House of Representatives
4 May 1928

10th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hoa. Sir littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

page 4670




– In yesterday’s Sydney Sun appeared a report of the deputation respecting Czecho-Slovakians, which waited upon Mr. Garden, secretary of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales. The deputation stated that in consequence of representations by an officer connected with the office of the

High Commissioner in London, 130 migrants from Czecho-Slovakia had comp to Australia, 100 of them to Sydney, believing that they would be able to obtain employment at from £5 to £6 a week. Will the Prime Minister inquire whether there is any truth in that statement, and if there is, will he take action to prevent other foreigners from being deluded into coming to Australia, especially when so many of our own people are unemployed?

Minister for External Affairs · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · NAT

– The matter is already being inquired into by the Minister for Home and Territories. No officer at Australia House would be justified in making any such representations tr foreign migrants, and I cannot believe that the statements of the deputation are correct.

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– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence any information regarding the progress of Wing-Commander Wackett in his flight from Australia to Singapore? The public is keenly interested in the progress of the first All- Australian made seaplane ‘(

Minister for Health · CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– I have no information on the subject beyond the newspaper statement that so far the progress of Wing-Commander Wackett has been satisfactory.

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– Having regard to the fact that the stripping of wattle bark which was once a considerable industry in New South .Wales, is now waning owing to heavy importations of bark, will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider the advisability of asking the Tariff Board to inquire into and report on the industry?


– If representation are made to the department the matter will receive consideration.

page 4670




– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether thiviews of local bag manufacturers were obtained prior to the removal of the embargo upon the importation of cornsacks of the old dimensions of AA ? ?6£ inches ? If so, for what reasons were their representations disregarded ? If not, why was an expression of their views nol solicited ?


– The matter is now receiving consideration by the department.

page 4671


Postal Workshops, South Melbourne

Mr. MACKAY, as Chairman, presented the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed erection of postal workshops at South Melbourne, Victoria. )i;

Ordered to be printed.

page 4671




– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that when broadcasting in the United Kingdom was conducted by private companies the British Govern^ ment by act of parliament or regulation limited the amount of their profits to 7-J per cent.? In preparing the new agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the A Class broadcasting companies, will the Minister have inserted a provision to limit their profits ‘i

Postmaster-General · CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA · CP

-This matter has not yet come before the Government, which will, however, give consideration to all aspects of it.


– In suggesting to the various broadcasting companies that there should bc better co-ordination throughout Australia, was not the PostmasterGeneral actuated by a desire i<> promote an amalgamation or merger of their interests, and may not such an amalgamation be detrimental to listenersin? Would not a better policy be to encourage the broadcasting companies in the various States to preserve their independence ?


– The Government will expect representation of the various States on the board which will control broadcasting. The object of promoting

CO-ordination is to permit of short-wave relaying of any one programme throughput the Commonwealth.

page 4671




– The New South Wales Minister for Local Government has announced that the construction of a* new first-class road between Goulburn and Canberra has been commenced. Can the Minister for Works and Railways say whether anything is being done or is likely to be done to improve the existing road, which is in a shocking condition ?

Minister for Works and Railways · ECHUCA, VICTORIA · CP

– I understand that the New South Wales Main Roads Board is proposing to construct a new road which will skirt Lake George, and will shorten the distance between Goulburn and Canberra, but that a decision has not yet been reached.

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Nakanai Murders - Trial by Jury’ - Execution of Judgments - Police - Landing Ground and Wharf Construction at RABAUL.


asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. What is the position in regard to the Nakanai murderers in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, who were sentenced to death?
  2. On what date were they, sentenced to death, and was the sentence carried into effect?
  3. Does the Government propose to grant trial by jury in the Mandated Territory?
  4. How many decided civil cases are awaiting the execution of the judgments?
  5. What is the position in regard to the white police staff and patrol of the Mandated Territory, and what is the annual cost?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - ? 1 and 2. Of the six natives who were sentenced to death in connexion with the murder of Europeans at Nakanai - one died in prison ; the sentence of one was commuted to imprisonment for seven years; the sentence of the remaining four were commuted to imprisonment for fifteen years. Particulars of the dates of sentence are being obtained from the Administrator.

  1. Careful consideration has already been given to this matter, but owing to difficulties, principally at out-stations, it is not proposed to introduce the system at present.
  2. I regret that I am not in a position to supply this information, but I shall obtain it from the Administrator.
  3. It is assumed that the honorable member’s question refers to the regular European police force, and does not refer to the district officers, assistant district officers, and other officers of the administration who are en officio members of the police force. The following information is supplied on that assumption: -

In addition to the permanent establishment there are three warrant officers employed temporarily for service on the gold-fields. The range of salary of these temporary officers is £336-£408 per annum.


asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the aeroplane landing ground at Rabaul has been covered by buildings ?
  2. If so, where are aeroplanes now . to land in the vicinity of Rabaul?

– I regret that the information desired by the honorable member is not available at present, but I shall obtain it from the Administrator.


asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

Is the main wharf of Rabaul to be reconstructed, or is it intended to construct a new wharf. If so, when and where?


– It is not proposed to reconstruct the damaged wharf at Rabaul. It is intended, howbver, to construct a new wharf at Malaguna, at a distance of about 11/2 miles from the site of the damaged wharf, as soon as the necessary funds can be made available.

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Report on American Methods.


asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -

  1. Whether it was part of the mission of the Chief Engineer (Mr. Hill) of the Department of Works and Railways, to investigate methods ofroad construction in America?
  2. If so, has a report yet been received by the Minister, and will it be available for distribution to town and shire councils interested ?

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

  1. Yes.
  2. The report has been received and will be made available as far as possible to those interested.

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asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice- -

  1. What was the production of rice in Australia during the last two years, and what is the estimated production this year?
  2. Is it a fact that before the duty was imposed on imported rice, the price paid by millers to growers on the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area was £10 10s. per ton?
  3. Is it a fact that this season, with the duty of about £3 6s. 8d. per ton operating, and notwithstanding that the quality- of the Murrumbidgee rice is admittedly better than the imported, the price paid by millers for the former is £11 per ton, while the market value of imported rice is about the same as it was previous to the imposition of the duty?
  4. Will he look into the matter with a view to taking action to ensure that the growers, for whose benefit the duty was imposed, shall receive at least the bulk of the greater value created by the duty?

– The information will be obtained as far as possible.

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Wheat Exported - Refrigerated Space


– On the 7th March, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) asked the following questions, upon notice -

  1. What was the approximate amount of wheat carried from Australia to Egypt, Europe and United Kingdom for the year ended 31st December, 1927, by the berth-loading steamers of the following lines: -

    1. Australian Commonwealth Line;
    2. Orient Steam Navigation Company;
    3. Peninsular and Oriental Steam

Navigation Company;

