House of Representatives
15 November 1927

10th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Spbakbb (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1369




– Has the Prime Minister yet had an opportunity to consider the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on communications between Tasmania and the mainland, and will the Government early take action necessary to give effect to the recommendations of the committee?


– The report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts was received by the Government towards the end of last week, and there has not yet been an opportunity to consider it.

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– Following on repeated questions by me on the subject, I again ask the Minister for Trade and Customs when the report of the Tariff Board upon an application for an increase in the duty on butter is likely to be laid on the table of the House ?


– Within a short time.

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– The Minister for Trade and Customs has informed honorable members that moving pictures are to be censored in accordance with the ef-t feet that the advertisements of them are intended to have on the public mind. An advertisement displayed at the Olympia Theatre, Waverley, shows a lady lying in bed with a “ come hither “ expression on her face. Standing at the head of the bed is -a man with a look of complacency on his face. The title of the picture is “ Lonesome Women. “ Will the Minister ask the censor what impression he considers that advertisement is intended to convey to the public as to . the nature of that picture?


– There is no control by the Commonwealth over locallyproduced advertisements; but in compliance with the honorable member’s request I shall have an inquiry made, and communicate the result to him later.


– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) if the “ gentlemen’s agreement “ in regard to motion picture advertisements referred to last session has been scrapped, or is it still in operation?


– I am relying upon the promise given to me by picture importers that they will, as far as possible, exercise control over motion picture advertisements displayed in Australia. I understand that there have been several breaches of the arrangement for which the importer’s have been responsible.

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– When may I expect’ an answer to the questions submitted to the Minister for Trade and Customs some weeks ago asking that the Customs revenue might be analyzed, showing separately the amounts received from revenue and from protective duties?


– Such an analysis has been made and has been submitted to the Government Statistician. As soon as’ his reply is available, I shall have a statement prepared for the information of the House.

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– Has thje Prime Minister seen a cablegram from London, which appeared in the press of yesterday, to the effect that shipping companies welcome the news that the Government, as a result of the vote which was taken in this House last week, will sell the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers? In view of this fact, and of the importance of the cablegrams which were disclosed to this House by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) last week, will the Government’ r.e-consider this matter, and thus save the primary producers from exploitation by the Shipping Combine?

Minister for External Affairs · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · NAT

– I have not seen the press message to which tho honorable member refers. The Government will not reconsider its decision.


– Before any definite agreement for the sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers is finalized, will the Government introduce a measure to ratify it?


– No. The sale of the Line has been the subject-matter of a motion of want of confidence, and the views of honorable members on the subject have been obtained. If a sale had to be ratified by the Parliament, the only effect would be to prevent the Commonwealth from getting full value for the ships.


– I ask the Prime Minister if he is aware that a member of the Ministry in another place promised that this matter would again be brought before the chamber, probably in the form of a bill, before the sale of the ships was effected?


– .1 have not seen the statement to which the honorable member refers.


– In regard to “the reported expressions of pleasure in shipping circles concerning the projected sale of the vessels of the Australian Commonwealth Line, has the Prime Minister received any messages of congratulation from shipping circles abroad upon the competition of the Line being withdrawn ? Has the right honorable member given any assurance that the vessels of the Line, may in future be operated without regard to the maintenance of Australian conditions and the payment, of Australian rates and wages?


– The answer to the question is in the negative.

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– Will the Commonwealth Government be represented on the proposed State revaluation boards which will deal with soldier settlement?


– No. The revaluation boards will be purely and simply State bodies. The Commonwealth Government will conduct an investigation into soldier settlement, in order to determine some basis upon which a final adjustment may be made between the Commonwealth and State Governments, but that will be apart altogether from the activities of the State revaluation boards.

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– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question based upon two notable speeches which were made on Armistice Day. The first was by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, who made the following statement -

If we are to save ourselves and those sue ceeding us, a renewal of the war-time suffer ings in even more frightful form, our ever; action, our every-day conversation, even oui thoughts, must seek to ensure peace.

The second was by Lord Cecil, and contained the following sentence : -

If disarmament does not come, war most certainly will.

Will the Prime Minister do his utmost to convene a conference to include representatives of Canada, the United States of America, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and China, in order that peace in the Pacific may be maintained?


– The League of Nations, of which Australia and the countries enumerated, with the exception of the United States of America, are members, has devoted every effort to discover some basis, not merely for the promotion of peace, but also for the facilities of disarmament. While I subscribe entirely to the views expressed in the speeches referred to by the honorable member, I do not consider that any good purpose would be achieved by putting his suggestions into effect.

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Despatch to Solomon Islands


– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the statement that at least two, and probably four, natives of the Solomon Islands have been shot and killed by the so-called punitive expedition? If so, has he any information to supply on the subject. Did any seamen from H.M.A.S. Adelaide take part in this expedition? As the men who have been killed have been described as’ outlaws, does the right honorable gentleman know the facts upon which their outlawry was based ?


– As I was asked several questions upon this subject last week, I proposed, after questions on notice had been disposed of, to make a short statement in regard to it. In reply to the honorable member’s specific question, I may say that only two men were shot by the expeditionary force, and the shooting was a defensive measure. The personnel of H.M.A.S. Adelaide has been employed only at the base camp, as I explained to the House last week. The further information in my possession is this : - Following the establishment of the base camp adjacent to the beach at Malaita, which became known as Base “B,” it was decided to form an advance base at about seven hours’ march inland. This base was duly established early in the month, and named Base “A.” A small party of sailors from the Adelaide was sent there as a reserve, to be called upon only in the case of some grave emergency threatening the safety of the force, which I am glad to say has not arisen, nor has it been necessary to make any request for the employment of our sailors on active operations. Scouting parties of police, strengthened by European volunteers, have been operating from Base “ A “ and have been in touch with the disaffected natives concerned in the massacre. Some arrests have been. made and two natives have been killed in self defence. Base “ A “ is now being moved to a point in the centre of the area occupied by the disaffected natives, and the situation is so well in hand that the naval force is being withdrawn. The operations will be carried out by the native police and a few volunteers, the remainder of the volunteers being withdrawn. These operations will possibly be tedious, for strict orders have been issued that their object is the arrest of the participants in the massacre and that punitive measures are not to be adopted. The unhealthiness of the climate has unfortunately caused a few casualties in the naval force, and for this reason alone it is being withdrawn from the island at the earliest possible moment.

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Foraial Motion for Adjournment

Hon. Sir Littleton Groom

– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz. : - “ The purchase abroad by the Government of £100,000 worth of radium.”

Five honorable members having risen in their places,

Question proposed.


.- I find it necessary to take this action owing to the Government having placed an order for £100,000 worth of radium with a foreign company. I intend to deal with this subject from a non-party view-point, to focus public attention on what has recently occurred and to direct attention - to the necessity of assisting an Australian industry. It is common knowledge that an order for £100,000 worth of radium has been placed with a Belgian firm known as Radium Beige, which has a complete monopoly of the sale of radium throughout the world. There is a radium deposit at Mr Painter, which is about 80 miles east of Copley, a station on the Oodnadatta line, and in the electorate which I have the honour to represent. It has been known since 1911 that radium existed at Mount Painter. Reports were obtained from the field at that time. The present company was formed in 1914, and up to the present has expended on developmental work the sum of £8,000. It has been found necessary to increase that expenditure considerably because the mine is situated in precipitous country at a height of from 3,000 feet to 3,450 feet above sea level, and is not easily accessible. The company has been obliged to utilize camel transport to get its ore to the railhead. If it can obtain orders from the Government for supplies of radium it will, spend £5,000 on road construction, £5,000 on the purchase of a new concentration plant, £1,000 on additional plant for the refinery at Dry Creek, £4,000 on motor transport, and £2,000 on further, developmental work ; a total of £17,000. The ore is mined and concentrated at Mount Painter, then transported by camel teams to Copley, and from Copley to Dry Creek by rail. If the company could become properly established, the industry would benefit not only South Australia, but also the whole of the Commonwealth. The transport of ore, stores and passengers would augment the railway revenue to the extent of £2,000 a year. I give these particulars to convince honorable members of the value of the industry. The company has given the Government every opportunity to purchase its radium. On the 23rd July last, Mr. Tricks, the manager, wrote to Dr. Cumpston as follows : -

Dear Sir, -

The attention of my directors has been drawn to a paragraph in the Melbourne papers that the Federal Government proposes to, at an early date, purchase from abroad radium to the- value of about £100,000.

My directors desire to bring under your notice’ the ‘ fact that their company is in a position to produce and sell to your Government all the radium required. The company has produced radium from its mines in South Australia. The Alfred Hospital, of this city, has now a quantity of radium produced in South Australia, so also has Dr. Herman Lawrence,, of Melbourne.

The company’s treatment works have been erected at a considerable cost at Dry Creek, Adelaide, and possess all necessary equipment for the final extraction of radium from the ores obtained- from the mines, and my directors would respectfully ask that their company be given an opportunity of entering into a contract for- your requirements.

At the present time all the available radium is obtained; from mines in: the Belgian Congo,, owned and worked, by a. foreign company (Union Miniere de Haut, Katanga).

It will thus be seen that- should your Government purchase radium from the source indicated, the money will not only be sent out of the Commonwealth, but the opportunity of developing our own extensive Held, will be, to- a- large extent, impeded.

My directors would, therefore, urge that the matter of purchasing the radium requirements of the Commonwealth from their company be given consideration.

I am instructed to request that you will receive a deputation of the directors at a date and hour convenient to yourself, when the matter can be fully discussed.

For your information I enclose herewith a short statement of the company’s activities. This was prepared at the instance of Dr. Flecker, with whom you had an interview on the matter of radium a few days ago.

The following reply, dated the 26th July, was received by the company : -

Dear Sir,

With reference to your letter of 23rd July, relating to the production of radium - I have no knowledge of any decision of the Government to purchase radium.

Should this question arise, I shall see that your letter is put before the Minister.

Up to this time no mention was made by the company or the Minister as to the ability of the company to supply the whole of this order, and the Minister had no reason to believe that the whole of it could not be then supplied. No further communication passed between the Government and the company until, in October last, a statement appeared in the press to the effect that a quantity of radium had been purchased by the Government, and that caused themanager to address to the secretary to thePrime Minister the following letter dated the 27th October :-

Dear’ Sir,

We are informed that it is the intention of the Federal Government to purchase about £.100,000 of radium for the purpose of establishing a radium bank. We are not aware that, the Government has yet taken definite steps to obtain the supply contemplated1, and it is on. this matter we desfce an interview with, the Prime Minister. Quite recently at Mr Painter in the north of South Australia, u vast field of rich, radium bearing ores has been, discovered, situated about SO miles due east, from Copley railway station, between Oodnadatta and. Port Augusta. The company formed for the purpose of opening up this field is theAustralian Radium Corporation No Liability, and’ which we represent as directors. We have - taken- particular care that our technical information is accurate,, as we consider we arein a position to supply, the Federal Government with its radium requirements. Our chief” drawbacks are inaccessibility, of the field, and . in order to overcome this difficulty, the company has already expended a considerable sum iii road construction, but there remains a further 5’ miles to csnstruct at a’ cost of f 5;000, andi over very rugged- and precipitous - country. At present we are obliged to rely on camel transport for carriage of plant, goods - and’ material, and this means is far too slow- and costly. When the road construction has been completed we shall be able to send to the field adequate concentrating machinery by motor transport, and also despatch by the same means large quantities of concentrates to the rail head at Copley, thence by train to the company’s treatment works at Dry Creek near Adelaide. When the mines and works are in full operation, a large number of men will be employed. The expenditure contemplated is iis follows: -

Hoad construction . . £5,000 New concentrating plant . 5,000 Additional plant ut re- 1,000 finery

Motor transport . . 4,000

Further development. 2,000 work

– £17,000

We would point out that if the company i* given the opportunity of supplying the Federal Government with the required radium, it could be made available in about nine months, and at a favorable price. The Federal Governmentwould not only be encouraging a purely Australian industry, but would reap considerable railway revenue from carriage of concentrates, ores, general merchandise”, machinery and passenger traffic. Our company has already produced radium from the mines at Mr Painter, and within the last month has sold 55 milligrammes of radium element. Radium from South Australia is now in use at the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, and by Dr. Herman Lawrence, of CCH ins-street, Melbourne.

The following reply, dated the 29th October, was received by the company from the secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department : -

Dear Sir, -

I desire to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 27th October, in regard to the field of radium-bearing ores recently .discovercd at Mount Painter, in the north of South Australia, and from which your company ‘contemplates being able to -supply radium requirements -for the Federal Government’s purposes.

Your letter will be ‘brought ‘to ‘the notice of the Prime Minister on his return from Melbourne, -on Wednesday, 3rd November.

No other .communication .has so far ‘been received from ithe (Prime Minister. In his anxiety to advance “the interests of the eonipany, ‘the engineer waited .upon Dr. Cumpston, cand -followed up Ibis interview with a letter -dated the 29th -October, as follows : -

Dear Sir, -

Confirming ‘the interview you so kindly gave our expert, Mr. Coates, this : morning, and further to the information he .gave you, we would like to add: -

  1. That-expert evidence .is at. .your disposal to assure , you >that we are able to . supply any radium required .-by .-your .Government .-at a competitive ,price.
  2. That an order, such as we believe yours to be, namely, ten grammes, would not only permit of an expenditure to establish an Australian radium industry on a sufficiently firm footing to ‘allow us at all future times to meet foreign competition in the world’s markets, but would also establish, in addition, a rich uranium industry, which substance is a by-product of a radium refinery, and which we have not only supplied in large quantities, but have further large orders in hand for future delivery. Over 250 mgs. of radium has also been produced, and can be found in use by various institutions and radiologists in Melbourne.
  3. We understand the price paid by your department to be, roughly, £100,000 for the aforesaid ten grammes, we assume this price includes applicators also. We would be very pleased to accept your order at a slightly lower price than this, and would give substantial and usual guarantee for the .satisfactory performance of the contract.
  4. The result of such an order to our company would give employment to over 100 un-< skilled labourers, in addition to the trained staff we now retain, and^ in addition, the Commonwealth would receive over £2,000 in railway freight over what is now an unprofitable railway line, i.e., Oodnadatta to Port Augusta. We have been assured by most expert authorities that our field is the richest in the world, and is not likely to fail in a short while.
  5. We understand the order has actually been placed abroad, and we would like to mention that we drew your attention to this matter, and our ability to supply in a letter and report forwarded to you on 23rd July, 1927. We were, however, not even asked to quote on this large order, nor were we acquainted with the Government’s possible requirements, vide your reply to our communication.

    1. We therefore consider we are justified in requesting the Commonwealth Government to cancel, if not the whole, 75 per cent, of the order placed abroad, and an opportunity given this company to supply at the price the present order was placed .at.

We thank you for the courtesy extended our expert, and for your suggestion that he should interview >the Minister, Sir Neville Howse, on Monday afternoon, if convenient, this .we have instructed ‘Mr. Coates to carry out.

A duplicate of this letter is .enclosed herewith for the Minister that ;he may advise ;himself of the matter on which Mr. Coates will make the reason for his interview, and that lie -be made aware of -the possibilities of put. ting a most valuable industry <for Australia firmly on ithe map. Without his assistance in this matter we cannot hope to carry on, . or hope to succeed in ‘foreign markets, when our own Government has turned us down when both price and quality with the ‘foreign article are entirely in our favour.

We are, dear -sir,

Respectfully yours, Australian Radium Corporation, N.L.

  1. Flbokeb, Chairman of Directors.

A further letter sent to Dr. Cumpston was as follows: -

Dear Sir, -

Acting upon the advice you” so kindly gave our expert, Mr. Coates, on Saturday, 29th October, with reference to placing our case before the Minister of Public Health regarding the possibility of cancelling the radium order recently placed abroad, we beg to advise that the Minister, through his secretary, instructed our Mr. Coates to bring the matter again before your notice, and your recommendation regarding the matter would come before him.

We feel sure that had you been made more fully acquainted with the possibility of obtaining this radium in Australia, even at a slightly higher price, the matter would have been investigated, and an opportunity given this company at least to competitively tender for the business.

We are further confident that the Government also would prefer keeping £100,000 in Australia in preference to sending that money to a foreign country. ‘

This company cannot, of course, afford to reduce the price very” considerably under the price being charged abroad, assiuning the price to be, roughly, £10 per milligramme. We can, however, reduce it slightly, and with this in view we earnestly recommend a conference between a director of this company, with our expert, Mr. Coates, also attending, and your good self to arrive at a figure which would tend to defray the Government’s expense in obtaining the cancellation of the order placed abroad, or the larger part thereof, and which would, we feel, be in the long run more profitable to your department, particularly as we would then be in a much better position to quote a lower rate for future Government demands, as our production would be on a much larger scale, and our costs, we hope, a little less.

As in most cases, time is the essential factor, we would be very grateful to receive a reply at your earliest.

Very faithfully yours, Australian Radium Corporation, N.L.

  1. Flecker,

Chairman of Directors

In reply to representations made to him on this matter, the Minister in Charge of Repatriation (Sir Neville Howse) said that the Government had not placed this order for radium with the Mount Painter Company, because of the need for speedy delivery. He was evidently unaware that the local company could have supplied ten milligrammes immediately. The fact that there are 5,073 persons in Australia suffering from cancer, certainly indicates the need for the immediate purchase of something which is believed to have a curative effect on this dread disease; but it is also a strong reason for placing an order for its supply in the hands of a local company. It is well known that a powerful Belgian company practically has a monopoly of the sale of radium, and if the Australian company can be crushed out of existence, which is likely to happen if it does not get this order, its monopoly will be complete, and it can charge the medical fraternity whatever it likes for radium. Under his agreement with the Government Dr. Burrows must come to Aus-‘ tralia. He cannot start operations immediately he arrives. Hospitals will have to be established in the various places, depots will have to be equipped, and staffs of experts engaged. By the time that can be done the order could be supplied by the Australian Radium Corporation. The order which the Government has placed for £100,000 worth of radium is, I understand, the largest on record, and unlesssomething extraordinary happens anorder of the same magnitude is not likely to be placed again. If this struggling Australian company could get this order,, or get equivalent assistance from the Government, an industry which is essential for the welfare of our people would become established, a hundred men will be immediately set to work in the radium field in South Australia, further employment will be provided at Dry Creek, and an opportunity will be afforded to dispose of the by-product, uranium, which is used for the colouring of tiles and paints. The facts in regard to this matter .are well summarized in the following affidavit : -

  1. Bowler, director of Australian Radium Corporation, of Melbourne, do hereby solmenly declare -

    1. That I am personally aware of all matters relating to the control ami management of Australian Radium Corporation.
    2. That a report of our company’s (i.e.,. the Australian Radium Corporation) activities were conveyed in a letter to Dr. J. H. Cumpston, Director of Public Health, on 23rd July, 1027, and a request made that an opportunity be given our company to tender or quote for supply of radium to the Commonwealth Government”. No time of delivery of order or price was submitted at this juncture.
    3. That on 26th July, 1927, a reply wasreceived, signed by Dr. J. H. Cumpston or his deputy, advising receipt of our communication, and further stating that hehad no knowledge of any projected purchase of radium by the Government, but if such should occur he would place our letter and report before the Minister.
    4. That no inquiry was received by our company on any matter relating, to time of supply, price, or any question whatsoever from the Health Department or any Other Government department.
    5. That our director, Dr. Flecker, interviewed Dr. Cumpston in August,. 1927, and. received a statement that Dr. Cumpston knew nothing whatever of any likely purchase of radium by the Government.
    6. That our director, Dr. Flecker, interviewed Sir Neville Howse in August, 1927, and was advised that so far as he was aware no purchase of radium by the Government was contemplated.
    7. On 3rd November, 1927, the directors of Australian Radium Corporation met Dr. Cumpston in conference regarding the press report of the Government’s purchase of £100,000 of radium, and Dr. Cumpston expressed himself in sympathy with the Australian industry, and promised to do all he could to assist the Australian Radium Corporation to secure, if not the whole, 5 grammes of the order placed abroad for the Australian company to supply.

Taken at Canberra this 10th day of November, 1927, before me. (Signed) A. BOWLER. Witness to signature of declarant. - Arthub Blakeley, j.P. for New South Wales.


– The medical viewpoint will, no doubt, be disclosed during the course of this debate. If it is too late for the Government to cancel the order given to a foreign country, it should, even at this late hour, do the right thing by tbis company. I hope that honorable members will not regard this matter from a party viewpoint, but will have regard to the desirability of establishing this industry in the national interest.

Minister in Charge of Repatriation · Calare · NAT

– On the 8th November I promised the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hurry) that I would at the earliest convenient date make a complete statement regarding the purchase by the Government of £100,000 worth of radium, its application, and delivery. The desirability of acquiring a national supply of radium for the treatment of cancer was brought under the notice of the Government by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) early this year, when he mentioned a Queensland citizen who was suffering from a malignant growth, and had to go to America for radium treatment. The matter was referred to the Cancer Research Committee which I had appointed in 1925 to advise me as to the treatment of cancer by radium or other means. Members of that committee were unanimously in favour of the establishment of a national radium supply under the control and direction of the Government. While inquiries were being made by the committee, Dr. Burrows, the well-known London specialist in radiology, arrived in Sydney to advise the Government of New South Wales on the same subject. The first information in connexion with the Australian company referred to by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) came before me when I resumed ministerial duties in July of this year. The statement by the honorable member that Dr. Cumpston had written on the 26th July last, stating that he had no knowledge of any decision by the Government to purchase radium was perfectly true, because at that time Cabinet bad not discussed tbe subject. We were informed that the utmost secrecy had to be observed in all negotiations for the purchase of such a large parcel of radium. In July I had an interview with a Melbourne doctor, who is chairman of directors of the Australian Radium Corporation. He informed me that his company was prepared to supply the .Government with any radium required from their mine at Mr Painter, in South Australia, but I gathered from that interview that the company had no stock of radium on hand, and that it would not be in a position to deliver any considerable quantities for nine months or perhaps a year. In the correspondence received from the company there was no indication when any radium could be delivered; but at interviews between its representatives and the Director-General of Health, . and also with myself, it was stated that no delivery could be made for seven months, and that at the end of this period, deliveries would be made at the rate of 100 millegrammes a week.

Mr Blakeley:

– When was that interview?


– Last week.’ Mr. Blakeley. - After the order had been given?


– Yes; but the interview of July was before any order had been placed. The company communicated with the Department of Health on the 23rd July, stating that it was in a position to produce and sell to the Government all the radium required. On the 26th July the Director-General of Health replied advising the company that he had no knowledge of any decision of the Government to purchase radium ; but that should the question arise he would see that its letter was placed before the Minister. Shortly afterwards the Cabinet decided to purchase a supply of radium, and a small committee of experts, consisting of a leading surgeon and two physicists, was convened to advise concerning the details of its purchase. Both the physicists had recently been to Europe and America and had given the closest attention- to problems of radium production, preparation and. therapeutic use. . This committee met on. the 16 th August, and, after giving, consideration to the position of the Australian Radium Corporation and the representations whichhad been- made on its behalf, advised as follows? -

We consider that the purchase of radium should be made directly from’ the manufaw turers by the High Commissioner with the assistance of- the British Government. Tests should be made by the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, England, and the certificates of these should bc supplied by the vendor,, who should also give a guarantee against loss of activity due to mesothorium being supplied in place of radium. It is also considered to be desirable, to. consult Sir- Ernest’ Rutherford, of Cambridge.

A cablegram was despatched, to the High Commissioner, London, on the 23rd August, advising him of the Government’s decision to purchase ten grammes of radium, and. suggesting that he should invite the assistance of the British Government, in making the purchase;- also that he should consult Sir Ernest Rutherford, who is considered to-be the world’3 leading physicist. On the 23rd September, a cablegram was received from the High Commissioner, stating that six grammes of radium had been purchased at £10 per milligramme, and thati Dr. Burrows! had recommended the purchase of four additional grammes. This recommendation was approved, and the High Commissioner was cabled accordingly. Throughout the whole proceedings, subsequent to the decision of Cabinet, the closest secrecy was observed, as it was believed that if it were known that the Government was negotiating for the purchase of such ‘ a large quantity of radium the price would rise. I can give honorable members an assurance that all aspects of the case were before me, including the claims made on behalf of the Australian Radium Corporation. In addition to’ advising the purchase of raditim, the committee of experts’ reported as follows : -

Having given deliberate consideration to the various aspects of the use of radium in Australia, the many difficulties in administration that would inevitably be encountered, the necessity for introducing its use to medical men of Australia by an expert, and, in particular, to avoid the perpetration of errors which may have tragic results, we’ consider that it is highly desirable to obtain, if possible, the services of one of the leading English experts for a period of three years.

