10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the following paragraph published in the Age: -
The representative of a city firm recently bought at a suburban stationer’s shop two lead pencils so constructed that the lead could be moved by a metal clamp, thus obviating the need of sharpening. The pencils were identical in make and were taken from the same card, which was branded “ Made in England “. One of the pencils also bore the same words, but the other was inscribed, in exactly the same place and type of lettering, “Made in Bavaria”.
Will the Minister for Trade and Customs
Bee that the regulations relating to British preference are tightened up, and request his officers to investigate further whether, in regard to many imports, 100 per cent. British material and manufacture should not be insisted upon instead of only 75 per cent.?
– I shall have inquiries made into the specific matter to which the honorable member has referred. It is quite improper that goods made in a foreign country should get the benefit of the preference we grant to British goods. In regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question, a close investigation would convince him that 75 per cent. of British material and manufacture is a very high proportion, and it would be quite impracticable to insist that all goods enjoying the benefit of the preference shouldbe 100 per cent. British.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government proposes to afford the House an opportunity to discuss the report of the Development and Migration Commission, with special reference to the berry fruits industry of Tasmania?
– I do not propose to afford an opportunity to discuss any one phase of the commission’s report, but the honorable member will have an opportunity when the Supply Bill is before the House in the course of a few days to bring forward any matter in which he, or his State, is particularly concerned.
– On the 11th and 17th of May, I asked questions of the Prime Minister regarding the incomplete weather reports received from “Western Australia, and he was good enough to let me have a lengthy reply yesterday. In yesterday’s Age, however, appeared the information that general rain has set in in Western Australia, but no forecast was given because the data was incomplete. That has been characteristic of the meteorological information from Western Australia for some years. I ask the Prime Minister whether he will make further representations, with a view to the weather forecasts for Western Australia being furnished as completely and regularly as those for other States?
– I stated yesterday that special instructionshave been issued to the Meteorological Branch in Western Australia that the weather reports must be submitted regularly and promptly. I shall see that that instruction is carried out:
Report by Mr. Justice Pike.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr.CORSER asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in connexion with the inquiry at present being carried out by Mr. Justice Pike into the question of Soldier Land Settlement, the Prime Minister will arrange for -
every assistance to bo granted to soldier settlers to give evidence before Mr. Justice Pike; and
if possible Mr. Justice Pike to visit Stanthorpe, Toowoomba, Barie, Roma, Maryborough and Rockhampton for the purpose of hearing evidence?
– The enquiry which is being conducted by Mr. Justice Pike is for the purpose of ascertaining the position of Soldier Land Settlement in the different States with a view to laying down general principles upon which the Commonwealth Government might render a further measure of financial assistance to the States so as to enable a definite solution of this problem to be arrived at. Mr. Justice Pike will take all necessary steps for informing his mind as to the position in individual States. The exact course to be adopted in obtaining this evidence is a matter for the discretion of Mr. Justice Pike.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– I regret that the information is not yet available, but I hope in the course of a few days to make a full statement on radium and its distribution.
Claim of Mr. G. Turton
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Will he also furnish a detailed statement showing -
– I regret that the information is not yet available, but I am taking steps to obtain it.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Qualifications of Voters
asked the Minister for Markets, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 15th May the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) referred to the matter of the proposed establishment in Geelong, Victoria, of a textile school, and I promised to ascertain the present state of the negotiations. In May, 1927, members of the Development and Migration Commission visited Geelong, and discussed with representatives of the textile industry there the question of the establishment of a textile school. It was then agreed that a committee of the industry should be appointed at Geelong to formulate a definite scheme for submission to the Development and Migration Commission. Although steps have been taken by the Commission to expedite the submission of particulars of such scheme, the desired information has not yet been received by it.
The following papers were presented -
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 42.
Northern Australia Act - Encouragement of Primary Production Ordinance - Regulations Amended.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1923-25.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from18th May (vide page 5070), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Having studied carefully the Prime Minister’s speech in explanation of the purpose of the proposed exhibition, the only justification I can find for it is that in the right honorable gentleman’s opinion it would advertise Australian products and make them known throughout the Empire. That is a very desirable object, but I question whether the best way to attain it is by holding an exhibition in Sydney at a cost of £1,250,000. I look at this matter first from the Australian point of view, and secondly from the Empire point ofview. Australia was represented by a commissioner and an extensive exhibit at the Wembley Exhibition, upon which the Commonwealth and the States spent nearly £250,000. This exhibition was open for several months, but this Parliament has not received a report from Australia’s representative, Sir Victor Wilson, nor any definite information as to the benefits which we are supposed to have derived from it. Notwithstanding that it was widely advertised and boomed, and everything possible was done to make it a financial success, I arn informed that it involved a loss.
– If an exhibition held in the heart of the Empire and accessible to the large population of the United Kingdom, and the very great floating population of visitors there, and supported by the organized efforts of all the dominions and colonies, was a financial failure, what chance is there that an exhibition in Sydney, with a much smaller public to appeal to will be a success? It is proposed that the Commonwealth shall guarantee the exhibition to the amount of £500,000. That is a very liberal offer. The Prime Minister estimates the total expenditure at £1,250,000, to which the Commonwealth is to contribute £500,000.
It is expected that £100,000 will be derived from payments by exhibitors, including the proprietors of sideshows. That would leave a balance of £650,000 to be made up by entrance fees. The exhibition is to be open for six months. If the price of admittance were fixed at 2s. a head, the daily attendance for 156 days, excluding the 26 Sundays, would need to be 41,400 in order to provide the balance required. If the price of admittance were reduced to1s. 6d. per head, the daily attendance would have to be 61.770. If the popular charge of1s. were made, in order to attract large attendancesand that should be our object - the daily attendance would need to be 82,800. I have considered the matter free from prejudice, and I am afraid that, as Sydney’s population is only 1,250,000, it is not possible to obtain such large daily attendances. If the charge for admittance were 2s. a head for the whole period of six months, the total attendance would need to be 6,500,000 ; but we have only 6,250,000 people in the whole of Australia, and it is unthinkable that the exhibition could attract to Sydney a larger attendance than our total population. If the charge were fixed at1s. 6d. a head, the attendance would have to be 9,750,000. It would be impossible to attract such a large number of people as that. If we made the charge1s., we should require an attendance of 13,000,000 persons.
– Is the honorable member assuming that each person would attend only once?
– If a large number of people attended twice, the revenue would be increased to some extent; but perhaps not 20 per oent. -of the total population would visit the exhibition. In Sydney, at Easter, the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, which has been in existence for a century, having had its first exhibition at Parramatta 100 years ago, holds a show that has steadily grown in importance. The Societyhas one of the finest showgrounds in the Commonwealth. These are admirably arranged and are provided with substantial pavilions. Altogether this show is a standing advertisement for the Commonwealth. Those who have attended similar shows abroad contend that none is to be compared with that held at Sydney at
Easter. It runs for nine days and five nights, and the total attendance is only 650,000. It is the best show that can possibly be given to attract the public, and some of the visitors attend every day. I do not wish to be pessimistic about the proposed exhibition; but this Parliament is responsible to the people, and should inquire whether the outlay would be justified.
What has Australia to display in an Empire Exhibition ? We are not a manufacturing country, and we do not export manufactured goods. Our manufactories are in their infancy, and we have not yet succeeded in supplying all our own requirements. Before we can send manufactured goods overseas in competition with countries that have had centuries of experience, we must develop our own resources and endeavour to meet our own requirements. Consequently, the proposed exhibition will be held largely for the benefit of manufacturers abroad. Wool, wheat, meat and butter will net be sent here for exhibition purposes, because other countries cannot compete with Australia in those commodities. Our primary producers, therefore, will receive no advantage from the exhibition. Manufacturers throughout the Empire will exhibit their goods, however, and that will adversely affect, rather than benefit, Australian manufacturers. The bill provides that all overseas exhibits shall be admitted duty free. After they have been exhibited, the Minister for Trade and Customs may relieve the owners of the payment of the duty that they would ordinarily be called upon to pay. Canada will be a large exhibitor, I suppose, and no doubt goods will besent from the United States of America.
– Not directly.
– But manufacturers in the United States of America have branches in Canada, and no doubt their goods will be sent from Canada to Australia. Our manufacturers make hosiery and other wearing apparel, and other goods; but we should not derive any benefit from exhibiting those goods here, because we cannot sell them abroad. Will people from overseas attend the exhibition in order to see goods that are made in their own country? They may visit Australia to obtain first-hand knowledge of the country; but that will not help to develop our secondary industries. We should at least give our manufacturers a fair deal, and not exhibit goods from overseas to compete with locally-made articles. The bill provides that timber, galvanized iron and steel work used in connexion with the exhibition shall be admitted free of duty. This will mean a considerable loss of Customs revenue. I do not wish to condemn the exhibition, but I maintain that the £500,000 to be voted by the Commonwealth could be spent to greater advantage than in the way proposed.
Complaints are heard that we have not sufficient oversea markets for our dried fruits, meat, &c. If this money were devoted to the organization of a scheme to display our primary products in the large centres of population on the other side of the world, bringing the consumers into direct contact with the producers, it would be well spent. We should then be doing more to help the primary producers than the proposed exhibition will do for them. Our producers are handicapped by the fact that goods sent overseas are handled by middlemen. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Ley) has informed me that he has a scheme for taking all our primary produce direct to the consumers in the great centres of population overseas. The sum of £500,000 spent in that direction would be justified, and I would not hesitate to vote for such a proposal. If our primary producers are not to be left to the mercy of the middlemen, we should take steps immediately to bring them into direct touch with the consumers.
Much has been saidabout the army of unemployed in each State. Honorable members have been pointing out that Commonwealth public works should be pushed on with in order to absorb these idle workers, but the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) tell us that the Commonwealth has no money available for that purpose. If we have not sufficient funds to provide work for our own people, we are not justified in spending £500,000 on a mere entertainment. In the Federal Capital Territory, 2,000 workmen have been put off. We have spent £50,000 on laying the foundations of a permanent administrative block, intended to house Commonwealth departments for whose accommodation we are now paying rent in Sydney and Melbourne. If the £500,000 were used to complete it, the Commonwealth would save the rent now paid to private individuals in the various capitals. Our first duty is to provide work for our own people, who will have to supply the money proposed to be spent on an exhibition that will enable people from overseas to display their goods here.
I come now to another point. The Prime Minister has said that 26 sites were offered to the Commonwealth for this exhibition. He has also urged that the Centennial Park site is ideal for the purpose, and that if the exhibition were not held there it would very likely be held in Melbourne.
– I did not say that.
– It would not be wise to hold the exhibition in a suburb of Sydney.
