10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Dismissalsin South Australia
– I have received from the General Secretary of the Postal Electricians Union a letter stating that during last week several employees of the State Engineers’ Branch of the Postal Department were dismissed owing to lack of funds. I ask the Postmaster-General whether he will instruct that these men shall be reinstated as soon as the Supply Bill is passed by Parliament ?
– I shall inquire into the matter.
– I understand that it is customary for persons coming to Australia to buy stud sheep to bring with them samples of wool for comparison with the wool of the rams offered for sale. Will the Minister for Health have a strict investigation made into the possibility of the germ of foot and mouth disease being introduced into Australia in such samples? If the investigation discloses that there is such a danger will the Minister take steps to prohibit the introduction of wool samples . that have not been thoroughly sterilized?
– I shall have immediate inquiries made into the matter.
– Is the Minister for Health aware of the ‘fact that the minimum charge for treatment at the Canberra Hospital is £44s. weekly? At the Queanbeyan Hospital the charge is £2 5s. a week, and consequently there is a tendency for Canberra patients to make use of that institution. In view of that fact, will the Minister see that the subsidy formerly granted to the Queanbeyan Hospital is restored?
– I shall have the honorable member’s request investigated, and let him have an answer to-morrow.
– I ask the Minister for Home and Territories when the landing grounds for the proposed aerial service between Derby and Wyndham will be proceeded with, and how much of the £200,000 appropriated on the last estimates for civil aviation has been allocated to this service.
– The arrangements are nearly complete, and I hope that the service will be inaugurated at an early date.
– Has the Prime Minister received from the British Government or any other authority any communication which he can disclose relating to the sentences imposed upon the natives who were convicted of participation in the recent massacre in the Solomon Islands, in connexion with which the Australian cruiser Adelaide was sent to the Islands ? If he has received any such communication does the right honorable gentleman approve of what has been done by the British authorities?
– I cannot at the moment recollect having received any advice on the subject, but I shall look into the matter.
– On at least three occasions prior to the operation of the regulations prohibiting the use of preservatives in butter for export. I drew the attention of the Minister for Markets to the probable result of that embargo, unless certain scientific measures were adopted. I now ask the honorable member whether any definite steps have been taken to prevent the deterioration of the butter between its being placed on board ship in Australia and its appearance on the breakfast table of the consumer in the United Kingdom, and to obviate the occasional need for regarding it when it reaches the British market?
– A great deal of practical experimentation has been carried on in many butter factories, and I understand that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is now advertising for a competent bacteriologist and chemist to investigate the problem scientifically.
– Is it not a fact that only certain brands of butter deteriorate through the non-use of preservatives, and will the Minister take immediate steps to ascertain the cause of that deterioration?
– It is a fact that the deterioration is particularly noticeable in certain brands of butter. I assure the honorable member that everything possible is being done to ascertain the cause of the trouble.
– Will the Prime Minister take steps to . ensure that the marine cooks, who are now seeking and obtaining employment on the coastal ships, are not dismissed as soon as the strike terminates?
– Efforts are being made to man the ships, and it is hoped that the members of the Marine Cooks’ Union will resume their positions in the ships, but if that hope is not realized fair treatment obviously must be meted out to those other men who come to the assistance of the country during the present trouble.
Mr.FENTON. - A newspaper report states -
The Port of London Authority recently reduced its consolidated cold storage management rate from 35s. to 33s. 9d. per ton. Last August the Port of London Authority reduced the charge from 37s. to 35s. per ton for the first 28 days’ storage of frozen meat, with 1s. 9d. per day thereafter, as against 2s. previously charged. This rate, which is always followed by corresponding reductions in the. other cold stores of the metropolis, includes lighterage, receiving into store, piling to marks, rent for 28 days, weighing at time of delivery, and delivery to vans or craft alongside the store.
According to advices from New Zealand received in London, in return for these considerable reductions on cold storage rates for New
Zealand meat in London, the New Zealand Meat Board has undertaken not to erect or operate cold stores in Britain for three years.
Oan the Minister for Markets inform the House whether Australian shippers of meat and other produce enjoy the advantage of these reduced storage fees, or are they applicable to New Zealand produce only?
– I understand that the reduction of charges applies generally.
– Has the Minister for Markets received any communication regarding the high cost of butter and meat in Australia, which are decreasing the effectiveness of the basic wage?
– Most of the communications I have received with regard to the two products mentioned are in the nature of complaints that the prices realized by the producers are not high enough.
– I have received from the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) an intimation that he proposes to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The disfranchisement of several thousand Australian electors in the Federal Capital Territory”.
Five members having risen in, their places,
.- Some time ago, at the request of certain organizations in the Federal Capital Territory, I presented to the House two petitions signed by several thousand residents within the Territory, praying - (1) that consideration be given to their request for parliamentary representation, and (2) that they be given representation in the narrower sphere of local government or municipal control. It is felt by the people living in the Territory, and indeed by many honorable members in this House, that so far as the municipal control of the city is concerned, the present conditions cannot continue, and that in the near future the people must be given a voice in their local government.
Many of the people at present resident in the Federal Capital Territory have been compelled to come here. They enjoyed the privileges of the franchise until their transfer to the Seat of Government, and feel that a blow has been struck at their rights as citizens because the .power to vote has been taken from them. The number of these people is not very great, but a much smaller number of residents in the Northern Territory are allowed to elect a representative to this House, and there is a strong feeling, not only here but elsewhere, that no section of the people should be denied direct representation in Parliament. In the circumstances we can hardly expect the intelligent citizens of this Territory to accept meekly this denial of their rights as citizens. The people here are very much in earnest in this matter, and will continue to fight for representation until it has’ been granted to them. I do not think that any one would have the temerity to suggest that there is any just reason for denying to the residents of Canberra and the surrounding territory the full rights of citizenship. It must be remembered that we have not only civil servants, but also business people and primary producers of various descriptions to consider. I have discussed this question with honorable members on both sides of the chamber, and also with persons resident in the Territory and elsewhere, and I find that there is a consensus of opinion that the people here should be granted the franchise. Although the number of potential voters is small, we have made a precedent for what they ask in what we have done in regard to the Northern Territory. We may have to consider later the nature of the representation which we should give to the residents of other territories over which this Parliament has authority by mandate or otherwise; but surely the position of no part of the community merits immediate consideration more than that of those people in whose midst we live.
The population of the Federal Capital Territory is far greater than that of the Northern Territory was when representation was granted to it, and within the next eighteen months the number of white people who will arrive in Canberra will be greater than tha total white population of the Northern Territory. The Parliament will have to face this issue either now or in the near future, and there is every justification for taking it into consideration forthwith. It has been suggested that as the district of Columbia of the United States of America is not represented in the national parliament of that country, there is no reason why we should provide for the representation of this Territory in our Parliament. The first reply to that argument is, that there is no particular reason why Australia should closely follow the political lead of the American people in that regard. A second reply is that the population of “Washington includes nearly 40 per cent, of negroes, and it is doubtless felt that if representation were granted to the people there, the negroes would exercise a considerable and perhaps a baneful influence upon, the legislative proposals which are submitted from time to time. It has also been argued by the few people whom I have met who are opposed to the granting of representation to the Federal Capital Territory residents, that the position of those in the Northern Territory is not analogous to theirs, for the reason that many big developmental problems have to be faced there, which is not the case in the Federal Capital Territory. To some extent that may be true, though we must not forget that the Federal Capital Territory, like the Northern Territory, has problems peculiar to itself. But in any case I submit that it is a basic principle of British democracy that the residents in any given area shall possess the franchise. The few arguments that I have heard in opposition to this proposal have not been at all impressive, particularly since they are contrary to the fundamental principle of the British constitution that there shall be no taxation without representation.
– How does the honorable member suggest that representation shall be granted?
– Upon the same basis as it was granted to the Northern Territory. “When this population has increased to the required point, the matter could be reconsidered with a view to according its representative the full rights of membership in this Parliament. There can surely be no justification for denying to these people a voice in the government of their city. It has been said that the election of such a representative would have the effect of bringing an undesirable parish pump element into the proceedings of this Parliament; but even if the Territory had three direct representatives they could not ask any more questions of the socalled parish pump type than are now asked of members of the Government. As a matter of fact, the election of a representative would make it unnecessary to bring many of these questions before the House. I submit that we should readily acquiesce in the request that has been made to us. I have been present at several largely attended public meetings in the Territory at which the subject of representation has been earnestly discussed, and I assure the Government that the people speak warmly and logically upon the subject. I have no desire to labour the question. I hope that the Government will, without any hesitation, grant the prayer of the petitioners.
– This subject is of the utmost importance, for, in the words of the intimation of the honorable member for Herbert to Mr. Speaker, it deals with “the disfranchisement of several thousands of Australian electors in the Federal Capital Territory.” The whole basis of our democratic institutions is that individual citizens shall have an equal voice in choosing representatives to this Parliament to legislate for the affairs of the Commonwealth. Every one will agree that the last thing the people of Australia desire is that any section of the community shall be denied the franchise; but we have to consider the particular circumstances of this case. As part of a great national idea, we are establishing a Federal Capital, and have transferred the Seat of Government to it. We expect that as additional public departments are transferred to Canberra, its population will increase at a rapid rate. To-day we have in this- Territory a population which, I understand, includes about 4,000 persons who elsewhere would possess the franchise, and the population of Canberra will increase steadily as the years pass by. We are faced with the immediate problem of finding some way by which the franchise may be given to the limited population at present here. We cannot, however, accept the idea that 4,000 voters should have the right of electing to this Parliament a member who would enjoy the full privileges of membership, including that of voting on the determination of all matters coming before the House. To agree to that would be to go to the other extreme, because we should be giving to those 4,000 a very much greater degree of control over the affairs of the Commonwealth than is enjoyed by a similar number of electors in any of the States. The average number of electors in the divisions for returning members to the House of Representatives is now between 50,000 and 60,000. There is a departure from the quota in the case of States with small populations, and in Tasmania the average number of electors in each constituency is about 22,000. While small populations have a right to adequate representation, it would not be reasonable to give 4,000 people the right to elect to this House a representative with full powers.
At the present stage we must recognize that we cannot grant the right of electing a member with a vote, but we must consider whether there is not some other way of meeting the situation so that residents, during the transitory stage through which the Territory is now passing, may not be disfranchised. One suggestion is that the Federal Capital Territory should be attached to one of the electorates in the surrounding State of New South Wales. There are constitutional difficulties in the way of bringing that about, but there is also another objection to it. We have endeavoured, in creating this national capital, to develop an area quite independent of any State, an area within which will be fostered a federal spirit knowing no distinction between one State and another, and in which we shall be able to consider national questions from a national stand-point. There is considerable doubt as to whether it would be desirable to attach the Federal Capital Territory to any other electorate as we wish to create in the minds of the people the idea that this is the most important piece of territory in the whole -Commonwealth.
Furthermore, this course could not be followed unless the Constitution was amended, and the consent of New South Wales to the arrangement would also have to be obtained. I believe that it would be offensive to Australian sentiment to make this national territory, for the purpose of electing a representative, merely a portion of one of the electorates of New South Wales. Another suggestion is that any person who has been an elector of the Commonwealth should be entitled to have his name retained on the roll of the electorate in which he was living prior to his transfer to Canberra. If that plf.n were practicable, it would meet the position of the grout body of public servants, who have been transferred to the Federal Capital, but would not help those who become of adult age while resident in the Federal Capital Territory. There is, however, much to be said for “ the proposal. The principle has, in a minor degree, been adopted in the provision which gives every member elected to this Parliament the option of keeping his name on the roll of his electorate whether he lives there or not. There also appears to be a precedent in the United States of America for such a course. Under the Constitution of that country there is a provision which enables an elector of any state in the union who transfers to the federal capital of Washington, to have his name retained on the roll of the state from which he came. This proposal is being very fully explored by the Government, though it is recognized that it would involve an alteration to the Constitution. It might also raise difficulties in regard . to the number of members of. Parliament to which the individual States are entitled. Under our Constitution the number of parliamentary representatives to which a State is entitled is governed by the number of its resident population, but a State is allowed a definite minimum representation which cannot be reduced by any electoral law which may be passed in this Parliament. When the population of the Territory becomes greater, the fact that persons here still had their names on the roll of the States from which they came, might produce serious complications in the determination of the number of representatives which each
State was entitled to elect. That point is being examined very carefully nt the present moment; but if it is considered that the difficulty is not insurmountable, the plan I have mentioned might be adopted. If an alteration of the Constitution were found to be necessary, I can see no reason why such an alteration should not be made.