This recommendatioo was so impressively worded and was so obviously rational, that the first step taken was to engage Dr. Burrows, one of the best experts in England, for a period of three years. Clearly, too; the proper course to follow was to associate Che- expert with the purchase of the radium. It is not sufficient to buy radium. Radium’ is- prepared’ in many ways for surgical1 use, and’ there can be no1 question as to the advisability of the expert superintending the purchase, pre^ paratio’n and delivery of it. In view of the strong1 recommendation of the committee that the expert’s Of the British Government, the scientific authorities of the National” Physical Laboratory of England, and’ the world’s greatest authority on radium1- Sir Ernest’ Rutherf bfdshould be associated with the purchase, the relative merits of - purchase in Europe and in Australia- were carefully considered. It- was felt’, that the advantages* in favour of ‘ the f ormetf were so great’ that1,, takea in conjunction with the fact that1, a considerable delay would’ be inevitable if the order were placed in Australia, the ‘ Government decided’ to adopt the recommendation of! its- expert advisers, and place the order through the High Commissioner. It is expected that Dr. Burrows will leave- England about the middle of December. I hope he will proceed at once in conjunction with, local committees which will probably be formed in each capital city, to make definite arrangements for making the radium available. The terms of the agreement under which it has been purchased are that the whole of the 10 grammes will be delivered in three months. Pour grammes are now in process of mounting, which is a laborious process, and will be ready for despatch within three months from the 26th October. Owing to the large increase in the incidence of cancer in Australia, the problem of its cause and treatment has been under serious consideration by the Government. Honorable members will recall that, in 1924, after my return from the fourth Assembly of the League of Nations, I spoke in this House about the incidence of tuberculosis and cancer, and indicated the necessity for the Government to cooperate with other countries which had agreed, at Geneva, in September, 1923, to have a inquiry into the cause and treatment of cancer. I referred to the use of X-rays and radium, and said then that great advances had been made in the treatment of certain forms of the disease by these means. Today the use of radium in certain classes of skin cancer shows a large percentage of cures, if applied before the secondary invasion of glands has occurred. My personal experience as a surgeon, and my experience in the administration of the Department of Health, have convinced me that the increase in the incidence of this disease in Australia is appalling. During the last 27 years there has been a decrease in the general death rate of 37 per cent. Infant mortality has declined by 55 per cent., and tuberculosis by 50 per cent.; but the cancer death rate has increased by 58 per cent. It is impossible to conceive a more alarming situation for any country. Statistical records show that, in the case of females between 45 years and 59 years of age, one death in every four is due to cancer. The use of radium has been most beneficial in certain types of cancer occurring in women. Not only has it cured the disease ; but in every case it has afforded relief from the pain and discomfort associated with it. It is estimated that nearly 600,000 of the present population of Australia are doomed to die of this malig nant disease, and that, if it continues to increase as it has increased during recent years, “750,000 of the people now living in Australia will succumb to it. Honorable members must recognize that there should be no delay in obtaining sufficient supplies of radium, so that any effective treatment by its use may be placed within the means of every man and woman in Australia. If the treatment effects 25 per cent, of the cures and relief of pain that are claimed for it, considerably more radium will shortly be required.


– We do not begrudge the purchase of the radium.


– Prom the information obtained from my technical advisers and every other source I can find no support for the statement that the necessary radium could have been purchased in Australia, and delivered within a reasonable time. The Australian company stated that at the end of seven months it could produce 100 millegrammes a week. Subsequently the production was given as 100 a month, but I am prepared to accept the former statement. If the position that I have outlined be true, no government would be justified in delaying for many months the purchase of our supplies of radium. We should obtain the best material from the most reliable source, with the least possible delay. I have no hesitation in saying that had I again to advise the Government - and I admit that all the information that has been given on this subject to-day was before me when I previously considered the purchase of radium - I should not alter my recommendation. In view of all the information that has been obtained on this subject, no government with the interests of Australia at heart would hesitate to take immediate action to purchase the necessary supplies of radium.


.- I support the motion of the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey), which has relation to the extraordinary and unprecedented action of the Government in purchasing £100,000 worth of radium from a Belgian company. As 90 per cent, or more of the radium that is sold throughout the world is handled by Radium Beige, that company has practically a monopoly ^ of that article. In 1904 radium was ^rst discovered in Australia. In 1911 a brochure was issued by Senator Verran, then Premier of South Australia, containing the locations of the various uranium bearing fields of Australia. On the 23rd July, 1927, letters were sent to both the Minister for Health and the Director of Health, Dr. Cumpston. In October a long explanatory letter was sent to the Prime Minister, to the effect that Australian radium, equal in quality to the imported article, was available for the Government’s requirements. Up to that time both the Minister for Health and Dr. Cumpston had stated that they had no knowledge of any intended purchase of radium, but it is an extraordinary coincidence that on the 29th August of this year an order for ?100,000 worth of radium was placed abroad. I cannot understand why the Minister did not give the Australian company an opportunity to supply this order. The Minister referred, without exaggeration, to the sufferings and mortality due to cancer, and said that supplies of radium were urgently required. He has been in the Ministry since January, 1925. When the Cancer Research Committee was formed in Sydney, this Government granted ?5,000 towards the purchase of radium. Now it has placed an order for ?100,000 worth of radium, and it has sought to justify the secrecy of its action on the score of urgency. The use of radium for cancer treatment is beyond the experimental stage, therefore it is very necessary that Australia should exploit its own sources of radium. There are millions of tons of uranium-bearing ore at Mr Painter, in South Australia, and radium has been produced there. I have with me a small tube of Australian radium containing 50 milligrammes. It is a minute quantity, worth ?500, and at night its colour is a beautiful phosphorescent green. The Minister has wisely not questioned the quality of the Australian article, since it is in use in Australia. The company has spent about ?8,000 in establishing a concentrating plant at Mr Painter, and a refining plant at Dry Creek, and also in repairing roads. The Minister has ignored the repre- sentations of the Australian company, and secretly placed an order for radium with a Belgian company. The Minister has made out a weak case. He would give one to believe that there is no radium in Australia, whereas there is quite a good deal. I propose to show that the urgency mentioned by the Minister does not exist. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) sent several telegrams to different people who are known to have radium, and the replies to these give a good idea of the quantity of radium at present in Australia. The quantities in. possession of hospitals are as follow -

Melbourne Hospital, 135 milligrammes. Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, 270 milligrammes.

Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, 50 milligrammes.

Austin Hospital, Melbourne, 50 milligrammes, i

Sydney Hospital, 500 milligrammes.

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, 50 milligrammes.

St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, 10 milligrammes.

Adelaide Hospital, 80 milligrammes.

The Perth Hospital is going to buy 150 milligrammes, and the Coast Hospital in New South Wales in 1926 hired from the Radium Bureau or Bank, 470 milligrammes, costing ?35. Up to date this year it lias hired 250 milligrammes. The following medical practitioners are in possession of radium supplies -

Dr. J. Y. Glendinnen, Collins:street, Melbourne, 140 milligrammes. Dr. Thwaites, Collins street, Melbourne, 250 milligrammes. Dr. H. Williams, Collins street, Melbourne, 10 milligrammes. Dr. K. Colquhoun, Collins street, Melbourne, 10 milligrammes. Dr. J. H. Kelly, Collins street, Melbourne, 20 milligrammes. Dr. Herman Lawrence, Collins street, Melbourne, 120 milligrammes. Dr. R. Wettenhall, Collins street, Melbourne, 50 milligrammes. Dr. R. Walters, North terrace, Adelaide, 10 milligrammes. Dr. R. Magarey, North terrace, Adelaide, 20 milligrammes. Dr. W. Upton, North terrace, Adelaide, 5 milligrammes. Dr. H. Makin, North terrace, A&elaide, 10 milligrammes. Dr. P. Steele Scott, North terrace, Adelaide, 5 milligrammes. Dr. H. Moran, Macquarie street, Sydney, 20 milligrammes.

Dr. E. Molesworth, Maequarie street, Sydney, 20 milligrammes- ‘

Dr. Langton Johnsone, Macquarie street,

Sydney, 20 milligrammes.

Dr. H. McCIashan, Perth, 5 milligrammes.

Inquiries were also made to ascertain whether there was really any urgency to excuse the spending of ?100,000 with a foreign monopoly in preference to waiting six or eight months for the Australian article. The following telegram was sent to a number of hospitals in Australian cities: -

Please advise total quantity of radium element institution uses. Also how long have you been using radium. Also how many iiours per day full quantity used. Also if any cases left untreated.

The following replies were received : - Alfred Hospital, Melbourne -

This hospital has sufficient radium for all present requirements.

Children’s Hospital, Carlton -

Fifty milligrammes purchased last month using dermatologists private supply prior half quantity used twelve hours per week will increase no cases will be left untreated.

Adelaide Hospital -

Eighty milligrammes three years threequarters used 72 hours. Total quantity used 30 hours no cases untreated.

St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne - ?1,400 worth radium owned using over 20 hours daily for oast twenty years demand greatly exceeds supply.

Perth Hospital -

No radium possessed at present (stop) Unadvised Commonwealth intention to purchase radium therefore public appeal made last February for necessary funds (stop) 150 milligrammes now on order from London first delivery expected this month.

Coast Hospital, Sydney -

Radium for use at Coast Hospital is hired as wanted from Radium Bureau. In 1920 470 milligrammes costing ?35. In 1927 250 milligrammes, costing ?18. Have no cases left untreated.

St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney -

Twenty milligrammes quantity using sixteen years forty hours weekly. Several imtreated 400 trcateu in six months.

Eoyal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown -

No radium used or available this hospital.

Sydney Hospital -

Half gramme radium element used first 1911. all day every week cases waiting by appointment.

North Shore Hospital, Sydney -

Have three button applicators total 5 milligrammes two years used almost daily few hours suitable special cases other types applicators urgently needed.

Melbourne Hospital -

One hundred and thirty-five ‘milligrammes twenty-three years used almost continuously no cases untreated.

It will be seen, therefore, that there is quite a large quantity of radium at present in the hands of hospitals and private practitioners in Australia. The Government now proposes to order ten grammes, which is the largest order ever given in the history of radium purchases. The quantity already in Australia, plus two or three grammes, which might be purchased at once, could have carried the Commonwealth <on for a considerable time. It would then have been possible to have bought in Australia the rest of the radium required. The Minister has not yet given satisfactory reasons why at least a portion of the order was not placed in this country. Dr. Burrows, who is coming hefe, has recommended that two young men should be instructed in the use of radium, and that they, in turn, should pass on their knowledge to the practitioners of this country. It will be necessary to build up an organization to use the radium, and a certain period of time - at least two months - will be required in which to teach these men the use of radium. A further period of time, from two to six months, will be necessary for them to instruct other medical practitioners. Radium cannot be kept in an ordinary laboratory, but. must have special accommodation provided for it. Leaden safes must be constructed to protect users from its influence. The Minister has not satisfactorily explained why the Australian article has been ignored, and why that extraordinary and secret commission for the purchase of ?100,000 worth of radium was placed overseas.


– I have no desire to make this a party question, because I believe that in matters of this kind party politics should be put aside, but, nevertheless, I cannot agree with all the statements that have been made. In the debate certain facts have been given. Indisputably, there are uranium deposits in Australia carrying radioactive properties from which radium chloride of a satisfactory degree of purity has been obtained, and has been used with efficacy in some metropolitan centres. But the Minister, who interviewed individuals representing a company which is working such deposits, tells us that they were prepared to produce .only 100 milligrammes of radium . a week. As there are 52 weeks in a year, it would have taken the company two years to produce ten grammes, which is the quantity the Government has purchased.

Sir Neville Howse:

– They could produce nothing at all for the first seven months.


– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) gave a lengthy list of individuals and institutions which control a certain supply of radium; but, although I did not check the figures he gave, I doubt if the whole quantity so controlled would amount to one gramme. It must be remembered, too, that all the practitioners who now hold a supply of radium, are ‘metropolitan. No consideration has been given to . the requirements of the out-back practitioner.

Mr Blakeley:

– What consideration has this Government given to him?

Sir Neville Howse:

– We are considering him now.


– No honorable member opposite who has dealt with this question has referred to the position of practitioners in the country, or in sparsely settled areas. Any medical practitioner who has practised, as I have done, in outback areas, or any one who has been in touch with such practitioners, and yet states that this matter is not urgent, has not looked at it in a serious light. It may be true that there are no cases awaiting radium treatment in private institutions or in public hospitals ; but it is ridiculous to suggest that the existing sources of supply in Australia are sufficient to meet the requirements of 6,500,000 people.

Mr Blakeley:

– If the need is so urgent, why did not the Government acquire the whole of the Australian resources at once, so as to be in a position to supply it?


– The gravity of the cancer scourge had not been revealed to our com munity until the Minister himself gave publicity to it within the last twelve or eighteen months, and quoted definite figures to show the terrible mortality of the disease.

Mr Blakeley:

– And the Government made a paltry £5,000 available for research into its causes and remedies!


– The therapeutic effects of radium have been made known only recently. Ten years ago, when I was working in Edinburgh in association with Mr. Dawson Turner, we used radium for treating certain types of malignant diseases ; but the methods employed were quite different from those which have been developed more recently. Since thevalue of the new method of treatment has been revealed, an extraordinary demand has arisen for radium, and the wisdom and foresight of the Minister in charge of Repatriation (Sir Neville Howse) has been demonstrated beyond question, for on his advice the Government has just negotiated the largest purchase of radium that has ever been made. The action was taken immediately the curative properties of the treatment were reasonably established.

Mr Blakeley:

– Does not the honorable member think that the Australian field should be recognized by the Government?


– I think that the Australian field should be exploited; but I am not prepared to allow human lives to be lost simply to bolster up a corporation which is interested in extracting radium from certain deposits that exist in South Australia, or out of it. A corporation which claims to control the output of ‘ what is said to be the richest uranium deposit in the world should have no difficulty in obtaining capital to carry on its operations, or in disposing of its products. There is a world-wide demand for radium, which sells at something like £10 per milligramme. I feel sure that, ultimately, honorable members opposite will realize the wisdom of the Government in authorizing the purchase that has been made. This radium will become available far sooner than any that may ultimately be available from Australian deposits, and it may thus be the means of saving many valuable lives. Every ohe who has conducted a medical practice of any extent, or who has access to the records of our public hospitals and other institutions, must realize the urgency of the matter. I approve of the action that the Government has taken; but I trust that the local corporation will proceed with’ its radium extraction project, for I am sure that it will find that every milligramme that it can produce will be eagerly snapped up, not only by private medical practitioners, but also by various hospitals, medical institutes, and scientific research organizations throughout the civilized world.


.- Honorable members generally must have listened with feelings of serious misgiving to the speech which the Minister in charge of Repatriation (Sir Neville Howse) delivered this afternoon. Moreover, they must regard with much apprehension the attitude that the Minister and the Director of Health have adopted on this sub ject. Had I been told privately that the Minister, whom we have always regarded as a true friend of our suffering community, would have adopted an attitude like this, I should have flatly refused to believe it. The Minister’s conduct is beyond my comprehension. He has told us this afternoon that since 1925 lae has devoted special study to the subject of cancer, and that he is thoroughly acquainted with the serious effect which this malignant disease is having upon the coinmtinity generally. He submits the plea of urgency as the justification for ithis extraordinary action of placing an order for radium with a foreign company in preference to an Australian industry, yet it has . taken him two years to make up his mind to order a quantity of radium for therapeutic use. How can he expect us, in these circumstances, to believe that he regards the matter as urgent ? The Minister also told us that when, on the 28th of August, he made his decision to purchase this radium through the . High Commissioner from a foreign country, lie was familiar with all the circumstances in relation to the supplies of radium available in Australia. That statement was not correct, and he knows that it was not correct.

Sir Neville Howse:

– The honorable member has made a most offensive statement.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Sir littleton Groom:

– The statement of the honoranle member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) is unparliamentary, and must be withdrawn.


– I do not admit that it is unparliamentary.


– It is unparliamentary, and the honorable member must withdraw it. The honorable member has said that not only was the statement of the Minister incorrect, but that he knew it to be incorrect.

Sir Neville Howse:

– The honorable member has accused me of lying.


– At your request, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the statement; but I intend to prove that what I said was correct. The Minister said that when on the 28th of August he placed the order for radium with a foreign country through the High Commissioner, he was acquainted with all the facts relating to the supply of radium in Australia; but if honorable members will read the speech which he delivered this afternoon, they will find that the whole argument of the Minister rests upon the one point that the Australian company could not supply deliveries at an early date. He also said that he did not know until Tuesday last, when the representative of the local company interviewed him, what quantities could be supplied, or at what times supplies could be delivered.

Sir Neville Howse:

– I stated that I saw the managing director of this company in Brisbane early in July, and that he made the whole details of his proposition known to me.

M’r. MAKIN. - I followed the speech of the Minister very closely indeed, and I understood him to say quite definitely that he did not know until Tuesday last the time when the local company could supply radium.


– It is usual when a statement attributed to an honorable member is denied by him, to accept his * denial.


– To support me in this very definite conclusion I have the statutory declaration of Mr.’ A. Bowler, a director of Australian Radium Corporation, dated 10th November, which states - that no inquiry was received by our company on any matter relating to time of supply, price, or any question whatsoever from the Health Department, or from any other Government department.

This, I assert, proves absolutely the case I have advanced against the Minister. Even the promise made to the company by the Director of Health, that it would be advised when supplies of radium were required, has not yet been honoured. The Minister has failed to substantiate his claim that the matter was one of urgency. Admittedly the requirements are urgent; why did he not arrange to co-ordinate the sources of supply, and get a portion from the Australian company?

Sir Neville Howse:

– The company could not have supplied the radium for seven months, whereas Radium Beige can supply it much earlier.


– I understand that only four grammes are to be delivered by the Beige company within three or four months; the order was for ten grammes.

Mr Stewart:

– What is the rate of delivery for the balance ?


– I do not know, and that is a very important phase of the question. In any case, a portion of the order could have been placed with the Australian company. No matter from what angle we view this question, we can come to no other conclusion than that the Government has not acted in the best interests of the Commonwealth. It has neglected an important Australian industry. Of what use is its profession of loyalty to Australia when it deliberately passes by an Australian industry and places with a foreign company an order which an Australian company could have supplied? No party can claim to be more desirous than another of dealing effectively with the cancer scourge. We on this side want-

Sir Neville Howse:

– To delay the matter for nine or ten months.


– The policy adopted by the Minister will cause delay, and his attitude is a miserable pretence. If the radium was required urgently, the Minister could have obtained some of it in Aus- “ tralia. The honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) said that the Australian company would be able to find a market for its product in other parts of the world. That may be so; but the Government should have given a lead by placing this order with the Australian company. Por its serious neglect of an important Australian industry, the Government merits the censure of the people.


– The subject before us is a difficult one for laymen to discuss, particularly when both the Minister in charge (Sir Neville Howse) and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), are members of the medical profession, and, no doubt, acted on the advice of scientific experts who are well knowij, not only in Australia, but also in other parts of the world. Our first duty in this matter should be to express to the Minister our gratitude for having obtained the radium at all. Although from some time past a good deal has been heard of the use of radium in the treatment of cancer, it remained for the Minister in charge of Repatriation to obtain supplies of radium for that purpose. He has, moreover, placed an order for a large quantity.

Mr Penton:

– He acted very tardidly in the matter.


– It could rightly be contended that the supply of radium for the treatment of cancer was not a matter .for the Commonwealth, but for the States, but, seeing that there is little likelihood of the States takingaction in that direction, we should be thankful to the Minister for what he has done. Our gratitude is due also to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) for having brought this matter forward in the first place. Those of us who have had any connexion with hospitals, and are aware of the importance of radium in the treatment of cancer, naturally are glad that supplies of radium are to be obtained with a view to reducing the mortality from that dread disease. I, therefore, do not suggest that the contract with the Belgium company should be cancelled. Nevertheless, I feel that the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) spoke very reasonably, and has made out a good case In my opinion, the matter should not be allowed to drop, but should be fully investigated by the Government. Until recently I was not aware that radium was found in Australia. Perhaps I was alone in my ignorance, . because I find in the Commonwealth Y earBook reference to Australia’s radium production. When they placed the order * with the Belgian “.ompany, the Minister and his advisers knew that radium was obtainable in the Commonwealth.

A local company was prepared to give a guarantee that Australian radium would be available when required. It also stated that the element could be produced at a k lower cost than the imported article, and up to its standard. I do not speak as a prohibitionist or excessive tariffist, but if we have this element in Australia, of a satisfactory quality, and procurable at a suitable price, it is only right that we should endeavour to develop its produc- tion. Doubtless, there was some necessity to preserve secrecy when letting the contract for such a large amount, but surely that condition would not have applied to the purchase of a smaller amount. Even if the full amount were ordered from abroad that should not have prevented the plac- ing of an order with the local producer for a smaller quantity, so giving the Australian industry an opportunity to prove itself. I must confess that I cannot find any very clear indication in the statement by the Minister that the claims of the Australian producer were adequately considered. I ask the honorable gentleman whether any of the scientists who advised < the Government even considered the merits of the Australian production.

Sir Neville Howse:

– They did, very carefullv, as is set out in their statement.


– The question was referred to them and they ruled against the product of the Aus- > tralian company?

Sir Neville Howse:

– They advised that the radium should be purchased in London, under certain conditions, which I have outlined.


– In other words, they did not consider that tho merits of the local product were worth discussing?

Sir Neville Howse:

– They simply advised the purchase of the commodity in London, after having fully considered the claims of the Australian corporation.


– The subject is a scientific one, and it not for the layman to cavil at the decision of scientists. However, it is the duty of this House to be conversant with the report of the scientists as to the potentialities of the radium industry in Australia, so that it may be guided by it in. future. As “a general rule I am not a supporter of the granting of bounties, and it appears to me that this is an instance in which a bounty may very likely be asked for, because of the lack of opporfunity to develop the industry owing to business not being forthcoming. Last year this Parliament passed a Precious Metals Prospecting Act. Surely the development of radium iri Australia is of greater moment. This Parliament also passed a Federal Aid Roads Act to assist an activity which is being well attended to throughout Australia. Surely the provision of the roads necessary for the production of Australian radium would also be beneficial to the Commonwealth. While being critical of the action of the Government, I must admit that the community is under a considerable debt of gratitude to the Minister for having ordered this radium, whether from Belgium or anywhere else. Yet I do not think one should be debarred from raising the question whether this important element cannot be satisfactorily produced in Australia. The more important the commodity - as in this case - the more desirable it is that it should be produced in Australia, if that is possible. I suggest to the Ministry that the matter should be reported upon by the Development and Migration Committee, acting in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Sir Neville Howse:

– Months ago they were applied to for assistance.


– I was not aware of that. If those bodies have negatived the practicability of purchasing radium in Australia, the sooner the reference to it is eliminated from the Commonwealth Year-Booh the better for all concerned, as it is somewhat misleading for that compilation to state that radium can be produced in Australia. If those bodies submitted a report we should know definitely whether it is possible to develop the industry in Australia, and, if so, what would be the best way in which to proceed with its development.


