10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir LittletonGroom) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I propose to issue a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Martin; in the State of New South Wales, in the place of the Hon. Herbert Edward Pratten deceased. The dates in. connexion with the election will be fixed as follow: - Issue of writ, Thursday, 24th May, 1928 ; nominations, Tuesday, 5th June, 1928; polling, Saturday, 16th June, 1928 ; return of writ, on or before Wednesday, 27th June, 1928.
– I received a telegram this morning from grape-growers on the Murray River, particularly at Berri, intimating that a deputation is on the way to Canberra to interview . the Government upon the proposed reduction of the wine bounty, and desiring me to ask that the further consideration of the Wine Export Bounty Bill be deferred until after its arrival to-morrow. I should like to> know if the Prime Minister will accede to this request?
– As the Wine Export Bounty Bill has been before the House for some time, and the amendments which the Government proposes to have made in it have been in circulation for several days, I regret that I find it impossible to postpone its consideration in committee. Representations in regard to the bounty have been received by the Government from many sources, and the honorable. member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons), have placed the position of the growers before the- Government very fully, but I cannot agree to any further postponement of the consideration of the bill.
– I should like to know if the Prime Minister has read a statement in the Sydney Morning Herald to-day concerning the dispute between the Marine Cooks’ Union and the Huddart Parker line of steamers. The owners are sow tying up their boats. The statement referred to is as follows : -
COOKS SEEK SETTLEMENT.
An offer aiming at a settlement waa received in Melbourne yesterday morning from the Federal Secretary of the Marine Cooks’ Union (Mr. Tudehope), who forwarded the following telegram from Sydney: - “Our members to resume under suspended award; question of roster to be subject of conference if required after resumption. Above terms, if agreed to, will be subject to ratification at our meeting to-morrow morning. In view of these negotiations, again request extension of time until Wednesday.”
In view of the request of the cooks, which might bring about a settlement, will the right honorable gentleman use his influence with the owners of the steamers or make overtures to them, to induce them to suspend action in regard to the tying up of their boats, so that they may meet in conference with the cooks, and a possible large industrial upheaval may be prevented ?
– Much of the trade of Australia has been held up for some weeks past owing to this unfortunate dispute between the cooks and the owners of one of the lines of steamers trading on our coast. The union concerned is acting in contempt of the Arbitration Court, a body constituted under statute of this Parliament, and has had its award cancelled. To my mind, its proper conrse now is to place itself completelyunder the jurisdiction of the court, and unless it does so I shall not feel disposed to take any action in regard to the matter at this stage.
German Developmental Project
– Quite recently the Prime Minister promised to refer to the Development and Migration Commission the proposal of a German company to establish works for the extraction of byproducts from coal. I should like to know if the Commission has yet reported on the proposal, and, if it has not done so, whether, in view of the unemployment among coal-miners at the present time, the right honorable gentleman will expedite its investigations ? .
– The proposal was referred to the Development and Migration Commission, and since then the Commission has been actively engaged in investigating it. The Commission is now awaiting a reply to certain questions ‘submitted to Mr. Fanning, ‘the gentleman responsible for the proposal.
Treatment by Radium.
– I. wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Health to the following paragraph which has appeared in the BrisbaneDaily Telegraph : -
Portion of the proposed agreement stated that the radium was to. remain the property of the Commonwealth, and that it was entrusted on loan to the board, which was responsible to the department for its safe custody and care. The board was to arrange for the radium, when not in use, to be stored in strong rooms or safes approved by the department, and the board was not to allow any portion of the radium to be used outside the Brisbane Hospital.
If that paragraph is correct, I should like to know what arrangements the Commonwealth proposes to make with the States for the treatment of persons outside the metropolitan area who may be suffering from cancer?
– The whole matter is still under consideration. Arrangements have not yet been concluded with the States. I understand that in the case of New South’ Wales these will be completed this week; but it will be several weeks before I am in a position to supply the information the honorable member desires. I assure the honorable member that every effort will be made to provide- radium treatment for people outside the metropolitan areas who are suffering from cancer.
– On Saturday evening last I heard a statement broadcasted by wireless, in which it was said that dentifrices were mostly perfumed soap, and had a tendency to cause pyorrhoea and other gum complaints, and that there was only one - Pebeco, a German preparation - which did not do so. I should like to know from the Postmaster-General if it is the privilege of “ A “ class broadcasting stations to accept contracts for advertising in that manner. Listeners-in had to submit to quite an extended dissertation upon the bad effects of all but the advertised dentifrice. I wish to know how much advertisement and how much entertainment listeners-in may expect frombroadcasting programmes.
– I have no knowledge of the matter referred to by the honorable member, but I shall have inquiries made into the subject.
-I ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to give us the full reply to the American note regarding disarmament ?
– I propose to make a statement on the subject later- in the day.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether arrangements have yet been completed with the Government of Victoria for a further lease by the Commonwealth of Federal Government House in Melbourne? If so, what are the terms of the lease?
– Arrangements have been made with the Government of Victoria for the further occupation of the residence by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. The Commonwealth is to continue to use the residence for a period of ten years, and thereafter until the contract is terminated by either Government. The State of Victoria is to receive from the Commonwealth £2,500 a year, to be applied either in payment of rent for Federal Government House, or in payment of interest and sinking fund in respect of a residence to be acquired for the Governor of Victoria. I understand that the Victorian Government recently purchased “ Stonington,” the house which has been occupied by the State Governor’ since the St. Kilda-road residence was made available to the Governor-General at the beginning of federation, and the money given by the Commonwealth can be applied to the payment of interest and sinking fund upon the capital sum involved. The Commonwealth has not previously been a tenant of Federal Government House, Melbourne, in the ordinary sense, inasmuch as it has never paid rent for the residence, although it has been, and will continue to be responsible, for its maintenance, which costs several thousand pounds a year.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House whetherfinality has been reached in regard to the proposed establishment in Geelong of the Textile School- which has been the subject of negotiation between the Development and Migration Commission and the Victorian Government? If the negotiations have not been completed, will the Prime Minister take steps to expedite a decision ?
– I shall ascertain the present state of the negotiations.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the first quinquennial investigation of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund has been completed; and, if so, when will the report be tabled and made available?
– The investigation has been completed, and the report has been received, but it has not yet been consideredby the Government.
On the 24th April, 1928, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr.- McGrath) asked the following questions : -
Taking into consideration the several dates of retirement of those officers, what would be the total amount of their contributions to the fund.
I am now able to furnish the following information : -
Personnel of Advisory Council - Landing Ground at Rabaul - Electric Lighting.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
What are the names and official positions of the members of the Administrative Advisory Council in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea?
– The Advisory Council of New Guinea consists of-
The Government Secretary, Mr. H. H. Page.
The Treasurer, Mr. H. C. Townsend.
The Commissioner of Native Affairs, Mr.
The Director of Public Health, Dr. E. T. Brennan.
The Director of Agriculture, Mr. G. H. Murray.
The Administrator may, upon the request of any member of the council, or of his own motion, and shall, upon the request of the council by resolution, require the attendance of any officer of the Public Service for the purpose of assisting the council in the discussion of any question in respect of which the officer has expert knowledge.
On the 4th May the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) asked the following questions: -
I am now in receipt of the following information from the Administrator : - -
The selection, preparation and control of sites for aerodromes in New Guinea is, however, a matter which comes within the jurisdiction of the Civil Aviation authorities.
On the 3rd May, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) asked, inter alia, the following question: -
Is it a fact that public money is to be spent on the electric lighting of the administrator’s residence at Rabaul, while nothing is being spent in lighting the town?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that a system of electric lighting was installed at Government House, Rabaul, some years ago and a new engine has recently been purchased by the administration for the purpose of reconditioning this system. Conditions governing the supply of electric light for the township of Rabaul are now being drawn up by the administration. On their completion, it is proposed to call for tenders for the lighting of the town.
Hotels - Public Accounts Committee’s Investigations - Housing - Rating
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
When will the information sought by the honorable member for Reid on the 29th March last, concerning Federal Capital Commission Hotels, be supplied?
– The questions asked by the honorable member were -
I am now in a position to inform him as follows: -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - ]. Yes.
On the 10th May the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) asked me the following questions: -
I am now in a position to supply him with the following answers : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Why was the Western Australian Advisory Committee not invited to, or advised regarding, the conference in Melbourne dealing with the exportation of Australian fauna?
– The appointment of representatives to the conference in question was entirely in the hands of the various State Governments, and the Government of “Western Australia declined to send representatives.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister in charge of Repatriation, upon notice -
– I do not know, as no statistics have been kept of appeals received by me in respect of the decisions referred to by the honorable member.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will supply the House with a statement as to the total amount paid in bounty on sulphur to the mining companies at Broken Hill, and the respective amounts paid to such companies?
– The information is being obtained.
– On the 10th May, 1928, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) addressed to me the following questions: -
I am now in a position to supply the following information : -
– On the 2nd May, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), I made a statement regarding certain reports which had appeared in the press concerning alleged massacres of natives in Papua. The reports alleged that approximately 500 natives had lost their lives through inter-tribalfighting in Papua since Christmas. I am now in a position to state, on the authority of the LieutenantGovernor, that the only natives known to have been killed in Papua since
Christmas are nine or ten natives of Doriomo, at the mouth of the Turama River, who were killed as a result of retaliatory measures adopted by natives from Goaribari and Morigio.
– On the 10th May, the honorable member for Melbourne asked to be supplied with the following information: - ,
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
– On the 3rd May, the honorable member for Capricornia asked the following question : -
I am now able, to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The statistical records are kept in financial years. The figures given hereunder are for the financial year 192627 in tons (weight) : -
Butter, . 34,159; (b) wheat, 1,980,14.2; (c) meat, 98,998 (exclusive of rabbits, hares, and poultry, the exports of which are recorded in pairs. Exports of these were: - Rabbits and hares, 3,298,372 pairs; poultry, 19,880 pairs; .
wool, 343,782; (e) sugar, 64,615; (f) fruit, fresh, 33,821 ; dried, 28,283, preserved in liquid, 4,528; pulped, 1,521.
The total annual tonnage of exports from Australia is not available from official records.
The following papers were presented : -
Papua - Annual report for the year 1 926-27.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (PublicService) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
Nos. 8,9, and 13 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 12 of 1928 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
– (By leave.) - I desire to announce that the Government proposes to appoint a royal commission to investigate certain charges affecting the honour and dignity of this legislature, and the reputation of certain of its members. Honorable members will recall that on the 7th May there appeared a statement in the press, attributed to Mr. Lambert, M,P., in which he alleged that- he had been offered £8,000 to vacate his seat for the representation of “West Sydney, in the interests of Mr. Theodore. It was stated, also, that a similar offer had been made to Mr. Anstey, M.P., the implication being that he should resign his seal in the interests of Mr. Theodore. On the 9th May, in another statement in the press, Mr. Lambert reiterated his charge, and on the same date Mr. G. Cann, a former member of this House, was reported to have stated that he had been advised by Mr. Coleman, M.P., that he had been approached with a . view to giving up his seat for a consideration, to make way for Mr. Theodore. On the 10th May, Mr. Cann is reported to have said that he stood by his statement. It has also been reported in the press that- the allegations have been denied by the honorable members to whom they referred. These statements, however, are attributed not to irresponsible persons, but to a member of this Parliament, and to an exMinister of the Crown in New South Wales. The repetition of the statements by both gentlemen a few days later indicates that they were correctly reported.
The allegation that seats in the national legislature are being bought and sold strikes at the honour and dignity of the Commonwealth Parliament, and threatens the very foundations of our democratic institutions. It is for the Government, as the custodian of the people’s rights, to take action with a view to eliciting the actual facts. This it proposes to do. It feels that its action will be received with satisfaction by the people generally, and by the parties concerned; because, until the matter has been finally disposed of, a reflection will rest upon the honour of this Parliament and certain members of it. The Government believes that an inquiry which so fundamentally, affects the honour of the national parliament, can best be en trusted to the highest judicial authority in the Commonwealth, and accordingly it proposes to invite the Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Adrian Knox, to investigate the allegations immediately.
.- (By leave.) - As my name has been mentioned in the statement of the right honorable the Prime Minister, I wish to say that I have no reason to be dissatisfied with the decision of the Government to appoint a royal commission to inquire into the allegations to which he refers. Indeed, I should have demanded such an investigation if I had considered that the allegations themselves as well as the circumstances in which they were made, and the persons who made them, warranted such an investigation. As the , Prime Minister considers that the allegations should be investigated, I welcome the proposed inquiry.
.- (By leave.) - It is a nice gang of bribers and corrupters that raises an issue of this character at this time in the history of this Parliament. My name has been mentioned. My answer to any allegations is that I am here; my presence in this House is my testimonial. If there is no more truth in what has been alleged against other honorable members than there is in what has been said about me, there is nothing at all in the statements that have been made. The inquiry will show definitely and clearly the character of the people who have made the charges.
.- (By leave.) - The Government having taken the responsibility of appointing a royal commission, I say, on behalf of the Opposition, that I hope that its investigations will be expedited, and not be allowed, for political purposes, to continue over an extended period, I hope, too, that the inquiry will be a full one.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 11th May, (vide page 4819).
Clause 3 -
Section five of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “ 5. The rate of bounty payable under this act on fortified wine exported on or after the ninth day of March One thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight shall be one shilling per gallon.”.
Section proposed to be amended - “ 5. The rate of bounty payable under this tut shall be -
on fortified wine exported on or before the thirty-first day of August One thousand nine hundred and twenty -sevens-four shillings per gallon; and
on fortifiedcine exported on or after the first day of September One thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven and on or before the thirty-first day of August One thousand nine hundred and thirty - one shilling and ninepence per gallon.”
.- By this proposal the Government has repudiated its agreement with the winegrowers; but that aspect of the matter has been clearly explained by the Leader of the Opposition. I rose particularly to reply to the speech of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster). He is a good advocate of a cause in which he believes, but he puts so much vehemence into his advocacy of any matter he takes up, that whether he believes in it or not, he can make it appear a good cause. The honorable member drew attention to the posi - tion of the returned soldier vine-growers on the river Murray, and spoke of what the reduction in the bounty would mean to them. I am aware that exsoldiers were settled on the Murray so they could be established in a thriving industry that would both benefit the country and give quick returns to the settlers. I am heartily in accord with that scheme, and trust that the benefits hoped for will be realized. But the honorable member’s attitude, coming immediately after the refusal of honorable members opposite to grant an appeal board for returned soldiers suffering from war disabilities, appeared to me to constitute a volte face on his part. The attitude assumed by the Opposition on the motion to which I have referred was that ex-soldiers should be rewarded for their sacrifices by at least being allowed to appeal to a board if they thought that they had not received sufficient compensation for their war injuries. The honorable member for Wakefield was silent on that motion; but he played the returned soldiers as his long suit in connexion with the present bill. Although, perhaps, no honorable member is better acquainted with South Australia than he is, I doubt if he could name one wineproducing establishment on the river Murray. In my opinion the wine bounty, from its inception, has been entirely in the nature of a boost for “big business.” Incidentally, the grape-grower has received benefits, and I agree that he should be supported in that way; but let me tell the committee where the vignerons of South Australia carry on their industry. I remind the honorable member for Wakefield that their vines are grown hundreds of miles from the Murray valley.
– But one of the biggest distilleries in the world is to be found on the Murray.
– Much of the fruit that is used in that distillery should be dried, and bounty should be paid on it as dried fruit ; but, instead of that, large quantities of grapes go to a distillery from which the Commonwealth draws heavy excise revenue.
– But it is purely an exsoldiers’ industry.
– The wine bounty does not benefit the distillery at Berri. I should not have taken exception to the honorable member’s plea in the interests of “ big business,” in the form of wine making in South Australia, if he had not tacked on to it a claim on behalf of returned soldiers. Last week honorable members opposite refused to grant even a board to which returned soldiers might appeal, should they think they had been unfairly dealt with by the Repatriation Department. Not one honorable member opposite was prepared to give ex-soldiers an opportunity even to appeal to a board to decide whether they were entitled to pensions, or whether the pensions that they had were adequate. But when the subject of the continuance of the bounty to vine-growers is raised, a plea is advanced in favour of it on the ground that it will benefit ex-soldier settlers.
– Their representatives will be here to-morrow to speak for them- selves.