– I take a broad view of this matter. The claims of Melbourne are as strong as those of Sydney. The Prime Minister has not told us who inspected the 26 sites that were offered. My electorate fringes a large portion of Centennial Park, and I shudder at the prospect of that area being spoilt by an exhibition of this character. It was dedicated to the people of New South Wales 40 years ago by that great statesman, Sir Henry Parkes, in celebration of the hundredth birthday of the colony. It comprises an area of 550 acres, and the main entrance gates have engraved on them an inscription to the effect that “ This park has been dedicated to the people of New South Wales for all time for pleasure and recreation.” Under the first act passed in connexion with the park by the Parliament of New South Wales, the sum of £200,000 was voted for its beautification. During the last 40 years it has undergone a gradual process of development, and has been laid out in such an attractive manner that it has become a show place for visitors. For its size it is one of the finest recreation areas in the whole of the Commonwealth. The park has been laid out in beautiful drives, ferneries, shrubberies, avenues of palms, and artificial lakes upon which ducks - both wild and tame - disport themselves. On Saturday afternoons and Sundays thousands of persons derive enjoyment from its beauties.
– Especially children.
– It is a favorite playground for children. Nature, with the assistance of man, has made it a veritable paradise. The- Prime Minister has promised that it will be left as it is found. That is beyond man’s capacity. It has taken 40 years to bring the park to its present state of perfection, and vegetation which is destroyed cannot be replaced in a short time. Moreover, much of its natural beauty has been left undisturbed, and if destroyed, could never be restored. It is the home of practically every variety of Australian bird life. If an exhibition is to be held there roads will have to be made into the park, tramway lines laid, fences erected and shrubs and trees cut down. Apart altogether from the economic disadvantages of such an exhibition, it would be a cruel shame to alter the contour of the park. I understand that the municipalities of Waverley, Paddington and Randwick have protested against the park being used for this purpose. The reason given by the Prime Minister is that it is close to the city of Sydney, which has the largest population of any city in the Commonwealth and possesses all the necessary transport facilities.
– So has Hyde Park.
– That is so. There are other areas equally suitable for such an exhibition. Moore Park contains a level stretch of beautiful country; and the golf links adjacent to Cen tenni al Park would lend themselves admirably to the purpose. Then there is the old rifle range a little further along the tram route, containing a big area of ground that is now lying idle. There is no justification for making this use of Centennial Park. I believe that the residents in the vicinity of the park will show their resentment by boycotting the exhibition. Why should we antagonize a large body of people who do not want their park to be destroyed? If the Government wishes to hold an exhibition it should at least refrain’ from interfering with the rights of the public. The Prime Minister has said that any permanent buildings which are erected by the exhibition trustees will not be demolished. Permanent buildings are not wanted in Centennial Park.
– Let them take the exhibition to the quarantine area on North Head.
– If the Prime Minister desires the people to work in harmony with the exhibition authorities, he should not act contrary to their wishes. We should have placed before us the report of those persons who inspected the various sites. The right honorable gentleman indicated in his speech that the proposed commission is to be beyond the control of this Parliament. A commissioner and a deputy-commissioner are to be appointed and are to be given complete control. There is also to be an advisory commissioner in London and another in Australia. We have not been supplied with information regarding the personnel of the commission. The Prime Minister ought to be more open with us, and say who he proposes to appoint to these positions.
I wish now to refer to a most extraordinary feature of the bill. It contains a clause which provides that the Public Works Committee appointed by this Parliament, whose duty it is to investigate and report on any public work that is estimated to cost more than £25,000, shall be debarred from inquiring into any work undertaken by this commission, notwithstanding the fact that the Commonwealth is to provide £500,000 towards the cost of the exhibition.
– The Public Accounts Committee is to be similarly debarred.
– What is behind such a proposal? Are these men to be given a free hand to incur expenditure in any way they choose, as has been the case in Canberra? That provision alone justifies the rejection of the measure.
– There have been quite sufficient scandals in Canberra in connexion with building operations without repeating them elsewhere.
– The Public Works Committee is appointed by this Parliament to protect the public revenues. Since it came into existence it has saved- the Commonwealth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Its members make a close study of public works, and perform their duties in a thoroughly efficient manner. Yet they are to be prevented from exercising any oversight in connexion with the expenditure of £500,000 of the Commonwealth’s revenues! There is no justification for such a proposal. But the bill goes even further than that. It places a similar restraint upon another excellent committee of this Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee, which has a roving commission to investigate expenditure by every department of the Commonwealth and to report thereon to Parliament.
– It cannot be legislated out of that function.
– The bill purports to do that.
– Evidently the desire is to cover up the methods whereby the money is expended.
– The Prime Minister claims that this is only a machinery bill. He did not mention this particular provision. I shall be interested to see in what way he attempts to- justify it.
I believe I have shown that the revenue derived from the exhibition will fall far short of the anticipations of the right honorable gentleman, and that a big loss will be incurred that will have to be made good by this Parliament. New South Wales is the only State which will be called upon to contribute towards the cost of the exhibition. It is prepared to vote the sum of £100,000, in the expectation that it will benefit by the influx of visitors. Those who will derive the greatest advantage are the hotelkeepers, hire-car owners, shipping companies, and the Railways and Tramways Department.
– The exhibition should help to develop trade.
– Locally, not overseas. The object is to make Australia known in, and to develop her trade with, countries overseas.
– If the result is a lessening in the number of American motor cars imported I shall be satisfied.
– How can that be the result? The importers of foreign makes of cars will be enabled to defraud the Customs Department by bringing them in for exhibition purposes, running them round the ground a few times, and then selling them as used cars. I have read the history of the exhibition held in Sydney 50 years ago. It proved disastrous to the State of New South Wales, because it was followed by a period of unemployment unparalleled in the history of that State. People are attracted from the country to the city to witness the pretentious displays which are made by the organizers of such exhibitions, and a period of depression invariably follows. That, after all, is the natural result, and cannot be avoided.
– Is a similar effect felt each year after the big Easter Show held in Sydney?
– No. People do not visit Sydney from all other parts of the country for that show, because each district has its own agricultural show. There is no need to arrange for an exhibition to display Empire goods. Sydney has a number of palatial retail establishments, such as those of David Jones, Mark Foy, and Anthony Hordern, running up to ten and eleven storeys, where goods from all parts of the Empire, may be seen and purchased. The floor space of those great establishments measures an immense area, and goods from all parts of the Empire are displayed in them. An exhibition will not benefit the people of Australia to any appreciable extent, because the great mass of the people cannot afford the time or money to attend it. It may of course benefit those who have goods for sale.
– And ought we not to have goods for sale?
– We sell all our produce overseas. Representatives of manufacturers in other countries come to Australia to buy our wool, and we have well equipped organizations for the sale of our wheat and other produce. There was a time when the people of Great Britain favoured the holding of exhibitions at frequent intervals in the belief that they helped to extend trade, but the great international exhibition held in South Kensington in 1862, drew an average attendance of only 33,000 per day notwithstanding the great population of London and England. Experience has shown that people will not pay money merely to attend an exhibition and look at goods for sale. As a rule, they have something else to do. After the last exhibition in Melbourne, there was a comsiderable falling off in trade. Business became dull, streets of dwelling houses were empty, and there was a great deal of unemployment throughout the country. For a time that exhibition benefited publicans, shipping companies, and a few traders, but the prosperity which they enjoyed was of a temporary character, and there were no lasting or substantial benefits from the expenditure involved. It would be better if, instead of spending £500,000 on the proposed exhibition in Sydney, the Government made that sum available for the making of roads or the extension of public works on the river Murray, with the object of settling many people on the land. In the present state of our finances it would be an absolute waste of money to spend £500,000 on an exhibition. Every honorable member has been complaining of the lack of public utilities and has been told that there is no money available for extensions. More post offices are required as well as an extension of telephone facilities in many country districts, but honorable members asking for them have been informed that, because of the financial stringency, they cannot be provided. I am sure that the people of Australia will not approve of the action of the Government in this matter. If there is money available it should be applied to useful public works, or for the relief of the unemployed.
I regret that I cannot support the Government’s proposal. In my opinion, it is not a sound one because, as I have stated, the exhibition will not benefit the people of Australia to any extent. The Prime Minister, in support of the bill, said that he had had a conference with certain leading business men in Sydney, and mentioned the name of Mr. M.arks, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, who, he said, spoke for the manufacturers of New South Wales. I can assure the right honorable gentleman that Mr. Marks did not speak for the manufacturers. He spoke for himself. The majority of our manufacturers are not at all enthusiastic about the proposed exhibition. They realize that it will afford an opportunity for the display of Empire manufactured goods which come into competition with their own products on the Australian market. Consequently, they are only lukewarm shout the proposal, though they may not openly oppose it. The metropolitan municipalities also object to Centennial Park being chosen as the site. The Prime Minister should be very careful before he forces this exhibition on the people of Australia. What are we likely to gain by it? It is only four years since the great Wembley exhibition was held in London. Is it advisable to have another Empire Exhibition in Australia a year or two hence ? Surely, if we derived any benefit from the Wembley exhibition, it should not be necessary now to incur further expenditure on an exhibition in Australia. We spent a great deal of money at Wembley, and the Australian Court, we were told, made a fine display of Australian goods. It advertised Australia. I hope this country gained some benefit from that expenditure. Recently a delegation comprising 600 Scottish Australian citizens, left Australia to revisit their native landand make known to the world the wonderful opportunities which Australia offers to immigrants. That delegation took with it a considerable number of exhibits of Australian products, and it was reported a day or two ago that no fewer than 25,000 persons in one day viewed the exhibits which this delegation displayed in Edinburgh. That delegation, I suggest, is providing one of the best advertisements Australia could have, and it is costing the Government nothing. Similarly the Empire Parliamentary Delegation, 1 which visited Australia recently, will give a useful advertisement to this country.
I do not wish to labour my opposition to the Government’s proposal, but I cannot help repeating that it is unthinkable that the Government should contemplate an expenditure of £500,000 on an exhibition when there is so much unemployment in Australia, and so many other useful avenues of expenditure. If the exhibition would stimulate the demand for Australian goods, I might not object to the proposal; but in the main the exhibitors will be competitors of Australian manufacturers. I should like to hear what the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Ley) has to say on this subject. The Government will be well advised to postpone consideration of the measure. In this time of financial stress, we should not authorize expenditure, on such a project, but should “ ca’canny,” as the Scotch say, in regard to the project. I protest very strongly against the proposal to use the Centennial Park. The many thousands of citizens of Sydney who use that park for pleasure and relaxation from day to day, strongly resent the proposal of the Government. I hope, therefore, that, if the exhibition must be held, some other location will be found for it. I for one will do all I can to prevent the park from being used. The Woollahra and the Randwick Municipal Councils are both strongly opposed to the scheme so far as it relates to the use of the Centennial Park. Once buildings are placed on land dedicated for public use, as a rule they remain there. I was in Prince Alfred Park not long ago and had a look at the building which was erected there for exhibition purposes many years ago. One of the conditions upon which it was built was that when the exhibition was over it would be removed; but the huge brick building, with its iron roof, is still there as an eyesore, I believe, therefore, that if the Centennial Park is used for the proposed exhibition, the building used for that purpose will be allowed to remain, and the natural beauty of the park will be destroyed.
– Is not this a matter tor representation to the New South Wales Government ?
– Yes ; but the Prime Minister has told us that Mr. Lang, when Premier of that State, consented to the use of Centennial Park for the exhibition. I have read the minutes of the Premiers’ Conference very carefully, and failed to find in them any reference to Centennial Park as the probable location for the exhibition. I conclude, therefore, that Mr. Lang did not agree to the park being set aside for that purpose.