There is a further point to consider, and that is the wide question of representation of all the territories of this Commonwealth in the National Parliament, including the Federal Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, and the white populations of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and of the Territory of Papua. It has been suggested that there should be a single representative in this Parliament for all the territories. The opinion has been expressed by some that these territories, being really in the position of States, should be represented in the Senate rather than in this chamber, as the Senate is the House which directly represents State interests. This also is being considered. The Government desires that no citizens of the Commonwealth should be disfranchised merely because they have to live within the Federal Capital Territory. I am sure that it will be possible to find some satisfactory method of dealing with the problem, but I do not think that it will be wise to adopt the course which has been suggested, and immediately give to 4,000 people in the Territory, the right to elect a representative to this House, who would have the same powers as representatives elected by constituencies containing a very much’ greater population.
It is desirable that I should say some- . thing in regard to municipal, as opposed to parliamentary representation. I recognize that the residents in the Federal Capital Territory very naturally resent having no right to elect a representative to the Parliament, nor any say in the ordinary administration of the municipal affairs of the Capital. The electing of a representative to this House would not meet the second difficulty, because a municipal representative would be expected to deal with questions with which it is quite wrong that this House, as a part of the “National Parliament, should deal. ‘ If honor able members will look at the Noticepaper for the last month, they will find that three-fourths of the questions asked on notice, have dealt with matters concerning this Territory. An examination of those questions will show that practically all of them deal with the ordinary municipal administration of this Territory, and are not questions with which a national parliament is concerned. The Government recognizes clearly that any body of citizens is entitled to some voice in the control of the ordinary administration of the territory in which it resides. I would remind honorable members, however, that it is only at the present time that it has become practicable to deal with these questions, because until now we have been gradually establishing a population here. The Federal Capital Commission was appointed to facilitate and bring about the transfer of the Seat of Government from Melbourne to the Federal Capital Territory. During the greater part of the time - that the Commission has been administering the affairs of this Territory the population here has been negligible. Now, however, the population is growing. A great number of public servants have been transferred, and there are many other citizens residing here. Many more public servants are to be transferred to Canberra during the present year, and in the succeeding years. Therefore the time has come when the general population of the Territory should have some voice in its administration, and I think that this is a convenient time for taking some steps in that direction, because, in November next, the term of office of two of the Commissioners expires. During the recess the Government will give full consideration to this question, and in the last session of this Parliament will take action to ensure to the residents representation on the body administering the Territory by an elected representative. That is undoubtedly a right to which they are fairly and justly entitled.
.- This subject is of the greatest importance to the future welfare of the Federal Capital. Two questions are involved - whether representation should be given in this Parliament to the residents of Canberra, and whether they should be given representation on the body administering the civic affairs of the Territory. The Government cannot long delay taking action to give representation- to the residents of Canberra. The population must continue to increase, and it will only be a matter of time when we shall have a population here equal to that of any Commonwealth electorate. Therefore, action should be taken as early as possible to see that some kind of representation is given to the residents. It has been pointed out that if they were permitted to elect a representative to this Parliament, he would have no vote and would be in the same position as that of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). No man could represent the interests of the Northern Territory more intelligently than does its member here, yet when a matter comes to a vote he has to stand aside. Surely he should be allowed to record a vote in .the interests of the people whom he represents. His is a very .unsatisfactory position and should be remedied, if necessary, by an alteration of the Constitution. “We cannot expect anything but dissatisfaction in the residents of Canberra while they are disfranchised. It has been suggested that they should be included in the Eden-Monaro electorate, but that would be very unsatisfactory, and I agree with the Prime Minister that it could not be done without an amendment of the Constitution. We are called upon to develop the Federal Territory, and we cannot do that to any extent unless the residents have the full rights of citizenship in regard to both parliamentary and municipal representation. The Prime Minister has made a very fair statement to-day in respect of municipal representation, and therefore there is no need to discuss that subject, but with regard to parliamentary representation he has stated that the public servants who have been transferred here might be enrolled in the electorate whence they came. It would be impossible to give effect to that proposal. In the first place we should be up against the electoral laws of the States. Those laws would have to be amended to permit of residents here being enrolled in the State electorates. That proposal deserves no consideration from honorable members. The Prime Minister has stated that a large number of public servants have yet to be transferred to the Federal Territory. It is likely, therefore, that the population will swell to 10,000 or 11,000 people. Other persons will be attracted here, and soon the population will out-number that of many of our Commonwealth electorates. While the residents have no parliamentary representation there is bound to be a great deal of dissatisfaction. We are charged with the duty of developing the Territory, and it should not be held to be subordinate to any State. It would add to the prestige of the Commonwealth and its development would be stimulated if the residents were not dissatisfied with their conditions. Surely they should have representation in this Parliament. They have ample cause for dissatisfaction in municipal affairs. Values and taxes have been increased, in many cases doubled. There should be no taxation without representation. If they are given some municipal representation, we shall have on the Commission some person who at least is interested in the development and welfare of Canberra. I do not wish by that to suggest that the present commissioners are not interested in this Territory, but we cannot expect a temporary resident to take the same interest in Canberra as a permanent resident takes. I should be against giving the residents parliamentary representation if their representative is not to have a vote. The principle is bad, and this anomaly could be remedied by an amendment of the Constitution or by this Parliament taking some steps in that direction. I am glad that the Prime Minister has said that the question of giving representation to the residents of Canberra is * receiving the serious consideration of the Government, and I hope that in the near future something will be done to bring about a more satisfactory feeling among them.
.- It has been stated that the residents of Canberra’ have been disfranchised through no desire of their own; in other words, that the majority of them, being public servants, have been transferred here and as a result have been deprived of their vote. That is quite true. For some time to come the population of Canberra will consist mainly of public servants who have been transferred here regardless of their desires in the matter, but as time passes the percentage of public servants in comparison with the total population will decrease, and I look forward to the time when people will reside here of their own volition to such an extent that such residents will out-number those who are performing public duties. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has stated that there should be no taxation without representation. In one respect Canberra is unique, because the money provided by the ratepayers represents only a small proportion of the total sum expended within the Territory.
– The rates have been increased 50 per cent, recently.
– I am not now discussing whether the rates are too high or too low, but the amount of the rates paid by the residents of the Federal Capital Territory is small in comparison with the total amount that has been spent by the Federal Government in the building of the Federal Capital. That position must continue for many years. Only two cities in the world - Washington and Delhi - can be compared with Canberra. In the case of Delhi the question of the franchise does not arise. Only if the whole of the residents of India were given the franchise could the case of the inhabitants of Delhi be compared with that of the residents of Canberra. Delhi is purely a governmental city. In 1912 Mr. Taft - at that time the President of the United States of America - presented his presidential message to Congress. If we substitute the word “ Canberra “ for “ Washington,” and make allowance for the difference between the populations of the two cities, we shall arrive at Mr. Taft’s views concerning the representation in Parliament of the residents of Canberra. In his presidential message Mr. Taft said -
The city of Washington is a beautiful city with a population of 352,936, of whom 98,667 are coloured. The annual municipal budget is about $14,000,000. The presence of the national Capitol and other governmental structures constitutes the chief beauty and interest of the city.
That is true also of Canberra. In London, the Houses of Parliament merge into the surrounding buildings. The poli tical life of London is overshadowed by its commercial and industrial interests. With the exception of Washington and Canberra, the same thing applies to all the capital cities of the world. Whereas in most of the capital cities of the world the commercial and industrial interests overshadow the political interests, that is not so in Canberra. Mr. Taft’s presidential message continues -
The public grounds are extensive and the opportunity for improving the city and making it still more attractive are very great. Under a plan adopted some years ago, one-half the cost of running the city is paid by taxation upon the properties, real and personal, of the citizens and residents, and the other half is borne by the general Government. The city is expanding at a remarkable rate, and this can only be accounted for by the coming “here from other parts of the country of well-to-do people who, having finished their business careers elsewhere, build and make this their permanent place of residence.
The people to whom Mr. Taft referred removed to Washington knowing full well that by doing so they would be deprived of their franchise. The Prime Minister’s statement just now that he believed that provision had been made for persons removing to Washington to retain their right to vote for the States from which they came was’ news to me ; but even if they have no vote, those who voluntarily remove to Washington do so knowing the conditions which apply to that city. It has been said this morning that through being deprived of their franchise, the people of Canberra are robbed of a cherished privilege. But is that so? It is only a few years since this Parliament found it necessary to introduce legislation providing for compulsory voting. Evidently the people of Australia regarded so lightly the cherished privilege to which reference has been made, that they had to be compelled to vote. Prior to the introduction of that legislation less than 50 per cent, of the electors in some districts availed themselves of that cherished privilege. Mr. Taft went on to say :-
From time to time there is considerable agitation in Washington in favour of granting the citizens of the city the franchise, and constituting an elective government. I am strongly opposed to this change. The history of Washington discloses a number of experiments of this kind which have always been abandoned as unsatisfactory.
The City of Washington was chartered in 1802. In 1812 a hoard was formed to control the city. A- further change was made in 1871. That state of affairs continued until 1874, after which they reverted to control by three commissioners, a form of government which has continued ever since. The three commissioners are appointed by the President of the United States of America, with the concurrence of the senate.
– What is the area of Washington ?
– Its area is small in comparison with that of the Federal Capital Territory of Australia. The presidential address of Mr. Taft continued -
The truth is this is a city governed by a popular body, to wit, the Congress of the United States selected from the people of the United States, who own Washington.
The people of Australia own Canberra, if paying for the city constitutes ownership. The address continues -
The people who come here to live do so with a knowledge of the origin of the city and the restrictions, and therefore voluntarily give up the privilege of living in a municipality governed by popular vote. Washington is so unique in its origin and in its use for housing and localizing the sovereignty of the nation that the people who live here must regard its peculiar character and must be content to sub- ject themselves to the control of a body selected by all the people of the nation. I agree that there are certain inconveniences growing out of the government of a city by a national legislature like Congress, and it would perhaps be possible to lessen these by the delegation by Congress to the District Commissioners of greater legislative power for the enactment of local laws than they now possess, especially those of a police character.
The Prime Minister, this morning, admitted that the people of Canberra had cause for complaint. When Mr. Taft read that message to Congress there was an agitation in Washington to grant the residents of that city a municipal franchise. Even to-day they have no municipal rights. We should, perhaps, be wise to grant to the people of Canberra some form of. municipal government along the lines suggested this morning by the Prime Minister. I shall give my support to the Government so long as it pursues the policy outlined by the right honorable gentleman.
– The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) would yoke the people of Australia with a kind of foreign justice. He quoted extensively from the presidential address of the president of a foreign nation, but he made no reference to the demand of the people of Canberra for ordinary British justice.
– The people of America originated the term, “No taxation without representation.”
– We are dealing today not with Washington, but with Canberra, but we should follow the accepted principles of British justice. The honorable member would have us believe that because the whole of the members of the Federal Parliament are interested in the development of the Federal Capital City, the residents of that city should be satisfied. I remind him that “what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business.” The people of the Federal Capital Territory are justified in demanding representation in this Parliament; they demand only their inherent birthright. If honorable members were private citizens of this city, they would be in the forefront of the agitation for representation. It has been said that the time is not yet opportune for the granting of the franchise to the people of this Territory. I say that the time is never opportune for the disfranchisement of Australian citizens. Yet that is what has happened to the residents of Canberra. That the state of affairs that has arisen was foreseen by the framers of the Constitution, there is little doubt. The Constitution provides that Tasmania, with her small population shall have the same representation in the Senate as is enjoyed by New South Wales with a population of over 2,000,000 persons. Section 7 of the Constitution, dealing with the Senate, provides that -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, there shall be six senators for each original State. The Parliament may make laws increasing or diminishing the number of senators for each State, but so that equal representation of the several original States shall be maintained and that no original State shall have less than six senators.