.- The matter of urgency has been abnormally ‘ stressed this afternoon. The Minister (Sir Neville Howse) has apparently just discovered that cancer is a serious scourge. As far back as 1923 statistics revealed the fact that cancer had the second highest mortality amongst malignant diseases, therefore the urgency for finding a remedy with which to treat the disease was just as strong years ago as it is to-day. It is well known that radium was used for the treatment of cancer many years ago. For that reason all this talk of urgency is so much camouflage. The Minister, in interjection to the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), said that experts in London had advised against the use of radium produced in Australia. Could one expect anything else. I should be glad if the Minister would give the name of the specialist who made that recommendation. We are informed that the Commonwealth Government has acted mainly on the advice of Dr. Burrows. That’ gentleman came to Australia a couple of years ago, and was granted an honorarium for his services. Two-thirds of that honorarium was donated by the world’s radium combine. He is now coming to Australia to supervise the use of the radium which he purchased for this Government. It is common knowledge » that Dr. Burrows is the representative of the radium combine. That combine, like many others, is running true to form by working its confidential advisers into the councils of this Government. This Government is purchasing from Belgium £100,000 worth of radium. That is .to come from the Congo, produced under the sweating conditions of black labour. We are familiar with the Belgian atrocities in the Congo, and with what is occurring there to-day. It does not matter how the unfortunate black is sweated, or under what conditions he has to work to produce the radium, the article supplied by the combine must come to Australia. We have been told that it is a matter of great urgency that this 10,000 milligrammes of radium should come here immediately. From the information placed before this House it might appear that none of bur large hospitals or institutions are able to obtain a supply of radium, of which the total supply in Australia amounts to 1,700 milligrammes. The honorable Minister contends that, if the 10,000 milligrammes is not brought to Australia immediately, human life will be endangered. I ask the honorable gentleman how long it will take to prepare suitable housing for that quantity of radium? He knows perfectly well that if it is inadequately housed its presence in Australia will be a greater menace to the community than its absence 4 would be.. The Government has not the necessary organization to distribute it. I contend, therefore, that all this talk of urgency is merely a red herring drawn across the track, and there is more in it than meets the eye. The honorable member for Herbert stated that there is a < certain amount of radium in Australia - of a certain quality. ‘ The honorable member was unable to refute the fact that the commodity could be produced in the Commonwealth, so he endeavoured to cast a doubt on its quality. It is very unfortunate- that the Government should allow this order for £100,000 to go out of Australia, and at the same time refuse to make a thorough investigation: into the practicability of securing radium, in Australia. The use of radium to counteract disease is in its embyro stage,, but apparently the industry must go out of existence in Australia because of the hostile attitude of this Government. Such an order as the Government hasplaced would be of great benefit to this industry; but in this, as in every other instance, it has given preference to a, foreign combine. Having declined to assist this languishing, but important, industry, the Government will shortly be confronted with inability to obtain supplies of a commodity so essential to the preservation of human life. The action of the Government in this and in hundreds of similar instances, clearly indicates that it is its intention to destroy Australian industries in order to assist foreign monopolies. I deplore its action, and trust that, if it cannot cancel the contract, it will enter into some arrangement, even if it means the expenditure of money whereby only one half of the quantity required will be obtained from this foreign combine. As the Treasurer is piling up a surplus every year, and the Government of which he is a member- is willing to spend millions of pounds on warships for the destruction of iLiiman life, it should give some assistance to an Australian industry producing a commodity so essential to the preservation of human life. It is the duty of the Government to place the order with the Australian industry, and also to give it sufficient financial assistance to enable it to compete with its foreign competitors. I earnestly ask the Government not to allow such an imporant industry ‘ to lanquish, but to give it every possible assistance, and to cease from continuing the policy of preference to foreign combines.

Treasurer [4.57] . - I desire to reply to several points raised during the debate, and more particularly those in reference to the attitude of the Minister (Sir Neville Howse · Cowper · CP

in regard to this matter. In the first place I wish to emphasize a fact well known to the medical fraternity in Australia, that no. person in the Commonwealth has given the treatment of cancer by radium closer attention than the Minister in charge of Repatriation, who is largely responsible for a sum of £120,000 being raised in New South Wales to assist cancer research. When a private member, the honorable gentleman strongly urged the establishment of such a fund in «tbat State, which commenced with a contribution of £5,000 from the Commonwealth Government. This fund enabled expert advice to be obtained, and was largely responsible for the Government being able to purchase £100,000 worth of radium, which will place Australia in a more satisfactory position in the matter of cancer treatment than any other country in the world with the exception of the United States of America. Many of the assertions of honorable members opposite are grossly inaccurate. Reference has been made to the secrecy observed in connexion with this purchase. Surely honorable members are aware that the quantity of radium in the world is limited, and as supplies are being eagerly sought by other countries, it was necessary to proceed cautiously. Had we not done so we might have obtained only’ one half of the quantity we have secured for the £100,000 spent. Our expert advisers in New South Wales urged that the utmost caution should be exercised in this matter. Another point raised by honorable members opposite was th’at in order to assist those controlling a radium deposit in South Australia, which has not yet reached the full stage of development, .the Government should wait nine months. Even at the expiration of that period, the mine would .not be able to produce one hundredth .part of our requirements. It Avould then be two years before it would be able to produce the quantity the Government has purchased. If the full quantity required could be made available from the local deposit immediately, it would have to be sent to the National Physical Laboratory in London and placed upon the applicators for testing purposes before it could be used in Australia.

Debate interrupted under Standing Order 119.

page 1375



Length of Frontier. Dr. MALONEY (through Mr. Fenton) asked the Prime. Minister, upon notice -

What is the length of the frontier between Canada and the United States ?

Is it necessary for a single soldier to be on guard against invasion?

Will the Prime Minister request the following information from the British Government, namely: - What is the estimated saving in military expense for providing an adequate defence against over 110,000,000 of European people?


– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -

  1. Three thousand six hundred miles, excluding Alaska. The length of frontier between Canada and Alaska (United States of America Territory) is 1,350 miles. 2 and 3. These questions appear to have reference to the defence policy of another dominion, a matter upon which it is not desired to express an opinion or take any action.

page 1375



Number of Vessels in Commission.

MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

What vessels did the Navy have in commission in each class in 1921, and what have they in commission in each class at present?


– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -

On 1st. July, 1821-

Battle Cruiser - Australia.

Cruisers - Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney.

Flotilla Leader - Anzac.

Sloops - Geranium, Marguerite.

Destroyers - Huon, Stalwart, Success, Swordsman, Tasmania, Tattoo.

Submarines- Jl, J2, J3, J4, J5, J7.

Others - Cerberus (late Protector), gunboat: Platypus, submarine depot ship; Countess of Hopetoun, torpedo boat. On 1st July, 1927-

Cruisers - Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney.

Sloops - Geranium, Marguerite, Moresby.

Destroyers - Success, Swordsman, Tasmania.

Submarines - Otway, Ousley (in English waters ) .

Others - Platypus (destroyer depot and repair ship).

page 1376



AarousfT of Advances.


asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. What amounts have been granted and paid out of the fund of £40,000 provided under the Precious Metals Prospecting Act 1926 (No. 4 of 1920) to prospectors in-

    1. The Northern Territory, and (ft) Each of the six States?
  2. Has the Commonwealth Government refused or failed to make advances in terms of the Precious Metals Prospecting Act to any applicant recommended by the Department of Mines . of any State, and particularly of the State of Queensland?
  3. If it has so refused or failed, then what were the circumstances or reasons?
  4. Has the Commonwealth Government intimated in any way to the Government of the State of Queensland that funds under the Act were, or are, not available, or had been exhausted; and, if so, what were the circumstances or conditions?
Minister of Home and Territories · PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– The answers are as follow : - 1. (a.) £038 13s. 2d. has been paid to prospectors in Central Australia. No payments have been made in respect of North Australia.

  1. The only sums that have been paid to State Governments, up to the present, are the following: -

Victoria £1,300 Queensland 180 Tasmania . . 1,500

  1. Assistance under the Precious Metals Prospecting Act is not granted directly by the Commonwealth to prospectors within a State. Individual applications by such prospectors are dealt with by the State authorities. The State Governments have been given an assurance that moneys for applications approved by them will be made available to those governments upon the funds which they have appropriated from their own revenues fov the encouragement of prospecting for precious metals becoming exhausted. 3 and 4. See answer to No. 2.

page 1376




MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. Has any progress been made by the Navy Department on the hydrographie survey of the Queensland coastal waters within the Barrier Reef, which is being conducted by that department?
  2. If not, will he supply particulars tff the progress made to date?

– The answers are -

  1. Progress reports have been received from time to time from the officer in charge of the survey.
  2. A statement of the progress to date will be made in connexion with the Defence Estimates.

page 1376




asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Whether Alderman R. Dennis and Alderman Thomas Hynes, of Broken Hill, interviewed the Prime Minister at Melbourne recently, and made a request that the Commonwealth Government should assist in the decreasing of unemployment in that city? _ 2. Will the Prime Minister favorably consider the. question of making a special grant available for road construction in and about Broken Hill and district, thus absorbing a portion of the unemployed.

– The answers are -

  1. Yes.
  2. The New South Wales Parliament has not yet ratified the Federal Aid Roads Agreement, and until that has been done no money can be approved for expenditure on any road which may come within the Federal Aid Roads Scheme.

page 1376



MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. What is the present strength of our nucleus defence force in officers, noncommissioned officers, and other ranks?
  2. Is the nucleus army up to establishment in officers and non-commissioned officers ; if not, what is the shortage under each heading?
  3. How many of the personnel of the nucleus army are 21 years of age and under, and what is their average period of training?

– The answers are : -

  1. The following is the strength of officers and other ranks. The information regarding non-commissioned officers is not readily available, .as reference would have to be made to the various formations in each State: -

    1. No. The shortage of officers and other ranks is as follows. It is considered that the percentage of shortage of non-commissioned officers would approximately be proportionate to that shown for officers: -
    2. The compulsorily-trained personnel of the Citizen Forces number 36,060. The ages of these personnel range from 18 to 21 years. No figures are available regarding the age of the voluntarily -enlisted personnel, but it is considered that approximately 20 per cent, would be of the age of 21 years and under. The average period of training in the Citizen Forces is twelve days per annum for three years.

page 1377



Duty ox Electrical Equipment.


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

What was the date of the application for reduction of duties by the Electrical Federation of Victoria, and what was the date of the application for increases of duty on ironclad air brake switches, ironclad air brake switch fuses, and air circuit breakers?


– The application for reduction of duties by the Electrical Federation of Victoria was lodged on the 2oth March, 1927. The request for increased duty on ironclad air brake switches, ironclad air brake switch fuses, and air circuit breakers was lodged on the 5th October, 1926.

page 1377



Method of Inspection


asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -

  1. Is he satisfied with the present system of inspection of oversea shipments of fresh fruits ?
  2. If not, will he take into consideration the advisability of instituting some other system, so as to ensure better results?
Minister for Markets and Migration · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– The answers are: - 1 and 2. The present system of inspection throughout Australia is on the whole proving satisfactory, but would be considerably improved if it were practicable to have all the fruit intended for export examined at the packing shed or at the orchard as well as at the ship’s side. On Tuesday last I was asked by representatives of the Tasmanian Fruit Advisory Board to re-arrange the system in Tasmania by placing the supervision over the exportation of apples under the direction of a State officer vested with Federal authority. I am considering the representations made by the Tasmanian Advisory Board.

page 1377



Vacancies in Clerical Division.


asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

With reference to the question of the honorable member for Reid on the 28th October last, and in view of the fact that a number of Commonwealth Public Service employees (including returned soldiers) have qualified for appointment to the clerical division, when will the vacancies in the clerical division now existing be filled, and will preference be given to applicants qualified within the Service?


– The vacancies referred to are being filled as rapidly as possible. Preference is not given to qualified examinees within the Service as against returned soldier successful candidates outside the Service.

page 1377



Duty Paid-^-Number and Wages of Employees


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What was the amount of duty realized by the tariff imposts on the importation o matches during the year 1925-26?
  2. What number of (a) males and (6) females were employed in the matchmaking industry in Australia during the same year.
  3. What was the amount of wages paid to the employees during the same period?

– The answers are:-

  1. The gross revenue was £152,752 on imports consisting of 1,615,000 gross of boxes valued at £270,519, of which about 97 per cent, was of foreign origin.
  2. The employees numbered: (a) males 217, (6) females 498; total, 715.
  3. The wages paid amounted to £110,761 on an output of £512,514.

page 1378




asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Will he make a statement as to the position of the proposed Empire Exhibition to be opened at the same time as the Sydney Harbour Bridge?
  2. Will he make a definite statement as to whether the Government still intends to destroy what is known as the Centennial Park, Sydney ?

– The answers are: -

  1. and 2. The Government is not yet in a position to make a statement , in regard to its policy on this matter.

page 1378



Cost and Design

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. What was the estimated cost of the Houses of Parliament at Canberra?
  2. What has been the actual cost of the temporary structure to date?
  3. Did Mr. Griffin prepare a design for the two chambers and accessories, to be located on Camp Hill, which were to form the core of the permanent structure?
  4. If the department is not prepared to furnish a reply to paragraph 3 of this question, will the Minister obtain a reply from Mr. Griffin ?.

– The answers are: -

  1. In the conditions - issued in July, 1914 - for an International Competition for the Design of Houses of Parliament, it was provided that the cost should be within the sum of £1,000,000. On the 16th February, 1922, the Federal Capital Advisory Committee expressed the opinion that, owing to the changes in value- due to the war - an expenditure of approximately £2,000,000 would be involved to obtain the same service.;.
  2. The cost of the present structure - exclusive of furnishings, the cost of recreation grounds, external gardens, and roads, interest and administration charges, to the 31st October, 1927- has been £543,922 12s. 7d.
  3. There appears to be no record of a design prepared by Mr. Griffin for the work referred to, nor have departmental officers’ any recollection of seeing such a design. In the Conditions of Competition, however, issued by Mr.

Griffin in July, 1914, it was an instruction to competitors that provision should be made, in designing, for erecting a shell or core of the building, in .the first instance, at an estimated cost not exceeding £250,000, for accommodation indicated in a schedule. In its report of the 16th February, 1922, the Federal Capital Advisory Committee drew attention to this proposal, and stated that such work would involve an expenditure of nearly £500,000. The competition mentioned was abandoned owing to the war.

  1. See answer to No. 3.

page 1378



Wiee and Wise Netting


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Has the Government cancelled the gazettal of wire and wire netting from the provisions of’ the Australian Industries Preservation Act; if not, is it the intention of the Government to do so?
  2. Will the Minister supply a list of the classes of goods which at present come within the provisions of the act mentioned?

– The answers are :-

  1. No. It is not the intention of the Government to cancel these gazettals. Dumping duty can be collected only if the price at which the articles are sold for export to Australia is less than the fair market value in the country of export, and if, in addition, the articles are landed in Australia at a duty-paid cost which is less than the manufacturer’s wholesale selling price of similar Australianmade articles. Dumping duty is payable in few instances, as the above conditions seldom exist.
  2. A list will be placed on the table of the Library for the information of honorable members.

Most of the currency dumping duties are now inoperative, but their absolute cancellation is not at present deemed desirable. Few gazettals were surcharged. The total amount of dumping .duty collected in 1925-26 was £38,247. The figures for 1926-27 are not yet available.

page 1378



MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Is Boron a chemical that accumulates in the human constitution?
  2. Ib it beneficial to health that any of its derivatives should be used to disguise decaying cream. in order to make butter?
  3. Has the British Government made any embargo on preservatives in butter; if so, will the Minister inform the House what chemical preservatives . are forbidden ?

– The replies are as follow: -

  1. Expert opinion is not unanimous as to the accumulation of boron in the body.
  2. It is recognized that the use of preservatives should, wherever possible, be avoided.
  3. Yes. All preservatives are forbidden except common salt, saltpetre, sugars, acetic acid or vinegar, alcohol or potable spirits, herbs, hop extract, species and essential oils, or any substance added to food by the process of curing known as smoking.

page 1379




asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

What is the quantity of exports, in tons, of (a) wool, (b) wheat, (c) sugar, (d) meat, (e) butter, (f) cotton, (g) cheese, (ft) and all other primary products from Australia for the financial year ended 30th June, 1926, to 30th June, 1927?


– The information is being obtained.

page 1379



United States of America to Great Britain, and Great Britain to Australia

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. In view of an apparent general misunderstanding of the financial relations between Great Britain and the United States of America in connexion with the world war, will the Minister inform the House what per cent, is charged by the United States to Great Britain for war loans for (a) loans obtained during the war, and (6) loans obtained after the armistice?
  2. Has the United States written off any war loans to Great Britain and other nations; and, if bo, what are the respective amounts written off?
  3. What per cent, interest does Great Britain charge Australia for its war loans?

– The replies are as follow: -

  1. For all loans interest is charged at the rate of 3 per cent, per annum for the first ten years, and at the rate of 3i per cent, per annum thereafter until the whole of the loans are repaid.
  2. The United States of America has not written off any portion of the war loans doe by Great Britain. There is no information available as to whether the United States has written off any of the war loans due by other nations.
  3. An average interest rate of £4 18s. 4<L per cent. I;

page 1379



Layout of . City - Departure from Griffin Design - Leases Held by Chief Lands Officer - Free Rail Tickets to Capital Cities for Public Servants - Motor Driver’s Licence. - Transport Service.


asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

Whether he will explain the reason for the departure from the Griffin design, as suggested by notice of variation of the plan of layout of the City of Canberra and its environs, appearing in the issue of the Commonwealth Gazette dated 29th October last?


– I shall make a statement on this subject within a few days.

through Mr. Fenton

asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. Are officers of the Federal Capital Commission permitted to lease shop or residential sites in the Federal Territory for speculative purposes ?
  2. Will he state how many blocks of land, if any, are held under lease from the Federal Capital Commission by Mr. J. C. Braekenreg, the Chief Lands Officer of the Commission, or by members of his family?

– The answers are:

  1. There is no legal restriction debarring officers of the Federal Capital Commission from investing their money in commercial or residential sites in Canberra.
  2. The leases of land held are as follow: -

    1. C. Braekenreg

Mrs. H. J. Braekenreg




Blandfordia No. 5 »>


Civie Centre BedHiU

Mr. ANSTEY (through Mr. Fenton) asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

Will he give favorable consideration to the question of granting rail tickets to public servants and their families living at Canberra, to enable- them to visit one of the capital cities at least once a year?

Mr. MARR replied: This question is one for consideration, in the first instance, by the Public Service Board, to whom it is being referred.

Mr. ANSTEY (through Mr. Penton) asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the cost of a motordriver’s licence in the federal Territory is 100 per cent, higher than in Victoria?
  2. In view of the fact that the area of the Territory is only 940 square miles, as compared with 87,884 square miles in Victoria, what is the reason for such an enormous increase ?

– The replies are: -

  1. Yes, but the fee of 10s., which is charged in the Federal Capital Territory is the same as that which was payable under the New South Wales law, which was in. force in the Territory prior to the passing of the Motor Traffic Ordinance.
  2. It is not the practice te charge licence fees on a basis of area.

The cost of motor registration and the control of traffic in the Territory is not lessened by reason of its comparatively small area.


– On the 3rd November, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked me the following question : -

Regarding the present omnibus service conducted by the Federal Capital Commission, will he give the following information for the past six months - (<i) the actual mileage for each month;

  1. the cost per mile for each month;

    1. the earnings per mile for each month ;
    2. the total cost each month;
    3. the total earnings each month; (/) the capital value of each bus; (</) rate of interest taken into account; (fe) the total interest allowed each: (i) the percentage allowed on each bus for depreciation during each month; and (;’) the total depreciation each month. I am now in a position to supply him with the following particulars, which I have received from the Federal Capital Commission : -

Four weeks ending - 24th May, 1927. 21st June, 1927: 19th July, 1927. 16th August, 1927. 13th September, 1927. 11th October, 1927.

  1. Mileage done (6) Cost per mile
  2. Earnings per mile
  3. Total cost (ej Earnings 6,172 2s. 4.7d. ls. 10.12d. £738 0 4 £568 18 3


ls. 8d. ls. 4d. 18 10 £558 2


ls. 10.36d. ls. 2.84d. £836 9 3 £555 2 3 9,788 ls. 7.89d. ls. 1.67d. £842 16 11 £557 6 11


ls. 7.39d. ls. 2.88d. £802 17 £ £594 9 4 10,148 ls. 6.62d. ls. 2.52d. £816 16 1 £614 5 8 (g Rate of interest - 6 per cent. (h) £15 9s. lid. on five omnibuses, fi) 2.6 per cent.

  1. £85 per four weeks (£17 per four weeks or £221 per annum on each ‘bus.)

page 1380



Mr Painteb Field*

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that a large radium field exists in South Australia at Mr Painter?
  2. Is it a fact that in purchasing supplies of radium recently the Australian- Radium Corporation was overlooked and not consulted, despite an application made by the corporation on the 23rd July, 1927, for consideration; if so, why?
  3. Is it a fact that Mie Australian Radium Corporation is willing to supply the required radium at a price equal to or less than that of the radium ordered, which is reported to come from the Belgian Congo, produced under black-labour conditions?
  4. Can the Governnent, under the circumstances, cancel the order and help an Australian industry?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, It is understood that such is the case. 2, The Australian Radium Corporation was not overlooked when consideration was given recently to the purchase of supplies of radiuni.

  1. The Australian Radium Corporation has intimated its willingness to supply as indicated. Under the arrangements already made, delivery of the radium will begin within three months, and the whole supply will be almost immediately available The Australian Radium Corporation could not supply any portion of the radium under seven months.
  2. It is regretted that the course proposed is not possible.

page 1381



Lining of Huts. Mr. SEABROOK asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defencj, upon notice -

is it a fact that the Defence Department is using imported pine boards for lining huts at Fort Nelson, Hobart?

If so, were alternative tenders called for Tasmanian hardwood lining? *

If tenders were not called, will he state the reasons for using pine instead of hardwood?


– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are : -

  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. The reasons alternative tenders were not called for Tasmanian hardwood lining were on account of the fact that the huts are already partly lined with pine boards and the extra cost of using Tasmanian hardwood would amount to approximately £80.
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What is the total amount of bonus paid the Wine Export Bounty Act 1.924-27?
  2. What was the largest amount paid to any single firm, corporation or individual, and to whom was such amount paid?
  3. Has the retail cost of wines to the Australian public been increased since the payment of such bonus? *
  4. What is the approximate increase of the retail cost of wine to the public, comparing the pre-war charges with the present charges?

– The information will be obtained as far as possible.

page 1381



through Mr. E. Riley

asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice - ®

In view of the following statement made by Senator Sir George Pearce when introducing the Northern Australia. Bill on the 2nd July, 1925 : - “ As in the case of the Murray Waters Commission, this commission will prepare schemes relating to development. It is intended that it shall, at the outset, prepare two sets of schemes, one outlining its ultimate aim during a period of five years, and the other setting for the the first year’s programme directed to that end. The Government and Parliament will, therefore, have placed before them not only the whole of thi works upon which the commission proposes to embark, but also those which it intends to- undertake during the first year “ - will the Minister state what developmental proposals are being made by the North Australia Commission regarding that work which it intends to undertake during the first year in accordance with the statement abovementioned ?

Mr. MARR replied : No developmental proposals have yet been submitted by the North Australia Commission. The Northern Australia Act provides that, as soon as practicable after its appointment, the commission shall prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme for the development of North Australia, (that is that portion of what was previously the Northern Territory north of the 20th parallel) together with information and explanations in detail in relation thereto. With a view to complying with the provisions of the act, the commission has been actively engaged in collating the necessary data preliminary to submitting a detailed scheme of development for North Australia. The commission has since May last, when travelling became practicable after the wet season, traversed a considerable portion of the central and eastern districts of North Australia, and’ has during the past two months been investigating also the potentialities of the Victoria River district in the western portion of North Australia. As soon as the commission has completed its investigations and considered the data collected it should be in a position to submit a scheme of development for North Australia.

page 1381



MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. How many military planes have crashed, and on what dates, since the inauguration of military flying?
  2. How many lives have been lost by such accidents ?
  3. How many persons have been injured?
  4. How many miles have been flown each ° year ?
  5. How many planes engaged in civil avia tion have crashed during the same period?
  6. How many lives have been lost by accidents in civil aviation?
  7. How many persons have been injured in civil aviation accidents?
  8. How many miles have been flown each year by civil aviators?
  9. What were the names of the makers of the machines that crashed, and were the machines purchased, or obtained as gifts?

– The answers are: - 1, 2, 3, and 4. Since the inauguration of the Royal Australian Air Force in Mareh, 1921, sixteen (16) people have lost their lives in aeroplane accidents and eight (8) have been injured. The date of the crashes which caused these casualties and the estimated approximate mileage flown each year to date is as follows: - 5, 6, 7, and 8-

  1. Royal Australian Air Force. - All crashes occurred on gift aircraft, but in no case has an accident been found to be due to any defect in the machine. It is not considered advisable to give the names of the makers of aircraft involved in Royal Australian Air Force accidents.

Civil Aviation. - In all cases civil aircraft were purchased by their owners. It is not considered advisable to give the names of the makers of aircraft involved in civil aviation accidents. There is nothing to indicate, howover, that aircraft of any particular design in civil use has been unduly involved in these accidents.

page 1382



MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -

  1. On what date will the uniform gauge railway from South Brisbane to Grafton be opened to traffic?
  2. How many men are at present engaged in the construction of the line in (a) Queensland and ( b ) New South Wales ?
  3. What is the position concerning the construction of the bridge across the Clarence River at Grafton. Have tenders been accepted by the New South Wales Government for its construction; if so, who is the successful tenderer, and what is the amount of, the tender ?
Minister for Works and Railways · ECHUCA, VICTORIA · CP

– The replies are: -

  1. No date can yet be fixed. 2. (a) In Queensland, 1801. (6) In New South Wales, 1320.
  2. Tenders have been accepted for a portion of the sub-structure and plans are now being prepared for calling tenders for the’ fabrication of the super-structure. A commencement has been made with the preliminary works on the site.

page 1382



Minimum Tax

through Mr. Fenton

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that under the Income Tax Assessment Act the minimum income tax which can be collected is ?1 ?
  2. Is it also a fact that, although a man’s actual ‘tax may be ls., he is called upon to pay ?1?
  3. Will he favorably consider the question of amending the act with a view to reducing the minimum to 5s.?

