair will be a standing example to the long line of Speakers who will follow you in this Commonwealth Parliament.
Sir Littleton Groom’s father little realized that his own son. would be the occupant of the Speaker’s chair when the House of Representatives assembled in this chamber for the last time. It is an interesting coincidence and a strange linking of two generations of a family that the first speech in this chamber was made by your father, Mr. Speaker, and that it will fall to you to utter the last words that will be spoken here by a member of the Commonwealth Parliament.
.- As one of the two members of the first Commonwealth Parliament which assembled here just upon 26 years ago, who have sat in all succeeding Parliaments and known the members of all the Ministries that have governed Australia since the inception of federation, I have been requested to offer a few remarks. In the earlier days of the Commonwealth, the political fights were keener than they now are, and it is then that was laid the ground-work for the legislation that has been passed in more recent years. Although representing a constituency in another State, and having my home nearer Canberra than it is to Melbourne, I nevertheless say good-bye to this city with a feeling of regret. In the past quarter of a century much of my time has perforce been spent in the capital of Victoria, but during my long sojourning here I have farmed many close friendships, and have made many acquaintances, from whom I part with the deepest regret. And as it is with me, so I am sure it is with all of us who come from the other States. The members of the first Commonwealth Parliament were political giants, and I greatly prize my association with them. It provided an education which I could not over-value, and whose lessons I shall never forget. In those years this Chamber was, as I have said, the arena of strenuous political conflict, but it is pleasing to recall that then, as now, the tone of debate has been maintained at a high level becoming a national parliament. Hard thrusts have been given and taken in the course of our discussions and disputes ; but honorable members, whatever their party connexions, have forgotten their differences immediately they have passed through the doors of the chamber, and, though political opponents, have always been personal friends. Our best thanks are due to the people of Victoria, to whom we are indebted through all these years for the use of this magnificent building, and I hope that they will accept this expression of gratitude for their generous hospitality and courtesy.
. -I do not know that I have any special claim to address this Chamber on the historic occasion of our last meeting in Victora; but as, in a certain sense - by the grace of the electors - a representative Australian, I take leave to say a few words. I found myself alone a few moments ago in the room occupied by the members of my own party, and looking round the walls I saw portraits of mem- bers of that party past and present : those now with us and ex-colleagues and friends who have passed away in the service of their party and their country. I say that with more than a tinge of sorrow. Their day is done, and with a sense of gratitude to those who have gone before us, we leave the hall in which their names have been immortalized. Forgetting party differences, this occasion brings to memory the procession of great men who have rendered service to their country in this chamber. Although the circumstances of parliamentary life necessarily at times engender bitter thoughts expressed in bitter words, there is solace in the reflection that time enables us to estimate our fellows more justly in the retrospect than is possible in a closer view. Without being invidious, I think to-day of some of the great men of the past, some of whom all present knew in the flesh, and others of whom are known to us only by repute. In memory at least we can go back to the days of Higinbotham, and come down through the years to those of Deakin and Barton, Higgins, and Isaacs, and without party rancour link them up with the representatives of my own party who here for the first time came into their own as spokesmen for the principles in which they believed and the ideals which they cherished. It is now, I think, over 30 years since, as a stripling, I was shown into the public gallery of this chamber. I came with bated breath, and looked down upon the legislators of that time. Standing at the table, and addressing members was the present honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), differing very little in appearance, and not at all in his adhesion to principles and the claims of humanity, from what he is today. We are reminded when we thus survey the past that, while life is a very transitory thing, the institutions with which those lives are intermingled are of a very permanent character. I sincerely hope that when the Victorian Parliament reassembles in this building it will keep alive the best traditions that were created by it when it met here before federation. I congratulate the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and those other honorable members whose association with this Parliament has been continuous throughout the period of Commonwealth endeavour. I hope their membership will long continue at what we might call another “ other place.” I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon the fact that, after a quarter of a century of parliamentary life, you are well in the flesh, and in the chair are upholding the honoured name which was referred to by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson). I have no claim to speak in this chamber on this occasion other than that in my own small way, with manifold shortcomings, I have endeavoured to uphold those traditions to which I have referred. Politicians receive many hard knocks. No doubt, they enjoy compensating privileges, but I believe that very few people outside recognize how strenuous is parliamentary work, how great a toll it takes, and how great a draft it is upon the vitality of the men who conscientiously do their duty. However, we can but do our best in our day and generation. Leaving this chamber with grateful recollections of those who have gone before us, let our salutation be - “ Australia Felix !” Long may she bear an honoured name, wherever her councils may meet.