That clearly shows that there was to be no discrimination between States in the matter of their representation in the
Senate. The Constitution also provided that in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth New South Wales was to have 23 representatives in the House of Representatives. Victoria 20, Queensland 8, South Australia 6, and Tasmania 5, while in the event of Western Australia joining the federation, that State was to have 5 representatives in this House. Section 27 of the Constitution provides that Parliament may make laws for increasing or diminishing the number of members of the House of Representatives. That clearly shows that the framers of the Constitution anticipated that Parliament should have full discretionary power in this matter. Chapter 6 of the Constitution, dealing with new States, makes clear the position in regard to the territories of the Commonwealth. Section 122 provides that-
The Parliament may make laws for the govern ment of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth and may allow the representation of such i territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
It is therefore clear that in this matter we are not , faced with constitutional difficulties. The question for us to decide is whether it is right that representation shall be given to the residents of the Federal Capital Territory. Will any honorable member say that 8,000 or 10,000 people should be denied representation in this Parliament? A fundamental principle of British justice is that there shall be no taxation without representation. The Government, therefore, must either give the people of Canberra representation in Parliament, or exempt them from taxation. The Government doubtless has no desire to exempt the residents of the Territory from the payment of taxes, nor do I think that the people themselves desire to shirk their obligations in that connexion. I, therefore hope that this Parliament will preserve to the residents of the Federal Capital Territory their inherent birthright, and grant them the representation they desire.
– I am in hearty agreement with the suggestion of the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) that the residents of the Federal Capital Territory should be represented in this Parliament. From the speech of the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), it is evident that the Ministry has given this matter serious consideration. Apparently the various suggestions which have been made have upon analysis proved faulty. The first thing we have to decide is whether the residents of the Territory should be represented in this Parliament. If the answer is in the affirmative, we have then to decide on what basis they shall be represented. The only proper representation is that they shall have the right to elect a member who will share to the full the privileges enjoyed by the other representatives of the people. Some honorable members are not prepared to go so far as that. The next best thing will be to place the Federal Capital Territory on an equality with the Northern Territory, by giving to it a representative without a vote. This experiment in connexion with the Northern Territory has been very successful. Its representative does a lot more than occasionally voice the grievances of his constituents on the floor of the House. Being in close touch with the citizens of the Territory he is able to represent matters affecting them to the various Ministers and departmental heads, and that must make for more contentment among his constituents. The people of the Federal Capital Territory occupy a similar position. As member for EdenMonaro, I had the honour of representing this area for some time, and while the Parliament was in Melbourne, I was continually engaged with matters relating to Canberra local government. Since the Parliament has been meeting in Canberra, my duties have been lightened, because the citizens have equal access to all honorable members. The Government will not be doing justice to the people of Canberra unless it gives to them the right to elect their representative in this Parliament. We well recollect the extremes to which Britishers resident in South Africa were driven in order to get the franchise. They were not content to be merely taxpayers. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) has said that the Australian people do not regard the franchise as a great privilege, and that in consequence this Parliament has been obliged to make voting compulsory. That fact does not dispose of the claim of the residents of Canberra. I know from personal conversation with hundreds of people living in this Territory, that they bitterly resent their disfranchisement. Because they are daily brought into contact with Parliament they feel their position more keenly than the people in the Northern Territory did. This very edifice in which we meet is a constant reminder to them that they are the only people in Australia who are not entitled to elect a representative to the Commonwealth Parliament. The population of the Federal Capital Territory is now 7,300 and is increasing. A considerable influx of public servants and their families is expected in the next few months. At the inception of federation, it was impossible to cut the whole of the Commonwealth into equal electorates. New South Wales had constituencies with 40,000 electors; whereas in Tasmania 20,000 electors could return a member. Still the founders of the federation swallowed that pill for the sake of union, and this Parliament will have to swallow the pill of Canberra representation. The suggestion has been made that the Federal Capital Territory might be attached to one of the New South Wales constituencies. The electorate naturally marked out for that distinction is my own ; but such a scheme would not be fair to the people of this Territory, or to the electors of Eden-Monaro. The interests of the two sections of people are entirely distinct.
– I suggest that such an arrangement would hardly be fair to the honorable member.
– I frankly admit that that objection is at the back of my mind. If the Federal Capital Territory were included in the Eden-Monaro electorate, the residents of the former might poll a block vote for or against me on some matter of vital importance to them, but of no interest at all to the people outside the Territory. Such a scheme would be impracticable, and also unjust to the State of New South Wales. Equally impracticable is the proposal that the Federal
Capital Territory should ba coupled with the Northern Territory. That arrangement would not be fair to the people of either Territory; the two have no common interest. The only way in which justice can be done to the people of the Federal Capital Territory is by according to them the right to elect their own representative. People living here are required to pay Federal income taxation and customs duties on all the goods they use. As taxpayers they are entitled to representation, and by withholding it the Government is provoking a resentment such as was expressed in Washington in 1912, and more dramatically at the time when the American colonies gained their independence because of their resentment of taxation by an authority over which they had no control. A largely attended meeting of citizens of the Territory was held recently to demand parliamentary representation, and some very fiery speeches were delivered. The speakers revived the old cry - “ No taxation without representation.” The unanimity of the meeting shows that the people have a keen sense of the injustice they stiffer. It is not merely 40 per cent, or 60 per cent, of the people who are agitating for this reform ; the petition that was presented to Parliament was signed by nearly every adult in the Territory. The argument has been used that with Parliament sitting in Canberra the eyes and ears of every honorable member are alert to the needs of the residents, and any grievance can be ventilated in Parliament. That is so, and the business paper shows that many honorable members are asking questions regarding matters that concern the local government of the Territory.
– Would that not apply also if Parliament were sitting in Melbourne or Sydney.-
– Yes ; wherever Parliament was sitting questions of a more or less parochial character would be asked. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for the assurance that the Government proposes to give the citizens of Canberra direct representation on the Federal Capital Commission. That body is equivalent to a State Parliament, and if the residents of Canberra are permitted to elect one member of the commission they will in effect have representation in their own local parliament. I sincerely appeal to the Government, however, to give further consideration to . the desirability of giving to the Federal Capital Territory direct representation in Parliament.
– I thank the honorable member for Herbert for having brought forward this matter, and I am pleased with the assurance of the Prime Minister that a measure will be introduced by the Government to give the citizens of Canberra direct representation on the Federal Capital Commission. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) is honored in having as one of his Christian names that of the greatest orator who ever sat in the American presidential chair, and he naturally keeps himself conversant with the politics of the United States of America. “With much of what the honorable member has said I agree; but there is a marked difference between the circumstances of “Washington and those of Canberra. The mentality of the citizens of our Federal Capital is at least equal to that of the residents of any other part of Australia. But the population of “Washington is mixed. “When Bell, the inventor of the telephone, honored Australia by visiting it, I asked him why he, a resident of Washington, could not vote in the presidential election; and he explained that because of the large black population of Washington the votes became so venal that the franchise was withdrawn from the residents of that city. Honorable members will see, therefore, that there is no similarity between the population of Canberra and that of Washington. No one respects more than I do the good qualities of the American people, but it is well to remember that Australia was the first continent to make adult suffrage universal. It is an infamy that the people in Canberra should be mere helots and have no voice in municipal or parliamentary affairs. That they suffer many injustices every honorable member knows; the questions upon the notice-paper are conclusive proof of that. I regret that I was not able to attend the recent public meeting at which the community’s resentment of the stigma placed upon it was feelingly expressed. I urge the residents of Canberra to continue their agitation until they get at least that measure of justice which the Prime Minister has promised. There is precedent for giving even the small population of Canberra representation in Parliament. I know of no island under the British flag that is so blessed by nature as is Tasmania; yet it cannot retain its young men. Perhaps the reason is that the mainland presents greater opportunities to youth. In 1921 the population of Tasmania was 213,000; last year it was estimated to be only 208,000. The population of New South Wales in 1921 was 2,100,371; and last year it had increased to 2,370,623. Despite the discrepancy between the populations of the two States, Tasmania has the same representation in the Senate as has New South Wales. If one State can elect as many senators as another State with 2,000,000 more people, that is a good precedent for giving representation to Canberra. I quite appreciate the desire of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that the Federal Capital Territory should not be added to his constituency. The residents of the Territory suffer so many injustices that the ventilation of them would add unduly to the work of the representative of any other constituency. I should be proud to have such a body of people as the residents of Canberra attached to my division, for I suppose that this is, on the average, the most intelligent community in Australia. I trust that before long the representative of the Northern Territory will have the power to vote in this chamber. That the Government of the United States of America should have ‘granted the residents of the Philippines the power to elect representatives to Congress in Washington without voting power is no reason why we should follow their example in regard to either the Northern Territory or the Federal Capital Territory. Mr. Stamford Smith, the best Administrator the Northern Territory has ever had, informed the Government of the day which offered him that appointment that he would not accept it unless parliamentary representation was granted to the people. But representation without voting power is only half representation. I trust that the Prime Minister will find a way to give the people here satisfactory representation in Parliament, and also representation on that abortive body known as the Federal Capital Commission.
.- I support the request made by the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) that the residents of the Federal Capital Territory should be granted representation in Parliament, and also on the local governing body, and reiterate the principle he emphasized, that there should be no taxation without representation. I realize that there are difficulties in the way of giving expression to that principle in Canberra, but they should be overcome. I do not suggest that at this stage the people should be empowered to elect a representative with voting power, for the constituency would only number about 4,000, whereas the average number of electors in an ordinary federal division is 40,000; but that they are entitled to at least’ the degree of representation enjoyed by the people of the Northern Territory surely cannot be denied. We should bear in mind that there are two great differences between the Federal Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, both of which are favorable to the former. One is that there are not half as many people in the Northern Territory as in the Federal Capital Territory, and the other is that the greater part of the Northern Territory is unsuitable for settlement by white people. It is a black man’s country. I say that advisedly, after an extensive inspection of different parts of it. I trust that the request of the people for representation will be granted.
– If the Government is prepared to introduce a bill to grant representation to the residents of the Federal Capital Territory I am prepared to vote for it; but if it considers that until the population increases considerably the needs of the case will be met by attaching the Territory, for parliamentary purposes, to an adjoining division, that would satisfy me, and also, I think, the residents. The difficulties which the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) fears if that should be done, are, I think, more imaginary than real ; though I know how reluctant a member is to. agree to anything that may affect his constituency. I hardly think that the addition to the honorable member’s division of a comparatively large number of public servants will adversely affect him; though I assure him that at the’ next election the Labour party will give him a good run for the seat. I do not regard the case of the Federal Capital Territory as analogous with that of the Northern Territory. The latter Territory is remote from the seat of government, and honorable members of Parliament have few opportunities of informing themselves at first hand of its needs, whereas we are all in close contact with the residents of this Territory and to . some extent understand their needs. Since the Northern Territory has had direct representation its needs have been given much more effective consideration by this Parliament. A point has been made of the fact that representation has not been given to the people of the federal capital territory of the United States of America, for the reason, mainly, so we have been informed, that 40 per cent, of its population are negroes. But the honorable member who has advanced that argument appears to forget that the negroes in other parts of the United States are not disfranchised. If those in one part of the country have the vote those in other parts of it should also be enfranchised. Still, that is a matter for the American people and not for us. We have in our Federal Capital Territory a large body of intelligent citizens who are entitled to representation’ in some form. The Prime Minister has suggested that if this Territory were attached to an adjoining federal division in New South Wales, the people here may not develop that Australian-wide outlook which is desired. My reply is that the outlook of the people of New South Wales is as Australian-wide as that of any other people. Seeing that we deny the franchise only to mentallyincapacitated persons, imprisoned persons, and persons without specified residential qualifications, we should not deny it to qualified residents of the Federal Capital
Territory. We need not fear that the granting of the franchise will cause them to develop revolutionary tendencies.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 119.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.30 p.m.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What were the quantities, value and country of origin of imports of - (a.) Wattle bark;
Extract of wattle bark for leather manufacture;
Any other vegetable tanning material ; and
Mineral tanning material; for the years 1925-26, 1926-27, and for the expired portion of 1927-28?