– I doubt whether they will speak for the wine producing industry on the Murray. Let the honorable member face the facts. Although he cannot name one big winery on the river Murray, he is familiar with the Auldana vineyards at Magill, on the foothills of Adelaide. Cleland and Sons’ vineyards are at Beaumont, adjacent to Magill, and, like Auldana, they are hundreds of miles from the Murray valley, where the bulk of the ex-soldier grape-growers are settled. Cramp and Company carry on their wine-making business at Rowland’s Flat. Hamilton’s are at Marion, near the coast south of Adelaide, and Marion is many miles from the Murray. Hardy and Sons have been in the wine business ever since I have known South Australia. Their vineyards are at Aldinga, on the southern coast of that State. Penfold’s are at Magill, on the Adelaide foothills. The Reynella vineyards are located further south than Marion, and are nearer to the mouth of the Murray than to the Murray valley fruit-growing areas. Seppelts’ are at Seppeltsfield, outside Greenock, many miles from the Murray. Adjacent to their vineyards are those of Smith and Sons, of Angaston. The Tarrangarra Wine Company operates at O’Halloran Hill, in the Mount Lofty Ranges. In addition to the distillery at Berri, there is a wine-making establishment at Lyrup; but the honorable member for Wakefield would admit that it is not a large concern.
– Has the honorable member heard of Waikerie?
– Yes; but the winemaking industry on the Murray cannot be compared with the industry carried on by the old established firms whose names I have mentioned, and whose brands of wines are well known throughout Australia. The establishments at Lyrup and Waikerie are new, having come into operation since the war, Not one-tenth of the grapes grown in South Australia and turned into wine come from the Murray valley.
– The honorable member will hear about this matter.
– I quite expect that; but I hope that the honorable member will quote the areas under vines. The honorable member knows well that Chateau Tanunda is located at Nuriootpa, between Angaston and Greenock. That vineyard is of from 25 to 30 years’ standing. Salter and Sons are also engaged in grape production in the Angaston district ; and Buring and Sobels, whose property is at Watervale, in the hill country approaching the lower north of South Australia, are also big producers. I may also mention the Pewsey Vale property, established by the late Sir William Gilbert, which is in the vicinity of Williamstown, where grapes are extensively grown. I have mentioned the principal, grape producers of South Australia, and have shown the true position of that State in the matter of wine production. It is evident that the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) is speaking solely in the interests of the big wine producers in opposing a reduction of the bounty. I am satisfied that the honorable member is merely supporting the claims of those engaged in the wine business in a big way. Whilst returned soldier growers may get something to succor them for the time being, I am satisfied that four-fifths of the bounty paid goes to old-established growers, some of whom have already amassed fortunes.
-That is absolutely untrue.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– The statements of the honorable member are as correct as most of the statements that fall from his lips. The honorable member for Angas must not forget that I am speaking of the position in a State concerning which I know a good deal. There is no justification for retaining the bounty at the present rate on the plea that it is to help returned soldiers. It will not assist them to the extent it will benefit old-established growers. There are better ways of assistin returned soldiers than this, and my object in rising was to emphasize this point. Only on Thursday last honorable members on this side of the chamber, in supporting a motion moved by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), endeavoured to render material assistance to returned soldiers ; but we could not get the support of the honorable member for Wakefield and other honorable members opposite. We were accused of making it a party matter, and of merely using returned, soldiers as political hacks. When the honorable member for Wakefield refers to the bounty as being of assistance to returned soldiers he is speaking with his tongue in his cheek. The grape producing properties controlled by the big wine interests in South Australia lie within a radius of 50. miles of Adelaide, and if the bounty is continued it will not be of benefit to the grape-growers on the river Murray district, as the honorable member for Wakefield alleges. It would be a means of keeping faith with certain grapegrowers; but I wish the honorable member for Angas and honorable members generally to know that if the bounty is retained it will not be of benefit so much to those engaged in growing grapes on the river Murray, as to those engaged it wine production, particularly within 50 miles of Adelaide.
.- It is my intention, not to deal with certain points raised by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) which are irrevelant to the question before the committee ; but to refer briefly to those which have a direct bearing on the matter now under discussion. The honorable member for Adelaide was right when he said that there is no one in the House who knows more a*bout the wine-growing districts of South Australia than the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Poster); but I suggest, judging from the remarks of the honorable member concerning the honorable member for Wakefield, that the former has yet a great deal to learn. When the honorable member was speaking I interjected, “What about Waikerie?” For the information of the honorable member I may say that I recently visited Waikerie, which is in my electorate, where there are many returned soldiers engaged in grapegrowing, all of whom are keenly interested in the bounty. These growers hold entirely different views from those expressed by the honorable member for Adelaide, and consider that a reduction in the bounty affects them more vitally than it does the wine-makers. That is one of the reasons why the winemakers are sitting back. They know that, if the grape-growers receive a reasonable bounty, they will also benefit. I would also remind the honorable member for Adelaide that the Renmark distillery, which is owned by returned soldiers, annually exports large quantities of wine, and that, if the bounty is reduced, there is a possibility of their export trade ceasing. That is one of $he reasons why returned soldiers interested in that distillery have undertaken a threedays’ train journey to make representations to the Government, in the hope that it will not do this wicked thing of reducing the bounty. I am asking the Minister (Mr. Paterson) even at this stage to see the error of his ways, and to withdraw the bill or amend it so that the bounty will not be interfered with. I should like to inform the honorable member for Adelaide that the spirit used to fortify the wine to a higher degree of strength, to make it suitable for export purposes, is produced on the Murray river. What the honorable member for Adelaide said concerning certain wellknown wines is perfectly true; but those wines are sold almost entirely on the Australian market, and are, therefore, not fortified to the same extent. The spirit used for fortifying purposes is produced from doradilla grapes grown by returned soldiers on- the river Murray, which is one of the reasons why the growers wish honorable members to realize the injustice of the proposed reduction. I wish to again inform the honorable member for Adelaide and the committee generally that there are many returned soldier grape-growers who are not engaged on the river Murray fruitgrowing areas are scattered throughout my electorate. Aja association of grapegrowers at Barossa, composed of returned soldiers, of which Captain Francis is the president, put its case very clearly before the chief excise officer in South Australia, in support of the claim that the bounty should not be reduced and that the price of grapes should be fixed. I have also had a communication from Spring-: ton, from returned soldiers, stating that they are keenly interested in the bounty, and asking me -to press for its continuance at the present rate. The Minister (Mr. Paterson) said that there had been an increase in the preference under the last British tariff, but I should like to inform the Minister that there has been no such increase, the preference which Australia enjoyed on highly fortified wines before the lastBritish tariff was introduced was 4s. a gallon, and to-day it is the same. I challenge the Minister to prove that there has been an increase in preference, since thi rate remains the same. The Minister, in trying to bolster up his case, said there had also been an alteration in the spirit contents of wines. There has been an alteration in the spirit content, but there has been no increase in the British preferential tariff on Australian wines. The Minister also stated that several wine-makers had declared that they were not really concerned over the proposed reduction of. the bounty, inferring that there was no sincerity in the protestations of the winemakers, and that several had “ let the cat out of the bag.” Both the honorable member for “Wakefield (Mr. Poster), and I challenge the Minister to supply the names of those wine-makers. The honorable gentleman was not fair in his insinuations. During his second-reading speech he stated that there is a preference on paper, in which I agree with the honorable gentleman.
– I said “ was,” not “ is “.
– Then let it be “ was “. The Minister is now trying to twist his words around.
– I take exception to that remark, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. An interesting admission in the Minister’s speech occurred when he declared that there may be some blending going on in Great Britain, but that it does not affect the position much. Previously the honor able gentleman stated that there was not. and could not, be any blending there. I have a definite statement from Mr. Ronald
Martin, a grape-grower and wine-maker, which is confirmed by Mr. Angove, of Renmark, by Mr. Salter, and by a representative of the grape-growers, Mr. Gur.sansky, to the affect that wine blending is taking place in Great Britain. Mr. Martin said that it is quite easy to blend two parts of wine under 25 per cent, with one part of wine which is under 42 per cent. The duty on such foreign blended wine is reduced to 4s. 8d., as against 4s. on Australian wine. I shall now refer to a statement that was made by the Minister for Markets (Mr. Paterson) during his second-reading speech.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member cannot now make a second-reading speech, nor can he discuss at length any remarks made in- the course of a second-reading speech.
– The Minister declared that I stated that Australian wines are sold in Great .Britain at from 9s. 6d. to 10s. a gallon. The honorable gentleman deducted various expenses from those amounts, and alleged that Australian wine-growers are now receiving 4s. 2d. a gallon, which compares very favorably with the lower price previously received. The Minister was unjust, as I used the words “ selling price.” The honorable gentleman misused my statement, perhaps quite inadvertently, as he is not thoroughly familiar with the industry. I previously stated that the landed price was 9s. Id., which figure the Minister also quoted. Afterwards the honorable gentleman used the selling price of from 9s. 6d. to 10s., in an endeavour to prove that the wine-makers received a greater price than they stated to be the case. A selling price and a landed price are two entirely different things. When a British wine merchant lands wine at 9s. Id., he probably makes a profit of from 5d. to lid a gallon, and incidentally has to give terms, so that his profit is not exorbitant.
The Minister made reference to a “ leading wine-maker “ who recently returned from Great Britain, and who, he alleged, stated that there was a good market for Australian wines, and that the position in Great Britain was quite secure. I asked the Minister at the time to name the gentleman, but he declined to do so. I declared that the Minister had obtained his information from a newspaper article.
The honorable gentleman stated in reply that he obtained his information from an authentic letter. Subsequently in an interview with the Minister I asked him to show the letter to me. He then stated that the letter appeared ina newspaper. As the Minister was not prepared to supply the name of the person referred to, except privately, I endeavoured to obtain the information from other sources. I interviewed Mr. Salter in Adelaide, and he told me that the Minister had interviewed several winemakers in Melbourne, to whom he made similar statements, allegedly emanating from a wine merchant recently returned from Great Britain. Five times subsequently Mr. Salter, in conversation, mentioned the name of Mr. “Walker, and I am quite prepared to declare that it was Mr. Walker to whom the Minister referred. Mr. Walker has since written to the honorable gentleman denying that he made the statement referred to. I shall drop the subject there.
If honorable members paid a visit to my electorate they would realize how grave is the concern of the wine-growers over this bill, which will ruin many if passed ; therefore, even the Minister must excuse me if I appear to overstep the bounds of parliamentary procedure when speaking on this matter. I shall deal with British wines.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the advisability of raising or lowering the duty?
– I do. It has been alleged that “everything in the garden - that is, the vineyard - is lovely.” On the previous occasion the Minister did not refer at all to British wines. Afterwards he brought that matter up, and now he has given us some very interesting information. He. has told us that the British Government has increased the excise on British wine by 6d. a gallon, bringing the price up to 5s. 6d., as against 9s. Id. a gallon which is the landed price of Australian wine. That is not going to be of very much help to the Australian growers.
I wish to give . the House some information about the operations of the British company, Vine Products Limited. In The Wine Trade Review of 9th March, 1928, there is a report of the last annual meeting of shareholders of this company, of which the following statement appears : -
Dividend of 30 per cent. - Future of British Wines. - The chairman in moving the adoption of the report and accounts expressed the hope that shareholders would consider that events had justified the optimism expressed at the last meeting, and that the profit of £170,000 for 1927 was more than satisfactory. . . . The trading profit after charging all expenses was £172,025, as against £102,850 last year.
Thus, during the period from March to March, since the last reduction of our bounty, the profits made by this company increased by over 70 per cent.
The balance available after deducting the dividend on the preference shares, and the interim dividend on the ordinary shares, was £125,174. The directors proposed to pay a final dividend on the ordinary shares at the rate of 35 per cent, per annum, making a total of. 30 per cent, for the year. . . . With regard to the position of. the wine trade generally, and their company in particular, he had already said that their profit this year had been secured before receiving the full benefit from the company’s Dominion wine operations. In that connexion he particularly had in mind the trade anticipated from their contract with the Co-operative Wine Farmers’ Association of South Africa. Abnormal shipments of wine from Australia to secure the full export subsidy payable up to 31st August, 1927, by the Commonwealth Government, had, however, been responsible for a heavy drop in the price of Australian wines, an uneconomic stimulation not likely to occur again, as from that date the subsidy had been reduced by1s. a gallon. . . . The home market still offered a very wide scope for expansion, at the present time, whilst there were various other countries into which they might carry their enterprises with profitable results. The. business of Vine Products’ Limited had grown from small beginnings to its present proportions against much prejudice and trade opposition, and to-day all must recognize the immense possibilities of British wines for British people.
Mr. John Davie, C.A., seconded the motion, which was “carried unanimously, and resolutions increasing the capital of the company to £585,000 by the creation of 140,000 additional ordinary shares of5s. each, to be issued at a premium of 10s., were also carried unanimously.
I have received a letter from Mr. R. C. H. Walker, in which the following statement occurs : -
Under date 6th March, Sir Ernest Rutherford writes: - “ British wines ought to be taxed at least as high as Dominion wines, and I have told the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also the Chairman of Customs so, pointing out that it is in no way a British industry. The fermentation of the imported ‘must’ is only a preliminary step to the ordinary labour in an English wine merchant’s cellar of laying up, fining, racking, and bottling, &c. Your High Commissioner seems to be diffident about pushing your interests, because the hidebound civil servant here has got into his head that it is a British industry. It is the Greeks who have made a fortune out of it.”
I have also a letter from Mr. C. S. Panton, secretary of the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia. I wish honorable members to understand that, in quoting facts and figures supplied by the wine makers) I do so only because they are in a better position to obtain the information than are the growers. My sympathies are all with the growers. I have said to the wine-makers that they are strong enough to look after themselves, but that I was concerned with protecting the interests of the grape-growers. On the subject of the bounty, however, there is no difference between the growers and the winemakers; they are united in protesting against this reduction. The letter to which I have referred states -
You will have noticed that the Imperial budget only increases the excise on “British wines “ by Od. a gallon, which will be of but little value, if any, to the Empire wines.
The British Vine Products Limited last year made a profit of £170,000. It has decided to issue 140,000 ordinary shares at 5s. each.
– But what has this to do with Australia or the wine bounty?
– It has this to do with it: The sole reason that the Government has advanced for reducing the bounty is that Australian wines can now compete on a lower bounty than the present one with other wines which’ are being sold in Great Britain. I am trying to prove to the Committee that there are factors operataing in Great Britain which will make it absolutely impossible for our wines to compete there if the bounty is reduced. The company of which 1 have spoken has issued 140,000 ordinary 5s. shares, which are being sold at 15s. or a premium of 10s. They will probably be offered to ordinary shareholders in the proportion of one to ten. The existing shares are quoted on the market at 31s. 9d. Why is it that this company has been making such large profits during the last twelve months? The reason is that the British Government increased the tariff on imported wines’ in April of last year. Prior to that date our sweet wines were paying, on a preferental basis, a duty of 2s. a gallon. That duty was increased, and our wines are now paying 4s. a gallon. Because of that alteration in the duty the British company, Vine Products Limited, has come into its own, and has been able to capture the trade which, to a considerable extent, formerly belonged to us. Even with the increased excise rate of 6d. a gallon, this company is still able to sell its products at 5s. 6d. a gallon. They increased their turnover to such an extent that last year their profits were raised to the extent of 70 pe, cent. They are creating a large amount of new capital with which they intend to expand their business still further. That is an answer to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that it was impossible for them to expand their business because they were not able to obtain the necessary space. They are going to build that additional space. If the Government persists with this measure it will have to come to the rescue of the industry again, as it had to do in 1924. Some years ago large areas were planted on the river Murray, against the advice of those who had been connected with the wine industry for many years. The growers had no market for their product, and, on the advice of the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia, the Government saved the industry by introducing s measure which made provision for the payment of a bounty. Now, in opposition to the studied advice of that council, and in spite of the protestations of the growers themselves, the Government is acting in a manner that will prove prejudicial to the industry. I prophesy that before many months have passed the Government will have to turn again to the Federal Viticultural Council for advice as to what steps should be taker, to rectify the position. I do not think any person has suggested that the Federal Viticultural Council has ever “put anything over “ the Government. Upon that council are honorable men who have been connected with the wine-making industry for many years. They are growers themselves, and have grown up from boyhood alongside the older men who are engaged in production. The interests of the wine-makers are closely wrapped up with those of the growers, and vice versa. If the Government wishes to obtain advice, let it turn to, the source which provided it with such good advice in 1924, when it brought down’ a well-considered bill that saved the industry from destruction. To-day the Federal Viticulture] Council has, what it did not have in 1924, the united support of the growers throughout the industry. If the Government will heed the warning of that council and those growers, it will refrain from reducing the bounty at the presenttime. Recently I had an interview with Mr. Gursansky, the president of the Barossa Grape-growers’ Association, with which is affiliated the Returned Soldiers’ Association at Barossa. Unfortunately, early in the year a very disastrous frost spread right through the Murray valley, and a week or so later a similarly heavy frost swept through the Barossa district, with the result that there has been a very poor yield this year.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– One’s sympathies go out to the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) because, under very trying conditions, he is making a plea on behalf of a large section of the people he represents:
– Yet he will vote for the Government.
