10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Treasurerbeen drawn to a paragraph in the Daily Guardian of to-day to the effect that the directors of the Commonwealth Bank deny that their attitude in regard to the Commonwealth
Bank Savings Bank Bill has changed, and assert that the Treasurer introduced legislation that differed from the draft submitted to them? Will the Treasurer inform the House whether that statement is correct?
– On Monday the Prime Minister in the course of a telephone conversation with Sir Robert Gibson, Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board, ascertained that apparently there was a slight misunderstanding between the board and the Government in regard to the Savings Bank Bill. At the request of the Prime Minister the chairman and other directors came to Canberra yesterday, and conferred with the Government. They expressed agreement with the bill, which is now before another place, but said that in view of the contents of that measure and the Housing Bill the board would like the opportunity to administer the housing scheme. An amendment to permit that to be done has been introduced in another place.
– The New South Wales branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League recently saw the Treasurer in Sydney and requested that as Captain Kingsford Smith is determined to proceed with his attempt to fly from San Francisco to Australia, a destroyer or some other war vessel of the Royal Australian Navy should patrol portion of the Pacific Ocean in order, if possible, to render the aviator assistance if he should need it. Has the Minister for Defence given consideration to that request, and if so, what is his decision ?
– I shall convey the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Defence and furnish him with a reply.
.- (By leave.) - During the course of a somewhat acrimonious debate last Tuesday, regarding the purchase by the Commonwealth Government of £100,000 worth of radium from the Belgian Congo, I ventured with all humility to tender my advice and record my opinions. Certain of my observations “were objected to by the Minister in charge of Repatriation (Sir Neville Howse) and ruled by you, Mr. Speaker, were not to be permissible. My remarks were expressed in moderate language, although not sufficiently moderate to comply with the limitations imposed by the ancient traditions of British Parliamentary institutions. During that debate I had reason to question the correctness and reliability of a statement by the Minister, and it was just at this ‘ point that you, sir, intervened and I bowed to your authority. I feel that my standing and good name were impugned, although not to the extent that I impugned the veracity of the Minister. I shall therefore read two sworn declarations which will place the Minister and myself in correct perspective with the House and the country. In the Hansard report of my speech, after I had asserted that the Minister was not in possession of all the facts with regard to the supply of radium from the Australian Radium Corporation, the honorable gentleman interjected -
I stated that I saw the managing director of this company in Brisbane early in July, and thathe made the whole details of his composition known tome.
In the Argus the Minister is reported to have said -
On the 1st July he had an interview with a medical man who was chairman of directors of the Australian Radium Corporation. He was informed that the company was prepared to supply radium from the mine but that no stock was on hand, and that the company would not be in a position to supply any considerable quantity for nine months or a year.
A similar statement was included in the Sydney Morning Herald’s report of the debate. I present the following sworn declaration by Dr. Hugo Flecker, who is an eminent medical specialist of Collins-street, Melbourne, and chairman of directors of the Australian Radium Corporation - a man whose word should be respected -
I, Hugo Flecker, radiologist, of Melbourne, and chairman of directors of Australian Radium Corporation do hereby solemnly declare that I have never interviewed the Minister for Health for the Commonwealth of Australia or any representative appointed by him, in Brisbane orany part of Queensland.
Further, to the best of my belief, no director of the corporation aforementioned or representative associated therewith has visited Brisbane or any part of Queensland during this year Nineteen hundred and twenty-seven and if any director or representative had been present, in that State I would have been fully aware and advised of same. Further, no director of Australian Radium Corporation has had any interview with the Minister for Health for the Commonwealth of Australia or any representative appointed by him during July, Nineteen hundred and twenty-seven. I endeavoured to secure an interview with the Minister for Health during July of this year, but was unsuccessful and this interview was sought at the office of the Department in the City of Melbourne in the State of Victoria. The details of the interview secured during August of this year is set forth in an accompanying declaration.
I, Hugo Flecker, make this declaration conscientiously believing same to be true and subject to the laws made governing statutory declarations. (Signed) H. Flecker.
Swornbefore me at Canberra on the Sixteenth day of November in the year Nineteen hundred and twenty-seven in the presence of -
Arthur Blakeley, J.P., for the State of New South Wales.
Dated at Canberra the 16th day of November, 1927.
The Minister may say that owing to pressure of public business, he had made some mistake regarding the place and time of the interview with the chairman of the directors of the Australian Radium Corporation; he may say that the interview took place in Melbourne, and not in July, but in August, as stated by Dr. Flecker. ‘ The Minister stated, in his speech, that certain particulars regarding the company had been placed before him, and he had full knowledge as to whether the company could supply the requirements of the Commonweatlh. I now present another declaration sworn by Dr. Flecker. It states -
I, Hugo Flecker, radiologist, of Melbourne, and chairman of Australian Radium Corporation, do hereby solemnly declare that I interviewed the Minister for Health for the Commonwealth of Australia (Sir Neville Howse) in Melbourne, in the State of Victoria, in August, of Nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, and pointed out that the press had notified the Government’s intention to purchase One hundred thousand pounds sterling worth of radium. The Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse) informed me that he knew nothing about it, and stated that I knew more about it than he (Sir Neville
Howse) did. I then informed him of the activities of the Australian Radium Corporation, stating that it was able to supply all the radium which was required, and requested that the Australian Radium Corporation he given an opportunity to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth Government when needed. He (Sir Neville Howse) stated that he did not know of the existence of the Australian Radium Corporation, and asked me where the mining operations were carried on. In reply I informed him. Other than this no questions were asked. Certainly no reference was made at this interview, the only interview I have had this year, with the Minister for Health (Sir Neville Howse) having reference to the date of deliveries and the supply of quantities of radium that would be possible by the Australian Radium Corporation. The interview only lasted a few minutes, at the conclusion of which Sir Neville Howse summed up the position in the following words: - “What you want is that the Australian Radium Corporation should be given an opportunity to supply the radium requirements. Is that so?” After that I replied in the affirmative, and the interview ended.
I, Hugo Flecker, make this declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and subject to the laws governing statutory declarations. (Signed) H. Flecker.
Sworn before me at Canberra on the 16th day of November., in the year Nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, in the presence of (Signed) Arthur Blakeley.
Justice of the Peace for the State of New South Wales.
Dated at Canberra this 16th day of November, 1927.
I leave the matter at this juncture for the country to determine the correctness or otherwise of the attitude adopted in my endeavour to conserve, so far as lay in my power, the good name of Parliament by exposing the delinquincies of the Minister for Health, even to the point of challenging his veracity and code of public honour.
(by leave). - The honorable member for Hindmarsh, in the course of his speech last Tuesday, was kind enough, after I had made a statement, to call me a liar. You, Mr. Speaker, drew attention to the fact that he had used language that could not be tolerated in this House, and he was called upon to withdraw what he had said. The honorable member has also said to-day that I spoke of having seen Dr. Flecker in Brisbane. To the best of my knowledge and belief I did not use the word “ Brisbane “
– “ Brisbane “ appears in the Hansard proof.
– I used the word “ Melbourne.” I said that the interview took place in July, and that Dr. Flecker made certain suggestions, which I outlined with perfect accuracy in my speech. No affidavit can possibly alter the facts. I conclude that the doctor made the statements contained in his affidavits to the best of his knowledge and belief ; but nothing warrants the attitude adopted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, though it may have been due to pique and jealousy caused by his being called upon to withdraw the expression “liar,” which he applied to a colleague with whom he has been working for some years.
– When words have been withdrawn, it is not in order to refer to them.
– The expression was offensive to me, and was intended to convey the honorable member’s belief, which he has reiterated to-day, that the Minister was without honour and probity. That was the honorable member’s clear and definite statement.
– Hear, hear !
– The Honorable member affirms it. Such effrontery has never before been displayed by an honorable member. It is unwarranted, and offensive. There is no possible excuse for the honorable member, except that he may have been hurt by being called upon to withdraw a statement that was totally untrue.
– In view of the expressed determination of the Government to dispose of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers without further reference to Parliament, and as the provisions of the’ Shipping Act vest the control of the Line in the Shipping Board, I ask the Prime Minister if the members of the board have consented to its disposal, and if the Government has been advised as to the legality of its action in discontinuing without the consent of Parliament a business and service established by act of Parliament.
– The board was not consulted about the Government’s policy, which has now been endorsed by the House. The second part of the honorable member’s question raises a matter never previously raised; but the Government certainly does not anticipate legal or other difficulties in the course it proposes to pursue.
Tasmania and the Mainland.
– The report of the
Public Accounts Committee regarding shipping communication with Tasmania contain reference to the establishment of wireless telephony between that State and the mainland. An article in the Launceston Examiner on Tuesday referred to the reference as “ so much dope.” What arrangements are being made for establishing such a service, and when will it be ready for use?
– The matter has not been lost sight of. Investigations have been and are still being made. On the return of Mr. Brown, who is investigating the subject of wireless telephony in America, we shall go further into it.
– Has the Prime
Minister any definite information regarding the removal of the coal dump in my electorate, about which I have previously questioned him?
– Instructions have been issued to the Disposals Board of the Defence Department to take action in regard to the sale and removal of the coal.
– On the 6th October I questioned the Prime Minister respecting uniform marriage and divorce laws for the Commonwealth, and he replied that the matter would be considered. Has the Government yet come to any decision?
– Some weeks agoI asked a question regarding the censorship of books and literature imported into Aus tralia. Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say when the reply will be available?
– The information upon which the reply to the honorable member’s question will be based arrived from Melbourne only this morning. I hope to be in a position to supply a full answer at an early date.
Employment of Workmen
– Is it a fact, as has been told to me, that workmen employed at the Federal Capital City must be members of trade unions, and that their appointments are made from the Trades Hall?
– Last week, when the honorable member referred to that matter, I made inquiries, and I found that there is connected with the commission’s office an employment bureau, at which the workingmen in the territory apply each morning. There is a roll-call for employment in various sections of work at Canberra, and the workmen on the spot receive preference.
– Must they be members of a trade union ?
– I do not know. If the honorable member will put that question on the notice-paper I shall obtain the information for him.
– Has any money col lected under the State Roads Acts yet been passed to New South Wales?
– No money can be passed until the Federal Aid Roads Agreement has been ratified by the Parliament of New South Wales.
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The following replies, based on information furnished by the Commonwealth Dried Fruits Control Board, are supplied in answer to the questions of the honorable member: -
Currants, 7401 tons new season’s.
Lexias, 2,559 tons new season’s.
Currants, 10 tons.
Lexias, 75 tons.
Currants, 4,413 tons.
Lexias, 94 tons.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained and furnished at a later date.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made, and the information will be supplied as early as possible.
Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained as far as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1.(a) Twelve.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What are the rates of allowances and expenses paid to the members of the royal commission inquiring into the Constitution?
– The fees and allowances paid to the Constitution Commission are -
Chairman. - £200 per month and £2 2s. per day travelling allowance. Members. - £5 5s. per sitting, and travelling allowance of £2 2s. per clay while away from home on the business of the commission.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained and supplied as early as possible.
Accommodation at Capital Cities.
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Pontoons for Training
– Yesterday the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
– Yesterday the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to make the following reply : - 1., 2. and 3. The national debts were as under : -
The dominion debts do not include the debts of the States or provinces forming the dominions. The Australian figures include £16,750,000 debt on account of States in 1919, and £83,583,972 in 1926. In the cases of Britain, Canada, and South Africa, as their financial year ends on the 31st March, the figures given are those of that date.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) asked the following questions: -
Has his attention been drawn to the following published statements : -
If there is any truth in these statements, will he cause the Tariff Board to inquire into the matter with a. view to the removal of the protective tariff on imported bananas, and in order that our reciprocal trade relations with Fiji may be restored?
I am now able to supply the honorable member with the following information : -
My attention has not been drawn to the particular statements mentioned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) .
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to approve the agreement made between His Majesty’s Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited.
.- I do not want to raise an objection, but I desire to know just how we stand in regard to the business of the House. The budget is before the House at the present time, and has been under discussion for two days. Will the Prime Minister inform honorable members when that discussion is to be resumed ? The financial year ended on the 30th June, and we are now well into November; but we have not yet disposed of the budget. While I realize that the Prime Minister controls the business of the House, I think that, in the interests of
Parliament and of the country as a whole, the budget should be disposed of as soon as possible.
– In reply to the inquiry of the Leader of the Opposition, the budget is set down as the first subject for discussion to-day, and it is proposed to go or. with the budget debate to-day, and to-morrow if necessary. The message which I now ask the House to consider relates to a bill concerning which I propose tomake only the explanatory speech at this stage. The debate on that bill will be resumed at a later date, after the budget debate has been concluded.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Bruce and Dr. Earle Page do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Bruce, and read a first time. secondreading.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill to approve of an agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Amalgamated Wireless Company of Australasia Limited. On two previous occasions bills have been introduced into this House for the ratification of agreements between the Commonwealth and the Amalgamated Wireless Company; but, in order that honorable members may under stand the position clearly, and realize the necessity for the introduction of this bill, it. is advisable to go briefly over the past history of the development of wireless, and also to refer to the two previous agreements which were ratified in this House, one in 1922 and the other in 1924.
At the Imperial Conference in 1921 the subject of Empire wireless was considered by representatives of the self-governing parts of the Empire, and an expert technical committee was appointed to advise the conference as to the possibility of the establishment of such an Empire system. The advice that was tendered by that committee was that commercial wireless communication over a distance of 2,000 miles was economically impossible, and it recommended that an Empire chain system should be established, with links operating between Great Britain and Egypt, Egypt and India, India and Singapore, and Singapore and Australia. The recommendations of the committee were accepted by the representatives of all the countries present, with the exception of Australia. Mr. Hughes, the then Prime Minister of Australia, declined to accept the view that direct wireless communication between Britain and Australia was impossible, and he retained for Australia the right to take any action that might be thought fit. The developments in wireless during the past six years have shown how prudent, indeed, was the right honorable gentleman at that time. Upon the return of the Prime Minister from the Imperial Conference, he submitted to Parliament a measure which embodied an agreement with the Amalgamated Wireless Company. Under this agreement the capital of the company was to be increased to £1,000,000, and the Commonwealth Government was to acquire 500,001 £1 shares in the company. The measure was referred to a committee of this House, upon which all parties were represented. Substantial amendments were made in the original agreement, and in March of 1922 the agreement, as altered, was signed on behalf of the Commonwealth. Under that agreement the board of directors of the company, comprising seven members, was to be composed of three representatives of private shareholders, and three representatives of the Commonwealth Government, with an independent chairman. The power of veto was retained, under certain circumstances, for the Government’s representatives, Under the agreement the Amalgamated Wireless Company undertook to erect in Australia a station for direct communication between Great Britain and Australia, and it undertook to arrange for suitable corresponding stations in Great Britain and Canada. It was also to provide commercial wireless services capable of maintaining communication over 300 days in ‘ the year, on a minimum basis of twenty words per minute, each way, for twelve hours each day. When the agreement was made, wireless communication over a distance of ten or twelve thousand miles had not been established, and certain guarantees were therefore embodied in the agreement. A tender for the erection of a high-power station was actually accepted in September, 1923. It was to have twenty masts, each 800 feet high, and was to operate Upon a wave-length df 20,000 metres, the cost to be £480,000. Considerable difficulty was experienced with the British Government in connexion with the reciprocal station that was to be erected in Great Britain. The advisors of the British Government, and the British post-office authorities, declared that a wireless station to communicate over such a great distance was impossible, irrespective of the size of the station., and it was impossible to obtain from the British Government a licence for any one else to build a station in Great Britain. At the 1923 Imperial Conference, I endeavoured, without success to overcome those difficulties. Just , bf ore the conference concluded, ihe Government appointed a committee to investigate the whole subject of wireless. Mr. Donald was chairman. The committee made a report recommending that Great Britain should erect the necessary stations for the provision of reciprocal services required by the Dominions. That was in the beginning of 1924, when I had returned to Australia. During the previous two years tremendous progress had been made in the science of wireless. The invention of the beam system changed the whole aspect of wireless communication. This Government therefore decided - and I remind honorable members that it was subjected to a great deal of ridicule over that decision, the contention being that the project was an impossible one - that the beam system must inevitably be used in the near future. Accordingly, the contract for the high-power station was cancelled, and one for the beam system substituted. The new arrangement involved the construction of five towers, each 300 feet high, as against twenty towers, each SOO feet high, and an expenditure of £120,000 instead of £4S0,000. A bill to provide for this was brought before the House in August, 1924. The effect of the new arrangement was to relieve the Amalgamated Wireless Company of its obligation to erect a high-power station in Great Britain, and to carry out. certain portions of its contract, because it was impossible for the company to give effect to them, as the British Government would net allow the erection of a high-power station. The beam station has brien erected and is operating, and I shall say a few words about it shortly.
It is interesting to note how remarkably the science of wireless has progressed during the last six years. One must be conversant with what has been accomplished if he is to have any vision of what may be done in the future. In 1921 experts declared that wireless communication over 2,000 miles was commercially impracticable. In 1922 a contract was entered into for the erection of a high-power station, which was to have a capacity of 8,640,000 words a year. In 1924, only two years later, the high-power station was discarded, the beam system established, the contract altered, and the obligation made a minimum of 26,000,000 words- over three times the number expected from the high power station. The station which has been erected has been an almost unparalleled success. To-day it is handling a very large percentage of the total commercial traffic between Australia and Great Britain, notwithstanding the competition of the well organized and longestablished cable companies which have carried the traffic in the past.
– Can the right honorable gentleman say what the percentage is?
– At present it is about 45 per cent, of the total traffic between Great Britain and Australia. The success achieved is in a great measure due to the initiative and ability displayed by the Amalgamated Wireless Company, and the Government is firmly of opinion that it would be a fatal blunder to revert to the system of control by the Post Office. That company has performed a very important work in relation to wireless in Australia, and unfortunately, because of certain troubles to which I shall refer later, its services have not been fully recognized. For the last six years we have led the world, in a great measure, in wireless development, and to a great extent we have been guided by the advice tendered by the Amalgamated Wireless Company. As yet wireless is only in its infancy, and I believe that that company will exercise a great influence on the development of the science in Australia. It has over 800 employees, and the whole of its staff, with two exceptions, has been recruited and trained in Australia. The exceptions are the managing director, who came to Australia some sixteen years ago, and a glass worker, who was brought from Great Britain. The Amalgamated Wireless Company has developed marine wireless to a remarkable degree, and” today its equipment is installed in over 100 merchant ships. The equipment on those ships is Australian made, and it is manned and operated by Australians who were trained and supplied by the company. The company has also put wireless installations into ships that are being built in British dockyards, and some years ago it sent a large quantity of Australianmade wireless equipment and wireless operators to equip ships that were being constructed in Japanese dockyards. We should recognize that the Amalgamated Wireless Company has built up a very valuable organization, and is doing a very useful work in Australia. In the Pacific Islands the company has supplied and erected a number of successful wireless telegraph and wireless telephone stations, and the British Government has recently entered into an arrangement with the Amalgamated Wireless Company to take over, re-organize and operate the whole of the wireless service in the Fiji Group. The beam system has revolutionized oversea communication with Australia. To-day one can send a deferred week-end message at the rate of twenty words for 8s. 4d., while the press deferred rate is now downto 3d. a word. When those rates are compared with the rates that were levied for cable communication it must be appreciated that the Amalgamated Wireless Company has been a very valuable adjunct to Australia’s oversea communications. The company has also given much assistance to amateur experimenters in Australia, and at its own expense has sent abroad a number of young men in order that they may receive training in the most up-to-date wireless methods that obtain elsewhere. . It is hoped that, in the near future, we shall be able to establish wireless communication with most of the civilized countries in the world. The Government feels strongly that if initiative and progress with regard to wireless matters in Australia are. to be assured, it is highly desirable that these activities should not become merely one of the instrumentalities under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Consequently the bill provides that they shall remain under the present control. But certain alterations and amendments are proposed to the existing agreement in connexion with special services with other countries, and certain provisions have been included with the object of removing ambiguities from one or two clauses in the existing agreement. Provision is also made to strengthen the control which the Government will have over any services that are established. For instance, paragraph 1 of clause 14 of the proposed new agreement reads -
But no new service may be established unless it is approved by the Commonwealth Government. Paragraph 5 of clause 14 of the proposed. new agreement is important for it provides that -
Notwithstanding anything in clause 11 of thu Principal Agreement, the fixation of all rates for tra Dic to be charged by the company shall be subject to the approval of the Commonwealth.