– The information is being obtained as far as possible.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the often expressed opinion of stock-owners in Australia that the importation of Alsatian hounds into this country constitutes a grave menace to stock and probably to human beings, will the Government give serious consideration to the advisability of prohibiting their importation?
– The matter will receive careful consideration.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the total expenditure last financial year for bounties, and what was the expenditure under each act?
– The information is as follows : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– I am unable to supply the information now; but will make the necessary inquiries.
Appointment of Late Governor
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 to 5. Mr. Kell was re-appointed Governor of the Commonwealth Bank in the terms of the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911-1924 for a period of one year from and inclusive of 10th October, 1925, at a salary at the rate of £4,000 per annum. The date of Mr. Kell’s retirement was the 31st May, 1927. The Commonwealth Bank is being requested to furnish the other information asked for in these questions.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– I regret that the whole of the particulars desired by the honorable member are not at present available, and cannot be ascertained with accuracy until the close of the current financial year at the end of the present month. I shall let him have a complete answer to his question as soon as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Issue of New Design
– On the 31st May, 1928, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the Treasurer the following questions: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply : -
– On the 11th June, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) asked me whether I would secure a return from the Commonwealth Statistician showing the latest figures indicating the weighted average cost of living in regard to housing, food, and clothing in (a) Sydney, (b) Melbourne, (c) Adelaide, (d) Hobart, (e) Perth, and (f) Canberra. The statement hereunder shows the retail price index numbers for the fourth quarter of the year 1927 : -
The following papers were presented : -
Taxation - Eleventh Report of the Commissioner, years 1924-25, 1925-26, and 1926-27.
Ordered to be printed.
Audit Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 46.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 35.
– I lay on the table -
Report together with appendices of the royal commission of inquiry into fatalities associated with the use of toxin-antitoxin preparations at Bundaberg.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know whether that report will be printed, or whether the Minister will move that it be printed. It is a matter of great interest to my constituents.
– There is no point of order. It is open to the Minister to move or not to move that the paper be printed as he thinks fit.
– Then I raise a question of privilege. I should like to know if the Minister-
– What is the question of privilege involved?
– This matter seriously affects a number of persons whom I represent, and I wish to know whether the report will be printed, and made available to them. I also desire abatement from the Minister as to the contents of the report.
– That is no question of privilege.
– I have no doubt that the Minister for Health, who is known for his courtesy in this House, will oblige honorable members by making some statement on this very important matter.
– Order !
– Cannot this matter be debated now?
– The honorable member cannot speak as there is no motion before the House.
In Committee of Supply - Consideration resumed from 12th June (vide page 5930), on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That there be granted to Hia Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year 1928-29 a sum not exceeding £6,343,035.’
.- 1 take this opportunity of referring to the arrangements in connexion with the visit to Australia of the Third Gentleman of the British Empire, the Duke of York. I yield to no one in my regard for the royal house of England, so long as the people there permit it to rule, but I do object to many things that were done by those in control of the Duke of York’s visit to this country. Honorable members will admit that the Royal family, particularly the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, have always tried to play the game, and have tried to meet as many of their subjects as possible. The Prince of Wales was met here, and welcomed royally. He saw thousands and thousands of people. I have no fault to find with the arrangements concerning his welcome, but I do object to the military organization - for the whole thing seemed to be under military domination - which controlled the welcome of the Duke of York. Members of Parliament were not permitted to meet him to anything like the same extent as they were able to meet the Prince of Wales. In Sydney he was hurried so quickly through the streets in a motor car that the route over which he passed has been known ever since as “ The Speedway.” Sir Brudenell White, who was in charge of the arrangements, was so ill-informed that he was under the impression that the Duke could not speak in public, and for that reason the people were debarred from hearing him over the wireless. As a matter of fact, the Duke could speak very well, as every one who heard him must acknowledge. If Sir Brudenell White himself could speak as well, it would be much to his credit. When the Duke came here, he was fenced off from the people almost like an Eastern potentate. The public certainly do have an opportunity of meeting the Prince of Wales. Why, he even dances with the costers in London, showing that he recognizes that the power and dignity of the English throne comes from the people. Probably the Crown Prince of England is the only Crown Prince in the world who may be said to be reasonably certain of coming to the throne in the course of time. I have entered my protest in the hope that in future the Government will see that men of better organizing ability, and with a keener sense of duty, may be placed in charge of arrangements for Royal visits. What does an extra mile, or even two or three miles, matter in a Royal procession, provided members of the Royal family are able to see as many of the people as possible. I was present at a welcome given to the Prince of Wales in Japan, and no greater welcome could have been given to him anywhere than he received on that occasion. He travelled by rail, and every one of the ten miles over which he passed was lined with thousands and thousands of boys and girls. When the Prince visited Melbourne, General Monash, the greatest soldier Australia has produced, was standing on the footpath - a mere private spectator without official recognition. I do not mention these matters from any desire to blame the Government. I point them out so that similar absurdities may not be repeated, especially as I have observed in the press that it is possible we may shortly have the honour of another visit from the Prince of Wales. I have, also, a complaint to make regarding the concert which was given during the Duke’s visit. Honorable members may remember some of the absurd comic’ songs which were sung on that occasion. I am no singer of such songs, so I shall not now endeavour to sing the one which I have in mind. The burden of the song was “ What is man ? He is nothing compared with a hen. A hen can lay an egg. Can Frank Anstey or Billy Maloney lay an egg? ~Nol” The song continued. “ Oan Stanley Melbourne Bruce lay an egg? No.” Then the singer would wobble his nose in an attempt to be comic. That was one of the items at a concert given to welcome royalty. Madame Melba, with her glorious voice, and that splendid baritone ballad singer, Mr. Raymond Ellis, were not asked to sing at that concert, although their services were available. Our great Australian singer, Mr. O’Shea, did sing. The only excuse for the person responsible for permitting that song to be rendered must be ignorance.
Much has been said by honorable members who have preceded me, about our primary and secondary products, and I sincerely wish that the speech of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) could be broadcast throughout Australia. However, we have the satisfaction of knowing that it is reported in Hansard. Increased production is no cure for unemployment. At this time, when misery and famine are stalking through the land, our warehouses are filled to overflowing. Our people are suffering, and the death-rate of our children has increased greatly through the lack of proper nourishment and clothing. In Melbourne and Sydney to-day there are thousands of children who are insufficiently fed and clothed; yet we are told by the Prime Minister to “ Produce, produce, produce.” Have we not enough wheat and meat to supply the needs of every man, woman, and child in Australia ? Have’ we not the wool with which to make clothing to cover the backs of our people? For the first time in the history of Australia, the Governor-General and a State Governor are helping the unemployed. They are giving their patronage this evening to a concert which is being organized by the Police Force of Victoria, and at which Madame Melba may sing. During my 39 years of political experience I have never known of such a thing happening before. I hope to live to see the day when a great statesman will arise and solve the problem of unemployment, and if that takes place no fitting monument to his memory could ever be devised by the brains and skill of man. We expended more than £4:00,000,000 upon the accursed war, and other expenditure^ including gratuities and pensions, would amount to at least £100,000,000. Had that money been spent in erecting homes for the people it would have provided 1,000,000 homes at a cost of £500 each. That would have removed the fear of the landlord from many a poor tenant. The knock of the landlord is a most terrible sound to the poor mother of a family, who knows not at what moment she may be ejected from her home. Unemployment is a more terrible curse than war. The human being is gifted with the highest intelligence. It is contended that we are fashioned in the image of God, but I have always doubted that. if there is any similarity between the human being and the Deity it is in the conscience which all men have, which we do not understand, but which never lies to us. I have looked upon many a poor old brother, and sometimes a sister, plainly suffering from the evils of drink, and thought to myself, “ Can that person possibly be made in the image of the Almighty?” My soul has rebelled at the suggestion. It is in our conscience that we are akin to the Almighty. There are three races of intelligent beings existing on the earth to-day - the human, the ant, and the bee. The worker or the young does not suffer in the nest of the ant or in the hive of the bee. Can Ave say that of the human being? Our wheat, meat, and wool are sufficient to meet the requirements of a population three times that of ours, yet thousands of people are suffering because of lack of nourishment and clothing. We have labour agencies in the capital cities of the Commonwealth, but they receive no assistance from the Government. The men in charge of the Melbourne Labour Bureau are conscientious and have sympathy with the unemployed. Many a time, to assist a deserving case they have disregarded the regulations. On one occasion I entered the office of one of these men, and he was sitting at his desk, holding his head in his hands. I could not see his face, but his tears were dropping on the blotting paper before him.” I put my hand on his shoulder and said - “ What is the trouble?” He replied - “Doctor, I am heartbroken; men whom I ‘know well have been coming here and telling me their troubles and I cannot give them work.” The Government should take some steps to provide work for our great army of unemployed. Wherever there are roads to be mended, there is work ; wherever there are houses unfit for human habitation, there is work; whereever pavements are required in city and country, there is work. We might take a leaf from the book of South Africa. Every municipality in the South African Union has an organized committee. When unemployment becomes acute, men are given work in making roads and planting trees, and the Union Government guarantees one-third of the wages paid. Union rates are not always recognized, but the payment is sufficient to enable a man to keep himself and family. South Africa has planted an immense forest of wattle trees, and we import from that country 5,000 tons of wattle bark every year. Australia has 47,000 acres of land under afforestation and South Africa, at the time of my visit there, had over 600,000 acres under afforestation. There are plenty of ways of providing employment. We should grapple with this problem. If one touches a nettle gently, it will sting one’s fingers, but if one grasps it firmly no pain is felt. So it is with the problem of unemployment. The fact that we expended £400,000,000 on war purposes is no solace to the man whose stomach is- empty. When the terrible maritime strike Avas taking place, I stated that I would never again advocate a strike, although I told Mr. James Patterson, then Premier of Victoria, and also Sir William Irvine that I should use every endeavour to help the families of the strikers. Unemployment is the curse of humanity. America boasts of its dollars, yet it is not free from poverty and unemployment. Germany to-day is in a far better position industrially than are its conquerors, England and her allies. Yet even that country’s genius cannot solve its unemployment problem. Is not this so-called Christian civilization capable of grappling with this curse of unemployment? Take China as an example. That country has no great facilities such as we have, yet it is able to support its 300,000,000 inhabitants, although, I admit, not in happiness. How is it that we cannot provide work for our 6,000,000 of people? We have a continent. We are the only people in the world that dominates a whole continent, on which one language is used and one set of laws operates. Why does not the Government take some action to prevent unemployment ? ‘ Two or three years ago the Prime Minister was quite willing to allow a certain drill hall to be used for sheltering the unemployed. Recently another request has been made, but he refuses to act until the State communi-‘ cates with him on the subject. It has been said that the drill hall, when previously used for sheltering the unemployed, was left in a disgraceful state. I had arranged with the Melbourne Hospital authorities for the fumigation of every blanket lent to those men. A high official of the Defence Department told me that, considering that the men were unemployed, and. had no homes, they behaved remarkably well. I remind honorable members that even the cleanest man in the army was liable to become vermin infested under the conditions which existed on active service. I am not blackguarding the Government or any one in this connexion. I ask only that something be done for suffering humanity. The matter is indeed urgent. I was never so impressed with the way in which figures can be used to prove almost anything as when listening to the speech of the Prime Minister. In Bourke-street, Melbourne, there is a buffet where 1,000 men can obtain a meal for 3d. per head. Is that the kind of thing which honorable members desire shall be published abroad in the homeland? Should we not rather tell our kinsfolk there that every ablebodied man in Australia is fully employed, and that no woman fears the morrow? Would it not be better if we could tell them that land is available in Australia for those who will work; and that we welcome Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen and Welshmen to fill our empty spaces?