– Whether he does or not, the Government will have a majority. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) summed up the position rightly when he said that the party whip had been cracked. Of course, the Government will prevail, no matter what the honorable member for Angas may say. That honorable member may make very telling speeches to his constituents upon the iniquity of this proposal, but he will also have to explain why he is unwavering in his support of a Government that will commit this injustice against a large section of the primary producers of Australia.
– The honorable member for Angas voted against the Government on the motion for the second reading of the bill.
– The Government has the number of supporters necessary to pass the bill, and, of course, it will allow the honorable member for Angas to have his little say.
– I can assure the honorable member that I have neither sought nor obtained its permission to do so.
– The Government will tolerate the honorable member, secure in the knowledge that it has the necessary numbers at its back. The. honorable member is aware of that also. He is only beating the air. We -shall probably find the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) supporting the honorable member for Angas in his denunciation of this iniquity that is being perpetrated against primary producers; yet he is a supporter of the pact which makes it possible for a Minister who is a member of the party that calls itself the Country party, to inflict that iniquity. It ill becomes the Minister (Mr. Paterson) to make no effort to refute the arguments that were advanced on the motion for the second reading of the bill, and that are being repeated at this, the committee stage, in opposition to the proposal of the Government. I do not believe that he has answered one of the objections that have been raised by the opponents of the measure. If he were sitting in the corner, where he sat before the days of. the pact, he would condemn, just as strongly as has the honorable member for Angas, a government which is prepared to commit such an injustice upon a large section of the primary producers. This is an act of repudiation. When the moved the second reading, and again the other day, the Minister endeavored to excuse the attitude he is adopting by saying that the increased preference that has been given by- the British Government to Australia, has quite changed the face of the matter. He has repeated that argument so often that he has probably convinced himself of its truth.
– He has not convinced any one else.
– He has not convinced any one who wishes to see a fair thing done by the industry or the people who are engaged in it. He has ignored altogether the changed . circumstances in Great Britain itself. With a wave of the hand, as though it meant nothing, he has dismissed the arguments which have been advanced by those who sit on this side, as well as by some Government supporters, who for the time being are in opposition to it, with regard to the industry that has sprung up in Great Britain for the manufacture of a cheap wine from the “must,” or unfermented grape juice imported from Spain, which, upon entering Great Britain, pays no duty, and is undercutting wine from Australia, and all other wines that are sold on the British market.
– I dealt with that matter last week.
– The honorable member may have dealt with it to his own satisfaction, but his words did not carry conviction to any other honorable member. The honorable gentleman said that Great Britain has increased the duty on foreign wines; but he lightly skimmed over the fact that the manufacture of this cheap wine in Great Britain nullifies the advantage, which appears on paper only, in favour of Australian wines. .
– As a matter of fact, the general increase of the tariff on wine imports has stimulated the production of so-called British wines.
– That is so! The Minister has made no attempt to explain that serious situation ; in fact, I do not know whether he is aware to what extent the wine industry of Great Britain is developing.
– I am well aware of its development.
– According to the Wine Trade Review, the British company that is manufacturing wine from imported must is called the Vine Products Limited. A few years ago it had a capital of £30,000 ; but that has now been increased to £585,000.
– And two-thirds of the capital is watered.
– That is so. Last year the company’s profits amounted to £48 per cent., and its manufactures to 2,500,000 gallons of wine.
– So-called wine.
– It is cheap wine against which the Australian wine .has little chance of competing. The Minister cannot dispose of those facts with a wave of the hand. As a matter of fact, the Australian wine industry is receiving no advantage from the British preference. The honorable member for Angas said that the preference was the same now as previously. The Minister contended that the preference had been increased.
– I said that the effective preference had been increased.
– -Even if the preference has been increased it must be admitted that it has been nullified by the stimulus that the increased tariff has given to the production -of British wines.
– The preference is still 4s.
– That is so.
– The preference has not been increased ; but it is now effective.
– The only construction that I can put on the Minister’s words is that the position now is the same except that it is different.
– I shall clear the honorable member’s mind when I reply.
– The Minister has, up to the present, failed to give us any satisfactory information. According to the honorable member for Angas a deputation is coming from South Australia to place before the Minister the case for the growers there. Evidently those engaged in the wine trade of that State Have not been convinced by the Minister’s statement. As I have said before, if the Minister were to-day sitting iu the Corner, as a private member, he would be just as loud as we are in protesting against the conditions of the export wine trade.
– The Minister as a private member would be more convincing than he is to-day.
– I think so, and his arguments would certainly be more eloquent and forcible. The difficulty is to get from the Government any reliable information. The Prime Minister, when replying to a deputation which waited upon him, said that the quantity of Australian wines in bond in Great Britain was 2,000,000 gallons, and not 3,000,000 gallons, as had been stated. Luckily, w# have at hand a cable received by the Renmark Growers’ Distillery Limited, which company, the honorable member for Wakefield will agree, is a reliable source of information.
– That, company knows all about the wine trade.
– I believe that it is a co-operative concern controlled by the growers.
– It is owned by soldier settlers.
– That company cabled for information to Harper’s Wine and Spirit Journal, of Great Britain, and received a reply to the effect that 3,386,000 gallons of Australian wines were in bond in Great Britain, and that the quantity of wine manufactured in Great Britain last year amounted to 2,488,872 gallons.
– Those are the latest figures taken from the statistics of the United Kingdom on the 29th February, 1928.
– Those figures show that the statement of the Prime Minister is unreliable, and that our statements about the increase in the manufacture of British wine have not been exaggerated. Great Britain last year produced a quantity of wine from cheap imported juice which totalled only about half a million gallons less than the quantity of wines exported from Australia. That is a serious situation. When the Minister says that the increased preference has placed Australian wines on a better footing, he forgets that a new competitor in the British market is doing serious injury to our trade. The Minister should explain the situation in the interests, not only of the wine-growers, but also of honorable members supporting the Government, who will be forced against their will to vote for this measure. The Government’s proposal is to reduce the bounty by 9d. a gallon, and it is no concession to be told that the amendment now moved will confer some benefit on those who have entererd into contracts. The benefit they will get will not extend beyond twelve months. The most serious objection to the Government’s proposal is that the growers were given to understand that the bounty would operate until August, 1930, thatis, for three years.
It has been said that the late Minister for Trade- and Customs (Mr. Pratten), made it plain to the growers and distillers when the original bill was introduced, that although the bill proposed to pay a bounty of ls. 9d. a gallon for three years, that rate would last only until the British preferential duties were altered in favour of Australian wines; but I submit that all that the growers and distillers had to guide them was the act itself. The growers probably never heard of the Minister’s statement, and I am not aware that steps were taken to convey to them the words uttered by the Minister. In the circumstances it is quite reasonable to suppose that they knew nothing about the Minister’s words, and that all they had to guide them was the act itself, which contained nothing to indicate that the. full bounty would terminate this year; but on the contrary stated that the bounty would last until August, 1930. Some growers are referring to the present measure as a repudiation bill. The term is not too strong; in fact it is the only way in which one would expect them to describe the bill. The Minister for Markets cannot put forward the excuse that when the late Minister for Trade and Customs was introducing the’ bill in March of last year, he informed the growers and distillers that the bounty might terminate when the British preference was altered.
– On several occasions since then I have reminded them of what was likely to happen.
– I do not know what steps the Minister took to remind them. The wine-growers I have met have assured me that they have had nothing to guide them but the act itself. I should like to know if the Minister went among the wine-growers in South Australia or wrote to their associations. I have not heard that he has communicated with any of them in the areas in which I come into contact with the growers.
– That is their great cause of complaint.
– I should like to know what steps the Minister took to make the growers aware of the possible termination of the bounty. -The growers themselves tell me they regard this measure as a repudiation bill, because after reading the act they were under the impression that the bounty would last until August, 1930, and they made their arrangements accordingly. They now declare that they were disappointed when the Government announced that the payment of the full bounty was to terminate immediately something happened in regard to the British preferential duties. As I have already pointed out, this preferential advantage is pure myth; it has been nullified by the establishment of a British industry that can sell wine at 5s. a gallon, a price with which Australians cannot compete. Although the Minister claims that the growers were told to be prepared for this reduction they say that they have been taken completely by surprise. The Minister has said that under the bounty of 3s. a gallon the exporters were 6d. a gallon better off than they were under a bounty of 4s. a gallon. He alleged that during the period of the 4s. bounty the price of wine was ls.. l0d. a gallon f.o.b., and during the period of the 3s. bounty it was 3s. 4d. a gallon f.o.b.; in other ‘ words, that the exporters got ls. l0d. plus 4s. under the 4s. bounty, equalling 5s. l0d. a gallon, and 3s. 4d. plus 3s. under the 3s. bounty, making a total of 6s. 4d. Those figures were used by the Minister to justify a reduction of the bounty by 9d. per gallon; but deducting 5s. lOd. from 6s. 4d. the difference is seen to be only 6d. If the Minister’s figures are correct, what justification can there be for a reduction of the bounty by 9d. a gallon? That is another of the serious objections the growers have to the present bill. It will leave them 3d. a gallon worse off. That is equivalent to about 25s. a ton to the grower.
– It is equivalent to about £1 a ton on sweet wine grapes. But that does not affect the grower.
– A loss of 3d. a gallon to the distillers must affect the growers.
– It certainly does.
– It only shows what reckless statements the Minister is prepared to make in order to support- his case. No grower would believe that a reduction of 3d. a gallon in the price paid to the distiller would not be likely to affect the price paid to the grower. If the price paid to the distiller is affected it is a natural corollary that the price paid to the grower must likewise be affected. Every argument used on the second reading could with justification be advanced in opposition to this clause, which is the kernel of the bill. I think the Government must have been convinced of the arguments used by honorable members on the second reading. I attended a deputation to the Prime Minister from men engaged in the industry. Many members of that deputation were returned soldiers who had been induced to embark on the growing of grapes. In answer to the appeal made by the Commonwealth Government to “ Produce, Produce, Produce,” they went out to do so. Some succeeded, others did not, but nine-tenths of them were genuine triers, and as such were deserving of every advantage the Government could offer to them. At all events, they had a right to expect the Government to stand up to a solemn contract it made with them when they were induced to settle on these wine-growing areas.
Speaking on this matter previously, I said that the success of the Murray river valley development depended upon the success of the wine-growing and dried fruits industries. Apart altogether from the assistance given to the growers, I think the Government should go further and give a bounty on dried fruits. It claims to have given way a little in regard to the payment of the bounty on wine, and I trust that it will go the whole of the way, and thus treat fairly those people to whom it gave the assurance that if they engaged in the industry of vinegrowingthey would receive fair treatment at its hands.
.- On behalf of the industry and on my own behalf, I express sincere appreciation of the concessions granted in the amendments brought down by the Minister. At the second-reading stage I pleaded for the whole of the 1927 vintage to be included in the bounty of ls. 9d., but the Government has decided that the old bounty should apply only to contracts made before the intention to reduce the rate was announced. The Government is acting only fairly in meeting the trade to that extent, but I am still of opinion that the old rate of bounty should apply to the whole of the 1927 vintage. The Minister’s statement that empty casks returned from abroad may be admitted free of duty will be received with gratification by exporters as it is a. right they have been requesting for a long time. The concession, he said, would amount to between 3d. and 4d. per gallon, which will be a substantial advantage. He promised also to investigate the operation of the rebate, and if it is found to be ls. 6d. a gallon drawback of excise as contended by the trade, and not ls. 3d. as the department avers, the wine-makers will get the benefit of the larger amount. For that concession also those engaged in the industry will be grateful. In regard to the general merits of the bounty, I am convinced that the Government has not, during recent years, expended money to greater advantage than in the payment of this bounty on exported wines. The Murray river valley was planted largely at the instigation of the Federal and State Governments with vines and in opposition to expert advice, and when the vines came into full bearing, the growers discovered after three or four years of slavery, that there was no market for their bountiful crops. To save them from ruin, the Government decided to intervene with some form of assistance. I recollect attending a deputation with the late Mr. Oakley, the then Controller of Customs, and opinion was divided as to whether the ‘ industry would fare better from a reduction of excise on spirits, or from the payment of a- bounty on wine exported. The Government suggested that the excise be reduced from 6s. to 3s. a gallon, but experts in the industry advised that it would be better to leave the excise unaltered, and to grant a bounty on export. The Government acted on that advice, and the results have amply justified it. The reduction of the excise duty by 3s. a gallon would have meant a direct and lasting loss to the revenue, whereas the bounty, which has considerably extended the overseas market for wine, is practically paid entirely from the excise collected on fortifying spirit and the substantial increase of revenue from the sale3 of spirit.
I was sorry to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) who apparently is unaware of the extent to which the growers have benefited by the bounty. It is true that at its inception the exporters, who at that time were saddled with very heavy expenses, and whose cellars were full of wine for which there was no outlet, benefited substantially, but in respect of subsequent crops the growers received for their grapes the price fixed by the Government, and they derived from the bounty considerably more advantage than did the exporter. Prior to the Government coming to the aid of the industry, large quantities of grapes were allowed to rot on the vines, and doradillas were sold for as low as £2 per ton. ‘ As a result of the price-fixing, which followed the granting of the bounty, doradillas realized £6 10s., which is a very substantial return, and other varieties of grapes correspondingly. The honorable member for Adelaide was wrong when he said that this is a rich man’s bounty in that the growers do not participate.
– I said that the big winemaking companies are the greatest beneficiaries.
– They are not. I regret that the Government reduced the bounty in the middle of the vintage, and at a time when Australia was about to capture a large share of the world’s market. Surely such a rich prize was worth some little sacrifice, although, as I have already said, the bounty is costing the taxpayer practically nothing. I am afraid that this reduction will injure the export trade in the immediate future, and that the position of the grower will be as bad as, if not worse than, before the bounty was introduced. *Of the total production of grapes and wine, the local market consumes 75 per cent.; the bounty applies only to 25 per cent.; but the wine-makers, exceeding their obligations, paid to the growers the fixed price in respect of the whole of the crop. Now, they have large quantities of wine in their cellars, and if the export trade is cut off, there will assuredly be a glut in the local market. If the cellars are filled with unsaleable stocks of wine, the growers will probably have to take for their grapes whatever price the manufacturers offer, and possibly the price in the coming year will be as low as it was prior to the granting of the bounty. That is a serious consideration. I quote the opinion of Mr. Robert Davis, managing director of Caldwell’s Wines Limited, who has a thorough knowledge of the wine industry : -
The stocks laid down by the merchant-maker for the past two . or three years have been at considerably increased cost to him owing to his observance of the prices fixed by the Government for grapes and fortifying spirit, and he is now in an unenviable position as any reduction of export following on the intended reduction in bounty of 9d. a gallon is going to throw sufficient of the surplus production of wine on to the local market to further reduce the local selling price - which reduction will have to be faced by the merchant with large stocks of high cost wines in his cellars to quit.
It is obvious that the local merchant-maker will be unable to continue to pay the increased price of grapes fixed by the Government for bounty purposes, and it is difficult to understand how the Federal Government can overlook this factor in its anticipations. It will mean with local consumption - which, as beforementioned, is three to four times greater than the greatest annual export trade - that the Federal Government itself will force the merchantmaker to disregard its price-fixing for the grapes purchased for the local trade, and the growers will receive the Government price on that portion of wines only made for export, and will have to be satisfied with a price on 75 per cent, of their production which will be governed by the prices that the local merchantmaker can obtain for his wines on the local market.
If the position is as serious as Mr. Davis has stated, the immediate future of the industry is dark indeed. The following statement in the annual report of the Viticultural Council accurately represents the circumstances of the industry -
The last annual report of the above council throws much light on the Wine Export Bill now before the House of Representatives. Since it was issued there have been developments which enable the position in regard to the wine bounty to be summed up as follows:-
It will be seen from the above figures that the net expenditure on the bounty - after allowing for the great increase in revenue, due entirely to the bounty - will amount to £391,386 on 30th June next if the ls. 9d. bounty is maintained. If, however, the bounty is reduced to ls. per gallon the estimated expenditure of £67,000 for the balance of the financial year will be reduced correspondingly, while the revenue must show an immense falling off. As a set-off against the net expenditure of £391,385 on bounty as shown above, the immense benefits that have been derived must be taken into consideration. When the bounty was first introduced the wine industry faced what threatened to be a disastrous crisis. The bounty not only averted this, but did what it was specially designed to do, namely, increased the prices paid to growers for their grapes. This increase amounted to 120 per cent, for some varieties. The bounty was also responsible for a vast increase in the revenue. The exact figures for 1926-28 are not available owing to a system of deferred payments being introduced; but the figures given above are approximately correct, and have been arrived at after consultation with Customs Department officials.