– He may have given his consent subsequently.
– Mr. Lang went out of office shortly after the Premiers’ Conference. I agree with the honorable member that this is really a matter for the Government of New South Wales, but Mr. ‘Bavin is keeping step’, with th,Nationalist party. ‘
– It is better to be in step than out of step with the people.
– In this matter Mr. Bavin is not in step with the people, because it has noi yet been discussed in the New South Wales Parliament. The debate will take place when the Government submits a proposal to grant permission for the use of the park, and to vote £100,000 towards the cost of holding the exhibition. I believe that if legal action is taken by the municipalities most concerned, it will be shown that the Government has no authority to permit a park that has been dedicated to the use and enjoyment of the people of New South Wales to he taken as the site for an exhibition. I shall oppose the bill, and I feel sure that the people of New South Wales will approve the action of all those who vote against it.
.- The objects of the proposed exhibition are well known, and therefore need not be re-stated. There are, however, one or two points related to the proposal to which I desire to refer. In the first place, I consider that the contribution towards the cost of the exhibition proposed to be made by the Government of New South Wales, which State will be the chief beneficiary under the scheme, is totally inadequate. For this reason I am loth to support a contribution or guarantee by the Commonwealth of £500,000. Let me, hy way of comparison, refer to what took place in connexion with the holding of the Panama Exposition in San Francisco in 3915. In 1910 there was a movement in the United State of America to hold an exposition to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, which gives communication between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. I understand that 1932 is the year selected for the holding of the proposed exhibition in Sydney to celebrate the opening of the harbour bridge, which, it is thought, will be finished then. The people of New Orleans took the view that the exhibition should be held on the Atlantic end of the canal; the people of San Francisco were not willing to fall in with that arrangement. They contended that the canal was built for the specific purpose of enabling the American fleet to pass quickly from one ocean to the other for the protection of the western coast. Consequently they made a claim for the holding of the exhibition in their city. The Congress of the United States of America was loth to favour one city as against the other, but allowed it to be definitely understood that it would give its aid to the city which itself showed the greatest determination to secure the holding of an exhibition within its boundaries. At the end of 1910 the merchants of San Francisco held a meeting one lunch hour which was presided over by the present mayor of the city. Within 25 minutes those present had donated £500,000 for the purpose of holding an exhibition. The State legislature subsequently considered the matter, and by resolution gave a guarantee to the Government of the United States of . America that it would not be called upon to pay .a single penny towards the cost of the exhibition if it were held in San Francisco. When the matter subsequently came before Congress it was stated that the city of San Francisco, the county of San Francisco, and the state of California had promised to find £3,500,000 towards the cost of the exhibition, whereas the report in the interests of New Orleans was that only £1,600,000 had been promised. Congress therefore decided by a fair majority to give its official sanction to the holding of the exhibition in San Francisco. It said in effect, “Invitations to foreign nations to participate in the exhibition may be sent out in our name and we will guarantee that the exhibitors who come here will be treated with all the respect due to them.’’ It also made provision that all exhibits brought into the country for the purpose of the exhibition should be admitted duty free under bond.
The honorable member for South Sydney has mentioned the necessity of providing buildings. For the purpose of the Panama Exposition the Government of the United States of America erected certain building on its own land at Fort Mason and the Presidio, military reserves which correspond with the military reservation at North Head, Sydney. The buildings were so designed that they vere afterwards useful for military purposes.
I contend that if the exhibition is to be held in Sydney the citizens of that city and the people of New South Wales, who will chiefly benefit by it, should foot the bill and that the people of Australia should not be asked to pledge themselves to the extent of £500,000. It has been pointed out that the Government may not be called upon to find this money, but on the other hand it may be necessary for some such amount to be available to settle accounts after the exhibition has been held. Returns from exhibitions of this character held throughout the world indicate that to a large extent those who attend come from within a radius of 500 miles of the exhibition. If this exhibition is held in Sydney very few people from Western Australia will be able to attend it, for not very many will be able to afford the expense of the trip. As the honorable member for South Sydney has pointed out, hotelkeepers, the providers of popular entertainment, and the general trading community of Sydney will benefit to a marked degree by the holding of the exhibition, and the people of that city should be prepared to pay a little more towards the cost of it than they seem inclined to do at present.
The advertising value of such an exhibition has been mentioned. One has only to look at the hoardings in our capital cities and elsewhere to realize that the manufacturers of proprietary goods consider expenditure on advertising to be vital. I think more money is spent in this way now than 25 years ago, even by well-established concerns, and for the very good reason that the returns justify and require it. To stop advertising is to die. That maxim may be applied both to private business and to that of a nation. We must advertise our goods. Canada has never ceased to advertise her products, and I believe that she owes a great deal of her success to that policy.
I support the bill, but I recommend that if possible, the people of New South Wales, who will chiefly benefit by the holding of the exhibition, should be asked to put their hands a little further into their pockets to meet the expense of it.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) on his just criticism of this proposal of the Prime Minister. I think we are entitled to call it a proposal of the Prime Minister, for without consulting the people of Australia or this Parliament he agreed at the Imperial Conference to hold an exhibition in Australia.
– I said that Australia had in contemplation the holding of an exhibition.
– Is the Prime Minister Australia? To my knowledge no public meetings of any kind authorized the right honorable gentleman to make his announcement at the Imperial Conference. No organized bodies had even been consulted in the matter. Certainly Parliament had not been approached. I submit that the right honorable gentleman has not treated Parliament fairly in regard to this proposal. It should have been consulted before the Prime Minister pledged the nation to an expenditure of £500,000.
I agree with those honorable members who have said that the persons who will chiefly benefit by the holding of this exhibition should be asked to bear a small proportion of the loss which will be incurred. It has been claimed that the primary industries of Australia will benefit considerably if this exhibition is held. I disagree with that view. Our butter, cheese, meat, wheat, canned and dried fruits and other primary products are already sufficiently advertised in Australia. What is needed is a more extensive advertising of them overseas so that we may dispose of our exportable surplus to better advantage than at present. The holding of this exhibition will not have any effect in that regard.
– There is room for local expansion in cotton and some other primary industries.
– That is a pertinent interjection, but I suggest to the honorable member that our primary industries, both new and old, are advertised more effectively at the annual shows held in the capital cities of the Commonwealth by the Royal Agricultural Societies than they would be by the holding of this exhibition.
– That is only local advertising.
– Quite so; but I submit that the holding of this exhibition would give us little other than local advertising, and this can be done better through the permanent organizations which are already operating in the Commonwealth. A practical demonstration of almost every important branch of our manufacturing industries is usual at the annual shows. One of the most interesting exhibits I have seen at a Royal Show for some time was the cigarette-making plant in operation at the Sydney Show last year. I am informed that the same machine has been on exhibition for the last two years in Sydney and Melbourne. The manufacture of tubular knitted goods, hosiery, and so on is also demonstrated on these occasions, and I recently saw a first-class exhibition of brewery machinery in motion. Surely honorable members do not imagine that it would be possible even on the 500 acres available at the Centennial Park, to give a working demonstration of every, manufacturing process. It would take a considerably larger area than that to hold a quarter of the machinery necessary to manufacture the goods that would be displayed there if the proposed exhibition were held. Apparently this is an imperial stunt by the Prime Minister, who is noted for his Empire vision and his desire to be considered a great imperial statesman. That is indeed a particularly fine attitude to adopt, particularly, when it costs him nothing. It may seem very well for the right honorable gentleman or anybody else to get glorification out of this exhibition at the expense of the people of Australia, but I, for one, refuse to countenance that. The estimate of the cost of the exhibition has not been checked.
– The people attending the exhibition will be able to appreciate the true value of foreign goods that are sold here when they see marked on them a selling price minus the duty.
– I wonder why it is that the honorable member foi Swan is looking so kindly at this proposal.
– I have not yet spoke , on the bill.
– I assume, from his interjection, that he is a supporter of the bill. Although I hold views different from his, I cannot but admire his unceasing vigilance of the finances of
Australia. His arguments in many instances are certainly based on wrong grounds. They are parsimonious in character and follow mad economic avenues, but generally speaking, he is found erring on the side of carefulness. Judging by his interjection, he has apparently blessed this scheme.
– I have strong objections to many portions of the bill.
– Evidently the honorable member believes that to educate the people on fiscalism, it is necessary to illustrate to them through the agency of an Empire exhibition, the competency of the workers of other parts of the world to supply the needs of Australia, and he is prepared to expend £500,000, not of his own money, but of that of the people, in demonstrating that fallacy.
– The exhibition might even be worth that, although I do not say that I favour it.
– It is wrong to tax the people in order to hold an Empire exhibition in a city of one State of the Commonwealth. A glorified shopping era of six months is proposed, with special application to the advertising and popularizing of goods not manufactured in Australia. The Prime Minister has stated that the proposal has received the blessing of the manufacturers of Australia. He may be truthful and in earnest, but I personally cannot agree with his summing up of the position. I doubt whether the ideal of an Empire exhibition, such as is in the minds of the Prime Minister and those who are sponsoring this scheme, will be realized. It wil! be found that quite a large amount of the capital represented by the companies patronizing the exhibition will be foreign capital. We shall have, for instance, a great display of motor cars. I venture to say that the motor car section will be 90 per cent, foreign. The Ford Motor Company is an American firm, but it has for purposes best known to itself, branches operating in Canada and Great Britain. Therefore, we shall have at the exhibition that company in all its glory represented as one of the buttresses of the commercial world. We shall have the Chrysler Company, which has recently absorbed the Dodge Company in order to take advantage of the preference which this government extends to British manufacturers. General Motors will be here in its glory, and I have no doubt that English manufacturers will also be here, but I venture to say that by far the greatest proportion of the motor car section at the exhibition will owe its existence to foreign capital.
– Will not those concerned return to their respective countries with some knowledge of Australian manufactures ?
– It has been stated that people from all parts of the world will flock to this exhibition. I ask honorable members how many Australian people would go to Canada or England merely to see an exhibition in those countries? I venture to say that hot one member of this Parliament would go even to Western Australia merely to see an exhibition. I, personally, would not go to Melbourne to see an exhibition, or a show, unless I was interested in some particular manufacture exhibited there. I decline to believe that many people will come from other parts of the world to see the Empire exhibition at Sydney. Those who will come here will, as has been suggested by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis), take back to the countries in which they live, some knowledge of the manufactures of Australia, but they will be only the employees of oversea firms advertising their goods at this exhibition. Few people will come to the exhibition from England, Canada or South Africa. It is absurd for any one to claim that people will travel 12,000 miles just to see tires, tubes, furniture, cotton and other goods that are manufactured in and outside Australia. If the desire of the Government is that our goods should be advertised, it is going the wrong way to bring that about.