A prominent member of the House of Commons, when in Australia a year or two ago, said that he had travelled over this country, and had seen alongside the railways land which should be carrying a much greater population, but which, on inquiry, he found was not available for selection. Even in the southern States, where the population is more dense than in the north, there is land which should be put to better use. Some time ago in Queensland there were 4,000 applicants for one block of good land for sheep raising. Many of those applicants were the sons of Australian farmers who, despite their experience, had been unsuccessful in obtaining land. The position is much the same in all the States, although the situation is not so acute in Western Australia. It cannot be gainsaid that, taking Australia as a whole, it is extremely difficult to obtain land. A friend of mine who once risked his life for me, has been waiting two and a half years to obtain land in Western Australia. So long as the land is not required by others, I have no objection to 16,000 square miles being leased to one man; but, in my opinion, a cultivation tax should be imposed on land in order to ensure that it shall be put to the best use. Naturally, the imposition of such a tax would be described as robbery by those who now hold large tracts of country, but if the tax were payable only in respect of land which was not being put to the best use, there would be no injustice. A tax of that nature would prevent huge areas of land from remaining practically useless. In many parts of Victoria one can see land which, if cleared of stumps, would be a valuable asset. We grow more wheat than our people can consume, more wool than is required for our own use, and more meat than we can eat. We therefore have a surplus of these commodities. In this connexion I desire to pay a tribute to the assistance rendered to our primary producers, particularly those among them who are returned soldiers, by the present Minister for Markets (Mr. Paterson).
Turning now to our secondary industries, I am impelled to ask whether there are not unlimited opportunities for development. Are not Australian boots and tweeds equal to the best that can be produced in other countries? Yet large emporiums in Bourke-street Melbourne, like the Myer Emporium Limited and Buckley and Nunn Limited exhibit in their windows suits made of imported material, costing from £8 8s. to £10 10s. The existence of a really protective tariff which would keep out every article of clothing which should be manufactured in Australia would immediately set in motion the machinery now lying idle in our clothing factories. The depression in the clothing trade caused by the importation of manufactured articles from other countries has forced even some Flinders.lane establishments to close their doors. Notwithstanding that we have inherited the genius of the European nations we have not done what Japan has done.. Yet that country has only enjoyed the benefits of Western civilization for a period which is less than the span of my own life. Some years ago when J visited Yokohama the vessel anchored outside that splendid breakwater which Japan built in honour of the United States of America because that country returned the indemnity which Japan had been forced to pay. Beyond that splendid breakwater I saw the Renown, that splendid vessel on which the Prince of Wales travelled to Australia, and behind it still another vessel, the strongest fighting machine ever launched. That vessel belonged not to the British, the American or the German Navy, but to that of Japan. Three times in the history of naval shipbuilding has Japan attained a similar distinction. We have built some fine ships in Australia, but we have not equalled those built by Japan. I hope that the Government will do more for the unemployed than the words of the Prime Minister appear to indicate.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Yesterday some honorable members on the other side took the Government, particularly the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to task because of the unsatisfactory state of the country’s finance. The honorable members for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) said that the Government’s financial policy was extremely faulty. They referred to a probable deficit of £3,000,000 at the end of the present financial year. When we reflect that that deficit will result from the year’s transactions, notwithstanding that at the commencement of the year the Govern- ment had an accumulated surplus of over £2,000,000, the seriousness of the position becomes apparent. Some honorable members have realized for a long time that the swollen surpluses of which the Treasurer has boasted could not last. They realized that an undue inflation of customs revenue, rather than financial skill on the part of the Treasurer, made such surpluses possible. The existence of a revenue tariff made possible the importation of cheap foreign goods, swelling the customs revenue. It is remarkable that our finances should be drifting in this fashion when we remember that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) .came into office to “switch on the light”, to use his own words. When he sat in the ministerial corner as leader of the County party, he boasted how, by turning on the light he had compelled the Nationalists to “drop the loot,” and he asked’ us to believe that if he were placed on the treasury bench, then, as if by a stroke of magic, everything would be. well with Australia. It is, indeed, a great reflection upon the honorable gentleman’s administration that after five years of office even honorable members “on his own side find it necessary to plead with the Government to mend its ways. The castigation of the Government by the honorable members for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) was well deserved, for it is obvious that un lea something is done to stem the financial and industrial drift, this country will find itself in “ Queer-street.” It is to be hoped that other honorable members on the ministerial side will summon up sufficient courage to be equally frank in their criticism. As the honorable member for Wannon pointed out, the financial position would have been much worse but for the late October rains, which converted a threatened disastrous harvest into a comparatively good one. I know that in the Riverina, where great quantities of wool and wheat are produced, the outlook before the rain fell was very serious, but actually a fairly good harvest was reaped. That happened in other districts too, but, unfortunately, some parts of Australia suffered severely from drought. I shudder to think of what would have been the Treasurer’s position had the drought been general, having regard to the fact that even a partial failure of our crops has converted an estimated surplus into a large deficit. This occurrence emphasizes the need for regulating our finances to provide against these periodical setbacks. It also makes us realize our dependence upon the primary industries, when a falling off in primary production is immediately reflected in the national balance-sheet.
I turn now to the inequitable distribution of expenditure by both Commonwealth and States. I do not wish to set the country against . the cities. The requirements of the cities must be met, but those moneys which governments have available for developmental work should be more fairly apportioned between rural and urban areas. Unfortunately, whilst all governments feel called upon to keep down expenditure in country districts, the same vigilance is not exercised over the expenditure in city areas. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) drew attention last night to the lavish expenditure in Canberra, where, he declared, money is thrown into the sink without any regard for the taxpayer. Yet it is almost impossible to get money for country requirements.
– Join the Country party !
– The disabilities under which the country districts are labouring are despite the fact, if they are not actually because of it, that half the members of the Ministry belong to the Country party. Rather than join that party, therefore, one would be better advised to keep well away from it.
– That party lost the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart).
– Partly because of what I am complaining about to-day, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) withdrew from the Country party, which was elected to carry out a policy the very opposite of what it is doing to-day.
– Is not all the roads-aid money spent in the country?
– There is not nearly as much as should be spent there.
– The whole of it is spent in the country?
– I do not say that no money is spent in the country ; my complaint is that in comparison with the cities the rural areas fare very badly. In New South Wales the combined Com.monwealth and taxation last year amounted to about £16 per head of the population. A large proportion of that money was expended on public works, and I have consulted the schedule issued recently by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) to ascertain how much of the Commonwealth expenditure was allocated to country districts. I turn first to the Postmaster-General’s Department, to which country people look for those conveniences and facilities that mean the difference between isolation and civilization. Among them are telephonic and mail services.
– And 54 per cent, of the expenditure on such services was in the country.
– The facts show that the greater proportion of the expenditure, as outlined in the schedule to which I have referred, was in the cities. For instance, the expenditure in Sydney was £491,192. Nothing like that amount was disbursed in the country districts of New South Wales.
– How much land tax does the Government collect from the city of Sydney?
– I shall leave the honorable gentleman to answer his own question, but I do know that the Riverina, which comprises the districts represented by the honorable member for Riverina and myself, is responsible for about two-thirds of the revenue of New South Wales.
– Gwydir provides the other third.
– Gwydir has, I suppose, suffered like my division. I have received many letters from my constituents complaining that departmental works which had been approved have not been put in hand. The reply to every question I have asked of late on this subject has been “ Funds are not available.” According to this schedule the amount of money provided for postal works in New South Wales country districts is only about £36,320, and for the Riverina only about £8,000. 1 find that in Victoria an amount of £207,385 is to be spent in the city and only £10,522 in the country. I ought to make “i’t clear that the cost . of° certain works specified in the schedule, and recommended by the Public Works Committee, is not stated. I have allowed £25,000 in each such case for only works estimated to cost’ that amount have to be referred to the committee; but it is much more likely that the city works will cost a good#deal more than that, while country works cost, generally speaking, only a little above the minimum. In this respect, therefore, my figures favour the city as against’ the country. I am not taking defence works into consideration.
– What about the river Murray works?
– The cost of them is met by the Commonwealth and the three State3 concerned, and they can hardly be taken into consideration. In any case, it is chiefly postal services that the country people need so far as the federal arena is concerned. One would hardly expect a Government which includes representatives of the Country party to- deal with the country districts in this niggardly fashion. But. unfortunately, the New South Wales composite Government is also treating the country districts in this unfair way. Recently the Riverina Development League was formed with the object of stimulating development in the Riverina, and enlisting the sympathy of governments to treat the district as it deserves to be treated. The chairman of the league is deeply interested in the welfare of the Riverina, and has made a timely complaint that in the present proposed expenditure of a sum of £11,700,000 by the State Government, £2,500,000 is to be spent in Sydney and £1,100,000 in its environs, which leaves comparatively little to be expended in other parts of the State. It is to make effective protests against discrimination of this kind between the country and the city that the formation of such leagues as the Riverina Development League have been found necessary.
– Fifty-four per cent, of the expenditure on telephone construction work this year is in country districts.
– This schedule does not bear out that statement and besides, the wants of the cities have already been largely satisfied in this regard.
– The schedule to which the honorable member has referred only takes buildings into account, and, moreover, covers only one quarter of the year.
– I do not consider that to be an answer to my complaint. According to the schedule, only £8,300 is to be spent in the Riverina district.
– Only £600,000 is to be spent on postal buildings throughout the Commonwealth in the whole year.
– That does not absolve the Government from the charge that it is neglecting to provide, satisfactory services for country districts. If three times £600,000 were spent in this way, it would not be sufficient to meet the needs of the case. Can any one honestly argue that it is just to spend only these insignificant amounts in the Riverina district when it provides twothirds of the revenue of the State? I am only taking Riverina as an example. Last year 15,000,000 bushels of wheat and 250,000 bales of wool were produced in the Riverina, the population of which is about 250,000. Its production of wheat and wool, therefore, amounted to one bale of wool and 7£ bushels of wheat for each person. The Postmaster-General will agree that it is an important part of the Commonwealth .
– I do.
– It is unfair that out of State allocations amounting to over £11,000,000, only £250,000 should be allocated to the whole of the Riverina. Only £8,400 has been allocated by the Treasurer for postal buildings in my electorate and that of the member for Riverina. This district is a very rich one, which produces great quantities of wheat and wool, besides dairy produce, maize, millet, tobacco, and, on the irrigated areas, rice as well.
– The honorable member suggested that his district was being unfairly treated because it received an allocation of only £8,400. I remind him that there are 75 electorates in the Commonwealth, and £8,400 for each of them would bring the total amount up to over £600,000, which is approximately the amount of the vote. Bte will see, therefore, that his district has been treated fairly.
– It may be a fair proportion of the £600,000 which has-‘been voted, but that £600,000 might not represent a third, or even a tenth, of what is actually required. Besides the Postmaster-General includes in the 75 electorates all the city constituencies, where their wants have been largely supplied in this respect. My locker is full of refusals from the department for buildings which are urgently needed. Probably the representatives of other districts have had the same experience. The Riverina district, which includes my electorate, is a rich and important district which, during the last drought, was the means of saving thousands of sheep and cattle from starvation.