Dr. EARL PAGE replied

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. The attitude of the Government will be -stated on the second-reading debate of the Income Tax Assessment Bill.

page 1383




– On the 27th October the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) .asked the following question : -

Will the Minister for Trade and Customs obtain from the British Australasian Tobacco

Company a report regarding the following matters: -

The amount of tobacco purchased and the prices paid by the company during the present season?

The total and various classes of leaf purchased ?

The amount of bonus paid under the recent arrangement with the


I am now able to supply the honorable member with the following information : -

La) Amount of tobacco purchased, 578,925 lb. 578,925 lb.

Lemon and Bright Mahogany Mahogany (1st Grade) 6d. per lb. Bonus 3d. per lb. Bonus

2,509 1 0 2,593 14 9

£5,102 15 9

The purchases of present season’s crop are not yet complete. The above are particulars to 4tl> November, 1927.

page 1383




– On the 28th October the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked the following questions : -

  1. What were the imports of chassis (a)

Assembled, and (6) unassembled during the last financial year; what were the respective countries o£ origin, and (if possible) the makes of cars?

  1. What British and foreign companies are following the policy of assembling cars in Australia?

I am now able to supply the honorable member with the following information : -

1- (»)-


Chassis Unassembled.


Australia (Returned) 1

United Kingdom . . 21,212

Canada .. .. 16,1 IS

France .. .. 936

Germany . . 15

Italy .. 518

U.S. America . . . . 52,226


500 2,863,073 971,000 100,594 1,317 56,573 4,446,655

91,026 £S,446,312

The makes of the chassis are not recorded.

It has been ascertained that the following chassis are being assembled in Australia in one or more States: - British. - Morris, Austin, Singer, Bean, Clyno, ArmstrongSiddeley, Sunbeam, Standard, Bayliss Thomas, Vauxhall, Crossley, Humber, Rhode, Rover, Hillman, Star, Swift, Alvis, Brocklebank, Riley, Lea Francis, A.E.C., Jowett. Other than British. - Pontiac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Oakland, Buick, Hupinobile, Minerva, Rugby, Fiat, Chandler, Chrysler (except Model 70), Essex, Hudson, Moon, Overland, Whippet, Willys-Knight, Studebaker, Erskine, Opel, Ford, Citroen, Dodge, Reo, Berliet, Salmson.

page 1383




– On the 3rd November the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) asked the following question-

  1. What was the value of (a) ladies’ handbags; and (6) wallets, imported during the financial years ending 30th June, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927?
  2. Has he received a report from the Tariff Board on the subject of ladies’ handbags and wallets, and will the articles mentioned be included in any proposed tariff alterations?

The answers are -

  1. The articles mentioned are not recorded separately in official statistics, and the separate values cannot therefore be supplied.

The following was the value of importations under the statistical items which include the articles : -

Bags - Hand (including ladies’ handbags and purse bags, except of metal), sporting travelling. Baskets - Sporting, travelling, picnic. Cases - Toilet, dressing, travelling. Trunks - Travelling, companions, reticules, satchels, valises.

  1. A report has been received. The applicants, however, were in April last asked to furnish further information as to their output ami profits, and this information has not ‘yet been received. Until it is available nothing further can bc done. The method of obtaining the information is now being discussed by the applicants with the Tariff Board.

page 1384




– On 3rd November the honorable member for Cook (Mr. E. Riley) asked the following question: -

Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state when applications were made to him in connexion with the following matters: - (ft) For reduction. of duty on’ electric floor polishers (domestic), electric ironing machines (domestic), electric hair dryers, electric fans (domestic and office type), electric washing machines (domestic) ; (6) For increase of duty on Ironclad airbrake switches, Ironclad air-brake switch fuses, and air circuit breakers ;

For increase of duty on paints, anti- corrosive and anti-fouling;

For increased duty on whitclead, dry or ground, in oil?

I am now able to supply the honorable member with the following information : - (n.) The application for reduction of duty on the appliances mentioned was received by the department on the 26th October, 1926.

The question of admission under Tariff1 Item 174 was referred to the Tariff Board on the 14th February, 1927. It was decided that this request could not bc acceded to, and the matter was referred back to the Tariff Board on 21st May, 1927, on the question of altering the tariff.

A public inquiry was opened by the Tariff Board, in Melbourne, on . the 13th October, 1927, and continued in Sydney on the 20th October, 1927. Further hearing of the matter was listed for Melbourne on the 9th November,

  1. The application for increase of duty on the appliances mentioned was received by the department on the 5th October, 1926, and was referred to the Tariff Board on the 22nd July, 1927. The Tariff Board has not yet been able to take evidence on the subject.

    1. The application for increase of duty on the materials mentioned was received by the department on the 9th October, 1925. As applicants had not commenced manufacturing in Australia, I decided against referring the matter to the Tariff Board at that stage. A further application was received by the department on 8th July, 1927, and was referred by mo to the Tariff Board on 22nd July, 1927. A public inquiry was opened by the Tariff Board in Sydney on 18th October, 1927, and continued there on 20th October, 1927. A further hearing was listed for Melbourne op 7th November, 1927. (<Z) The application for increase of duty on the material mentioned was received by the department on the 27th April, 1927. The matter was referred to the Tariff Board on the 28th July, 1927, but the board has up to the present time been unable to take evidence on this subject.

page 1384




– On the 3rd November the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following question : - 1. (a) What was the total quantity of kapok imported to Australia last year?

  1. What was the value of such imports ? 2. (a) From what countries were the im portations from each of the countries in question ?
  2. What was the value of such importations from each of the countries in question?

    1. In view of the fact that raw cotton is a satisfactory substitute lor kapok for bedding purposes, will ho call on the Tariff Board to investigate the whole matter, and report on the advisability of imposing a sufficiently high duty on imported kapok to ensure the use of locally-grown cotton »s a substitute?

The answers are -

  1. (a), (0); 2 («), (b)-

C’ountry of Origin.

Ceylon India iMalara (British) . . Italy* Japan


Year 1920-97.

Quantity. Value.

His. £

9,391 .. 532

840,136 .. 47,763

90,509 . . 5,492

814 .. 32

12,025 .. 747


Indies .. .. 0,582,373 .. 388,888

Philippine Islands 14,000 .. 494


7,549,848 .. 443,948

  1. The whole production of lint from the crop of 1920-27 represented about 55 per cent, of the lint necessary for the Australian production of yarn for bounty. On the estimated crop for 1927-2S the proportion is likely to be somewhat less. The production of linters, that is, the portion of the. crop which can be used as a substitute for kapok, usually forms about 5 per cent, by weight of the seed cotton, and 5 per cent, of the estimated crop of seed cotton for 1927-28 would be about 300,000 lb. As his quantity forms only 4 per cent, of kapok requirements, it is not proposed to refer the matter to the Tariff Board. A previous proposal to impose a duty on kapok was rejected on the voices in this House on 10th November, 1921.

page 1385




– On the 4th November the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked the following questions : -

  1. How many recommendations have been received from the Tariff Board during the past twelve months -

    1. Of increases in the tariff, (ii) Of reductions in the tariff?
  2. If possible, will he enumerate the subjects of such recommendations?

I am now able to supply the honorable member with the following information : - 1. (a) Twenty- four, (i.) Six.

The total number of recommendations received relating to the tariff was 38.

  1. It is not possible to enumerate the subjects at present.

page 1385




– On the 20th October the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) asked me the following question : -

On the 29th September I asked a question with regard to the number of British and other typewriters in use by departments of the Commonwealth Government. The reply waa that during the five years ended 30th June last year, 1,119 typewriters were imported from countries other than Great Britain, while only 36 were imported from Great Britain. As this Government professes to believe in the principle of British preference, I ask the Prime Minister is he prepared to follow the lead of the New Zealand Government, which recently purchased British typewriters to the value of £54,000, and will he in future give preference to British over American and other foreign goods?

I am now able-to furnish the appended information : -

During the past six months, “Remington” typewriters, made in the United Status of America, have been purchased by the Commonwealth.

The reports received from departments were not favorable towards English-made typewriters, and upon their being placed before the Commonwealth Tender Board is was decided as follows : -

The British Trade Commissioner to be informed that the board has been anxious to ascertain the merits of British-made machines, and has conducted an extensive trial of the above-mentioned typewriters (Barlock, British Empire, and Imperial), made in England. As a result of these tests, however, the board is not satisfied that the British machines compare favorably with those made in the United States of America. The British Trade Commissioner has been so informed, and has communicated with his department in London, which will seek to have the defects noted in the course of our trials remedied.

The Commonwealth has been endeavouring to obtain a satisfactory and efficient British typewriter for the past eight years, but has not succeeded in obtaining a machine that is as efficie: .t as the “ Remington “ machines now being purchased.

It is “possible, however, that when the manufacturers have taken steps to remedy the defects which have been pointed out to them a satisfactory English machine will result.


– On the 26th October, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), asked the following questions: -

  1. Whether a leading British typewriter company recently supplied the Federal department with twelve typewriters on trial?
  2. Is it a fact that the Home and Territories Department, the Repatriation Department in Sydney and Melbourne, the Commonwealth

Railways (Survey Branch), and the Defence Department (Munitions Branch), subsequently endeavoured to purchase through the Tender Board a number of British typewriters of the kind supplied on trial, and that the board refused to fulfil the requisitions, and in some cases insisted upon supplying foreign typewriters ?

  1. Is it a fact that in one or more cases the Tender Board pleaded that the British machines in question could not be obtained, although in possession of the fact tha t such machines were available in Australia?
  2. Will the reports of the departments which tested the British machines be made available to the House ?
  3. Who are the members of the Tender Board?

I am now in a position to make the following reply:-

  1. Twelve of each of three makes of English typewriters were purchased for purposes of trial in federal departments.
  2. The 36 English typewriters so purchased were issued to Commonwealth departments throughout Australia in response to requisitions received from them for “ Remington “ American typewriters. The Home and Territories Department, the Repatriation Department, the survey branch and the munitions branch were not included amongst the departments to whom English machines were supplied. The Defence Department was, however, supplied with an English machine. It was not deemed desirable to purchase other than twelve of each brand until it could be determind from trials whether such machines would prove satisfactory.
  3. At no time has the Tender Board pleaded that English machines were not available in Australia, although on this point, when pur orders for the 36 machines were .placed there was delay in fulfilling them. The facts are -

Order placed for twelve “ Barlock “ typewriters on !)th September, 1920; delivered eight on Kith November, 1926, and four on 20th April, 1927.

Order placed for twelve “ Imperial “ typewriters on 9th September, 1926; delivered on 1st December, 1926.

Inquiry was made for British Empire machines on 9th September, 1926, but delivery and price could not be obtained until 1th December, 1920, when ten were delivered; the remaining two were recived on 22nd March, 1927.

  1. The file containing the reports will be placed on the table of the Library for perusal.
  2. The present members of the Tender Board are -

Mr. J. T. Heathershaw, chairman.

Mr. H. P. Brown.

Mr. H. L. Walters.

Mr. P. E. Deane.

Mr. J. G. McLaren. .

Mr. M. M. Maguire is acting temporarily, vice Mr. Trumble. A representative of the Department of Trade and Customs, vice the late Mr. Oakley, has yet to be appointed.

page 1386




– On the 3rd November the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) asked me the following question: -

What increases have been granted in pensions to returned soldiers and the dependants of deceased soldiers since the rate of pensions was originally decided upon?

I now have pleasure in furnishing the following information : -

Since the War Pensions Act was passed in 1914, the rate of pension provided for a totally incapacitated soldier has been increased by amending acts from ?2 to ?4 4s. per fortnight. In addition, special rates of pension and allowances for the more seriously incapacitated, up to ?12 per fortnight, are now provided. .All these foregoing pensions are exclusive of the pensions of the dependants.

Similarly the pensions payable to the dependants of deceased soldiers have also been increased. Under the War Pensions Act 1914-16, the pension of a widow could not exceed ?2 per fortnight, but under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920 the minimum rate is ?2 7s., and she can receive up to ?4 4s. per fortnight, exclusive of the pensions for her children. Payments for children were originally provided at 10s. per fortnight, but subsequently the rates were increased to 20s. per fortnight for the first child, 15s. for the second child, and 10s. per fortnight for the third and others. Arrangements are now in course for the increasing of third and other children’s rates to the level provided for the second child. Special rates are provided for children whose parents are both dead.

Living allowances in addition to pension are provided in a very large number of cases.

I have here a schedule setting out fully the details of rates and increases, which I shall be pleased to make available for the honorable member.

page 1386




– On the 2nd November the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked what action the Minister for Defence proposed to take in connection with the publican tion of the report of the Air Accideats Investigation Committee. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the report in question has already been published in the press, and the following is a corjy of it: -

Report of Accidents to Aircraft.

The Air Accidents Investigation Committee was brought into being on the 26th May, 1927, by regulations under the Air Navigation Act, 1920 (statutory rules 1927, No. 47). The following report embraces the investigations of this committee from the date of its inception (26th May, 1927) until the 26th September, 1927 - a period of four months.

The accidents investigated include, however, four accidents occurring prior to the establishment of the committee, the earliest of which occurred on the 24th March, 1927, so that the committee’s investigations may be taken to cover accidents to aircraft over a period of six months. During the half-year under review there were seven accidents which were investigated by the committee.

The circumstances which led to these accidents were briefly as follows: -

  1. Royal Australian Air Force.

    1. Two two-seater machines forming part of an aerial escort to Their Koyal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York on their arrival in Melbourne collided after the completion of u salute made by the formation when Their Royal Highnesses were entering Government Blouse grounds.

The salute consisted of a dive in formation and subsequent upward climb. One of the two machines dived somewhat lower than the remainder of the formation, and, rising steeply, collided with the other.

The machines were thoroughly airworthy prior to flight, and there was no evidence of any subsequent defect developing during flight; neither was there evidence that the 2>ilots or passengers were other than medically fit.

As the result of damage on impact, both machines came down out of control, and crashed. One machine caught fire on falling on to an iron roof and was burned. Each machine contained a pilot and passenger, and all were killed.

  1. In connexion with the review of troops at Canberra by His Royal Highness the Duke of York at the opening of Parliament, a singleseat fighter was seen to leave the formation immediately after the formation had made a left-hand turn.

The machine took up a steep gliding position with a slight turning movement, and this glide was continued until it struck the ground nt a point opposite to and some 600 yards away from the front of Parliament House. The machine was badly smashed, and, although the pilot was conscious, he was too seriously injured to make a statement as to what had occurred, and died tha’t same evening.

The evidence brought to light that the machine was airworthy prior to flight, and, as far as it was possible to ascertain from the wreckage, there was no failure of any part of the machine during flight. No evidence was obtainable as to whether or not the controls had been jambed or their function interfered with through any object carried in the machine. There was no evidence that the pilot was other than medically fit.

It waa impossible ‘to determine the cause of the accident.

  1. On a travelling flight between Canberra and Melbourne a single-seat fighter was forced to land through engine failure.

The pilot had found it necessary to deviate from the normal route owing to the approach of a storm, and at the time of the engine failure found himself over rugged and heavily timbered country, with no available clear space within range on which to make a landing. He decided to alight on top of the trees, which he did successfully, and, although the machine was wrecked, he received nothing worse than a severe shaking. After spending the night near the machine, he made his way on foot for a considerable distance through the ranges to a farm, and from there was able to proceed by car to the nearest railway station. The machine was subsequently located and examined by a salvage party.

The evidence points to the conclusion that the engine seized owing to exhaustion of the supply of lubricating oil.

  1. Civil Aviation.

    1. A commercial four-seater - machine whilst on a regular weekly run crashed when making a landing at an aerodrome en route. The machine contained two passengers in addition to the pilot. All were killed. The pilot had joined the service of the company about three weeks before the date of the accident. Prior to joining the company, he had flown approximately 200 hours on machines of an almost identical type, and after joining the company had flown some 12 hours on the type of machine in which the accident occurred. He had been over the route on three prior occasions, and had landed at this aerodrome. The machine was found to have been thoroughly airworthy prior to flight. No evidence could be found of any subsequent defect developing, or that the pilot was other than medically fit. The evidence points to the fact that the machine stalled following an incorrect approach to land.
    2. During a solo flight by a pupil of a civil flying training school the machine - a light aeroplane - was seen to get into an inverted position at approximately 1,500 feet. In this position it assumed a steep gliding angle, crashing on to a set of electric tramway cables suspended on poles. The pilot was killed and the machine burnt. From the evidence it appears that the pilot had had 6 hours 25 minutes dual instruction, and flown 52 minutes solo prior to the accident. He had been grunted permission to practice steep turns at a height of 2,000 feet. Whilst engaged on this practice, and following a steep right-hand turn, the machine assumed an inverted position, from which it would have automatically recovered if all controls had been centralized. Apart from the instruction to centralize controls when in difficulty, no instruction had been given the pupil in inverted flight, as this is a very advanced form of aerobatics. The conclusion arrived at was that the inverted position of the machine was caused in the first instance through the pilot’s inexperience in carrying out a steep right-hand turn, and that the failure of the machine to return to normal flying position was probably due to the control column being forced forward either -
    1. by the pilot intentionally or accidentally: or
    1. by the elevator adjustment lever being in a fully forward position, and the pilot releasing his grasp oi the control column.

    2. A machine operated by a company engaged in taking up paying passengers for short nights had landed, but was still running forward with its propellor revolving, when a number of spectators ran towards it. With the exception of one, all ultimately got out of its way. A middle-aged woman, who failed to do so, was struck by the propeller, and subsequently died as a result of injuries received. From the evidence it was clear that the pilot was in no way to blame, as the line of vision directly ahead is obscured by the nose of the machine.
    3. A light aeroplane belonging to .an aero club, and flown by a member of the club, who is an experienced pilot, with another member of the club who is not a pilot, as passenger, got out of control at a height of 600 feet whilst, coming in to land. The pilot had almost regained control when the machine hit an embankment adjacent to the landing ground. The machine was wrecked, and the pilot and passenger injured, but not seriously. The pilot, in evidence, stated that the rudder control jambed following a steep right-hand turn carried out whilst coming in to land, and the conclusion arrived at was that this jarab- ing was in all probability caused by the feet ef the passenger interfering with a corresponding rudder bar in the passenger’s cockpit.

Sapbty of Types of Machines in use in Australia and Climatic Conditions. 1. Safety of Types in Use.

It has been stated that because certain aircraft are obsolete or obsolescent, this means that the types of aircraft concerned are less safe to fly than more modern types.

It is considered that such a generalization is entirely unjustified.

Those machines which may now be described’ as obsolete or obsolescent represent, in the majority of cases, the climax of the development of aircraft design towards the end of the war. With the exception of certain types, such as the light aeroplane which is designed especially for the private owner, ,and certain commercial types, post-war aircraft design has, up to the present, not resulted in any marked advance on the war-period types. In point of fact, development in design of British Air Force aircraft has in the main been along the lines of increased flying speed, with a resultant increase in the difficulty of operation. The types of engine in use in Australia compare favourably in respect of reliability with those used in otlier countries.

  1. Climatic Conditions.

    1. Climatic conditions affect the material out of which aircraft are constructed. Experience of aviation in Australia over a number of years shows, however, that the life of aircraft material is, generally speaking, at least equal to that in other countries.
    1. Climatic conditions also affect the flying performance of aircraft. The performance of an aircraft designed to fly under certain conditions of atmospheric density will decrease as the density of the atmosphere decreases. Thus in warmer parts of Australia, where in consequence atmospheric density is low, an aircraft cannot be as heavily loaded as under conditions of greater atmospheric density. This is a factor which must be borne in ‘mind for safety in flying. On the other hand, weather conditions are, generally speaking, superior to those of other countries; s’o much so, that it is generally agreed that from a climatic point of view Australia is an ideal country for flying.

page 1388



– Ou the 2nd November, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked that a return recently supplied to him regarding the annual payments connected with war expenditure be made available to honoi*able members generally. I promised w> ascertain the views of the Minister for Defence in the matter, and have now pleasure in supplying the information desired as follows: -