Power is also given to the . Commonwealth to determine whether any service which the company proposes to carry on in addition to the service to Fiji, and any service which exists at present, is or is not necessary in the public interest. It will be seen, therefore, that while .Amalgamated Wireless Limited will be encouraged to develop wireless communications with other countries, the Government will retain the right to determine whether particular projected or established sendees are- desirable in the interests of the people of Australia. It will also retain power to control charges, and it will always be competent for it to issue licenses to any other company to enter into competition with Amalgamated Wireless Limited if that should be deemed necessary. The amazing development in wireless of late has brought under prominent notice the relation between wireless and cable methods of communication. The fullest inquiry is being made into this matter, but I think it may be said that the maintenance of the cable service will remain vital to Australia for defence purposes. However successful wireless communication may prove to be, we may not be able to rely entirely upon it. It may be necessary also to continue the cable as an auxiliary to the wireless service for ordinary private, commercial and public purposes. The development of this company may, however, be so great that before very long it will conduct the whole of the electric communication between Great Britain and Australia.
In consequence of the cheap rate at which it will be able to transmit messages as compared with the cable companies, it may occur to some honorable members that it may be able to make such big profits, and pay such large dividends that its shares may rise to a high speculative value. But I point out that the Government will still be able to control the situation, for it holds one more than halt. the, shares in the company. While the Government recognises that the private shareholders in the concern should be allowed a fair return for the capital they have invested in it, and that for the last five years the company has not paid a farthing in dividends, it will take care not to allow the profits or dividends of the company to reach such figures as will cause the shares to become the subject of great speculation.
The three most important matters dealt with in the report of the Royal Commission on Wireless are the payment of terminal rates, the establishment of coastal stations, and the royalties to which Amalgamated Wireless are entitled for the use of their patents. All those matters are covered in the proposed new agreement. I shall deal with them separately.
Clause 4 of the amended agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Amalgamated Wireless Limited, which was approved by the Wireless Agreement Act 1924, reads -
The company will charge for its part in transmitting and receiving messages to and from Australia and the United Kingdom not more than one-half of the respective amounts scheduled in paragraph d of clause 5 of the principal agreement, and will pay to the PostmasterGeneral such amounts as may be due at standard tariff rates in respect of messages handled by the Post Office.
When the service which was organized under the provisions of the principal agreement was about to be inaugurated this year, questions arose as to the rates which were to be charged for messages, and as to whether or not the company was liable to pay terminal rates. It was argued on behalf of the company that the clause I have just read exempted the company from the payment of terminal rates ; but the Government took the opposite view. It considered that Amalgamated Wireless. Limited was just as liable to pay terminal rates as was the cable company. The matter was also governed to some extent by the provisions of the International Convention with regard to post and telegraph services, to which the Commonwealth Government is a party. It is laid down in that convention that there shall be no differentiation in the treatment of cablegrams and wireless messages or other systems of communication. The Commonwealth Government was advised that whatever clause 4 of the agreement might mean it would be impossible for it to exempt the wireless company from the payment of terminal rates without committing a breach of the international convention. The matter caused great difference of opinion and much legal disputation, and when it appeared that the delay in settling it might delay the inauguration of the service, the Government agreed that the payment of the amount involved in respect oi terminal charges should be held in abeyance until it had been determined by arbitration: It was contemplated that pending a settlement of the issue the amount should be held in a trust fund. Under the agreement now before the House, the company undertakes to pay the whole of the terminal rates on a standard basis from the date when the service was first opened. The actual amount to be paid on this account will be, approximately, £25,000, and on the basis of 9,000,000 words per annum, which appears a reasonable estimate of the total traffic to be handled by the company in the immediate future, the amount payable to the Commonwealth will be, approximately, £45,000 a year. This amount will, of course, increase as the company absorbs more of the existing traffic or creates additional traffic for itself. In exchange for thispayment, the Commonwealth Government has agreed to make certain concessions to the company in respect of coastal stations. The original agreement of 1922 provides that the coastal stations should be taken over by the Amalgamated Wireless Company, and should be paid for on the basis of agreed valuation, or, failing agreement, upon a valuation to be determined by arbitrators representing the two parties and an independent chairman. An agreement was found to l e impossible, and Mr. Swanton, of Melbourne, was appointed chairman of an arbitration board. The value based on the coastal stations by this board was £56,500. Under the original agreement, that amount was to be deducted from the last instalment of capital to be paid by the Commonwealth as and when it became due, and for the first three years - altered to four years in the 1924 agreement - the Commonwealth would bear the losses upon the coastal stations. The proposal embodied in the agreement now before the House is that the company shall continue to own and work the stations, and that the £56,500, instead of being deducted out of the last, call paid by the Commonwealth, shall be set off against any moneys due by the Commonwealth to the company. Towards the losses upon these stations, the Commonwealth agrees to pay to the company £45,000 a year, but the company undertakes to pay to the Commonwealth 30 per cent, of the revenue derived from the continuance of the services which were carried on by the stations at the time of the original agreement, whether the messages are sent through those stations or through any other stations. The average losses upon those stations during the last five years of Government control were £34,300, excluding New Guinea. The average losses for the five years since the company has controlled them have been £31,560, excluding New Guinea, and £34,700, including New Guinea. On the basis of the present revenue, the 30 per cent, which will be paid to the Commonwealth will represent approximately £10,000, but this amount should increase as the coastal business develops. The Royal Commission recommended the re-acquisition by the Federal Government of the coastal stations, and their being placed under the control of the Postmaster-General. After the fullest consideration of the question, the Government has come to the conclusion that it is not desirable to accept this recommendation. The reason for the Government’s decision is that it believes the stations can be more efficiently nui in connexion with the general wireless service of the company than if a separate organization were to be set up under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department.
It has also to be borne in mind that if the Royal Commission’s recommendation were adopted the Commonwealth would have to pay for the re-acquisition of the stations, and would have to bear the whole of the losses upon their future operations.
Another matter of great importance is the royalties paid to the Amalgamated Wireless Company. The extraordinary advance of wireless as illustrated in the experience of Australia since 1921, would make even the most sceptical and ignorant person hesitate before putting a period to the limits of its possibilities. What it has achieved in the past Will he dwarfed .into insignificance by the developments of the future. Wireless apparatus of all kinds is now being manufactured in large quantities throughout the world. Many thousands of people are being trained in all branches of wireless work, and experiments are being conducted in all directions. In the field of marine communication the wireless compass or direction finder, which enables a ship to take its bearings and find its position in the densest fog at all times, is being adopted by an increasing number of ships. Experiments are also being conducted with a wireless beam which revolves very much as a light revolves to warn shipping in the heaviest fog. For some time past the transmission of photographs by wireless has been an accomplished fact; pictures of important events, photographs of prominent persons, and even advertisements have been sent by wireless across the Atlantic Ocean. On one occasion a cheque for a considerable sum was so transmitted, and the bank at which it was presented verified the signature and honoured the cheque. This new phase of facsimile transmission, it is anticipated, will enable reproduction of any letter or lengthy document to be wirelessed across space in the course of a few minutes. The effect of the development of this form of transmission in cheapening the communications between Australia and the outside world cannot be estimated. Longdistance telephony by wireless is developing rapidly, and it is already possible for a telephone subscriber in England to speak from his home to a subscriber in the United States of America. Tests have recently been successfully carried out whereby such telephone conversations are carried on from the beam stations at the same time as those stations are transmitting telegraph messages at high speed. It seems practically certain that within a very few years it will be pos- sible, by means of the beam system, to connect the telephone network of our Australian cities with that of other great cities in Britain. In the broadcasting of entertainment, news, speeches, and propaganda, such rapid advance has been made that international broadcasting is only a matter of time. This has, indeed, been already successfully achieved experimentally, and I myself have spoken from Frankston and been heard by thousands of listeners in Great Britain. Only technical difficulties need to be surmounted to make these remarkable events commonplace. It is again impossible to accurately measure the influence of such a development upon the world’s affairs. One thing is certain - it must bring the peoples of the world closer together and be a considerable factor in the promotion of international peace. Another interesting experiment is taking place in regard to television, which will enable us to see events at a distance as well as listen to them. It is anticipated that the people of Australia will be able to view the Lord Mayor’s procession in London at the precise moment at which it is taking place. The control of war ships and air ships by means of wireless has been undertaken so often as to be commonplace. Experts are, however, endeavouring to go much further, and anticipate that the day will come when, by means of wireless, power will be transmitted across space to the areas which require it.
In view of what has taken place, and the experiments which are daily being made, the subject of patents becomes one of considerable importance to every country interested in wireless. At the present moment the principal countries in which research and development are being conducted are Great Britain, the United States of America, Germany, and France, and the bulk of the patents for wireless apparatus are held by big organizations in those countries. In. order to make their own services complete and efficient, these organizations have found it necessary to acquire each other’s patent rights. If Australia is to remain at the forefront of wireless achievement, it is necessary that we too should have access to the patents at present in use and those which will be taken out in the future. The Amalgamated
Wireless Company, in 1923, acquired the present and future patent rights, the goodwill, and the right to the technical knowledge and experience of the principal wireless systems of the world, which then belonged to the Marconi Company of England, and the Telefunken Company of Germany. As the result of this arrangement, it is entitled to all the benefits of the costly research and developmental work maintained by these tv:0 great companies. During recent years the company, by reason of an arrangement with the two concerns mentioned, has also acquired similar rights from the principal wireless systems of France and America. The mobilization of these important rights under the control of an Australian company is most valuable to the future development of our wireless services. Since the advent of wireless broadcasting, a large number of traders have been attracted to the field, and a great deal of public discussion ha3 :i risen because the Amalgamated Wireless Company claims that the majority of wireless sets sold infringe its patent rights. Two courses were open to the company - either to keep such rights as it claims exclusively for itself, to be used only in the apparatus which it manufactures, or to license its competitors to use patents on payment of certain fees. For Australian-made wireless sets, it charged the same royalty as is charged in* Great Britain. For sets made in other, parts of the Empire the charge is slightly higher, and foreign-made sets are charged at a still higher rate. It also charges a certain fee to the broadcasting companies, on the ground that they also use the company’s patents for their own actual or prospective profit. There has been a great amount of criticism in regard to those charges, and, after the fullest investigations, the royal commission recommended that the charges being excessive, they should be reduced to a royalty of 2s. on each listener’s licence, as against 5s. at the present time; that radio dealers should pay 5s. on each valve socket as against 12s. 6d. now claimed; and that the charges to “ B “ class broadcasting stations should be limited to 10 per cent, of the gross revenue of each station, against 25 per cent, at present claimed. The commission also recom mended that the attitude of the company with regard to claims for royalty on separate valves should be immediately defined, and that claims against traders should be abandoned so far as transactions on or previous to the date of the publication of the report was concerned. The commission further recommended that, failing compliance with these requirements, the Commonwealth should acquire the private shares of the company, and that prior to this acquisition, the company should be directed to take all steps to obtain an early decision on the validity of its patents. This recommendation of the commission raises the very important question of international patents. The patent law is based upon international convention and usage, and any interference by the Government with property in the form of patents would have violent repercussions so far as Australian inventions are concerned. Apart from the important effect which such drastic action might have upon future patents taken out in the countries to which I have previously referred, there would certainly be retaliation against Australian inventions. The company claims that all the charges it has made are fair and reasonable. While it is now quite prepared to come to an arrangement, it defends its past course of action. To remind the House of some of the facts, and to enable it to arrive at a fair and impartial judgment, I may recall that in fixing the original charges the company, in common with every body else, was completely in the dark. Nobody had the faintest idea what the expansion of wireless telegraphy in Australia would be. We had no knowledge of the number of licences that would be taken out. The company says that its charges were so fixed as to ensure a reasonable return; but I think that it admits that the number of licences has far exceeded expectations.
– Did the commission recommend that the private shares of the company be acquired by the Government?
– It recommended that if the company would not adopt a reasonable attitude concerning the ‘suggested reductions in charges, the private shareholders should be bought out by the Governments In fairness to the company, I should say that the charges made in accordance with the number of valve sockets are the same as those levied in Great Britain, which the company, of course, contends are fair and reasonable. I should also point out that, in its discussions with the Government,-‘ the company has displayed every desire to come to a fair arrangement, so that, while it will be ensured a proper return for the patents it owns, fair treatment will be received by the public. An arrangement has been come to by which the company’s patent rights will, for a period of five years, he made available free of charge to all wireless traders, and broadcasting companies, and to listeners. Tinder this arrangement the company will waive its present charge on broadcasting stations of fis. per annum in respect of every listener’s’ licence, and will also waive its charge amounting to an average of £2 10s. on every valve receiving set. This amount of 5s. per licence on 250.000 licences equals £62,500, and 12s. 6d. a valve on 25,000 four-valve sets equals £62,500. The company further waives its charges on up to 25 per cent, of the revenue of “ B “ Class stations,, say £1,000, making a grand total of £126,000. In consideration for this the company will receive from the Government a payment of 3d. a month, or an average of 3s. per annum in respect of every listener’s licence issued by the Government. On the basis of 250,000 licences the amount received by the company under the new arrangement will be £37,500, or £88,000 less than was originally claimed. The recommendations of the royal commission detailed above would have brought to the company a revenue of £50,000, so that under the agreement it will receive £12,500 less than it would under the royal commission’s recommendations. The company also agrees to make available to the Commonwealth Government all its patent rights, free of charge, for the manufacture or use of any plant or apparatus manufactured by the Commonwealth, or by the British Government, or purchased from the company. The company also agrees to grant a licence free of royalty to every newspaper published in the Commonwealth and to each wireless broadcasting station for the purpose of receiving the official news bulletin issued by the British Government. Amongst the1 various charges levelled at the company is one to the effect that it does not hold these patents. Large and wealthy electrical manufacturing companies powerful enough to investigate the legal claims of Amalgamated Wireless, such as the Western Electric Company, the British General Electric Company, Metropolitan Vickers Limited, the Australian General Electric Company, and others, have recognized the company’s rights and have agreed to pay royalties on valve sets sold by them in Australia. In these circumstances, it might be argued that the Government should leave the parties to fight their own battles. Broadcasting, however, is a popular form of entertainment, and affects a large number of people and numerous small traders. The British Government’ is paying to-day, in regard to the beam system, 6-£ per cent, of its revenue to the Marconi Company by way of royalties on patents. In the face of the evidence, nobody can suggest that a prima facie case, at any rate, has not been established that the company owns something on which it is entitled to charge* royalty. Under the laws of this country, 150 patents have been granted protection. Therefore, we must start with the assumption that the company has some rights, and that is the assumption on which the Government has acted.
The Government’s reason for not leaving the companies to fight out the dispute among themselves is that broadcasting touches the lives of the whole of the people. It is developing, and it is much better for the situation to be cleared up instead of having the company pursuing individuals for alleged breaches of patent rights. The Government feels that it is essential that, since a prima facie case has been set up, the matter should be definitely settled. For a period of five years every broadcasting station, manufacturer, trader, and listener can, under the agreement, use any or all of the company’s patent rights without payment of royalty and without fear of litigation. There is no limitation on the nature or the type of apparatus they may use or upon the source from which they get it. Clause 10 of the agreement, however, provides that, in order to establish its rights to the patents, the company shall prosecute to judgment, as expeditiously as possible, the actions which have already been instituted by it in Australia for infringement of patent rights. The agreement further provides that, if the company does not get judgment in Australia within twelve months, it will institute proceedings for the infringement of similar patents in New Zealand. If the company fails in this action to establish its patent rights, the agreement terminates. The agreement, therefore, is dependent in some degree upon the company establishing its right to patents. I submit that there was no other method of granting immediate relief to the listening public than is proposed in this agreement, nor is there a better way of determining for all time the rights of the company in regard to its patents. That provision has been included to ensure that the issue will be definitely settled. It is most undesirable that it should be left uncertain. The Government felt that possibly the parties involved might take the view that the matter had already been more or less satisfactorily settled, and might consent to judgment. That would leave the position very much as it is to-day.
It may be suggested by some that Amalgamated Wireless Limited should be taken over by the Government. I presume that if we consented to that we should have to liquidate the presentcompany and dispose of the manufacturing side of its business. I suggest that such action would not be in the interests of wireless in Australia, and, accordingly, the Government has adopted the course that I have indicated. The present licence fee of 27s. 6d. is subject to a deduction of 2s. 6d. by the Postmaster-General for the expenditure of the department in connexion with wireless, and the balance of 25s. is paid to the broadcasting companies. Of this amount, in the past 5s. has been paid to the Amalgamated Wireless Company by the broadcasting companies in respect of royalties, and1s. 6d. has been paid by the broadcasting companies to the Performing Bight Association in respect of copyright. In the future, it is proposed that the payment to the Amalgamated WirelessCompany of 3s. shall be made before the payment to the broadcasting companies. At the moment, it is proposed not to make any alteration in the payment of £1 to the broadcasting companies in respect of the licence fee of 27s. 6d., but to reduce the licence fee by giving to the listeners the benefit, not only of the 2s. reduction in the payment to Amalgamated Wireless, but also of a reduction of1s. 6d. which it is proposed to make in the payment to the post office. I would plead that in the past the PostmasterGeneral was not profiteering, but was subjected to the same difficulties as were experienced by everybody else in determining the revenue to be raised from the licences issued. There will, therefore, be a reduction from 2s. 6d. to 1s.
– Has that reduction been determined in accordance with any principle?
– The Government determined that reduction, having regard to the recommendation of the Royal Commission. The figure which the Royal Commission arrived at was about £50,000, and that which the Government took into consideration was £35,500. I held several conferences with the broadcasting companies in Melbourne, but it was not found possible to come to any arrangement without a further investigation of their figures. The report, of the Royal Commission deals with the broadcasting companies at some length, and indicates that in one instance, at all events, profits under the present arrangement are very high; but it also stresses the financial difficulties of the companies in Western Australia and Tasmania. A recommendation is made that an operating allowance of £5,000 should be made to each of the companies out of the licence fees before the distribution of revenue is made to them. After a full examination of this proposal the Government is of opinion that the adoption of that recommendation would not be a solution of the problem, nor would it lead 0 the provision of first-class programmes in all the States, which is the only basis upon which an expansion of wireless to the extent that is desired can be looked for in Australia. At the conference I found that the companies’ expenses had increased in the most amazing fashion since last July, and they protested that any reduction in the amount paid to them would mean a reduction both in the quality and number of programmes, and also in the number of licences issued. A further examination of the financial position of all the companies is now taking prace, and it is hoped that as a result it will be possible to arrive at some basis whereby the revenues paid to the broadcasters will be sufficient to ensure firstclass programmes being provided, without undue profits accruing to any of the broadcasters as a result of the position they are placed in by enjoying what is practically a monopoly granted to them by the Government. This problem is a novel one, and one that has caused a great deal of trouble in Great Britain. When the original arrangements for the payments to the broadcasters were made, the Government was faced with the difficulty that” it was impossible to estimate what was likely to be the development, and what number of licences would bo issued. The licences were granted for a period of five years, but the Government made it clear that at the expiration of two years it would hold itself at liberty to alter, in any way it saw fit, the payments which were to be made to the broadcasting companies. That period has now expired, and the Government is in a position to take such action as it deems best -in the interests of broadcasting and the expansion of wireless in Australia. As soon as the whole of the figures have been examined, the Government will come to a decision as to what action should be taken, and I am extremely hopeful that the broadcasters themselves will cooperate with the Government in order to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement. In the event of such an arrangement being made, the Government would be prepared immediately to extend the period of the licences for a reasonable time. In the report of the royal commission, the point is stressed that the broadcasting stations have no vested right to the renewal of their licences at the expira- tion of existing licences, and the Government would certainly not be prepared to renew them unless some satisfactory arrangement were arrived at. Without such an arrangement, it will be necessary to reconsider the whole subject of broadcasting in Australia. A number of other points are raised in the report of the royal commission, but they fall outside the scope of the present agreement, and the Government will take another and early opportunity of announcing its policy with regard to them. It is doubtful whether much can be done until the return of Mr. Brown, the director of postal services, who is in America attending a conference dealing with wavelengths and any re-allocation due to alterations. There are a number of other matters in regard to broadcasting and wireless in Australia which certainly require close investigation, but science is moving so rapidly that it is necessary that we should hesitate before coming to a final decision.
– Are the listeners-in to receive any benefit?
– They will benefit by a reduction of 3s. 6d. Whether there will be any further reduction I. cannot say, because we have to consider whether the present figure enables the broadcasters’ to make undue profits.
– What is being done with the royal commission’s recommendation respecting blind persons ?