Last night the Prime Minister said that
Ave should produce more, and I remind him that here is an opportunity to carry his policy into effect by securing cooperation between the Development and Migration Commission and the Riverina Development League. There has been much talk about this commission, but where is it to-day, or what is it doing? It is lost in the wilderness? There are immense possibilities in the Riverina for further agricultural development, and for the introduction of hydroelectric schemes, and the people need such advice and assistance as could be given to it by the Development and Migration Commission, if they are to be able to take advantage of their fair share of the £34,000,000 which is being made available by the British Government. Whatever Minister is responsible for that commission should give us some information as to what it is doing now, and what it proposes to do in the future. Is it possible to enlist the assistance of the commission in the development of the Riverina? Last night the Prime Minister said that Ave must develop our primary industries, but we have heard that cry from him at frequent intervals during the last five years. We are now facing the prospect of a big financial deficit, but nothing of a practical nature is being done by the Government either to increase our production or to improve our overseas marketing arrangements, which are the weak link in the chain of production.
– The Scottish delegation has pointed that out.
– Every intelligent . tourist who goes to’ Great
Britain has done the same thing. If we could get the necessary assistance from the Development and Migration Commission, it might be possible to put production on a right footing, but it is also the duty of the Government to see that marketing arrangements are greatly improved. Ministers must be convicted of speaking with their tongues in their cheeks when they urge increased production, yet persistently refuse to do anything towards improving our markets. The people are getting tired of this sort of thing, and are calling for actions in place of words. The effect of the inequitable distribution of public money between country and city areas is to aggravate further the curse of centralization. I know of nothing which is of greater need in the country to-day than decentraliz ation .
– The Treasurer has fallen down on that job.
– The Treasurer said that he came into this House with a searchlight. We were given to understand that if he and his party got into power the finances of the country would be placed on a sound footing. Yet to-day we are faced with the prospect of a deficit of £3,000,000, and this in spite of the fact that we started the financial year with a surplus of £2,000,000, showing that the finances have gone to the bad during the year by £5,000,000. It is no wonder that honorable members, even on the Government side, have been calling attention to the drift in our finances, and urging the Government to cut down the waste that is going on.
.- I was delighted last night by the lucid explanation given by the Prime Minister of the country’s financial position. It was an excellent statement of revenue and expenditure. It was submited to honorable members in the most lucid manner, and was altogether unobjectionable so far as it went. I wish to go further. The statement of the Prime Minister was accurate within a given range, but he did not tell us how the money had been expended, and what benefit the nation had received from that expenditure. It has been an easy matter to administer the affairs of this country during the last few years. When the Prime Minister was Treasurer, he introduced a new method of presenting the public accounts,, and that enabled a person to see at a glance the condition of our finances. That is not the practice to-day. Too many things are kept out of sight. The people would have more confidence in this Government if the public budget disclosed every item of expenditure. The community should know a great deal more than it does of the financial position. At this time of financial stringency we should put every penny of public money to the best use. Had this country not its vast potentialities, it would have been ruined long ago by our extravagant administration. We should expend our money wisely and well, and seek to relieve those who are in distress. Much has been said about efficiency in administration, but are we getting it? What we require is real efficiency, with a consequent benefit to the nation. We want efficiency inside as well as outside ministerial administration. There is too much ministerial administrataion by delegation. In the last few years we have appointed hundreds of commissions, boards and inquiries of various kinds.
– The honorable member supported the appointment of every one of them.
– I did not. Administration by delegation is not the proper way to govern this country. It is extravagant and must end. When our good seasons disappear, we shall be in a hopeless financial position, and if that happens the Government must accept the responsibility. Much of the work that has been delegated to boards and commissions should be carried out by this Parliament.
– The honorable member should have said that when those bodies were being appointed.
– I have always maintained that. I was educated in a political school that was opposed to members of Parliament travelling all over the world at Government expense. It would not allow a royal commission to travel even from Adelaide to Melbourne except under extraordinary circumstances. We have too many boards and commissions. Mr. McGrath. - The honorable member did not oppose their appointment.
– I supported the appointment of many of them, but their work has been a disappointment to me. Had we efficiency in ministerial posts, and had the Government sought the advise of our financial experts, we should not now be in our present unhappy position. It has been admitted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and other members of the Government that they candidly believe that the less the Government meddles with the instrumentalities of the community the better, provided that those instrumentalities are capable of being conducted by private enterprise. “We have lost millions of pounds through meddling in things which could have been done infinitely* better by others. The system of doing work by contract should have been put into operation to a much greater extent than has been the case. There are times when, in the interest of the nation, the government itself must act. The circumstances should be scrutinized closely before any decision is arrived at. It all resolves itself into a question of administration; if the administration is inefficient, it does not matter much what system is adopted.
Let me now refer to some of the special commissions which have been established.
– Commissions the appointment of which the honorable member supported.
– The people of Australia know well how these matters are dealt with by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), notwithstanding that as a member of this chamber, it is his duty to assist in the development of the undeveloped portions of Australia. There have been numerous occasions on which commissions have been appointed to do work which the Government itself should have undertaken. Unfortunately, the men who have been appointed have not all been capable. Sometimes the Government has appointed inefficient men to commissions, and not until later has it realized how serious has been the mistake it has made.
– “Was it not the boast of the Government that it would restore responsible government ?
– That cannot be done now! Already large sums of money have been lost.’ There is no reason why our
Public Service should not undertake three-fourths of the work now entrusted to special commissions. The Government has searched all over Australia for men, and has paid them three, four, or five times as much as it pays its best public servants, who could have told the Government what it wanted to know. We have a splendid Public Service. In its ranks are men who, with one or two exceptions, are as capable as are any of the men whom the Government has “appointed as special commissioners.
– Most of the commissioners who have been appointed would be helpless but for the members of the Public Service.
– That is true. If a man placed in charge of an important department of the Public Service is not qualified to hold his position, he should be replaced by another. There is another side to this question - I refer to ministerial efficiency. What is the use of having an efficient Public Service if it is controlled by men who know no more about the functions of a government department than does a tom cat? If the head of a department knows his job, he should be allowed to do it.
Honorable members are fully aware that the Government has been spending merrily huge sums of borrowed money. Apart from money borrowed to meet war liabilities, the Commonwealth has increased borrowing by £164,000,000, and the States £367,000,000. What assets have we for that expenditure? There ought to be an annual stocktaking by every government in Australia. That stocktaking should take place in good seasons as well as in times of drought. Money is spent freely in good seasons, with the result that when times are bad we feel the pinch. That pinch is felt most by our primary producers.
– Did not the Treasurer, when a private member, advocate that the searchlight should be thrown on Commonwealth expenditure ?
– At that time the searchlight was not so necessary as it is to-day. The Treasurer should now take his own advice. He should bring that searchlight from where it reposes among the dust of1 the museum and throw its beams on his* own administration’.- ‘ In the interests of Australia the Government should call a halt. Not only are the people of Australia burdened with excessive direct taxation, but every year an increase of over £3,000,000 is wrung from them by means of the tariff. I am a believer in a reasonable tariff, but not in a tariff gone mad. Much of the suffering which we see to-day is due to our fiscal policy. In this connexion honorable members opposite are much to blame. Apparently they believe that no tariff can be too high.
– The honorable member could apply that remark to honorable members on both sides of the chamber.
– So far as honorable members on this side are considered, the statement requires some modification. Nevertheless, there is a danger that they will soon be as bad as those who sit opposite. The Standing Orders prevent me from referring to certain matters at length at this stage ; but I desire, by way of illustration, to refer to certain legislation with which this House has recently dealt. One clause provided that the practice of the court in fixing the basic wage should not be interfered with. No sane man wants to alter the basic wage; but economic principles, as everlasting as the hills themselves, sometimes render such a course necessary. “ Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” If a man does not sow, he cannot reap. What is this economic principle which secures to the worker a basic wage at the hands of the court? The principle is right; but it should be made practical. If the two parties in industry will both put their necks into the collar and do the right thing, all will be well.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) praised the Prime Minister’s exposition of the financial and economic position of the Commonwealth. I do not know what satisfaction he derived from the right honorable gentleman’s statement, because the Prime Minister reminded me of a blind man seeking in a dark room for a black cat that was not there. The honorable member rIm Wakefield is noted for his ex travagant statements at all times. He has frequently indulged that propensity at the expense of myself. A few nights ago he said that as the result of a strike at Darwin I was instrumental in deporting certain officials from the Northern Territory. I am rather proud of the part I played in the deportation of those gentry, but that action was the culmination not of an industrial strike, but of open revolt against a tyrannical system of government. The honorable member’s misstatement of the facts was characteristic. He never loses an opportunity to traduce the advocates of labour principles. His ecclesiastical training ought at least to have taught him the virtue of tolerance. He spoke of the need for efficiency in industry, but he made no endeavour to expose the real cause of inefficiency. Nobody will deny that industry is more highly organized in the United States than it is in Australia, yet statistics quoted by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) on one occasion showed that in some industries there the apportionment of blame for inefficiency was - management 65 per cent., labour 10 per cent. The honorable member for Wakefield has not suggested that a searching investigation should be conducted with a view to allocating the blame for inefficiency in Australian production. If such an inquiry were held it would probably disclose that the main responsibility for inefficiency in our industries must be debited to management and not to labour. When the honorable member dealt with economics he made no attempt to get down to basic facts, but merely repeated the old parrot cry that the present state of society is economically unsound. He enunciated no new ideas. His principal contribution to the debate on this subject was a defence of companies which water their stock and yet expect to earn dividends of 1 and 8 per cent, on their fictitious capital.
For much of the unemployment at present existing throughout Australia the Commonwealth Government is responsible. Recently I quoted statistics showing that on certain construction works that are being carried out by this Government between 56 and 60 per cent, of the employees are foreigners. During a period of financial stringency it is the duty of the Government to give preference to Australian citizens in connexion with all public works. I have known hundreds of good Australians to be tramping the country while newly-arrived foreigners who have not been naturalized, and who, in fact, have no desire to become citizens of the Commonwealth, were receiving preference ongovernment works. The danger of this foreign invasion has been repeatedly brought to the notice of the Prime Minister, who however has excused the inactivity of his Government by saying that international complications might arise if steps were taken to restrict the influx of foreign migrants, even during a period of scarcity of employment. I quote the following from the Melbourne Herald of the 5th June -
Alt. Must Leave. (Published in The Times.)
LONDON, June 3. - The Times correspondent at Geneva says there is widespread surprise at the action of the Italian Government in forbidding Swiss workmen to enter Italy and expelling the Swiss domiciled there. None is exempt from expulsion.
An extreme case is that of a Swiss foreman who has been employed for 40 years at a cotton factory at Somazzli.
Switzerland welcomes thousands of Italian labourers and hopes that she will not be compelled to take retaliatory measures.
In view of that statement, of what value is the Prime Minister’s argument that international complications might ariseif the Government endeavoured to limit Italian immigration?
– It is. Rightly or wrongly, Mussolini is not deterred by fears of international complications from doing what he considers to be in the interest of his country. He said to the Swiss “Out . you go,” and out they went. Not only does he prevent the immigration of foreigners, but he expels those who have been resident in Italy for 40 years.
– I did not know that the honorable member was an admirer of Mussolini.
– I am not. I have been contrasting Mussolini’s promptness in conserving the interests of his countrymen regardless of consequences, with the pusillanimous attitude of the Prime Minister.
– Mussolini is secure, with the strength of the Italian army and navy behind him, while Switzerland has not even an army.
– The point I am endeavouring to impress upon the Government is that Mussolini is not afraid to conserve the rights of his countrymen, but because the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) and his colleagues remain silent, 60 per cent, of the men employed on certain Commonwealth work’s are foreigners, although Australians are walking the country in search of work. The excuse offered by the Prime Minister for the existing unemployment was the shortage of Commonwealth, funds. That statement is not consistent with the recent proposal of the Government to provide £500,000, and incur an indefinite incidental expenditure, for an empire exhibition to be held in Sydney. Apparently the Treasurer did not anticipate any difficulty in financing an exhibition that would be of no practical value to Australia, but in regard to national works sanctioned by this Parliament the Government pleads a shortage of money.