It is very doubtful whether this exhibition will’ cost only £500,000. The honorable member for South Sydney Mr. E. Riley) has clearly indicated that the expenditure will be considerably more than that. It is of no use honorable members saying that our liabilities will not exceed £500,000. This exhibition is Bruce’s baby, and it will have to be carried by the people of Australia. I venture to say that if any deficit has to be met, every honorable member will be only too anxious that the fair name of Australia shall not be defamed by a refusal to recognize its liabilities. We are to incur a liability the extent of which is little known. The Prime Minister’s speech, when introducing the ‘bill, was full .of generalities and suppositions. It contained no facts or materials upon which to base estimates. The honorable member for South Sydney has apparently probed far more deeply into the question of our probable liability, and if the Prime Minister has any further information he should supply it to honorable members. He has mentioned the sum of £750,000 as the probable revenue to be received from the exhibition. There can be only two sources of revenue; first the rentals for pavilions and lands, and secondly the admission fees. We have to take the Prime Minister’s estimate or leave it. We have no means for checking it.
There is a specific provision in the bill to prevent us from ascertaining what the expenditure on the exhibition will be. It is deliberately designed to prevent any investigation by a responsible body, and to my mind is one of the “ strongest “ things that the Prime Minister or the Government has tried to put over this House. A clause deliberately lays it down that the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act and the Committee of Public Accounts Act shall not apply in relation to works to be constructed by the Exhibition Commission. That body is to consist of a commissioner and an assistant commissioner, and they are to be given a blank cheque signed by the Prime Minister on behalf of the people of Australia. Apparently there is to be no protection to the community against waste of money. The total expenditure on the exhibition will be £1,250,000, and that expenditure will be controlled by two commissioners. We do not know who are to be appointed to these . positions, but we have heard rumours as to who the commissioner is to be. I am not prepared to agree to any provision for an expenditure of £1,250,000 without this Parliament having the right of checking the estimate? of works.
– If that were remedied, would the honorable member be satisfied?
– No. I have made my position clear. I am against the expenditure of even £500,000, because I foresee no return to the people of Australia. To spend money in advertising goods only to our own people is a waste of money. In view of the financial stringency, I should even be against the expenditure for advertising our goods overseas. If the desire of the Government is to advertise our goods and not to gain glorification, let it advertise among our potential customers and the people who consume our goods overseas. There is no need to advertise our goods and products in Australia. It is interesting to compare the attitude of the Government towards those who are to control the exhibition, and whose financial operations are not to be investigated, with that it displayed towards trade unionists, who, under the elaborate machinery in a measure now before Parliament, are compelled to appoint certified accountants to audit their books. Although £1,250,000 is to be spent on the proposed exhibition, no such audit is to be made, an extraordinary contrast in the provisions of the two bills.
I have frequently visited the Centennial Park, which is one of the most beautiful parks in Australia, and although a portion of it is still in its natural state, much of it has been planted with lawns, hedges, roseries and ornamental gardens of all descriptions. Those privileged to use that park and to appreciate its beauty would be very reluctant to see any portion of it destroyed, as it would be, by the holding of an exhibition. Sketch plans have been prepared - I do not know on whose authority - showing the whole area of the park and the portion to be used for exhibition purposes. From these plans it will be noticed that instead of utilizing that portion which is still in its natural state, and consists of sand hills, grass and trees, land which could be improved in preparing the ground for an exhibition, it is proposed to utilize the most ornamental portion. According to the plan the commission in erecting the necessary buildings will interfere with the. present main avenues of the park, and beautiful palms and lawns and roseries and garden plots, which are always a blaze of colour will be destroyed. It is proposed to utilize the best portion of the park, which has taken 40 years to develop, although ample space is available in the eastern corner on which to hold the exhibition.
The people have certain rights in this matter, and governments, irrespective of their power, should not interfere with the rights and privileges of the people.
The history of the Centenial Park has been traced by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E.Riley) who said that it was dedicated to the people of Australia. The whole area, which consists of about 500 acres, is to be practically closed to the public for twelve months.
– For a longer period.
– For at least twelve months. As soon as the commission begins to function and the vandalism commences, the parks will be closed to the people until the surplus buildings have been removed. Even when the exhibition is concluded and the park is restored, it will be at least eighteen months or two years before it will be available to the public for recreation.
The business instinct of the Prime Minister is apparent in this instance, as he does not wish the exhibition to be held in other than a closely populated area. I do not know if the right honorable gentleman has declined to inspect other sites. If he is considering this matter solely from a financial viewpoint his action is doubtless correct. His policy is one which would be adopted by a business man but not by a statesman whose duty it is to preserve the breathing spaces in our cities. There are I believe at least six other suitable sites within a short distance of existing transportation services, and with which connexion could readily be made by looplines. There are suitable areas towards Maroubra and Long Bay, where the Commonwealth owns land, and on which there are many miles of sand hills which could be graded and planted, in preparing a suitable site for an exhibition. There are other parks that could also be improved.
– Why was Hyde Park, in London, not used for the last exhibition there?
– Did the British authorities offer Hyde Park or any of the other beautiful parks near London, for the Wembley Exhibition? That exhibition was held 12 miles from London.
– That was why it was more or less a failure; it was too far away from the densely populated areas.
– If the distance from the centres of population is to be a determining factor, it is a wonder that the Prime Minister has not suggested that the exhibition should be held in Hyde Park, Sydney, or in the Domain. No one would think of suggesting that Hyde Park, the Domain or Macquarie Point should be used for such a purpose. But the Prime Minister is impudent enough to demand that the Centennial Park shall be desecrated by vandals for the benefit of a few overseas manufacturers.
I am opposed to the bill, and I hope that honorable members will carefully investigate the proposal in order to see if Australia is likely to derive advantage from it. I ask them to consider carefully whether we should allow the sum of £1,250,000 to be spent without supervision, in view of the investigation which is now being conducted into the administration of the Federal Capital Commission, particularly in relation to the renovations at Yarralumla and the official residence of the Prime Minister. Notwithstanding that the financial transactions of that commission are subject to investigation by the Public Public Works Committee, and also by the Auditor-General, evidence has been disclosedwhich makes us wonder what is happening.
– There has not yet been any report from the Public Accounts Committee.
– No, but we can judge from the evidence which is being given.
– We cannot come to a determination until the inquiry is closed.
– I remind the honorable member of the cost incurred in renovating Yarralumla as an instance of what is happening; but I do not wish to go into that matter just now. The point I am endeavouring to bring before honorable members, is that although certain disclosures have been made by the
Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee, who have conducted investigations into the operations of a commission over which Parliament has some control, it is now proposed to hand over to a commissioner and an assistant commissioner, authority to spend £1,250,000 without parliamentary control. I am not prepared to give any commissioners such powers as are provided in this bill, and I hope the House will reject it.
Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
.- Like other honorable members on this side of the House, I am prepared to discuss the bill on its merits but I am not ready to accept it on the mere recommendation of the Government. A large sum of money is involved, and we must consider how it can be expended to the best advantage. One wonders why the Treasurer has been cajoled into accepting a proposal of this kind. What is the object of the exhibition? Is it to advertise Australian industries? If so. and if this be the best way to spend £500,000 for that purpose, the proposition is justified. But a little examination will show that this expenditure will be of slight benefit to Australian manufacturers. Whatever may be the fiscal opinions of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and myself, we have to recognize that protection is the settled policy of Australia, and we must look at the exhibition in the light of that fact and ask ourselves how it will help Australian industries. I support the contention that the agricultural shows held throughout the Commonwealth by well-organized societies at a cost of a few thousands pounds each, give better value than an exhibition such as is proposed could give. If the Government is anxious to promote the sale of Australian products within the Commonwealth, I direct attention to the fact that arrangements are already in train for an exhibition to be held in Western Australia to celebrate the centenary of the settlement of that State. It is not a manufacturing State, and if the people of the eastern States are anxious to hold that market for Australian secondary products, any money to be expended on an exhibition could be well spent there. But even if that bait were dangled before me by the Government,, I should still regard this proposed expenditure as unwise. It cannot advertise Australian industries. The reports of the Tariff Board show convincingly that in the iron and steel industry our most formidable competitors are British manuf acturers. I do not wish to be misunderstood; if we must import goods, let us give preference to our kinsmen overseas. But the manufacturers of the United Kingdom, with characteristic individualism, are effectively advertising their own wares in Australia. That was illustrated by the recent exhibition in Melbourne, and I think they may well be left to take care of themselves. What other portion of the Empire are we to consider? Is it Canada, which even under the reciprocal tariff treaty bought only £819,000 worth of Australian goods in 1925-26 whilst we imported from that dominion double that value ? The danger of a rapidly increased importation from Canada is very real. Nearly every Ford motor that is imported is stamped “ Made in Canada “ ; that is a subtle appeal to our British sentiment, but we know very well that the Canadian factory is only a pup of the huge parent organization that dominates the world from Detroit, United States of America. Notwithstanding our endeavours to coax the Canadian people to trade reciprocally with us, our exports to South Africa are worth two and a half times as much as those to Canada, and even Egypt - which is not a British possession - buys from us twice as much as do the people in the northern dominion.
If the Commonwealth Government is prepared to expend £500,000 on the development of Australian trade, I can suggest ways in which better value, can be got for the money. Having travelled extensively, I am convinced that the market which promises most to Australian industries is the Far East. In the Netherland, Indies, Malaya, Ceylon, India, Japan, Hong Kong and the Phillipines are markets that can be rapidly extended if our manufacturers and primary producers will systematically cater for it-
Portion of the £500,000 could be profitably set aside for subsidizing captains of industry to visit those countries and study the wants of their people. The efforts of Messrs. Sheaf and. Little, Government Trade Commissioners in the Far East, yielded little result in the development of Australian trade. The Trade Commissionership in the United States of America has not done nearly as much as we anticipated, and even the Trade Commissioner in Paris has not done as much to promote the sale of Australian goods on the continent as was expected. In the United Kingdom a different system is in operation; Australian goods are extensively and methodically advertised by the Development and Migration Commission in co-operation with the British Government. The people who are engaged in our industries are best fitted to push the sale of their own goods, and if the Government would make known its desire to assist mann facturers and primary producers to increase the exports to the Far East, it would do infinitely more good than by spending money on an exhibition. The total export trade of the Far East was worth in 1925-26 about £18,750,000, which is only £200,000 more than in 1921-22. If, however, we deduct the large increase in the quantity of wool sent to South-eastern Asia, our far-eastern trade has decreased by £1,300,000. That is a matter that might well claim the attention of the Minister for Markets. Most of the money to be expended on the exhibition in Sydney will go to the hotelkeepers and restaurateurs to swell their already fat banking accounts. Our principal exports to the Far East are - biscuits and butter in large quantities, jams and jellies, which have been decreasing, flour, and meats, which also show a decrease. If the Government, instead of starting a big circus in Sydney, would adopt legitimate methods for the promotion of trade, it would render more help to the Australian people. It is essential that the men engaged in industries should be kept in constant touch with their markets, and it is of advantage to study how Britain developed her trade with China. She first established herself on the rocky island of Hong Kong; it had only a few fishing villages, but between it and the mainland was the nucleus of one of the most remarkable harbours in the world. The old-time methods of the British traders were essentially honest. In dealing with the Chinese they had to match their wits against the keenest traders in the world, not excepting our friends from Armenia and Palestine. There was only one means of dealing with them, and that was to trade honestly, and the British traders succeeded in establishing for themselves in China, a credit for integrity that has not been equalled in any part of the world. Even to-day in Hong Kong the method of doing business between Chinese and British merchants is not for one party to dine and wine the other into a mellow and pliable state of mind; but to sit- down to a Chinese dinner, talk about everything under the sun except the object in mind, and finally, at the propitious moment broach the subject of the transaction which might involve hundreds of thousands of dollars. Always the merchant’s word is his bond. Rarely is a bargain or an arrangement committed to paper, but never in the history of British trade relations with the Chinese have these verbal agreements been broken; no matter how much one party stood to lose, recourse was never had to the law courts, although in Australia that expedient is not infrequently resorted to even in regard to written transactions.