  1. Schedule steamers of other lines (each line to be shown separately) ?

    1. What is the total refrigerated space on the steamers of -
  2. The Australian Commonwealth Line;
  3. ) The Orient Steam Navigation Company;
  4. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company;
  5. Other lines trading between Australia and the United Kingdom (each line to be shown separately) ?
I am now in a position to furnish the following particulars : - {: .page-start } page 4673 {:#debate-11} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented - >Geophysical Surveying - Report of a subcommittee of the Committee of Civil Hesearch, Empire Marketing Board. > >Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved bv the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1927-28 - Dated 24th April, 1928. > >Customs Act - Proclamation prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of opium and other habit-forming drugs (dated 30th March, 1928). > >Sulphur Bounty Act - Regulations amended Statutory Rules 1928, No. 30. {: .page-start } page 4673 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### IMPERIAL CONFERENCE, 1926 Debate resumed from 22nd March, 1927 *(vide* page 875, Vol. 115), on motion by **Mr. Bruce** - >That the paper be printed. {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-JY7} ##### Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES:
Boothby -- Last night when the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. Charlton)** was speaking on the report of the Eighth Assembly of the League of Nations - and here I should like to express *my* acknowledgment of the constant courtesy which I, as a private member, always received from the honorable gentleman while he was Leader of the Opposition - he expressed his regret that there had been so much delay in dealing with a matter of such prime importance. I do not wish to discuss the relative importance of the Imperial Conference and the League of Nations, but certainly the proceedings of the former are of vital concern to Australia and the Empire generally, and I am sorry that the debate on the * conference of 1926 has been deferred until this late date. The conference was held in October and November of that year. The Prime Minister, on his return from England, spoke on this subject on the 3rd March, 1927, and it was discussed by the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan)** ; the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** ; and the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman)** on the 22nd March of last year, when I obtained the adjournment of the debate. I was ready to speak on the subject then, but a year has elapsed and the opportunity for speaking has, to a great extent, passed. For that reason I shall not delay the House. I would have liked to discuss whether the results of the conference were as important as we have been told, on the one hand ; because, on the other hand, we have been assured by certain authorities that practically no alteration was effected by the conference. There was, in fact, a great difference of opinion - and this was clearly shown in the English reviews - as to the precise effect of the Imperial Conference, and for that reason I should have liked to refer in some detail to some of the large number of interesting questions raised. But there are two general matters which I should like to say a word about now, if only to place my opinion on record ; they arise out of the interim report of the Inter-Imperial Relations subcommittee. These are subjects which, I venture to suggest, will come up again for discussion, and therefore, there can be no objection to referring to them now; in fact, there is every need to do so. The first, and in a sense, both matters relate to disagreements between the various dominions. I moved some years ago in this House on the subject of women's nationality, and I tried to follow up the subject in the English blue books containing accounts of the conference and of the meetings of the sub-committees, and the only conclusion that I could come to was that it had been impossible to arrive at any agreement on it, and, therefore, it was for the time being shelved. One dominion is certainly entitled to know in these matters where Great Britain and the other dominions stand. If we are to send fo the conferences, as we did on this occasion, delegates who support certain opinions, we, and, I think, the Empire at large are entitled to know tlie attitude of other parts of the Empire towards those opinions. If that happened, it would be possible to take stops f.o persuade those parts of the Empire which are not in agreement with us to adopt a different attitude. The second matter is of more importance, and it is - how far is it possible or desirable to bring Great Britain and the several dominions into agreement on every question which arises. I, personally, think that that is not possible; in fact, I am not sure that it is desirable. There is ample scope inside the Empire for differences of opinion, and it is possible for the differing opinions to be placed on record without danger to the Empire itself. Every one knows that the Empire consists of a group of countries populated by men of different races, holding different opinions, and having different surroundings and interests, with the result that apparent agreements are sometimes arrived at which do not really represent the views oi any of them. **Sir "William** Irvine, a' former prominent member of this House, uttered some wise words on this point in Melbourne last year. He said, in effect, that in relation to foreign affairs there were two "words which he did not quite understand. They were " Gesture " and " Formula." So far as he could make out, " Gesture " was the expression of emotion where no emotion was felt, and " Formula " was the expression of an agreement where no agreement had been arrived at. Those words are worth placing on record. I do not think that **Sir William** Irvine would suggest that they represent the whole' truth, but they do represent the truth to a large extent. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- They represent a good deal of the make-believe in foreign relations and diplomacy throughout the world. {: .speaker-JY7} ##### Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES: -- lt was an honest attempt to face facts and not to gloss them over. I wish to add also that where too many gestures are made they eventually cease to have any effect. Further, it is undesirable that we. should, by attempting to bring about apparentagreements, be constantly levelling down to the lowest degree of loyal sentiment. So far as we are concerned, although we wish to work and combine- with the other dominions as cordially and heartily as possible, the essential thing is that we should adhere to Great Britain. I venture to say that the time will come «. when Ave shall be in the position of having to decide whether we shall adhere to Great Britain on some major questions, saying frankly that we do or do not stand by the Old Country, or whether we shall whittle our views down to some petty resolution which represents the opinion of no one in this country. 1 mention those two matters simply because I am persuaded that in some form or other they must recur later, and I take this early opportunity to record my own views concerning them. {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-KMQ} ##### Mr MANN:
Perth .When the Imperial Conference and its results were live questions, there were many subjects arising therefrom that should have been discussed in this House, and like the honorable member for Boothby **(Mr. Duncan-Hughes)** I feel that they have been in cold storage for so long that to thaw them now would not restore anything like their former interest. There are one or two questions to which I should like to refer in passing, and they have been already ably and clearly stated by the honorable member for Boothby. The discussion of imperial- relations was of course the outstanding feature of the conference, and like the honorable member I venture to suggest that now we look upon that gathering in cold blood we find that not very much was accomplished by it. As a matter of fact a great part of the discussions of that conference appears to have been occupied in that interesting diplomatic amusement of searching for a formula. What happened reminds one very much of that classic poem, " The Hunting of the Snark." Under the leadership of one of the cleverest word-spinners of the British Empire it was sought to gloss over a difficulty- by expressions and phrases which really amounted to very little, and, as in that famous poem, I venture to say that when the formula was found it wa3 very much like the old " Snark " because it turned out to be a "Boojum '' after all. The decisions of the Conference altered, perhaps the personal status of certain dominion statesmen, but there was little alteration of the relations between the dominions and the Old Country. The formula had the undesirable effect of trying to consolidate and fix by phrases what we already clearly understand to be our sentiment and feeling. The right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** speaking in this House some time ago said that it was sometimes more dangerous to try to consolidate or express those feelings in set phrases than it was to leave them in a more or less undefined state. One matter arose out of the conference to which I shall refer. We have heard that as a result of the conference, the dominions are now consulted by the Imperial Government and kept informed of practically every move in foreign politics. It is very important that that should be so, if we are at any time to be called upon to support British policy; but there is the other side of the question, to which T have referred in this House on more than one occasion. How far in the communications which pass between Great Britain andi Australia, does this Government seek to influence, affect, or change the policy which may be indicated in the Imperial communications. I do not want to be misunderstood on this point, for, like the honorable member for Boothby, I consider that we should, in 95 per cent, of casesconsider it our first duty to support and uphold the Imperial Government; but we should not always accept its views without question or without some suggested alteration on our part. It is too late to go into this subject now, but at the time of the completion of the Locarno Treaty, for instance, we were informed that we were to be instructed almost every day of the progress of the proceedings. Yet in reply to a question which I put to the Prime Minister ai that time he stated that no communication had been sent from us to the Imperial Government on the subject. That may, or may not have been necessary, but I distinctly remember that there were several points regarding the details of the Locarno Treaty in which we might have been, and indeed we were, seriously interested. There were suggestions which, according to the public discussions which then took place in the British journals, might very well have been given effect in order to improve the terms of that treaty. I should like to know to what extent this Government exercises its undoubted" right of suggesting alterations or modifications of views, and of making communications between this Dominion and the Imperial Government to a certain extent reciprocal, lt appears to me that when we receive advices from the Home Government respecting various happenings, we do not always take full advantage of our opportunity to make suggestions that might he useful. Of course I can readily understand thaigrave difficulties may arise because of the governments of two countries representing parties of distinctly different opinims and view-points, but still in that ease it might be necessary for us to exert our influence. It does seem to me that it is not sufficient for us to simply be the recipients of advice from England and not to exert our influence upon Great Britain and also the other parts of the Empire, especially in such matters as were referred to by the honorable member for Boothby. Honorable members must feel dissatisfied with the present law regarding the nationality of married women. I supported the honorable member for Boothby in drawing attention to that matter some time ago. Equal facilities should be granted for rapid communication between all parts of the Empire, so that the views of the dominions on these matters could be discovered and' reviewed in the common interest. It is regrettable that when important matters are brought up for discussion in the House the debates should be closed down in their early stages. This House should he induced to make a special study of international and inter-imperial subjects, and unless a full opportunity is given for their consideration, honorable members will not be encouraged to study them with such care as is necessary if this is to be truly a national Parliament. {: #subdebate-12-0-s2 .speaker-KMS} ##### Mr MANNING:
Macquarie -- I had an opportunity, through being in Great Britain at the time, of closely watching the proceedings, and noting the effects of the last Imperial Conference. In my opinion, it was a most beneficial gathering. In order to promote the interests of the Empire and the peace of the world, these conferences should be held at least triennially, and the Government of every dominion should be strongly represented. I remember the political atmosphere in Great Britain immediately prior to the last conference. A great deal of discussion had taken place as to whether it was wise to hold the gathering at that particular- time. It was suggested that the conditions in some portions of the Empire were such that it would be rather dangerous to hold itr because matters might be raised that would create ill feeling, if not precipitate a rupture. When the conference was over,. I heard the Prime Minister of Great Britain, **Mr. Baldwin,** say that he himself had had doubt as to the wisdom of holding it ; but the Secretary of State for the Colonies, **Mr. Amery,** remarked that he had never wavered from the opinionthat the conference should take place. The general feeling was greatly improved as the result of the negotiations. I do not intend to discuss in detail the various subjects that came under consideration ; I shall confine myself to that aspect of the discussions that bears upon the solidarity of the Empire. I give place to nobody in my respect for the work of the League of Nations, and I hope that it will continue its good services, proving in the future even a greater power for preserving the peace of the world than it is at the present time. The best way to maintain that peace is to have a. strong and united Empire, which occupies one-fourth of the land of the world, and contains onefourth of its population. We cannot over-estimate the value of a united Empire in preserving world-peace. Solidarity can be assured only by personal contact between the individuals who lead the governments in the various parts of the Empire. {: .speaker-JY7} ##### Mr DUNCAN-HUGHES: -- The value of that can be over-estimated. {: .speaker-KMS} ##### Mr MANNING: -- I think not, because obstacles that appeared to be insurmountable prior to the hearttoheart discussions that took place at the last conference vanished into thin air. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- So far as the individuals were concerned. {: .speaker-KMS} ##### Mr MANNING: -- That is so. But the individuals often exert a lasting effect for good on the people of their own countries. We had no better example of that than the case of South Africa. I spent a week there on ray way to Geneva, and I could not fail to realize the depth of feeling that was stirring the different nationalities of the Union over the colour question. Some members of the South African Parliament, such as **Mr. Tielman** Roos, were preaching the doctrine of secession. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Why not drop that matter, since it has been settled? {: .speaker-KMS} ##### Mr MANNING: -- The honorable member for Maribyrnong will not find anything in my remarks to which he can take exception. **Mr. Hertzog** left no doubt that, in his opinion, South Africa should continue as part of the British Empire so long as it suffered no injustice ; and, after the Imperial Conference, he expressed himself -as entirely satisfied with the position. Mr.Roos said that secession, so far as South Africa was concerned,, was dead. If the representatives of the Union had not had the opportunity of meeting the leaders from other parts of the Empire, that happy result would not have been obtained. We know that the flag question, which seemed impossible of solution, has been solved since **Mr. Hertzog's** return to South Africa. Much good has resulted to that country from the last conference, and similar effects have been produced in other parts of the Empire. Australia was fortunate in its representatives. The Prime Minister was recognized as one of the leading men of the Empire, and he was well supported by the other delegates. The work done in the committees was closely watched by the representatives of Australia, and I feel sure that only benefits can come from a continuation of these conferences if the personal touch of the leaders is renewed at least every three years. {: #subdebate-12-0-s3 .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr WEST:
East Sydney .- I have been induced to take part in the debate because of observations made this morning by honorable members opposite. I agree with the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Mann)** that this Parliament does not deal as it should with the matters discussed at the Imperial Conference. The reason is that it does not meet often enough. The present Government has smothered Parliament, and has done much to curtail its rights and privileges. The delegations sent to Great Britain from Australia have been mainly representative of the conservative party. The only exception that I can call to mind is the appointment of the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. Charlton)** as a delegate to the 7th Assembly of the League of Nations. The tone of his utterances wassuch that his presence did more good than that of a dozen other so-called representatives of this country. Many Australians of tory tendencies have the opportunity of taking frequent trips to Great Britain and America, but they certainly do not express the views of the majority of our people. **Sir Hugh** Denison, for instance, has been our High Commissioner in the United States of America. I have no objection to him personally. I remember when he was a humble individual like myself; but when he found himself in New York he wished to be an ambassador, arrayed in silk stockings, fancy shoes, and other dress quite foreign to Australian taste. I am glad to say that the Prime Minister quickly put a stop to that gentleman's high notions. The men who are sent to England by the Government, and those whose financial position enables them to make the journey at their own expense, do not express the real views of the Australian people. It cannot be denied that men like the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. Charlton)** are capable of giving a much better impression, because they move about among the people and do not haunt the precincts of the fashionable West End clubs, which are the rendezvous of those who dictate the policy of the British Government. Honorable members who now occupy seats on the Government side of the House fall far short of the calibre of those intellectual giants who sat in the first Commonwealth Parliament. It was a pleasure to be associated with men who had a profound respect for the high ideals of the Australian people. If honorable members of the Labour party were permitted to represent Australia abroad they would place before the people of other countries the real ideals and aspirations of our own people. Until that policy is adopted the Imperial Conference will not be able to arrive at a right and proper decision with respect to the grave problems that affect the whole of the Empire. If we wish the people of Great. Britain to understand and appreciate thoroughly the ideals of the Australian people we must appoint as representatives men whose views are in harmony with those ideals. The Labour Government which held office from 1910 to 1913 gave effect to a policy which provoked the admiration of all other countries. The Navigation Act constituted such an important departure from established practice that the royal assent was withheld with a view to an endeavour being made to bring into harmony with it the provisions of similar legislation in other parts of the Empire. The Commonwealth Bank is a further testimony to the capacity arid the courage of that administration. There is an urgent need for the introduction of a system of banking that will enhance the credit of the nation. Sooner or later steps will have to be taken to prevent the aggregation of wealth that is occurring at the present time, and to give to the creators of that wealth a wider opportunity of sharing in the general prosperity which it brings about. "When the Imperial Conference handles in a statesmanlike maimer the problems that urgently demand attention there will bc a new era of industrial progress, and we shall have gone a long way towards preventing the destruction of human life to satisfy the greed of a few individuals who own ships, ammunition works, iron and steel works and similar utilities. Those are the men who to-day dictate the policy of the League of Nations and the Imperial Conference. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, **Mr. Baldwin,** himself is largely interested in the great iron and steel and coal industries of that country. I hope that the opportunity will be afforded to deal with some of these important questions. If the Imperial Conference were actuated by ideals such as. those which I hold, it would tackle the unemployment problem. Why does it not do so? That problem is universal; it affects the whole of the Empire. Those who represent the Dominions and Great Britain on the Imperial Conference are in a position to wield an enormous power. Let them get together and solve the unemployment problem. It indicates incapacity in a Government to send its people to other countries to get work. If the Imperial Conference were to devote some time to a consideration of the unemployment problem it would be of advantage to all parts of the Empire. It is well known that the existence of unemployment in the community causes serious discontent, which in return leads to all kinds of other evils. It also causes men to act desperately in order to remedy their grievances. I regret that we heard so much lately in glorification of countries in which low wages and long working hours prevail. To be prosperous a nation must have a decent standard of living, and a reasonably equitable distribution of its wealth. I feel warmly on this subject for I remember vividly the poverty of the little village where I was born and I know at first hand the distress that exists in Sydney. My determination is as strong as ever it was to do my utmost to relieve the poorer classes of our community of the heavy burdens which they bear. If the Imperial Conference could do even a little to remedy unemployment the expense that it involves would be justified. The delegates to these conferences could very well consider ways and means of giving an empire-wide application to some of the humanitarian principles which the Labour party expressed in legislation in the years immediately preceding the war. It would then be dealing with practical issues and not with abstract questions. Australia, on account of her small and easily controlled population, has had a unique opportunity to institute important reforms and her record in this respect has until the last few years been remarkable. We have given the world a lead in electoral reform, land administration, industrial arbitration and conciliation, and many other things. I regret that the legal profession has to some extent defeated our efforts to put into operation an inexpensive and expeditious form of industrial arbitration ; but at least we have accomplished something in that respect. I have no hesitation in saying that the general community believes in the principle of arbitration today just as it did in the years gone by when I was in the habit of conferring with **Mr. B.