– That is purely a matter of Government policy, which would not be dealt with in a statement relating to wireless generally. Once these proposals are given effect - and the bulk of them will immediately operate - the Government is certain that the whole wireless industry of Australia will be stabilized, grievances removed, and listeners and traders generally benefited. The main object of the agreement is to give the public the benefit of modern wireless, and at the same time encourage the industry itself. It is easy to range one-self on a particular side, and seek concessions from, the other. Only when one attempts to survey the field as a whole do the real difficulties manifest themselves. Great concessions, however, have been obtained, and a fair basis of solution arrived at.
It is well to remember that the Amalgamated Wireless Company, around which all wireless activities circulate, is mainly a government company. If it is to continue its remarkable progress it must be ensured fair treatment. On the other hand, the Government, by its position on the board and because of the more rigid controlling clauses of the agreement, can safely guarantee the general public against any possibility of unfair exploitation in Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brennan) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 16th November (vide page 1514), on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That the first item of the Estimates under Division I. - The Parliament, namely, “The President, £1,300 “ - be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Charlton had moved by way of amendment (vide page 1414)-
That the item be reduced by fi.
– I suppose that there is nothing easier in this world to a man who has a glib tongue and a vivid imagination than destructive criticism of even the best schemes ever devised by the human mind. Budgets peculiarly lend themselves to destructive criticism, and it is merited more frequently than otherwise. It would be more helpful to the Treasurer, however, if the destructive criticism were accompanied by some helpful hints as to methods by which the things complained of might be rectified. We have had destructive criticism from both sides of the chamber. We expected it from the Opposition, which, of course, can always shelter itself behind the plea that it is not its business to help the Government but to try to displace it on the Treasury bench. That is quite legitimate from the point of view of the Opposition. While destructive criticism is indulged in to the extent which we have heard on this side of the chamber, however, it is reasonable to ask those who criticize the Government to suggest some means by which the things of which they complain might be remedied. The criticism of honorable members might in this way be of some help to the Treasurer and to the Government. When listening to the speeches of some honorable members, particularly those of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), I could not help thinking that members of the Government might, with reason, exclaim, “ Heaven protect us from our friends.” It reminded me of a story told of the late Sir John Robertson, when one of his supporters, a very conscientious man, voted against the Government on a momentous division. Sir John was very annoyed about the matter, and asked the member for his reason; the member replied, “I voted against you because I did not think you were right.” Sir John replied, “If I could depend for support only on the people who think I am right I would never get anywhere. I can always be sure of their support, but the time I really need help is when my supporters think I am wrong.” There are some things concerning which I think the Treasurer and the Government are wrong, but there are many more things in which I think my friends opposite’ are dangerously wrong. Even had I not been elected to support this Government I could not logically do otherwise when I believe in 90 per cent, of its proposals, even if I think the other 10 per cent, are wrong. I ‘would not be justified in displacing the Government in order to put on the Treasury bench a body of men whose basic political principles I believe to be 100 per cent, wrong.
– Then we shall never get the vote of the honorable member?
– There is nothing like living in hope, even if, politically, we die in despair, and I am afraid that will be the fate of the honorable gentleman who interjected. One thing for which this Government is to be highly commended is its proposal to increase war pensions from 5s. to 7s. 6d. in respect of the third and subsequent children. This is a matter to which nobody has previously referred, yet it is a very important one, which affects our soldiers closely, and I feel sure that whatever they may think about some other financial proposals of the Treasurer, they will be of the opinion that he was acted very humanely and very wisely in this respect. I am pleased also to see that the Government has decided to provide transport for permanently incapacitated soldiers. This is a humanitarian act, and one which can be put on the contra side in the balance against the Government for some of the things alleged against it in regard to excessive expenditure and its failure sufficiently to reduce taxation. I think that there is some reasonable ground for criticism in those respects, and later I shall make some suggestions as to how I think some further reductions can be made with advantage. In regard to the alleged excessive expenditure, however, it must be remembered that this Government has immense commitments. The Government has had to deal with conditions for which it was not itself responsible. Many of these conditions arose out of the war, and the aftermath of the war, and involve commitments of a nature which, prior to the war, were never dreamed of. We must not forget that in addition to loan debt, repatriation, financial aid in various forms to the States and national works there is a fairly considerable increase in the amount of pensions to be paid, and in the number of pensioners who participate in the payments. No fewer than 10,000 pensioners were added to the list last year, and the total number up to the :30th June last was 259,S22. Last year pension payments amounted to £9,144,589, and the increased expenditure provided for this year will bring the total payments up to £9,400,000, an increase of £254,000. The present day cost of pensions amounts to over 30s. per head of population. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth Government spends a great deal of money, but it is not alone in that. Our expenditure is far more justifiable than that in many of the States, more particularly in those States which have Labour Governments. Some of ‘our heaviest expenditure is inescapable “by any means at all. The total expenditure for the whole of Australia, ‘States and Commonwealth combined, is estimated for 1926-27 to amount to £222,159,000. The adult population of Australia is about 3,000,000, so that the expenditure per head of population amounts to approximately £77. This is about equal to our annual production. According to the figures furnished by the Government Statistician, the annual production for the five years ending 1925 amounted to £388,000,000. I have only got the figures up to 1925, but it is questionable whether our production has increased since then. Relatively to the purchasing power of money, it has probably decreased. For this year the seven Parliaments of Australia have decided to borrow £50,000,000. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, a large proportion of the money is borrowed for the purpose of redeeming loans. These loans have to be met as they fall due by taxation or conversion loans. In the States, however, I think there has been an excessive amount of borrowing for purposes which cannot be justified on similar or other grounds of necessity. Since 1914 our expenditure for the whole of Australia has increased by something like £120,000,000. In the budget which we are considering, expenditure out of loan money is provided for to the extent of £14,750,000, and of this amount nearly 50 per cent, has been allocated for railway construction and extensions in the Postal Department. A sum of £6,798,000 is to be spent on railways and postal services, while £900,000 is set aside for repatriation services - chiefly on war service homes. Approximately £4,000,000 has been allocated for the extension of telegraphic and postal services, including telegraphs, telephones, and buildings. A large sum of money has been set aside for defence, particularly for naval defence under the five-years’ expenditure scheme. Assistance is -to be rendered to the primary producers to the extent of £100,000 for wire netting, and £293,000 for the Murray Rivers Waters Scheme. The sum of £300,000 has been set aside for advances of passage money to immigrants. Further sums are being expended in subscriptions ito the Commonwealth Oil Refinery. I do not propose to deal with expenditure other than from loan money, and I think there are some items under this heading which might with advantage be reviewed. There is, for instance, the question of immigration, for which £300.000 has been set aside for assisted passages. I can quite understand the attitude of some of our friends opposite on the subject of the unrestricted immigration of people who may become competitors, in the various avenues of industrial activity, with those already resident in Australia.. I believe that their views arise from amisunderstanding of the whole position, and a failure to understand the economic situation. At the same time, however, I hold with them that before we embark on any system of wholesale immigration we must have the ground prepared, and must be sure that we can satisfactorily absorb the migrants when they arrive, without unduly disturbing the labour market. Far from wishing to disturb the labour market, I believe that our policy should be so to increase industry and production in Australia as to create fresh demands for labour. I read, with some interest, a speech delivered by the Right Honorable L. M. S. Amery, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. In the course of his remarks on migration, that gentleman said -
If a new citizen comes here, takes up productive work, and spends on consumption within this country the wages that he fairly earns, he is actually an employer of labour. He gives employment to others; he keeps up the standard of wages and of employment. Unemployment is due, not to over-population, but to defective organization, to a defective balance between different industries.
I think he is perfectly right. I view with some misgiving the influx of so many foreigners into Australia, chiefly from the southern portions of Europe. I have been present when vessels conveying these migrants have arrived, and I have noted the different types. Judging from external appearances, while some are likely to make good Australian citizens, a great many, however, who came under my personal observation did not strike me as being of the type that will be of advantage to us as citizens. In the long run, from an industrial point of view, they are more likely to be a menace than an assistance to Australia. I appreciate what the Prime Minister has said about the proportion of foreign to British arrivals.
– What does the honorable member mean by “appreciate”?
– The right honorable gentleman said that, at present, the proportion of such arrivals showed only a very small percentage of foreigners, and that it was not a very serious matter as far as the relative proportion of British and foreign arrivals was concerned. That may be the case now, but as time passes that proportion is likely to increase, if we do not hasten ourselves to secure British preponderance always, and I cannot forget the lesson that we have to learn from Canada and the United States of America in the matter of a polyglot people. When I think of the races that largely form the population of those countries I am not at all enamoured of the prospect of large numbers of Southern Europeans being brought here to assist to populate and develop Australia. If we are unable to obtain our own kith and kin to assist us, we should turn to the Scandinavian countries. Their people are vigorous, law abiding, and industrious, and possess all the characteristics which make for good citizenship. They are less hysterical, more solid and phlegmatic, and more attuned to British temperament.
The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) made some remarks about borrowing, in regard to which I do not see eye to eye with the honorable member. Had he adopted the attitude that we must exercise caution and judgment I could have understood his argument. Borrowing simply for the sake of borrowing is unsound in principle, but I do not suppose that there is any large business in this or any other civilized country of the world which is not assisted, to a great extent, by bank overdrafts. A man would be very foolish indeed if he saw opportunities to extend his business profitably and failed to take advantage of the finance offered by banking institutions, say, at 6 per cent., when the venture would return 10 per cent. If that argument applies to private business it must apply equally to the business of the States. Everything depends on the circumstances. I have no objection to borrowing for reproductive works. There is no reason why this generation should pay for works that will benefit unborn generations and perhaps even to a greater extent than the present one. So long as expenditure is carried on judiciously, and not extravagantly, borrowing is perfectly sound and legitimate.
It is true that the high cost of production is one of the problems with which we are faced, and we in this Federal Parliament are not altogether blameless in the matter. We have been revelling in tariffs of very description, on every occasion, on sometimes the flimsiest of pretexts, in the belief that production will be stimulated, and the cost of living cheapened thereby. Some honorable members opposite who talk so much about the high cost of living would, if they had the opportunity, indulge in the practice to a greater extent than does the present Minister for Trade and Customs, whose faith in the virture of high tariffs as a leaven of prosperity seems unbounded.. May I quote from a memorable work by Henry George. Protection or Free Trade. Chat gentleman was highly esteemed as a philosopher, an economist, and a logician of rare analytical ability, and by no stretch of the imagination could he be described as anything but the sincerest friend of Labour. I quote his remarks particularly for the edification of honorable members opposite: -
My aim in this inquiry - is to ascertain beyond peradventure whether protection or freetrade best accords with the interests of those who live by their labour. I differ with those who say that’ with the rate of wages the State has no concern. I hold with those who deem the increase of wages a legitimate purpose of public policy. To raise and maintain wages is the great object that all who live by wages ought to seek, and working men are right in supporting any measure that will attain that object. Nor in this are they acting selfishly, for, while the question of wages is the most important of questions to labourers, it is also the most important of questions to society at large. Whatever improves the condition of the lowest and broadest social stratum must promote the true interests of all. Where the wages of common labour are high, mid remunerative employment is easy to obtain, prosperity will be general. Where wages are highest, there will be the largest production and the most equitable distribution of wealth. There will invention be most active and the brain best guide the hand. There will be the greatest comfort, the widest diffusion of knowledge, the purest morals, and the truest patriotism. If we would have a healthy, a happy, an enlightened and virtuous people, if we would have a pure government, firmly based on the popular will and quickly responsive to it, we must strive to raise wages and keep them high. I accept as good and praiseworthy the ends avowed by the advocates of protective tariffs. What I propose to inquire is whether protective tariffs are in reality conducive to these ends.
I am perfectly in accord with those sentiments. If I thought that, by means of a high tariff, we could obtain permanent prosperity in this country, both for employers and wage-earners, that policy would have my firm adherence. But I have read too much political economy, and studied the question too long and too earnestly, to allow myself to be deluded into any such belief. I do not for one moment impugn the sincerity of those, on either side of the House, who differ from me. I can only say that they are hugging to their breasts a fond delusion which, too late, they will realize that they should have discarded in the early days of manhood. Apropos of the high cost of production, and the extent to which we have effected’ tariff legislation, a careful perusal of the report of the Tariff Commission is instructive, and I propose to make a few quotations from it. Before doing so I should like to refer to the attitude of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). The honorable member spoke of . the need of reduction in indirect, as well as direct, taxation. I quite agree that there is greater need for reducing indirect taxation than for reducing direct taxation. But I was astonished when I heard the honorable member for Dalley first of all advocate a reduction of indirect taxation, and then assert that, had he the power to do so, he would impose additional duties on jams, pickles, and other foodstuffs. I suppose that the division of Dalley contains a larger number of consumers of these commodities than any similar area in the Commonwealth; and I can imagine how enthusiastic the wives of the wage-earners there would be if the grocer informed them that increases were necessary in the price of these commodities because their representative in the Federal Parliament had used his powers to impose extra duties on them. The high price of commodities, consequent upon the passage of economically unsound legislation, is one of the great difficulties which we have to face to-day. The people want cheap goods. If any honorable member desires a demonstration of the truth of that statement, I invite him to visit the large departmental stores of Farmer and Company Limited, David Jones Limited, and Anthony Hordern and Sons Limited in Sydney, and the Myer Emporium in Melbourne, on certain days in the week when what are described as “ special basement bargains “ or “ star bargains “ are advertised for sale. It is generally understood by our womenfolk that on those days goods may be had at considerably lower prices than those which prevail ordinarily, and the result is that the business houses which offer them for sale are rushed. I am told that at times the ladies almost tear the dresses off the backs of one another in their eagerness to get to the bargain counters. If the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore), were to stand at the exits of these business establishments on sale days and demand from each retiring purchaser 30 per cent., 40 per cent., or 45 per cent, more than they had already paid for the goods which they had purchased, they would be liable to rather serious maltreatment. At any race, I should not like to be placed in such a situation. But the fact is that these demands are made and paid, only the money is previously collected through the CusCustoms House and added to the price paid by the purchaser in the shops plus interest. The impost? are made very largely by the aid of those honorable members of this Parliament who call themselves the representatives of the wage-earners. Under the heading, “ The abuse of protection,” the Tariff Board, in its annual report for the year ended 30th June, 1927, makes some significant statements. Dealing with the subject under the sub-title “ Industrial Unions” it says: -
Whilst this annual report is in course of preparation there have arisen further circumstances which are paralysing the wheels of industry and seriously interfering with production, which after all is the basis of all national prosperity. To illustrate the impossible situation which has arisen it is only necessary to draw attention to the labour position at the moment in the copper industry in Tasmania. This industry has appealed for a bounty of as much as £10 per ton of copper to enable it to carry on its operations in competition with the world’s price of copper. The industry recently represented to the Tariff Board that it is threatened with extinction unless a substantial bounty is granted. In the face of these conditions, which must be known to industrial leaders, it is deplorable to find circumstances arising which threaten the entire closing down of this important field, with the consequent heavy loss to the community in general and the operatives of the mine in particular. This occurs, too. in an industry that is essential to Australia in time oi war.
A serious position has also arisen in the production of sugar, potatoes, agricultural implements and in the dairying industry. The sugar industry, which is maintained iu Australia at considerable cost to the community, was amongst the first matters on which the board reported after its appointment. The board spent many months inquiring into the agricultural implement industry’, and also investigated and reported upon the potato industry. An exhaustive investigation 1ms just been concluded into the production of butter and cheese and a report on these subjects is in course of preparation.
All of the industries mentioned - which are fraught with great significance in the line of Australian industrial development - are arrested in their progress and held up at a critical point in their history by the actions of the industrial unions. .The development of industry and facilities for transportation go hand-in-hand, and it only required the seamen, who enjoy the benefits of possibly the most, favorable Navigation Act in the world, to threaten to strike because they did not approve of a course of fish for breakfast, or because they objected to jam being served in 5-lb. tins instead of 1-lb. tins, to make the whole position ludicrous, if it were not in reality too tragic.
Those are not my words, they are taken from the report of the Tariff Board. There is no doubt whatever that there are extreme elements in many industrial organizations, which constitute a serious problem to sane and sober-minded Labour leaders in particular, and to the members of the Labour party in general; but I regret to say that the responsible members of the party do not seem to be able to control these mischievious elements. Consequently their activities receive greater publicity than they deserve, and the mischief - they do is serious. I wish now to quote the following statements in the Tariff Board report under the same main heading, but under the sub-title of “ The Secondary Producer “ : -
Whilst it is the declared policy of the Commonwealth to assure to the local manufacturer as to the local primary producer the domestic market under certain conditions, it is a fact that, as far as secondary manufacture is concerned, this market constitutes the limit in general practice, by virtue of the high costs of production. Little or no export market for secondary manufactured products can be looked for at present. Generally speaking, the Tariff Board is satisfied that in its experience secondary manufacturers in Australia, are endeavouring to maintain a high standard of efficiency and the management in the main succeeds. However, it does happen that at times attempts are made to make use of thu tariff to shelter plant, machinery and methods which have passed, or are passing, out of date under stress of modern development. Vhcre the hoard during its investigations finds evidence of such practices it does not hesitate to point them out and does not make recommendations which would encourage them to be maintained.
Manufacturers have been known to request additional protection to enable them to continue working a plant to produce goods in competition with those produced overseas oy the use of more up-to-date machinery, which greatly improves production at lessened cost.
There are times when the local manufacturer desire’s the superior article he is making at a far greater cost to be so protected as to force the cheaper one oft’ the market, and there are on the other hand instances known to the board where he is making an inferior article and asks that it be protected against a superior one. Then, again, his ranges, sections and patterns arc sometimes limited and he is not prepared to sympathize with the demand that exists for essential variety.
It can hardly be denied that the imposition of tariff duties tends to permit monopolies to establish themselves in our midst; but although honorable members opposite frequently declare their antagonism to monopolies they strongly support every proposal to increase our tariff duties and so provide special opportunities and increase the likelihood of business monopolies developing within Australia. In discussing this subject, we should always- bear it in mind that tariff duties were imposed, in the first place, on the distinct understanding that they would assist our manufacturers to pay a higher rate of wages, for it was declared that, without such assistance, they could not compete with countries with low-wage standards. The theory is plausible, but, unfortunately, has not worked out in practice. The manufacturer is always ready to take advantage of increased duties, when his employees, as the result of a decision of the Arbitration Court, a wages board, or some other wage-fixation tribunal, is able to enforce the payment of a higher wage, he immediately requests the Government to increase the tariff duties to enable him to pay it. This in turn is passed on to the consumer and up higher goes the cost of living. Additional tariff protection that is granted under such conditions gives the manufacturer a still greater monopoly. Frequent reference has been made in this debate to our adverse balance of trade, and to the excess of imports over exports.
How can we expect to export our manufactures in competition Avith the world when costs of production are so much higher here than they are elsewhere? The local market for the sale of protected manufactures is limited to 6,000,000 people and when that market has reached the point of saturation and Ave look about* for overseas markets for our surplus we find ourselves shut out by our inability to compete Avith the products of other countries. Industrial depression follows, operatives are thrown out of employment, and industry languishes until the demand again overtakes production. Great Britain lias been able to develop her industries without the aid of protective tariffs. America has stimulated local manufacture by shutting out foreign goods, but the American manufacturer has free trade over an area equal to the continent of Europe and among a population of 120,000,000. It is not high tariffs that help American manufacturing, it is her freetrade among the States which give her an extensive local market quite independent of the export trade she can command. Under existing conditions it is idle to talk of exporting our surplus manufactures; the only solution is to enlarge the local market by inducing more people to. settle here. Migration is inseparably interwoven with the problems of taxation and defence. We need more people to share the burden of taxation and to assist in maintaining the White Australia policy. Unless we are prepared to encourage people of our own race or Northern Europeans to come to Australia and assist in its development, we cannot expect to continue in undisturbed possession of this continent. I do not advocate wholesale migration without regard to industrial conditions, but a judicious, wellbalanced system of introducing more people to this country is essential to defence and desirable as a means of bringing about a wider distribution of the burden of taxation. It is necessary also for the general development of Australia. Their profitable absorption is only a matter of sound land policy and organization.