.- For the first time in my 38 years of parliamentary life passed within these walls, I have received a letter from the municipal council of Melbourne asking for my assistance. This is so unique in my experience that I propose to put the letter in Hansard, and will do my best, as requested, to fight against the combine that is unjustly controlling the amusements of the people throughout Australia. The letter I have received is as follows : -
I am desired by the City Council to bring under your notice that a company has been formed in Australia which controls the selling and performing of practically all the saleable music which has been composed throughout the world during the past 50 years.
This company has notified the council, and, I understand, other public bodies controlling halls, that licence fees must be paid in respect of such halls, otherwise the authorities controlling the halls will render themselves liable to prosecution for a breach of the Copyright Act if the performance of musical, literary, or dramatic works - the performing rights of which are held by the company - is allowed therein.
It is considered by the council that the claims of the company in question are unreasonable; but, unfortunately, under the law at present existing, this company may have power to enforce most of its demands.
The council considers that an act should be passed by the Federal Parliament to provide that the owner of a hall who hires or lets the same to any person shall not for the purposes of the Copyright Act 1912 be deemed to be permitting the use of the hall for his private profit unless in addition to the ordinary rental or charge he receives, or is entitled to receive, a consideration in money or otherwise by reason of the performance in the hall of any copyright work.
I am, therefore, directed by the council to request you, as one of the city’s parliamentary representatives, will endeavour to assist in securing the introduction of the desired legislation.
When the proposal was made to vote £50,000 for the improvement of this building, I would, but for the occasion, have raised a protest against the Government leaving the splendid post office in Elizabeth-street unfinished. I have characterized the miserable annexe attached to that fine building as a tin can tied to the tail of a noble dog.
I wish to endorse every remark of the speaker who so eloquently introduced the references to the final meeting of the Parliament in this chamber, and those of my beloved friend, the honorable member for Newcastle, the only honorable member now present who was a member of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. It is with feelings of regret that I speak on this subject. Thirty-eight years ago in this very month I came into this chamber, and picked out my seat directly opposite to the Gillies and Deakin Ministry. I was informed by the Clerk of the Parliament that only ex-Ministers were allowed to sit on that seat. I have lived to see that seat occupied by a galaxy of men, not one of whom had been an ex-Minister, and that was when the Labour party first formed the official Opposition, and occupied these benches. I have listened to the eloquence that fell from the lips of Judge Higinbotham, a Chief Justice who recognized the injustice done to the workers. When the so-called masters of that day would not meet the workers in conference, he felt the injustice so much that while the refusal continued he contributed £10 a week to the funds for the support of the women and children of the strikers. For that humane act his name will be honoured- by the workers for all time. I remember how, as an entomologist secures a moth with a pin, he impaled with his power of debate the great Mr. .Rogers, of the Colonial Office. Years later, I heard him deliver a speech full of dignity, eloquence, and feeling, in which he acknowledged the resolution conveying to him the thanks of Parliament for his great work in consolidating and simplifying the laws of Victoria. He also removed the words “ master and man “ replacing them with “ employer and employee.” I held in my arms the first Speaker of the Federal Parliament as he expired in the corner of this cham-ber, and, within too short a time afterwards, stood in sorrow in the Queen’s Hall beside the lifeless form of a former Minister of the Crown (Mr. Roberts), who had collapsed alongside the statue of Queen Victoria. Sir, I was not in this Parliament when your dear father was here; but memories of him have been told to me, by Queensland representatives especially, and I am glad that you, whom I have known as always fair and just, and, above all, a most courteous man, are occupying a seat in the chamber to which he brought honour. And 1 hope that when the time comes for you to vacate the Speaker’s chair, you will be succeeded by another as worthy as yourself. Mr. Charles McDonald was the first Speaker in Australia to discard the traditional wig. As Speaker and as a man he was beloved by every member on either side, and I hope I may give no offence by confessing that many times I thought he was not just to me and my party when he gave preference in his call to members of the opposite party. But I know that he was animated always by a rigid sense of justice. I say of him and the other dear dead whom I have known and loved in this chamber, God rest them ! I hope that when our turn comes to pass through the shadows, we shall be greeted on the other side by every one whom we have loved and lost in this life. Having