Statement Showing Expenditure (excluding War Services) upon Defence Services for Years Services. Special Expenditure on Expeditionary and Australian Forces - (a) Naval (6) Military Interest due to Imperial Government for maintenance of A.I.F. Interest on loan from Imperial Government Cor War pur- poses Sinking Fund on loans from Imperial Government - Interest on Australia's War Indebtedness to Imperial Government Payment in reduction of principal of Australia's War Indebtedness to Imperial Government Interest on Commonwealth War Loans Interest on War Gratuity Bonds and Treasury Bills for War Gratuity pur- Sinkinz Funds on loans tor Wat purposes . . Amount) transferred to Trust Fund, Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Account War Pensions Advances to States, Ac, for purpose of settling Returned Soldiers on land, *&c.* Expenditure under Act 1918- War Service Homes Trading VoBseb Miscellaneous *Sote.-ln* addition to the above, amounts totalling £7,255,000 and £36,143,098 in connexion with the maintenance of Naval and A.I.F. Forces abroad, were incorporated in Funding Agreement with Imperial Government in May, 1921.
Special War Expenditure by Australia, 1922-23 Onwards (Exoludihg War Gratuity) Services. 1822-28. 192S-24. 1924-25. 1925-26. Special Expenditure on Expeditionary and Australian Forces - (a) Navy (6) Military Interest due to Imperial Government for ma'ntenance of A.I.F. Interest on Loans from Imperial Government for War purposes S'nking Fund on Loans from Imperial Government Interest on Australia's War indebtedness to Imperial Government {:#subdebate-41-0} #### Redemptions of Loans, &c Payment in reduction of prinoipal of Australia's War Indebtedness to Imperial Government Carried forward 200,911 75,333 {:#subdebate-41-1} #### Or. 523 Cr. 81,627 18,619 26,606 108,396 87,816 4,484,125 1.064,634 4,431,128 4,915,755 1 117,682 4,375,492 4,299,577 1.173,3' 7 1,231,722 10,546,715 5,884,034 5,727,501 Special Wak Expenditure by Australia., 1922-23 Onwards (Excluding War Gratuity)- *continued.* {: .page-start } page 1390 {:#debate-42} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-42-0} #### AERIAL MAIL SERVICES {: #subdebate-42-0-s0 .speaker-KI7} ##### Sir NEVILLE HOWSE:
NAT -- On the 3rd November the honorable member for Grey **(Mr. Lacey)** asked the PostmasterGeneral the following question: - >Is it a fact that an aerial mail service is operating from Adelaide to Cootamundra; if so, will he give consideration to the extension of that service to Canberra, with a view to expediting the mail service from Western Australia and South Australia to and from the capital city? I am not in a position to inform the honorable member that it is a fact that an aerial service is operating from Adelaide to Cootamundra and careful consideration will be given to the extension of that service as desired by the honorable member. {: .page-start } page 1390 {:#debate-43} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-43-0} #### CANCER RESEARCH {: #subdebate-43-0-s0 .speaker-KI7} ##### Sir NEVILLE HOWSE:
NAT -- On the 3rd November, 1927, the honorable member for Lilley **(Mr. G. H. Mackay)** asked the following question : - >Whether he has considered the advisability of granting a subsidy towards the public fund for cancer research throughout the Commonwealth? I am now in a position to furnish the following answer: - >The Government is already subsidizing cancer research throughout the Commonwealth and cavefully considers any requests which are mude for further subsidies. {: .page-start } page 1390 {:#debate-44} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-44-0} #### COAL FOR NAVY {: #subdebate-44-0-s0 .speaker-KI7} ##### Sir NEVILLE HOWSE:
NAT -- On the 4th November the honorable member for Capricornia **(Mr. Forde)** asked the following questions: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What tonnage of coal was used by the Australian Navy during the last financial year ? 1. From what mines were samples of coal taken for tests by the Australian Navy during the last twelve months? 2. What was the result of the test in each case? 3. From what mines are the supplies of coal for the navy obtained, and what quantity was taken from each mine during the last financial year ? 4. Was any coal imported for the navy during the last financial year; if so, in what quantity, and at what price? 5. If such coal has been imported, will the Minister see that this practice is discontinued, in view of the fact that there is ample supply of suitable coal available in Australia? I am now in a position to furnish the following replies : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 20,500 tons. 1. Bowen State Collieries, Collinsville, Queensland; Balmain Collieries, Sydney; Queensland Collieries, Howard, Queensland; Cambria Colliery, Bluff, Central Queensland. 2. Results of tests - Bowen coal: Tried in H.M.A. sloops; satisfactory, results obtained except that full power could not. be developed. Balmain coal :' Tried in H.M.A. ships ; satisfactory results obtained, except that full power could not be maintained in H.M.A. cruisers. Burrum coal: Tried in one H.M.A. sloop; results satisfactory. Cambria coal: Tried in {: type="A" start="H"} 0. M.A. ships; results satisfactory; further trials will, however, be made to ascertain whether this coal can be regarded- as satisfactory at full speed. {: type="1" start="4"} 0. Balmain Collieries, Balmain, Sydney, 2,175 tons; various Newcastle collieries, New South Wales, 1,670 tons; various Southern collieries, New South Wales, 10,360 tons; various collieries, Brisbane, Queensland, 1,229 tons; State Collieries, Bowen, Queensland, and Bowen Consolidated Coal Mines, 778 tons; Queensland Collieries, Howard, Queensland, 259 tons. The balance of coal consumed to make up the quantity of 20,500 tons referred to at ( 1 ) above was Welsh and Westport coal. I, 500 tons of Welsh coal were supplied to H.M.A. ships at oversea ports. The remaining supplies were made ex stocks maintained at Darwin and Thursday Island. {: type="1" start="5"} 0. 6,000 tons of Welsh coal were imported during the financial year ended 30th June, 1927. The rate paid was 26s. lOJd. per ton f.o.b., freight rate being 19s. 6d. per ton. 1. In regard to the importation of coal, it is essential to maintain a stock of Welsh coal for use by H.M.A. ships in emergency to enable high epceds to be maintained, and a minimum reserve has been laid down for this purpose. {: .page-start } page 1391 {:#debate-45} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-45-0} #### TRANS- AUS TRALIAN" RAILWAY {: #subdebate-45-0-s0 .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr HILL:
CP -- On the 3rd inst, the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** asked me the following question, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was («) the estimated cost at the time the authorizing bill was before Parliament of the Trans-Australian Railway from Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, and (6) the completed, cost of such railway? 1. What was («) the estimated cost at the time the authorizing bill was before Parliament of the Kyogle-Brisbane railway, and what iB (6) the cost to date of such railway, and the estimated cost of completion? 2. What was *[a)* the total estimated cost at the time the authorizing bill was before Parliament of the Murray River works in which the Commonwealth Government is participating; what is (6) the cost of such works to date; and what is (c) the estimated cost of completing such works? I now furnish the following replies: - 1. (a) The approximate estimated cost given in 1911 was: - {: type="i" start="i"} 0. Construction, £3,730,000; 1. Rolling stock, £315,000, and provides for an unballasted line, an average wage of 10s. per day, 70-lb. rails and rolling-stock sufficient for construction purposes only. {: type="1" start="6"} 0. The actual cost to 30th June, 1927, was : - 2. Construction, £6,504,934; 3. Rolling stock, £1,019,343. This includes the line ballasted for three-fifths of its length, an average wage of approaching 15s. per day, 80-lb. rails, rolling-stock such as sleeping cars, dining cars, &c, as required to work the line. Owing to the enhanced prices caused by the war, the cost of materials such as rails, sleepers, fastenings, &c, and laying the permanent way in the road alone, amounted to as much as the original estimate of the cost for the complete construction of the line. 2. (a) A total of £3,500,000 as provided for in the Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Act, 1924, and amended to £4,000,000 as provided for in the Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Act, 1926. {: type="1" start="6"} 0. The moneys advanced by the Commonwealth Treasurer to the Railway Council in control of the work to date total £2,215,000. {: type="a" start="c"} 0. See *(a).* The estimated cost is £4,000,000. 3. (a) £4,003,000. 1. Expenditure up to the 30th October, 1027, £5,490,000. {: type="a" start="c"} 0. It is not possible, at the present stage, to furnish reliable information as to the ultimate cost of the whole of the works set out in the agreement, in view of the fact that estimates for each individual work cannot be prepared until completion of designs therefor, following upon investigations regarding the nature of foundations. Surveys of the whole of that section of the river between Wentworth and Echuca, and of the Mumimbidgee River, have not yet been completed. Pending completion thereof, the sites of the whole of the weirs and locks to be constructed above Mildura cannot be determined. While the costs of these weirs and' locks should on the average be somewhat lower than many of those already put in Ininti, it is quite possible that the ultimate cost of the whole of the works set out in the agreement will be in the vicinity of £14,000,000. The attention of the four contracting Governments was invited to this question by the River Murray Commission in its report for the year 1926-27, which was recently tabled in this House. In that report the reasons for the increase in the expenditure over that contemplated when the agreement was drawn up are set out. The report in question also indicates that owing to the increased costs of these works, the programme of construction for the period up to the 30th June, 1932, has been definitely limited to certain essential works which are set out in the report. {: .page-start } page 1391 {:#debate-46} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented - Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1927, No. 121. Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Australia Act - >Central Australia - Ordinance of 1927 - > >No. 14 - Crown Lands. > >North Australia - Ordinance of 1927 - No. 14 - Crown Lands. Papua Act - Ordinances of 1927 - No. 1 - Oaths. > >No. 2. - Administration of Justice. No. 4 - Factors. > >No. 5. - Registration *al* Births, Deaths, and Marriages. {: .page-start } page 1392 {:#debate-47} ### INCOME TAX ASSESSMENT BILL Motion (by **Dr. Earle** Page) agreed to- >That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1922-25, and for other purposes. Bill presented by **Dr. Earle** Page and read a first time. Segosd Reading. {: #debate-47-s0 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
Treasurer [5.25]! - (By leave. · Cowper · CP ' - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. As I stated in my speech, on the second reading of the Land Tax Assessment Bill, now that a permanent settlement of the Commonwealth and State financial relationship is contemplated, and indeed in sight, which will keep the Federal Government in the field of income taxation for some years at least, attention has been directed towards the removal of anomalies and inequities in the Income Tax Assessment Act which past experience has disclosed. This bill contains a great number of amendments designed to remove the3e anomalies and inequities. A taxation bill is essentially a committee measure, but I propose now to deal at some length with the matters contained in this bill to enable honorable members to study the proposals therein with a full knowledge of their purport and of the Government's intentious. It should be borne in mind that the concessional proposals in the bill are additional to the proposed reductions in the rates of tax by 10 per cent. - except in the case of companies - as already announced in the budget, and to the reduction of the minimum tax from £1 to 10s. This bill is distinguished from previous similar measures by the much greater number of concessions to taxpayers which it contains. The principal of these I shall outline. First, there is the deduction of losses from profits. This is to permit a taxpayer who has suffered a business trading loss in one year in excess of his assessable income, if any, from other sources, to carry forward the loss or excess of the loss over the other income, as the case may be, as a deduction to be made from the assessable' income derived in the next succeeding four years, before assessing that income for tax. The next is a deduction of expenditure, to increase productivity of land. It proposes to grant a deduction in the case of a person carrying on primary production on any land of the expenditure incurred by him for - (i) eradication or extermina- i tion of animal or vegetable pests from the land ; (ii) .the destruction and removal of timbers, scrub or undergrowth indigenous to the land; the destruction of weed' or plant growth detrimental to the land; the preparation of the land for agriculture; ploughing and grassing the land for < grazing purposes; and the draining of swamp or low-lying lands, where that operation improves the agricultural or grazing value of the land so drained. There is a provision liberalising the depreciation provisions for machinery and plant, including those of primary , industries. The purpose of this is to extend the existing provisions of the law relating to the complete writing off over a period of years of capital invested in plant, machinery, &<:., owned and used by the taxpayer in the production of income - when the taxpayer has selected the prime cost basis of calculating his deduction - so as to include the cases of taxpayers who have worked on the diminishing value basis. This will provide for obsolescence in all cases. A further provision grants to primary producers carrying on agricultural or pastoral pursuits a deduction for depreciation of capital employed to construct fences, dams and other plant, and improvements on land owned and used by them for purposes of those pursuits, but not including improvements used for domestic or residential purposes. The bill removes a serious anomaly which has prevented many purchasers of sheep in the wool from securing a deduction from the ultimate proceeds of the sale of the wool, when shorn, of the original purchase price paid for it, and provides for the effective taxation of the vendor in all cases in respect of the sale price of the wool. A concession is granted in respect of gifts to eharitable institutions, &c. Deductions are allowed for so much of the taxpayer's assessable income as is donated in cash or is used to purchase gifts in kind to public charitable institutions, public universities and colleges affiliated therewith, public funds established and maintained for providing money for the construction or maintenance by or on behalf of the Commonwealth, a State or territory of the Commonwealth, of a public memorial of the Great War, and public funds established and maintained for the purpose of providing money for public charitable institutions or for the relief of persons in necessitous cases. There is another provision, the purpose of which is to attract capital into Australia from outside sources. This object is secured by repealing the present provision which renders an Australian borrower indirectly liable to pay to the commissioner the income tax payable by the absentee lender, when the borrower has no means of recovering the tax from the absentee, and by refraining from compelling a company carrying on business in Australia indirectly to pay the income tax payable by an absentee shareholder on a dividend received from the company. There are other concessions relating to gold-mining in the Mandated Territories. Lessees in these Territories are brought into line with those in Australia who are not subject to income taxation in certain circumstances. Other concessions are made to encourage trade between Australia and these Territories. To protect the revenue against subterfuge the bill confines to bona fide cases the existing deduction permitted of the sinking fund required to amortize expenditure by lessees on improvements of building leases where they have no tenant right in the improvements. The revenue is also protected from loss in cases where the commissioner is of the opinion, that partnerships between husband and wife have been entered into for the purpose of relieving either the husband or the wife, or both of them, from any liability to tax which would have accrued if the partnership had not been formed. There is also a provision relating to profits from walk-in, walk-out sales, &c. An amendment has been provided to re-express the original intention of Parliament regarding exemption from tax in walk-in, walk-out sales of pastoral properties of profit on the sale of livestock used for breeding purposes, and to overcome the effect of recent judgments of the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court in the appeal of *Weatherley* versus *Commissioner of Taxation,* whereby a sheep-farmer was declared to be entitled to the exemption mentioned, even though the sale of the breeding stock happened in the ordinary course of his business and was not associated with the termination of his busi' ness. Those are the main features of the bill. I shall now deal with them in detail. As regards the deduction of losses from subsequent profits, this proposal is to be associated with the present provisions of the law, which require the income tax for a year to be paid on the preceding year's income at the rate applicable to an average of the incomes and losses of that preceding year and of the four years preceding it. Under that scheme, all losses accruing in a five-year's period are taken into account in ascertaining the annual average of the net result of the five years' operations of the taxpayer. The annual average income thus obtained is then used to ascertain the rate of tax which is to be payable on the actual income of the year preceding the year of assessment. That income is not at present diminished in any way for assessment purposes by any part of it which may have been required by the taxpayer to make good any of his previous losses. The experience of the Taxation Department of the operation of the present averaging scheme under the law is that it operates inequitably in the case of persons who have sustained losses, and that, therefore, it requires amendment to give very muchneeded relief to those persons. Close examination of several schemes has been made to discover one which would represent some advance on the present method towards a greater degree of equity, haAdng regard to th^ necessity for reasonable certainty as to revenue for the annual budget and for reasonable cost of administration. In committee I shall deal with various schemes. The Royal Commission on Taxation discussed many suggested to them, but I think it will be found that the scheme proposed by the Government will, from the point of view of the taxpayer, give a fair measure of equity, and at the same time a promise of reasonable economy in administration. Absolute equity in. a taxation measure is not economically attainable, however desirable it may be from the point of view of the taxpayer. We are all taxpayers, and are, therefore, all personally interested in the proposals, and may be depended upon to secure the greatest possible equity consistent with reasonable economy in. administration. In connexion with the further development' of rural industries the bill will, it is considered, very definitely encourage persons to undertake the improvement of unoccupied land. The encouragement will take the form of exemption from income tax of ' expenditure incurred during the income year on the objects previously mentioned. Under the present law it is not possible to allow any deduction in respect of expenditure incurred in clearing virgin forest lands aud making them ready for cultivation or grazing, or for draining swamps to make them productive for agricultural or pastoral purposes, because such expenditure is of a capital nature incurred to improve the lands. On the other hand, it is to be observed that the primary producer's capital is fundamentally the potentialities of the land, and that these are made aArailable to the community only by the expenditure of considerable sums of money. The whole of the income of a farmer is yielded by the potentialities of the land *qua* land. In this respect rural land is distinctly different from city and town land. The latter land *qua* land yields nothing to the community, but as sites for buildings or factories, or other similar incomeproducing assets, the land is an opportunity to the owners of the assets to create and use those assets for purposes of gaining income from them. In the case of the city lands, it is the constructions which have been added to the land, that yield? the income, whilst in the case of rural lands it is the land which yields the income only after its potentialities have been made available by the expenditure of money in clearing timber or removing other obstacles to effective use of the constituents of the soil. It is admitted by all thinking persons in Australia that the pressing necessity of the Commonwealth is the development of rural industries and the wider and more effective development of rural lands, so as to increase the production of the 7iatural wealth of the Commonwealth. Anything which would tend to encourage persons to undertake primary production or to extend existing industry in that direction is worthy of the most earnest consideration and support. The Government believes that its proposals in this respect are fully justified from the point of view of necessary national developer. *Earle Page.* ment. The effect of the proposals upon an assessment will be to so increase the deductions in the relevant case as, possibly, to cause the aggregate of the allowable deductions of a year to exceed the total assessable income df that year. The excess of deductions over income will thus represent a " loss " for the purpose of ascertaining the averaging income when assessing any actual taxable income of a succeeding year, and for the purpose of deduction of losses from profits of the next succeeding four years. In regard to the liberalization of the provisions for obsolescence of plant, machinery, &c, it may be stated that by the amendment of tbe law in 1924 it became possible for persons using plant, machinery, &c, for purposes of any business to write off the whole of the cost of the asset during its estimated life by securing a deduction in each year's assessment of a fixed" proportion of the cost. The previous provisions of the law only permitted the deduction for depreciation to be calculated on the basis of a fixed percentage of a diminishing value, and the right to the deduction ceased with the sale or other disposal of the asset. If a loss was then sustained by the sale or disposal the loss could not be deducted in the assessment. A number of businesses availed themselves of the alternative scheme of writing off a fixed proportion of the cost each year, but there are a great many businesses which find it impossible to make this change, and are, therefore, deprived of the benefit of writing off any loss sustained by them upon the sale or other disposal of an item of plant and machinery. The bill has rearranged the provisions of the existing law so as to extend to this latter class of case the corresponding right to a deduction of any loss sustained by the sale or other disposal of an item of plant and machinery. Associated with this extension of benefit to manufacturers, the bill contains provisions for an analogous benefit to be extended to farmers and pastoralists in respect of what is certainly regarded by them as items of plant which depreciate in value each year, namely, fences, dams, and other improvements on land owned and used by the farmer or pastoralist for purposes of those pursuits. Hitherto fences, dams, &c, have been re- garded as part of the land, and, therefore, not subject to deduction . for depreciation; and furthermore, it has been considered that the increment in the value of the land would offset any loss sustained through the decay of fences, &c. Experience in the working of farming and pastoral properties does not, however, support this view. The value of the land is really determined by the world's market prices for the products of agricultural and pastoral businesses, and sales of land have not always reflected an increase in value of land sufficient to counteract the loss of capital through the depreciation of the improvements mentioned. It is considered that the new provision represents delayed justice to the primary producer in this respect. The bill also seeks to remove the difficulties which have confronted the administration in the past in dealing with sales of sheep in the wool, more especially in the case of a purchaser who, in connexion with his returns of income and live stock may have elected to bring his sheep to account at cost. In such a case the purchaser of sheep in the wool has been obliged under the present form of the law to bring his sheep to account at their original cost if they are on hand at the end of his accounting periods, notwithstanding the fact that he must also bring to account as income the wool which he may have shorn from the sheep. He is thus obliged to bring the wool to account as income twice, once as shorn wool and again as constituting part of the original cost of the sheep purchased in the wool. The net result is that the purchaser does not obtain a deduction of the full price he actually paid for the wool on the * sheep's back. The difficulty in these cases has arisen particularly in those sales and purchases where no separate sale and purchase price has been fixed for the wool as distinct from the sheep, but one inclusive price for the sheep and the wool has been employed. The proposed amendment provides that in such cases the market value as at the date of the sale for similar sheep off shears shall be ascertained and deducted from the total sale price of the sheep in the wool in order to ascertain the notional sale price of the wool on the sheep's back. Thus the taxpayer will be entitled to bring his sheep to account as at the end of his accounting period at the off shears market price ascertained as stated. He will thus not have to bring to account any value for the wool which might then be on the sheep's back, as the sale value of that wool when shorn will be brought to account as income after the next shearing. The amendment will also provide that wool on the backs of breeding sheep which may be sold in a walk-in walk-out sale or in a clearance sale of live stock to put an end to the taxpayer's business, shall be valued for taxation purposes so that tax shall be paid on the value so ascertained. The next important concession to taxpayers provided for in the bill relates to gifts exceeding £5 each to public charitable institutions, public universities and colleges affiliated therewith, &c. As regards gifts to public charitable institutions, the term " charitable institution " is being defined in order to remove any possible difficulty which might arise in litigation through what is apparently regarded' by the court as a somewhat obscure provision. " Public charitable institution " is defined as meaning a public hospital and a public benevolent institution, and as including a public fund established and maintained for the purpose of providing money for such institutions and for the relief of persons in necessitous circumstances. The deduction for gifts is being extended beyond cash gifts exceeding £5 each out of assessable income so as to include gifts in kind purchased out of assessable income, and the deduction is being granted in respect of gifts exceeding £5 each made to such public funds as the fund of the lord Mayor of Melbourne and the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, which have been established and maintained for the purpose of providing money for public charitable institutions or for the relief of persons in necessitous circumstances. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- What about gifts of less than' £5? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- It is practically impossible to trace them, and administration would be made too difficult if they were allowed. It has also been considered appropriate and desirable to allow a deduction of similar gifts to a public fund established and maintained for providing money for the construction or maintenance by or on behalf of the Commonwealth, a State or territory of the Commonwealth of a public memorial relating to the great war. This amendment will apply to the movement in Victoria for the erection of the " Shrine of Remembrance " in Melbourne. In connexion with that movement, the committee of the National War Memorial is appealing to the citizens of Victoria for gifts to the nation in remembrance of the sacrifices made by the men and women of Victoria during the war, so as to enable the committee to complete the work. The amendment will also exempt similar contributions, if made . towards the erection of the Commonwealth War Memorial at the foot of Mount Ainslie at Canberra. It will not, however, extend to any territory outside the physical boundaries of the Commonwealth, which does not form an integral part of the Commonwealth. The deduction will in future be permissible in regard to gifts exceeding £5 each to such public funds as a Lord Mayor's Bush Fire or Flood Relief Fund, or a similar public fund, established in a district which has suffered from such disasters. The bill contains two amendments, which, although small in the extent of their expression, are very wide in their application, namely, the abolition of the special tax on companies in respect of interest paid to absentee debentureholders and depositors of money used in Australia by the company in the production of income, and the abolition of liability on a company to pay the income tax payable by an absentee shareholder in the company in cases in which the operation of law prevents the company recovering the tax from the absentee shareholder. The object of these amendments is to attract capital into Australia by way of investment in shares of companies carrying on business in Australia, or in debentures of such a company or by way of deposit with the company for use in Australia. There is general agreement throughout the Commonwealth in the view that the Commonwealth needs additional capital for its effective and speedy development and also for the extension of existing industries of all kinds. The additional capital usually provided by the surplus of the national income derived by means of existing capital assets used by the nation has not been sufficient for this purpose. Recently, however, it has become evident that persons residing outside Australia, who may have money available for investment, have been discouraged from investing it in Australia because of the provisions of the existing laws which require deduction of income tax to be paid in Australia by the users of the money from any dividends or interest which may be payable to the lender or ex-Australian investor. The special taxes payable by the companies have operated in the following manner : - In the case of interest on debentures or deposits the companies paying the interest are entitled to deduct the interest paid when ascertaining their taxable income, so that in the ordinary assessment of the company the company does not pay tax on the interest. The absentee debenture-holder or depositor is legally liable to be ' assessed on the interest and to pay tax at the rate appropriate thereto, but as he is outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth as regards recovery of any tax so assessed, the Commonwealth does not go to the trouble of making an assessment of tax which cannot be sued for. It has merely provided in the Income Tax Assessment Act that the company paying the interest shall, in addition to its ordinary income tax on its net profits, pay income tax or. a flat rate of ls. in the £1 on the interest so paid to absentees, and that the company should be entitled to recoup itself for that payment by deducting the payment from the interest. It has been found, however, from judgments of the English Courts that where the contract for the lending of the money is made outside Australia and the principal and interest are payable outside Australia, the company must pay the interest in full to the debenture-holder or depositor. The company, therefore, finds itself in the position of having to pay income tax on interest paid to absentees in addition to paying its proper tax on its bona fide profits. This is a penalty on the company for having introduced outside capital into Australia for the purpose of deriving income from Australian sources on which it pays ordinary income tax. In the case of the dividend to the absentee shareholder, there are three classes of case to consider, namely: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. A company established and registered and controlled outside Australia, and deriving income from Australian sources, but taking the income outside Australia and there declaring dividends. 