** R. Wise at the Athenaeum Club in Sydney on ways and means of improving the standard of living of the community and of perfecting a system of industrial arbitration. Parliament should be spending a good deal more of its time in discussing these important matters. Quite a lot of the business which private members desire to introduce is of sufficient importance to justify consideration by the Imperial Conference and I regret that the Prime Minister has seen fit to curtail our opportunities of submitting subjects to the House. I regret also that the tendency is growing to refer important public questions to royal commissions instead of discussing them in Parliament. The Government should accept the responsibility of office and itself deal with many matters which it has lately referred to royal commissions. It has the opportunity to make Australia the brightest gem in the Imperial crown, but it is not taking advantage of it. I regret that I have not been able to give to the report of the Imperial Conference Delegation the consideration it may deserve, but I trust that in the days to come the meetings of this important body will be occupied by more practical subjects than hitherto. It should not be content. to spend its time in dealing with trivial issues merely to please small-minded people The Labour party makes no appeal to small-minded people. Its policy is broad and appeals to broad-minded persons. It views questions not parochially, but in the national interest. It is, indeed, the *creme de la creme* of society. Important matters should be dealt with not in *n* party spirit, but in the interests of the nation as a whole. The maintenance of a proper shipping service between Australia and Great Britain is an imperial question, and should not be regarded from a narrow, party stand-point. Some honorable members appear to think that £4 a month is a. sufficient wage for a seaman. I am concerned with their wives and children. What comforts can they enjoy when the breadwinner earns only £4 a month? Australia has set an example to the world in the standard of living enjoyed by its people. Our delegates to Imperial Conferences should uphold those ideals at all times. **Mrs. Annie** Besant spoke of the "Law of 2½d." We should try to rise above that law. If the cheapness of labour made a nation great, China should be the most prosperous nation in the world. But we find that poverty, distress and destitution are rife in that land. We in this House should endeavour to make the world a better place than we found it. That has been my aim through life. When I came to Australia I saw many things which pained me greatly; but I shall not refer to them now. I do not want in any way to decry Australia. On the contrary, I want to advertise it before all peoples as the best country in the world. The days of the present Government are numbered, and the party now in opposition will soon take its place. When that time comes, there will be on the government bench a body of men whose sole desire will be to advance the interests of Australia. {: .speaker-KVS} ##### Mr Theodore: -- If there is any change in the political control of Australia, it must be for the better. The position could not possibly be worse than it is. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr WEST: -- The honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Theodore)** is a judge of these things ; I shall not dispute his judgment. I thank honorable members for their patient hearing, and trust that my remarks may bear fruit. {: #subdebate-12-0-s4 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley .- I had intended to deal with some of the problems confronting - the Mother Country, and the different parts of the Empire - not so much- those problems that might be capable of solution either within the Mother Country herself or the particular dominion concerned, as those which, though affecting one dominion chiefly, are empire-wide in significance, and can be solved only by the wholehearted co-operation of every part of the Empire. I shall not do so this morning, however, for several reasons, chief among which being insufficiency of time. I desire, however, to refer to the Empire's representation in the United States of America. I do so because I think that this is a matter which should be carefully considered not only by our Australian representatives at the Imperial Conference, but also by the representatives of other British dominions. Yesterday this House discussed the work of the League of Nations. With the 'Honorable member for Macquarie **(Mr. Manning)** I pay tribute to the work of the League. The honorable member said that in his opinion the British Empire had played, and would continue to play, an even more important part in the maintenance of the peace in the world than would the League of Nations. I go further, and say that I know of no one thing, or combination of things, which will do more to bring about universal peace, and maintain that peace, than the union of the English-speaking peoples. For that reason I am of the opinion that we in Australia have approached our representation in the United States of America in the wrong spirit. We have formed a wrong view as to the functions of our representatives in that country. I desire to make it clear that in whatever I may say this morning I have no desire to reflect upon those excellent men who in the past have represented Australia in the United States of America. Most of them have gone there at great personal sacrifice, and have given unstintingly of their time and money to carry out the duties entrusted to them. But I maintain that the work they perform is of the wrong kind. Australia does not want a trade representative in the United States of America. From time to time honorable members when speaking in this House have deplored the fact that while each year Australia buys goods from the United States of America valued at many millions of pounds, that country in return purchases from us goods to the value of what is comparatively only a paltry sum. I shall not discuss our trade relations with the United States of America this morning, because I see little or no possibility of any great increase in the volume of our sales to that country. The United States produce most of those things which Australia produces, so that there is little scope for any great advance in our trade with it. It is in helping to bring the English-speaking peoples of the world closer together that the work of our representative in the United States of America lies. No people could do more to secure that result than the people of Australia. An Australian can speak plainly to the people of the United States of America, and his remarks will be accepted in the spirit in which they are offered; but should an Englishman say the same things his statements would be resented. If we have the welfare of the world at heart, we must do our utmost to bring the Englishspeaking peoples closer together. The vacant position at Washington should be filled, not by a trade representative, but by a man who can make plain the Australian view-point and that of the British Empire generally to the American people. In the past we have sent business men to Washington. What is wanted there is an orator. No people in the world are more interested in lectures and in the art of public speaking than are the people of the United States of America. The term " silver-tongued orator " was coined in that country. William Jennings Bryan and Chauncey Depew were known throughout the United States of America because of their oratory. We in this country are also admirers of oratory. We have in our midst men who can hold their own as public speakers with the representatives of any other country. From among them we should choose our representatives in the United States of America. In that country there are numbers of great organizations like the Chataqua, the G.A.R. - the Grand Army of the Republic - and the Sons of the West, comprising many thousands of people who are willing to listen to one who has something worth saying. Moreover, scores of great universities in that land will willingly throw open their doors to men of the right type. I urge the Government, when filling the position in Washington which is now vacant owing to the return of **Sir Hugh** Denison, to appoint a man who can worthily represent us, and do work which will be for the benefit not only of Australia, but also of the British Empire and the whole of the English-speaking peoples. While I should prefer not to mention names in this connexion, I feel that I ought to do so. I know only two men in this country who could adequately fill the position. In my opinion, our representative at Washington should be a man of political experience, for there is no training school in the world equal to the political arena if a man enters it in earnest and strives there to do his best. The two men in this country who, in my opinion, are capable of worthily filling the position are the Prime Minister **(Mr. Bruce)** and the right honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Watt).** Either would hold the office with honour to himself and with credit to his country. The Government should make every endeavour to find such a man as is needed, and, when it does, should spare no effort to secure his services in the interests of Australia, the British Empire, and the world as a whole. {: #subdebate-12-0-s5 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- The remarks of the honorable member for Macquarie **(Mr. Manning)** have compelled me to speak on this subject. It is said in the Old Book that Egypt was cursed with ten plagues, but I contend that the whole wide world is plagued with two curses that are more terrible than the curses that plagued Egypt, and they are war and unemployment. I compliment the honorable member for Oxley **(Mr. Bayley)** upon his speech, and upon being blessed with the middle name of Garfield, which was bestowed upon him possibly in memory of one of the greatest orators that America has ever produced. **Mr. C.** E. Jones, one of the greatest speakers ever heard in Australia, a man who did political work in America, stated that in his opinion Garfield was a greater orator than even Ingersoll. However, they were undoubtedly both great men. I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Oxley to the effect that we require in America a representative who can' truly speak of Australia and its conditions. From my experience among the Americans many years ago, I know that they have a kindly feeling towards Australians. They did not like the idea that I, a young fellow, should go to England, and while there I had the offer of a partnership and adoption. The Americans have a real liking for Australians because we are the children of one family and of sister nations. War should be prevented by a union of the English speaking races. During my visit to South Africa with the Parliamentary delegation, I mixed freely with the Liberals and some of the Conservatives of the English House of Commons. The Liberals, especially, were not too enamoured of the word " Empire " which is so freely used by that bluff old gentleman, General **Sir Granville** Ryrie. They preferred to call it a federation of friendly states or dominions. It would surely be to the benefit of the world if the United States of America joined a union of English-speaking races, representing a federation of nations bound by ties of blood and friendship in the interests of humanity. The honorable member for Macquarie spoke of the Hertzog Government and his able supporter, **Mr. Tielman** Roos. I might mention at this stage that the trouble that arose over the British flag in South Africa was greatly exaggerated by the newspapers. The Labour party is a component and important part of the Hertzog Government. There is mutual trust between the two parties. **Mr. Tielman** Roos has stated definitely that at the next elections, if the followers of **Mr. Hertzog** are returned by an overwhelming majority, he will take no position in the Ministry unless the Labour members have a representation at least equal to what they enjoy at present. All the Labour' members had a reverence for England, but, like myself, a loathing for that country's unjust laws. Separation from Great Britain has been suggested in South Africa, and even in this country. I was returned to Parliament as an avowed republican 39 years ago, but when I visited the massed countries of the East I was amazed that disease was not rampant there. Some of the streets were no wider than my outstretched arms could reach across. There were millions of people crowded together, and yet they all looked healthy. When I returned to Australia I called a meeting of my constituents and told them that I had changed my opinion. I was still a republican by conviction, but I refused to do anything that would sever the cord of kinship and love between Australia and the Homeland. If the meeting desired I was prepared to resign my seat. However, they expressed their fullest confidence in me. The honorable member for Oxley will agree that when we landed in South Africa there were fewer white residents than there had been in the previous year. South Africa, in addition to the whites, has a coloured race, or rather a black race, as, so-called, the coloured person is a mixture of black and white. The Hertzog Government is making it possible for the white man to exist in that country. In Cape Colony, the land under the shelter of the Table Mountain is beautiful country, more like England than any part of Australia, excepting Tasmania. The reason why South Africa is not populated to the same extent as is Australia, is that it is impossible for an immigrant to land there with the proverbial shilling in his pocket and to prosper. He has to compete with the coloured workman, and then the black workman, and although he may exist for a little while, he is forced ultimately to board a vessel at a wage of ls. a month, or to stow away. The Imperial Conference aud its results should not be viewed in a party spirit. I should like the Government to send to the conference representatives of the three parties in this Parliament, because a delegation of that character would do much to bring about the elimination of war, especially if, as the honorable member for Oxley has suggested, the representatives were able speakers. When the paper is printed I hope that it will have a wide circulation, and do much towards relieving the sufferings of humanity. {: #subdebate-12-0-s6 .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr PROWSE:
Forrest .- Unquestionably the establishment of the Imperial Conference as an institution was a wonderful move in the direction of Empire consolidation. The Imperial Conference could well consider the findings of the World Economic Conference that was held last year, because that would help a great deal towards the elimination of unemployment, which was so forcibly advocated by the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. West).** It would certainly tend to the elimination of unemployment if the representatives of the various parts of the Empire could meet more frequently than they do at present to consider economic questions, in order to bring about a greater measure of freedom of trade. With that accomplished we shall have done a great deal to build up the strength of the Empire and its peoples. {: #subdebate-12-0-s7 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong -- It appears to me that this Parliament has not been thoroughly informed of the matters to be discussed at the imperial conferences. I question whether, prior to the departure of the Australian delegates to the last conference, the House was enlightened as to the number and nature of the matters to be considered. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- There was a full discussion in this House in August last, when the Prime Minister moved that the agenda paper be printed. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- I am glad to hear that, because the fact had escaped, my memory. Does the Minister refer only to the items that were to be submitted by the Australian delegates? {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- No; the full agenda as it then stood. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- It is wise to strengthen the hands of the delegates by means of a discussion in this House. I rose more particularly to say that the British Empire should be a greater instrument than it is in bringing about world peace. It may be that certain discussions occurred in the conference *in camera,* but more should have been done than was indicated by the published reports. Certain statesmen, notably **Sir Austen** Chamberlain, have been given credit for having brought about the Locarno pact. I believe that credit should be given where it is due, and I consider that that pact would not have been made if it had not been for the initiatory work of the German statesmen, Marx and Stresemann, although the agreement may have been moulded and embellished by the statesmen of other countries. The desire of Germany for the peace of the world is so great that that country is ready to co-operate with any nation willing to bring that most desirable end nearer to realization. I agree with the honorable member for Oxley **(Mr. Bayley)** that the English-speaking people can do more than any other race towards the consummation of world peace ; but it will never be realized if our leading statesmen continue to adopt an attitude of *laissez faire.* When I suggested at a conference of the Australian Natives Association in Victoria about a month ago that greater efforts should bf. made in this direction, the ides was taken up heartily. That patriarchal Australian clergyman, the Anglican Archbishop of Western Australia, speaking on Anzac Day, in Perth, said, " War is absolutely damnable." Another reverend gentleman stated recently at Footscray that every effort should be made to bring about world peace. The statesmen of Britain, Australia, and every part of the Empire, irrespective of party politics, should work together earnestly to secure it. All war is hell. The last war was an awful hell. The next war, if it comes, will be a thousandfold more hell than any previous war, because noncombatants - men, women and children - will suffer equally with combatants. I regret that Lord Cecil found it necessary to dissociate himself from the British Government because he found thaiit was not taking the action that it should for ' the prevention of war. The feeling throughout the Labour movement, not only in Australia, but in every part of the world, is that if the statesmen of the various countries will not make a sincere effort to bring about peace, it will be necessary to call an international conference of Labour to consider how the desired result can be achieved. If Labour people throughout the world made up their minds to end war, no further war could occur. If steps are nottaken to bring about universal peace before the next Imperial conference is held, I hope that this great theme will be discussed on that occasion, and that the other nations will co-operate with the Englishspeaking people in the determination to end war. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 4683 {:#debate-13} ### MOVING PICTURE INDUSTRY {:#subdebate-13-0} #### Report of Royal Commission Debate resumed from 26th April *(vide* page 4432), on motion by **Mr. Pratten** - >That the paper be printed. {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 .- One of the wonders of invention that has staggered thoughtful minds in this century is the use of electricity in showing moving pictures. The productions of the cinematograph, stands out as one of the most remarkable modern achievements. In 1887, Louis Brennan, engineer and inventor of the Brennan torpedo and the helicopter, and a great authority on the mono-rail, delighted **Dr. McFarlane** and myself, his old chum, by saying that he was prepared to make a picture that would show the horses competing in the Melbourne Cup racing past the winning-post; and also present a play that was famous at that time. Those who possess good memories may recall the production of " Pygmalion and Galatea," in which appeared two famous actresses, one of whom was Hat,tie Shepherd. This friend of mine informed me that he could screen that production in a drawing room in such a way that Galatea would be seen on the pedestal in the form of pure white marble; and, after the Gods had endowed the statue with life, the blood would be seen flowing through her veins, giving the figure a life-like colour. The statue would then step off the pedestal, take up a shawl and clothe her nakedness. This conversation took place at one of our customary meetings at the Turnverein, in Melbourne, which I am sorry the Defence Department was unwise enough to close during the war. Can any person who has witnessed the screening of films deny that they have wonderful possibilities for educational purposes? I have witnessed the carnivals that are held in the south of France, and in Italy, but I can assure honorable members that one does not get as an actual spectator nearly so fine an impression as that which is conveyed by the screen. It is easy to understand why that is so. Film producers are not averse from spending thousands of pounds in obtaining a good picture, and several photographers are employed to record the scene from different places, whereas an individual can view such processions only as they pass a particular spot. We have in Australia a splendid set of films for the education of children. I can recall one which interested me very much. It showed the correct method of cleaning the teeth. The producers wisely depicted the cleaning operation being performed by a clown, realizing that all children love a clown. He took the brush, used it in a certain way, and then shook his head, as though he would say, " That is not the correct way." He then showed that the proper method was to use the brush upward and downward on the teeth, and afterwards to clean them on the inside. Every doctor will admit that that was a splendid lesson. No child who saw it would thereafter clean his or her teeth in other than the correct manner. I saw another picture which showed a French professor take water from a stagnant pool, and, by means of micro-photography, make visible to the eye the germs and animalculae that it contained. He boiled the water, and the audience could see the sediment dropping down into a V-shaped glass. He then took a piece of ordinary white blotting paper, strained the water into another glass, held it up in the manner of one who would say, " Good health," and drank it. That was an object lesson not only to the children, hut also to their fathers and mothers, because it impressed upon them the advisability of boiling water before drinking it.- Again, the film is of the utmost value to surgery. By it the beating of the human heart and the functioning of various organs can be mads visible. I wish to give praise to a great man who at one time was in charge of the Health Department in the State of Victoria: I refer to **Dr. Ham.** I regret that ultimately, on account of worry caused by either the pin pricks of the " unco-guid " or the wowsers of Melbourne, he resigned the position which he held. On the screen he showed on one occasion how the white corpuscles of the bloodstream fight, conquer and destroy germs. One of the lessons taught by that picture was that if the defenders of health in the blood stream should be conquered, the human being would have a bad time of it. I do not know whether any honorable member is *au fait* with Einstein's theory of relativity. I must confess that even after I had given a good deal of study to it, I felt that I knew nothing at all about it. The screen taught me more than all my reading had enabled me to garner. That is, perhaps, the most dimcult scientific subject that one could mention. I have joined with those who in the past have deplored the destruction of Australian fauna. I thought that the days of kangaroo hunting were gone for ever. In my early days, 60 years ago, I saw strings of kangaroos a mile long on Mount Schanck station in South Australia. We had to break through them on horseback. That is where I learned to ride. I have since seen the picturized version 'of a kangaroo hunt, which was equal to anything that I had actually experienced. I wish to compliment the management of the Capitol Theatre in Canberra, at which I have witnessed the screening of eight films. I understood that the average number of new pictures coming to Australia every week was only ten, but the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Marks)** has. informed me that it is 24. I have seen ten separate screenings in a week. On one occasion I attended picture theatres on four successive afternoons and evenings, and the fact that no strain was imposed upon me illustrates the state of perfection to which production has been raised. In the United States of America the National Board of Censors comprises two clergymen, two women and two male lay members. If six censors are sufficient for the United States of America, three should be sufficient for Australia. I would not, however, impose that limitation. I trust that when the board is appointed it will have upon it a woman, a clergyman, and a layman. I know of no layman who is better fitted than the honorable member for Wentworth to undertake the work. In reply to a question which I addressed recently to the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Pratten),** I was informed that the film " What Price Glory" had been passed by Professor Wallace. I also endeavoured to find out what censor had passed " The Callahans and the Murphys," but so far I have not received that information, and I do not now require it. If there had been a woman' on the board of censors she would not have passed in " What Price Glory" a certain scene which contained aspects viler than those of any brothel in Melbourne dr Sydney. Professor Wallace would not allow his wife, his daughter or his mother to enter such an awful place as that which was depicted. I am astounded that an educated man should pass such a scene. It could easily have been cut out. Any one who has seen the film will know of what I speak. In my student days I acted as a guide in Paris, and during that period of my life I did not at