I represent an area which is capable of absorbing many hundreds of thousands of settlers if its land laws are intelligently administered. The settlement of the Northern Territory and other vacant parts of Australia will not be hastened by introducing hundreds of thousands of people from overseas to compete for work in an already congested market, but if the country were developed in advance, newcomers could be absorbed as fast as they arrived. In such circumstances I would say that the faster they arrived the better for Australia. Unfortunately, owing to the present system, parts of Australia remain as undeveloped as they were a century ago. The Northern Territory consists of an area about three times the size of Victoria, and transport facilities are essential to its development. Its coast line is about 1,200 miles in extent. Shipping facilities are absolutely necessary in this country, as the Government has recognized, but let us investigate how it has endeavoured to provide them. First of all it purchased a boat called the Leichhardt, which rendered excellent service until it was destroyed by fire at sea. Next the John Forrest was purchased at a cost of £16,000. It also did useful service. But about that time the Government became possessed of a violent hatred for anything in the nature of a government enterprise, and sold the vessel for £6,000.
– What reason was given for the sale?
– It was said that the service was losing about £4,000 per annum, and the sale was made ostensibly to save that amount. A contract was then given to a private concern which ran a boat called the Rachel Cohen. The Government provided a subsidy of £5,000 per annum for that service, notwithstanding the fact that the boat was obsolete and incapable of supplying the promised service. The contract was subsequently cancelled, and a new contract made with the owners of the John Alice. Subsequently this vessel was sold for £750, although Captain Davis made an offer of £1,500 for it. The Huddersfield then came into the picture, but it did not serve any period of the contract, although its owners enjoyed a subsidy of £5,000 per annum. A contract was next made with a Mr. Sleigh, in Melbourne, who commissioned a boat called the Marion Sleigh, to conduct a service. A subsidy of £10,400 was provided in respect of it. She was a rather large vessel, with a draft of 10 ft. 6 in., and consequently could not navigate the rivers; so the service’ had to be discontinued. All this time the people were without adequate coastal shipping facilities, although the Government had given them an assurance that these would be provided. As a matter of fact, some of the residents were on the verge of starvation because supplies had not come to hand. The next step in this tragic shipping history was the granting of a contract to the owners of a ketch now at Adelaide called The Active. This is a wooden vessel, 55 years of age, containing low-powered engines which will never be able to provide the service. The boat would not stand the vibration- of new engines even if they were installed. The contract specified that the service should be inaugurated in June, but those who know the conditions on the coast of the Northern Territory are aware that during the monsoonal period, which lasts from December to April, it is unsafe to conduct coastal shipping. Seeing that it will take two or three months to get the boat from Adelaide to Darwin, it appears that the people in the north will be deprived of shipping facilities for almost twelve months. All this has happened because a government vessel was being operated at a loss of £4,000 per annum. It is provided in the new contract that the coastal freight rate for cargo shall be £6 per ton. Seeing that it costs £3 per toll, plus handling charges, to land supplies at Darwin by the Burns Philp vessels, it will be seen that the settlers in the north are labouring under almost impossible handicaps.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) yesterday requested honorable members who criticized the financial policy of the Government to avoid generalities, and suggest specific economies. I do not pretend to be a financial genius like the Treasurer, and I have no desire for the singular distinction which he enjoys in that respect, but I can point to a few economies that could be effected immediately. The Prime Minister advised us to “dig deeper.” I do not know what he meant by that. Modern agricultural practice favours shallow rather than deep cultivation. There is plenty of evidence on the surface of things that the Government has been extravagant. I was interested to hear the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) aver that he had been converted to the view that it was unwise to delegate to commissions and boards powers which this Parliament should exercise. I submit that the Government has appointed boards and commissions chiefly to enable Ministers to avoid direct responsibility for their unsatisfactory administration, and to delayfacing the developmental problems which should be receiving earnest consideration. I suggest to ‘the Prime Minister that he could effect an immediate economy by dispensing with the services of the North Australia Commission. This body has recently submitted a report to the Government upon the problems which will have to be faced in North Australia, but it has only mentioned matters to which I have been directing attention for the last five years. It has declared that roads, railways and water conservation works must be put in hand. The Government should have been aware of the necessity for these essential services. It was not necessary to appoint a commission to direct attention to them. Instead of proposing an expenditure of £500,000 upon an Empire Exhibition in Sydney, the Prime Minister would be well advised to proceed with the construction of railway work in the Northern Territory. On this point the report of the commission states -
Practically no substantial economical development can be expected until a proper initial system of railway communication is provided.
It goes on to recommend -
That the Darwin-Daly Waters railway be forthwith extended to the Queensland border (a distance of 450 miles), with the ultimate definite object of connecting with Bourke (New South Wales).
The construction of that railway has been debated in this chamber, and had the Government allowed its supporters to express their opinion frankly, they would have approved of the work being put in hand at an early date. In this report the commissioners say that the railway extension traversing the Barkley Tableland should be proceeded with. This is an area which is admittedly suitable for sheep grazing, and large portions of it are capable of carrying a sheep to four acres. I think that the honorable member for Riverina said that the area could support 10,000,00f) sheep, but it all depends upon transport facilities. We have known that, not only since the appointment of this commission, but for half a century past, even when the Territory was under the control of South Australia. Everybody has recognized all along that without transport facilities it was impossible to develop this huge tract of country. We should seek to absorb our unemployed, and make room for migrants by developing the known areas of great potential wealth, areas which are capable of producing such staple commodities as wool and wheat. Expenditure on this railway could not be regarded as unproductive.
– Upon what tenure is the land held?
– It is practically all leasehold. Of the whole 500,000 square miles in the Northern Territory, only a very small area is freehold. The commission goes on to say in this report that the provision of reasonable transport facilities must precede the closer settlement and further development of North Australia, which merely bears out what I have been saying for a long time. The report states that the Darwin to Daly Waters Railway should be further extended to the Queensland border,, a distance of 450 miles, with the ultimate object of connecting with Bourke in New South Wales. Why has not the Development and Migration Commission gone into the broad spaces where the possibilities of development really exist? The commissioners are not in a position to say whether or not those areas are suitable for development. I made a personal recommendation to the commissioners, but was informed that although they sympathize with my suggestion, they could take notice only of recommendations which came from the Government. I brought the matter up in this House, but the Minister has not yet made any recommendation on the lines I suggested. From personal experience, I know that I could settle hundreds and thousands of men profitably in the north if transport facilities were provided. The settlers there would not be competing, to the number of 500, and even 800, for each small block of land, as they are in other parts of Australia. The land is there for any number of them, and it may be had at rentals of from ls. to 2s. a square mile. Settlers do not require much capital to get a start there. Owing to the inflation of land values which has taken place in the south, a man needs a fortune to buy into a property, and requires an enormous annual return to pay the interest on the capital expenditure.
– Surely the honorable member would not condemn unfortunate settlers to live in the Northern Territory when they can get land in other parts of Australia.
– I do not understand the honorable member when he speaks about condemning people to live there. I have condemned one of my own sons to live in the area of which he speaks, and I think that I have as great a parental interest in my son ae the honorable member has in his. I am not advocating something in which I do not believe. I am convinced that the possibilities are there. In spite of the pessimistic views of the honorable member for Riverina I am satisfied that if proper transport facilities are made available the progress of this area will confound him and all the other critics. In its nineteenth recommendation the North Australia Commission states that the construction of a railway from a point on the proposed extension from Daly Waters to the Queensland border and to a point on the Western Australian border should be fully investigated, and that the preparation of all information, including trial surveys, plans, estimates and reports should be completed. That is really the substance of the motion submitted by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning), to which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) proposed an amendment. I pointed out at the time that the amendment and the motion were inseparable, and that ‘s borne out by the recommendation of the commissioners. It is because those in charge of affairs do not grasp the possibilities for development in these areas that our population is not growing as rapidly as it should. When we consider the tragic results that have accompanied . the administration of the Northern Territory in the pest we cannot wonder that more progress has not been made. A bill was brought down some time ago called the North Australia Bill, under which it was proposed to cut the Territory into two sections divided by the 20th parallel of south latitude, the idea being to make the administration of each portion more practical. An ordinance has now been framed, however, by which it is proposed to revert to the old system, and the whole Territory will be administered from Darwin. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), who claims to take a paternal interest in the development of Central Australia, would do well to note the position that is being created in the north to-day. When introducing the North Australia Bill into the Senate, Sir George Pearce said -
The difficulties of administration under the present system cannot be realized by any one who has not actually experienced them, either from the point of view of attempting to administer the Territory from Melbourne, or from the point of view of those who have suffered from the administration in the Northern Territory itself.
Let us consider some of the difficulties in relation to communication. There is only one mail a month from Melbourne to Darwin, and it is not possible to receive a reply to a communication sent from Melbourne to Darwin under seven weeks. In addition to this disability considerable inconvenience, delay, and expense is incurred in the transmission of telegrams between Melbourne and the Territory. There is also great delay in the administration of Central Australia owing to the remoteness of Alice Springs from Darwin. When wc remember that the affairs of the people living in the southern portion of the Northern Territory are administered from Darwin, we can sec that their disadvantages are multiplied. Whilst the people at Darwin suffer owing to the fact that they are controlled from Melbourne, those at Alice Springs are even more remote from the point of view of time.
The distance from Darwin to the South Australian border is 1,107 miles. A communication from Melbourne to Alice Springs, directed through the Administrator at Darwin - assuming there was a convenient mail connexion - would take nearly three months to reach its destination, and it would be double that time before a reply could be received.
In view of all these circumstances, it will readily be seen that it is impossible to attempt to administer from Darwin that part of the Northern Territory situated south of the 20th parallel of latitude. It is therefore proposed to arrange for the administration to be carried out direct from Melbourne through an administrative officer at Alice Springs.
As it is proposed to connect Alice Springs with the southern railway system, it is hoped that the construction of that railway will lead to considerable pastoral and mining development in the southern portion of the Territory. This will, I think, justify the separation of the administration of the southern from the. northern portion of the Territory.
With that statement I concur, and at that time I was under the impression that the Government was serious when it stated that it desired to bring about more efficient administration, both of Central and North Australia. Later, however, it was found that this ordinance specially provided for the very thing which Sir George Pearce said was detrimental to the development of the Territory. Under this ordinance all business relating to land in the extreme southern portion of the Territory has still to go through Darwin, which means, in many cases, a delay of months, and prevents settlers from taking advantage of the Adelaide markets. By the time the negotiations have been completed through this roundabout channel, the opportunity for doing profitable business has gone. There is no provision made for the North Australia Commission to delegate its powers to any one else. The honorable member for Riverina, who has gone through part of this country will agree with me that it is impossible for any board of three persons to administer satisfactorily the whole of North and Central Australia at the same time. As the commission cannot delegate its power to any subordinate officer, either in Central or North Australia, it means that the development of Central Australia must be retarded while that of North Australia is pushed ahead. That is a scandalous state of affairs in view of the pronounced and definite statement made by the Government when the North Australia Bill was introduced. The Minister in charge pointed out the necessity for separating the administration of North and Central Australia, and now, after beating the drums and sounding a blast on the trumpets, he is reverting to the system which he previously condemned. His speech was very definite. He said -
It is proposed to connect Alice Springs with the southern railway system. It is hoped that the construction of that railway will lead to considerable pastoral and mining development of the northern portions of the territory. That will, I think, justify the separation of the administration of the southern from the northern portion of the territory.
There is nothing in common between the residents of Central Australia and those of Darwin, and that has been indisputably proved by the experience of many years of administration from Darwin. The residents of Central Australia are now to receive no assistance.
– They are too far away from the administration. .
– That is so. If the Government seriously contemplates the development of Australia, and is committing this country to an expenditure of a considerable sum of money for the construction of the railway to Alice Springs, it is only logical that it should also give effect to other propositions for the development of the country which the line is to serve. To-day the revenues from Central Australia are being collected by the North Australia Commission, whose financial jurisdiction is limited to North Australia. The slowness of the development of the north of Australia is some what discouraging, even more so than when South Australia controlled the Territory.
– What progress is being made with the railway?