I approve of the decision of the Government to dispose of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, in respect of which the country has already lost over £11,000,000. I hope this decision indicates the intention of the Government not to interfere unnecessarily in matters which are legitimately the concern of private enterprise. The experience of Queensland in connexion with State enterprises should be a permanent warning to us. The Queensland Government acquired station properties, canneries, produce agencies, fish shops, butchers’ shops, saw mills, abattoirs, smelters, and iron and steel works at an enormous capital cost, and operated them at a great loss. I ‘am glad to see that the Queensland Government is now realizing its mistake and has decided to get rid of many of these enterprises, and I hope will be chary about embarking upon others in the future. Tasmania had a similar experience with shipping, and New South Wales with trawlers. I recognize that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was justified in purchasing ships for the Commonwealth in a time of national emergency when tonnage was being diminished very rapidly and Australia was in danger of being isolated from Europe. The right honorable gentleman showed statesmanlike foresight in providing against the inevitable consequences of an increasing shortage of shipping. But activities which were justified in war time are not necessarily justified in a time of peace when normal conditions have been restored. The causes which led to the creation of the Commonwealth shipping line no longer exist, and there is no need to continue an enterprise that will inevitably involve the country in very heavy losses, added to the millions already squandered in the shipping business. I do not say that it may not sometimes be necessary to take steps to prevent the undue exploitation of the community by combines, but I am certain that indulgence in the luxury of State enterprise is not the best method to adopt. I would not, trust any Government to run even a sausage-skin factory. Because politicsare inseparable from State industrial and other enterprises, it is impossible for them to be operated by any Government us efficiently as by private enterprise.
– What about the railways ?
– Although railways are in a different category, even they are not being managed properly. The railways are. perhaps, one of the worst illustrations that the right honorable member could have chosen, because the losses upon them are enormous. Nevertheless, I agree that public utilities of a monopolistic nature should be controlled by the Government, even though they may not be financially successful, because they are necessary to assist the activities of the people in all branches of industry. They are agencies for assisting the development of the country by private enterprise. Although the railways are controlled by private enterprise in Great Britain, America, and Canada, we cannot imagine that in Australia, with its small population, any company would seriously consider entering into competition with another established railway company. Therefore, private ownership of our railways would develop into a private monopoly, which would have the community at its mercy.
– Why did the Canadian Government take over the Northern Pacific line? Was it not because the private company failed ?
– Whether the private company failed or made a profit, whether the Commonwealth ships failed or made a profit, I believe in the principle that the State should not unnecessarily invade realms which properly belong to private enterprise. In connexion with public utilities such as railways, water supplies, postal services, telegraphs and telephones, a State monopoly is preferable to a private monopoly in the interests of the general community.
– Elsewhere those utilities are controlled by private enterprise.
– That is so, but there are larger populations to be catered for. and conditions are .dissimilar from those of Australia. I understand the proper functions’ of Government to be (1) protection of life and property; (2) maintenance of law and order; (3) defence of the country from external aggression; (4) maintenance of equal rights and equality of opportunity among members of the community; (‘5) assistance to private enterprise in developing the resources of the country; (6) to refrain from entering into competition with the ordinary trade, commerce and industry of citizens, except in very extraordinary circumstances of urgent necessity; (7) to interfere as little as possible with the natural and legitimate flow of trade, commerce and industry; and (8) to control in the interests of the whole community services which are public utilities, such as railways, postal services, water supplies, and other essentials to the life and activities of the people, which by their nature are removed from the region of competition. When honorable members use such examples of governmental activities to justify socialistic enterprises, their argument falls to the ground. I can understand the opposition of honorable members on the Labour ‘side to the disposal of the shipping Line, because their party platform provides for the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The Line represents an instalment of their legislative programme, and during a general hold-up of industry it could be employed effectively by them under a Labour administration. Rut I fail to see the reason for the attitude of those honorable members who, although opposing the socialization of the means of distribution, object to the Government’s action. Room could be found for the reduction of indirect taxation in a number of directions. I appeal particularly to protectionists, and remind them that we derive an enormous revenue from a number of articles that cannot be manufactured in Australia. They are subjected to high tariff duties, for which there can be no legitimate excuse when we have an excess of revenue over the sum required for our needs. It is a wasteful policy to take from the pockets of the people more money than the Government requires. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter) said that he failed to see how indirect taxation could be reduced. If the tariff were examined item by item, a considerable reduction in duty could be made on a number of articles that are not manufactured in Australia, and by no stretch of the imagination could be regarded as likely to be made here. The sum of £6,79S,000 is budgeted for in connexion with the Commonwealth railways and the Grafton to South Brisbane railway. The proposal to embark on a heavy railway construction policy should be carefully examined. I am not prepared to believe that no room exists for economy in that direction. Although the Treasurer has reduced taxation in some ways, I maintain that, notwithstanding our heavy commitments and liabilities, reduction of taxation could be brought about, and industries benefited, by lowering import tariffs and reducing railway expenditure and distributing it over a period of years.
.- The amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition deals with the inadequacy of the protection of Australian industries, with unemployment and with the financial system and administration of the present Government. During the time at my disposal I propose to touch upon the subject of unemployment and the refusal of the Government to protect Australian industries. The natural corollary- of indiscriminate immigration is unemployment. The last speaker dealt with the adverse trade balance against Australia. His solution as a. free trader is that the tariff barrier should be removed, and that the goods manufactured by cheap foreign labour should be allowed to flood the country. There must be something wrong with my theories of political economy if that is a correct solution of the present difficulties of Australia. I shall mention some of the articles we produce and export, and show the extent of our adverse trade balance. Our imports in 1926-27 totalled in value £164,744,927, and our exports amounted to £144,775,541, leaving an adverse trade balance of £19,969,386. These figures were supplied by the late Comptroller of Customs. If our bullion and specie, valued at £12,303,000, were excluded, our adverse trade balance last year AA-ould have been over £32,000,000. I hope to show that the attempt by this free trade-protection Government to deal Avith the financial position has dismally and logically failed, because it is impossible for a government to administer a protectionist policy, and at the same time cater for and protect the importers who are represented in. its party. Nearly half the members of the cabinet are free traders. Some of them, like the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), and other honorable members, make no attempt to disguise the fact. Others, while pretending to be protectionists, are free traders at heart. The last quarter’s return shows that the unemployed in Australia number 26,280 ; but the figures are compiled from information supplied by the secretaries of trade unions and labour bureaus. I should say that it would be no exaggeration to add at least 14,000 to that total. There must be not fewer than 40,000 unemployed in Australia to-day. Since the last return was compiled, a large increase in unemployment has occurred in Newcastle. Iri Sydney, because of the lack of protection, factories are putting off employees. The unfortunate State of South Australia, to which my sympathy goes out, has a Nationalist or composite Government. which has been imposed upon it purely by a political accident. for it represents a minority of the people. One of the first attempts to save South Australia on the part of “dismal Dick” Butler and his far from merry crew, Avas to carry out a policy of retrenchment in the South Australian railways, and accordingly” 2,000 employees were dismissed. Immediately a wave of apprehension swept through South Australia, starting like the ripple caused by a stone thrown into a pond until it reached the outer parts of the State. The Government apparently does not intend to stop there. It proposes to retrench in similar ratio in the various departments of the public service. In New South Wales whin the composite Government assumed office, a wave of apprehension also spread through that State. Honorable members opposite, representing as they do vested , interests, will appreciate more than we do that the position in NeA’ South Wales since the election has become serious. There is in that State a depression caused by this fact and the inability or refusal of the Federal Government to protect adequately industries already established, and to foster the establishment of new industries. All composite governments, whether Federal or State, have a conservative dislike of progress; they desire only to retard progress as exemplified by Labour legislation. One can quite understand that the members of such governments must, before they go to sleep at night, and, on their bended knees, thank God that they have been allowed to prevent Labour from developing this country. Trade and commerce interests, which usually support the Nationalists, are the first to be hit by the administration of composite governments. Most of the employees in the railway and tramway, services of New South Wales receive £6 10s. or £7 a week, and they aspire, may-be, to a playerpiano, a gramaphone, a home, or one of the lower-priced motor cars. When the Nationalist Government was elected in New South Wales, there was an immediate dropping of orders for those utilities. The refusal of the public servants of that State to spend money as they did under the regime of the Labour Government, has had an adverse effect upon the retailers, and, in turn, upon the wholesalers. In time the ripples caused by the first stone thrown into the village pond by the Nationalist Government will reach the manufacturers. The banks have also been affected, with the result that the conditions in New South Wales to-day are considerably worse than they have been for ten years. The position is similar in South Australia. The Nationalist Government of New South “Wales is now commencing, to retrench in the railway and tramway services. The Commonwealth Government, although it refuses to carry out national works for the relief of the unemployed, continues to import in large numbers the people of other countries to enter into competition with Australians. The imports into Australia amount to £164,000,000 annually. Under an efficient Government keenly desirous of making Australia a great nation, many of those imports could be made here. Under a Labour Government they would be made here. Take, for instance, food-stuffs of vegetable and animal origin. In 1926-27 we imported £121,000 worth of confectionery, and exported £126,000 worth, showing clearly that Australia can supply its own requirements. “We exported £520,000 worth of sausage casings. These are by-products of the abattoirs of Australia, and are easy handled. That industry is undoubtedly of great value to the people of Australia. We imported £342,000 worth of sausage casings, nullifying to a great extent the advantage of our exportation. Australia can provide the whole ~of its requirements in sausage casings. It is the duty of this Government to protect that industry, and to keep in circulation in this country, the money that would otherwise be sent overseas in payment for imports. We imported £174,000 worth of dried fruits, and exported £1,658,000 worth A considerable bounty was paid on dried fruits. We are able, in a great number of cases, to export our commodities, but we nullify our efforts to develop Australia, by allowing the importation of similar commodities. T suggest to the Government that this is fiscalism gone mad, and reminds one of a dog biting itself. Australia is a great primary producing country. It raises cattle, sheep, and horses, and produces various kinds of leather. In 1926-27 -ve imported £547,000 worth of horse and cattle hides and sheep skins, and exported £4,000,000 worth of hides and skins. Surely Ave are in a position to supply our own requirements. It may be said that there are certain classes of skins that we cannot produce. Our rabbit skins are sent abroad and returned to us. in varied forms and under extraordinary names. We have various kinds of peltssuch as sheep skins, opossum skins,, rabbit skins, marsupial skins, and horseand cattle hides. We can supply to thepeople of Australia a variety and quantity of skins suitable for all their requirements, yet we import over a half a million pounds worth of skins. In 1926-27 we imported £42,000,000 worth of textiles, yet Ave are in a position to supply a portion of our requirements in cotton, artificial silk, silk and Wool. We can produce the goods and Ave are producing them in limited quantities. We have factories in Australia manufacturingstockings, socks, knitted goods and othergoods of cotton, WOOl and silk mixtures. Australian capital is invested in theknitting industry, and yet the Government is allowing the machinery in our factories to remain idle while Japanese and other foreign manufacturers aresending their knitted goods here to compete with the local article produced underAustrali all wages and conditions. Our textile industry ,V111 never flourish until such time as the Government . imposes a tariff sufficiently high to prevent the dumping of cheap foreign-made goodsinto this country. The textile industry has frequently implored the Government to assist it, but nothing has been done. I do not offer any personal criticism of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), because it is impossible for him to satisfy this Government, -composed as it is of Ministers representing conflicting interests. But I would say to the Government, which contains some free traders, that if they desire to minimize the present disastrous trade balance, they should stand firmly for the development of Australian industry. The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), an avowed free trader, conveniently absents himself when divisions are taken on questions of protection, because, apparently, he does not like to fall foul of his
Government. He stands for free trade, as do a great many other supporters of the Government; but free trade will not get Australia very far. Iron and steel form the largest item among the imports into this country, whose value per annum amounts to £51,237,944. These imports include bars, rods, hoops, and ingots, and these particular items are valued at £1,329,000. All such material can be produced in Australia, and is now being produced here. As has been said by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), the Newcastle steelworks, Hoskins Limited, and other firms engaged in the iron and steel industry, are experiencing a very bad time. Pipes and tubes to the value of £1,663,632 are imported, and this material is also produced here. It requires no extensive plant or great degree of skill to make it; certainly no greater skill than is possessed by the Australian artisan. Galvanized corrugated iron to the value of £1,734,525 is imported annually. Lysaght’s and other manufacturers in Newcastle and elsewhere are supplying corrugated and sheet iron, and are endeavouring to build up an industry in competition with the lower-paid operatives in other countries. Plain corrugated iron was imported into Australia to a value of over £1,000,000. We are “ doing the job “ in Australia, and yet the Government is allowing low-wage countries to enter into competition with our local manufacturers. For imported motor bodies and parts we paid £1,413,529. There is not a single part for any of the popular makes of motor cars which is not being constructed by local manufacturers in Sydney. These parts are being made by Sonnerdale Limited, who do their work very well. If these manufacturers were being helped by this protection-cum-free trade Government, they would establish an industry here which would supply all the parts needed, and in time the production of an Australian motor car would come about. I shall have something to say in regard to that later. For the last twelve months for which the figures are available, ive imported motor tyres, pneumatic and solid, to the value of £2,329,719. The Perdriau Rubber Company is a well-established firm in NewSouth Wales, and some months ago it turned out its millionth tyre. It is making a good article, and its tyres have acquired a reputation for worthiness, as have also those produced by the Barnet Glass and Dunlop Rubber Companies. I do not know what number of tyres have been manufactured by the Barnet Glass Company, but I think their total output must be very great. I am informed that the Rapson Company are about to start manufacturing tyres in Tasmania. The Goodyear ‘ Company has already established a huge factory in New South Wales, and will commence production very shortly. Notwithstanding the fact that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), and other members of the Government, when addressing social gatherings of manufacturers and meetings immediately prior to elections - actuated, largely, perhaps, by a lively sense of favours to come - declare that they are doing everything possible -to protect the industries of the country, I consider that the Minister has reason to be ashamed of himself when tyres to the value .of over £2,300,000 are imported into this country in a year. During the past twelve months we imported into Australia pianos and player parts to the value of £1,221,781. This industry has been crying out for adequate protection for many years, and those of us who have had the privilege of seeing pianos made by Beale and Company, and by other manufacturers, recognize that we already have in this country a well-established industry for the production of these instruments. We have trained our artisans, and can do the- work quite well in Australia. Here is a double-page advertisement, which appears in the October issue of the Canadian Music Trades Journal. It is the advertisement of the SherlockManning Piano Company, and Doherty Pianos, Limited, whose head offices are in London, Canada. The advertisement refers to the Canadian production of pianos for export to Australia.
On one steamer which sailed recently for Australia and New Zealand were no less than 37 instruments made in our factories. Europe has hitherto controlled the trade in the Antipodes, but the above is evidence that Canadianmade pianos can compete with the best, and more than hold their own..
I congratulate Canada on the establishment of a piano manufacturing industry in that country, but I cannot congratulate the Government here, on its efforts to establish the industry in Australia. Some of the freetraders in their speeches during the budget debate, when dealing with the subject of Australia’s adverse trade balance, and with the tariff generally, touched on the matter of revenue obtained from Customs duty. Here is an illustration which shows the effect of a proper protective tariff on the manufacture of motor car bodies.While we have not absolute prohibition in regard to the importation of motor bodies, Australian manufacturers have built up an organization which has enabled them, not only to produce the article in Australia, but to do so at a reduced price. The duties on motor car bodies at the present time are: - British, £30 to £65 each; general tariff, £40 to £75 each; or ad valorem 40 per cent. British preference, and 55 per cent. general tariff, whichever returns the higher duty. During 1921-22, for every motor car body imported, bodies were manufactured locally, but after six years of gradual building up of the industry, and the introduction of efficient methods into their business, local manufacturers now make seven bodies to every one that is imported. This shows that the industry is effectively protected, and it shows also that the local prices are fair and reasonable.
– Take the manufacture of pianos. Does the honorable member not admit that the Australian manufacturers of pianos are making enormous profits at the present time?
– I do not admit it.
– Does the honorable member deny it?
– I shall go so far as to say that if the trade in pianos were greater, it would allow of an extension of piano manufacturing, such as is impossible under present trade conditions. As with motor car bodies, so it should be with tyres, with batteries, with bumper bars, with shock absorbers, and with all the other accessories which are now becoming so common a feature of motor cars that they may be regarded as part of the standard equipment. In answer to the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), who spoke about inferior articles of local manufacture being protected against superior articles from overseas, to the detriment of the people generally, I will quote what happened in the case of shock absorbers. These articles are being manufactured by Storey Bros., of Sydney, and others. Shock absorbers are now being introduced as standard equipment on many of the better class cars, and I am informed that they are being installed as standard equipment on the new Ford cars. When the tariff on imported shock absorbers was only 10 per cent., a set of four sold on the local market at ten guineas. Then the Government assisted the industry to the extent of increasing the duty to 55 per cent., and I give the Minister credit for his action. The local industry was immediately stimulated, and the output greatly increased. The price for shock absorbers was reduced from ten guineas to £7 10s. a set, and the local article is equal to the best that was ever imported. Unless some action is taken those companies which intend to introduce shock absorbers as standard chasis equipment will push the Australian manufacturers of shock absorbers off the market.
– Are they bringing in cars fitted with shock absorbers?
– They are. Previously Australian shock absorbers were fitted to Buicks, Vauxhalls. Checker Cabs and other high-priced cars; but now the General Motor Company propose to equip certain of its cars with shock absorbers as standard equipment, so eliminating the Australian industry. Other makers will also make shock absorbers standard equipment. Shock absorbers should be similarly treated as batteries, which were declared to be a fitment separate from the chassis. Australia has a good deal to learn from Japan in patriotism and the protecting of local industries. On the 31st July, 1924, Japan introduced a luxury tax in its Diet. I shall give a comparative list of
Australian and Japanese duties on similar articles. A kin is equivalent to 1,233 lb., and a yen to1s. 10½d. The following is the comparison : -
The addition ofthe 100 per cent, to the general Japanese tax makes the price of boots 3s,8d. per pair. The Minister for Trade and Customs should obtain some food for thought from that list, and some material from the conversation of his colleagues. A disquieting propaganda has been going on in the’ British Empire, conducted by an organization calling itself the Australian Association of British Manufacturers. Last yearabout 150 members of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce met to consider the question of preserving and increasing British trade with Australia. In his address to the meeting, the president of the Australian association, Mr. R. W. Knox, said -
Possiblythe most important part of the work of the association relates to matters affecting the fiscal issue. The Tariff Board was formed some years ago to advise the Government on matters affecting trade with Australia, and it has, in the main, functioned extraordinarily well. The association has always taken a most active part in matters where duties were affected. It is almost an impossibility to try and stem the tide of protection to secondary industries of the country. . . . The policy of the country with regard to the development of the secondary industries is there to stay, and I do not think that to-day we could do other than assist in directing the forces, to see that eventually the duties were not undulyharmful to this country.
By “ this country,” Mr. Knox referred to England. Later in the meeting Mr. Arthur (now Lord) Balfour pointed out that Australia’s purchases from England, per head of the population, amounted to £10 2s.11d.; New Zealand’s to £16 4s. 11d., while those of Russia were only 11d. He stated -
Manufacturing in Australia is growing, but we have to mitigate the tariffs, and go after such trade as there is there and such trade as is multiplied by the fact that they are becoming a great manufacturing nation.
I am wondering what influence, if any, the British Manufacturers’ Association has had upon , this Government to cause it to refuse to recognize its responsibilities and the necessity for establishing great secondary industries, or at least the basis of a great manufacturing nation within the shores of Australia. Mr. L. M. S. Amery has made a great number of speeches in this, country, and while I recognize his so-called diplomatic mission to Australia, I am of the opinion that he almost exclusively represents the interests of the British manufacturers, who feel that they are losing some of our trade. Honorable members will remember the recent visit of the British Empire Parliamentary delegation to Australia. I spoke with a number of the British Labour members of that delegation, because I was anxious to find out how they regarded Australia’s aspirations to become a great manufacturing nation. As honorable members know, my inquiries were received coldly. The British Labour members told me quite frankly that they did not think that Australia should worry about manufacturing. They said “ We have the ma-, chinery, the organization, the skilled artisans and mechanics to do this job for you. Why not halve the responsibility? You supply us with the raw material and we will do the job. We can do it much better and more cheaply than you.” I asked one gentleman “ What would you do if you were either an Australian public man or an ordinary Australian citizen, in regard to tins matter?” He answered “ There would be only one thing to do. I would advocate what you are advocating, but there will be a very grave menace to British industry if Australia and other British dominions intend to create industries which hitherto have been carried out by England, and if they take our skilled artisans and mechanics, whom, with their forbears, we have trained through the centuries. The result will not be in the interests of England.” I agreed with the gentleman. So long as it pays the British manufacturers to trade with’ us, they will do so. Immediately no profits are available it will have no further interest in Australia from the trade stand-point.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The following extract from a speech by the Secretary of State for the Dominions, Mr. Amery, before the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce last year, which was reported in the British Trader, of 15th October, indicates the right honorable gentleman’s point of view -
I will take the figures I have handy; they are for the last year before the war, a normal year. In that year our total trade, export and import, with Germany stood at £120,000,000, a big figure, apparently a much bigger figure than our total trade with Australia, which was only just over £70,000,000 - until you analyse it. What was the real nature of our trade with Germany? We sent Germany £4,500,000 in foodstuffs, and received some £16,000,000 in return. We sent her £20,000,000 raw materials, and half-manufactured goods, receiving only £12,000,000 in return, the Germans taking good care to keep their raw materials at home, and their halfmanufactured goods at home, to finish them at home. But when you come to highly-finished manufactures, we sent Germany £15,000,000, and received £50,000,000. That was not a trade which contributed in any way to the strengthening of the fabric of British industry. It was a splendid trade for Germany to build up, for Germany to create credits in this country by which she bought raw materials, and foodstuffs to sustain her industry, but, from our point of view, it was a debit trade. On the other hand, trade with Australia stood ‘at some £30,000,000 of exports, practically half representing British manufactures, twice as many manufactures sent to Australia as to Germany, and what we received from Australia in return was almost equally divided between foodstuffs and raw materials. That was a trade every pound of which went, either coming or going, to strengthen British industry.