It would be far better if this expenditure was devoted to the expansion of Australian trade directly rather than by means of an exhibition in an already too greatly swollen capital city. The experience of other countries has been that these exhibitions are not beneficial. Big losses were incurred on those that were held in St. Louis and Chicago; while the great exhibition of 1862 at the Crystal Palace, London, which was then the centre of the word’s commerce and manufactures taught other countries a lesson different from that which was intended. The French, the Germans and the Americans visited that exhibition, not to buy British goods but to see wherein their own workmen could emulate the Britisher. The result’ was that finally they captured much of the trade that formerly was monopolized by Great Britain. Australia has nothing to gain by boosting the products of Canada.
The colonial exhibition at Wembley was an excellent idea; but this one will prove profitable only to those countries that wish to export their goods to Australia, and we shall be assisting them financially to achieve that object. It is one of the most futile proposals that has ever been brought before this chamber, and it is launched at a time when we can least afford the expenditure. I oppose the bill.
.- Presumably this proposal is put forward with the object of increasing our trade. We must, therefore, consider it from a business point of view, in its relation to the Commonwealth itself. The benefit derivable from an exhibition is admittedly an indirect one. It is supposed to benefit private traders and manufacturers by enlarging the knowledge of different countries regarding the goods that they respectively produce. At the present time the results are problematical. The indirect benefits that accrue from the expenditure of public money are liable to be overstated. If we overrun the constable in the expenditure of public funds to promote enterprises of this character it is likely that at some future date we shall have to increase our borrowings, or add to the taxation imposed upon the people, in order to make up the deficit. We are apt to look at the immediate expenditure and not the ultimate result: We are continually having impressed upon us the need for economy in both private and public finance. Large public works have been and are being suspended temporarily on account of the shortage of funds, although many of them would immediately and permanently benefit the finances of the Commonwealth. We should gravely consider, therefore, whether we should authorize the expenditure of £500,000 upon a project the results of which are extremely doubtful. Exhibitions in themselves are not, as a rule, a financial success. We were told this morning that the closing of the last exhibition in Sydney synchronized with a period of great depression in New South Wales, and that there was a similar outcome of the last big Melbourne Exhibition. Any great enterprise of this sort is apt to have that effect, because for a short period it induces a highly stimulated standard of expenditure which must be counteracted later by corresponding economy in both private and public finance. It is perfectly true that these exhibitions when they were first held did a great deal of good. The big exhibition of 1851 was immensely beneficial. It must be remembered, however, that the circumstances which then existed were altogether different from what they are to-day. In those days the nations were not in contact with each other to the extent that they are at the present time. The means whereby the people of the different countries could hold intercourse with each other and exchange their knowledge were very poor. The nations have since been brought into much closer contact, and the majority of persons who are engaged in industry or commerce are fully alive to the developments that take place in their particular lines in other parts of the world. If they were not, they would not be fit to engage in business, and would soon be driven to the wall by the competition they have to face. It is far better that business should be conducted along those lines - that there should be the continual stimulus of competition to compel every manufacturer or industrial leader to learn all he can and to meet fairly and squarely the competition of other countries, by increasing his own knowledge and skill, rather than by looking to government subsidies to prop up his inefficiency. The great Wembley exhibition was a big financial failure. The reason given this morning was that it was too remote from the city. Surely nobody can say that 12 miles is an appreciable distance in a huge area like that which the city of London covers ! We are all acquainted with the extraordinarily efficient means of communication that Londoners have at their command. The patronage was all that the promoters of the Wembley Exhibition could have desired ; yet a very heavy financial deficit was incurred, and the guarantors had to make it good. It is almost impossible to estimate what will be the direct return from an exhibition of this kind. I reiterate that in the present state of the public finances, we ought to consider the direct business results from the point of view of the public finances, taking the stand that for the moment this House is in the position of a business firm that proposes to invest a large sum of money and requires an appropriate return from it. The indirect benefits should not enter into our calculations, because they are too vague and indefinite. It is not possible to check, or to examine in any way, the estimates that are made of the probable returns.
– They are mere guess work.
– They must be guess work. We are justified in assuming that, like other exhibitions of the kind, it will not prove a financial success. If there is a deficit, who will have to meet it ? It is obvious that, as this is a Commonwealth Government enterprise, the revenues of the Commonwealth will eventually have to make good any deficit that is incurred. We cannot launch such a project, and, in the event of a financial failure, ask somebody else to “pay the piper.” On the other hand, if there is any benefit, either directly or indirectly, by whom will it be reaped? Chiefly, almost entirely, by the people of New South Wales, and especially of Sydney. I do not speak in any narrow sense when I say that. It is extraordinary that many of the objections to the bill that have been voiced this morning have come from representatives of New South Wales electorates. 1 gather that the people of New South Wales, and particularly Sydney, are by no means enthusiastic in regard to this proposal.
– The honorable member is quite right when he says that.
– If they are the only persons who will benefit, and they do not want the exhibition, surely no one else in Australia is likely to want it! I suppose that a large number of people who live in the other States of the Commonwealth, even if they do not visit Sydney with the specific intention of attending the exhibition, will at least try to make those visits, which they pay periodically to Sydney as the great pleasure resort of Australia, synchronize with the period during which the exhibition is being held; just as many tourists to England postponed their trip until the year in which the Wembley Exhibition was held. Those whom the exhibition attracts to Sydney from the other States will be largely of the tourist, pleasure seeking type, who will spend large sums of money . It would be very interesting to ascertain the exact amount that is spent every year in Sydney by those who visit that city from other parts of Australia.
The exhibition may benefit Sydney, but it will not benefit any of the other States. _ The traders of New South Wales may derive some benefit from it, but this I question very much. I can readily understand that the Premiers of the various States would not raise an objection to that proposal. Certainly I should not expect the Premier of New South Wales to object to it. Surely it would be worth while spending £100,000 of New South Wales money to have £500,000 of Commonwealth money expended in Sydney. I should say, therefore, that the Premier of New South Wales is on a pretty good wicket. I agree with the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) who said this morning that, as Sydney will benefit chiefly from the exhibition, the people of that city should” be called upon to pay a larger proportion of the cost. The proposed expenditure of New South Wales money is, indeed, a sprat to catch a mackerel. In the circumstances, one can understand why the Premier of New South Wales should agree to the proposal. One can understand also the attitude of the Premiers of other States. The project will cost them nothing, so why should they raise objection to it? I can see no logical reason, except the general ground of economy in the expenditure of public funds - which does not concern them, since the expenditure will come from the Commonwealth revenue - why they should be opposed to it. But the project directly concerns this House. As to the bill itself, it contains one or two provisions which, if altered or eliminated, may remove some of the objections to the measure. T share in the regret that has been expressed with regard to clause 25, which provides that expenditure under the bill shall not be the subject of inquiry by either the Public Works or the Public Accounts Committee. Some honorable members have expressed the view that even if an inquiry by the Public Works Committee will not be possible, the Public Accounts Committee, at all events, cannot be prevented from inquiry into the expenditure. In my opinion both committees are equally important; but in respect of this proposal, an inquiry by the Public Works Committee would, perhaps, be more effective than an investigation by the Public Accounts Committee, because the former body inquires into the works before they are undertaken to ascertain whether the expenditure contemplated is justified by the return, expected from it. In this sense the Public Works Committee exercise’s & very direct control. On the other hand, inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee, as a rule, is made only after the expenditure has been incurred, and, therefore, that committee can only expose errors that have been committed. The function of the Public Works Committee is- preventive, whereas the Public’ Accounts Committee is not. From every aspect, it is most desirable that there should be the closest examination of the proposed expenditure. The law lays it down that all proposed public works estimated to cost more than £25,000 shall be submitted to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report. I say, therefore, that it is a grave error to legislate, as is proposed in this bill, to provide that an expenditure of £500,000 of public money shall be entirely outside the purview of either of these committees. Again, so far as control of expenditure is concerned, there is not sufficient safeguarding of public funds by the appointment of only one commissioner and an assistant commissioner to regulate expenditure, without reference to any other checking authority. I do not wish to enlarge upon this point, as it may appear to have a personal aspect. I submit, in an entirely impersonal way, that it is a mistake and not in accordance with the regular practice, to allow one man to be responsible for the whole of the expenditure. As a rule, commissions comprising men of experience are appointed to conduct all the preliminary work and to keep down expenditure in connexion with exhibitions. Many such commissions in the past have included business men of proved ability. When the big Melbourne Exhibition was planned, the general manager of one of the large Melbourne banks was on the commission, and there were also a number of executive committees, comprising men of expert knowledge and special training in the control of such undertakings.
I do not wish to say much about the site. That has already been dealt with by the various speakers who have preceded me; but it has occurred to me that it is unusual and extraordinary that a big public park in the Sydney metropolitan area, set aside for the recreation of the people,, should be selected as a site for the exhibition. It will be out of use for six months or more - probably twelve months; but, as I stated by interjection this morning, any objection to the exhibition on these grounds should be directed to the New South Wales Government. If that Government has offered the park, I see no reason why blame should attach to the Commonwealth Government for taking advantage of such a generous
– The New South Wales Government did not offer it.
– Yes, it did.
– I assume that it was offered by the New South Wales Government for the purpose, and apart from the other considerations mentioned, I should say that it is a magnificent site, and I do not blame this Government for accepting it.
– The Commonwealth Government insisted upon the Centennial Park as the site for the exhibition.
– I understand that Centennial Park was one of a number of sites offered to the Government. If so, no blame can be attached to the Ministry if it insisted upon accepting the best of the sites offered. I suggest, therefore, that the New South Wales members, who are objecting to the proposal on these grounds, should make their protests to the New South Wales Government, so that responsibility for the site should rest upon the right shoulders.
On general grounds, I do not feel enthusiastic about the proposal. It is stated that the exhibition will encourage trade. I do not propose to go into that aspect of the matter, which I have often dealt with in this House. All I care to say now is that it is of little use for us to encourage trade by the holding of an exhibition in view of the fact that by our legislative acts we are deliberately placing all possible obstacles in the way of free intercourse between Australia and the rest of the world. Surely it is possible to devise a better, more direct and more commonsense method for the encouragement of trade than by the expenditure of £500,000 on an exhibition. I feel sure that the proposal has not received the full consideration that it deserves, and that the Government is undertaking an enterprise which might, perhaps, be justified in times of prosperity, but certainly is not justified at a time like the present, when, owing to financial stringency we are faced with a deficit in Commonwealth finances, and borrowing has to be restricted. On all hands we hear complaints of undue expenditure by the Government. I say, therefore, that it is most inopportune now to propose an expenditure of £500,000 on a luxury of this kind. The bill may undergo many changes in committee. In its present form I do not approve of it. I do not like the method of control. I do not like the provision that precludes inquiry by either the Public Works or the Public Accounts Committee; and unless some assurance is given later in the debate that these objectionable features will be eliminated, I shall strongly urge that the bill be withdrawn. If the provisions to which I have referred remain in the bill, I shall be reluctantly compelled to vote against it.