It is estimated on a conservative basis that during the bounty period the growers of wine grapes have benefited, owing to the increased prices, to the extent of £700,000. The driedfruits industry has benefited by, approximately. £100,000. The net’ capital brought into the Commonwealth amounts to over £1,500,000.
An analysis of these figures shows that the Wine Export Act has been one of the most successful pieces of legislation ever introduced to meet a critical position, and that the total value of the benefits derived from it over and above the net expenditure amounts to well over £2,700,000. .
No doubt the Government feels that it has reason to be proud of the act. We have yet to learn to what extent a reduction in the bounty will affect the industry. I appreciate the concessions that have been made, and I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some assurance concerning the use of returned casks, also that he will instruct officers of his department to ascertain what is the true amount of the drawback. The payment of the bounty has enabled our exporters to secure a valuable trade in Great Britain. Nothing should be done to jeopardize it.
– I am somewhat at a loss to know what is the position of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook), in view of the fact that he voted against the second reading of the bill. Are we to understand that, as a result of the alterations and amendments since made, he is now in favour of it-?, I confess -that I see no reason for extreme gratitude to the Government for the alterations to the bill that are suggested. For my part, if the committee goes to a division on this clause, I shall vote against the Government. In what was practically a secondreading speech in committee, the Minister (Mr. Paterson) covered much ground that had been discussed by him earlier in the debate. In the course of his remarks he referred to certain honorable gentlemen as “ representing the wine industry.” I take exception to that, not because I think he was referring to me personally - I believe he had in mind other honorable members on this side of the House - but because they do not represent the wine industry. We might, with as much justification, state that the Minister represents the dairying industry. The use of the phrase, even in a jocular sense, suggests the importation of prejudice into the debate.
The explanation of the proposed alterations given by the Minister was disappointing to me. Actually hs did not explain the amendment which it was intended to be made to the bill as originally drafted. Honorable members will recall that, when the bill was before the House previously, the Prime Minister indicated that the Government proposed to reconsider certain matters, with a view to ascertaining if alterations should be made. I expected the Minister to inform us on these various points, and especially to explain why concessions had been made in certain directions and not in others. It is to be hoped that he is in a position to give us this information now. I am afraid that, if the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) had not risen to speak to this clause, we should not have had any explanation from the Government at all. The bill has given rise to a considerable amount of discussion since it was in the second-reading stage. I have heard it adversely criticized by people who, I know, have no interest whatever in wine-making. They take the view ‘that a fair deal is not being given to people in the industry. I mention this to indicate that criticism of the measure in this chamber has had its reverberations outside, and that people who are not directly interested in wine-making regard its provisions’ unfavorably. The Minister stated that certain wine-makers approve of it. I join with other honorable members in requesting that we should have definite information on this point. I do not pretend to know the names of all the wine-makers in my State, but I can mention at random eight or ten well known firms, such as Seppelts, Smith and Son, Hardy and Sons, Auldana, Buring and Sobels, Penfold. Kanmantoo, Reynella and Chateau Tanunda. Some of these firms have been in existence for upwards of 70 years, and are known throughout the Commonwealth. Can the Minister say if any of them are in favour of these Government proposals? I mentioned before that there was one, who conducts a small wine-making industry under the trade name of Tangari but he is relatively unknown iri my State and does not represent the views of either the makers or growers. The Minister has claimed also that only winemakers are concerned in the passage of this bill. The fact that the honorable member for Wakefield has received an urgent wire from three growers advising him that they were coming to Canberra as a deputation to the Prime Minister is in itself sufficient to indicate that the grapegrowers do not regard themselves as being without some interest in this matter. I do not wish to be ungenerous with regard to the alterations contained in the bill. They improve the measure as originally introduced, and, as stated by the Minister, they affect a considerable proportion of the output of the industry. But unlike the honorable member for Indi, I do not regard these alterations as concessions, because they should not be put on the basis of concessions. It would have been the proper thing for the Government not . te have delayed announcement of the reduction of the bounty until this year’s grape crop had been gathered. The growers should have been given until the end of this year, so that those who have held back wines in order to mature them or to avoid a glut in the English market, should not be placed at a disadvantage. Under the provisions of this bill the 1928 vintage is excluded, except in the case of those makers who gave notice of their, intention to export prior to the 8th March. I say therefore that the bill does not go nearly far enough, because it does not make provision for wines that have been held back on account of the desire to mature them or to avoid the danger of a glut. To obtain the bounty there must be either a contract, proved to be still subsisting, or a notice of intention to export, given prior to the 8th March. The former arrangement does not apply to the 1928 grapes. Why is the product of the 1928 vintage excluded? And why also does the bill contain a provision concerning contracts “being proved “to be still subsisting”? As to the former question it has been urged repeatedly that the grapes of the 1928 vintage were in the .cellars before the grower knew what he would get or the maker knew what he would have to pay for -them. On the second question, can the- Minister say how many contracts were made and for what contracts were made and how many have been cancelled, and for what amounts? It was put to me some time ago that some wine-makers had contracts with English firms on the basis that the bounty would still subsist, and I believe that some of those contracts were cancelled as soon as this bill was introduced. Although each case would depend upon the actual terms of the agreement, it appears to me probable that most of the contracts would lapse owing to the bringing in of this measure. I should say, personally, that those growers whose contracts still subsist would be less favorably treated than those whose contracts have lapsed owing to the introduction of this measure.
The late Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), dealing with the matter a year ago, and the Minister for Markets (Mr. . Paterson), and the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), speaking on the second reading of the bill, declared that the wine-makers were not doing as much for the industry as they should be doing. The Minister for Markets, for instance, stated on the 28th March that the Government was satisfied that the industry could be materially improved by better organization. He had said much the same on the 9th March, and the Prime Minister spoke in a similar strain on the 27th March. I noticed in the Register of 5th May a statement purporting to emanate from the Federal Country party, which read as follows : -
Greater efforts by the wine-makers of Australia are needed to bring about a more effective system of orderly marketing. More intensive advertising is essential to the success of trade overseas. Wine-makers appear to be looking entirely to the bounty to retrieve any loss sustained through lack of co-operation. Sweet .wines are sold here as Australian port, but treaties dealing with nomenclature prevent our wines from being sold in Britain as port despite the fact that the word has become associated with that type of fortified wine rather than the district of its origin. Systematic and efficient advertising, such as is carried on by the dried fruits industry, would educate the British public to realize that our sweet wines are equal to Portuguese port, under whatever name Australia chooses to sell them. The Bruce-Page Government believes that with more efficient marketing organization for export nines, makers can afford to pay remunerative prices for grapes, and carry on profitably under the new conditions of reduced duty.
Who was the author of that remarkable statement ? Will he let us have his name, in order that we may compare his knowledge of the industry with that possessed by the leading wine-makers of Australia. Surely the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) was not responsible for that statement. He voted against the second reading of this bill, as also did the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen). Most of those honorable members who are familiar with, the grapegrowing industry opposed the measure on the second reading. Who, then, is this gentleman who tells us that greater efforts should be made by the wine-makers of Australia to bring about “ a more effective system of orderly marketing”? Why this sudden demand for more orderly marketing, and further control at precisely the same time as there is to be a reduction of the bounty? The Minister has given us to understand that the reduction will not make any difference to the industry on account of the preferences received in Great Britain - that the industry will be just as well off in the future as it has been in the past. Why, then, this simultaneous outcry for control? If the winemakers have done well in the past, and will do well in the future, why is the subject of control raised at all?
– The manufacturers are asking for control, a bill for which, T understand, has been prepared.
– That is most interesting. My information is that they do not want control. I suggested, when speaking on the second reading, that the bill was an attempt to force them to accept some form of control. The honorable member informs me that such a control bill has been prepared, or is already on the stocks. I can hardly believe that to be so, in view of the Minister’s assurance to me on the second reading that no attempt was being made to enforce any form of control on the wine-makers by the reduction of the bounty.
– I am assured, not by the Minister, but by a representative of the growers, that a control bill has been drafted.
– Then their views on this subject must hav. changed a great deal since I saw some of the leading men in the industry. No doubt there is a handful of the smaller growers who would readily put themselves in that position if they could. The Minister, speaking on the 11th May, said, according to a press report -
The Government, in order to give a feeling of stability to the industry, intended to continue unaltered the bounty of Is. until 31st August, 1930.
Was the Minister correctly reported?
– That is substantially what I said.
– That statement seems to me to place the Go- vernment in a most illogical position with regard to the present reduction. If the matter is to be adjusted according to the position in which the industry finds itself, what justification can there be for making a reduction now, but not later, when the industry may perhaps enjoy greater prosperity than it does at the present time? Dealing with the matter on the basis of the Government’s own argument, if an improvement should occur in the future, there would logically be a further reduction of the bounty. When the Minister said that he would not make any further reduction until the 31st August, 1930 - and I quite believe that he *-ill keep his word - he stultified his present action. One is reminded of the story of the cricket umpire, whose decision, when appealed to, was “Not out; but don’t do it again. Next time you will be out.” The Government has inverted that attitude. The Minister has said to the wine-makers, “ You are batting well. We have laid down rules, it is true, under which the game is to be played, and we think that it would be even better if you had a system of control to improve your style But you are making far too many runs, and, therefore, I give you out. But to encourage you when you come in on the second innings, you can make as many runs as you like, because you certainly will not be given out until the 31st August,, 1930.”
.- £ must confess to some surprise and disappointment at the Minister’s statement to the committee. I voted for the secondreading, and I intend to vote for tlie bill through the committee stage; but it seems to me that the effect of the new British preference, which has now been in operation for more than a year, should be open to clear and definite proof. Thewhole point at issue is whether or not that preference is worth 9d. or more per gallon to the Australian wine exporter.. After this delay I expected the Government to be able to furnish those honorable members who supported the1 second reading with unchallengeable evidence of the effect of the bounty on the Australian price in London. I must say, however, in fairness to the Government, that those who oppose the reduction of the bounty have failed to disprove any benefit from the British preference. I should say that, if this preference is not worth 9d. per gallon, it should be easy tcn prove it. Altogether the position is unsatisfactory. I move -
That the following words be added to the clause: - “Provided that no bounty shall be pay- able in respect of wine which is not shown, to the satisfaction of the Minister, to be the product of areas actually planted with vines on the 31st day of March, 1928.”
This amendment is no stranger to the? committee. I submitted the proposal in March last year, and I should like to> refer briefly to its history. It was originally mooted by the Prime Minister,, when he moved the second reading of the first Wine Bounty Bill in 1924. Then hs obviously feared that the bounty of 4s,- would have the effect of inducing vignerons to extend the areas planted. He finally declared, however, that as the bounty would operate only for three years, it would not be necessary to impose the condition that I now wish to incorporate in the bill. When I submitted a similar amendment iti March last, the late Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), who was in charge of the bill, said that at first glance he was not prepared to accept it. That was on a Friday morning on the last day of a sessional period; but immediately after luncheon he called me to the table and said that he had submitted the amendment to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), who strongly approved of it, and expressed the wish that I should move it. The Minister also suggested that I should secure the assistance of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) in drafting the amendment, which I did. Later I moved the amendment, which was accepted by ths then Minister for Trade and Customs on behalf of the Government, and supported by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), who was then Deputy Leader, and it appeared that it would pass on the voices. However, a certain amount of opposition came from honorable members representing winegrowing districts, and as it was a Friday afternoon and the last day of a sessional period, very reluctantly, at the request of the Minister, I withdrew it. I mention these facts to show that the amendment was accepted by this Government on a previous occasion. I do not know the intentions of the Minister in this instance; but seeing that a similar amendment was moved by me in March last at the wish of the Prime Minister, the Government should not oppose it to-day, particularly as the conditions are now practically the same as they were in March last. Although the bounty is being reduced by 9d. a gallon, a bounty of ls. a gallon will still be paid until September, 1930, which
Trill involve the expenditure of some hundreds of thousands of pounds annually, which will have to be met by Australian taxpayers. The continuance of the bounty, even at a reduced rate, “will, of course, be of great benefit to Australian grape-growers; but I remind the committee that a wine bounty was not paid in the first instance to encourage the planting of additional areas. It was intended merely to assist the industry, and, as every one knows, was regarded only as a temporary measure of relief. It was especially intended to assist an industry in which a large number of returned soldiers were engaged. They had been directed to plant large areas with a particular kind of vine which, before the bounty was payable, was being grown unprofitably. I submit that the additional wine exported as a result of the bounty only increases the financial loss to the Commonwealth. The bounty would never have been granted if it had been thought that the industry would not be on a proper basis within a few years and unable to carry on without governmental assistance. It may be urged by the Minister that the bounty will be paid only until September, 1930; and if I were confident that no further payments would be made after that date I would not press my amendment. Studying the matter from a political viewpoint, however, I think there is every possibility of it being paid after 1930, as when once a government starts spoon-feeding an industry it finds it exceedingly difficult to stop. It cannot be denied that assistance in this form has resulted in larger areas being planted, not only with doradillo vines, which are used for the production .of fortifying spirit, but also with other wines, the grapes from which are used for wine-making. To this extent the bounty has been detrimental to the taxpayers. All the amendment provides is that the bounty shall be payable only on wines produced from areas planted before March of this year. The bounty would be paid on the product of vines which were renewals ; but if new areas are planted the growers will not benefit from governmental assistance. I shall probably be told that the amendment, if incorporated in the bill, will be difficult to administer. That may be so; but difficulties in administration do not constitute sufficient reason for rejecting an amendment which provides a safeguard. We are not sent here to be told by customs officials what we should and should not do. If we make it clear that after a given date persons applying for the wine bounty must make a statutory declaration that the wine on which the bounty is claimed is the product of areas planted before March last, there should be no difficulty.
– The employment of a squad of police would be necessary to enforce the law.
– I do not believe that the grape-growers are so criminally disposed that they would plant vines with the object of defrauding the Customs Department. The adoption of an amendment such as I have moved will check planting, and the further extension of an industry which is already unprofitable. So far as I am aware the wine bounty is the only Commonwealth bounty on which there is no limit as to the total amount payable. The total amounts of the bounty payable on sugar, cotton, and iron and steel are limited.
– There is no bounty on sugar.
– It is not actually a a bounty, but the assistance given the industry is limited by the Australian market.
– The bounties payable on wire and wire netting are not limited.
– I did not mention wire and wire netting; but so far as I know, the wine bounty is the only one on which there is no limit as to total expenditure. I do not wish to delay the committee, but I contend that there is a sound, businesslike, and economic principle underlying this amendment, which honorable members in performing their duties to the taxpayers should support. In view of our financial and economical position, it is the duty of honorable members to support the amendment, as the wine bounty has already cost the taxpayers two or three times more than was contemplated when it was first adopted.
.- The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) is, of course, aware that a proposal similar to that which he has submitted was brought forward when provision was first made for the payment of a wine bounty; but it was defeated. I am, however, in agreement with him as to a limitation. As previously stated, the Government’s concession cannot be regarded as in any way generous, or as a straightforward candid piece of business. It is well known that in connexion with the 1927 and 1928 season, no notice of any reduction in the bounty was given until after one-half of the vintage was already in the wineries. I wish honorable members to bear that in mind, and to consider whether any upright honorable business concern would submit a proposal such as that we are considering. Possibly if a commercial firm went to the court on such a case it might win on a technical point, but its good name would be impaired. It is just as well to speak plainly in these matters. The Government’s proposal in this instance has aroused the interest of the grape-growers and wine-makers to a much greater extent than honorable members who are not in close touch with the industry can possibly realize. I regret that the representatives of the grape-growers on the river Murray area have not had an opportunity to place their case before the Government before this measure is passed. They have excellent reasons why there should not be a reduction in the bounty. They have been here before.
– In Canberra ?
– Yes. Representatives of the grape-growers visited Canberra; but there was some delay, and as they could not remain over the week-end they could not state their case. On a previous occasion they waited nearly a fortnight, although the Government knew exactly what they wanted. Before the representatives of the grape-growers left Canberra they authorized certain honorable members to submit a proposal that the present bounty of ls. 9d. a gallon should be reduced by 3d. a gallon each year over a period of seven years. It was on that point that a division was taken in this House, and the Government had a majority of only three. Actually the majority of honorable members was opposed to the action of the Government. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), raised the issue whether the problem affects the wine-makers principally. Unquestionably it does not. It chiefly! affects the man who grows the grapes. The deputation which is to arrive here to-morrow will represent not the wineries, but the returned soldier growers. After the division to which I have referred to, the representatives of those men returned to their homes confident that Parliament would deal with their case in. a just manner. When the Government made known its intention to reduce the bounty the whole grapegrowing community in every State in which wine interests exist was simply staggered.