In the face of statements of that kind it can hardly be argued that we are anything else than “ wood and water Joeys “ for the British manufacturers. That speech, as well as many that Mr. Amery has delivered in Australia on behalf of British manufactured - camouflaged, of course, with a good dear of diplomacy - indicate that the right honorable gentleman is visiting Australia as a glorified commercial traveller for the British manufacturing interests. I have no objection to the British manufacturers increasing their trade with Australia to our mutual advantage ; but if the increase is to be gained at the expense of our secondary industries I am totally opposed to it. A good deal has been said in this chamber of late about the ties that bind us to Great Britain. Admittedly there are ties. But I assert without hesitation that the trade between Australia and Great Britain would not be continued for ten minutes unless it was profitable. There can be no doubt whatever that the British Association of Manufacturers, through its representatives in Australia, is doing everything possible to advance British interests here. There is not an inquiry which the Tariff Board conducts at which this association is not represented. As a matter of fact, I find myself asking to what extent .this association is either directly or indirectly responsible for the lackadaisical fiscal policy of this Government. Indisputably it is exerting a powerful influence here. The United States of America, like Great Britain, is eager to do business with Australia, but it also wants its own terms, as the following report which appeared in the
Sydney Sun on the 14th March, 1926, will show: -
Wool topmillers at a Boston luncheon today told Mr. Marks, president of the Austral American Company, of New York (which has been formed to push the sale of Australian goods in the United States), that they were determined not to allow the entry of Australian manufactured tops. If the company succeeded in lowering the price to competition point, they would move Washington to increase the tariff, they told him, adding that his hope would be the return of the Democratic party topower.
Asked why Australia wanted to manufacture wool -tops, Mr. Marks said Australia wanted to increase her population. “ Why?” was the reply. “Aren’t you happy and prosperous now? Continue your producing of raw material, and we will stay friends.”
It will be seen that the American manufacturers have adopted much the same policy as the manufacturers of Great Britain. Other nations of the world are also awake to the danger of allowing young and vigorous countries to establish large secondary industries. Let me refer honorable members to the report of the proceedings of the recent International Economic Conference, which was attended by 194 delegates. Outside the League of Nations, there were represented the United States of America, Egypt. Turkey, the Union of Socialistic Soviet Republics, the Free City of Danzig, and the fifty countries which are members of the League of Nations were also represented. The decisions of this conference no doubt pleased the freetrade members of this Parliament, but they werenot acceptable to those of us who believe in the maintenance of a White Australia. I am not so foolish as to think that the fiscal policy of Australia caused the conference any great concern, but I am of the opinion that the attitude which the conference adopted is totally opposed to the best interests of this country. It was undoubtedly a freetrade conference. I quote the following extracts from the official report of its proceedings: -
The conference is convinced that a return to the effective liberty of international trading is one of the primary conditions of world prosperity.
In view of the fact that harmful effects upon production and trade result from the high and constantly changing tariffs which are applied in many countries;
And since substantial improvement in the economic conditions can be obtained by increased facilities for international trade and commerce;
And in view of the fact that tariffs, though within the sovereign jurisdiction of the separate States, arc not a matter of purely domestic interest, but greatly influence the trade of the world;
And in view of the fact that some of the causes which have resulted in the increase of tariffs and in other trade barriers since the war have largely disappeared, and others are diminishing;
The conference declares that the time has come to put an end to the increase in tariffs, and to move in the opposite direction.
Time will not permit me to quote more extensively from the report, but I am sure that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) would find it an excellent foundation for a free trade speech. I have already referred to the number of unemployed we have in our community. I wish now for a moment to discuss the Government’s migration policy, which, like its fiscal policy, is entirely unsatisfactory. It has appointed a costly commission for the purpose of introducing hundreds of thousands of additional people to this country to compete with those already here for the insufficient amount of employment that is available. It is estimated that the sum of £34,000,000 will be spent in the next ten years in bringing migrants to Australia. Schemes have already been submitted to the commission which are estimated to cost £12,475,000, and schemes have been approved which are estimated to cost £5,898,000. In 1925-26, 26,678 assisted migrants were brought to Australia, and last year the number was 33,174. The Government has been guilty of nothing short of prodigal expenditure in its efforts to bring people here, although it has entirely failed to provide employment for them or for many of those who are already here. The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) gave us to understand this afternoon that he would be quite willing to allow millions of people to enter the country irrespective of whether employment could be found for them or not. “ What does it matter whether we can give them work or not “ he said in effect ; “Bring them here and we shall have so many more shoulders upon which to pac our burden of taxation.” Such a. lopsided economic policy as that is well suited to the honorable member, tor he nas done nothing during the whole of his political career to improve the wages and working conditions of our people. Although he represents a great manufacturing district, he is one of the thirteen followers of Henry George still left in Australia; the others have died. I suppose the honorable member thinks that he has a good job, and that if he were to advocate the principles of protection he would be creating a Frankenstein monster that would ultimately overwhelm him. In 1926-27, 39,831 migrants arrived from Great Britain, 4,902 from Italy, 2,697 from other Southern European countries, and 2,85S from other parts of Europe; in other words, 50,288 persons came to Australia to compete for jobs which are nonexistent. And our people’s money is being spent in bringing them here to create unemployment. Between the first operation of the agreement and last. September, 66,247 migrants have been brought to Australia. Prior to its adoption, the cost per migrant was £9 7s. 10d.; since the signing of the agreement it has been £12 3s. 3d., an increase of £2 lbs. 5d. per head. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) drew attention to the huge sum of money that the commission spent last year, and the estimate of £140,000 for this year. Jobs are being created galore, and, generally speaking, the employees of the commission are praying for the safety of this Government for many Parliaments to come. In respect of the .66,247 migrants, the cost to Australia has been approximately £183,000. The justification for immigration is that it will increase our population and gradually make of Australia a great nation, but there is a class in this country that wishes to induce a huge stream of immigrants, who by competing for the available jobs, and creating a supply greater than the demand, will cause a reduction of wages. Many State authorities have intimated to the Development and’ Migration Commission that it is foolish to bring out certain types of artisans and mechanics. Because of this, when British tradesmen who are desirous of migrating get into touch with agents who are paid 37s. 6d. for every migrant they book, they are informed that there is no room for carpenters, blacksmiths and miners, and are advised to nominate as farm labourers. So “ the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker “ come to Australia as farm labourers, but, on arrival, they immediately look for work in their own trades. The Government is introducing people who will settle upon the land. . I shall quote a few illustrations of the demand for land in Australia. At Darlington Point. New South Wales, there were 4,000 applicants for one block; at Narrandera. 300 applicants for four blocks; at Albury, in March, 1925, 1,900 applicants for 9S blocks; at Lake Cowal, 413 applicants for one block ; at Grafton, in August last, 2,200 applicants for three blocks; at Moree, in October last, 1,205 applicants for one block; at Armidale. 90 applicants for one block, although the frost was severe and the grass poor; and at Narrandera, in March last, 315 applicants for four blocks 6£ miles from the township. Those figures speak for themselves. As Mr. Amery said, “ Great Britain is getting it, coming and going.” According to a cablegram published on the 2nd July, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies stated that the cost of migration to Great Britain prior to the present agreement was £580,836 for 25,596 migrants, or £22 13s. per head. Under the new scheme the cost would be £15 14s., or £7 less than formerly. Moreover, this scheme will relieve Great Britain to the extent of £50 per head of the unemployed who go to Australia as migrants. As the United Kingdom has about SOO, 000 unemployed, one can .understand the avidity with which such a scheme to relieve the Old Country of the responsibility for its unemployed was accepted. In regard to the calibre of the migrants arriving in Australia, disquietening reports have been received. Migrants haveappeared before the police courts upon all sorts of charges. The Rev. E. E. Young, of the Mission of St. James and St. John, Melbourne, giving evidence before the royal commission on National Insurance on the 9th June, 1926, said- r
There are men cadging in the streets of Melbourne to-day who have arrived in Australia during the last six months. They were selected migrants, but they are physically unfit, undersized and lacking in initiative. Many of them have not a’ strong mentality.
Before Mr. Justice Schutt, in the Criminal Court of Victoria, an official of the Crown Law Department declared that there had been an alarming increase in the number of assisted immigrants arrested in Victoria for housebreaking, larceny and other offences. Mr. Justice Bevan, at the Albury Court of Sessions, in dealing with one of these unfortunates, said in June last -
A few months ago I was able to secure a return showing the number of immigrants who, between June, 1023, and June, 1925. had arrived in this State from Britain and other countries, and who had been convicted of offences, and were at some time between those dates serving sentences in gaol in New South Wales. There were GO immigrants serving sentences during that period.
I could quote many other illustrations of the laxity in the selection of migrants. Physically, mentally and morally, many of the new arrivals are undesirable, and their acceptance shows either carelessness on the part of the authorities in London, or an undue enthusiasm on the part of the agents who receive 37s. 6d. for each migrant they book. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has on many occasions in this House evaded questions regarding migration, and has made misleading statements in regard to certain classes of migrants which are not to his credit. I do not attack any foreign migrants who come to Australia ; we have established in this country in regard to food, clothing and housing, for the workers standards unequalled elsewhere, and because of this fact being broadcast through the newspapers and letters from people settled here to friends in their own country, Australia has become the Mecca of the workers of other countries. One cannot blame people for coming to this country and endeavouring to obtain the conditions which our workers have established in spite of the opposition of this Government and its friends.
The industrial and political section of the Labour party have been fighting for 40 long years to build up a high economic standard, and employers and anti-labour politicians have consistently opposed them. The Prime Minister was asked by me recently if he would take steps to prevent the coming to Australia of Italian migrants who were destined for Broken Hill. At that centre there is industrial depression, three mines have closed down, and 1,600 men, including many Italians, Greeks and Maltese, have been thrown out of employment. To ray question the Prime Minister replied that he had communicated with the Consul-General for Italy, who had instructed Italian agents to refuse to accept migrants for Broken Hill, Wonthaggi, Port Pirie and other industrial centres. I give the Prime Minister credit for having some capacity ; but the bedtime stories of 3LO are a mere circumstance to that piece of evasion. He knows well that, just as a British miner or carpenter can nominate as an agricultural labourer, so can an Italian migrant, and, when he reaches an Australian port, he can go whither he will. Three hundred Italians held a meeting at Broken Hill recently, and resolved to ask the Italian Consul-General to advise the immigration agencies of the distress experienced there and elsewhere in Australia. The Italians themselves are not so enthusiastic about migration to this country as are the Prime Minister and his supporters. They, too, feel the economic pressure owing to the refusal of this Government to protect our industries. I have endeavoured to show that it is possible to create employment in this country by doing those things that we are asking other people to do for us, or to buy which we are sending out money, including the cash of the persons who are in need of work. Unless the Government gets rid of its “ shandygaff “ troglodytic and fiscalism, under which it absolutely refuses to accept facts that stare everybody else in the face, the position will be serious. Cases of distress, through unemployment, which is increasing every day, demand State aid, are constantly brought under the notice of every honorable member. Parliament has been in recess practically since the last election. Any excuse has been considered good enough for keeping it closed. The adverse trade balance is climbing higher every month, and I am informed that, for the last two months, the balance was on the wrong side to the extent of £10,000,000.
– Although the seat of Government has been transferred to Canberra, we still have a Government composed of freetraders, “freetectionists,” and disciples of Henry George. I admit frankly that a number of strong protectionists are to be found on the Government side; but their influence is of little use in protecting established industries and helping to build up new ones. Ministers find time to proceed to England, and talk grandly about ih British Empire, and make arrangements for another 100,000 immigrants, who are brought out at heavy cost to the people - in fact to do anything except look after the interests of Australia. It is time we had a Government that would stand solidly for this country on all occasions, and for the development of a great nation.
– As the most recently elected member of the Committee, I rise with some trepidation and diffidence to express my views on the budget. I propose to preface what I have to say by a reference to political organization as it affects the parties in this Parliament. I believe that the great majority of the people favour the union of the Nationalist and Country parties. Any weakening of the arrangement that exists to-day would be disastrous to the Commonwealth. The State election that has just taken place in New South Wales was a triumph for the antiextremist forces that, by united effort, obtained a substantial victory. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat stated that the Nationalist Government in New South Wales does not represent a majority of the electors of that State. A scrutiny of the results of the election, however, will show that that is not so.
– I referred to South Australia.
– I accept the honorable member’s correction, and; at the same time I draw attention to figures that perhaps have not yet been made public. The combined votes of the Nationalist and Country parties in New South Wales were about 41,000 greater, than those cast for the Labour party. This shows that New South Wales is now under majority rule, and governed with the concurrence of a substantial majority of the people of the State. Disunity in the past has been of great detriment to both the Nationalist and the Country parties, which, on numbers of occasions, have been defeated simply because of it. The last federal election was won chiefly by the united action by those parties. The by-elections that have since been held show that the present Government retains the confidence of the people, if by-elections may be regarded as a reliable political barometer. At none of these by-elections, has there been any diminution of the support accorded to the Nationalist Government since it was first elected. At the by-election for Eden-Monaro, the majority vote cast in favour of the Nationalist candidate was substantially the same as that’ given at the preceding general election. At the Dalley by-election, the Nationalist . candidate was in no greater minority than formerly, and at the latest by-election - that for the Warringah seat - the vote received by the Nationalist candidate was practically the same as that obtained at the general election. I oan, perhaps, ‘speak with greater authority of the last-mentioned contest than the other, and regarding it I observe, with all respect, that it appeared to disclose the distinct approval by the people of that constituency of the administration of the present Government. I ask honorable members to recollect that the contest took place only six months ago, and it showed that the electors favoured the maintenance of the present arrangement between the Nationalist and Country parties. Moreover, it was a signal indication of the confidence of the people in the Prime Minister as the leader of the combined parties.
I make no apology for stating where I stand in this House. I was elected as a straightout supporter of the present Government, and I intend to give it my cordial assistance, not only because I was elected for that purpose, but because I believe that its presence on the Treasury bench is in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and that it is administering the affairs of the country in a manner that has the approval of the people.
I came into this chamber as a new member, steeped in party loyalty, and, therefore, I take this early opportunity of entirely dissociating myself from certain views expressed last night by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). I dissent entirely from his statement that the Treasurer is personally responsible for the budget. The honorable gentleman, no doubt, compiled the budget; but it was considered by the Cabinet, and was presented with the approval of the whole of the Ministry. It is, therefore, the budget, not of the Treasurer, but of the Government of this country. It is idle and fallacious for an honorable member to say that the entire and personal responsibility for the budget rests upon the Treasurer. Moreover, I can in no way support the honorable member for Henty in his vicious attack upon the honorable gentleman regarding the budget and the finances generally. There is no justification for that attack, because the budget has been acclaimed by the supporters of the Ministry as one of the best in the history of the Commonwealth. Reference was made in the speech of the honorable member to the increase in taxation. It is quite true, as the honorable member for Henty had said, that there has been an increase in taxation per head of population since last year. In 1921-22 the taxation per head was £90s. 3¾d. In 1927-28 it was £9 7s. 10¾d. - an increase of 7s. 7d. But there is a good reason for that increase, and it had the approval at least of honorable members on that side of the chamber from which came the criticism. The reason is that the expenditure on roads has increased taxation by 6s. 5d. a head, while old-age pensions, to which no honorable member will object, and for which no one is responsible, has increased taxation by 10s.11½d. per head, making a total increase of 17s. 4½d.When the increase of 7s. 7d. is deducted, we find that we are better off to-day than we were in 1921-22 by about 10s. per head I regard the honorable member’s exposition of the economic and financial position of Australia as incomplete and illogical, whilst his statement that the sons of the wealthier people fought in the Great War for their own material advantage was unworthy of him, absolutely untrue, and unwarranted in the extreme. I believe the Bruce-Page Ministry to be the strongest political combination that has existed in this Commonwealth for many years, and the one leader is just as necessary to the welfare of the community as the other. It is to the interest of members on this side of the chamber at least to preserve that combination as long as possible. It is seldom that a non-Labour party is defeated by the superior strength of its opponents. It is more often defeated by the internecine differences which, from time to time, rend it in twain, and make it an easy prey for its opponents. I am a Nationalist, but, at the same time, I extend my loyalty to the Country party members of the Government while the composite arrangement which has been’ entered into lasts, and which is being honorably observed by both parties to.it. The Treasurer has carried out the duties of his office with singular ability, skill, and industry, and with lasting benefit to the people of this country. His reputation has steadily increased, and he has a claim upon the good wishes and gratitude of the people. Further, I contend that the place for the ventilation of differences is the party room, and not the floor of the House, where the airing of grievances must provide ammunition for the Opposition at election time. I have no desire at the next election to be faced on every platform on which I stand with the statements of the honorable member for Henty, or with the votes and statements of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), whorepresents an electorate adjoining mine, and whose constituents are of the same class as mine.
– The honorable member is starting early to lecture.
– I wish to put my views before honorable members whether they are acceptable to them or not. I am not here by the good grace of any particular member.
– I suggest that honorable members should discuss their differences in the party room.
– I would remind honorable members that from time immemorial it has been the practice for a new member to be heard in silence.
– I voted for the sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and the right honorable member for North Sydney paired for its retention. Either hewas right and I was wrong, or I was right and he was wrong. At all events I am prepared to explain my action to the electors at the next election, and I believe that I shall have a somewhat easier task than if I had to explain my association with Labour members in a vote of want of confidence in the Government.. The speech of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) had the merit of being delivered from the Opposition benches, and is one so I am told, that has been delivered on numerous occasions before. In view of his conscientious objections to the BrucePage Ministry, I could not understand howhe ever came to join it. He spoke with a great deal of pleasure of the part he took in the Victorian State elections, and of the way in which he helped to defeat the official Country party candidates. We see the result in Victoria today. A Labour Government, returned by a minority, is occupying the Treasury bench, largely because of the internecine differences between the anti-socialist forces in that State.
I shall now refer to some matters which have already been mentioned, more particularly by the honorable member f or Darling. (Mr. Blakeley). I regard immigration as the most important subject engaging the attention of the Government. It is of national concern, and therefore should be dealt with by this Parliament. Indissolubly bound up with immigration is the defence of Australia, which the honorable member for Darling did not see fit to refer to in his general tirade against the Government. There is usually a good deal of lip service on the subject of immigration, but unfortunately there the support of it largely stops. The Prime Minister obviously recognizes the importance of immigration, because speaking on the Development and Migration Rill in May of last year, he said -
If the prospect of future peace becomes assured under international law, we in Australia will eventually be called to the bar of the world’s opinion and be asked what we are doing with this great continent….. If the prospects of peace be not assured we must increase our population and resources so that we shall have sufficient power and wealth to defend ourselves.