represented the district in which I was born, either in the Victorian Parliament or the Federal Parliament, since March, 1889, I cannot but feel grief at leaving this building. But, being of a hopeful disposition, I believe I shall live to sec on the statute-book of the Commonwealth Parliament the power of the electors expressed in the initiative, the referendum, and the recall. That is the only plank that remains unfulfilled of the platform upon which I was elected in 1889. I have had a hard fight to get that principle accepted. It took a quarter of a century to induce the most powerful newspaper in Victoria, the Age, to adopt it, and I take this opportunity to pay the tribute of a grateful heart to that journal for having done more than any other agency to im- plant that great democratic principle in the mind of the Australian people. Second only to it, is Australia’s greatest weekly newspaper, The Bulletin, which also has adopted the principle. The Australian Natives Association, the largest and most powerful friendly society in our continent, also has subscribed to it. Once to its eternal honour, the Nationalist party accepted the principle, but through some malign influence did not put it upon its platform. I wish I had the opportunity to physic the men who put that obstacle! in the path of a great reform. The eminent Gladstone and, later, Lord Salisbury, father of the nobleman who visited Australia recently, advocated the referendum. Nestling in the bosom of the Alps, Switzerland, the political genius of all nations, in whose parliament three languages are spoken, has the initiative, the referendum and recall in operation. With that love of freedom which is characteristic of all mountain peoples, the Swiss have embodied that triumph of democracy in their constitution. When people object that it cannot be adopted in Australia, because of our great distances, I have replied, “ The difficulty was much greater in the Federal Parliament of Switzerland, in which three languages are spoken, than in a country where the people from north to south and from east to west speak, write, and think in the same language.” If a line is drawn from north to south through the great United States of America al] the states on the left side of it, with one exception, have in operation in some form the initiative, referendum, and recall, and all but three of the eastern states can make the same proud boast. I wish that a splendid map of the United States of America, published in the Age, could be shown in every school roam in Australia. My ears have drunk in the eloquence of Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia. Those who care to refer to Hansard may read my eulogy of him at the time of his death. On that occasion I expressed my regret that when Sir Samuel Griffith, the first person in the history of the world to hold the position of Chief Justice of a continent, retired from the bench, the government of the day did not appoint Mr. Justice Barton to the position, that he might thus fittingly complete one of the most illustrious careers in the history of Australia. Of the orators I have heard in this chamber, two stand out in my recollection, one was William Shiels, whose speeches in Hansard will repay reading by any honorable member, and the other, and most eloquent of all, was Alfred Deakin. How often have I sat here and admired him. Life is but a brief span; I hope that I may be spared to live a few more years, but whenever my call comes I trust that I may go as suddenly as did the first Speaker of this chamber. Despite the heat and occasional bitterness of political strife, I have always given to every honorable member, regardless of the party to which he belonged, credit for honesty of purpose. Deep down in the heart of each of us is love of Australia and humanity, and each is trying with such capacity as the good God has given him, to make the world the better for his having lived.
.- Although I am one of the comparatively new members of this chamber, I experience some of that reminiscent sentiment that must possess the older members to a more marked degree on the eve of leaving these legislative halls. When 38 years ago I first came to Melbourne, and saw James Patterson, George Turner, Alfred Deakin, and many of their contemporaries coming to this building, the most handsome in Australia, I scarcely realized what business they were about. As years passed one began to realize the importance of their work. When a person who has been entrusted with the welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth, looks back upon the work of those men, he can appreciate what they did. We are leaving this place, and I feel certain regrets. I think, however, that we are going to our proper place. We owe a debt of appreciation to the people of Victoria for allowing us to be their guests for 26 years. I trust that when we transfer the Parliament to Canberra we shall there continue the labours that have for that long period been carried on here with benefit to the people of Australia and credit to those who conduct the affairs of the Commonwealth. We feel regret at leaving, a place that we have occupied for years, because we have felt the homeliness of the building even if the atmosphere of this chamber has not been so healthy as we should have liked. Nevertheless, our associations in this State have been all that could be desired, and we appreciate the hospitality that we have had in this great and handsome city of Melbourne.