I shall present a new phase of the matter. Hitherto references have concerned the combined wine-makers and growers. This bounty reduction affects the growers to an infinitely greater extent than it does the wine-makers. I havehere a letter from the secretary of the Australian Vintage Association, in which he asks me to read to this House a statement made by Mr. Davis, managing director of Caldwell’s Wines Limited. He points out that Mr. Davis is not concerned with the wine-makers, but with the distribution of wine, and that his opinion is therefore unbiased. Mr. Davis stated -
Br. Earle Page admits the fact of the enormous increase of wine grape production following on the ill-advised action of his Government in financing the returned soldiers to plant out large acreages of doradillos, against all the expert advice of the wine industry.
The Government acted in amateur fashion adversely to the advice of experts. The statement continues -
After three or four years of hard work and industry, the returned soldier was then faced with no market for his grapes and as Dr. Earle Page states, “to save the growers from ruin, the Government enacted the Wine Export Bounty Act.”
That was true, as those acquainted with the industry well knew. Mr. Davis continues -
There should be no breach of faith. The Government suggested a reduction of excise duty on fortifying spirit from Os. to 3s. a gallon as a palliative, but the Federal Viticultural Council pointed out the uselessness of this reduction of excise duty to help the position, and asked for the bounty, which was granted.
The bounty was the recommendation of the experts, who were thoroughly familiar with the business.
The whole of the bounty so far paid by the Government has been covered to a very great extent by the increased quantity of fortifying spirit made and used, and is considerably less than the 3s. reduction which the Government was prepared to make to save the effect of their own action.
I want that paragraph to sink deeply into the minds of honorable members. The statement goes on-
Therefore, the industry has been more than self-supporting in respect of the bounty. Dr. Earle Page says that, because we have shipped 3,000,000 gallons of wine out of Australia, in 1927, our overseas market is established, and we have nothing further to worry about. Unfortunately export is not consumption. In anticipation of a bounty being continued for a reason, able period, London merchants, who interested themselves in Australian wines, made contracts for supplies, and naturally, last year, when the Government advised a reduction of ls. a gallon in the bounty six months ahead, they arranged to have forwarded large quantities of wine out of their contracts before the reduction took place. But if Dr. Earle Page refers to the trade statistics of the United Kingdom, which he must have available to him, of 29th February, 1928, he will find that there were more than 3,000,000 gallons of Australian wine in bond at the end of February, 1928, which practically represents a year’s imports.
The clearances for home consumption in the United Kingdom for the month of February was 161,631 gallons in 1927, and 148,067 in 1928. There is, therefore, at least twenty months’ supplies in bond in London, and the further shipments that are going forward are on the contracts booked by London merchants early in 1927, before the reduction of ls. in bounty took place. Therefore, shipments from Australia are not consumption, and it is evident that the London merchant is not going to renew contracts until he has cleared his bondage stocks to a reasonable extent. The London merchant is not a philanthropist, and unless Australian wines can compete successfully with continental supplies he will return to his centuryold foreign connexions.
The main factor of the Federal Government’s Bounty Act was the protection of the grapegrowers’ interest in obtaining for him a fair return for his product, but the Australian local market is a much greater factor than the export market, as the local market absorbs from three to four times the quantity of the greatest exports of wine in any one year. The Government has only been able to control the prices of grapes on the wine export by refusing the bounty to any exporter who has not paid the prices for grapes fixed by the Government.
I recollect having taken a trip with the Prime Minister into the wine-growing districts, when the right honorable gentleman told the big wineries distinctly that the bounty was not for them, but for the growers.
What about the grape prices for the local Australian consumption, which is 75 per cent, of the grapes produced? The Australian merchant maker who has been fighting for his existence for many years on a broken local market, which has given him a very small return for his efforts, saw in the removal of the surplus wines by exports the opportunity of the local market being improved, and, never anticipating that the Federal Government would take such drastic action as it has done in the contemplated reduction of bounty, came forward to assist the Government and the industry by observing the grape prices fixed by the Federal Government, although there was no responsibility for him to do so.
The position of the local merchant maker is quite different to that of the exporter. The merchant maker has to lay down stocks of wines each vintage to mature for several years to enable him to supply matured wines of various ages for the local market under his various grades. The export maker has been in the position of exporting his wines for some few months after vintage, and his finance problems have accordingly been much easier than the merchant maker who has to carry his matured stocks for several years and face increasing interest, handling costs, cellar wages and heavy costs of distribution to the local market.
What will it mean? The stocks laid down by the merchant maker for the past two or three years have been at considerably increased cost to him owing to his observance of the prices fixed by the Government for grapes and fortifying spirit, and he is now in an enviable position as any reduction of export following on the intended reduction in bounty of Od. a gallon is going to throw sufficient of the surplus production of wine on to the local market to further reduce the local selling price - which reduction will have to bc faced by the merchant with large stocks of high cost wines in his cellars “to quit.
It is obvious that the local merchant maker will be unable to continue to pay the increased price of grapes fixed by the Government for bounty purposes, and it is difficult to understand how the Federal Government can overlook tin’s factor in its anticipations. It will mean with local consumption, which as before mentioned, is three to four times greater than the greatest annual export trade, that the Federal Government itself will force the merchant maker to disregard its price fixing for the grapes purchased for the local trade, and the growers will receive the Government price on that portion of wines only made for exports, and will have to he satisfied with a price on1 75 per cent, of their production which will be governed by the prices which the local merchant maker can obtain for his wines on yie local market.
Therefore, the Government is precipitating a serious crisis in the industry, which will affect at least 75 per cent, of the grape production, and be beyond the Government’s power to control - whatever they might be able to do, so far as the small proportion of grapes produced for the export trade is concerned.
The Federal Government’s action is most extraordinary in the face of the facts that have been placed before it by the practical men in the trade, who do know something about their own industry. The disregard of this practical, expert knowledge by the enormous planting of Doradilla vineyards in the first instance was rectified by the same practical expert knowledge advising the Government to grant a bounty instead of a reduction of excise duty, as they intended to do. Again, the Government is making a drastic cut in the bounty against the same practical expert knowledge, and when it is faced in the future with the result of its own action by the debacle forecasted, it will then expect the practical man in the industry to come to its rescue again.
It is evident from the facts stated that men in the local marketing end of the industry have by their own broad policy of paying the prices fixed by the Government on 75 per cent, of the grapes produced for wine - which was never exported - assisted the Government at their own cost to improve the grape-growers’ position, and the thanks that they will receive for this large-hearted effort of co-operation with the Government - if this further reduction of bounty takes place - will be the facing of a broken retail market with cellars full of highcost stocks.
If the Federal Government continues with its intention so far as the amending bill is concerned, it will be forced to realize by the 192S) vintage that it lias placed the grape-grower in a much worse position than he was in before the bounty was enacted.
The organization of an export trade which grew so extensively, is a matter requiring extreme care and deliberation, particularly when the export market is at the other side of the world, and when it is realized that actual consumption, and not export, is the factor that has to be considered. The Federal Viticultural Council of Australia has been working unceasingly, trying to weld the various diverse interests and opinions, which are in every industry, along channels of co-operation, with the result that the Federal Government has before it at this moment a Wine Overseas Marketing Bill, which is intended to control the position in the future.
– Is the honorable member reading an article from a newspaper ?
– I am reading an expert’s opinion bearing on this matter, and it is the most valuable contribution that has yet been made to the discussion on the wine export bounty. I trust that honorable members will exercise their own unfettered judgment in dealing with it, and, if they do so, I know that the winemaking industry will be saved. The article continues -
A number of the exporters in the initial stages of the export trade considered perhaps rightly that the best means of building up the trade quickly, and relieving the local market of that tremendous surplus of wine, was to get the export price to the lowest possible margin to induce the London merchant to give up his century-old connexions with foreign countries, and interest himself in Australian wines. This has been a very big factor to overcome, and the
Government will find that the amount of profit actually made by the exporter maker during the period of the bounty, has been a small percentage.
The grape-grower has received an immediate and increased profit, both from the exporter maker, and particularly from the. local merchant maker, who has paid the Government prices fixed for grapes without demur, although he has no responsibility to do so other than the broad principle of assisting the Government and his industry.
The effect of this interference by amateurs is to drive the industry towards destruction. Honorable members have heard about the new wine-making company in England, which last year paid a dividend of 30 per cent. This company is extending its operations enormously, and it will eventually be one of our most powerful rivals. Is there anything in the market conditions in Britain to justify this reduction of the bounty by as much as 9d. a gallon? There is nothing at all, because we have yet to prove that we have a grip on the British market. We have already a large surplus of wine stored in England, and there is a possibility of that surplus being increased. Every contract with the London buyers contains a stipulation to the effect that no alteration in the bounty will interfere with the price which the importers have to pay. Our wines have been well reported on, and some of the makers here have been maturing their wines in order to give their clients overseas the best possible article. Now they have been caught with large quantities of this wine on their hands, and will suffer if the bounty is reduced. There is a gentleman at this moment on his way to Australia to buy 1,000,000 gallons of highgrade wine. He has stated, however, that if the price is increased through the operation of this altered bounty he will not buy a single gallon.
– Surely the honorable member does not suggest that a difference of 9d. a gallon will stop a big deal of that kind!
– It will, because our exporters are at present operating on an extremely fine margin of profit at Home, and because they have to meet such strong competition, due to the importation of must from Spain, Portugal, and the near East.
.- I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), and oppose the proposal of the Government to reduce the amount of bounty that is now being paid to the wine industry. I take up this stand, because I recognize that protection is the accepted policy of Australia, and that, if primary industries are to be assisted, there is no alternative except to grant bounties in the case of secondary industries. I realize that very great care must be exercised when consideration is being given to the question whether a bounty should be paid to any industry, because of the possibility of deep inroads being made upon the public exchequer by industries which have no chance of succeeding even with such assistance. We have not to look far to find the reason why the Government went to the assistance of the growers of doradillo grapes. The returned soldiers who were induced to go upon the land and plant doradillo grapes were in a serious position, and as it was impossible for them unaided to find a market for their product the Government naturally had to assist them. The present proposal is a drastic one. Six months ago a bill was introduced into this Parliament to reduce by ls. a gallon the rate of bounty which was then being paid on the export of wine. It is now proposed to make a still further reduction of 9d. a gallon. It is true that the amount of money which it has been found necessary to set aside to discharge the bounty obligations of the Government has been larger than was anticipated. The reason for that, however, is not that the area planted with doradillo grapes was largely increased, as has been suggested by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), but that the growers turned their product into a more lucrative channel; instead of leaving it in .the drying sheds, they sent it to the wineries. It has been computed that 46,000 tons of grapes have been diverted from the drying sheds to the distilleries as the result of the payment of the bounty. Such a large diversion was not anticipated. There is another phase of the matter which the Government must bear in mind; it is that which was stressed by the honorable member for
Wakefield. Six months ago the Government undertook to pay this bounty to the wine industry for a period of three years. The only suggestion at that time of a possible modification of that policy was that if the preference given to Australian wine by the British Government was sufficient to justify a reduction, such a reduction would be made. The Minister (Mr. Paterson) has contended that the preference which has since been given by the British Government justifies the proposed reduction in the rate of bounty. A most cursory examination of the position will show that such is not the case. As a matter of fact, in 1924 the British duty on Australian wine was 4s. a gallon, and on foreign wine fis. a gallon, thus giving to Australia a preference of 2s. a gallon. In 1925 Australia was given a preference of 4s. a gallon, as the duty on its wine was reduced to 2s. a gallon,’ whereas the duty of 6s. a gallon on foreign wine was retained. In 1927, however, a change took place in the policy of the British Government, with the result that the duty on Australian wine was increased from 2s. to 4s. a gallon. In the face of that fact, how can the Minister insist that Australia received a preference during that period? It is true that the duty on foreign wine was raised to 8s. a gallon, or double that which was imposed on Australian wine; but it must be remembered that the proportion of preference which Australia received was smaller in 1927 than in 1925 because she had to pay double the amount of duty, whereas that on foreign wine increased by only one-third. There is also another factor. The line of division between high strength and low strength wines- was altered, with the result that continental wines in which the proportion of proof spirit was less than 25 per cent, were permitted to enter Great Britain on an equality of duty with Australian wines, for the reason that it is necessary to maintain the alcoholic strength of our wines at not less than 34 per cent, to carry them unimpaired over the long voyage. There has been a great economic change in the British wine industry; instead of being an importer Great Britain is now a manufacturer of wine. There has been a large increase in the importation of cheap wines of a low strength from Portugal, Spain and France. Smaller quantities of other wine containing a very high percentage of proof spirit have been imported and used for blending purposes, and thus the manufacture of wine in Great Britain has become a very important industry. The dried fruits industry is a sister industry to the wine industry because the grower of grapes can have his product made into either wine or dried fruits. The action of the Government in giving a large bounty to the wine industry has had the effect of placing the dried fruits industry in a particularly bad condition. A bounty should have been given to each. If that had been done they would have developed side by side, and both would now be on a payable basis. Instead of that, however, 46,000 tons of fruit have been diverted from their natural channel to the wine industry, with serious consequences to the former. The following wire has been received from the Growers’ Distillery at Renmark regarding the quantity of wine which is held in bond in London at the present time: -
Referring our letter 4th instant, we cable* Harper’s Wine Journal, “ Please cable quantity Australian wine in bond April 30th and quantity of British wine made last year.” Just received reply, “ Australian bonded 3,380,000- gallons, British manufactured 2,488,872 gallons.”
That to me is evidence that there is not in Great Britain a market which will afford a satisfactory outlet for large quantities of Australian wine. According to the annual statement of trade of the United Kingdom with foreign countries and British countries for the year 1926, the total quantity of wine imported in casksinto Great Britain in that year waa 14,000,000 gallons. Those are the latest figures available. That quantity, together with the 6,000,000 gallons of Australian and British wine in bond is equal to about five months’ supply. It must be remembered, however, that Portugal supplies nearly 8,000,000 gallons of the total importations into Great Britain. Honorable members are probably aware that the name “ port “ as applied to Australian wine is derived from the well-known “ Oporto “ of Portugal. It is very hard for Australian port wine, excellent though it is, to compete against the Oporto, which has a special market
Therefore, we are practically in a cleft stick. The wine-growers are in a bad economic position, and must be assisted. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has offered the only possible solution of the difficulty. He has suggested that, concurrently with the granting of assistance to the wine industry, it is absolutely necessary that the dried fruits industry also shall be assisted, because it is concerned with the same set of growers. That would enable us to preserve a proper balance between the quantity of grapes turned into dried fruits and those turned into wine. But the Government has turned a deaf ear to the exhortations of the honorable member for “Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) and honorable members who represent dried fruitgrowers in South Australia. I admit that it is difficult to find the amount necessary to finance this matter in a proper way. It’ has been clearly shown, however, that a bounty of £10 a ton on dried fruits would amount in the aggregate to infinitely less than the sum which has been handed out to the wine industry in the past. The bounty of 2s. 9d. a gallon which was paid in 1924 was equal to £38 10s. on every ton. of dried fruits. Had a similar bounty been given on the production of dried fruits, that industry would have been placed upon a firm footing. I have quoted figures to show that, in view of the limited market in Great Britain, the outlook for the disposal of a larger quantity of Australian wines there is not too promising. The position is different as far as dried fruits are concerned, because, while the British Government is prepared to assist and to give preference to Australian products - and there is no likelihood of a change in that policy - there will always be a big market for Australian dried fruits in Great Britain. We know from figures that have been supplied to us that the proportion of Australian dried raisins and currants supplied to the British public is about 20 or 25 per cent, of the total consumption. There is a large market in Great Britain for dried raisins and currants, but it is at present largely monopolized by the Califfornian growers. Had a bounty been given on exported dried fruits, alongside the bounty on exported wines, growers generally would have benefited to a considerable extent. Under the present lopsided arrangement the wine industry has flourished, while the sister industry, the production .of dried fruits, has languished. It is time that the Government retraced its steps and placed that industry on a firm footing, and until it attempts to do this, I shall oppose any reduction in the bounty on wine exported from this country.