Those are sentiments with which no serious minded member in this chamber, if he takes the trouble to think, will disagree. The stream of British immigration to-day to this country is only a trickle compared with what it should be. In 1922, 38,000 immigrants entered the Commonwealth; in 1923, 37,000: in 1924, 43,000; in 1925, 37,000; and’ in 1926, 42,000. The greatest increase in population by immigration occurred in the decade between 1881 and 1890, during which period the immigration totalled 382,000. Thosefigures indicate that a greater number of immigrants came to Australia years ago than are coming now, and therefore are disquieting. We should tackle this problem courageously and fairly, so that immigrants may be brought here irrespective of minor difficulties, which are exaggerated in many cases for political reasons. What can be done in other countries can be done here. Palestine is a country not one three-hundredth the size of Australia, and has not more than one-seventh of its population, yet in 1925, 31,000 immigrants entered that country. Greece is a poor country, but with the assistance of a loan of £10,000,000, it settled on its areas in 2½ years some 600,000 refugees from Turkestan, and 500,000 in the towns. In one year immigration in the Argentine reached 270,000 and in Canada 400,000. The increase in the population of the Commonwealth inthe last twenty years was only 2,000,000. In the United States of American the increase was 30,000,000 ; in India, 20,000,000; in China, 41,000,000; and in Japan 13,000,000. The last named country has an annual increase in population of from 750,000 to 800,000. Our increase is less than one-seventh of that number. I have said that immigration is indissolubly bound up with defence, for obvious reasons, which I do not propose to discuss. I have with me a book entitled Australia: White or Yellow, and in it are some remarks by an irresponsible speaker at a meeting of the Australian Natives’ Association held in Melbourne, and some further remarks by a speaker at a meeting of the Housewives’ Association, also in Melbourne. In those remarks the Italian immigrants coming into this country are referred to as “ an olive influx.” The statements made at those meetings have been repeated with exaggeration, and reprinted in the principal Italian newspaperCorriere della Sara, and in consequence have given great offence to the Italian people. I ask the members of this House to reflect on the waves of population that are constantly rolling on in China and Japan, and to think what is going to happen to this country if those waves relentlessly and remorselessly come our way. It is a question for the statesmen of this country to consider. The phrase “ populate or perish “ is no empty sentiment, but should be pondered upon by every seriousminded man and woman in Australia. Otherwise there may come a time, and much sooner than many honorable members think, when the trident will fall from our hands, and the settlement of this country will pass from us to others more willing to undertake the task. If the Government can give us an assurance that we are perfectly safe from aggression in Australia, that our defence is adequate by reason of our own armaments, and of the protection we may rely upon from Great Britain, then we can pursue our avocations in the pleasant places in which they have fallen, without further fear of trouble. If that assurance cannot be’ given, and I do not believe it can, then I say that this question should be tackled seriously and courageously, and in conjunction with the question of unemployment, which seems to be such a momentous one from the point of view of our friends on the other side. A great deal has been said on the subject of Italian immigration. I was present when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) objected in somewhat guardedterms to the Italian immigrants who are coming to Australia. He probably realized the fact, which is generally known in this House, that when Italian immigrants come to Australia, they mostly become Labour supporters, and have become, in many cases, a dominating factor in the selection of Labour representatives. The responsibility for Italians coming to Australia, however, rests largely with the Labour members themselves, and particularly with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) for the stand he took when he was in authority in Queensland. I have here an extract published throughout the press of Australia, from an address delivered by the honorable gentleman at Townsville on the 2nd March, 1925. He is reported to have said -
There could be nothing wrong with the Italians coming to this country. The country required population. It was not half populated now. The problems of the country could not be settled until there was a larger population, if the country required population, it was foolish to protest against people coming in.
That is a sapient andstatesmanlike view, which should commend itself to every member of this House. But Mr. Dunstan, the then AssistantMinister forWorks in Queensland, stated that Mr. Theodore was quite out of touch, as far as the Italian question was concerned, with the views of the Australian Workers’ Union, and of the Labour movement in the Commonwealth. Thereupon, with that courtesy which has always distinguished the honorable gentleman when the official Labour Executive speaks, he refrained from pressing his opinion. Mr. Gillies, who was Premier at the time, said that Mr. Theodore’s views were quite in accord with his own, but- very soon after that Mr. Gillies sought a sheltered aud secluded position as a judge of the Arbitration Court, a position for which it is generally agreed he had no qualifications at all. The Prime Minister has pointed out that there are 39,000 immigrants arriving in Australia annually. Included in this number are 4.900 Italians, 2,600 from Southern Europe, a”nd 2,858 from the rest of Europe. I venture to say that these figures do not disclose any serious menace to Australia. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) referred to this matter earlier in the session, and the Itala Australe, the Italian newspaper published in Sydney, spoke of the right honorable member’s statement in these terms -
If members of the British race have failed to colonize Australia’s tropical belt - and that in our minds has been proven - then for what reason can Australia forbid its exploitation and development by people of a- race as white as the British?
It is difficult to answer that statement. We rightly will not permit this country to be developed by black labour, and have excluded kanaka labour ; but it is difficult to keep out white foreign labour, particularly from Italy, a country which fought side by side with Britain during the war, was one of the most faithful of Great Britain’s allies, and probably obtained least from the peace settlement. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) said that a quota system should be applied to Italian immigration. He said - “ Personally, I take no alarm at the statement that to impose a restriction upon foreigners would cauuse international complications. If necessary, we have the influence of the Empire behind us, but I do not think we need entertain the slightest fear that other nations will interfere with our domestic affairs.
There are two points in that statement to which I wish to refer. The first is the sublime faith expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in the protection upon which we may rely from the Empire, and the support for which we may look to Britain for any action we see fit to take. Although the honorable gentleman is opposed to the British workman coming here, he is prepared to allow him to defend our white Australian policy, and to support us in whatever action we may take against a foreign country. That is not logical. The policy of the Labour party is to foster immigration, but there is always a rigid condition imposed. The attitude of the Labour party in regard to immigration is that, so long as there is a single miner unemployed in the Hunter electorate, no other miner may come in. That was the attitude of the Lang Government prior to the last election. All nominations for migrants had to receive the < signature of the Minister, and when the nominations came before the Minister he sent them to the unions concerned. If there was a unionist unemployed the nomination was refused. The policy of the Labour party is not a genuine effort to solve the problem of immigration. The < Leader of the Opposition said that no other nation would interfere with our domestic affairs. I say with great respect that this discloses an attitude of short-sightedness, of shutting one’s eyes to the teachings of history, and to what is going on in the world about us. ‘ It - displays a tendency to confine ourselves within the narrow orbit in which we move. Mr. J. H. Thomas, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in the Ramsay McDonald Government in England, said : -
We have a million unemployed. The chief reason is, of course, that emigration has practically ceased. The Dominions do not ‘ want to take our emigrants. When I was responsible for emigration, there were 50,000 willing emigrants on our books waiting for somewhere to go, and there was nowhere for them to go.
I would like, with the permission of the House, to read an extract which seems to sum up the attitude of the Labour party ‘ on this matter. It is taken from a book called Australia, White or Yellow? by Fleetwood Chidell, and this is the statement of Sir Percival Phillips, the wellknown war correspondent -
Immigration is the most important problem in Australia, lt excites less popular interest than racing, and many politicians pressed for their views show a marked distaste for discussing it frankly. . . . When you try to get at hard facts you find that the broad topic of immigration leads disconcertingly into a blind alley. You come against a Chinese wall of prejudice maintained by organized labour.
Five Australian States have Labour govern- ^ ments. I have had conversations with Ministers in Queensland and New South Wales, as well as with influential members of their party, and’ it must be confessed that the net result is very disappointing.
For one thing, “the Australian official and unofficial view seems to be that only the cream of British manhood need apply for entry.
You hear too rauch about wasters who have failed, and not enough about the workers who have made good. Much of the material that nas made the Australian nation would be rejected to-day by the over-discriminating critics now in charge of its affairs.
The dispassionate inquirer into immigration cannot help feeling- that some of the obstacles raised by official and unofficial sentiment arc wholly artificial. . . Labour declares that immigrants that begin on the land usually end in the cities, and so swell the ranks of the unemployed. In the same breath it insists that it is by no means opposed to schemes of immigration, but . . . here is the catch . . . “until the economic situation rights itself . . . (to use the words of one of the spokesmen of Labour in New South Wales) . . . the influx of new settlers should be strictly limited.”
They are careful not to condemn openly the recent agreement between Great Britain and the Federal Government for intensive development of the country - commonly known as the “t 34,000,000 agreement.” Yet this generous offer of the Mother Country - the most useful incentive to intelligent effort ever held out to any of the Dominions - has been received with lukewarm appreciation. . . .
There must be a way out. The land is here, and crying out for settlers. Australia’s future cannot be cramped for all time by a selfish policy of exclusion. But the people in Great Britain should cherish no illusions that at present the gates are wide open to them. That time has not yet come.
That is the attitude of the Labour party. Therefore, it devolves upon the Nation-: alist party to deal with this matter in an effective way which will not disturb the economic basis on which our prosperity rests, but which, at the same time, will populate this country for the material benefit and prosperity of the nation as a whole. I consider that the existence of unemployment is unduly magnified. Only two months ago, while the* State elections were in progress in New South Wales, Mr. Lang denied that there was a single unemployed person in New South “Wales. He published a full-page advertisement in all the newspapers emphasizing the prosperous condition of industry in the State, showing that manufactures were increasing everywhere, and that the prosperity of the country was so great under his Government that there was absolutely no unemployment. Yet to-day we are told by the honorable gentleman, who has just resumed his seat, that unemployment is rife throughout the country. There are three great problems that need to be grappled with by this Parliament, and, in enunciating them, I deny the allegation of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) that I desire to lecture any one. I am merely expressing views that I have held for many years. I have dealt with the first important problem - migration. The second is the establishment of a close economic union between the component parts of the British Empire. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) urged that we should establish the policy of “Australia for the Australians.” But we cannot live entirely to ourselves. It should be our policy to work in association with the remainder of the British Empire. Our trade relations should be so arranged and the economic position so improved, as to strengthen ‘ the British Empire. The third important problem is the need for preparing an effective system of defence, in co-operation with the British Empire. The greatest power that exists in this world to-day is the British Empire. The future of the British rests, not in Europe or America, but within the four corners of the British Empire. Anything that will strengthen that great structure, which is to-day the greatest bulwark of peace existent, will tend to promote the peace and happiness of millions of people.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for “Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) on his maiden speech, and I am very glad that he received a good hearing, from a well filled committee. I congratulate the honorable member upon having put his case clearly, and with confidence. I recollect my maiden speech, and I confess that I did not feel as confident as the honorable member looked to-night. I think that I might rightly extend my congratulations to the Treasurer and the Government. The speech of the honorable member for Warringah must have been as the balm of Gilead to the sore wounds of the unfortunate Treasurer and his fellow Ministers. It must have soothed them to hear the honorable member’s praise, and his . statement that everything was right, and nothing was wrong. For the first time in three days I saw the Treasurer smile, and any one who knows the Treasurer realizes that something extraordinary is amiss when he fails to smile. The honorable gentleman has been kicked, buffetted and torn asunder by attacks from all sides of this chamber on the latest budget which he has presented, and at last there rises a solitary member who can find everything good in it. Perhaps that was due to the child-like faith that the honorable member reposes in the Government. His expression of it was certainly touching. The honorable member’s flattery of the Treasurer, the budget, the Government, the Nationalist party, the Country party, and the pact, flowed in one long continuous stream. When that flattery was applied to the Government it reminded me of the remark of Brutus to Cassius, when Cassius complained that Brutus found fault with him, and said that a friendly eye would not see such faults. Brutus replied -
A flatterer’s would not, though they do appear
As huge as high Olympus.
The honorable member failed to see any faults in a budget which has been condemned from every quarter of the chamber, and by every newspaper in Australia, even those supporting the Government. I invite honorable members opposite to read the criticism contained in the journals which support their Government. They will find that I speak the truth. The honorable member took to task his colleague, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), for daring to criticize the budget, and condemned the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) for having the temerity to criticize the sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, the dismemberment of the Commonwealth Bank, and so on. He claimed that the place for such criticism was in the party room. Might I suggest that if there is any lecturing to be done about a breach of party policy, it might also be confined to the party room. It is rather pleasing to the Labour party, after all the years during which we have been described in the Tory press as the Caucus party, to find that at last an honorable member opposite openly preaches the doctrine that caucus should rule, that caucus is the place in which to say these things. The honorable member referred to the subject of migration, upon which he spoke with two voices. He replied to the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who made an excellent contribution to the debate, and claimed, in reply to the charge that southern Europeans were being brought in excess numbers to this country, that no one was more responsible for that than the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). That is one more crime heaped on the head of that unfortunate member. At the same time the honorable member stated that the honorable member for Dalley had made a statesmanlike utterance ! So that the statesmanlike utterance of the honorable member, who approved of migration and had helped to bring migrants here, is linked with the allegation that the Labour party is wholly opposed to the bringing out of a single migrant while there are unemployed in Australia. Honorable members opposite cannot blow hot and cold with the one breath. The Labour party cannot be held to be responsible for the influx of migrants from SouthernEurope and at the same time be charged with being opposed to the introduction of migrants.
– Which does the honorable member prefer?
– I shall tell the honorable gentleman in my own good time. I wish to deny absolutely the allegation which has been so frequently repeated that the Labour party is against the introduction of people to Australia while there is a single local man out of employment. I challenge the people who disseminate that mis-statement to specify any occasion on which such a policy has been expounded by this party. The Labour party has laid down a definite policy upon migration, but has never urged that Australia should be held exclusively for the people already here. It has never claimed that this country cannot provide space for millions more, nor has it stated that it will not welcome, at the proper time, millions from overseas to assist in the development of our wonderful resources. But the Labour party does repeat with determination that to bring people thousands of miles from the other side of the world while there is in Australia an army of unemployed, and an army of landhungry people, is a crime against this country and against the millions whom honorable members opposite seek to bring here. Let me put the acid test upon the Nationalists who parade their belief in migration. Let the Government introduce its long-promised unemployed insurance scheme, and protect our unemployed from privation, before contemplating the swelling of the ranks of our unemployed by importing migrants from abroad. Honorable members opposite know that the British Government desires to ria” itself of the unemployed in Great Britain, because of the dole that it has to pay them. Let this Government shoulder its responsibilities, and at least provide sustenance for our unemployed. I ask the honorable member for Warringah whether he has ever experienced the nightmare of unemployment? One of the greatest calamities that can befall a man is to be out of work. No privation is comparable with unemployment. As one man tragically said to me “If I commit a crime I can be jailed, but at least I am provided with a cover for my head, and a meal. If I lose my reason I shall be provided for. But if I lose my work there is no fund or provision for me; nothing but the pawnshop for the sticks of furniture, and cold charity when they are exhausted.” And this in a country that boasts of being progressive, that has a government that has been in power for years and that has talked so long about unemployed insurance! This Government has merely used the term as a catch-cry to win elections. The honorable member for Warringah said that the land is here, and that there are 50,000 people in Great Britain ready to come here, “ all dressed up and nowhere to go.” The honorable member must be aware that in Great Britain there is less land cultivated today than was the case years ago, and that there are more acres of land in Great Britain reserved as deer parks or for grouse shooting than was the case twenty years ago. Great Britain, which appealed to its manhood during the great war to ‘ Come forward, your country wants you “ is now placarding its streets with “ Get out to Australia ; your country can no longer keep you.” The land in Australia, as in Great Britain, is locked up by our land monopolists, yet we have a Treasurer reducing taxation to assist those monopolists to resist the breaking up of great estates, a process which has been going on all too slowly. The Labour party has endeavoured to provide land for our people, but has met with strenuous resistance from honorable members opposite. We would gladly welcome our kinsmen from overseas. Most of us sprang from men and women who came from the British Isles, driven out by the curse of landlordism that existed there, and crushed into poverty. Our parents or grandparents came to this great broad land in the hope and belief that here they would never witness land monopoly such as they had seen in the Old Country; only to find that, in less than half a century, that course is even more prevalent in Australia than it was in Great Britain.
Now let me deal with the budget. The honorable member for Warringah asked why the Treasurer should be held to be personally responsible for it, and said that his budget statement was submitted to the Cabinet for approval. I agree with that. There is no room I01 a personal attack upon the Treasurer for this budget. The responsibility for it rests upon the Government. It is the Government’s budget, and as such we attack it where it is wrong, and commend it where it is right. I do not propose to traverse the budget speech. The “figures were dealt with a day or so ago by the, Leader of the Opposition in one of the most comprehensive budget reviews that has ever been presented to this Parliament. The honorable member laid bare the facts. I desire to do my part, humble thought it may be, as a member of this great Parliament to place before the Government the serious position in which the Commonwealth stands in respect to its adverse trade balance. I shall concentrate my attention on that one point. When it is clear that we are either approaching or have reached a crisis, we should, as private members, irrespective of party considerations, do our best to face the situation and if possible find a remedy for it. We ought to bring the facts under the notice of the Government in such a way that they cannot be overlooked. In my opinion we could profitably devote a session, or at least the greater part of one, to the consideration of the economic and financial position of Australia. We Should do well to confer round the table, forgetful of party distinctions, in order to find a way out of our difficulties. I have no desire to say a word that will weaken the credit of Australia. I know that our country is passing through a critical period. The Treasurer has to convert large loans, and I do not desire to do or say anything that may have thi effect of destroying our credit. I believe that Australia has more than sufficient assets to offset every penny that she owes. But that is no reason why we should not call a halt before we go so far that we cannot truthfully make such a statement. The balance of trade, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, is worse to-day than it has ever before been in our history. Plainly the present state of affairs cannot be allowed. to continue. Imports have been flooding this country for some years, with the result that many of our industries have been strangled, and many of our people have lost their means of livelihood. Every honorable member on this side of the chamber who has discussed this subject has suggested a remedy. Our proposal may not be acceptable to honorable members opposite, but it is honestly made. The Leader of the Opposition requested, and the honorable member for Dalley and other honorable members emphasized his request, that the Government should do something to stem the flood of imports which is overwhelming us. It has been suggested that we should even go to the extent of prohibiting certain commodities from entering into the country. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) this afternoon presented a telling array of facts to support the theory upon which our argument is based.
– We should act most effectively if we refused to borrow to pay for the goods which are being imported.
– The speech which the honorable member for Wannon delivered a day or so ago on that aspect 01 the case was sound, and I agree with his view, though not quite to the extent that wc should absolutely cease borrowing for every purpose. I do not think that the honorable member intended to go quite so far as that.
– I did not.
– Generally speaking the speech of the honorable member on the trade balance was sound. It has also been suggested that the Government should change its financial methods. Some time ago I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten)’ to furnish me with a statement showing how much of our Customs revenue was derived from protective duties, and how much from purely revenue duties. Up to the present I have not received it. The honorable member for Dalley, in the course of his speech, pointed out that revenue duties fell mostly upon the workers. The more effective a protectionist policy is the less revenue it yields. On that argument it must be frankly admitted that the protective policy of this Government is signally failing to achieve its purpose, for our revenue from Customs duties is increasing annually. Of course, some of our duties are imposed frankly for revenue purposes. Our excise duties are also imposed for revenue purposes, though I would, maintain some of them for other reasons. I have taken the risk of analyzing the Customs figures without the aid of the official information which I sought, and I take the responsibility of saying that 50 per cent, of our Customs revenue is derived from purely revenue duties; the remainder comes from protective duties, some of which border upon revenue duties.
– On what do the other duties border?
– They border on effective protection; and we would have effective protection were it not for the fact that certain representatives of the Country party are members of the Cabinet. I consider it to be the duty of every honorable member to call the attention of the Government to the totally unsatisfactory economic condition of the country, even though they may have no remedy to suggest. The Government should find the remedy. It cannot evade its responsibility by saying “ You show us the remedy.” A government which, after five years of office, would make a request like that would show itself to be totally unfit to govern, and should resign. A Nationalist government in Tasmania frankly admitted that it could not satisfactorily finance the country, and handed over the reins of government to the Labour party, which at that time was in the minority, with the result, as the honorable member for “Wannon pointed out th.3 other night, that Tasmania is one of the Australian States that is making an attempt to square its ledger. In the Federal sphere the Labour party, prior to the 1910 election, strongly criticized the fiscal methods of the fusion government that was then in office, lt will be remembered that that government caused Parliament to pass a bill to provide for a loan for the purpose of paying for the first ships of the Australian navy. At the election which followed the government was defeated, but although the Labour government which succeeded it found the Treasury coffers empty, and had to face a deficit of more than £500,000, it repealed the Naval Loan Act, paid for the vessels out of revenue, extended postal, telephonic and telegraphic facilities in our outback areas to a greater extent in three years than preceding governments had done in ten years, and went out of office in 1913 leaving its successors with a surplus of £3,000,000 During the whole of its regime it did not borrow a single penny. The Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members on this side of the chamber have placed our position before the Government so clearly that it cannot be mistaken.
– I remember a time when-we lost our trade balance through the failure of our harvest; but, as a Government, we refused to export gold or borrow money from abroad to overcome our difficulties, and the position soon righted itself. We stopped importing.