.- Al though this is not the end of the session, it is really the end of the meetings in Melbourne of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and speaking on behalf of the Opposition, I wish, Mr. Speaker, to express to you our appreciation of the way in which you have presided over our deliberations in this chamber since your election at the commencement of the present session. I do not think that any one will contradict me when I say that you have filled your position with credit, and have honorably carried on the traditions of your predecessors. You have been uniformly courteous and impartial, and no one could expect more consideration and help than you have shown to the members whose deliberations you control. The observance of the forms of the House, and the upholding of the dignity of this national parliament, require net only the services of a good Speaker, but also the co-operation of honorable members, and that co-operation is impossible when there is any sense of unfairness respecting the actions of the Speaker. We have confidence in you because of your impartiality, and even though occasionally we may not have thought your rulings to be correct, we have bowed to them without protest, knowing that you endeavour at all times to act with scrupulous fairness. I should like also to thank the clerk and officers of the House for the arduous work which they have done in our service. They have been unfailing in their attention to their duties, and because of that the wheels of parliament, have run smoothly. Of the Hansard staff, I would say that every member of it is a capable officer, and their reports have been done well, and more than well on many occasions. As for the other officials of the House, and the messengers, everything in their power has been done to make the tasks of members lighter. On behalf of this side of the House I thank them for their services. I trust that we shall meet you, Mr. Speaker, the clerks at the table, the members of the Hansard staff, and the other officials, messengers, and attendants of this House at Canberra, and that the pleasant relations which now exist between them and honorable members will continue unimpaired.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir Littleton
Groom). - I appreciate the kindly refer ences to myself and to my occupancy of the Chair, but I must admit that were it not for the courtesy and hearty cooperation of honorable members my office might not have been so successful ais perhaps it has appeared. I greatly appreciate the consideration and respect which honorable members ‘have paid to me personally, and the assistance which has been given by the officers whose services so materially aid our deliberations. We cannot but feel a deep emotion now the hour has struck when we must leave for ever this historic chamber. Inevitably during the past week, as we have sat within these walls, the recollection of those who have gone before have filled our minds, and we have, perhaps, felt something of their lofty inspiration in our work. A sentiment of gratitude to the people, the Parliament, and the Government of Victoria for all that they have done to make our stay here pleasant is mingled with our regret at going. Our relations with the State authorities have been at all times of the kindliest and most agreeable nature. They have been more than generous in the privileges that they have given to the members of the Federal Parliament. We leave with a deep sense of goodwill towards them, and we believe that our good relations will continue when we are at Canberra. We look back to the beginnings of our national life, when we launched the ship of state upon what was practically an uncharted sea. Very heavy were the responsibilities laid upon the statesmen who first occupied the federal benches at the commencement of the nation’s career. The bias that was then given was to determine the future devolopment of Australia, and despite the criticisms levelled at them at the time from all sides, their politics were characterized by the vision of statesmanship. They did not look to establish their own positions, but took a broad Australian view. They had belief in this young country, and were confident that it would gain in the years to come a prominent position in the British Empire, and possibly take its place among the nations of the world. They .came with high ideals, and cherished and maintained them. Now, after 26 years of legislation, a great many of those ideals have been realized, and have become an integral part of our national life. We have both pride and satisfaction in the knowledge that the foundations of our national edifice were well and truly laid by eminent statesmen, and that the credit for what has been done does not wholly belong to any one political party. In each party there have been men famous for the purity of their motives, although often wrongly charged with self-seeking. I know of no other calling that calls for so much unselfish devotion to duty and so much sacrifice of private interest and comfort as that of the politician. The records of our public men show that they have lived and done their work mindful of the highest of all traditions, and many of them have given their lives for their fellow-creatures. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has said, we have even in this building seen them fall at their posts. We honour them for their service, and are proud to feel that when the history of Australian politics comes to be written, their work will inspire our future citizens to fashion their lives and conduct on similar ideals. We are thankful for the lead that has been given to us by our predecessors, and we believe that Australia will ever be grateful to them for what they have done. We are not forgetful of the officers of this House we have helped us to establish our parliamentary procedure, and thus to carry on our deliberations with dignity and thoroughness. The great body of our Public Service does its work well. The clerks who have occupied positions at the table have helped us considerably by their knowledge and ability, and their adaptation of the practice of other parliaments to our own needs. We are grateful to them, and also to those who were members of the original Federal Hansard staff. We owe much to their wonderful methods of reporting. The Hansard staff has from the beginning been particularly careful of the correctness of our diction and the purity of our language. It has made every effort on our behalf to keep, in Spencer’s phrase, the “well of English undefyled “ - although twitted quite unjustly with having on one occasion, when an honorable member interjected, “ You missed the ‘bus,” reported him as saying, “ The honorable and learned member missed the last available opportunity to catch the omnibus,” The members of the Hansard staff have assisted in preserving the honour and dignity of this Parliament. We remember them with gratitude, and gladly acknowledge that the high traditions of the original staff have been well maintained to this day. We have also experienced a spirit of co-operation and friendship on the part of our friends the journalists in the press galleries of this chamber. Many of those who were here as keen young pressmen in the early days of the Parliament now occupy prominent positions on the literary staffs of the leading journals of this co.untry. We are glad to have been associated with them in the beginnings of this Parliament. We congratulate them on their success, and appreciate the fact that their successors are upholding the same high standard of journalism that we knew in the early days of Federation.
We leave this building with sincere regret, and we shall always feel proud of our participation in the many historic events with which it is associated. When the history of Australia comes to be written the records of this building will fill many an interesting page. I apologize for encroaching on the time of honorable members at this late stage, but the importance of the occasion moved me to speak. I feel that we cannot leave this State without letting its people know the feelings not only of the Victorian members, but also of representatives from other parts of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The House stands adjourned at its rising to Canberra, and will meet at such time on Monday, the 9th May next, as shall be fixed by me, and notified to each member by telegram or letter.
House adjourned at 6.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 March 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1927/19270324_reps_10_115/>.