1. A company ^ established and registered outside Australia but controlled by directors in Australia, deriving income from Australian sources but retaining its income - in Australia and declaring its dividends here. 2. A company established, registered and controlled in Australia - but having absentee shareholders - deriving income from Australian sources and declaring its dividends in Australia. In the first class mentioned^ the company is by the terms of the Income Tax Assessment Act liable to pay the company tax of ls. in the £1 on the income derived by it from Australian sources. The absentee shareholder is in a technical sense liable to be assessed on his dividend because it is paid to him out of income derived from sources within Australia. But the shareholder is personally outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth for the purpose of recovery of that tax. The Commonwealth cannot cause the company to pay the shareholder's tax out of his dividend, because the company does not hold any money in Australia on account of the absentee, all its money has been taken outside the Commonwealth. Therefore, the absentee shareholder, escapes tax. If an Australian resident holds shares in such a company the Commonwealth can and does tax him individually on the part of his .dividend, which is paid out of the company's Australian profits. The absentee shareholder does not escape all taxation, because he pays the appropriate tax levied in the country of his domicile. In the case of residents of the United Kingdom, this tax is usually much heavier than the Commonwealth tax would be on the dividends. In the second class mentioned, the absentee shareholder may have his shares registered on an Australian register of the shares, in which case the Commonwealth could recover the shareholder's tax from the company, and the company could recover it from the shareholder out of his dividend. But such registrations of shares are so rare as to be negligible. On the other hand, if the shares are on the ex-Australian register of the company, a recent decision by an English court shows that if the Commonwealth forced the company to pay the shareholder's tax, the company could not recover it from the shareholder, and the company would, therefore, finally bear the burden of the absentee shareholder's tax. The bill proposes that the company shall be relieved of this burden, for two reasons; first, that it is not right that one entity should have to bear the burden of the income tax payable by some one else when the person called upon to make the payment cannot recover the amount from the person on whose behalf the payment is made; and, secondly, because the Government considers that as industrial expansion is of the utmost importance to the Commonwealth, that expansion will be assisted in some measure if encouragement in the manner proposed is extended to absentees to invest their capital in business ventures operating for the good of the Commonwealth by increasing production. In the third class mentioned, an absentee shareholder, although personally outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, is subject to tax through the company by deduction of his personal tax from his dividend before it is paid to him by the company. While the company does not, therefore, bear the absentee's tax out of its own funds, the Government considers that, as the absentee is generally fairly heavily taxed in his own country in respect of his full dividend, and as there are very few absentees who are shareholders in purely Australian companies, it is a good policy to exempt the absentee shareholder from the Australian tax. Here again the course proposed will encourage the absentee to invest his capital in Australian industry. The Government desires to see extensions of, and increases in, the numbers of Australian-owned and registered companies, and believes that the proposals just outlined will assist in this direction. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- If an individual makes profits outside Australia, will those profits be taxed? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- At present they are not. The bill, therefore, provides that a company shall not be called upon to deduct from dividends to absentees any income tax payable by the absentees. If, however, the absentees have their dividends collected for them in Australia by an agent, the agent is, under the present law, responsible for rendering returns of the income and payment of the tax thereon. The bill deals in a special way, so as to limit it to bona fide cases with the deduction permitted under section 23 (1) (m) of the principal act, of the sinking fund required to amortize expenditure by lessees on improvements on building leases where they have no tenant right in the improvements. This provision of the law was intended . as relief to a bona fide lessee from taxation on so much of the income derived by him from his lease as may be necessary to be set aside each year as a sinking fund to recoup any capital outlay incurred by him in the construction of improvements on the leased land, when he had no -tenant rights in the improvements. In all these cases the lessee is obliged to surrender the improvements to the lessor upon the termination of his lease. If, therefore, he uses his capital in the erection of improvements on the land, he must recoup his capital outlay from the income from the leased property. It is, therefore, reasonable to allow the lessee a deduction of the annual sinking fund required to recoup his capital outlay, otherwise the Commonwealth would be charging him tax each year on a part of his capital. But the relief intended for bona fide lessees is now being extensively abused by freeholders forming themselves into private companies in order that the company may take a lease of the land, and so secure a deduction in the assessment of its income of the sinking fund required to recoup the cost of the improvements made by the company on the land. The amount of this annual deduction is ascertained by dividing the expenditure by the number of years in the lease. Therefore the deduction varies according to the ' period of the lease. A long lease yields a small annual deduction, whilst a short lease yields a large annual deduction. In this manner the freeholder of the land obtains, indirectly, a very great advantage by way of reduction in taxation on account of the recoupment of his own ^ capital, which is generally supplied in such cases for the use of the company. It is proposed, therefore, to deny the amortization deduction to lessees in cases where there is a lease of land to a company from any individual who directly or indirectly controls the voting power of < the company, or in any other case in which the commissioner is of the opinion that, in consequence of the terms and conditions of the lease or of any circumstances associated with the lease, the lessor is in substantial control of the operations of the lessee. The decision of the commissioner in such cases will be subject to review by the Income Tax Board of Review. The bill also deals with partnerships entered into between husband and wife for the purpose of relieving either the husband or wife, of both of them, from any liability to tax which would have accrued if the partnership had not been formed. Under the ordinary provisions of the law relating to partnerships, the partnership is not taxed; but the net assessable income of the partnership is deemed to have been derived by the respective partner, *pro rata* to their interests in the partnership. The possibility of reducing the burden of taxation by the formation of a partnership between husbands and wives has apparently been brought prominently under the notice of a number of taxpayers by some taxation agents in various States, with the result that it is becoming extremely common for deputy commissioners to receive claims from taxpayers that income which, prima facie, is the income of the husband should be divided for assessment purposes between the husband and wife. In this way some taxpayers escape taxation and others secure a great reduction. In many cases partnership deeds have been submitted to the department to show that a partnership exists; but examination of the parties in some instances discloses that the husband has supplied all the capital and does all the work, while the wife remains at home attending to domestic duties. In other cases the wife has provided the whole of the capital, and while the husband performs all the work the wife remains at home engaged in domestic duties. In rare cases the capital is* subscribed by both parties who unitedly assist in working the business. In such instances the department has no difficulty in deciding that a bona fide partnership exists and division of the partnership income between the partners is accepted for purposes of assessment. Where the husband supplies the whole of the capital and does the work while the wife remains at home, it is' reasonable to infer that the partnership arrangement is a device to evade taxation wholly or in part. Where the wife supplies the capital, but does not engage in the work, the position is not in any way different from that which would exist if the husband borrowed the working capital from a bank. In such cases it is reasonable to grant a deduction in the husband's assessment of interest on the wife's capital. But the claims submitted are generally for an equal division of the profits between husband and wife, with consequent serious reduction in the tax which otherwise would have been payable. The amendment in the bill has been framed to meet what might be called the fictitious cases indicated above. It will require the partnership income to be assessed to the partnership as if it were a single individual, and without regard to any other income in which the partners might be separately and severally interested. The tax would then be paid on the total partnership income with the one deduction for the general exemption applicable to the amount of the income. The next important amendment deals with an unexpected position which was recently created by judgments of the Supreme Court of Victoria, followed on appeal by a confirmng judgment of the High Court, in the case of Weatherly v. Commissioner of Taxation. The judgments mentioned declared that an exemption from tax on the proceeds of the sale of live stock which, in the opinion of the Commissioner were ordinarily used for breeding purposes by a person who sold his business on a walk-in walk-out basis or by means of several clearing sales, also applied to a live stockowner who might sell such breeding stock in the ordinary course of a continuing business. This result is so contrary to the intention of Parliament and has such* far-reaching effects upon the revenue that the earliest opportunity has been taken to re-express the original intention of Parliament so as to limit the exemption to the sales made for the purpose of putting an end to the business of the vendor. The amendments for this purpose are being included in section 16 of the principal act which deals with what is assessable income, and are being made to operate retrospectively from the date of commencement of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1924, which contains the original provision on the subject. The other provisions of the bill are : - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Amendments designed to create the position of second commissioner in place of assistant commissioner to improve the methods by which the work arising under the act may be more expeditiously dealt with by setting out in the act the powers and functions which may be exercized by the second commissioner. 1. Amendments of section 13 - the averaging clause of the act - for the purpose of making it quite clear that when a person has once come within the averaging provisions of the act and has been assessed at a rate ascertained by reference to an average of the net income of a five-year period he shall, in the future years, continue to be assessed at a rate referable to a five-year period, except where he may cease to derive any assessable income from Australian sources. These amendments will also make it clear that when a person in receipt of salary, wages or other emoluments only, first becomes taxable under the act, he shall be assessed on the first year's income at its appropriate rate without reference to any previous salary, wages or emoluments which he may have derived but upon which he was not taxable. The amendments will also clarify the intention of the act in regard to persons whose taxable income has been permanently reduced below two-thirds of the average income by reference to which their tax was formerly calculated. 2. Exemption from Commonwealth tax upon the proceeds of the sale in Australia for immediate export from Australia to world markets of produce sent to Australia by a resident of a territory or island in the Pacific Ocean which is governed, controlled or held under mandate by the Government of any part of the British Empire, or by a condominium in which any part of the British Empire is concerned. 3. The extension of the existing exemption of income derived by a person from the working of a mining property in Australia principally for the purpose of obtaining gold or gold and copper where the gold is not less than 40 per centum of the total output of mine so as to cover profits derived from similar working of gold mining properties in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. 4. Allowance of a deduction in as sessments of persons engaged in the timberrgetting industry, in respect of the purchase price of standing timber. (/) The prevention of a double deduction for cost of leases purchased when the purchaser is taxable on profits from the sale of leases. (</) Provisions to make clear that the terms- of office of the members of the Income Tax Board of Review shall terminate upon the dates of termination of the periods for which they were originally appointed as members of a board of appeal, and to provide that any future period of appointment shall be for a period not exceeding seven years as the Governor-General' may decide. It will be remembered that in 1924 the Board of Review was declared by the High Court to be invalid, and these provisions will put the term of appointment beyond dispute. A provision to prevent the Board of Review deciding any question of law associated with any reference to the board, thus leaving to the High Court all decisions on questions of law. {: type="a" start="h"} 0. Improvements in the provisions relating to companies in liquidation. 1. Deduction to co - operative societies of bonuses paid to purchasers based on the volume of purchases. (/) Machinery to enable the Commissioner of Taxation to secure payment of income tax in any case in which a person, whose income is taxable, may have died but whose estate is not being administered by any person. (fc) An amendment of the definition of " absentee," so that the provision which entitles an officer of the Commonwealth who is absent from Australia, on Commonwealth duty to be treated as a resident, may be extended to the officer's wife, who may have accompanied her husband abroad. {: type="A" start="V"} 0. Alteration in the wording of section 67, which imposes penalties for breaches of the act in where legal proceedings are not taken so as to enable the amount of the penalty to be calculated in certain cases. (?«) Minor alterations in machinery clauses to facilitate theii application. The bill is really a committee measure. I have explained its provisions in detail, so that honorable members may know' their purport as well as the intention of the Government in regard to income taxation. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Soullin)** adjourned. *Sitting suspended from 6.15 to S p.m.* {: .page-start } page 1401 {:#debate-48} ### BUDGET, 1927-28 *In Committee of Supply:* (Consideration resumed from 28th September, *vide* page 58) on motion by **Dr. Eable** Page - >That the first item in the Estimates under Division I. - The Parliament - namely, " The President, £1,300," be agreed to. {: #debate-48-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON:
Hunter .- I desire to congratulate the Treasurer upon having the honour of submitting the first budget to this Parliament in the Federal Territory, and I hope that, "with the invigorating atmosphere which prevails in this place, his forecasts will in future be more in keeping with the actual results than they have been in the past. The Treasurer, when bringing down this budget, referred to the financial agreement with the States. I do not at present intend to deal with the merits of the agreement, because that matter will come up later for consideration by this House. I want to say, however, that I entirely approve of the agreement arrived at regarding the Loan Council and the establishment of a sinking fund. I believe it is in the best interests of' Australia that we should have one borrowing authority. The Treasurer forgot to tell us that the Government's attitude on this matter constituted a complete change of front. We remember that a short time ago the Government came down with a proposal to take away the 25s. *per capita* payment from the States. It was made clear that in lieu of that payment the States would be given the exclusive right to certain forms of direct taxation, namely, the land tax, a big percentage of the income tax, the entertainments tax, and also the probate tax. That proposal engendered so much opposition in every State Parliament, among the public generally^ and from the press, that the Government found itself in a very difficult position. Notwithstanding this criticism the Treasurer on several occasions made speeches in which he said that the States would have to accept the proposals, and that the system of two collecting authorities would have to be abolished. The principle, he said, was unsound, and an alteration would have to be made. Strange to say, in a very short while afterwards, the Government entirely changed its attitude. Though this principle of double taxation was declared by the Treasurer to be unsound, the Government as soon as it felt the public pulse, and discovered that popular opinion was against it, was glad to come to terms with the State Treasurers. I wish to deal this evening with the financial position of the Commonwealth, and to make a comparison extending over the years during which the Treasurer has been in office. My analysis of the figures will show conclusively that this budget is not the financial masterpiece that the Treasurer would have us believe. Before going any further I shall quote the opinion of the Melbourne *Agc* on this subject. In a leading article on the 29th September, 1927, the *Age.* referring to the budget, said - >Rarely has any budget contained so many verbal bouquets to those who framed it. The Government is obviously on good terms with itself. *As* an example of blatant selfcomplacency it is perfect. I shall deal first with the revenue of the Commonwealth over a period of five years, avoiding details as much as I can, and confining myself to the totals. In connexion with revenue, not including interest on loans raised for the States, but including (a) services other than Business Undertakings, *(b)* Business Undertakings, and (c) Territories of the Commonwealth, I find that, in 1922-23, the total revenue of the Commonwealth was £63,834,385. In 1923-24 it rose to £65,078,895; in 1924-25 it was further increased to £67,697,124. In 1925-26 the revenue was increased to £70,203,572, and in 1926-27 it rose to £75,541,761, while now the Treasurer's estimate for 1927-28 shows a further increase to £75,860,190. The revenue rose, therefore, from £63,834,385 in 1922-23, to £75,541,761 in -1926-27, an increase of £11,707,37 6. In four years the Treasurer collected £23,183,812 more than he would have had if the revenue had remained the same as in 1922-23. There has been a very large increase in revenue during the regime of the present Government, and this increase, indicates how buoyant have been the finances of the country and how fortunate the Government has been. This large increase is due almost entirely to excessive importations, which are responsible for the present depression in local industries and the creation of serious unemployment. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is the people who import. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- The Government should see that there is a tariff commensurate with the requirement's of the country. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That cock will not fight any more. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I propose now to make a comparison of the Customs duties received during these years with the estimates made°by Treasurers in their budget speech? In the Treasurer's opinion there will be a still further increase in the Customs revenue this year. It will be seen that the Customs revenue increased by £9,235,200 in 1926-27, as compared with 1922-23, and during the whole of those years the Treasurer's Estimates were exceeded by £16,236,200. Now he estimates to receive £1,317,500 more than was received last year. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I think that will be found to be an error. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- The figures I have quoted are correct; but it would be nothing unusual if the Treasurer's estimate was again found to be in error. It has happened in every case up to now." If the honorable member is right in his contention, it will only show that the Treasurer is running true to form. The *Age* of the 29th September last had this to say - >The Treasurer's guesses become wider. His consistent miscalculations awaken wonder as to whether his undoubted gifts are just suited to the handling of the nation's finance. The Sydney *Sunday News* of the 2nd October, 1927, said - >Never 6ince he has been Treasurer has **Dr. Page's** estimate been anywhere near the actual figure. He is usually millions out, and no one can take his estimates seriously. On account of his financial incapacity **Dr. Page** yearly overtaxes the citizens of Australia by millions. To show the bountiful times enjoyed by the Treasurer, I point out that the revenue from Customs from 1918-19 to 1922-23 inclusive, these being the four years before the Treasurer took office, was £64,370,000. The revenue from 1923-24 to 1926-27, inclusive, the four years after the Treasurer took office, was £111,255,500, an increase over the previous four years of £46,885,500. During -those four years the tariff was amended twice, and we thought it would have the effect of fostering our industries and preventing a large quantity of imports from coming into the country. It nas not had that effect. There is something wrong somewhere, something that has to be remedied; but it is not the people of Australia who are te blame, as the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. Rodgers)** states. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Government is borrowing to help to pay for the imports. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- We must find a remedy for the trouble, because the industries of the country are languishing. If there is anything to which Parliament should pay particular attention it is the fostering of our industries. So far as possible they should be expanded, so as to absorb our own people. To-day Australia is importing more and more goods, to the detriment of its industries. In addition, it is worthy of note that the revenue from taxation, direct and indirect combined, has increased during this Treasurer's term of office, as follows - >1922- 23 .. £49,885,000 > >1923- 24 50,852,000 > >1924- 25 . . . . 52,835,000 > >1925- 26 54,373,000 > >1926- 27 .. 58,904,809 There was thus an increase of £9,109,809 in taxation in 1926-27 as compared with 1922-23. In such circumstances it is not very difficult to produce surpluses. It is very easy for anybody with money rolling in from Customs and general taxation in such huge quantities, to produce surpluses, but it is difficult to understand how the Treasurer can claim that he has reduced taxation. Year in year out the Treasurer tells the people that he has accomplished something in the way of reducing taxation. My figures- indicate "conclusively that taxation, both direct and indirect, is ever on the increase. {: .speaker-KLL} ##### Mr Makin: -- And it falls on the backs of those who can least aiford to pay it. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- That is so. T> general public has it implanted in their minds that the Treasurer is helping them by reducing taxation. That is why I have analysed the -position so carefully, in order to place the true position on record. The following table shows the increase in the amount of taxation oven>and above that collected for the year 1922-23- >1923- 24 . . . . £907,000 > >1924- 25 .. .. 2.950,000 1926-26 . . 4,4S8,000 1026-27 . . . . 9,109,809 The Treasurer has therefore collected £17,514,809 more taxation than if the amount were the same as in 1922-23. Yet, by broadcasting the statement that he has reduced taxation, the Treasurer attempts to. make the people believe that in reality there has been a reduction. Let us examine the figures upon which, the Treasurer bases his calculations. The honorable gentleman claims that he has reduced taxation per head of population. These are the official figures which cannot be denied - {:#subdebate-48-0} #### Taxation Per Head of Population It will be noticed that, during his first year of office, the Treasurer succeeded in reducing taxation by 2d. a head. There was a reduction of no less than 7s. lid. per head in direct taxation, but indirect taxation was increased by 7s. 9d. per head. In the next year he increased the total taxation by 3s. a head, and the following year by another ls. 7d. a head. Last year the enormous increase of lis. 7d. a head was shown. Those figures are official, and they are startling. Surely the Treasurer will not now continue telling the people what he has accomplished with regard to taxation reduction. Those figures conclusively show that the taxation has been considerably increased during the regime of this Government. Now I shall take the total expenditure from revenue, not including debt redemption payments and interest on loans raised for the States, but including *(a)* expenditure other than business undertakings and territories, *(b)* business undertakings, (c) territories of the Commonwealth, *(d)* payments to and for the States - Total Expenditure from Revenue. 1922- 23 .. £62,814,235 1923- 24 65,000,354 1924- 25 65,678,858 1925- 20 72,024,680 1926-27 .. 72,911,408 The estimates for 1927 28 is £75,812,329 - almost an additional £3,000,000 over 1926-27. The figures show the expenditure increased by £10.097,173 in 1926-27 as compared with 1923-23. To that must be added another . £2.909,921, the estimated increase for the coming year. The loan fund expenditure on war and repatriation, was as under - >1922- 23 .. .. .. £1,762,694 > >1923- 24 .. 2,412,01-5 > >1924- 25 975,612 > >1925- 20 324,225 > >1926- 27 .. .. .. 697,298 {:#subdebate-48-1} #### Estimate 1927-28 900,000 That is evidence that, although the war has been over since 1918, we are still borrowing money for war and repatriation purposes. One would imagine that, with the overflowing revenues that the Treasurer had, he would have met this charge against the Commonwealth without extra borrowing. Most of us had the impression that, when the war was over, the policy of continual borrowing would cease. My figures show how erroneous such an idea has proved to be. My next table shows the loan fund expenditure for works and other purposes - . 1922- 23 .. .. .. £5,383,940 1923- 24 .. 6.060.04S 1924- 25 .. 6,341,758 1925- 26 .. .. .. 7,678,856 1926- 27 .. 7,051,128 {:#subdebate-48-2} #### Estimate 1927-28 . . 8,100,000 It is interesting to record that in 1921-22 an amount of £2,571,794, was spent on new works from revenue^ and £5,246,503 from loan', but in 1926-27 only £216,000 was used from revenue, whilst £7,051,128 was expended from loan. That shows plainly that this Government, with its overflowing Treasury, , if- not utilizing revenue for the carrying out essential worts, but is relying on loan money instead for the purpose. It will be seen from the table just quoted that loan expenditure on works increased by £1,667,179 in 1926-27, as compared with 1922-23. Only £216,000 was spent on new works from revenue in 1926- 27 although £2,57:1.794 was taken from » revenue for this purpose in 1921-22. Had that latter amount been spent from revenue last year and less spent from loans, the Treasurer's boasted surplus of £2,635,597 would have disappeared. I shall again quote the *Age* of 3rd October, 1927- >The Treasurer is somewhat of a wizard at figures. He can juggle them about in wondrous fashion and prove almost anything with any set of numerals. In October, 1922, the Treasurer, then a private member, accused the Government of the day of manipulating loau and revenue expenditure to make the budget look favorable. Now he is doing precisely the same thing. I wonder what explanation he has to offer now that he is Treasurer, and collects more money than his predecessor. Each year he has had a surplus, y6t he has resorted to borrowing. The honorable gentleman is a greater culprit in that respect than his leader when Treasurer ever knew how to be. I shall now deal with the expenditure of the Postmaster-General's Department in respect to additions, new works and buildings. That is a very important department, and every honorable member wishes to see it extend and give greater facilities to the public. I shall compare the administration of the department by a Labour Government, for the years 1909-12 inclusive, with that of the present Government, f<n- the years 1924-27 inclusive - >Labour Government. Expenditure from jevenue. From loan. 1909- 10 .. *£oo5,55( -* > >1910- 11 .. 783,440 _ > >1911- 12 .. 1,013,524 - > >Total in three £2,352,527 Nil years {:#subdebate-48-3} #### Bruce-Page Government Expenditure from revenue. From loan. 1924- 25 - .. £4,599,492 1925- 20 - .. 5,018,193 1920-27 - 3,995,787 Irrespective of what surplus this Government has had, it has gone on to the money market and borrowed to subsidize the Postmaster-General's Department, whereas the Labour Government, expended no.thing from loan money. It will be seen from the foregoing figures that the Government borrowed £14,213,472. for this purpose, and would not expend one penny from revenue. We are all anxious that the work of the Postal Department should be extended as far as practicable ; but the Government, should surely use some of the big surpluses which it has available from time to time for the, development of this department instead of raising loan money on which high rates of interest have to be paid. Let me come now to the national debt, concerning which I submit the following figures : - >Total in three Kil years > >£14,213,472 It will therefore be seen that the gross debt increased during those four years by £45,467,643, whilst the net debt increased by £5,855,141. As the Treasurer took office in February, 1923, it is only fair to compare the figures from 1923-24, which embrace his first full year of office. In addition, £34,000,000 has to be raised i or migration purposes, of which amount only £2,590,500 had been raised up to 30th June, 1927, so that £31,409,500 has yet to be obtained. Quite recently this House decided to raise another £20,000,000 in order to finance the Government's housing scheme, which amount must be added to the figure I have already quoted. Notwithstanding this, the Treasurer in his budget speech told the House and incidentally the country that the Government should receive credit for its "systematic extinction of debt," and the man-, ner in which payments were being made to the sinking fund. Although the fund has been in operation for a number of years, our net natonal debt has increased by almost £6,000,000. Of what value is the Treasurer's " systematic debt extinction," to which he has referred? The payments into the national debt sinking fund during the Treasurer's term of office have been as follows - >1923-24 .. .. £2,797,987 ' > >1924.-25 .. .. 4,350,150 > >1925- 20 . . . . 4,264,180 > >1926- 27 .. .. 4,690,194 {:#subdebate-48-4} #### Total .. .. £16,114,518 Although the whole of this money, in addition to an extra £700,128 which was in the loan sinking fund before the Treasurer took office, has been used in debt redemption, the gross national debt has increased by £45,467,643, and the net national' debt by £5,855,141. If this is what is meant by the Government's " systematic extinction of debt," it is difficult to forecast how disastrous the result will be in another twenty years. In view of our heavy commitments, the time has arrived when serious attention should be given to public borrowing, particularly in view of the danger of severe droughts, which would interfere with the exports of wool and wheat - products that are1 largely responsible for the present buoyant financial position. In this connexion, I quote the following from the *Industrial and Mining Standard -* >Does it not savour something of the humbug to make a bombastic parade about the partial extinguishment of one sort of debt when another sort of debt has simultaneously been tremendously and most recklessly augmented ? I agree with that statement that it is useless to speak of extinguishing one debt if in doing so we are building up a greater one. As the war has now been over some years, and we are living in normal conditions, we should reduce rather than increase our indebtedness. Prior to the war our national debt was a mere bagatelle ; but it was largely increased in consequence of our war obligations. We naturally expected that, after trading conditions became normal, our financial position would improve rather than grow worse. Instead of extinguishing our debt in the "systematic" manner to which the Treasurer has referred, Ave shall at the end of 50 years have a new debt which will probably be twice as great as our existing debt. Let us now consider the interest bill. The figures from 1922-23 to 1926-27 are as follow:- 1922- 23 .. .. £19.831,161 1923- 24 . . . . 20;0S3/752 1924- 25 .. .. 19,918,637 1925- 26 . . . . 20.S52,438 1926- 27 . . . . 