any time witness anything so vile or so degrading. I wish to draw the attention of the House to a splendid recommendation that has been made by the commission. It has reference to the difficulty that surrounds the efforts of the Government to prevent the screening of certain subjects. This is a matter in which the States must combine with the Federal authorities. I shall do my utmost to convince the States that it is their bounden duty to aid the Commonwealth in its efforts to ensure adequate supervision. I thank the chairman of the royal commission, and through him the other members of the commission, for the splendid work which they have done. The recommendation to which I have referred reads - >That no exhibitor holding a block-booked contract shall be compelled to exhibit a cinematograph film that affords grounds for racial or religious objection, provided that the Appeal Board sustains such objections. I urge every honorable member to impress upon the States the necessity of working hand in hand with the Commonwealth. As a lover of the pictures I regret that I have not seen Mary Pickford on the screen; but I do ner the credit of saying that so far as I am aware there has been nothing vile - with the exception, of course, of the villain - in any picture in which she has appeared. The villain always gets the axe where the chicken gets it - in the neck. I love to hear the laughter of children when they see the villain receiving his deserts, and often wish that the villain in real life could be as easily despatched. Mary Pickford is not seen on the screen as frequently as I should like. The first Charlie Chaplin pictures that I saw did not appeal to me, but since then I have seen Chinese in China, Japanese in Japan, and - the natives of Manila laughing hilariously at his antics, and I have come to the conclusion that he must be one of the greatest humourists the world has seen. Some excellent pictures have been produced in Australia. " Jewelled Nights," for instance, in which Louise Lovely was the leading lady, was a fine production. I saw it several times, and on one occasion in company with **Mr. George** Black, a former censor. He agreed with me that it was a splendid picture, and worthy of both the actress and the Commonwealth. "The Lure of the Bush," produced by Franklin Barrett, whom I understand is now a resident of Canberra, was also ai excellent film. " A Bough Passage " was another good picture produced by lim. Of course, we have all seen and appreciated "The Sentimental Bloke." "Within Our Gates " was a wholesome film, and so was " The Enemy Within " in which that all-round athlete and fine fellow, Snowy Baker, appeared. " Tie Mutiny of the Bounty " was- of exceptional historic interest. On this aspect of the subject I must confess that when/I saw that magnificent film. " Julius Caesar," in which Italian artists appearel, I learned a good deal. I understand that the person who portrayed the title role vas specially selected because of his likeness to the busts and statues of Julius Caesar which are to be seen in the museums and galleries of Italy. It was. when I saw that film that I understood why Dante placed Brutus on the left car of Satan, in the lowest of all hells. Shakespeare, we know, makes Anthony describe Brutus as " the noblest Roman of them all," and gives as the last words of Caesar, when falling at the feet of the statue of Pompey, *Et tu Brute.* But the Italians regarded Brutus as a parricide, and attributed to Caesar the words *Et tu Brute mi* *fili.* One may learn more from the screening of a true historical picture than from many hours of study in even such a splendid library as we have in this building. Prior to the war London was the world's clearing house for picture films, but New York has now superseded it as such. Six censors constitute the National Board of Censors in that city, so three should be sufficient for our needs. I wish to allude briefly to certain unkind remarks which were reported to have been made by Professor Wallace in respect to previous censors. He indicated that they had been guilty of releasing by surreptitious means certain pictures which should not have been allowed to pass. I know **Mr. George** Black and **Mr. Joseph** Brown, two of the gentlemen to whom Professor Wallace referred, very well, and I feel constrained to say that neither of them would be capable of accepting a bribe or of doing anything else of an underhand nature in connexion, with film censorship or anything else, j feel sure that Professor Wallace lias be,n sorry for the remarks that- he made il respect to them. These gentlemen gave their very best service to the important work with which they were entrusted I compliment the members of the commission upon the result of their labours, although-I regretted at the time the commission was appointed that its personnel dic not include a gentleman with a thorough knowledge of the buying and selling of alms in Great .Britain, Europe and America. .1 considered that such experience was essential. I also felt that there should have been included in it a gentleman with a thorough knowledge of the exhibiting side of the business in Australia. At the same time I realized that had the Government appointed such a person it would have been obliged to afford him Some security of tenure, for the enormous power of those engaged in the picture business would have been sufficient to crush him had he revealed the means by which the Taxation Department was defrauded or any of the improper methods used to advance the interests of the powerful organizations engaged in this business in Australia. I realize quite well that some multimillionaires make their money honestly. I have nothing but the greatest respect for **Mr. Henry** Ford. I do not think that he has used his enormous power to ruin other companies or to rob his employees. His tactics are not like those of the ruthless Standard Oil Trust. I compliment the chairman of the commission upon his work, but that is the sugar coating to the pill which I wish to administer. In regard to commissions generally I feel justified in quoting the words of a certain witty and severe critic, who said "If God Almighty had placed the making of the world in the hands of a commission it would never have been built." {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-K4Y} ##### Dr NOTT:
Herbert .- As a member of the Royal Commission on the Motion Picture Industry I am gratified at the cordial reception of our report, not only by the Government and honorable members of this Parliament generally, but by the various .branches of the industry itself. I should like to pay my tribute of praise to the chairman of the commission, the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Marks),** for the able manner in which he carried out his duties. The Government h'as suitably recognized his work in this regard by inviting him to assist it in obtaining the co-operation of the States and the Commonwealth in the directions indicated in our report. Our chairman was most tactful throughout our investigations, and by protecting and encouraging the witnesses who appeared before us was" able to augment to a large extent the valuable evidence upon which the recommendations of the commission are based. The terms of reference to the commission required it to make a complete investigation into all the ramifications of the entertainments branch of the industry, its value to the. Commonwealth and the number of its employees. Honorable members may be interested to know that, despite the fact that the ' commission travelled between 16,000 and 18,000 miles, and examined about 250 witnesses, its total cost, to the Commonwealth was less than £2,500, including the printing and publication of the report. Seeing that it was able to suggest an acceptable solution to at least some of the problems of the industry, it may be said that this expenditure was thoroughly justified. Both during the investigations of the commission and since its report has been issued its proceedings have been given considerable publicity. The criticism has, generally speaking, been of a favorable character. I should like to make some reference to the difficult subject of the censorship of films. The gentlemen who have been doing this work hitherto have rendered excellent service to the community. I do not deny that now and again a feature film with one or two objectionable features in it has escaped the vigilance of the censors, but I believe that the recommendations of the commission for preventing such leakages in the future will be effective. But to ensure success there must be co-operation of the States with the Commonwealth in enacting uniform legislation to control the industry. The commission is of the opinion that in the choice of censor's wisdom was displayed. It is regrettable that, as the honorable member for Melbourne **(Dr. Maloney)** has pointed out, some films containing objectionable features and giving offence to certain sections of the community, have passed the censors. That leakage was due to the censors being overworked, and to unsuitable accommodation being provided for them. To prevent a recurrence of such happenings the commission has recommended the appointment of an appeal board to review pictures, by direction of a Minister, at the request of a responsible section of the community. The commission's decision to recommend the appointment of a woman to the board of censors was not arrived at hastily. It was made only after various women's organizations had produced incontrovertible evidence as to the wisdom of- having a woman to review pictures which will be . seen by children. Upon the mothers of the nation devolves the responsibility of training its children, and in 'view of the influence of the cinema on the minds of young people, it was thought fitting that a woman should be on the board. In passing, I may say that of all the witnesses who appeared before the commission none presented their case more clearly or intelligently than did the women who represented various women's organizations throughout Australia. Among the picture showmen who gave evidence were some who doubted whether a woman suitable to act on the Censorship Board could be found; but I do not think that any great difficulty will be experienced in finding a woman eminently suited for the work. It is regrettable that many of .the films produced in Great Britain are of an objectionable nature. The commission is of the opinion that the British authorities would do well to tighten their censorship regulations to- prevent further unsuitable films from being sent to Australia. The commission examined thoroughly the three great phases of the motionpicture industry - the reception and distribution of the films, their exhibition, and the production of films in Australia. I do not think that I shall do wrong in saying that when they commenced their investigations, .the members of the commission, in common with the community generally, were of the opinion that .there existed in the motion-picture industry in Australia an American combine which was acting to the detriment of Australia. They were, however, unable to find conclusive evidence of the existence of such a combine. Nevertheless, I am not entirely satisfied t]at the system of block booking adopted by the American exchanges in Australia is not having a deleterious effect on *thi* country and operating somewhat a; a restraint to trade if not as *i* combine. Many of the firms distributing films in Australia - *s* really the offshoots of American producing companies; and by their insistency on contracts which bind exhibitors, sometimes to the extent of 100 per cent, of their exhibitions, they make it almost impossible for Empire films to be shown. With the contract in its present form, showmen who desire to exhibit an Empire picture can only do so by paying both for it and the American picture which it displaces. The success of a picture is largely dependent on its obtaining a first release in a big city theatre; but with these theatres committed to the exhibition of American pictures, Empire productions cannot get a footing, and, therefore, lose the advantage of a city first release which is vital for their market and entertainment value. Most of the showmen who appeared before the commission favoured the inclusion in their contracts of a 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, elimination clause. The inclusion of such a clause would remove many of the obstacles in the way of the successful showing of Empire pictures. I wish now to refer to the production of Australian films. It was forcibly brought home to the commission that up to the present Australia has not produced films of a high standard. Even such productions as " The Sentimental