.- Earlier in the debate on this clause I exhausted my time limit, but having had the opportunity of listening to later speeches, including that of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who has moved an amendment to the clause, I now return, invigorated and refreshed, to the debate. The honorable member for Henty has taken up the position that the wine industry does not provide the revenue with which to pay the bounty, which, he says, is provided by the consumer. That argument may be applied to many things. The honorable member may say that the land and income taxation and other rates which he himself pays, are really paid, not by him, but by the consumer or the general public of Australia. His contention is far-fetched. I should like to remind him that the grape-growing industry has provided more revenue than any other industry. The growers have not only to bear the excise duties, but also to pay the ordinary rates and taxes of the country. No other country in the world imposes excise on fortifying spirit for wines, with the possible exception of Italy, which country, I understand, makes a small charge to cover the cost of supervision, The honorable member for Henty also referred to the increased planting of doradillo vines as the result of the wine bounty; but I point out that that has nothing to do with the present position of the industry.
– I am afraid that the honorable member was not in the chamber when I was speaking.
– I listened to the honorable member’s speech, and made a note of some of his remarks. He really was not conversant . with his subject. Leading up to the moving of his amendment, he stated that there had been large plantings of doradillo vines since the payment of the bounty; but I would inform him that within the last few years practically no doradillos have been planted at all. Mr. Gursansky, the President of the Barossa Grape-growers’ Association, and Mr. Salter, the President of the Federal Viticultural Council, are of the opinion that although the amendment may have emanated from the honorable member with the best of intentions, it would not have the desired effect, because it would be quite easy for a winemaker to keep separate any wines crushed from grapes, which, under the amendment, would be ineligible for the bounty. The wine-maker would export only wines made from grapes, for, which the fixed price had been paid, and which were eligible for the bounty. Wines made from grapes of later plantings, and in consequence, ineligible for the bounty, would be sold locally. Being aware of this and of the over-planting of some varieties of grapes, and with a view to trying to find a solution of this problem, I made a suggestion to both of these gentlemen. They agreed that perhaps the object of the amendment might be achieved by providing that the price fixed by the Government should not apply te- any grapes that were planted after a certain date. A wine-maker would then be able to pay what price he liked for those grapes, and the grower would think twice before he planted further vines. That would certainly have a restraining effect on planting, whereas the amendment’ of the honorable member for Henty, if included in the clause, would be entirely ineffective. It has been said during the debate that the amount of the bounty paid has exceeded all expectations, and for that reason, should be reduced. I should like to remind honorable members that the excise received from this industry also has exceeded all expectations, and that it has practically doubled during the period that the bounty has been in operation. It has also been stated that the amount of the bounty is altogether too great considering the price that the wine-makers receive for the wine exported. That is not a fair argument. We must take into consideration the whole ramifications of the wine industry, including the Australian consumption, the quantity of grape juice that is used in the manufacture of grape brandy, and also the export trade, and compare the bounty paid with that and the excise received. If we do that, we shall find that the bounty is costing this country very little indeed. I discussed this aspect with Mr. Gur.sansky, of Tanunda, who put the views of the grape-growers before me. He pointed out that the probable yield of wine next year would be 20,000,000 gallons. Owing to the severe frosts this season, and to the weather conditions generally during vintage, there has been a falling-off in output, but there will be a bumper crop next year, because the vines that this year were adversely affected by frost, will be all the more prolific because of the period of rest. In addition, several thousand acres of vines will be coming into bearing. The position is that in a few years’ time we shall produce 25,000,000 gallons of wine. The Australian consumption is 13,000,000 gallons, and about 1,000,000 gallons are exported to India and ‘ New Zealand. Great Britain may, in the near future, absorb 5,000,000 gallons of our wine. At present we are exporting a little under 2,000,000 gallons to Great Britain, and if this Government is to do anything at all to assist the industry, its efforts must be in the direction of increasing the opportunity of selling our wines in Great Britain, instead of reducing the bounty and making the exportation of wines to that country more difficult than it is at present. We have also to contend with the competition of South Africa, which has an arrangement with the Vine Products Limited, of Great Britain. That country is also planting at the rate of 3,000 acres a year, and will, in time, be a serious competitor with us. South Africa can land its wines at the best time on the British market, at a cost of 8s. per gallon, as against 9s. Id. in the case of Australian wines. It has been stated that the wine industry has done little, if anything, to improve the position overseas. I understand that approximately £250,000 has been expended by the wine industry during the last two years in advertising in Great Britain. That information was supplied to me by Mr. Gursansky Early in the discussions on this bill I referred to the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when he first introduced a Wine Export Bounty Bill in 1924, and quoted him as having said that it might he asked why the excise duty should not be reduced, seeing that it was imposed as a war measure, and the war was over, but that after consultation with the industry and representatives of the growers it had been decided to let the excise duty remain, because it would provide a fund out of which to pay the bounty. When the Minister was replying he said that I had said that the excise duty was imposed as a war measure and that now the war was over it might reasonably be cut out. I made no such suggestion. I merely quoted what the Prime Minister had said. As a matter of fact I agree with those engaged in the industry that the best thing to do is to leave the excise duty where it is and leave the bounty where it is. I should not like my constituents to think that I was so ignorant of the position of the industry that, contrary to its wishes, I would favour the removal of the excise duty. In Great Britain at the present time there are over 3,000,000 gallons of Australian wine in bond. It is unsold. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber have asked why this should be. The reason for it forms one of the strongest pleas for the retention of the bounty at its present rate, and it is that the wine is not saleable at its present price. If Australian wines were receiving a great measure of benefit from the operation of the British tariff - the Minister would have us believe they are - their price on the British market would be lower than that of foreign wines, and thus they would be in a favorable position to compete with the so-called British wines; they would not be in bond, and the wine merchants of Great Britain would be anxious to get them out of bond and sell them, because they would be the best’ line on the market if only the price was right. But the price of Australian wines is not right, and in consequence large quantities still remain in bond; the export trade has fallen off, and the growers are afraid of what their position will be next vear with a bumper crop. The wine consumption of Great Britain is 16,000,000 gallons a year, and 80 per cent, of that is cheap wines sold at about 2s. 6d. a’ bottle. There is, therefore, a ready market for 13,000,000 gallons of low-priced wine, and the 3,000,000 gallons qf Australian wine now in bond would easily be absorbed in supplying portion of that 13.000,000 gallons if the wine sellers of Great Britain could put it on the market at a price which would enable it to compete with British and foreign wines. Several telegrams have passed between Mr. C. . S. Panton, secretary to the Federal Viticultural Council and Mr. L. N. Salter, the president of the council. I shall read them. The first, dated the 2nd May, is from Mr. Panton to Mr. Salter - “Paterson desires know whether industry would prefer honoring all genuine contracts ft,t ls. 9d. for ‘27 vintage or as alternative concession on whole balance ‘27 wine. Concession indefinite but might amount to ls. 4?d. per gallon. Cabinet discussing matter to-day. Awaiting your immediate reply by urgent wire.”
The reply from Mr. Salter was -
Council claims all ‘27 and ‘28 made in accordance with Government regulations should receive ls. 9d. bounty.
Mr. Panton then telegraphed
Council’s claim as stated your wire irrevocably turned down. Government desire answer to alternative proposition set out in my wire this morning. Am returning to-night. Please wire me Sydney.
The reply he received from Mr. Salter was -
Claim as stated in my wire cannot honestly be disputed. Government must take full responsibility for any alteration.
I also place the responsibility on the Government. I disclaim any connexion with the present proposal. I am absolutely opposed to it, and in that opposition I am supported by the whole of the grapegrowers of South Australia, who represent 80 per cent, of those engaged in growing grapes for the manufacture of spirit, and I think I am also speaking on behalf of a large proportion of the wine-growers of the rest of Australia. A number of comments concerning the position of the grapegrowers have been made by gentlemen who are well fitted to speak on the subject. This is the opinion expressed by one grower in Tanunda -
But ahead of us awaits the 1929 vintage, which, provided reasonable conditions prevail, should reach the 1927 total of 20,000,000 gallons for the Commonwealth. On that vintage 3,000,000 gallons cannot find purchasers, and is eating up storage charges in London bonded warehouses. If this be the case with wine exported under the bounty of 3s. per gallon, with exporters asking for only a bare margin over cost in order to attract buyers, how much of the 1929 export surplus will be unsaleable, with the makers compelled to ask a higher price in order to make up even a little of the 9d. reduction in the bounty? And, if the wine-makers see no prospect of exporting the surplus over Australian requirements of the 1929 vintage, will they be prepared to purchase more grapes than they can find a market for as wine? The position is undoubtedly serious, and, like in all crises through which the industry has passed, the grower has generally been the chief sufferer.
This gentleman also says -
The wine-maker has, to his credit, purchased more than his requirements rather than close down on his growers before the whole crop was harvested, and has found no compensation awaiting him by way of improved markets. But with prices at a high level, made compulsory by government regulation, with the general financial depression restricting trading credits, and with no prospect before him of disposing of a heavy vintage overseas, the one course open to the maker will be to buy only such quantities as will be necessary for his requirements, and, provided the London market remains as at present, his requirements will be 3,000,000 gallons of sweet wine less than can be made from grapes available. Allowing for the wine distilled to furnish the spirit for these 3,000,000 gallons, it represents in all about 35,000 tons of grapes, for which there may be no buyers.
The Government has fixed the price of grapes. There is an old saying that you can take a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. I am entirely in accord with the policy of fixing the price of grapes, but if the wine-maker has no outlet for his wine, he will only buy sufficient grapes at the fixed price to produce the wine for which he has an outlet. The balance of the grapes will be left ou the vines. Of what use is it to get a better price for one’s grapes if one can dispose of only three-fourths of them ? If the export trade becomes entirely unprofitable, the only course open to the wine-maker will be to cut out his export trade. With the cutting out of the export trade away goes the only hold the Government has on the wine-maker to compel him to pay a fixed price for the grapes he buys; the wine-maker not being in receipt of any bounty will be able to pay what he likes for his grapes.
– And the growers will be in the old position again.
– That is so. Quite recently I was in conversation with a wine-maker, whose advice was to “ Out the bounty out altogether.” I asked him what that would mean. He said - “We will get back to normal.” I asked what that meant, his reply was - “ Ordinary normal conditions.” I wanted to know how the grower would be affected, I was informed that the grower would get “ a reasonable price for his grapes,” and when I asked what the wine-maker considered a reasonable price for grapes, the reply was - “£5 a ton for doradillos; £6 a ton for lexias; and £7 a ton for shiraz grapes.” The prices for these grapes at the present time are £6, £8 and £10 10s. respectively. That will be the position of the growers when this bill is passed. Another prominent grower of Tanunda has expressed himself in the following words : -
Now, if we get a slump next year, the Murray people will be yelling for help; it is a way they have when anything goes wrong -
I do not agree with that -
All irrigation lands are government leases, not freehold. Millions of public money are locked up in the irrigation settlements, and in addition to this, the soldier settlements are a government pledge to provide returned soldiers with a reasonable livelihood. If a slump comes, the Murray will be the first to suffer, as, instead of purchasing spirit from the Murray distilleries, the wine-makers in Barossa will have sufficient grapes at their door to provide for their needs.
I do not want to keep slogging at this matter. Surely the Minister has heard enough to convince him that he has made a false step. It is better to retreat from a false position than to butt your head against a stone wall, because you have not the moral courage to beat a retreat. “ To err is human; to forgive, divine.” If the Minister will admit that he has erred, we shall excuse him because he is human, and he will have the divine forgiveness of the whole of the vine producing districts of Australia. I want to give the committee the real reason why this reduction in bounty has been made and my authority is the Treasurer. After a visit to the grape districts of Victoria where he interviewed many grapegrowers, the Treasurer returned to Canberra and said that the grape-growers realized that at a time when the Commonwealth was in a financial difficulty the reduction of the wine bounty was inevitable. The comment by the Murray Pioneer of Renmark was -
Hitherto we have been assured that the proposed reduction had nothing to do with the financial position, but was being made because the industry, and especially the working wine-makers, were making excessive profits.
If the Treasurer had gone into the grapegrowing districts of South Australia his eyes would have been opened; he would have found that, so far from this agitation having been promoted by the winemakers, the growers were united to a. man. Grower after grower at Waikerie said to me - “ What has gone wrong with Mr. Paterson? I never thought he would do such a thing against the primary producer.” That remark was first made to me by a member of the Country Party, and one of the keenest supporters of the Minister for Markets in the Murray valley. When a man’s friends turn from him he should accept that as an indication that he has taken a wrong step. I appeal to the Minister and to the committee to realize that the growers are reasonable men, who know their business, and are working hard to stabilize their industry. They honestly believed that the bounty was fixed at ls. 9d. for three years. The Growers’ Cooperative Distillery at Waikerie has a large quantity of wine which it cannot export. These co-operative distilleries are in the worst position because, unlike the proprietary companies, they have not great financial resources to support them during a temporary cessation of the export trade. The growers who were relieved by the Commonwealth of indebtedness to the amount of £200,000 because Parliament realized that they could not afford to pay it, and who were forced to approach the State Government for advances after the disastrous frosts of last year, will be unable to export their wine because the Government’s action in reducing the bounty is placing them in a worse position than they occupied in 1924. As the years go by a man’s adaptability diminishes, and he is less capable of turning to new methods of earning a livelihood. The Government would have been more humane had it forced these growers out of the industry in 1924 instead of encouraging them to fight on for four years and then letting them down.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) said that by reducing the bounty, the Government is inflicting an injustice upon the growers. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), on the other hand, said that while the growers have received some benefit, the bounty was really a boost to big business, and that four-fifths of it -went to swell the profits of wine- makers who are already well off. I do not know whether the honorable member regarded that assertion a? an argument for the continuation of the old rate of bounty. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) said that any reduction of the bounty would be immediately felt by the growers. The Government has stipulated that the bounty shall be paid only on condition that the winemakers pay a fair price to the growers for their grapes. That the price stipulated by the Government is fair to the growers can be easily proved. When I was in Mildura eighteen months ago a deputation of doradillo growers requested that the then minimum price of £5 per ton should be increased to £6 a ton. The Government has actually fixed a price which is 10s. in excess of that for which the deputation asked. The price of doradillo grapes is £6 -10s., and, of better quality grapes, correspondingly higher. We have been told by the honorable member for Wakefield that following the reduction of the bounty wine-makers will pay the fixed price in respect of the export trade only, and cut the prices for grapes to be converted into wine for the local market.
– I said that the Government’s action was a distinct inducement to the wine-makers to do that.
– The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) went so far as to say that some makers might restrict themselves to manufacturing for the local trade only, so that they might be free, to pay whatever price they thought fit for grapes. I remind the commitee that the wine industry is very handsomely protected against importations. The duties are from 12s. 6d. to 14s. per gallon on wine in bulk, and from 15s. to 18s. per gallon on bottled wine. The dried-fruits industry is able to obtain a payable price for that portion of its produce which is sold in Australia. There is no reason why the wine industry should not do likewise, and be able to pay a fair price to the growers of grapes used for the manufacture of wine for consumption in Australia. Sheltered by a high-tariff wall, the wine-makers have the market to themselves, and are selling a commodity the price of which has not to be cut to the bone as if it were a necessary article of food. A payment of an additional £2 per ton for grapes is equivalent to an increase of Id. per bottle of sweet wine. If the difference between the fixed prices for grapes and prices formerly prevailing, is set down at £2 per ton, will any one say that the Australian market can not carry the necessary trifling increase amounting to Id. per bottle on sweet wine and less still on dry wine. The Commonwealth Government would be surprised if the wine-makers took the action that some honorable members have suggested is threatened. The whole purpose of this legislation has been to help the growers, and if the threatened action were taken, the Government would have to review the position and safeguard them in another way.
– How could it do that?
– “When the winemakers do what the honorable member has suggested they will do, it will be time enough for the Government to decide what further steps it shall take ; but I do not believe that they contemplate any action of that kind. The honorable member for Angas challenged me to name the gentlemen who, I said, had admitted that the industry could carry on profitably with a bounty of ls. per gallon on the wine exported. I did not say that the wine-makers were enthusiastic about the reduction; human nature being what it is, that was not to be expected; but I said, and repeat, that some of them admitted that the industry could make a reasonable profit - “not easy money” as one remarked - with a bounty of ls. per gallon as soon as the London market readjusted itself to the changed conditions. I do not feel called upon to mention their names.
– On behalf of the lot of them I deny that statement.
– The honorable member is practically challenging my veracity ; surely he is carrying his championship of the wine-maker3 beyond the bounds of good taste. When men come to me and discuss their business frankly I should not be acting fairly by them if I divulged their names. But I again assure the committee that more than one wine maker has admitted that the industry can carry on profitably on the basis of the new bounty and the existing price of grapes.