– It is hardly necessary for me to say that I am opposed to the proposal lock, stock, and barrel. Instead of its present title the bill should be called “A bill to hold an exhibition to advertise overseas goods at Australia’s expense.” That actually is what the exhibition will mean to Australia. I understand that the proposal has been before the caucus of the Ministerial party, and has received approval in that quarter.
– Ministerial supporters are upset about it.
– Some of them may be. I believe that certain members supporting the Government are opposed to the proposal, but feel that, having given their assent to it in caucus, they are now pledged to support it. They are in an unfortunate position in that they are not free to be influenced by arguments that may be adduced against the project, fu view of the serious state of the Commonwealth finances, and in view also of the fact that the exhibition will be of little or no value to Australia, an expenditure of £500,000 on it is, in my judgment almost criminal. Many urgent and overdue public works could be carried out for the sum mentioned, or even less. The Wembley Exhibition has been cited by the Prime Minister as an example of a successful venture from the point of view of advertising the products of a country. On this point I quote the following from the report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference of 1926 : -
As to the value of Empire exhibitions from a political or an economic standpoint, the sub-committee feels that there can be no room for doubt. Great . economic advantages accrued to the Empire as a whole, through the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. In assessing these advantages it is necessary to take into account, not merely, the orders, immediate or prospective, which may have been obtained by government organizations or private firms participating in the exhibition, but also the influence the exhibition exercised in stimulating the impulse towards buying within the Empire. The work done at Wembley was carried on by the Dunedin exhibition in New Zealand, which proved an unqualified success.
Practically every penny spent in exhibiting Australian products at Wembley was of benefit to this country, because the exhibition was held in close proximity to London, a city with 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 people, and in a country with a population of 40,000,000. It was, in fact, held in the centre of one of our best markets, and we did our best to show Australian goods as they had never previously been shown to the people of Great Britain. I believe that for the first time in Britain Australian butter was sold at that exhibition under its own brand. Honorable members are perhaps not aware that with the exception of our tinned meat and tinned fruits, which, of course, show distinctly their place of origin, little of Australia’s produce is known to the people of Great Britain as such. At Wembley, however, we had an opportunity to disclose to those who attended the exhibition what our real products were and to cultivate a real taste for Australian butter, frozen lamb, mutton or beef. Every year Great Britain buys from the outside world foodstuffs and raw materials to the value of £450,000,000. We realize, therefore, what a great benefit it was to Australia to be able to exhibit its produce at Wembley. The practically unexploited market in the east is infinitestimal in comparison with that in the British Isles. It is not comparing like with like to contrast the Wembley Exhibition with the proposed exhibition in Sydney. Little advantage will accrue to Australia through the holding of an exhibition in Australia.
– We had our chance at Wembley. Why not give the others a chance in Australia?
– All the Dominions took advantage of their chance at. Wembley, but I am waiting for someone to tell me what advantage is likely to accrue to Australian manufacturers or workers through the holding of an exhibition in Sydney. Anyone who wishes to dispose of goods exhibits them to people who are likely to buy them. It is true that woolbuyers all over the world come to Australia to buy our wool; because Australia is one of the greatest wool producing countries in the world; but buyers of other produce with which we are in competition with the rest of the world do not come here to see or purchase it. If we wish to sell our goods abroad we must take them to the great millions who need them and display them there. Shiploads of people from Great Britain are not likely to come to the Sydney exhibition of 1932, to look at our exhibits with a viewto purchasing Australian products. We ought to take a leaf out of the book of those who do their business on proper lines. When the great firm of Vestey Brothers wanted to place Argentine chilled meat on the British market it did not ask the people of Great Britain to go to an exhibition in the Argentine and look at the meat it had on display there. It had special ships built to take its meat to Great Britain. This firmwas formerly operating in the Northern Territory and still has leases there.
– Who shut up its works ?
– Vestey Brothers did.
– When the true history of that firm’s operations is known, it will be seen that there was a very good purpose in what it did. At any rate,’ it secured what it required in Australia - a large area under leasehold.
– Order !
– It is useless for the honorable member for Bass to make excuses.
– I am not making excuses.
– I have not time to receive the honorable member’s apologies. Let him make them to honorable members who sit beside him.
– I am not apologizing to the honorable member or to anyone else.
– Order ! The honorable member must know that constant interjections are disorderly.
– The firm of Vestey Brothers opened hundreds of butchers’ shops in Great Britain for the display of its chilled meat and in that way scored a tremendous advantage over Australian exporters. Other firms have adopted a similar policy. I merely mention these matters to illustrate what big business firms do when they wish to bring before the consuming public the goods they have to sell. I have already mentioned what a splendid market Great Britain affords to the producers of Australia. The only way in which we can get the people of Great Britain to buy our products is by displaying them at the doors of the British consumers. We could very well devote a portion of this £500,000 to doing something on the lines suggested by Mr. Baldwin when he was the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. He said -
To spend money in the direction suggested would be a good thing. What is to prevent us, as a government in Britain, co-operating with the overseas dominions governments to establish a system whereby there could be a splendid distribution of dominions’ produce throughout the United Kingdom.
That is the only way in which Australia can thoroughly and effectively compete with the great opponents it has in the British market.
The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) has interjected that most of the Australian State Premiers have concurred in the proposal to hold this exhibition. I find, on referring to thespeech of the Prime Minister, that at the Conference with the State Premiers, the Premier of Victoria-
– Was noncommital.
– Yes, and the other State Premiers, with the exception of the Premier of New South Wales, gave only a general assent to the proposal. Presumably, finding that the exhibition was not to cost their States anything, they did not wish to appear churlish towards New South Wales. The question of a site has yet to be determined. Mr. Bavin, the Premier of New South Wales, has promised that Centennial Park will be placed at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government only with the sanction of the State Parliament, and I believe that if the State Parliament does give itsconsent it will be by the narrowest of majorities. If Centennial Park has been set aside for a specific purpose for the people of New South Wales, I question very much whether it can be used as a site for an exhibition. That, however, is a point to be settled by the legal fraternity. I am inclined to think that the opinion of the Premier of Victoria is that money should not be spent in this direction. He and. the other State Premiers know how hard it is for them to get along at the present time. We start off, therefore, with this exhibition having only the lukewarm support of the States.
Some of us remember the aftermath of the past exhibitions held in Australia.I am not prepared to say that the last great exhibition in Melbourne was responsible for the awful depression that almost immediately followed it, but it was certainly a contributing factor.
– In what way?
– If millions of pounds are spent on any project in a big city, it leads to the aggregation of people in that city. People flock there looking for work, which is available for a short period only, and this leads to an inflation in land values. The great financial collapse of the nineties, which affected Victoria in particular, was mainly due to the excessive gambling in land that preceded it, but the Centennial Exhibition held in Melbourne induced a certain amount of centralization which, as we all know, leads to a most unhealthy state of affairs in any community.
– Do secondary industries lead to congested centres of population
– To a certain extent it cannot be avoided. One of Australia’s largest manufacturers of agricultural implements moved his factory from an inland town to a place near the seaboard.
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in discussing that matter.
– I consider that the £500,000 proposed to be spent on this exhibition could be better employed. For instance, the Public Works Committee has recently investigated a proposal to spend £120,000 on Commonwealth offices in Sydney. Portion of this £500,000 could be better spent, from the taxpayer’s stand-point, in completing that work. As soon as the building is ready for occupation, the saving in rent will be greater than the amount required to pay interest and sinking fund on the expenditure involved. The proposal to spend £500,000 on an exhibition is nothing but extravagance, particularly at a time when at least 100,000 persons are unemployed in Australia. Surely this money, if we have it to spare, should be used at once to give some relief to the thousands of distressed families in this so-called bright and sunny land of ours. I live in the Prime Minister’s electorate, and I know the sufferings that the fruit growers are experiencing there. They have reached such a distressing stage that soon they will be looking for. work on the roads and elsewhere. Yet their own representative in this Parliament is proposing to expend £500,000 on an Empire exhibition! There are in that electorate others besides the fruit growers who are suffering through unemployment. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. .Riley), gave us some interesting information, about which the Prime Minister apparently knows very little. He showed conclusively that, if during the six months that this exhibition will be in existence, the attendance is 30,000,000, the admission fees, if fixed at a moderate scale, will amount to at least £100,000 less than the estimate of the Prime Minister. There will no doubt be a big deficit. This huge expenditure is ill-timed and unnecessary; and will be of no benefit to Australia. At the close of the exhibition it will be found that the expenditure, instead of being £500,000, will be more like £1,000,000. The Government is living in an atmosphere of glorious optimism, but I take a sensible view of the financial aspect of this proposal. During this exhibition, there will be a lavish entertaining of distinguished visitors. Money will be spent in profusion to. satisfy the guzzling propensities of a lot of globetrotters. There will be many other contingencies, which we do not foresee. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) referred in glowing terms to the San Francisco exhibition. He frequently uses an American illustration or introduces an American touch into the debates. Like that honorable member, I have a great deal of sympathy with and brotherly feeling for cousin Jonathan. The Americans, in my opinion, are amongst our best friends. Our countries front the Pacific Ocean, and our interests are identical. I feel certain that America would come to our assistance if Australia were in dire peril. The San Francisco exhibition was international in character, whereas we are proposing to hold an Empire exhibition, which- is naturally limited in its scope. America has a population of 110,000,000, and the San Francisco international exhibition attracted thousands of people from all parts of the world. We shall not have such a clientele at the Empire exhibition at Sydney. The honorable member for Oxley made special reference to the number of patriotic citizens living in close proximity to the San Francisco exhibition. The Prime Minister has made this statement: - .
In connexion with Wembley, we had a number of guarantors to cover any loss on the exhibition; but that arrangement caused a great deal of friction. After a full examination the Government decided that a direct appropriation was the’ best means of financing this exhibition. The bill, therefore, appropriates the sum of £500,000.
Clause 11 of the bill provides that a person who is an uncertificated bankrupt or insolvent shall be incapable of being appointed commissioner or assistant commissioner. Evidently, that is one of the safeguards that the Government has provided in the bill against wasteful expenditure. Sub-clause 3 of clause 21, provides that the Consolidated Revenue Fund is to be appropriated to the extent of £500,000. No mention is made of how the money is to be raised, whether on the London or New York market, or out of the public fund. Sub-clause 1 of clause 22, provides that the commission may, with the consent of the Treasurer, arrange with any banking corporation in Australia to make to the commission advances not exceeding £300,000. It has to be remembered that interest will have to be paid on that money.