20.749,113 1927- 28 (estimated) . . '21,539,320 Having regard to the fact that a long period has elapsed since the termination of hostilities, it is staggering to realize that our interest bill is rapidly increasing every year, which means that higher taxation must be imposed. In 1926-27 our interest bill increased by £917,952, as compared with 1922-23, and it is expected that next year it will be further increased by another £790,207. Whilst the interest on our war debt has not increased, the interest on debt other than war debts rose from £1,431,183 in 1922-23 to £2,986,804 in 1926-27, or an increase of £1,555,621. The estimated amount of increase for 1927-28 is £3,716,720, which represents a further increase of £729,916.' The interest on our ordinary debt is growing every year, and it cannot be said that it is in consequence of our war expenditure. As there was very little public borrowing prior to the war to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth, it seems that there is room for inquiry into our whole financial position. According to figures given by the Treasurer on the 6th October, 1927, the interest paid on Commonwealth debts overseas was as follows: - 1922-23, £6,735,000; 1923-24, £6.861,000; 1924-25, £7,194,000; 1925-26, £7.851,000; and 1926-27, £8,413,000. These figures show a steady increase in the amount of interest paid on Commonwealth debts overseas. If these amounts had been paid to persons in Australia, the whole community would have benefited, as the money would have been circulated here. The figures I have just quoted disclose that- >In 1923-24 we paid £126,000 more interest overseas than in 1922-23. > >In 1924-25 we paid £459,000 more interest overseas than in 1922-23. > >In 1925-26 we paid £1,116,000 more interest overseas than in 1922-23. > >In 1926-27 we paid £1.678,000 more interest overseas than in 1922-23. It is startling to realize that in 1926-27 we paid no less than £1,678,000 more than we did in 1922-23, and that during the last four years we have paid £3,379,000 more interest overseas than we would have paid had the interest bill remained as it. was in 1922-23. It is, therefore, time that we took stock of our position to see if something cannot be done to place the financial position of the Commonwealth on a more satisfactory basis. If this money had been spent in our own country it would have been circulated and have been available for investment in industry, and perhaps have resulted in lower rates of taxation being imposed. I wish to deal now with the present conversion loan in connexion with which £29,783,840 issued at 4$ per cent, and £9,546,090 issued at 5 per cent, are redeemable on the loth December, 1927. The Treasurer, now proposes to float a £36,000,000 conversion loan at 98^ at 5J per cent. The remaining £3,000,000 is to be taken from the sinking fund for the redemption of the debt. What extra interest does this involve? The Secretary to the Treasury, **Mr. Heathershaw,** issued a statement a few days ago to the effect that the bonus and interest actually means £5 lis. lOd. per cent, for a five-year period; £5 8s. lid. per cent, for a ten-year period, and £5 8s. per cent, for a sixteen-year period. Let us consider the extra interest involved if the whole of the loan is taken up for a fifteen-year period. We will assume that the £3,000,000 from the sinking fund would redeem that amount of the 4$ per cent, loan, so that in round figures £27,000,000 at 4£ per cent, interest will bear interest at £5 8s. per cent., a difference of 18s. per cent., and £9,000,000 at 5 per cent, will bear interest at £5 8s. per cent., or a difference of 8s. per cent. This means that the £27,000,000 involves an extra interest bill of £243,000 per annum, or £3,645,000 in fifteen years, and that the £9,000,000 involves an extra interest bill of £36,000 per annum, or £540,000 in fifteen years. In other words the conversion loan will mean an added interest burden over the fifteen years, of £4,185,000 - which is made up of £3,645,000 and £540,000- or £279,000 per annum. These are astounding figures, and show how necessary it is to reduce our debt and the interest burden which is being borne by the people. Every time we renew a loan we pay more for it. In this case 30s. in every hundred is paid to the investor. Of course, the interest is subject to Pederal taxation, but the figures I have quoted indicate the direction in which we are travelling, and show how necessary it is to curtail borrowing as far as it possible. Let us now deal with our trade balances, the position of which is most unsatisfactory. {: #subdebate-48-4-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- It is. The figures are as follows: - {: .page-start } page 1406 {:#debate-49} ### TRADE BALANCES {:#subdebate-49-0} #### Imports Exports Excess df imports 1926-27. £ 164,744,927 144,775,541 {:#subdebate-49-1} #### July to Sept, 1927. (3 months). £ 41,821,762 28,336,453 19,969,386 13,485,309 It will be seen that in 1924-25 we recovered, and had a balance of £4,886,863 in our favour. The year 1926 27 was, with one exception, worst than any of its predecessors. The imports for that year totalled £164,744,927, and the exports £144,775,541, an excess of imports of no less a sum than £19,969,386. Those are staggering figures. Such a state of affairs cannot continue without causing immense injury to Australia's credit. The figures relating to the three-monthly period from the beginning of July to the end of September last are even more startling. In that period the imports amounted to £41,821,762, and the exports to £28,336,453, the excess of imports over -exports being £13,485,309. Action must be taken immediately to rectify the position in which we find ourselves. The Commonwealth cannot continue to be drained in this way. From the year 1922-23 to the end of September last the excess of imports over exports amounted to £66,662,600. Could there be a more alarming set of figures? The Government's policy of borrowing overseas is responsible for the existing optimism. That is proved beyond doubt by figures which the Treasurer **(Dr. Earle Page)** furnished to the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin)** on the 6th October last, showing the Commonwealth debt overseas from 1922 to 1927, as follows: - {:#subdebate-49-2} #### At 30th June - 1923 .. .. £126,165,000 1924 142,524,000 1925 146,117,000 1926 171,295,000 1927 168,219,000 It will be seen that during those four years the debt overseas increased by £42,000,000; whilst in the same period the excess of imports over exports was approximately £40,000,000. The disastrous position in which we are placed is thus apparent. A halt will have to be called. If the Commonwealth should experience a severe drought, where will we be? I should feel sorry for any Government which had to function in such circumstances. It must be remembered that certain of our exports can always find a market overseas, because they are needed by other people. I refer to wool, wheat, and bullion. Last year they were responsible for no less than £93,000,000 worth of our exports. But for them we should be in a much worse position. Fortunately we have just escaped a severe drought. {: #subdebate-49-2-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- The recent rains considerably minimized its ill effects. **Sir Ernest** Harvey, Comptroller of the Bank of England, who is regarded as an authority on finance, is reported to have made the following statement on the 10th February last: - >There was at present a feeling in London that Australia had been borrowing too rapidly > >. . the impression in England was that our borrowing was a little reckless. ' The honorable member for Yarra, on the Loan Bill, quoted«a statement which was made by the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Pratten)** whilst he was in London. It will bear re-stating. The Minister then said - >The excess in the importation of manufactured goods, coupled with the increasing burden of interest upon oversea debts, was wholly brought about by extravagant borrowing. That is a stinging indictment of the Treasurer and of his financial administration. The position cries out for immediate attention. Speaking at Northam, Western Australia, on the 14th July last, the right honorable the Prime Minister **(Mr. Bruce)** said - >The Commonwealth has been extraordinarily fortunate that all the time the Customs revenue has been going up. That which is to the detriment of the industries of Australia, the right honorable gentleman regards as a fortunate circumstance. Compare his statement with one that was made in this House on the 12th October, 1922, by the present Treasurer, who was then a private member. He is reported, *Hansard,* page 3804, to have said - >The increase in Customs revenue is not a matter of which the Treasurer should be proud. It should rather cause him to go into sackcloth and place ashes upon his head. The Treasurer at that time was the gentleman who is now Prime Minister. The present Treasurer cannot pride himself on his administration, because Australia is at present in a worse position than that which she occupied in 1922. The Melbourne *Argus* on the 19th of October last' published an article which is worth quoting. In it the following statement appeared : - >The financial situation is that taxation has been high and that it is higher this year than ever; the loans have been raised" too freely and that loan expenditure for this year is £2,250,000 in excess of that actually spent last year. The Commonwealth as a whole is due for a slight reverse, and indications are that the reverse is coming. There are no indications of hauling in sail so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, and the States governments are demanding more money than they spent last year. Those are the matters that are causing uneasiness among the taxpayers; many of whom in their businesses have already seen the necessity for prudence. **Dr. Page** in his address to the Commonwealth Institute of Accountants on Monday evening referred to the expenditure to which the Commonwealth1 Government was committed. Every one recognizes that the obligations are severe, that the war has been fought and won, but has not yet been paid for. That is a reason why expenditure in other directions should be severely restricted. The dealing in millions for war expenditure has had the opposite effect. lt lias made treasurers and parliaments careless about the expenditure of more millions. The final sentence is a wise one. We have become so accustomed to borrowing millions that, we regard three or four millions as an ordinary commitment. In the days before the war we approached with extreme caution the borrowing of even one million pounds. As a matter of fact, very little was borrowed prior to the war. The position which is disclosed by our trade balances indicates that our industries are suffering considerably, and that our efforts' to adjust the tariff have failed miserably. To-day thousands of able-bodied men who are willing to work are unable to obtain it. If our trade balance was adjusted evenly a greater amount of employment would be provided by our industries. In South Australia 2,000 railway men were dismissed from their employment recently, and fur-ther dismissals are pending. That is an indication of lack of employment in industry. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr Cook: -- Is not that condition of affairs world-wide? {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- It is not. Making allowance for our comparatively small population, we are in a worse position in regard to unemployment than is any other country except England. The New South Wales Railway Department is discharging men at the moment. The Steel Works at Newcastle dismissed 300 men last week, and there were already 2,000 unemployed in that district. A mine at Cessnock has closed, and 80 men who were employed at another mine were paid off yesterday. It is rumoured that other mines are to close, including mines at Broken Hill. Prom the point of view of the working man the outlook is appalling. Other states are experiencing similar conditions. There is a general tendency towards unemployment. That condition has, to a large extent, been created by this Parliament having failed to see that Australia's trade balances were adjusted properly, and in having allowed, the importation of such a large volume of goods, to the detriment of our own industries. Every honorable member desires that those who are willing to work should be enabled to do so, in the interest of not only themselves and their families, but also the development of this country. Every man who is idle represents a loss to Australia. A man is of value to his country only when he is producing something. Every man who is idle is a drain on it. Consequently every well organized country should see that work is provided for its people. I wish now to make a brief reference to the note issue and the Commonwealth Bank, both of which were brought into being by the Labour party, and have contributed to the bountiful surpluses enjoyed by the Treasurer. I refer first of all to the note issue. The total profits of the note issue to the 30th June, 1927, were £15,511,9S9. Of this amount £7,780,524 was used for the redemption of Commonwealth inscribed stock and Treasury bills to the 14th December, 1920 ; £7,171,368 was paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund from the 14th December, 1920, to the 30th June, 1927, and £560,097 was paid to the Rural Credits Department during 1926 and 1927. The note issue has thus been responsible for the redemption of over £7,000,000 of debt, and the payment of over -£7,000,000 towards the production of surpluses. When Labour introduced the bill providing for the issue of Australian notes we were condemned by our opponents, and the notes themselves, as the honorable member for Werriwa has often reminded us, were contemptuously referred to as "flimsies." No better testimony can be paid to the work of the Labour party than the fact that the Australian note issue not only stood to this country during its hour of need, but has also resulted in a profit of over £15,000,000, which has been .utilized in the manner I have described. The Commonwealth Bank was another creation of the Labour party. Up to the 30th June, 1927, its net profits were £6,031,513. This amount does not include the profit of £26,000 made by the Rural Credits Department. Up to the 30th June, 1923, half of the profits made by the bank were transferred to reserve fund, and half to redemption fund. Prom the 30th June, 1923, to 30th June, 1927, half of the net profits were transferred to reserve fund, and half to the national debt sinking fund. Here again profits earned by an institution founded by Labour have helped to finance the affairs of the Commonwealth. I hope that the recent amendments made by the Government will not interfere with the success of the bank in the future or be the means of reducing its profits. Time alone will show if that is likely to be the result, but I am afraid that what the Government recently has done to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act will reduce the profits of the bank. In regard to defence, the position is very unsatisfactory.- The recent warwhich was to end war, terminated in 1918, peace was signed at Versailles, and a League of Nations was created, and has functioned on, I think, seven occasions. Yet we are no nearer disarmament to-day than we were prior to the war. As a matter of fact, I think that to-day the position is much worse than it was in 1914. Every nation is arming. Armaments are greater than ever before. "We nre spending much more on armaments to-day than we spent in 1914. {: .speaker-K4M} ##### Mr Cook: -- We are not spending enough. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- It seems to me we are spending too much. To my mind there should be a general reduction of armaments throughout the world. We cannot talk about obtaining genuine peace or disarmament through the League of Nations if, in the same breath, we talk about having greater armaments. If one nation arms the others must. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Last week the honorable member for Indi gave his vote to dispose of what are really five auxiliary cruisers. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- It is true that last week the honorable member for Indi voted for the sale of five of our steamers which would help, if necessary, in the defence of Australia. Jt is pleasing to note that there are some people in influential circles who realize how necessary it is that something real should be done to bring about disarmament. The following article appeared in the Sydney *Sun* of the 14th November, 1927 - >Despite the growing demand for disarmament, says the naval correspondent of the *Daily* 37eu-*, the great powers naval budgets are expanding, and 1928 will witness a mar lied increase. > >This is not confined to the few great powers, either, he points out. Practically, every nation is pursuing the same policy. The honorable member for Indi says they should - >It is expected that Britain's new construction will necessitate the building expenditure, at present £11,723,000, being increased to £12,005,000. The United States budget in 1927 was £64,650.000, but will reach £70,000,000 in 1928 to enable the carrying out of the big cruiser programme. The Japanese budget totals £26,483,000, an increase of £84;-!, 200, despite her claim that she is desirous of reducing her expenditure. The increase is due to the new programme of four large cruisers, fifteen destroyers, and four submarines. > >France's reference to her neighbours on 6th November was pointedly against Italy, and her new programme includes 57 torpedo boats and 55 submarines. Italy is aiming at obtaining command of the Eastern Mediterranean, and her programme for 1928 includes four cruisers, twelve scouts, and six submarines. She also is developing bases in Sicily and Sardinia. {:#subdebate-49-3} #### All Doing It The naval expenditure due to the failure of the Geneva Conference, the correspondent adds, is not confined to the " Big Five." Germany's two new cruisers will be exceptionally big, and of great fighting power. Russia is developing her submarines. Spain also has a navy programme, and Greece, Rumania, Turkey, Yugoslavia, and the South American Republics are all expanding on a relatively large scale. That article gives us an indication of what is happening, notwithstanding the existence of the League of Nations. In reply to a question of mine the other day, the Minister for Defence has furnished a table giving Australia's total expenditure on defence, excluding war services. The figures for each year are as follows : - I ask honorable members particularly to note the expenditure in 1921-22, two years after «the war had finished, and the further fact that, over a period of twelve years, Australia has doubled its expenditure on defence. While we talk about our desire for peace and about what we think should be done by the League of Nations, we are as guilty as any other nation that is increasing its expenditure on defence. {: #subdebate-49-3-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- No. I have always said that Australia, as a unit of the British Empire, should use its influence for the purpose of endeavouring to bring about peace and disarmament throughout the world. But, instead of doing that, we are using our influence for aggression. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Not at all. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- That may be the opinion of the honorable member; but the statistics are against him. Instead of spending huge sums of money on armaments, it would be better for Australia to use its great influence with the rest of the British Empire to get the other nations to confer with the Empire and discuss the whole position, to see if something cannot be done towards disarmament. If we must have defence, as the honorable member for Darwin **(Mr. Bell)** suggests, our best line of defence is our AirPorce. Experts have proved that aeroplanes can go hundreds of miles out to sea and drop bombs accurately on enemy ships. Surely honorable members will see that that is the best means of defending Australia, with its long coastline. I do not say that we should not have other means of defence; but I claim that the Air Porce must play a very important part if it should ever become necessary for us to defend our shores. The other day I asked the Prime Minister the following questions : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What amount has been expended on the Air Defence Force for each year since 1922-23 inclusive? 2 Has his attention been drawn to the published statement of Group-Captain Williams, Chief of the Air Staff, on the 19th July, 1927, that "our machines are quite good for training, but they are not adequate for defence." If so, will he make inquiries to see that the money voted by Parliament for that purpose is being spent in the right direction ? The Prime Minister replied as follow :- {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1922-23 .. 189,517 1923- 24 .. 207,423 1924- 25 . . 402,908 1925- 20 .. .. 459,909 1920-27 .. .. 686,629 {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The money voted by Parliament for air defence is being spent for that purpose and for no other. It must be borne in mind that the building up of au air force necessitates a considerable outlay in hangars, workshops, aerodromes, and buildings for the accommodation of personnel, &c, as well as in the training of pilots and mechanics. Up to the present the bulk of the money allotted for air defence has been expended on these services, and the Force has relied chiefly for its aircraft on the gift equipment supplied to Australia by the Imperial Government at the conclusion of the war. These machines are, however, suitable for training purposes, and while they were available, the Government would not have been justified in scrapping them in favour of more modern aircraft The supply of gift equipment is now becoming exhausted, and a commencement is being made this year to re-equip the service units and portions of the flying training school with more modern types. Prom that , reply, we gather the astounding information that, although a sum of £1,946,386 has been spent on our Aii- Porce during the last five years, we have no suitable aeroplanes for defence purposes. No more damning indictment could be made against a government. As I have already said, I am pleased that there are some influential people who realize the necessity for taking greater interest in disarmament. The following article appeared in the Newcastle *Herald* of yesterday: >There must be no more war. With inspiring swiftness that determination overspread Britain on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the armistice. > >New and unexpected support for disarmament was forthcoming from practically the entire press. The Prince of Wales in his speech in the Albert Hall said, " Our every action, our every-day conversation, and even our thoughts must seek to ensure peace." The dangerous drift into war talk had been most apparent, even till last week. Prominent men had spoken almost glibly of the next war, and great journalists and statesmen had been dangerously discussing its form and type. If that statement came from me not much weight would be attached to it; but it comes from the Prince of Wales, who realizes the way the things are drifting. The article continues - >Responsible journals published elaborate details. Dean Inge wrote informatively and ruthlessly of the terrors of the next war, accepting it as an inevitable fact rather than condemning this war talk, which was most likely to lead to it. With the memory of a million dead and the stark recollection of the workless and homeless heroes, their wives and dependents, comes and almost incredible clamour for peace and disarmament, excelling anything since the war. > >The first scathing and authoritative denunciation came from as great a soldier as **Sir William** Robertson, on the eve of completing 50 years of military career, he denounced war in terms such as scarcely ever were heard from the lips of a great soldier. He described it as ghastly and useless destruction. > > **Mr. H.** G. Wells penned a remarkable letter to the Liberal candidate in the South .End byelection, declaring that the Baldwin Government was heading straight for war, and adding that, although he himself was Labour, he would vote Liberal to try to give the Liberal candidate a victory. > > **Sir John** Simon uttered a startling denunciation of Britain's trend towards another war in his armistice speech last night. He declared that, although we condemned as " unspeakable barbarity " the bombing of towns twelve years ago, we were to-day deliberately preparing and practising to do the same thing. Our War Office was storing up mustard gas. Were we sure we were not also contemplating submarine warfare on merchantmen, which practice we so vigorously condemned so recently? War must end. Vague aspirations for peace were useless. A new generation was growing up with the view that war was natural and inevitable. > >Viscount Grey, in an outspoken comment on Anglo-American naval rivalry said, " The longer the idea of a parity between the British and American fleets continues, the more difficult will the situation become. It will result in the two nations building against one another, even if they are not doing so now." That is significant testimony from men who hitherto have not had much to say in favour of disarmament. It is clear that they realize the danger throughout the world, and we should be guided by what they say, and endeavour to exercise our influence within the Empire to bring the nations together so that definite action towards the reduction of armaments may be taken. Time will not permit me to go very extensively into the subject of migration, but the present position is very unsatisfactory, and some change of policy is necessary. There can be no justification for bringing thousands of migrants r,o Australia when many of our own people are unemployed. "When the Government proposed to appoint the Migration and Development Commission, honorable members on this side of the House urged that until the commission had commenced schemes that would afford additional labour, the influx of new population should be prevented- Our advice was unheeded. Migration has continued as if the commission had made abundant openings for new arrivals; but although we have been informed that schemes representing an outlay of £5,000,000 have been approved by the commission, no work has been started that will absorb one migrant. Repeatedly we have warned the House against the danger of creating new departments, boards and commissions. We have pointed out how each creation of this kind gathers about it an ever-increasing staff, and expenditure mounts at an alarming rate. That has beeu the history of tbe Development and Migration Commission. I do not say that such a commission may not do good work if it sets about its job systematically, but the rate at which it has piled up expenditure in the short period of its existence is shown in the following paragraph in the *Age,* of 10th November, 1927 :- {: .page-start } page 1411 {:#debate-50} ### MIGRATION COMMISSION {:#subdebate-50-0} #### Another Vert Large Expenditure. Amazing Figures Canberra, Wednesday. - Amazing figures showing the cost of the Development and Migration Commission from its inception in August, 1926, to August last, have been tabled in the Senate by **Senator Glasgow,** in answer to a question asked by **Senator Ogden.** The return shows that the total cost of the commission for the year is £109,652. The commission's staff consists of 81 men in Australia, and 99 in London. The salaries of the commissioners amount to £10,949; and the salaries of the staff, £6,129; administrative expenses, £0,935; and the cost of investigation, £11,795 - a total of £35,809. Under the heading Immigration - Australian Organization, is the sum of £30,358, shown as having been spent during the year, and the London organization cost £29,242, the total cost of immigration being £73,842. Under the heading Experts and Advisers Attached to Commissioner are to be found the following particulars: - Engineer making inquiries into pumping operations in Murray Valley in connexion with dried fruits industry, 15 guineas a day; geologist engaged in making geological survey of Kalgoorlie areas, £800 a year; agricultural expert, £100 a month; officer investigating Tasmania's economic position, 5 guineas a day; forester investigating forestry in Tasmania, £600 a year; and an officer lent by Customs Department, £732 a year. Contributions to farm training schools amount to £14,240. The commission is supposed to he evolving and developing schemes to absorb migrants sent to Australia under the agreement between 'he British Government, Commonwealth, and State Governments, but since .it oas been in existence the cost of bringing migrants to this country has increased from £9 7s. lOd. per head to £12 3s. 3d. per head - an increase of £2 los. od. per head. In 1926-27 Parliament voted for the commission £90,650, and the actual expenditure during the year was £99,483, but on the estimates this'' year the amount has increased to £143,000. Where will this expenditure stop? Money is being literally poured out, and so far the commission has not started one scheme that will provide employment for additional population. The new comers are supposed to settle on the hind, but no suitable land is available for them, and it is questionable whether many of them are suitable for rural employment; in fact, it is generally admitted that most of them drift back to the cities to swell the ranks of the unemployed. The following extract from, the Sydney *Sun* of the 11th September last shows that there is insufficient land for the many Australian applicants - {:#subdebate-50-1} #### Land Rush 1,072 for Five Farms {:#subdebate-50-2} #### Parkes, Saturday An avalanche of applications was lodged at the Parkes Crown Lands Agent's Office for blocks thrown open this week near Tullamore. When the doors closed at noon to-day 1,072 applications were received for five homestead farms nnd 29 for a Crown lease. I quote again from the same journal of 13th November - {:#subdebate-50-3} #### Land Hunger {:#subdebate-50-4} #### Seven Areas. 1,880 Applicants Warren, Saturday. For seven areas of Wilga Downs Crown Leases, ranging from 7,290 to 13,800 acres, 1,380 applications were received by the Nyngan Land Board. That indicates that suitable land is not available for our own people. {: #subdebate-50-4-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- In regard to the calibre of the migrants, the following paragraph from the Melbourne *Age* of 1st October, 1927, is food for thought - {:#subdebate-50-5} #### Mentally Affected Migrants A rather serious position is revealed by the Inspector-General of the Insane **(Dr. Jones)** concerning the existence of insanity amongst migrants to Victoria. **Dr. Jones** said yesterday he intended calling for a report showing the number of aliens and other migrants in mental hospitals. This report would reveal an unduly high percentage of cases. It would also probably show that the proportion was greater than amongst native Australians. It had been shown that the mere fact of immigration, with its consequent change of life and surroundings, produced a strain on the migrant. If there had been any previous tendency to insanity, migration was likeiy to bring it out. He had pointed out in a report to Parliament in 1910 that an unduly high proportion of people of short residence in Australia were going into mental asylums. Australia had a reciprocal agreement with Scandinavia to return migrants who developed mental trouble within a short period of their coming here. There was' no such agreement with other countries. **Dr. Jones** considers that an international law should exist providing for the return to their native countries of migrants who become insane within two years after their settling in another country. There is much to commend that sugges-' tion. Recently the general secretary of the Australian Labour party in Western Australia forwarded to me a copy of the following sworn declaration: - >I was at work on my block of land, digging potatoes, when a man came up and asked me if I wanted any clearing done. He said he was a Bulgarian, living at Amphion, his name sounding something like Devick. He said he had had fifteen of his countrymen sent to him to place in positions, and as he was not in a position to keep them all himself, he was seeking work for them. None of them could speak English, and they were all without means. He offered to let me have two or three of them on the same terms that he already placed two of them on Horgan's farm in this district, viz., three weeks' work without pay, only their food; after then, 10s. per week and keep. No conditions were to be made as to hours to be worked or living conditions that were to be provided. I declined the offer. (Signed) William Watson, > >Timber-worker. At the request of the Western Australian Government this matter was investigated by a detective sergeant, who reported *inter alia -* >Regarding foreigners generally, such as Greeks, Slavs, and Italians, these men usually get in touch with one of their countrymen to get them to assist in finding employment, and, as will be. seen by the statements made by some of the persons I interviewed, they are prepared to work for their food only if they cannot succeed in getting anything better. That is a serious state of affairs. Men coming here and offering their services at rates below the Australian standards will detrimentally affect our workers and undermine their industrial conditions. Some action is clearly called for. Here is another statement, regarding the influx of Southern Europeans, published in the Melbourne *Sun Pictorial* of 9th November - {:#subdebate-50-6} #### Foreign Influx Mounts. 2,239 Southern Migrants Have Arrived .This Year {:#subdebate-50-7} #### Statist's Figures Big Increases in Southern European Migration to Australia are shown in the latest figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician **(Mr. C. H. Wickens).** For the quarter ended 30th September, the excess of arrivals over departures of Southern Europeans has grown from 031 in 1925, to 1,007 in 1926, and to 2,239 this year. For the first nine months of each year the figures are 4,997 (1925), 2,309 (1926), and 0,702 (1927). The immigration of otlier European races has also increased. The figures for British whites for the first nine months of each year are: - 18,640 (1925), 24,44.7 (1926), and 24,742 (1927). the pro-, portion of Britishers to Europeans for the three years has been 70, 87, and 73 per cent, respectively. Already this year Australia has gained 33,347 persons by immigration. I quote these figures so that we may know where we stand. Every one of us desires that our country should be developed. The Labour party is not opposed to immigration, but we contend that the Government should have some well-devised scheme for the employment of those who are already in Australia. Surely the position of our own people should be our first consideration. If thousands of honest men are out of employment, are we justified in bringing other people here in large numbers? This policy can have only one result. It must interfere with Australian industrial conditions which have taken years to build up and bring about a general measure of poverty. It cannot be beneficial to any one. {: #subdebate-50-7-s0 .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr CHARLTON: -- I entirely agree with the honorable member. I turn now to the income tax proposals of the Government. The Treasurer proposes to make certain exemptions, and to reduce income taxation by 10 per cent. This, he states, will decrease the tax to be collected during 1927-28 by £1,326,278. The present reduction represents the original rates, plus 8 per cent. The peak year for this tax was 1921-22, when it "realized £16,790,682. The estimate for 1927-28 is £9,800,000, while the estimated interest on our war debt for 1927-28 is £17,822,600. The war debt on 7th June, 1927, was £296,905,370. The position is alarming. Honorable members will -recall that the tax was imposed for the purpose of providing interest on our war debts.. Now we find that while taxation generally has been increasing considerably upon the great mass of the people, including those who took. part in the war, those who should bear the burden are being asked this year to find only .£9,800,000 towards an interest bill of over £17,000,000. It is difficult to understand the reason for the Government's attitude. Why should the Ministry constantly be making reductions in income taxation whilst the interest on our Avar debt remains at its present high figure? The Government's attitude substantiates the prediction made by honorable members on this side of the House that the cost of the war would, finally, rest on the shoulders of the poorer sections of the people. I have examined closely the finances of the Commonwealth and have endeavoured to place before honorable members the exact position. The figures which I have quoted are absolutely reliable. Those that are not extracted from the Treasurer's budgets, have been provided by the Commonwealth Statistician, so that their accuracy is unchallengeable. They show that, under the present regime, expenditure has increased considerably, that taxation, direct and indirect combined, has been increased, and the flood of imports has become heavier, that the national debt continues to mount, and that the interest bill is becoming heavier every year. In closing, I quote the opinion of the Sydney *Sunday News,* of the 2nd October - from Arst to last the budget bears all the marks of bad financing. . . .". . It is not too much to predict that **Dr. Page** will ultimately destroy the Government. I move - >That the item be reduced by £1, in order to draw attention to our adverse trade balance, the inadequacy of the protection afforded to Australian industries, and the increase of unemployment, and to direct the Government to remodel its financial policy to bring it into accord with the economic necessities of the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-50-7-s1 .