I shall briefly reiterate the main points upon which the Government bases the reduction. The alteration of the British tariff has given a substantial advantage to our wine-makers. Continental unblended wines against which ours have to compete were formerly dutiable at 2s. 6d. per gallon; the duty is now Ss., an increase of 5s. 6d. per gallon. The duty on Australian wines has been increased from 2s. to 4s., leaving our winemakers with an advantage of 4s. per gallon. Previously their actual advantage over continental competitors was only 6d. per gallon; to-day it is 3s. 6d. per gallon more than it was then. Of course, wines from South Africa or any other British dominion are on the same footing as our own. In regard to blended wines, the latest advice I have is that the efforts to mix 2 or 3 gallons of low-strength wine with 1 gallon of highstrength wine have been a failure, and have been abandoned. If any blending is done now it is confined to the mixing of 1 gallon of low-strength wine with 1 gallon of highstrength wine. If 1 gallon of 25 degrees strength, dutiable at 3s., is blended with 1 gallon of 42 degrees strength, dutiable at 8s., the average duty of 5s. 6d. still leaves our wines of greater strength with an advantage of ls. 6d. a gallon. A little over twelve months ago, when .the bounty was reduced to ls. 9d., our winemakers had an advantage of only 6d. per gallon. Even if low and high strength wines can be blended successfully in equal parts, and assuming that the blending costs nothing, the Australian exporter is ls. per gallon better off than he was a year ago with his continental competitors. That in itself is a justification for a reduction of the bounty by 9d. a gallon. A good deal has been said to-day concerning the position in regard to British wine. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) stated that I had failed to deal with that matter on Friday last. As a matter of fact I spoke on it at some length, and to-day I was accused of having made a second-reading speech on the subject. Reference was made by one honorable member to-day to a letter which had been received from Mr. Walker, who urged that the excise on so-called British wine should be at least as high as the duty on dominion wines. What is the position? Rather less than a month ago the excise on British wine w.as raised from la. to ls. 6d. a gallon. We have been informed that the ingredients for the blending of that wine pay a duty of 6d. a gallon, and Australian wine is one of those ingredients. If we add this amount to the new rate of excise of ls. 6d., we find that the new excise on British wine up to 27 degrees is equivalent to 2s. a gallon. We are informed that in almost all cases British wine is of 27 degrees strength or lower, so that the taxation on it very closely approximates the duty on dominion wines of a similar strength. The additional excise on British wines, plus the duty on ingredients, practically places them on the* same taxation footing, strength for strength, with wines produced in the dominions. These facts, then, fully justify the alterations in the bounty which have been made. With regard to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), I desire to say that the Government is prepared to accept it.
.- I did not have an opportunity to speak during the second-reading debate, and I do not propose now to deal with all the various points that have been raised by other honorable members. As has been stated, the clause under discussion is really the bill, and I observe that in the discussion on it, you, sir, have allowed honorable members to deal with almost every aspect of the wine industry. Though I do not wish to speak at length, I desire to make my position clear. As a representative of a large number of primary producers who are vitally concerned in the Government’s proposal to reduce the bounty, I, together with the honorable members for Wakefield and Angas, joined a number of grape-growers from South Australia on a deputation to the Prime Minister to discuss this matter. There is no doubt that they are very much concerned over the proposed action of the Government. The right honorable the Prime Minister and the Minister in charge of the bill have emphasized, over and over again, that the Government has the interests of the grapegrowers at heart, but the Minister has suggested that, in advancing reasons why the bounty should not be reduced, the wine-makers were attempting to mislead me and other honorable members. He endeavoured to persuade the committee that in spite of all that had been said by the wine-makers, and by certain honorable members in their Con. stituencies, it was possible, owing largely to changed circumstances in Great Britain, for the industry to carry on under the reduced bounty. In effect, the Minister’s statement was calculated to make one believe that the wine-makers were endeavoring to “ put one over “ honorable members. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) that when we were considering legislation for a bounty on wine for export a blunder was made in not granting assistance to the dried fruit-growers, concurrently with the growers of doradillo grapes. Why should a bounty be given to growers of doradillo grapes and denied to producers of dried fruits ? The point has not been sufficiently stressed that the producer of doradillo grapes, and of dried fruits is not infrequently one and the same person. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has submitted an amendment to clause 3. Evidently he fears that without the provision which he seeks to include in the bill, there will be a tendency to increase the acreage devoted to the growth of doradillo grapes. I should like to point out that the increase in production of wine has been due, not to increased acreage, but to the fact that a large quantity of grapes previously absorbed by the dried-fruits industry has been diverted into the wine-making industry. We had an unfortunate experience during the war years in connexion with the granting of a bounty upon canned fruits. So many leakages occurred that it would have been better if the Government had bought all the fruit from the growers and buried it. It appears that under this bill the wine-makers’ measure will be full and running over, but, unfortunately, the growers will get only that which runs over, which may be nothing. I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) concerning the unwisdom of introducing the bill at this juncture. The time is most inopportune. The Government, if it had intended to reduce the bounty, should have taken action much earlier, instead of waiting until the middle of the season when the grapes were being picked. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) appeared to balance on the tight rope very well indeed. He seemed to be torn with conflicting emotions. He did not wish to criticize unduly the Government, and at the same time he desired to put himself right in the eyes of fruit-growers in his constituency. The honorable member has my sympathy. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) chided him gently for his attitude. The clause touches a very important issue. The problem of markets is really the problem of the cost of production. This bill affects vitally the future of settlers in the Murray valley and the huge works undertaken by the Government to ensure the success of settlers engaged in the fruit-growing industry. The Minister suggested that the deputation of fruitgrowers which waited upon him in Melbourne last September had asked that the export bounty should be sufficient to bring the price received for all dried fruits for export up to the level of Australian prices. That is not the position. What they asked for was a bounty sufficient to return to the grower his cost of production. It is significant that all those engaged in the industry - the Australian Dried Fruits Association, the wine-makers, the doradillo growers, and the Returned Soldiers’ League are unanimous in urging upon the Government that the passage of this bil1 will create a very serious position. If, as the result of this reduction in the bounty, wine-makers refuse to huy grapes in the usual quantities, and at a payable price, the effect will be that a very large proportion of the grapes now used in wine-making will revert to the dried-f ruits industry. This is a point which I wish to impress strongly upon the Government. The problems of .the industry will not be solved by this reduction; but other problems will be created. I was glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members on both sides of the chamber support an export bounty on dried fruits. Whether the growers are producing doradillo grapes or any other drying varieties of fruit, if they are engaged in an industry that depends upon an export trade, they are compelled under the present economic system’ to compete in the markets of the world, and at the same time submit to Australian costs of production. They have to pay Australian rates of wages, buy Australian implements at high prices, pay high railway freights and water rates, and purchase dear clothing. Sooner or later it will be necessary to face the unanswerable fact that no industry that depends upon export can carry on for long under these conditions. Tt is extraordinary that, while we are spending millions of pounds on water conservation along the Murray Valley, reduced production is being simultaneously preached. But, unless we have a reduction in production costs, we must have either bounties upon exports in the case of all primary industries, or reduced production. These are ugly alternatives; but we cannot escape from the fact that all our primary export industries must choose one of the three. Whatever may be the outcome, it seems to me that the wine-makers, by threats of refusing to buy the grapes if the Government’s intention is carried out, are creating a serious position, and I am glad that the Minister recognizes it. The Minister has stated that he will see that the interests of the grape-growers are safeguarded, and I appreciate the manner in which he has committed the Government in that respect. The position r.f the dried fruits industry is bad enough already; but if the Government’s present intention is given effect to, and more fruit than heretofore is diverted to the dried fruits industry, the Government, in dealing with the problem of the wine industry, will create a greater problem.
– “What does the honorable member think of the amendment by the honorable member for Henty?
– I see no objection to it, except that it will result, as I have already indicated, in reduced production. It is extraordinary that while the Development and Migration Commission has recommended that no further planting of fruits of drying varieties be made-
– That matter will come up for consideration later.
– But the interests of the two industries are so inter-related that they should not be discussed separately. This Parliament is going ahead with the development of the Murray Valley, and spending millions in water conservation; but the Government has said, “ No further production of wine grapes.*’ Concurrently, the Development and Migration Commission has recommended that there be no further planting of fruits for drying purposes. It is a most serious situation when a young country like Australia, with all its potentialities for development, should adopt as a slogan, “ No further production.” Personally, I see no help for it. The people of Australia and this Parliament must realize that the primary producers engaged in export industries cannot longer continue to meet the high costs of production and compete in the world’s market- without assistance of some description. The growers of doradillo grapes and denied to down under the strain, and they have been followed by the dried fruits and dairying industries. The next section to be reduced to this pitiable condition will be the wheat-growers, and when they collapse it will be a sad day for Australia. The Government accepts the amendment moved by the honorable member for Henty, and I am prepared to vote for it.
– It is harmless.
– Yes ; but it is significant in that it is a gesture of no increased production. If there are to be no further bounties, then I am in favour of the curtailment of production in the vine-growing and every other primary industry.
.- I congratulate the Minister for Markets on his great development since he took charge of his department. The argument that he used in regard to the protection accorded to colonial wine reminded me of the debates on the earlier tariffs, during which it was said that the duties on binders were equal to only 4d. or 6d. per acre. It shows how far Ministers will go in adducing arguments to show that anything they propose is right.
– I was not speaking of the tariff.
– The Minister was referring to the fine protection afforded to the growers in Australia. The prices insisted on by the Ministry for the purchase of grapes will only mean so much extra cost to the consumer. If the cost of wine production is increased, thereby increasing the price to the consumer, it necessarily follows that less will be sold. The committee is discussing the subject of a bounty on the export of wine; but we refuse to allow a single bottle of wine to be sold in Canberra. If anybody dared to offer to supply an honorable member with a case of wine, according to a decision given here recently, he would probably be prosecuted.
– How wrong it is to endeavour, by offering bounties, to induce the people of other countries to drink our wine,- while Ave are not allowed to purchase it in the Federal Capital Territory. What I particularly object to is the manner in which the reduction in the bounty is to be brought about. The time for it is most inopportune. I hold no brief for the wine manufacturers; they can look after themselves, and probably do not need any special consideration from us. But we should do all we can to promote the production of wealth in this country. I agree with, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) that anything done to increase the cost of production must make it increasingly difficulty to carry on an export trade. For what purpose are enormous sums being spent annually by the three riparian States, in conjunction with the Commonwealth, on huge water schemes along the Murray Valley? The amendment submitted by the honorable member for Henty, which the Government proposes to accept, is that no bounty shall be paid in respect of wine produced from areas planted with vines after March, 1928. I agree with the honorable member for Wimmera that the situation isextremely grave when we have to say that production must be reduced. We cannot escape from the fact that industry after industry is crying out for support. This should not be the case. It was not so in the past, and if we passed sound legislation it would not occur to-day.
– Change the Government.!
– The honorable member for East Sydney, no doubt, imagines that his party’s accessionto office would solve many of the country’s difficulties; but even he will admit that the dairy-farmer is a valuable adjunct to the development of Australia. This producer has found it necessary to appeal to the’ Government, and the Government has lent a, sympathetic ear. The result is that the price of butter has been increased by at least 3d. per lb. The workers are the principal consumers’ of butter in Australia, and they are required to pay this extra price simply because of conditions that this Parliament is enforcing. Other industrieshave found themselves in similarstraits, and now we are in trouble with wine. My principal objection to the present proposal is that the time forit isinopportune. We passed an act granting a bounty for, three years, and now, before thatperiod has expired, a reduction is proposed after a large proportion of the grapes have been purchased.Not only this year, but every year since the bounty has been in operation, the Customs Department has been late in announcing the price that the wine-maker must pay for the grapes. To my mind, the administration is somewhat faulty. The department appears to be unsympathetic. Wine casks made in Australia and sent, full of, wine, to England, have been returned to Australia : empty, and £1 9s. 6d. has been charged on each cask. If the reduction of the wine bounty is attributable to the financial stringency, I point out that other bounties have been paid.For instance, over , £1,300,000 has been paid by way of bounty on the manufacture of wire and wire netting, and one of these manufacturers now intends to spend £200,000 out of the profits he has made in erecting further plant to supply this commodity. Substantial bounties are also being paid to the manufacturers of sulphuric acid, who have failed to come up to the promise they made to this Parliament.In view of our financial position, the Government should have reduced or withdrawn some of the amounts being paid to some of these manufacturers.
– Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the; clause under discussion.
– I am dealing with the wine industry.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member has already, referred to butter, dried fruits, wire netting, and sulphuric acid.
– A long discussion on the dried fruits industry has been permitted , by the chair ; but is there any connexion between that subject and the payment of an export duty on , wine ? However, I rose particularly to point out that, in my opinion, the present is a. most inopportune time to submit this proposal. In view of the promises made, the full amount of the bounty should have been continued at least for the whole season. The fact that an increase in the British preferential duties renders the’ position of Australian producers more favorable has very little to do with the question. One phase of this matter which appeals to me, and which should also appeal to the Government, is the necessity to do everything possible to relieve producers generally, but, particularly those the Government has encouraged to, engage in production in the greatMurray Valley. I strongly supported the expenditure of large sums of money to develop irrigation areas on the Murray River, in the belief that hundreds of thousands of persons would be satisfactorily settled on the land. We now find, however, that vignerons fruit-growers and others, ‘are experiencing such depression that legislation has to be introducedto assist them. Every effort should be made by the Government to carefully examine the whole position in order to see whereits policy is at fault, and how those who have taken up land in certain areas can prosper without the assistance of bounties. The successful settlement of irrigated areas is an important sub ject , and Parliament cannot allow the present drift to continue. It is true, as the honorablemember for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) said, that thecost of production isbecoming so tremendous that the producer is compelled to seek the aid of the Government. It would be preferable to render assistance by openly granting shipping subsidies, so that every one would be able to enjoy cheaper freights, and thus be able to profitably dispose of his produce in the markets of the world. I oppose the clause because I do not think it just, and also because the proposal has been submitted so late in the season.
.- In accepting the honorable member for Henty’s amendment I ask him to agree to a slight alteration of it, in order to make its meaning quite clear. I suggest that the word “actually” be left out, and that after the word “on” the words “or before” be inserted. The amendment will then read -
Provided that no bounty shall be payable in respect of wine which is not shown, to the satisfaction of the Minister, to be the product of areas planted with vines on or before 31st day. of March, 1928.
Unless the amendment, is amended in that way it could be read to mean that it applied onlyto vines actually planted on 31st day of March, 1928.
– I accept the alteration suggested by the Minister.
Amendment, by leave, amended accord ingly, and agreed to.
Question - That the clauseas amended be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr . Paterson) proposed -
That the following new clause be added to the bill:- “ 4. Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, the rate of bounty payable -
.-In discussing this clause, I may perhaps be permitted to say that the passage of the clause on which a division has just been taken, will be a severe blow to the winegrowing industry; but; thank God, the opinions expressed by honorable members in opposition to it are recorded in
Hansard. Towards the end of June a big conference is to be held at Mildura.
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), will not be in order in resuming the discussion on a . clause which the committee has just passed. . Will the honorable member address himself to the -new clause?
– Yes. The committee has now . determined what shall be the export bounty payable on wine, and this clause relates to the bounty to be paid on wine produced and shipped by a certain date. I believe that I am in order in dealing with that. If this clause is carried, Parliament will have agreed with the principle that a bounty of Only Is. per gallon shall be payable in the future. The Prime Minister, ‘when he visited the wine districts in the . company of myself and the:honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart”), announced that the -bounty . was to be -for the benefit of the growers, . and not of the wine-makers.
– Order ! I have already warned the honorable -.member that he cannot reenter upon a “discussion of the previous clause.
– This clause deals with the bounty. That -with which we have just dealt fixes the amount : that isvto’be paid lin the ‘future, and I -maintain that Iiam.iniorder in dwelling- upon. the- value of that bounty.
– The honorable member . is entitled to refer to the i bounty so far as it applies to (existing contracts and shipments to Canada, but she >is not entitled -to refer to the bounty.) as dealt -with by ; the -previous clause.
Mr.FOSTER.- By limiting the higher bounty to existing contracts we shall simply kill the industry.
Mr.Latham.- I take it that the honorable “member is opposing ; this clause?
Mr.FOSTER. - I am opposing everything in . connexion with the reduction of the bounty. The Minister has placed me in: a wery. awkward position to-night. Tomorrow the ‘representatives of the. growers will (arrive; in ‘Canberra, >yet the Minister has refused )them the consideration that has i always . ‘been extended ‘to every. other type of primary tproiducer. To overcome a part of the disadvantage imposed . by this clause, I -move -
That the figure “eight” paragraph (a), first occurring, be omitted . with a-view toiinsert in lieu thereof the figure “ nine.”