Bloke" and "For the Term of His Natural Life," which latter has a rather unsavoury theme, and cost from £50,000 to £60,000 to produce, are not nearly so finished as the American pictures, and are not up to their standard of dramatic and producing art. During the war the enforced lethargy of France and Great Britain in respect of picture production led to the industry passing into the hands of the Americans. Various reasons have been given by Australian producers for the failure of our films, but for the most part it was contended that the failure of the Australian industry could be laid at the door of the ever-operating influence of the American combine. Apart from the influence of the blind-hooking system, nothing in that direction could be ascertained' by the commission. It is a matter^ of great satisfaction to the commission to have received from the most prominent down to the most insignificant producers correspondence expressing their entire satisfaction with its recomdations, and they expect and suggest that material benefit will accrue to the picture industry generally when those recommendations are given effect; but it must te recognized that that will be possible only by the goodwill and consent of the States to co-operate with the Commonwealth in bringing about uniform control of the industry. **Mr. Raymond** Longford, who has produced more pictures than any other Australian, is the most successful picture producer in Australia, and when the report of the commission was made known, he wrote to the chairman as follows: - >I have just finished reading your report and I hasten to congratulate you on a work of truly constructive merit. Frankly, as a producer, I did not expect so much aid. That statement is indicative of the general trend of feeling among the producers respecting the recommendations and suggestions of the commission. I wish to emphasize again that the commission's recommendations are dependent upon the co-operation of the States along the lines set out in the commission's report. It has been suggested by the royal commission that to encourage the production of Australian pictures, which must necessarily be of greater merit than those which have been hitherto produced, we should introduce a quota system. A great deal of evidence was taken on this vexed question, and the commission studied it from every angle. It came to the conclusion that it was incumbent upon it to recommend that the Government should introduce legislation to give effect to a quota system to be observed by the various picture houses. Some exhibitors opposed this proposal, but on the whole it was favorably received, and several exhibitors stated in evidence that the system could be tried for a certain period to ascertain whether it would benefit Australian production. Again, I stress the fact that the quota system cannot operate unless with the consent of the States. In Great Britain the introduction of the quota system has had a beneficial effect. An extraordinary stimulus has been given to the picture industry there. I have with me a communication from the British Dominions Films Proprietary Limited, addressed to the chairman of the royal commission; and I shall place it on record, because it indicates the extent of the revival of the picture industry in Great Britain. It reads: - {:#subdebate-13-1} #### Dear Mr. Marks, You will perhaps know that I have just returned from London. My mission was to get first hand knowledge of British films and British producers, and if found satisfactory, to enter into contracts on behalf of the above company. I found everything progressing in a wonderful fashion; all due to the recent legislation, and they are making. splendid pictures, but owing to the block-booking most of the recent British films will not be able to get a release until after October of this year. I was so amazed at the progress being made, and so delighted at the films produced by legitimate British producers, that I have entered into contracts for five years with several groups representing about 60 per cent, of the total production, and am now throwing in my knowledge and cash along with several other people with the object of marketing British and Australian films. We are putting up £55,000 to commence operations, and you must realize that we would not do that if we did not have first class films. If the films . were as bad as we have been led to believe, I, for one, would not put my energy into the thing, let alone advise anybody else to do so. I congratulate the commission upon its report, and am only sorry that the limited powers of the Commonwealth prevented them from adopting the quota, because until there is a quota, the enormous wealth of opposing interests, will continue, as they are doing in England', to place obstacles in the way of British films. The quota is the principal factor in the re-establishment of the film industry in England,, France, Italy, and Germany, and without it they could not have marketed their own films in their own countries, let alone get a, real chance elsewhere. Reciprocal arrangements have already been made by producers and distributors in each of the above-mentioned countries to take each others films, but notwithstanding the visits of prominent British film men to America, nothing has eventuated that can lead to the belief that such a scheme is possible. The day of the British film is at hand, and it will be to the everlasting credit of your commission and the pioneers, like my company, that we were associated with a movement that is to have such an important bearing on the future of the Empire. This shows that the quota system has been the means of giving a new lease of life to the film industry in Great Britain. "When we consider that in Australia alone there is at present invested in the industry £25,000,000, and employment provided for between 20,000 and 30,000 people, it is clear that we have here the nucleus of an industry which, if fostered and built up on the right lines, will play an important part in the social and industrial life of the community. The letter which I have just read indicates the improvement which has taken place in the position of the film industry in Great Britain, and only by the introduction of the quota system here can we give a similar stimulus to the industry in Australia. The success of the quota system in Australia will depend entirely upon whether or not the various State Governments will co-operate with the Commonwealth. That is why the Commonwealth Government has accepted the service? of the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Marks),** to conduct negotiations with the States with a view to securing uniformity of action. As far as we could learn from responsible officials in the States in which we took evidence, there is a general desire for harmony and co-operation on this matter, hut when it comes down to tin tacks, we may find it difficult to induce the States to hand over the censoring and control of films to the Commonwealth. The commission has suggested that the quota should be a British, and not an Australian one, and it has been suggested that we should begin with a quota as low as 5 per cent. Even with a quota as low as that it would be quite impossible for Australia, at the present time, to supply all the pictures under this head which exhibitors would require, but the reanimated picture industry of Great Britain will have no difficulty in furnishing the necessary supply of films of a suitable character. I have here a list of pictures produced in Britain containing the names of 35 pictures produced within the last twelve months. These have been purchased for distribution by the British Dominions Films Proprietary Limited. Many British literary works have been picturized in these films, and all of them are certain to be of a standard equal to, if not better than, that of American films. These pictures will enable the Australian exhibitors to put on a good programme, and, at the same time, to fulfil the requirements of the quota system. It is suggested also in the report that there should be a clause under which the Appeal Board will be able to grant a remission to any exhibiting house if the pictures proposed to be exhibited under the quota system are not up to the entertainment value required. It would be manifestly unjust, and it was never the intention of the commission, to compel any picture exhibitor to present to his patrons pictures which were not up to the necessary entertainment standard. I trust that the suggestion we have put forward for the introduction of a quota will be adopted, and that it will have the effect of stimulating production. In my opinion, and this opinion is shared by most of the people in a position to judge, none of the pictures so far made in Australia has been of a 98 per cent, entertainment value. I wish now to refer to the effect of the cinema on the people who frequent this class of entertainment. Much evidence was taken on this question, and opinions were expressed by different people who have interested themselves in matters pertaining to the psychological and social welfare of the community. The consensus of opinion was that the censorship of pictures exhibited to native v races should be most stringent. Every witness who possessed any knowledge of the subject said pictures of an unsuitable type had a very harmful effect on native peoples. Recommendations on this matter have been included in the report. The effect of the cinema on children exercised the minds of the commission to a great extent. Various witnesses tendered evidence in an effort to prove that the cinema has a very injurious effect on the child mind. The conclusion we arrived at, however, was that, apart from the injury suffered by the child due to keeping late hours, there was little to indicate that attendance at the cinemas had any serious ill-effects upon children. Frequently it is the practice of parents, when a child becomes a little more refractory than usual, to attribute the fact to the bad effect of the pictures. When witnesses were asked to give the family and social history of the child concerned, it was generally clear that these, and not the cinema, were responsible for whatever undesirable traits the child exhibited. On the other hand, there was a mass of evidence adduced to the effect that the films possessed a very high educational value if properly used. We visited many schools, and were convinced of the extraordinary benefits derived from the exhibition of films of an educational character. The commission has recommended to the Government that more assistance be extended to the States to enable them to include theshowing of educational films as part of the curriculum of every school. The opinions that I hold on many other aspects of the industry are indicated in the report which I had the honour, as a member of the commission, to sign. It was recommended that a certain increase should be made in the tariff protection. I understand that the subject of moving-picture taxation is still *sub judice,* and I should not have referred to it had not certain exhibitors commented rather freely upon what they described as the " iniquitous " proposal to make ap increase of ½d. per lineal foot in the tax on films. The commission recommended that the duty be increased from 1½d. to 2d. for the specific purpose of providing a fund for the encouragement of the production of films in Australia, and particularly Australian scenarios. It was recommended that certain awards of merit should be made for pictures produced entirely within the Empire. I think that from £15,000 to £20,000 will cover the whole of the increased expenditure recommended. Leading representatives of the industry have expressed their desire to do all in their power to assist Australian production. Their sincerity in the matter is demon,strated by the fact that they have lost hundreds of pounds weekly, in some instances, in trying to encourage the local industry. Showmen have lost money time after time, and are still losing it, through exhibiting Australian pictures. They also disclosed to the commission the fact that £1,000,000. passed from Australia every year into the capacious pockets of America. Since they represented that they desire earnestly to foster the Australian industry, surely they will not object to an increase of a mere *id.* per lineal foot in the duty on imported films. {: #subdebate-13-1-s0 .speaker-K4Y} ##### Dr NOTT: -- I think that they are stunned by it, and feel that it is incumbent upon them as business men making a deal to object to the proposal. It would cost the industry, about £725 a week; but it should have no difficulty in meeting that charge. If it could be demonstrated that the proposed tax would be excessive, I venture to say that if the Minister desired to compromise with the industry, and make the increase a farthing instead of a halfpenny, this House would agree to it. If the exhibitors confer with the Minister on the matter, they will probably be satisfied that the proposed tax would be a just one. A statement that has come to hand from an Australian Trade Commissioner with respect to cinematography in Great Britain says, among other things - >The general tendency seems to be for cinema theatres at Home to pass into the hands of strong financial interests who will group them into large circuits. ... If the great majority of theatres are formed into large circuits, the owners will tie themselves up with the actual producers of the films, even if ,they are not already identical. The commission found a tendency in Australia, among those who control the city theatres, to form mergers, which result in blind-bookings and limit the opportunities for the exhibition of Australian pictures. Contracts have been made with some firms for 98 per cent, of the showmen's requirements for a period of three years. Realizing that that was undesirable, the commission recommended that legislation be enacted to limit blindbookings and contracts of that nature to periods of not more than twelve months. I express my appreciation of the excellent work done by the secretary of the commission, whose marked ability is reflected in the report that has been presented to Parliament. {: #subdebate-13-1-s1 .speaker-KXY} ##### Mr PERKINS:
Monaro · Eden -- Although I am not in agreement with many of the commission's recommendations, I congratulate its members on the comprehensive report that has been presented, and the energy with which they devoted themselves to their task. They visited every State in the prosecution of their inquiry, and .they have touched upon practically every phase of the industry, the commission, which consisted of members from both branches of the legislature and of the two principal political parties, presented a unanimous report. That is unusual iri connexion with reports of royal commissions and select committees. The practice has been for Government supporters to sign a majority report and those representing the Opposition to present a minority report, as was done in connexion with the sale of .the Commonwealth ships. It is also pleasing to note that the Government has acted promptly in relation to the commission's recommendations, to most of which it is proposed to give effect without delay. It is somewhat difficult to criticize the findings of a commission which after a most exhaustive inquiry has presented a unanimous report; but there are one or two features to which I wish to direct attention. It was the general impression before the commission presented its report that an American combine was controlling the moving picture industry in Australia, that American pictures were being used for American propaganda, and that . there was a boycott against British films. The commission found that there was no foundation for any of those charges, and stated that it is abundantly clear that there is no American combine in Australia. That statement was qualified to some extent by the honorable member for Herbert **(Dr. Nott),** who said that although there is no evidence of the existence of a combine iri Australia, there was a strong suspicion of i't, and that American money was behind the industry in Australia. We can, however, accept the commission's report to the effect that there is no American combine operating in Austr'alia.', that firms are riot being used for American propaganda, and that there is no boycott on British films. I am, however, opposed to the commission's' puritanical finding in certain respects. The -moving picture industry has made great headway in Australia, and I do not think it can be said that it has done much harm. The censorship in the past, as the commission states, has been satisfactorily carried on, but at the same time ;t 'recommends * change. There will be a big outcry, particularly from the exhibitors and the public, if effect is given to some of the commission's recommendations. It is stated in the report that no fewer than 110,000,000 persons in Australia visit pictures annually, which means that every man, woman, and child patronizes a moving picture theatre about eighteen times a year. That is sufficient to show that the subject is one in which the public is interested. I am a fairly constant picture patron, and have not seen any pictures of a distasteful character. If effect is given to the commission's suggestion that certain films should be branded. " Suitable for children," it will cause a good deal of inconvenience in country centres. It is also proposed that other films should be marked " Adults " and " Universal purposes." Business in country towns, especially with those of small populations, will be severely interfered with if children are permitted to see only certain films. {: #subdebate-13-1-s2 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- There will be no restriction on the attendance of children; the branding of films is only for the guidance of parents. {: .speaker-KXY} ##### Mr PERKINS: -- If children are not allowed to witness ordinary films it will be impossible to hold the usual children's matinees. I should also like to direct attention to the fact that in a large State such as New South Wales the commission took evidence only in Sydney, and disregarded many important country centres, where totally different views would have been expressed had witnesses been called there. As I was once interested in the picture business I know the difficulties with which showmen have to contend. It is impossible to run two programmes in country towns where some of the films shown at night have also to be shown at matinees. I do not think there is any disadvantage in doing that. If the Government appoint a board to censor pictures they should also constitute some authority to censor novels and newspapers, some of which contain matter which would be harmful tq children. I read a few days ago where **Mr. Justice** James who, when hearing an inquiry in connexion with a certain newspaper, said .that in his day children were riot allowed to read newspapers, which, were regarded as agents of the devil. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- There is' nothing in the recommendations to provide that children should not attend certain pictures. {: .speaker-KXY} ##### Mr PERKINS: -- The censorship is to be strengthened, and suggestions are made concerning the branding of films. I do not say that we should not have a censorship, as it has been shown in the censor's report that it is necessary to make cuts in films. Generally speaking, the films shown in Australia are not harmful. A good deal has been said concerning American propaganda, the frequent appearance of the American flag in pictures produced in that country, and . a predominance of the "we won the war " business. Those pictures were not made solely for exhibition in Australia; but for use in America. The production of war films is not likely to continue indefinitely. The censor, in his report issued about the same time as the commission's report, said that he wonders sometimes if the whole of the American nation has lost its sense of humour, and also that in most American films there is vulgarity in some form. The vulgarity alluded to usually consists of disordered garments; but in this enlightened age I do not see why. we should be too puritanical. The commission has also recommended the establishment of a quota system, under which at least 5 per cent, of British or Australian films shall be exhibited in each programme. If effect is given to this recommendation I think it will destroy what the commission set out to achieve. The honorable member for Herbert referred to the quota system in Greai Britain, and said that more British films are now being exhibited. The commission reports that there is no difficulty in getting proprietors to screen British or Australian films. They use all they can get, and show them sometimes at a loss. But if they are compelled to show 5 per cent, of British or Australian films they will show that percentage and no more, and British industry will not benefit to the extent the commission anticipate. Although the commission strongly advocates the en couragement of British production and the imposition of a higher duty on foreign films, it has at the. same time admitted that British productions need more rigid censorship than American films. It is on record that of twelve British films examined by the censor seven were not allowed to be shown. I should like to see a greater number of British and Australian films screened. I am extremely doubtful, however, if the British industry will ever catch up to the American, because of the bad lighting conditions, which lay the plant idle for many months of the year, and thus increase the expense of producing films. If we are to have a quota that will assist the industry in Australia and Great Britain, it should be not lower than a 10 per cent, quota. Personally, however, I cannot see what good end will be served by placing shackles on the industry. It has been built up to the stage at which the amount invested in it in Australia is £25,000,000. That has been possible because there has not been too much government interference. Such interference is likely to do injury to the industry. The States are to be asked to surrender certain powers to the Commonwealth to enable it to give effect to some of the recommendations of the commission. Even if the States and the Commonwealth are brought into line in that respect they will still be out of line in regard to every other form of amusement. The questions that are now handled by the States ought to be left to them in the future. I ask leave to continue my remarks upon the resumption of the debate. Leave granted; debate adjourned. {: .page-start } page 4692 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### HOUR OF MEETING {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs · Flinders · NAT -- I move- >That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Wednesday next. I desire to inform honorable members that, on account of the volume of Government business which has to be transacted, I consider that after next week it will be necessary for the House to sit on the days fixed by the sessional orders. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 4693 {:#debate-15} ### ADJOURNMENT Labour Party Meeting : Newspaper reports. {: #debate-15-s0 .speaker-F4B} ##### Mr BRUCE:
Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs · Flinders · NAT -- I move - >That the House do now adjourn. The Government proposes to proceed next week with the Dried Fruits Bill, the Wine Export Bounty Bill, the Electoral Bill and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. It is possible that the Electoral Bill may be taken early in the week. I cannot give any information to honorable members upon that very interesting subject, the date of the next elections; but, in any event, this Parliament cannot function beyond March of next year, and, as substantial alterations may be effected by the Electoral Bill, it will need to be passed at a fairly early date. {: #debate-15-s1 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Yarra -- I desire to voice a protest against an unwarranted slander which was published in a section of the press to-day against the members of the Federal Labour party. Referring to the meeting of our party that was held yesterday, the *Sydney Morning Herald* states that "Rumors reached the lobbies that blows had been threatened between members." Accord ing to telephoned information that I have received from Melbourne, the *Argus* states that " Sensational stories regarding happenings in the party room were circulated in the House. Two members exchanged blows, and broken furniture had to be removed at one of the adjournments." These newspaper have not the courage to take the responsibility of saying that these things actually occurred, but refer to " rumours " and " stories ". That is a mean form of misrepresentation. Open attacks are manly compared with this method of spreading slanders. There is no truth whatever in the statements. No blows were threatened or exchanged. The meetingwas orderly throughout. There was a frank and open discussion, but it was not accompanied by any disorder. It is to be regretted that any one should concoct such stories, and that newspapers should give publicity to these unfounded and senseless rumours. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 3.57 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 May 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.