– This Government, has totally failed to realize the gravity of our position. The Treasurer in the course of his budget speech did not say a word about our adverse trade balance. Although the subject has been dealt with in innumerable newspaper articles, and hasbeen discussed on scores of public platforms by members of both the Nationalist and Labour parties, I cannot remember that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), or the Treasurer has ever said a word which would lead the people to believe that they regard the outlook as serious. It is true that both the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues have, on occasions, said that this State or the other has contributed to the situation; but there has not been the slightest acknowledgment of the fact that, irrespective of who may be responsible for it, the National Government is in duty bound to attempt to remedy it, for it controls the imports and exports of the country, and to a large extent it influences its financial- policy. During the debate on the Loan Bill I drew the attention of the Treasurer to our parlous position, and in reply he flew from one State to another in an endeavour to place the responsibility on the shoulders of other people. He said, “ Mr. Lang is responsible;” but the balance of trade was against us before Mr. Lang’s Government . assumed office. Other honorable gentlemen rushed off to Queensland. They said that the financial record of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore), as Leader of the Queensland Labour Government, was such that he must be held partly responsible. We should have no objection to either the Treasurer or his supporters drawing attention to the financial record of Labour Governments in Queensland, if they would do it fairly; but they never discuss it without omitting salient facts in the case. They never tell us, for instance, that Queensland is one of the States in the Commonwealth which for years has had a favorable trade balance. During the last five years the trade balance of the Commonwealth has gone back to the extent of £60,000,000, while, the trade balance of Queensland is on the right side by £33,000,000.
– It has increased every vear.
– That is a fact. Whenever the Treasurer is faced with these facts he sets about picking figures from this year and that year, like a cockatoo picking up grain in a field, in order to prove the particular point he is trying to make. In my speech on the motion for the second reading of the Loan Bill I used certain figures to show that the indebtedness of the nation had increased seriously since the 30th June, 1923. I took that year as the starting point of my calculations, for it was the first complete year in which the Treasurer had control of our finances. But the honorable gentleman said, “ Go back to the 30th June, 1922, and you will find that instead of our indebtedness having increased by £S,000,000, it has only increased by .,£1,700,000.” Does the Treasurer claim all the credit for that year, seeing that he was in office for only four or five months of it? If so, he seriously discredits his predecessor who is now his leader. The honorable gentleman, in his anxiety to justify himself, stated, in his reply to my remarks, that the Commonwealth debt on the 30th June, 1922, was £364,840,000, whereas on the 30th June, 1927, it was £366,611,000, showing an increase for the whole period of only £1,771.000. All I have to say in reply to that is that if in the first few months of his administra- tion the Treasurer could bring about such a big alteration, it is all the more discreditable to him that, after four years’ administration, he is £8,000,000 to the bad. The Commonwealth debt at the 30th June, 1923, was £35S,509,000. as against £366,611,000 in 1927. What is the explanation of the difference between the years 1922 and 1923 that the Treasurer should take the advantage of the former to show that there has been practical] v no increase in the national debt? Oil the 30th June, 1922, the debt was £364,000,000. On the 30th June, 1923, it had been reduced by over £6,000,000. For that the honorable gentleman took credit to himself, but he did not tell the House that on 30th June, 1 922, £9,000,000 of unexpended borrowed money was on hand in the Treasury.
I draw attention to the matter only to show that whether our comparison goes back to 1921, 1922 or 1923, the fact remains that the debt has increased, although we are being told by the Treasurer that it is decreasing. He said, “ I have lifted off Australia the heavy dead weight -of war debt.” One would think that the war debt differed in some mysterious way from any other; that there was something particularly malignant about it. What difference does it make to the debt whether it was for war or for anything else? Regardless of the purpose for which the money was borrowed the people who owe it must pay the interest on it. The Treasurer has lifted the dead weight of war debt, but he has imposed another debt, and what is the net result? For the four years 1923-27, the debt due in Australia has been decreased by £20,327,000, while the debt due overseas has been increased by £2S,429,000, a net increase of £8,102,000. Is that of any advantage to the people of Australia? Is not the continual drain of interest drawing the life blood out of the country. Is not that £28,000,000 of overseas borrowing largely responsible for the flood of imports, because no one with the intelligence of even a child will deny that loans floated overseas are either used for the payment of interest on debts alreadyexisting there, or come to this country in the form of goods. When the honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) was a private member, he made several well-considered and thoughtful speeches. On the 31st August, 1922, he said -
It is bad finance not to pay as much as we possibly can off the public debt in times of prosperity.
We have had good seasons for the last six or seven years, and according to the honorable gentleman, it is bad finance for this Government to be increasing our indebtedness instead of reducing it. On the 1st April, 1924, he said -
When we borrow in London wo make a rod for our own hacks, place a premium on the importation of goods, and hamstring our own industrial development.
During the last fifteen mouths the imports to this country have amounted to £206,000,000. The’ excess of imports over exportshas been £30,000,000, an average of £2,000,000 a month - creating one of the most serious positions that this country has ever been in. The Minister for Trade and Customs also said in April, 1924-
Development does not consist in having London credits or buying London goods; it consists in the work of our own people. Borrowing abroad should cease.
Instead of ceasing, borrowing has increased, and the honorable gentleman has remained in the Ministry while this has been going on. I come now to what were the aspirations of the Treasurer when he was a private member. Speaking in this House on the 13th October. 1920, he said-
It is not creditable to Australia to be con tinually appealing to the old country for money. . . . We should cut our coat according to our cloth. . . . We should cut down to bed-rock.
Yet the Treasurer announced the other day that the policy of this Government is to float loans overseas and not in Australia. When he was a private member, his advice was to cut down to bed-rock; but as Treasurer he causes our indebtedness and borrowing to soar over the highest financial mountain tops. He made an even stronger statement on that occasion. He said -
It is questionable whether we should continue the policy of public works development.
That was drastic, because it implied a discontinuance of borrowing. No miser was ever more niggardly in the conservation of public funds than the Treasurer as a private member would have been. But behold him now ! No body was ever more prodigal than he is as Treasurer. He smiles over the expenditure of millions. He merely laughs when we speak of an adverse trade balance, and a debt as huge as high Olympus.” Of course, he is in the seats of the gods; he looks down from Olympian heights and to him all is well. In 1920 he adopted this fine self-denying attitude -
Now is the time when we should tax ourselves with the object of reducing our public debt.
And now, when he could do it, he increases the debt and reduces the taxation imposed on the land monopolist. Debts were incurred for the defence of Australia, and interest upon them has to be paid, but a big slice is to be taken off the land taxation imposed on wealthy landholders, and people enjoying large incomes are to benefit by the reduction of income taxation. While the revenue duties are being piled higher and higher on the masses of the people, the taxation on the drawers of big incomes and the holders of land exceeding in unimproved value £5,000, is to be reduced. If the £500,000 of land tax which the Treasurer is about to remit, and the £1,300,000 by which the income taxation will be reduced, were placed into the sinking fund, it would, in the period allotted for that fund, wipe out the total Commonwealth debt of £360,000,000. The Treasurer, who is piling up the public debt and lessening the taxation obligations of the wealthy, is identical with the private member who said, “ Now is the time when we should tax ourselves with the object of reducing our public debt.”
Without weakening the credit of this country, I and other members have felt impelled to utter a word of warning as to the direction in which we are proceeding. In the forest or on the plains the wise bushman, if uncertain of his track, looks back to the landmarks behind him to get a direction for his further progress. And I ask honorable members to glance back over half a century of the history of Australia for guidance as to our future. From the year 1876 to the year -1891, with the exception of the one year 1880, our imports exceeded the exports. During the ten years 1882 to 1891 inclusive, the proportion of imports to exports was as £100 is to £79. From 1880 to 1892. the public debt increased from £61,000.000 to £138,000,000, an increase of 150 per cent. Prior to 1892 the country witnessed an orgy of extravagance. After the period of boom and borrowing came the burst, and the banks closed their doors on the hard-won earnings of the people. Then followed a period of deflation and distress, the like of which I hope we shall never witness again. But a change came over the scene. For the 30 years from 1892 to 1912 the exports were in excess of the imports every year. In the next ten years were five in which the exports were in excess of the imports, and five in which the imports were the greater. But over the whole 30 years from 1892 to 1922 there was a huge excess of exports. Then the present Treasurer took command, and since that time there has been an adverse trade balance year after year with one exception. In the last five years and three months the adverse trade balance has totalled £66,000,000. During that same period we had to pay in interest on overseas public debts, State and Commonwealth, over £100,000,000, so that the country went to leeward by £166,000,000. That sort of thing cannot continue. If during those five years the country had experienced drought and bad seasons, we could philosophically say that with the return of normal seasons we should recover our position. But calculations indicate that there will be a decline of £20,000,000 in the exports of our two staple products, wheat and wool, in comparison with last year. If the drift continues we shall be £50,000,000 on the wrong side of the ledger next year apart from our interest obligations. I hope that that estimate may prove to be wrong. Looking abroad for examples to guide us, and to ascertain the relation of overseas loans to imports and exports, I find that overseas loans floated in Great Britain in 1926 were £205,000,000 below the 1913 standard, whilst the exports declined by £188,000,000. Those figures approximately balance. The United States in 1913 was a borrowing nation, but in 1926 it exported £167,000,000 worth of goods more than in 1913, and it lent overseas £100,000,000 net. There again was a fairly close approximation of the totals, showing a close relationship between lending and exports, and ‘borrowing and imports. “We should not use borrowed money for all new works. Some of the so-called new works are not permanent and not productive. Last year the Government spent on public works only £216,000 out of revenue, and £7,000,000 out of loan. lu 1921-22, £2,571,000 was spent out of revenue and £5,246,000 out of loan. While the expenditure out of revenue decreased by £2,355,000 in 1926-27 as compared with 1921-22, the loan expenditure in-
Mr. Scullin. creased by £1,754,000. It is easy to borrow money for the purpose of providing a surplus, and then talk of ‘clever financing. The Industrial Australian and Mining Standard, which is a strongly Nationalist newspaper, makes critical calculations regarding financial matters. Referring to the- Prime Minister, it stated on the 11th August last -
In all his years of office we have not heard Mr. Bruce utter one syllable of concern lor the dangerous drift in our national finance.
In its issue of the 2lst July last, that journal made the following criticism -
During the Bruce Government’s term of office, over-trading overseas has been the rule, and heavy adverse trade balances have been our annual portion. What wonder that money has -become “tight” and unemployment serious. . . . The Federal balance-sheet for the year just ended is nothing short of a disgrace to its authors.
I have risen to. draw pointed attention to the serious position that Australia must face, and I urge the Government to take steps to remedy it. The country is being flooded with imported goods that could be made here. I desire to see our manufactures built up, and better markets provided for our primary producers, so that prices may be stabilized and the producers given a fair return for their labour. I want our industries, primary and secondary, to march side by side, so that the trade balance may become favourable and the nation made prosperous.
.- I compliment the Treasurer on his expert and explicit presentation of the national balance-sheet. The present serious financial position of Australia is revealed, and it behoves every honorable member to criticize the budget helpfully, and not destructively. I was pleased to hear the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) that a complete session should be devoted to the consideration of the situation. I cannot support the Leader of the Opposition in his censure amendment, to reduce the item by £1. It might have carried some weight if he and his party had not assisted in bringing about the present position ; but they have supported high tariffs, high wages, high costs of production and shorter hours of work, all of which have led to reduced exports and increased imports. The honorable member for Yarra took a glance backwards over a period of 50 years. He showed that, np to 1922, Australia had had a favorable trade balance, but since 1922 it had had an adverse one. He referred to the need for manufacturing goods locally so that heavy imports would be unnecessary. I remind him that the period since 1922 synchronises with the advent of the highest tariff that has been imposed in this country. When the Massey-Greene tariff was brought before Parliament in 1920, we were assured by the then Minister for Trade and Customs and those who supported him that it would have the effect of reducing imports; but an opposite effect has been experienced, and the adverse balance has increased. If the ambition of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) were realized, it would be further increased. I propose to consider the budget independently, and I am prepared to discuss with other honorable members means whereby, if we have gone on the wrong road, we may retrace our steps. Many references have been made to the prevalence of unemployment and the danger of the accentuation of that evil. If blame there be, it lies at the door of this Parliament, and it is for us to find the remedy. The responsibility of the Opposition in this matter -is as great as that of the supporters of the Ministry. The honorable member for Darling praised the present Minister for Trade and Customs, but personally I consider him largely to blame for the present position. Persons of all shades of political opinion recognize that “ something is rotten in the State of Denmark.” The Prime Minister, shortly after he took office, stated at the Sydney Show that if protection was to be the policy of Australia, we should have all-round protection. That was a reasonable statement. If protection is to be the policy, all Australians, including the primary producers, should enjoy it. But would it be statesmanlike to advocate protection all round? If all the people in Australia lean on one another, how shall we pay off the national debt? The remedy for ‘ our present unsatisfactory economic position is more industries and more of our people, standing on their own feet. The Treasurer has expressed his views in these words: -
The effective action that should be taken by the farmer was to make the present vicious circle of increasing tariff protection, increasing nominal wages, increasing prices, and decreasing effective wages complete by himself getting into it. His lion-participation alone made it possible for the present system to be maintained.
I should not regard that as statesmanlike. With the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) I fear that the disasters of 1892 and 1893 may again overwhelm this country if primary producers join in the vicious circle. It might be natural for them to endeavour to get their share of the national spoils while they last; but in the long run Australia would be confronted with disaster. I should like to see a definite move for a solution of these problems from a nonparty point of view. The policy of the Labour party seems to be protection- and still more protection, leading to absolute prohibition, with all its attendant evils. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) had something to say about loyalty in the party room. These issues are too important to be dealt with by any hole-and-corner method; they should be discussed on the floor of this House. I believe the present Government to be perfectly sincere. Certainly I should prefer its administration of the finances to that of the Opposition. In practice the policy of honorable members opposite works out badly. Honorable members know what my attitude has been in this House for the last eight years. I have no desire to be obstructive. I know that I have earned the odium of a number of honorable members because of my views on certain subjects; but time will justify me. Let me now direct attention to the following warning issued by Sir Lennon Raws. and published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 8th inst. : - “ We in Australia are beginning to be . troubled as they are in Britain about the excess of imports,” said Sir Lennon Raws, “but our troubles are much simpler than theirs, because they are entirely of our own making. Our high imports are caused, firstly, by excessive borrowing overseas, and, secondly, by high costs of production. There are several factors affecting costs. The Tariff Board, in its last annual report, said that it was profoundly convinced that if Australian industry is to be maintained and safeguarded it is absolutely essential that the serious menace of rising costs of productionshould be recognized. There is no doubt that our costs are being continually pushed up by our industrial system. So far the menace of this has not been sufficiently recognized owing, firstly, to the inflationary effect of overseas borrowing, and, secondly, to the good seasons and high prices obtained for exportable products which have masked the evils of the rapidly-increasing costs of production. Now that the upward movement of the world’s prices has been checked definitely, the mask is being removed, and the menace of high costs is disclosingitself. I hope that the warning of the Tariff Board will be heeded now that the seriousness of the position is being brought home to people by slackness of trade, less favorable prospects in the agricultural and pastoral industries, the impoverishment of State governments, and the heavy toll exacted by the enormous Customs revenue. “ Australia seems to be moving in the opposite drection from that in which the remainder of the world is moving,” continued Sir Lennon Raws. “ Its local market is contracting as the cost of transport rises, whereas the movement elsewhere is towards expanding the area of the home market. Its cost of production are rising, whereas elsewhere every nerve is being strained to reduce costs. It is shackling its industries with control boards, price-fixing associations, and the like, in a futile effort te maintain price, while the other countries are looking for profit margins in reduction of costs, and are viewing with comparative equanimity price reductions because they arc an incentive towards increased consumption.”
I thoroughly endorse that view. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) spoke a little while ago of effective protection. I do not know if the honorable member is aware that the protection afforded to the Australian manufacturers is more than the equivalent of the wages paid in our secondary industries. If the protection given to our industries is equivalent to the whole of the labour employed in it, and that is actually the case, surely as a result of getting the services of the workmen in Australia for nothing this country should have developed to a much greater extent than it has done. The levying of Customs duties amounting to £44,000,000 imposes upon the people a tax amounting to over £120,000,000. I do not think any one would compute at less than that figure the cost of living of a handful of people such as is in Australia to-day. The effect must be to retard the progress of this country and to prevent it from competing with other countries. This Parliament cannot wink at the facts. At the close of one of the discussions of the Industrial Mission in the United States of America recently, Mr. Barnes appealed to the members of the mission not to go home feeling that America was the land where only dollars mattered. He said -
We were once very slow here. We were twenty years behind Britain in putting a steam engine on two rails, but we are moving fast now. We want to convince you that the prosperity of a country is not built upon war profits, but on accumulated knowledge. We have a profound belief that we are trying to eliminate the spectre of insecurity which over-shadows every man everywhere.
I ask honorable members to listen to this -
The more we produce per man the more there is to divide per family. That is our philosophy. Wages, dividends and profits are up, and costs are down. The increase in the use of machines has not meant unemployment. When a magnetic crane handled by two men began doing the work done the day previously by 128 men, it did not mean that 126 men were discharged.
Those two statements show indisputably the way in which Australia should shape its future course. We hear much about the self-containment of Australia, but it is an impossible proposition, and has never been attained in the world’s history. The recent findings of the world’s economic conference at Geneva are of paramount importance. Representatives of all nations assembled there, andI believe the Opposition in this House were represented. The conference deliberated, and the following is an epitome of its conclusions : -
This Parliament cannot afford to disregard those findings. If we take up a conceited attitude, if we set our opinions against the conclusions formulated by a congress of world’s representatives, we shall be acting against the interests of primary production and of the nation generally. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) spoke of the importance of immigration to this country, and I thoroughly agree with him. He referred to the possible menace to Australia from the Orient, and the recent transformation that had taken place in China, a country with a population of over 400,000,000, in respect ofmilitary and other matters. It certainly behoves us as a National Parliament to make some attempt to keep this country for the white races. It is all very fine to talk about the importance of bringing immigrants here and finding work for them. To-day we have an economically unsound position in Australia. Our wages are high, and our standards 0 are beyond those of other countries We cannot, therefore, expect to sell our goods so costly produced in competition with other countries. We have no markets for the products of immigrants that settle here, and our great difficulty to-day is to find payable markets overseas. The’ cost of living burden of £120,000,000 must ultimately rest, either directly or indirectly, upon the primary producers. How can we expect them to produce wheat, butter, and fruit - when our high standards prevents them from competing successfully in the markets of the world. The Economic Conference at Geneva stated that the primary producers should be unshackled. To-day our primary producers are heavily shackled, and they must be freed if we are to have a satisfactory trade balance. I shall not support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Our first duty is to put our own house in order. Every immigrant that comes to Western Australia pays £6 per head in Customs duties. Money has to be borrowed to place immigrants on the land, thus increasing the national debt by 2s. a head. But that burden will really be greater, because the immigrants will not for some time contribute to the revenue except indirectly. They will remain a burden upon the taxpayers of this country until such time as their products can compete successfully in the markets of the world.