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 .- It is desirable that, in the discussion of the budget, honorable members should detach themselves from party considerations. If they have fault to find with the financial proposals, it is their duty to submit definite remedies for the amelioration of the position. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton)** has exercised his prerogative in critically examining the Treasurer's proposals. I take this opportunity to remind him that his party, by its advocacy and support of indirect taxation, must accept its full share of responsibility for the growth of the cost of living, the national debt and the adverse balance of trade. On a previous occasion in this House I examined the financial position of the Commonwealth, and elsewhere I have contributed my share to the creation of a public conscience concerning the unsoundness or our financial and economic position. I regret that the Leader of the Opposition failed to submit one definite remedial proposal. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- He suggested an attempt to shift the Government. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is a natural and understandable proposition as coming from the honorable gentleman who leads the Opposition forces in this chamber. I wish to give credit where credit is due, and to criticize if criticism be necessary. At the outset I give the Government credit for the marked improvement in the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States. The latest proposal was a distinct advance on the scheme outlined in this chamber last session, to which I was strongly opposed. I regard the modified agreement as a generous arrangement on the part of the Commonwealth to share with the States in the liquidation of their accumulated debts. The provision of a sinking fund means that the Commonwealth will contribute substantially to the extinction of the public debts of the States, and it will also govern the policy of all future borrowings. I am not, however, very much enamoured of public borrowing. In this respect I go much further than the majority of honorable members. I believe the time has come when, instead of merely pointing to the difficulties of our financial position, we should seek to apply the remedy. This Parliament should give a lead to the people, and by its prudence in financial transactions endeavour to correct the present unsound financial and economic position of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, we have adopted false standards. The Commonwealth cannot afford to continue along its present course. The arrangements made for our war needs may be regarded as the starting point of our present system of unsound finance. There was then an almost complete abandonment of the ordinary business safeguards in finance and purchases for war purposes, with the result that we found ourselves saddled with a gigantic public borrowing and spending department which entirely ignored those economic and financial doctrines that should govern the expenditure of all public moneys. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Sir Elliot Johnson: -- Other nations are in the same position. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is so. Every *one* admits that when war is upon a people it must be prosecuted with the utmost vigour. But experience shows that there is no victory in war. We must face the cold, hard facts. We must realize that our people are staggering under the load of a great public debt, and that our economic position is unsound. The cost of living bears harshly upon the people. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- And the cost of production. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The cost of production naturally is high because the cost of living is high. We cannot sell the majority of our products in the markets of the wo/ld, not even in our own markets, except under the shelter of a high and ever-increasing tariff. The only primary products of Australia that can hold their own in the markets of the world to-day are wool and wheat. The growers of other primary products have to go cap in hand to the Commonwealth Government, and also to the British Government, for bounties to enable them to market their products overseas. It is an unsound position, and the people have to face it. This chamber should give them a lead. I am sorry that the Government this financial year has not given that lead. The estimates for both loan expenditure and expenditure from revenue are in excess of the expenditure for last year. We cannot attempt to right our financial and economic position until we, as a national parliament, are prepared to give the lead to a campaign of economy. It is" no use minciug matters. "We have to launch a campaign to reduce public expenditure and to effect public economies, so that we may ask the people to effect private economies. We have to import less goods in order to even up the balance of trade. At present the six State Governments and the Commonwealth Government, seven sinners in all, borrow largely from overseas, and this means the vast importation of goods. Borrowing from overseas has become Australia's most lucrative industry, and the chief source of Customs revenue to the Treasury. Without it the Commonwealth could not in the present state of Federal finances pay its way. The soundest test of Australia's financial position is the position of the States, as they are the controllers of this nation!s chief assets. They control laud and land production, water and water schemes', public buildings, works, and the means of internal transportation. Every State is in financial difficulties. The Commonwealth Government's financial surplus is absolutely fictitious, because it represents a proportion of our borrowed money as collected through the Customs. We borrow a million pounds, and, taking it that our ad valorem duty is in the region of 30 per cent, we receive £700,000 worth of imported goods, and £300,000 through the Customs, and we call that revenue! We are living on borrowed money. We are, in effect, subsidizing our national efforts by money borrowed from overseas. It is but a subsidy to the national output, and we call it national prosperity. We set up standards based upon the amount of revenue we get from these sources. I should be the last person in the world to advocate that those who have won better conditions for themselves should be the first to suffer. I do not ask for . an alteration in that way. I look for a decrease in the cost of living, aud a subsequent decrease in the cost of production. The cost of living is eating into the very vitals of our race. Young men and women will not face their racial obligations to the nation. They refuse to carry on the race in the proportion in which it should be carried on because of the ever-increasing cost of living, which prevents them from establishing homes and rearing families. The need to reduce the cost of living is knocking at every door. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- What is the remedy? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- To-day we are in the position of asking Great Britain to help us financially, and then putting oar fingers in our vest pockets in front of that country and telling it that its workers are in a condition of poverty. We parade our conditions of apparent affluence, and boast of our high social standards, when in reality they are based upon money borrowed from the Mother Country. We are in the position of a defaulting tenant parading before his landlord- {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- Defaulting ? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Defaulting in the sense that we have to borrow money to meet our interest payments. In one year the balance of trade against us was over £20,000,000, and we were unable to ship to London sufficient gold to make up that difference - our currency, our economic circumstances would not permit it. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- This country has never defaulted in meeting its obligations. . {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- We are defaulting in the sense that we are living beyond our means and not meeting our obligations except by borrowing from our creditor to pay her. We have to look for remedies, and to try to even the balance of trade. We have to live within our means and to return to the position in which we were before the prodigal borrowing era commenced. We have to make the Australian sovereign do a better job. I do not know by what means the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton)** hopes to square the ledger. I listened most attentively for him to suggest some solution of our problems. He pointed to the evil, but made no suggestion of a remedy. He did not ask the people of Australia to increase their production and to decrease the cost of that production, nor did he want an increase in the Australian population. By what visionary or magical means does he hope to square the ledger? The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to give some lead to the people whom he represents, first, in respect of reducing the cost of living, next in the direction of rectifying our false economic position, * and then of balancing the ledger. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- The honorable member is dealing with generalizations. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The generalizations and figures submitted by the Leader of the Opposition overwhelmed the rest of his speech. This Government has to launch a campaign of economy. It must not fail to give a lead to this country. Every State Government has had to face its financial difiiculties. Strange to say, the two mendicant States that approached the Government less than eighteen months ago are the two whose finances to-day are the soundest, {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- I should not call any State a mendicant. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Both Tasmania and Western Australia asked for an endowment, and obtained it, and they have profited by their experience. It is imperative that all the States to-day should put their houses in order. {: .speaker-KXD} ##### Mr Watson: -- The only remedy is increased development. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- We must have increased production. Until we have increased production, increased population, a reduction in the cost of living first, and a reduction in the cost of production which will follow, Australia will be unable to solve its financial problem. Western Australia launched a campaign of development. Of course, seasonal conditions have helped that State, but to its credit this year it has the promise of a yield of 35,000,000 bushels of wheat, which will be nearly equal to the yields of South Australia and Victoria put together. I wish to see the necessity forced upon this Government of living within its means, and not to live unduly, through the Customs and otherwise, upon the people and borrowed money. I again credit the Government for a reduction in land and income taxation. If there has been any increase in indirect taxation it has been with the unanimous consent of the Opposition. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Not at all. We did not support the revenue duties imposed by the Government. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Opposition has supported all increases in the Customs tariff. I do not know of any instance in which indirect taxation through the Customs has been refused by the Opposition. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- We support protection, but not revenue duties. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I ask the Government to shed its extra-departmental boards and commissions as far as possible. To-day they have grown up and surround ministerial control to such an extent that they have become responsible for departmental estimates and revenue. Probably no department to-day has so grown out of direct ministerial responsibility as has that controlled by the Minister for Markets and Migration, which is one of the most interesting of the Commonwealth. The Minister is surrounded by so many boards, including export control boards and the Development and Migration Commission, that his position has become a mere sinecure. It is bad governmental policy. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- The export boards do not cost the Government one halfpenny. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is not a question of costs. These boards have levied upon industries a charge which is an extra cost upon production. I think that some of the boards have not shown the results that the Minister expected from them. These export governmental boards and activities are to day increasing the taxation of the country and the cost of production. ' {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- Is that the honorable member's only remedy? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I have suggested very definite remedies. The first is to stop borrowing abroad, and as soon as we did the Opposition would cry out about unemployment. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- Did not the honorable member vote to borrow £20,000,000 for housing ? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Let the honorable member look it up for himself. The honorable member for Dalley has made a great mouthful of selling the ships. It is purely a political stunt, for he represents a body of men who ship nothing, many of whom hold up shipping, and who, for one period> held up the perishable products of this country while there was a prospect of millions of pounds worth of goods perishing on the wharves. He ought to be the last man in the world to throw gibes. I am glad that the Government has plugged up one leak. That loss of over £500,000 a year can no longer be laid at its door. ' It is to the credit of the Government that though its action is unpopular with certain sections, it did grasp that thistle and proposes to put an end to further loss of revenue from that cause. There is plenty of tonnage in the world to-day to take Australia's, exports. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Yes, at the Combine's price. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- New lines have come into the world's shipping trade not in any way associated with the existing Combine. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- Enumerate them. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- In my judgment we shall have sufficient competitive accommodation available for all the tonnage we have to offer. *Several honorable members interjecting.* {: #subdebate-50-7-s2 .speaker-JOG} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Mr Bayley:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND These interjections must cease. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- I believe that the Treasurer for the present year has overestimated the revenue from Customs duties. The diminution in production will result in a lessening of importations, which, in turn, will lead to a reduction in the revenue derived from the Customs. I believe that a period of economy will be forced on the Government, and that revenue from all sources will' be below the estimate. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- The honorable member has shied off his promised remedies for the present financial position. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Perhaps the honorable member for Dalley would like some of his old Queensland remedies. He is notorious for remedies, some of which were so good in Queensland that he quitted and got out of the State. When things got too hot the honorable member left. He is not the man to talk about remedies. His remedy is to quit, and many other leaders from the honorable member's State have done likewise. The remedies proposed by honorable members opposite at a time like this when we have lost the balance of trade, include such proposals as reducing the national effort by four hours a week, a child endowment scheme, and a national insurance scheme. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- That is all humbug. Let the honorable member give us his remedies. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 --Such remedies will not help us to square the national ledger. {: .speaker-L1T} ##### Mr Yates: -- What about the honorable member's remedies? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- Did not the honorable member vote for the proposal to a loan to make available £20,000,000 for the housing scheme. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- May I say in answer to all these unruly interjections that the £20,000,000 proposed to be made available for housing will provide the nation with an asset and individuals with homes, while the liability will every year become less as the homes are paid off. That scheme is not in the same category as most of those to which I have objected. It is not a public-undertaking the value of which it will be necessary to write down 30 or 40 per cent, when completed. It means the creation of a great national asset in respect of which every year there will be a repayment of the capital cost together with interest. Such public expenditure goes right down to the roots of the social life of the people. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- But what is the honorable member's remedy? He himself suggests more borrowing. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- These houses will not be built entirely from borrowed money. If the honorable member for Yarra wants the merits of the proposal, I can inform him that a portion of the money to be spent on the people's homes will be obtained from the earnings of the bank'. If the honorable member looks up the bill he can see that for himself. . {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- The honorable member knows quite well that the Treasurer proposes to borrow a portion of the money. The honorable member says that borrowing should be curtailed, but under the housing scheme it is proposed to keep on borrowing. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member for Dalley keeps bobbing up with that remark like a jack-in-the-box. It seems to be the only remark that he can make. He once had a public reputation, but that has vanished. He is a diminishing quantity even in the counsels of his own party. To sum up- {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- Where are the honorable member's remedies? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The Government must go slow in federal finance, and curtail its expenditure, or the money will not be obtainable from revenue. I trust that even money borrowed for the legitimate purpose of building homes will be spent carefully. Authority was given under the bill to borrow only so much as was necessary to make up the amount required. I do not think that this huge sum can be spent for the capacity to build additional homes is limited. It was found on a previous occasion, when when a big programme of house-building was put on foot, that it was not possible to create an organization capable of maintaining that programme, and I believe that for the present scheme there will not now be that expenditure of loan money which the Treasurer anticipates. I hope that the result of discussions from both sides of the House will be to show that governments cannot subsist on the policy of oversea borrowing. They must use the funds required inside Australia over and above the amount required for the carrying on of our industries. The public debt, for the Commonwealth and States, as at 1st June, 1927, was £1,016,623,000. If interest is calculated on that amount at the current rate of 5^ per cent., it totals £52,000,000, which exactly absorbs the Australian wool clip. Our pension bill to-day is £17,769,000, which exactly takes up the estimated exportable, surplus of this year's wheat harvest of 100,500,000 bushels, from which home requirements of 30,000,000 bushels may be taken, leaving 70,500,000 bushels for export. Those two primary industries are the sheet anchor of Australian finance. What has this nation to justify its present public programme of financial expenditure ? The figures are so alarming that party politics should not enter into the question, nor, when figures are given, should there be a chorus from the Opposition merely to create a diversion. The position is so serious that it demands the best attention of every honorable member in this chamber. We are faced with responsibilities which we have to discharge. We shall be compelled to live within our means, as the present rate of borrowing cannot continue. We must live within our production, and accommodate the whole of our economics to the amount of surplus available. {: #subdebate-50-7-s3 .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE:
Dalley -- I shall spend a few minutes in dealing with the rather disjointed and inconsequential remarks of the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. Rodgers).** The honorable member started by criticizing the Leader of the Opposition, stating that that gentleman had not been specific enough in his advice to the Treasurer. The honorable member for Wannon stated that the position, due to the financial drift which is occurring under the present Government, was grave, and that drastic remedies were needed. He stated that the people had to face the' situation, and that this chamber must give them a lead. When the honorable member himself was asked to specify remedies. However, he merely indulged in further generalizations. Beginning with the air of a schoolmaster, of one who had the knowledge and could impart it to the committee, the honorable member, when finally driven to the point of declaring his remedy, could only say that borrowing would have to cease. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is not so. That is only one of the remedies which I suggested. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- That is the only one I understood the honorable member to make. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- The honorable member was the central figure in a foolish organized effort to prevent me from stating my case. He should be the last *mar.* in Australia to offer advice on finance, in view of the wretched state in which he left Queensland. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).Order!** The honorable member is out of order. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- I do not set myself up as a financial authority, superior to any other honorable member in this chamber- {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is too late for the honorable member to attempt to do that now. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- But I have had long experience in controlling finances of a State and am quite willing to make a contribution to the debate. The honorable member for Wannon rose with an air of superiority. He was going to demonstrate to the Prime Minister the weakness of the position, and show him the light. When asked to propound remedies his only one was that there should be a cessation of public borrowing. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- That is not so. The honorable member deliberately keeps saying that when he knows the truth to be otherwise. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- The honorable member has an opportunity now, by interjection, to recall to my mind any other remedy suggested by him. He spoke merely in generalizations. The honorable member did say that there would have to be increased production and a reduction of importations; but those are generalizations, not remedies. Surely the honorable member does not hold that they are remedies? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- There cannot be excessive importations unless there is borrowing to pay for them. If that were done, the balance of trade would be lost. The chief remedy is to curtail borrowing. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- The honorable member is confusing cause with effect. Let me deal with his one remedy, the cessation of borrowing. The inconsistency of the honorable member was pointed out by interjection from this side. He was reminded that, only a week or two ago, he voted with the Government for the borrowing of £20,000,000 for housing purposes. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- From the funds of the bank. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- No, in addition to the funds of the bank. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Internal borrowing and partly from the funds pf the bank. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- The Commonwealth housing scheme is based upon the use of certain excess deposits in the savings bank, plus a loan which the Treasurer has to borrow to make £20,000,000 available to the housing fund. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Over how many years? {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- It does not matter over how many years. The honorable member supported the raising of an additional £20,000,000. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It will be local borrowing over a period of ten years. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- Whether it is local or overseas borrowing, the honorable member, when propounding his remedy, was against all borrowing. {: .speaker-JXA} ##### Mr Charlton: -- The honorable member for Wannon also supported the borrowing of £34,000,000 for migration purposes. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- I am drawing attention to the inconsistency of the honorable member for Wannon, who mentioned a specific remedy that he himself rendered nugatory by voting for the additional borrowing of £20,000,000 on one vote alone. Can the honorable member justify the borrowing of that amount, even though it is spread over three years? {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- It is spread over ten years, not three. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- I am referring to the terms mentioned by the Treasurer If the honorable member justifies borrowing large sums like that for a housing . scheme, I take it that every State Government could justify its borrowing operations for the schemes on which it spends loan money. The programmes of the various States cover railway construction, roads construction, harbour improvements, financing local authorities for water supply, town improvement, street-making and drainage. That is all developmental work backed by definite fianancial assistance, as is the case in connexion with the Government's housing scheme. {: .speaker-KJM} ##### Mr Jackson: -- Definite assets but of indefinite value. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- There is a good deal of loose thinking on the question of the loan policies of the State Governments. I do not wish to indulge in generalizations; but I recognize that except for war expenditure - which may have been inevitable, and which I do not criticise - the loan indebtedness of Australia is supported by assets infinitely greater than our public indebtedness. We must not overlook that fact. To denounce loan expenditure in a general way, as did the honorable membnr for Wannon **(Mr. Rodgers)** is really to indulge in an alarmist policy calculated to damage the credit 'of the Commonwealth both at home and abroad. We should not keep alluding tq the money Australia has spent on public developmental works of different kinds as wasteful expenditure. That is a foolish attitude to adopt and one calculated to create alarm in the mind of the public creditor. We need to be careful. If the Commonwealth is justified in borrowing £20,000,000 to carry out its housing scheme, the States are justified in raising 90 per cent, of the money they require for carrying out works under their control. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- They are on quite a different basis. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -Not at all. Many of the States are borrowing money to carry out their housing schemes, to provide advances to agriculturists, and for the purpose of constructing roads, conserving water, for harbour works, transportation, irrigation and developmental works generally. {: .speaker-K99} ##### Sir Elliot Johnson: -- Ordinary commercial concerns find it advantageous to borrow money in order to extend their operations. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- Yes. When commercial concerns find that their business is rapidly growing they are faced with two alternatives. They have either to raise more capital in order to expand their businesses, or to expand them in a more restricted way out of surplus earnings. Most progressive concerns will raise new capital, and that is what Australia and other nations have been doing. I admit there is a limit which should not be exceeded in matters of this sort. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Foster: -- Has not that limit been reached. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- Possibly. No sane person would advocate complete cessation of public borrowing in Australia. If an attempt were made to give effect to such a policy it would be ruinous to the States. I should like to have heard what the honorable member for Wannon had to offer by way of a remedy for the serious position "which he believes to be confronting us. The only remedy I heard the honorable member offer was one embracing a cessation of public borrowing, which would be ruinous, and concerning which I heard a chorus of " hear hears." The honorable member referred to the high cost of living which every one will admit is due to several factors. It is possibly due to some of those to which the honorable member referred, such as the high protective policy which applies in Australia, and the shorter hours of labour that rule here as compared with most other countries. But surely the honorable member does not condemn the idea of a 44-hour week. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- At this juncture it is national madness. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- This country is gloriously rich in natural resources. It is peopled by a race more competent than most of those living in the countries with which it has to compete. We are regarded as a people possessing greater human capacity than those of other countries, and can therefore achieve a higher standard of living and a better social order than prevails in other countries. A higher social order includes a shorter working week, and that the Prime Minister himself does not oppose. In his policy speech in 1925, he, by implication, said that he would set up an inquiry with a view to establishing a uniform 44-hour week-f or Australia. {: .speaker-KFP} ##### Mr Foster: -- What! {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- He advocated an inquiry in order to see whether the working hours could not be made uniform throughout Australia. He did not specifically mention a 44-hour week. The honorable member for Wannon sneeringly referred to a child endowment scheme as an unnecessary charge upon industry. The Prime Minister definitely promised such a scheme. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- He did not. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- He led a majority of electors to believe that he was committed to that policy. {: .speaker-K4Y} ##### Dr Nott: -- So did the honorable member in 1919. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- I did, and I also recognize the necessity for a ' uniform working week throughout Australia. {: .speaker-KZT} ##### Mr RODGERS:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP; NAT from 1917 -- Can the honorable member suggest some remedy to get Queensland out of her present difficulties? {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr THEODORE: -- Queensland is not in any difficulty such as the honorable member suggests. No one in the Queensland Parliament would find the least justification for making such a charge against the position of Queensland's finances as the honorable member has made against the soundness of the Commonwealth finances. The honorable member made the charge against the' Treasurer that he was fast heading for disaster, that ruin awaited us round the corner; that there was a whirl of extravagance, an absence of economy, and that the whole of our economic position was unsound. If there is a scintilla of justification for these assertions he should endeavour to solve these problems rather than be concerned with the position of the States' finances. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 1421 {:#debate-51} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-51-0} #### Australian Commonwealth Line of St.E a mkrs- confidential cablegrams. {: #subdebate-51-0-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr BEUCE:
Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs · Flinders [T0.31J. - I moveThat the House do now adjourn. Last Friday, in the course of a personal explanation, I referred to certain cablegrams, the text of which was included in correspondence that had passed between the Government and the Commonwealth Shipping Board. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Charlton)** interjected that a further cablegram had been sent to London on behalf of the Prime Minister, to the effect that he was of the opinion that if Cabinet accepted an offer for the Bale of the Line there would be no difficulty in obtaining the ratification of Parliament to the sale. I replied that 1 had been unable to find any record of the despatch of such a cablegram, but that if one were discovered later I should inform the honorable gentleman of the fact. A cablegram in those terms cannot be found on any Government file, but in a communication from the Commonwealth Shipping Board the Government has been advised that the following cablegram was sent by Admiral Clarkson to **Mr. Larkin,** who, at that time, was in London - Secret and confidential. Referring to my telegram of to-day, for your private information, in my opinion you may definitely rely if Cabinet accepts there will be no .difficulty obtaining ratification Commonwealth Parliament. That cablegram expressed Admiral Olarkson's personal opinion. It was not sent by me. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.32 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 November 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.