– Does the honorable member consider that that money should be advanced without interest?
– No ; but when the Government talks about appropriating £500,000, it makes no allowance for the interest charge on that amount. That is one of the many extras which the taxpayers of thiscountry will have to bear. The only financial supervision of this expenditure is to be carried out by the Auditor-General. The Prime Minister may say that that is a sufficient guarantee against waste, but let as examine the bill. Sub-clause 2 of clause 23 provides that the AuditorGeneral shall furnish to the commission a copy of any report made by him after any inspection or audit. As this Parliament is sanctioning the expenditure of £500,000, it is only right that the AuditorGeneral’s report should be furnished through the Treasurer to this Parliament. Clause 24 contains a list of exhibits and materials which are to be free from customs duties. It includes exhibits, building materials, tools, and transport plant, articles for use in decorations and the installation of machinery, samples for free distribution, and such other goods as are notified by the Minister in the Gazette. Take, for instance, the item of building material. Of course, we may wish to bring here some particularly ornamental timbers that are grown in other parts of the Empire; but, apart from exhibits, why should we drop our tariff walls to allow of the introduction of foreign timber with which to build stores and other works? Suitable timber could be obtained in Australia for this purpose. I certainly do not appreciate a provision of that kind. Under the law as it stands at present, any firm in Great Britain, America, or Canada, or even in the other dominions, has to pay duty on any printed catalogue of its goods that is sent to Australia. The printers and publishers of this country are protected to that extent, but under the bill catalogues are to be admitted free. That is quite unnecessary. It is quite likely that firms will send to this country, free of duty, catalogues which have no relation at all to their exhibits, and it will need a watchful eye to protect the customs revenue. The bill also proposes to preclude the PublicWorks Committee and the Public Accounts Committee from inquiring into any expenditure incurred both before and after the exhibition. It is quite likely that, if that clause is passed, those committees will be precluded from making any investigations at all respecting the exhibition. The Public Works Committee cannot act except by resolution of this Parliament, but the Public Accounts Committee is in a different position. I admit, as the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) has stated, that many of the inquiries of the Public Accounts Committee have taken place after the expenditure has been incurred, but I submit that very often its inquiries have led to the saving of considerable sums of money. The Public Works Committee should have full power to investigate any work, in connexion with this exhibition, that is estimated to cost not less than £25,000. The Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner should not be allowed to sanction works without hindrance or supervision; that would be unfair to this Parliament. We have appointed parliamentary committees, and they have rendered a useful service to this country. During the first three years that I was a member of the Public Works Committee its inquiries led to an immense saving in expenditure. It is in the interests of this country to have such investigations. Projected railways and public works are inquired into by these committees, the members of which, and particularly their secretaries, have become expert at their work. Their qualifications are such that they are able to render very valuable service to the Commonwealth, and they should in this instance be associated with any investigation which may be necessary in this connexion. In this instance, however, these two committees are to be swept aside by an act of this Parliament. I do not know whether the Prime Minister will consent to an amendment when the measure is in committee, to remove the embargo placed upon these two bodies; but the inclusion of this clause is practically a violation of an act of Parliament.
I have already referred to the position which may arise as a result of the introduction of printed catologues, free of duty, which will either be distributed or sold in tens of thousands to the people of Australia. A British firm may send out some of those voluminous catalogues which are produced annually for them, the printing of which could readily be done in Australia. I have no hesitation in saying that there are printing establishments in Melbourne and Sydney that can produce catalogues second to none in the world. That is why I am entering a strong protest against the tariff wall being removed in this instance. British manufacturers will send their goods to Australia and display them at the exhibition in the best possible manner with the view, of course, of obtaining additional business. If there was not that prospect, they would not be exhibitors. The exhibition in Australia of certain articles, will be to the detriment of Australian manufacturers. Clause 27 of the bill reads -
– Does the honorable member think that they should not be prescribed ?
– Why should there be “ such exceptions and limitations as are prescribed “ ? Why should workmen in this country be denied the right to work under an award of the Arbitration Court. Does that provision mean the abrogation of an act of Parliament.
– Is it a sinister attempt to undermine the standard of living?
– This is not a laughing , matter. Does the honorable member not think that anything we do to undermine the standard of living is serious ?
– The honorable member suggests that it is an attempt to undermine the standard of living.
– I do. There are certain loopholes in this measure provided only for certain purposes, and it appears to me that a sinister move is being made to undermine the standard of living by paying other than award rates of wages in connexion with the exhibition.
In the limited time at my disposal I have endeavoured to express my views upon this measure ; but when the committee stage is reached, as I suppose it will, honorable members will have a further opportunity to discuss the bill in detail. In conclusion, I wish to enter my most emphatic protest against such waste of public money, particularly at a time when the Commonwealth can least afford it. Surely honorable members know that there are nearly 100,000 persons out of work in Australia, and will agree that if money is to be spent, it should be in such a way that the largest possible number will benefit. It is likely that the Treasurer will have to announce a deficit of £3,000,000 to £4,000,000 for the present financial year, which is probably the largest that has been recorded for at least two decades. In view of all the circumstances, I repeat that it is criminal waste of money and gross extravagance to spend such a large sum on an exhibition, the main object of which is to advertise goods which will enter into serious competition with Australian manufactures.
.- Although I trust that the bill will not reach the committee stage, I am not a Jeremiah like the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) who has just resumed his seat. There is nothing the matter with Australia. Those who have no faith in the Commonwealth ought not to be members of this Parliament. There is a very bright future before this country, and there is no occasion for any honorable member to paint a gloomy picture of our position and make it appear to the. world that we are heading for financial disaster. The honorable member is not justified in inferring that the experience of any country shows that an exhibition of this character is not calculated to provide employment. Every one should know that the preparation for, and conduct of, a great exhibition, must provide a great deal of work; and I have no doubt whatever that if that had not been in the mind of the ex-Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang) he would not have joined so heartily with the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in supporting this scheme. The suggestion that such an undertaking will not provide work is one which we cannot accept. The honorable member then suggests for our consideration something which is rather startling, coming as it does from a member of the Opposition, namely, that the project should be left to private enterprise. This is a scheme to advertise Australia. What should we do without advertising? A study of the history of commercial enterprise will show that 30 per cent., or perhaps 50 per cent, of the overhead expenses in some concerns has been incurred in publicity work. I do not know what the proportion would be in connexion with the expenditure by political parties, but I now that propaganda and publicity costs a good deal. We have only to recall the romantic success that has followed the extensive advertising of “ life-savers “ and “ aspros “ to realize the value of publicity. In placing those two commodities on the market, the expenditure of huge sums of money has been necessary. Goods have to be freely advertised or there is no sale for them. I am surprised that the honorable member should suggest that the holding of such an exhibition should be left to private enterprise.
– I did not make any such suggestion.
– But the honorable member withholds his support from an undertaking which is not to be controlled by private enterprise. An exhibition is a spectacular means of drawing attention to a country’s products; probably there i3 no other way in which that could be more effectively done. We should remember that in 1932 the great bridge over the Sydney Harbour - the largest and most important work of its kind south of the line - is to be opened, and from the time the Government of which I was a humble member passed the bill authorizing the construction of the bridge, there has been a desire that the opening should be celebrated iD a spectacular and effective manner. In consequence, those who have had their minds upon that important event have been speaking of an exhibition. The suggestion has never met with very much response from me personally; but the idea has grown. We know perfectly well that at the time this project was first mooted, the Canadian Government proposed to hold an exhibition in Canada. The Canadian Government was endeavouring to do for Canada that which the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales have been endeavouring to do for Australia. It wished to direct the attention of the people of other countries to its resources and possibilities; but to his credit the Prime Minister, at the last Imperial Conference, forestalled the Government of Canada, which intended to get in first with an Empire exhibition. I shall speak later concerning the. merits of this proposal ; but it is only right that, in debating the matter, we should have before us the background of the picture we are now studying. No doubt many persons in New South Wales would be disappointed if this proposal were not proceeded with; but, after all, the members of this Parliament are not bound to do other than their judgment dictates in the interests of the people. The Federal Government has been moved by the desire of many persons in New South Wales, and the Government of that State has been cooperating with the Federal Government in a very effective way.
– Does the honorable member mean that the people of New South Wales have been moved by the desire- of the Prime Minister to hold this exhibition ?
– I did not make that statement.
– The honorable member said this project was initiated by the people of New South Wales.
– I did not, and the honorable member should not misrepresent me.
– The honorable member said that the Prime Minister forestalled Canada.
– I repeat that the Prime Minister, knowing the desire of many of the people of New South Wales to have an exhibition-
– But no resolutions were passed.
– The Prime Minister cannot move about the country without knowing, as most honorable members know, of a desire in the public mind. It has been openly stated that there is a widespread desire on the part of the people in New South Wales that the opening of the Sydney harbour bridge in 1932 should be celebrated in some suitable way such as by the holding of an exhibition. Knowing of this growing desire, the Prime Minister stepped in at the psychological moment and provided Australia with the opportunity to hold an Empire exhibition before any of the other dominions, and for doing so he is to be congratulated. I am glad that we have a Prime Minister who places Australia first. The right honorable gentleman and the exPremier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang), as well as the present Premier (Mr. Bavin), have collaborated in what they believed to be the interests of the country. Although the holding of an exhibition may provide employment and draw a great deal of attention to Australia, and New South Wales in particular, 1 regret that I cannot see eye to eye with its sponsors. It does not seem a wise way in which to spend money when there are so many other directions in which it could be more effectively expended. We are the trustees of the taxpayers’ money. If there are other ways in which this money can be expended with greater advantage to Australia, we would be foolish to go on with this proposal although, at first glance, it may seem a proper one.
Since this scheme was first mooted, there has been a startling fall in the returns from customs duties, which means that the Government and the taxpayers will be faced with a serious situation. One might reasonably have hoped that these changed circumstances would be considered by the Government. I trust that the Prime Minister will still see his way clear to approach the State Government, before proceeding any further with this proposal, to see if the £500,000, or whatever amount it is intended to expend, could not be devoted to a better purpose. In the first place, I venture to express the opinion that the day has long passed since Australia needs to advertise its products. Our wool and wheat advertise themselves.
– And our soldiers advertised Australia, too.
– Yes, our soldiers, by their service and glorious sacrifices, made Australia’s name known from pole to pole. There is no need in these’ days to hold an exhibition to bring Australia, her resources and products under the notice of other nations. It maybe that the exhibition would increase, temporarily, the sale of Australian products, because of the greater population in Sydney to be supplied, but that increase would be small and of no lasting benefit. So far as the overseas trade is concerned, the exhibition will not sell an additional tin of jam, pot of marmalade, or pound of mutton. After all, the overseas market is Australia’s principal problem. We are not over producing, but because of the smallness of our population, we have to find markets abroad in competition with cheap labour countries.
– And cannot compete on account of the cost of production.