That, if carried, will extend the-payment of the . higher bounty to wine the product of the 19.29 . vintage. I . again remind honorable . members . that this clause involves a principle i on which . this chamber had a division but a. few days ago. ‘Where are the honorable . members who then took part in that division V
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I call the ‘attention of the honorable member to the fact that . his amendment is beyond the scope of the GovernorGeneral’s amendment, and, therefore”/ is not in order.
– If this clause’ is . carried, the . wine-makers will. say to the Go-1 vernment - “ You maykeep youribounty. We will buy, just the grapes that we require, at market prices;” . The winemakers have made tremendous sacrifices, yet certain honorable members have spoken of them as if they were plunderers. The biggest of them have speculated ‘:all the fortunes that their firms have.ac; cumulated during the last 60 or -70 years, in order to co-operate with the Government and to obtain a footing ‘in the British market. They have been, successful beyond their most sanguine expectations, but before : they are able , t£ establish -their . products on that market,’ the.bounty is reduced and their operations, severely restricted. The Prime Ministerj previously stated that the bounty was “a splendid thing. He said that’ bounties had been given to the steel and other industries out of the public revenue, but that the wine industry provided’ its 6wn’ bounty: This year there has been’ a poor’ vintage, but last year there, was, a booiiir ing -vintage. Where would the dried, fruit-growers, have been had ‘they, tiroi. been able . to take their surplus fruit to’ the distilleries? That procedure ‘paid them so well that they, also took tlieir, green ifruits to ‘the distilleries, to save the cost of drying. Now the growers are -to be exposed to grave danger, possibly to ‘ disaster.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! So far the honorable member has not said one word which enables me to connect his remarks with the clause. His remarks apparently refer to a reduction of bounty.’ This clause does not refer to any reduction of bounty and his remarks are” quite, irrelevant.
– I shall put it’ another way. Many of the big grpwers will rio’t be’, able to continue when the/ reduced bounty is imposed., They have- arranged their future programmes for extensive developments in their business, and have been able to negotiate excellent advances with the financial institutions. Now the Government has thwarted them and they will be unable’ to. carry out their contracts.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I must insist upon the honorable member respecting my ruling.
.- I mover- . .
That the new clause be postponed.
I do so because I . consider that the clause will subject the industry to a , grave injustice. I suggest that the. Government considers the advisability of adding to the clause under discussion a further subclause, that might read - i ,
In. respect of wines, the product of the 1928 vintage, shipped in Australia on or before the 31st ‘day of December, One thousand’ nine hundred “.and twenty-eight.. !
Mr.Latham. - There is no objection to postponing the clause- until clause -5 is dealt with. ‘ ‘”
– I wish to give the reasons why. it is.:desirable that’ such a clause should be inserted. The Governmentfixed the price . of grapes, and these grapes ‘were bought prior- to the Bounty Beduetion Bill being brought before the House.- The contract for their purchase was -entered into in good faith between the- growers and’ the wine-makers, on the assumption- that the Government was going -to fix the price as mentioned in the -contract, and on the understanding that ‘the bounty of Is. 9d. a gallon would be paid for’ three. years. It has been said that the Government is justified in reducing the bounty, because of some remarks made during the debate on a previous bill by the late- Minister for Customs. I do not see how that could- justify such action1.1 A litigant in a court of law would hav.e little chance of winning his case-‘if he based it, not upon the language of the statute, but on some -remark orpromise made by a Minister when the proposed law was> under consideration by Parliament. Imagine such a claim being put’ up in respect of a tenancy case. ‘ If that principle were admitted it would be : necessary for the courtto study all the copies’ of *Hansard for both Houses of Parliament which ‘touched upon the particular law under consideration before- !a verdict could be given. Yet that is -the . principle which the Governmentis asking the-gfowers to accept.’- It maintains that, because of some remark made by the ‘late Minister -when- the act was under consideration in Parliament* it is relieved : of the obligation to -carry out- its contract. . It is’ an’ entirely new principle,- and one which, I am prepared to say, has never- previously been put forward. Recently in South Australia a very similar- case was before the people. In ‘the South Australian . Parliament ah act was passed providing f or- the’imposi-i tion of rates on hospitals,’ and it- -was generally- supposed at the time ‘ that it would -apply only” -to. country districts, though- no -such’ proviso was inserted’ in the act. During the- course of the debate in the upper House, an- undertaking ‘was given ‘ by ‘the Minister in charge of the’ bill that the rate- would -not- apply to the city of Adelaide. Eecently the ‘present Government, searching around for’ revenue, decided to rate the city hospitals and this aroused a’ protest.
– Will the honorable member state what his remarks have to do with this particular clause? ‘ ‘’
– I am trying-‘ to justify my. request’- for a ‘postponement. In the Adelaide case the objection to- the imposition’ of the rates was of no- avail, because the Attorney-General said that the Government should’ not recognize any assurance given even by the Minister in charge of the bill; it had -to go by what was in the act. I -am. asking for a’ postponement of this provision, because the wine-makers and growers never anticipated’ anything- of this kind’ being done. They relied on the act passed- last year being given effect to by the Government for the full term laid down. They did not anticipate that, within six months, a bill would be introduced radically altering the! whole position. Had they anticipated any such thing I do not think- that the grapes would have been bought at the price paid for them.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The honorable member is not in order in pursuing his present line of argument.’
– I am asking for a postponement, because the wine-makers and the growers did business- on the understanding that the bounty of Is. ..9d. would be paid for the full period of three years as provided for in. the 1927 act. As the 1928 grapes had necessarilyi been bought before this Bounty Bill was brought down, and prices fixed, the only fair and honest thing to do is to honour the contract as . ‘far as the 1928 vintage is concerned. The. Government proposes, in a half-hearted fashion, to make an exemption in favour of a portion of the 1927 vintage,’ but I maintain, that such exemption should apply to the whole of ‘the ‘1927 and 1928 vintages. This would hav.e the effect of ensuring larger exports of wine from Australia, which would, in turn, make room for the 1928 vintage. _ ; .
– I rise to’ ‘a . point of order in reference . to your ruling on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Wakefield ‘(Mr. . Foster).. This bill’ is an amendment to the 1927 act, which’ provides for the payment of a bounty for a period of three years’. . That act arose ‘ out of a’ message from the Governor-General, and Parliament,, on the receipt of that message, decided that for three years a bounty of1s.’ 9d. should be paid. I contend that, by moving to insert the words “ twenty-nine,” we are not proposing’ to place any new charge on the people of Australia. . The’ act already provides ‘ for such a charge. The Government has now brought ‘down a measure fpr curtailing from 1930 to “1928 the period during which’ that charge’ shall be made.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Does the honorable member propose to move that the ruling of the Chair be dissented froml , ‘,’..
– I Tiad not intended to go ‘so far as that.
The TEMPORARYCHAIRMAN. - That being so, the honorable member’s remarks are out of order.
– Then I am prepared to move that the ruling of ‘ the Chair be dissented from’ on this point*. I move-‘ ,
That the Temporary Chairman’s ruling be dissented from.
At the:outset I believed that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) was not within his rights, but upon further consideration I found that there was another aspect to the matter. The Parliament, in pursuance of a message from the Governor-General, ‘ some time ago agreed, to a certain expenditure over a defined period. The present proposal of the Government is, in effect, that a less expenditure than that for which provision” was then ma’de’shall be incurred. Surely it is within the province of this Parliament to either reduce or increase the period during which the expenditure shall take place, so long as’ the appropriation recommended by the Governor-General is not exceeded? I hold that the honorable member for Wakefield was acting quite within his rights when he moved that the words “ twenty-eight “ be struck out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the . words “ twenty-nine.” As he was not encroaching’ upon the prerogative of the GovernorGeneral, his amendment was quite in order.
TheTEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I remind the honorable member that Standing Order 228 provides -
If any objection is taken, to a ruling or decision of the Chairman of Committees, such objection shall be stated at once, in writing, and may forthwith be decided’by the committee.
I ask the honorable member to submit, in writing, his objections to the ruling of the Chair. …
– I rise to a point of order. The objection of the’ honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) was not stated at once, as the standing order provides, but a considerable time after you, sir, had given . your, ruling*. t. In -,the meantime the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) spoke at some length.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The point of order which has been taken by the Attorney-General is sound, and must be sustained. The honorable member for Swan, therefore, cannot now submit his objection to iny ruling. ‘
– Am I to “understand that I was not in order in moving’ my amendment?
– The Chair has so ruled.
– Would I now be in order if !I were to move that your ruling be disagreed with ?
– The honorable member would not, for the reason that . I have just . given to the honorable member for Swan.
– Before the question is put, I should like honorable ‘members to realize to what extent the prerogatives and privileges of : this Parliament are involved in the decision which has ‘just ‘been given. The AttorneyGeneral has’taken special exception to an objection against the ruling of -the Chair being dealt with, because it was not stated immediately that ruling was given, and did not, therefore, comply with the Standing Orders.
– The ‘honorable member is again out of order.
– I . am now speaking to . the clause itself, and incidentally drawing attention to the attitude- which has been adopted by the Attorney-General. I want honorable members to realize in what way their interests may be affected in the future.
Question - That the new clause be postponed - resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Paterson) ; proposed -
That the following new clause be added to the bill- “ 5. ‘ This act shall be construed and read as one with >the principal act.”
– Does the Minister (Mr. Paterson) intend to offer any explanation for the belated insertion of this clause in the bill? If it is required, it ought surely to have been inserted when the bill was first drafted.
Question resolved in the affirmative. -Proposed new clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report, by leave, adopted.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
Treaty -for the -Outlawry ofWar -
Wine Export Bounty Bill : Pairs - Heating of Hotels and Hostels at Canerra: Cutting off of PowerBands from Abroad.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn:
At question time to-day the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) asked . me if I could give to the. House any information with respect to the” present position in connexion with what is known as the Treaty, for the’Outlawry of War. I then.- promised that I would make a short statement at a later stage.
T do not . think that it is. necessary . for me to traverse the history of this . matter. In June of last year the French Government suggested to the Government of the United States of America” that a treaty should be entered into between the two Powers which would have two fundamental principles^ (1) That the two countries should condemn recourse to war and renounce it as an instrument of their national policy towards each other ; ‘ and (2) that all disputes between the two countries, df whatever origin, should be settled -by pacific means. In December -of -last year the Government of the . United States of America, in reply . to the . French Government, accepted- the principles that were laid down, . but suggested . that, instead of a treaty between . those two. Powers, a general treaty should be concluded in which the principles that the -French Government . had enunciated would be embodied and to which . the principal . Powers -of the world should be invited to . become parties. In February of the present year theGovernment of the United States. ‘of America specifically proposed that Germany, ‘Italy, Japan, ..Great Britain, Erance, and the United’ States shouldcoiielude such a treaty ietweeh them,.a’nd’that it should be open to subsequent. adherence by any other Power. After an exchange of correspondence between the Governments of the United States of America and.France, into,the details. of which.it is not necessary to enter at this -moment, the
Government of the United States of America- communicated’ the text of a draft multi-lateral treaty for. the consideration of, the British Government. This -draft; except that it provides for a general treaty- instead of a purely bilateraltreaty) embodies the two principles that’ were contained in the French draftto which I have already referred. The proposed, treaty provides that - (1)-The parties declare that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international disputes, and they, renounce war as an instrument- of. national policy in their relations with one another.
The whole of these details have beenforwarded to the Commonwealth Government, and at the end of last week we expressed to the British Government pur entire sympathy with the proposal and our cordial endorsement of the principles which underlie it: We also expressed the hope that it will materialize, and that all recourse to war will be banished from the law of nations-. France, Germany, and Great Britain have all indicated their adherence to the principle. There are certain questions still to be dealt with, such as the position of a nation- when it is the subject of attackand its right, to self defence, together with obligations- which nations may already have entered into, such as those under, the Locarno- treaties and the Covenant, of the League of Nations. It is to be hoped that there will be a satisfactory removal of any difficulty which may exist, and I- think that there is every prospect of concrete results arising from these proposals for a treaty for the outlawry of war. I repeat, that the Commonwealth Government has expressed its entire sympathy with the principles, and its desire to be associated with any treaty of such a character should it be entered into.
– I wish to make a personal explanation regarding the vote which took place on clause 3 of the Wine Export- Bounty Bill a few minutes ago. I have a standing pair with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and neither I nor the Government Whips were aware that the Deputy Leader was not in his place when the division bells rang. I understand, however, that the Whips have arranged a pair for the Deputy Leader of the- Opposition in respect of the division.
.- L desire to draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the action of the Federal Capital Commissioners in respect of the supply of electricity for heating purposes to the hotels and hostels- of Canberra. Last week when the thermometer was almost below zero the power was, without warning, cut off, and, as a result, the residents suffered great inconvenience. I am bringing this matter before the House, not because of any personal, interest, but because I feel that those who reside at the hotels should receive every consideration. To popularize the Capital City we must pay every consideration to those who are resident here, otherwise, the city will not progress as it should., I do not wish to criticize the commissioners, because there may have been, some reason for discontinuing the supply [of power. I understand that at one hotel a reverend gentleman was studying when the power supply of his radiator was suddenly cut off. He asked the reason, and wiien informed that power had- been discontinued by the instruction of the Commission, he said that he had received no notice. He was thereupon informed that the notice had been posted in the building. As he insisted on his room being heated, he was told that he would have to pay 10s. a week as a flat rate, because no meters were attached to the- rooms. This gentleman ‘ was prepared to pay that amount, but, at the time, power was refused on the ground that other residents might make use of it. Many of the residents at the hotels are school ‘ teachers and public servants whose salaries, after paying for board and providing for other , necessaries of life, are not sufficient to enable them to pay 10s. a week for the use of radiators in their rooms. In justice, power for heating purposes, should be supplied to them. It is ridiculous to charge a flat rate of 10s. a week for power.
– It is robbery.
– Coal is very expensive.
– The price of coal has nothing to do with this- matter, because in the Newcastle district power does not cost. more than ls. 6d. a week even when used every night. In Melbourne I do not think the cost is more than 2s. a week. In this city I understand that one lady occupying a small cottage is using power for ‘ ironing clothes and boiling a kettle daily. Her bill for two months Avas 9s.10d. In view of that charge, it is ridiculous to force inmates of hotels to pay 10s. a week as a flat rate.
– It is a ridiculous charge.
– All that I ask the Minister to do is to make representations to the Federal Capital Commission in order to ascertain the reason for this charge. It has been apparent to me for some time that the hotels.in Canberra have cost far too much, and that it is a mistake to expect them to impose charges which will enable them to earn sufficient to pay working expenses and interest on capital expenditure. The day will soon arrive when we shall have to write down the cost of buildings in this city. I hope the Minister will make some inquiries in justice to the inmates of hotels. They are not opposed to paying something for the power if it is made available to them, but they claim that the charge of 10s. a week is too high. I think 2s. or 2s. 6d. a week should be ample. The heat is not very often required in the bedrooms, because the occupants of them are mostly away during the evenings, but occasionally they may have some work to do for an hour or two at night.
Recently a deputation from the musicians of Australia waited on the Prime ‘ Minister protesting against the importation of foreign bands, and the right honorable gentleman promised that the matter would receive consideration. On the third of this month I asked the Prime! Minister if anything had been done in the matter, and, in reply, he stated that the Government had not yet come to a decision. I am informed to-day that another band has come from America to Australia, and that still another . has been engaged from abroad. At the same time, we have musicians in Australia quite as capable as those who are imported, who cannot secure employment.
I think that in justice. to them something should be done, particularly when we realize that Australian bands are not permitted to perform in. America; One very capable musician who went to Canada and the United States of America has not ‘been able to get employment there because he came from Australia. I have nothing to say against musicians coming here from abroad - in some case’s it is necessary that men of exceptional ability should pay us a ‘visit-r-^but when it is a matter of bringing bands here - the last has come under engagement to play in St. Kilda - all I can say is that there are plenty of bands already in Australia quite good enough to play at St.. Kilda. I urge the Prime Minister to ‘hasten his decision’ in the matter in the interests of the unemployed musicians of Australia.
. -I shall give the matter referred to by the honorable member for Hunter careful consideration. …
.*. The. question . of permitting musicians to come to Australia under contract is now under- consideration by the Government, and I hope to be able to ‘ make an announcement in regard to it at an early date. I point out, however, that during the discussions at the deputation referred to by the honorable member . for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), it was admitted that the importation of bands was an extremely difficult question to control. More consideration was given by the members of the deputation to the matter of bringing individual musicians to Australian I would point out, also, that ho action by the Government of the United ‘States can arise in connexion with this matter, because it is not by any restriction imposed by American legislation or by any ‘other governmental means, that difficulty is being placed in the way of Australian musicians’ performing in the United States of America.’’ The difficulty arises from an entirely different cause! “ ‘
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 May 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1928/19280515_reps_10_118/>.