It is the duty of the manufacturers and those whom they employ to give a fairer deal to the man on the land who is making it possible for them to carry out their manufacturing operations. Australia is financed to the extent of over 96 per cent, on the credit of primary products as only 4 per cent, of our exports consist of the products from all other sources. An honorable member referred to the necessity for effective protection on motor tires. What is effective protection? As the protection afforded manufacturers more than pays the wages of the employees, I should like to know what becomes of the balance, or what he considers effective protection. There are combines of manufacturers in Australia and of unions, which, in addition to the assistance of the tariff, extract all that is possible from the consumers and producers. I am as anxious as is any other honorable member to see goods manufactured in Australia, but I wish the manufacturers and the operatives to give the other fellow a fair deal. Some persons wonder why large quantities of goods are still imported when such high protective duties are imposed. The Tariff Board has now come to the conclusion that in recommending higher duties, it has been operating along wrong lines, as it has distinctly stated that immediately a manufacturer receives additional protection, the unions ask that the workmen shall be paid higher wages. A definite appeal is being made to the Government for increased duties on timber, and before they have been conceded the timber workers are asking for higher wages and shorter working hours. That is the position we have to face. Is it not time that the Government dealt with this problem in a constructive manner? One of the finest acts of this Government has been to dispense with one of its unprofitable undertakings that have been hindering the progress of this country. I refer to the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. If the Government would dispose of other unprofitable institutions that are shackling industry it would be entering upon the high road to prosperity. Australia is the finest country in the world, and offers the greatest possibilities in the matter of liquidating the national debt. The Prime Minister, in Western Australia some time ago, said that his Government was not responsible for the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth, but that previous governments created it. He as the Leader of the Government is responsible for increases in the tariff during his term of office. He further said that the tariff must be scientifically examined, and he pointed out how some industries were protected to the detriment of others. He instanced the wool tops and textile industries, and said that if the former were assisted, the .latter would also need help. In such cases he contended that it would be better to dispense with one industry and concentrate upon the other. We have natural secondary and primary industries in Australia. The woollen industry should be our main secondary industry and one which should make Australia wealthy; but under our present economic conditions we cannot manufacture woollen goods and sell them overseas in competition with the manufacturers of other countries. How can people be induced to come to Australia if they cannot be profitably employed. Our so-called high standard of living is really a low standard, because the high wages men receive do not place them in a better position. If we could successfully compete with outside manufacturers the cost of living would be reduced, and workers would be receiving the benefit of the wages they are paid. We have been told that all’ the motor tires used in Australia could be made here. Possibly they could, but at what price. The present duty on motor tires is 115^ per cent., which should be sufficient protection to enable an industry to carry on successfully in Australia. Is the Australian manufacturer so far behind his American competitor that he cannot compete with him in trade? A small-sized Ford motor tire is delivered f.o.b. New York, at fi 6s. 5d., and our Customs duty on it is fi 10s. 7½d., or more than the cost of the article. A big bus cord tire can be purchased f.o.b. in “New York for £11 15s. 5d., but the duty to * bring it into Australia amounts to £10 18s. 9d. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) said we want effective protection. ‘ If effec- t ive protection means having to pay prices like that for our tires in Australia it is the most serious indictment on Australia that could be made. Nowadays locomotion by motor is the order of the day. Transport is as important as anything else in the back country where long distances have to be. covered. The primary producer is using these tires to convey his produce to market, and the effect of, the existing duties is that he is running on tires which cost him 115 per cent, more than his competitors in other countries have to pay. This increases the cost of living, and the man employed on the railway must be paid accordingly. Eventually the higher wages for the railway workers have to be paid by the men 1 on the land, because higher wages can only be met by increasing the freight on primary produce. The Tariff Board itself has pointed out these things, and asked us to regard them as a warning.
– Does the honorable member think that the Prime Minister agrees with the resolution carried by the Economic Conference ?
– The Prime Minister is of age. The honorable member can ask him the question himself. I believe the Prime Minister will be prepared to make an effort to enable Australia to place her house in order, and that he ‘ and many others are prepared to set to work to that end. Australia’s debts, both Federal and State, amount to over fl,000,000,000, which is double what the public debt of the United Kingdom was prior to the war. The debt of the United Kingdom was borne by 45,000,000 people, whereas we have a population of only 6,000,000. Yet people here are asking for a shorter working week, higher pay, and protected industries. We have heard criticism of the adverse trade balance, and have had a want of confidence motion from the very s people who are_ largely responsible for the conditions of which they complain. The debt of £1,000,000,000 includes the war debt, and I think that debt is justified by the freedom that we enjoy. For that debt we have a corresponding asset if we use it rightly. The budget, however, ‘ shows that we are taking sustenance from the roots of the tree instead of picking the fruit from, the branches. I do not believe that the Treasurer himself believes in what he is doing. Much of the criticism levelled against him, in view of his contradictory utterances before and after he assumed office, are justified from the point of view of the Opposition. When he found the majority of the people of Australia backing anunsound policy, he was forced to support it against his will, which I personally approve. I know that the Treasurer believes that as much money as possible should be left in the hands of industry. I think it could be shown that many of the industries now being carried on in Australia, and supported by honorable members in this House, are of no assistance to the country. The boot industry is carrying on at a loss in Australia. Even if the Treasurer were to continue to pay every man and woman employed in it the wages they are now receiving, the industry could be discontinued, and the country would show a profit on the transaction. I believe that the match industry is in a very similar position. There is an impossible attempt to make Australia self-contained. Those who support that policy think that other people should buy our goods, but that we should not buy anything from others. We have our White Australia policy, and I thank God for it, but we must demonstrate that a White Australia can be run efficiently. Money from Japan, which is in return for our produce, is just as good as money from any other country. During one year recently Japan bought goods to the value of £16,000,000 from us, while we bought from Japan products to the value of only two or three million pounds, spent mostly on such things as matches and silk. Is it wrong for Australia to support a policy of trade reciprocity with other countries? We are cutting off our noses to spite our faces, and setting up industries, such as our pettifogging match industry, which are being run at a loss. The figures relating to our trade with J apan should convince us that this is not a policy to make our country progress, or extend its development. Anything of advantage to a country should be done, but anything likely to be a dead- loss should be pruned away, and we should confine our attention to the jobs that are likely to pay.
– Would the honorable member rather borrow money from America?
– We should borrow less money for Australia if we made more use of what we do borrow. We are not getting proper value for the money we spend. We have not the asset value for our foreign loans that we ought to have. In the past we made good use of the money we borrowed, but I am very much afraid that to-day we are not geeting value. For instance, can any one say we are getting value for the money we are spending on roads? I say that we are not getting half the value we should get. There seems to be a sad want of sympathy between workers and employers. Many workers seem to think that all they have to do is to watch the clock and they will get their money no matter what work they do.
– That is a lot of rot.
– That is the sort of advice that has led men astray. During his period of office, the Treasurer has collected from customs taxation approximately £70,000,000 more than was collected in the immediately preceding five years. The Government is pledging futurity in regard to road construction, housing, and other schemes. Because the housing scheme was promised by the Government at the last election, I supported the Housing Bill, but I think there are other things that should have received attention before that. The. scheme is not urgent. It would be better to utilize the money for the further development of our primary industries. This pledging of futurity at a period when the revenue is at its peak is a mistake, because the recent drought will make next year’s balance very much more serious than the present one, and money will be of far more importance in the near future than it appears to.be at the present time. The Government and Parliament have been led to believe that our revenue is coming from a permanent source, but if the theory of the protectionists is right, our
Customs revenue will decrease. We cannot expect to manufacture goods in Australia and get £44,000,000 from duties on imported goods. The Government is pledging futurity on the assumption that the fiscal policy of Australia will not succeed. If that policy should succeed, it is not justified in doing so. Before the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) became a member of this House, he said that if the Governments of Australia had given half the attention to the development of the primary resources of this country that they gave to the development of its secondary industries, the wealth of Australia would be double, if not treble, what it was at the time when he spoke. If the secondary industries could show me how they are helping the primary producer to pay off some of our national debt, they would have my greatest sympathy and help, but there is no instance they can show me in which they have given that help. On the other hand, I can show them many instances in which they have hindered Australia’s, efforts to bear the national burden of its debt. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, and other ardent protectionists, should pause and think whether they are acting fairly in allowing combines to shelter behind the wall of protection. It would have shocked Australia to its foundations if Mr. Tudor had brought down the tariff that we have to-day. But the tariff we have to-day was imposed, not for protectionist, but for revenue purposes to finance the country during the war time, and the singular thing about it is that the manufacturers and those employed by them have found a way of assimilating the advantages afforded by the tariff to the detriment of Australia as a whole. I should have no objection to the present tariff remaining as it is if the manufacturers and workers of Australia would play fair and sell at world’s competitive prices, but they will not do so. I can give honorable members some statistics on this point. Mr. Sutcliffe, of the Commonwealth Statistician’s Department in his recently published thesis entitled The National Dividend, shows that the earnings of half the adult bread-winners of Australia average £3 5s. 6d. weekly. This means that if we take the purchasing value of the sovereign as compared with pre-war days at 12s., the purchasing value of their weekly earnings is reduced to £1 19s. 3d. Honorable members would have regarded £1 19s. 3d. as a low wage ia past years, but it would be equal to £3 5s. 6d. at the present time. Does that axiomatical fact ever occur to honorable members?
– Of course it does.
– But the effect of the increased wages’ standard of to-day is to stop the extension of our industries, create unemployment, and prevent the sale of our goods in the world’s market. A wage of £1 19s. 6d. is as good as a wage of £3 15s. 6d. under the conditions in which they separately apply. In- I eluded in the adult bread-winners whose average weekly earnings are £3 5s. 6d., are all classes of the community, wage and salary earners, numbering 645,000, and all others, numbering 304,00u. That is to say, large numbers of primary producers, farm workers, small storekeepers, small investors, returned soldiers, as well as many engaged in highly-protected manufactures, are earning this average weekly wage. Honorable members realize from that exactly what the position is. They will also realize that the solution of the problem is not to increase wages and grant shorter hours. All should give adequate value for the payment received. * What is wrong with Australia’s primary industries? Mr. Ambrose Pratt, of the Australian Industries Preservation League, states that there were 7,000 fewer farmers and 40,000 fewer farms in 1925 than in 1916, and that there were 1,250,000 less acres under cultivation. 1 And within the next decade Australia will have to find £476,000,000 to meet loan renewals ! Surely that is a matter for the serious consideration of any parliament. I was greatly disgusted when I noticed the disinclination of the Tariff Board to hear the views of a lecturer on economics from the Sydney University. One of the members of the Tariff Board seemed to be quite shocked that the professor should have the impertinence to appear before the board to give evidence. The board want to hear only what manufacturers have to tell it. It does not ^ want to hear a man who is unbiased, and who is thoroughly conversant with economics. It would be beneficial to Australia if the political bias which surrounds the consideration of such questions were overcome, and a board of men trained in economics was appointed to review the position. I believe that certain anomalies exist in our Income Tax Act that could be removed with advanage. The best way would be to reduce the indirect burden upon the people rather than the direct, because the most equitable burden to place on the people is by way of income tax. The Government is then collecting for the services of the country after the citizens have received the money.
– Can the honorable member instance a country that has become great without protection?
– There is no country in the world so great as the nation from which we sprang, the nation which, during the great world’s conflict, bore the burden of the day. Honorable members may refer disparagingly to that country in the day of its trial, after it has been bled white by other countries for whom it fought. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) may not know it, but it is called the British Isles, and I think he has been there. If any rational man discovered that his affairs were on the wrong side of the ledger, he would pursue one of two courses. He would either go insolvent, or call his creditors together, and tell them that he wanted time in which to pay. He would then make an endeavour to retrench. It is up to this Parliament to proceed along similar lines, and the potentialities of Australia make that possible. At present the only State in which any progress is being made in agriculture is Western Australia. I believe that that has been due to the fact that our young men have been forced on to the land and have not been attracted to the manufacture of matches, hats, and various other commodities. They have produced real wealth, with the result that this year Western Australia has exported a considerable quantity of primary produce, the returns from which will go a long way towards meeting our national obligations. What are other industries doing in that direction? Our manufacturers must be making considerable profits, yet they are not satisfied with the protection they are given, but are seeking a reduction of income tax. If the Government has in mind the reduction of taxation, I ask it to make a commence”ment with indirect taxation by compelling the stoppage of unprofitable industries that are handicapping and shackling industry generally. This Parliament would be well advised to occupy a whole session in a consideration, on purely non-party lines, of the best course to adopt. The majority of the people are centralized in the capital cities because of the aggregation there of unnatural, unprofitable, exotic industries. That has led to the cities having a preponderating influence in this Parliament, with a consequent continuance of the policy of ever-increasing protection. Those people consider that secondary industries are necessary for their livelihood. They never give a thought to the manner in which they are maintained. If’ the workers were made dearly aware of the manner in which primary industries are shackled, no doubt they would become imbued with a better feeling, and make it their business to see that an industry which had received a fair measure of protection gave a fair deal to the consumer and the primary producer. I feel quite satisfied that the resources of Australia are sufficiently great to enable it to enter the competitive field with, not only its primary, but also its secondary produce ; but for this our policy must be changed. Our empty spaces would then bo filled, and we should be placed in a position to defend ourselves against invasion.
.- Mr. Bayley-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The right honorable member for North Sydney.
– For how long does the Government intend that the debate shall continue to-night?
– We must go on until midnight.
.- I regret that the hour is so late.
– I rise to a point of order. It occurs to me that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) may be regarded as having concluded his address.
– There is no point of order.
– I am about to submit one. The rule of debate, in committee as well as in the House, is that when an honorable member rises and succeeds in catching the eye of the Chairman, as the right honorable member for North Sydney undoubtedly did-
– Order! I remind the honorable member that he has risen to a point of order.
– I shall state it very shortly. I was about to say that when an honorable member rises and catches the eye of the Chairman-
– I rise to a point of order.
– I submit that the right honorable member may not interpose.
– The honorable member will permit me to give a ruling on that matter. Only one point of order may be raised at a time.
– From time immemorial, in accordance with a rule established in the House of Commons, recorded in May’s Parliamentary Practice, and bequeathed to us as a tradition of the Mother of Parliaments, when an honorable member has succeeded in catching the eye of the Chairman or the Speaker as the case may be, and his name has been called-
– The honorable member rose with the object of taking a. point of order, but he has not yet done so.
– I wish to know whether the right honorable member for North Sydneyhas forfeited his right to speak ? Itwould be a calamity if that were so.
– Is the honorable member for Batman trying to burke discussion? Is he afraid of it?
– Quite the contrary, and I think a number of other honorable members have a strong desire to hear the right honorable gentleman speak on this debate, though perhaps the Government is not keen about it. I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether in strict conformity with the rules of debate and the practice of the House, which governs the practice of the committee, the committee being the subordinate body, the right honorable gentleman, having been called, and having risen, will be excluded from entertaining us with his erudite-
– Order! The Chair has listened with great patience to the honorable member for Batman, and has failed to discover his point of order. The point that the right honorable gentleman is not entitled to speak has not been raised, and the Chair suggests that the honorable member for Batman should remain silent until it is raised.
– The speeches which have been delivered during this debate have been of such a nature that the Government should at least give some earnest consideration to ways and means for improving its management of the affairs of this country. Had the speech which the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) has just delivered been broadcast, persons outside the Commonwealth who might have been listening in would have considered that the honorable member was far from enthusiastic about the country in which he lives, and where he is doing so well. The honorable member concluded his address by suggesting that unless we alter our mode of living we shall find ourselves either in the bankruptcy court, or in the position of having to call a meeting of our creditors.
– Let the honorable member tell a different story.
– I intend to do so. Surely since the inception of this debate we have been, metaphorically speaking, meeting our creditors. I support the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition, as I consider that, for other reasons entirely than those stated by the honorable member for Forrest, the country is in a parlous position. Honorable members opposite have attempted to lead us out of the Slough of Despond into the Promised Land, but they have altogether failed to find the way. They have, as it were, risen into the air like rockets, and fallen like burnt sticks. In my opinion this conglomerate Government is quite incapable of managing the affairs of this country efficiently. The functions of government are not being exercised in the best interests of Australia.It appears that honorable members opposite can talk about nothing except the standard of living of our working class, high wages and shorter hours. The workers of this country have no need to apologize notwithstanding the remarks of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), who never loses an opportunity to decry them ; they are the best workers in the world.
– I have done nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member loses no opportunity to revile those who are responsible for the country’s present satisfactory condition. He believes that primary producers comprise only farmers, pastoralists, and fruit-growers. It remained for the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) to remind him that miners are as much primary producers as are those engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits. Our timber getters, roadmakers, and railway builders are primary producers who are doing much to develop this country. The honorable member for Forrest asks who pays income taxes.We do not know how much some primary producers pay, but I can tell him how much the workers of this country pay in income tax. I can, moreover, point to the figures of the Statist to prove that many of them do not earn enough to pay income tax. When the Labour Government in South Australia was defeated recently, the two leading newspapers of that State - the Advertiser and the Register - paid a tribute to it for the manner in which it had administered the country’s affairs.
Mr.R. Green. - Yet the electors kicked it out ignominiously.
– The Labour Government in South Australia was defeated because about a week before the election the Liberals threw down a political bomb. They stated that the financesof that State were in a chaotic condition, and that the drift must be stopped. They also charged the Government with having raised the water rates. The reason for the increased charges was that the triennial assessment of holdings had taken place, with the result that, although the rates were not increased, the amount payable was greater because of the higher value automatically placed on properties. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) said that the Labour Governmentwas ignominiously kicked out. I remind him that a further 1,000 votes would have given that Labour party twelve additional seats, which would have kept the Labour Government in office. The public of South Australia was tricked in the same way that the electors of Australia were tricked by the Prime Minister when he spoke of the danger from such men as Tom Walsh, and the possibility of a “ red “ Australia. Although the Labour Government was defeated in South Australia, it obtained a majority of the votes cast at the election. We had recently before us a bill to amend our electoral laws. During the debate on that measure reference wasmade to gerrymandering. I can tell honorable members something about jerrymandering in South Australia. When the Electoral Commission brought in its report on which the existing boundaries of elec torates in that State were fixed, Sir Richard Butler, the father of the present Premier of South Australia, said that that re-adjustment of boundaries would keep Liberalism in power for the next twenty years. In the face of that remark, it is idle to talk of non-political commissions.
– Will the honorable member deal with federal politics?
– I am dealing with Australian politics. What has been done in South Australia this Government is prepared to do. It has been contended that the Labour Government in South Australia not only increased taxation, but also bungled the finances of that State.
– The same thing was done by the Labour Government in New SouthWales.
– By remarks of that kind those opposed to Labour seek to mislead the people of the Commonwealth. When the Liberals threw their election bomb they said that the Labour party had got the finances into a chaotic condition. The Labour Premier explained to the people the position that had been created by the gentleman who is about to enjoy one of those sinecures in London for which the Australian people pay, and for which they got no adequate return ; I refer to the six Agencies-General.
– This is not the South Australian Parliament.
– The new representative of Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) thought it his duty to place on record what the Nationalists and Country party had done in New South Wales, and the great victory they had achieved by combining their forces. When the honorable gentleman was boasting about the achievements of the Nationalists I did not hear the honorable member for Richmond protest. He was silent also when the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) referred to the apostacy of those Country party members whose dominating influence in the Government is shown in the budget.
– If the honorable member for Wimmera had been a member of the Labour party when he made those remarks he would have been called a “ rat.”
– Before the honorable member for Wimmera uttered that criticism he had dissociated himself from those with whom he was unable to agree. And if any member of the Labour party leaves it for similar reasons he will be entitled to voice his criticism. I was saying that the Hill-Gunn Government in South Australia was accused of having permitted the finances to drift.
– Perfectly true.
– I am glad to have that interjection, because the budget presented by the succeeding Government proved that the accusation was unjust. The
Hill-Gunn Government had a surplus for one year, and the subsequent small deficits were due to the £9,000,000 spent by the Barwell Government on the railways rehabilitation scheme. The Liberals, however, won the election because of the increase of the land tax by ¼d. in the £l.and the water rates. Fortunately, very many people in South Australia own their own homes, and as the water rates were falling due at the time of the election they resented at the polls what they considered undue oppression by the Labour Government, not realizing that the increased rate was a necessary consequence of the rise in the value of their land. In due course the Liberal Government presented its first budget, in regard to which I quote the Register -
The following items must arouse the indignation of every elector who remembers the present Premier’s pre-election pledges: -
Income tax, 25 per cent. increase from personal exertion. Exemption reduced from £150 to £100. Exemption for children reduced from £50 to £30.
Increased water and sewerage rates, 25 per cent.
Increase of freights and fares on railways from 10 per cent. to 20 per cent. meaning an addition of £40,000 in revenue from this source.
Increase of 20 per cent. in wnariage rates.
Increase from 100 per cent. to 300 per cent. in stamp duty.
Increase of 5 per cent. in the motortax.
Increase of 20 per cent. in the succession duties.
While it is intimated that the Government intends to levy a rate on companies and increase the amusement tax.
Honorable members opposite speak ofthe people being burdened with taxation.I suppose that in South Australia there is more unemployment in proportion to population than in any other State.
The honorable member said that the cost of living must be brought down, but he did not suggest a means of reducing it. Even Mr. Amery, the Secretary of State for the Dominions, who is a distinguished globe trotter, and is familiar with the conditions prevailing in every part of the world, advises us not to scrap our present standards of living. How does the honorable member for Wannon propose to reduce the cost of living?
Mr.Rodgers. - Like the honorable member for Dalley, I shall offer a solution in due season. What does the honorable member for Adelaide propose?
– In reply to that question, I may use the words addressed to me by the late Hon. John Darling, when I hadthe temerity to attack him for his criticism of Kingston. He said to me “My young and unsophisticated friend will get knowledge as he grows older. When I am elected to office I shall prescribe the remedy.” I was hoping that the present Government would be able to find a way out of the morass in which we now find ourselves.
House adjourned at 1 1.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 November 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1927/19271117_reps_10_116/>.