– That problem is not insuperable, and I would infinitely prefer that Ministers should concentrate their attention on it, rather than be occupied with the problems which> must arise out of a great exhibition, even if controlled by a commission. To my mind, such an exhibition would be mere cheap tinsel, and would not increase at all the already sound knowledge of us abroad. In behalf of my own electorate, and many right-thinking people throughout New South Wales, I appeal to the Prime Minister to consult with the Premier of that State to see if a cheaper, more effective, and less troublesome method of celebrating the opening of the North Shore bridge in 1932 cannot be devised, rather than expend on an exhibition this sum of money that is wanted in other directions. If the bill reaches the committee stage, two vital points will require attention. I assume that the Commonwealth Public Accounts Committee has been excluded, because examination by it of the finances of the commission would be a clumsy and unnecessary procedure. If we .vote this large sum of money for the exhibition, we shall know that it is an advertising stunt from which we shall get little direct return, and all that we shall require is the certificate of the Auditor-General that the money has been expended on the purposes for which it was intended. Moreover, two Governments are concerned, and it would be difficult to have two sets of auditors overhauling the one set of accounts. Either the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth -or the AuditorGeneral of the State should have complete control. The site also will require very careful consideration. Any one who knows Centennial Park is aware of the expenditure of money on it for the last 40 years, and knowing its indispensability as a playground for both the old and young of our immense population, will agree that it would be a tragic waste of money to close its gates and undo what has been so carefully built up in order to expend more money. I hope the bill will not be proceeded with. This is not a party question, but affects the whole of the Australian people. The exhibition would boost tremendously the State I represent and the city in which I -live, but one who serves in this Parliament has a duty that extends from Sydney to Perth, from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Bight. Taking a broad view of the proposal; to ask the people outside New South Wales to pay a large sum for the boosting of one State, and to celebrate the opening of a bridge, would be to unduly trespass on their good nature. The State Government can, I believe, find another means of celebrating, at its own expense, that event in 1932.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Parker Moloney) adjourned.
– (By leave.) - I lay upon the table of the House certain documents relating to the proposed treaty for the renunciation of war, and move -
That the paper be printed.
In accordance with a promise I made to the Leader of the Opposition, I am laying on the table the text of the Government of the United States’s proposed multilateral draft treaty to outlaw Avar, a telegram, dated the 11th May, from the Commonwealth Government to the British Government, concerning the proposals of the United States of America; a note, dated the 19th May, from the British Government to the Government of the United States; and a note dated 22nd May from the Government of the’ United States to the British Government inviting the Commonwealth and other dominions to participate in the treaty as original parties.
On the 15th May I outlined in this House the manner in which the proposals for the draft treaty had been initiated. It is, therefore, unnecessary for me to refer now to the overtures made by France last year to the United States of America for a treaty similar to that which is now being propounded, or to the proposals submitted by the Government of the United States late last year, to the French Government, suggesting that the treaty which had been proposed by the latter should be, instead of a bilateral treaty between those two countries, a multilateral one to which all the Great Powers of the world should immediately become parties, and which should remain open for adherence by other nations. I propose to take up the narrative now from the point at which the British Government and the self-governing portions of the Empire came into the conversations.
On the 13th April of the present year, the American Ambassador at the Court of St. James communicated to the British Government a draft treaty and certain correspondence between the Government of the United States and the French Republic. The text of the draft treaty, which I have tabled, is as follows: -
The President of the United States of America, the President of the French Republic, His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, the President of the German Empire, His Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan,
Deeply sensible that their high office imposes upon them a solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind ;
Inspired by a common desire not only to perpetuate the peaceful and friendly relations now happily subsisting between their peoples., but also to prevent war among any of the nations of the world;
Desirous by formal act to bear unmistakable witness that they condemn war as an instrument of national policy and renounce it in favour of the pacific settlement of international disputes;
Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavour and, by adhering to the present treaty as soon as it comes into force, bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;
Have decided to conclude a treaty and, for that purpose, have appointed as their respective plenipotentiaries- , who, having communicated to one another, their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed upon the following articles: -
Article 1. - The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the name of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
Article 2. - The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
Article 3. - The present treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties named in the preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at- .
This treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a Power shall be deposited at - , and the treaty shall, immediately upon such deposit, become effective as between the Power thus adhering and the other Powers parties hereto:
It shall be the duty of the Government of– , to furnish each Government named in the preamble, and every Government subsequently adhering to this treaty, with a certified copy of the treaty and of every instrument of ratification or adherence. It shall also be the duty of the Government oftelegraphically to notify such Governments immediately upon the deposit with it of each instrument of ratification or adherence.
In faith whereof the respective plenipotentiaries have signed this treaty in the French and English languages, both texts having equal force, and hereunto affixed their seals.
Honorable members will see that the treaty is very short; it embodies a high ideal but contains no machinery or provisions in regard to existing treaties or any other matter. It really is an affirmation of a great principle, to which all the great Powers, and also the lesser Powers, are being invited to subscribe.
The treaty and correspondence were conveyed to the British Government on the 13th April, and, in accordance with the now established practice in connexion with the relations between the principal self-governing parts of the Empire, the draft treaty was sent immediately to the Commonwealth Government for consideration and comment. This Government gave it very careful and sympathetic consideration, and on the 11th May sent the following cablegram to the British Government : -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia have given most careful and sympathetic consideration to the proposals made by the United States Government for the outlawry of war, and they welcome them as a very valuable contribution to the maintenance of peace. They ‘ therefore hope that the negotiations that are now in progress will materialize, and they are desirous of being associated with the treaty according to the procedure which has now been adopted.
On the 19th May the British Secretary of State forForeign Affairs sent the following formal reply to the United States Ambassador in London: -
Mr. Kellogg has made it clear, in the speech to which I have referred above, that he regards the right of self-defence as inalienable, and His Majesty’s Government are disposed to think that on this question no addition to the text is necessary.
It will be observed that the British note raised several points which are of equal interest to the Commonwealth. They relate to - (1) The maintenance of the right of self-defence of a party to the treaty in the event of direct and deliberate aggression. (2) The obligations of a member nation of the League of Nations under the Covenant of the League, and the necessity for preserving the freedom of every nation that may be a party to the proposed treaty to carry out the obligations it has already entered into under the Covenant of the League. (3) The position of a signatory to the proposed treaty in the event of any other signatory violating its obligations under the treaty and resorting to war.
Australia is a member of the League of Nations. We must carry out all the solemn obligations to which we are committed by our signature to the Covenant. We must also preserve our right to defend ourselves in the event of aggression by another nation. We should have our position defined in the event of another signatory to the treaty breaking its obligations under it, and resorting to war. There is a great obligation upon the British Government which is referred to in the British Note, but as it does not concern Australia we have not to deal with it; I refer to the responsibility of the British Government and the British people as ‘guarantors of the Locarno treaties, which were entered into in an attempt to preserve peace in Western Europe, between France, Germany, and Belgium.
On the 22nd May the following communication was sent by the United States Ambassador in London to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs -
In the Note which you addressed to me on the 19th May, 1928, you were good enough to inform my Government that His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain had been in communication with His Majesty’s’ Governments in the Dominions and with the Government of India and had ascertained that they were all in cordial agreement with the general principle of the multilateral treaty for the renunciation of war which the Government of the United States of America proposed on 13th April, 1928. You added that you felt confident, therefore, that His Majesty’s Governments in the Dominions and the Government of India were prepared for an invitation to participate in the conclusion of such a treaty as that proposed by the Government of the United States of America.
I have been instructed to state to you that my Government has received this information with the keenest satisfaction. My Government has hoped from the outset of the present negotiations that the Governments of the Dominions and the Government of India would feel disposed to become parties to the suggested anti-war treaty. It is, moreover, most gratifying to the Government of the United States of America to learn that His Majesty’s Governments in the Dominions and the Government of India are so favorably inclined towards the treaty for the renunciation of war which my Government proposed on the 13th April, 1928, as to wish to participate therein individually and as original signatories, and my Government, for its part, is most happy to accede to the suggestion contained in your Note to me of 19th May, 1928.
Accordingly, I have been instructed to extend through you toHis Majesty’s Governments in Australia, Now Zealand, and South Africa and to the Government of India, an invitation in the name of the Government of the United States to become original parties to the treaty for the renunciation of war, which is now under consideration. Pursuant to my instructions,I also have the honour to inform you that the Government of the United States will address through you to His Majesty’s Governments in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa and to the Government of India at the some time and in the same manner as to the other Governments whose participation in the proposed treaty in the first instance is contemplated, any further communication which it may make on the subject of the treaty after it has been acquainted with the views of all.
It will thus be seen that the Government of the United States of America has extended to Australia an invitation to become an original party to the proposed treaty. On the 31st May the Commonwealth Government sent the following cablegram to His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain cordially accepting the invitation : -
The Commonwealth Government would be grateful if His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain would convey to the Government of the United States the following communication : -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia have received with appreciation the invitation to participate as an original party in the treaty for the renunciation of war which has been proposed by the Government of the United States of America.
They have carefully and sympathetically examined the draft treaty that has been submitted to them, together with the correspondence that has so far been exchanged between the interested Governments. They believe that a treaty such as that proposed will be a further material safeguard to the peace of the world, and they will be happy to co-operate to the fullest extent in its successful conclusion.
I have now made reference to all the principal documents that relate to this treaty. The Government is confident that it will be possible for the ideal underlying the proposed treaty to be realized. There are, of course, certain difficulties in the way. I have already referred to such difficulties’ as the obligations of States members of the League of Nations under the Covenant of the League, the right of nations to defend themselves against aggression, and the position that would arise in the event of one of the signatories to the treaty breaking his obligation and resorting to war. I am confident, however, that they canbe surmounted. A readiness to co-operate has been shown by all the Governments that have been approached and have expressed their views, these being the Governments of Great Britain, France, Germany, and those of His Majesty’s Dominions and the Government of India. All those communications have expressed the utmost sympathy with the suggested treaty to outlaw war. I am certain that the action which the Government has taken in giving its unqualified support to these proposals will receive the endorsement of the people of Australia ; because no people in the world has a greater desire than we have for the maintenance of peace and the complete and absolute outlawry of war.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Scullin) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden) on the ground of urgent public business.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I draw the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to a statement which appeared in the Daily Guardian of to-day’s date, under the heading, “New Basisfor Basic Wage “ ; “ Chief Arbitration Judge’s Plan”; “Economic Review “. Chief Judge Dethridge, speaking in the Arbitration Court, is reported to have said -
No satisfactory conclusion can be arrived at upon the basic wage, or upon the restoration of margins, until some competent independent body, of the most skilful experts available, has made a long and exhaustive examination into our economic conditions. Something of the kind is at present being considered by the Government.
I ask the Prime Minister to state whether such an inquiry is contemplated?
Mr. BRUCE (Flinders- Prime Minister, and Minister for External Affairs [4.8] . - The Government does not contemplate an independent inquiry into the basic wage, or anything of that character. What may have been in the mind of the Chief Judge is the fact that from, time to time the establishment of an economic service for obtaining the fullest and most accurate details respecting all the factors that have a bearing on our economic, industrial, and commercial conditions has been mooted. The Government has given consideration to that matter, and I have referred to it publicly on more than one occasion.
– The right honorable gentleman has referred to it in this House.
– I have made two or three public statements regarding it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 June 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1928/19280601_reps_10_119/>.