– About a mile a day. The North Australia Act, which separated the administration of North and Central Australia, provided for the appointment of an advisory council. That council was looked upon by the residents of North and Central Australia as a means by which they could tender advice to the Government. The men that were selected as members of that council had had a vast experience of the possibilities and requirements of the country. Unfortunately, that council has never met, and even if it did meet it would have no authority to do anything. The control of Central Australia is now to be taken from that council and given to the North Australia Commission, as far as land and primary production is concerned. Does any honorable member believe that that will make for the development of Central Australia? Of course it will not. I protest against the action of the Government in reverting to a system which, on its own admission, was detrimental to the development of the Territory. One has only to meet the settlers in that area to discover that they are the finest type of mcn that we have in Australia. They have done the spade work in that country. They have been put to a colossal test, and have made good. They, therefore, should receive our consideration. Yet the Government now proposes to suspend the development of the Territory at a time when the nation is insisting that the Government shall cease immigration and provide employment for our own people. We have millions of acres of land in the north of Australia that could be made reproductive. The Government should institute a definite policy of development, both in the pastoral and mining industries, and if that were done I am convinced that in the near future that Territory would become prosperous and revenueproducing.
– I wish to refer to properties that are operated at a cost that is hardly covered by their reproductive value, and unless some means can be found of developing those properties they will not long remain in operation. Many of the mines that have closed down could resume operations if both sides in industry met together in conference, and decided that there should be a fair day’s work in return for the basic wage. At one time the Moonta copper mines were the most famous in Australia. They should have been closed down 20 or 30 years ago ; but the friendly relations existing between the owners and the employees enabled -the mines to operate until the last few years. The Moonta miners are equal to any in the world. They could have obtained higher wages at Broken Hill and elsewhere ; but they were content to remain in the homes provided for them by the mining company. It is a pity that these conditions d.0 not apply to other mining centres. There will be little improvement in the mining industry until labour conditions are more promising.
We have expended £9,000,000 in the Federal Capital Territory, and what can we show for it?
– The money has been wasted.
– I had the pleasure, as a Minister of the Crown, of administering this Territory for two years, and the money expended then was not thrown away.
– It was all thrown away.
– It was not. During my administration good results were obtained from the men. They were contented, and I was on terms of friendship with them. My experience is that, when the workers are properly treated, they, like other people, are not so bad after all. What is the position to-day? The Public Accounts Committee is making certain inquiries, and the evidence given before it has appeared in the press of Australia. It is startling enough to attract the attention of the public, and to warrant a thorough investigation. Who is to blame? The Government must accept the responsibility. Parliament cannot be held responsible, because most of the expenditure at Canberra was incurred when the seat of government was hundreds of miles away. The Minister is primarily respon sible. It is true that, to a certain extent, the Commission is under the control of Parliament, but in practice it has had practically a free hand. Apart from finding the money, Parliament has had practically no control of the Federal Capital Commission. Things have reached such a pass that there should bo no further delay. Those responsible must shoulder their responsibility. The people of Australia as a whole have a big interest in the Federal Capital Territory, for upon them falls the greater part of the burden. It is a shocking thing that an expenditure of £9,000,000 has been incurred at Canberra without a halt being called.
– Parliament had an opportunity each year of dealing with the matter. .
– Even assuming that money was voted annually by Parliament, and that there was an opportunity at least once a year to review matters, it must be remembered that the members of this Parliament were hundreds of miles away. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister), as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, has put some awkward questions to witnesses who have given evidence. If some of his questions emanated from his own brain, he is worth his weight in gold. Conditions at Canberra call for a thorough and immediate investigation; Parliament must know on whom the responsibility rests, and whether the delegation of authority to a commission has proved profitable or otherwise. The term for which two of the Commissioners were appointed is approaching its end. Before they are reappointed, the Government should make available to honorable members the report of the Public Accounts Committee.
– That would be only fair.
– It is the only decent thing to do. The existing state of affairs should be terminated as soon as possible in the interests of the people of Australia who have to foot the bill. Under existing seasonal and industrial conditions, things cannot remain as they are. Money which we are told frequently cannot be spared for enterprises which promise good results must not be wasted on works which will prove a dead loss. There are plenty of other fields in which public money could be well spent.
Many of the duties imposed by our tariff are not protective, but are imposed solely to produce revenue.
– - We need revenue.
– We should be in a worse position than we are in to-day if it were not that a lot of the money which has been collected through the Customs Department has been derived from duties imposed merely for revenue purposes. This Parliament ought to know in what direction the so-called surpluses of the past have been applied. Simplicity ought to be the governing factor in government administration. The public accounts should be kept in such a way that the people would know how their money was being spent and the results which accrue from its expenditure. I have referred to these, matters because of a sense of public, duty. If I have wronged any one, I regret it. I desire to injure no one, but to benefit all. Unfortunately, we have not abandoned the reckless methods associated with the times of war. Individually and collectively, we should put our nose to the grindstone, and practise thrift. We should act as we did when we were much poorer.
– We are indebted to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) for his sane remarks. He appears to be the only statesman on the other side of the House. He- has shown clearly how the country is drifting, and has been strong in his condemnation of the wasteful methods of the Ministry. I am sorry that he is no longer a member of the Ministry. As a Minister he worked well, and knew his job. While I disagree with him in many matters, I regard him as a big Australian, with a big outlook. There is much in what he has said about the wasteful expenditure of public money. The Government has appointed too many commissions, which have been barren of result. It is to the credit of honorable members on this side that they have consistently opposed the appointment of these commissions. The Government should govern the country, and not delegate its powers to commissions. Before the Bruce-Page Government assumed office, and appointed commission after commission, the country was ruled better than it is now. The present Government is notorious for appointing commissions whenever an awkward problem arises. Now that the Seat of Government has been transferred to Canberra, there is no sound reason for the continuance of the Federal Capital Commission. The work now entrusted to that body should be undertaken by a Government department under the control of the Minister for Home and Territories. The Public Service contains men capable of undertaking the work now performed by the Federal Capital Commission and its officers. In the past Government departments have carried out many big undertakings, such as the construction of the east-west railway and railways in the Northern Territory. Indeed before the appointment of the Federal Capital Commission much good work in connexion with the Federal Capital Territory was done by the Works and Railways Department. Mr. Murdoch, an officer of the department, now in Melbourne, should be at Canberra. If the development of the Federal Capital Territory were entrusted to a Government department, better results would be obtained than with the work controlled by the Federal Capital Commission. The Commisison has a staff of architects, engineers, draftsmen, clerks of works, and other constructional officers. So has the Department of Works and Railways. This duplication seems unnecessary. I do not propose to deal in detail with the waste of money in the Federal Capital Territory; suffice it to say, that many works have cost too much, and even simple cottages have been built at such costs that the rents which the tenants are required to pay are causing discontent throughout the Territory. All the big works in connexion with the Federal Capital - the electric light plant, water supply, brick works, and sewerage - were carried out before the Commission was brought into being. Where, then, is the need for three commissioners? And what does an ex-official of the Navy Department know about the building of a city?
– The honorable member did not vote once against proposed expenditure in Canberra.
– I always advocated the development of the Capital City, hut as a Scotchman I object to the waste of money, and I am pointing out that duplication of staffs means unnecessary expense. All the big buildings in the city were designed by Mr. Murdoch’s staff in Melbourne.
The Prime Minister has told us that the Commonwealth has little to do with migration; and that the number of assisted migrants arriving in Australia is regulated by State governments. Yet we are asked to vote about £400,000 a year for migration, I object to the present influx of migrants, especially those who are not of our own blood, while thousands of Australians are out of employment. If the Commonwealth has no control over nominated and requisitioned migrants, for what is the £400,000 required? Apparently all the Commonwealth has to do is to pay out and smile.
Compulsory military training involves further unnecessary expenditure. At one time there may have been some justification for such training, but men who served in the Great War said that, owing to the new conditions introduced into modern warfare, our trained men had to unlearn all that they had been taught at the expense of the taxpayers.
– That is nonsense.
– I am speaking on the authority of men who hold high positions in the military service.
– -Speaking from my own experience, I assure the honorable member that he has been misinformed.
– However that may be, when I have visited drill halls in my electorate, I have seen the trainees skylarking. Apparently all they learn is to march up and down a hall. If that training be necessary, they can get it at school. Australia is not likely to be involved in another war for some years, at any rate, and, if there is need for economy, this is one item of expenditure that can be reduced. I am confident that, if the people were consulted, they would vote against compulsory training. One of the most trying duties of honorable members is to receive the complaints of mothers and widows whose sons have been ordered into camp for the annual training, and whose earnings are thereby jeopardized.
– I know of people who object to sending their children to school.
– That explains why Tasmania is so backward industrially. The parents in my electorate have more wisdom. We might also cut down the military expenditure, for which I see ho need at the present time. If there were any risk of invasion our men would quickly rally to the colours.
I do not agree with the contention of the honorable member for Wakefield that the Commonwealth and the States are borrowing too freely. A new country cannot be developed without borrowed money. Though borrowed money may have been wasted on some works, the assets it has created are more than equivalent to the debt.
– I said that I do not believe in expending so much borrowed money without getting an adequate return.
– Even able business men invest in enterprises that do not return dividends for many years.
– I do not object to waiting years for a return from our national expenditure, if the prospects are good;
– I have confidence in the prospects and resources of this country, and I believe that the works constructed out of borrowed money will eventually yield a good return. The country has been developed by railways that have been built largely out of loan funds. So far we have only touched the fringe of the resources of this country; we must continue a progressive policy. If we discontinued borrowing and the construction of developmental works Australia would get a bad name. Nothing could be worse for the credit of the country than that thousands of our people should be unable to get work. Immigrants coming here for work and finding unemployment on every hand would write to their friends in Europe that Australia was not the prosperous country it was supposed to be. I do not blame the Government for borrowing for development works, but it should get the money as cheaply as possible.
– The British Government has offered to let the Commonwealth have £34,000,000 at a very low rate of interest for a number of years. So far only £5,000,000 of that amount has been received and paid to the States. The Government says that it is negotiating with the States, and that schemes for the utilization of the money will soon be ready for adoption. Yet while so much cheap money is waiting for us in England the Commonwealth is marking time in regard to public works.
– That is not the fault of the Commonwealth Government.
– The Prime Minister has stated that the State Governments have arranged with the Commonwealth to use that money upon works that have been approved. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to put some ginger into the States so that the works may be put in hand at once.
– We have to depend on the States to get the works started.
– Have not the States agreed to the conditions of the loan?
– They have agreed to the conditions, but the Commonwealth must wait for them to start.
– Cannot the Commonwealth itself expend some of that money? I have suggested means by which the Government can save money if economy is necessary. Surely it is better to reduce military expenditure rather than that thousands of men should be unemployed because the Government has not the funds with which to provide work for them.
– If the military expenditure is discontinued that will cause more unemployment.
– We hear a great deal about the economic waste due to industrial disputes. One may see crowds of people at football and cricket matches, on the race-courses, at the picture shows and theatres and tin-hare races, and hundreds of business men giving up valuable time to social functions, but if the workers go on strike for a few days they are adjudged guilty of economic waste. After all, a strike is no more than a holiday without pay for many workers. The Government should utilize the cheap money that is offered by Great Britain, and if it be necessary to borrow other money I would prefer that it be borrowed from our kinsmen in the United Kingdom. It ought to be unnecessary for us to go to America to obtain money. I should be quite willing for the Government to borrow from Great Britain at a slightly higher rate of interest in order to keep the business within the Empire. It is good policy to borrow money for developmental works, for by that means the country is made ready for the investment of private capital, and employment is provided for its people. The New South Wales Government has a permanent organization which provides rations for unemployed applicants. That is undesirable. The Commonwealth should ensure that work is available for all who need it. The Federal Capital Commission has recently dismissed 1,500 men. I trust that when this bill is passed money will be available to re-engage them.
.- I should like the Minister for Home and Territories (Sir Neville Howse) to inform me whether provision has been made to increase the subsidy paid to missions operating in North and Central Australia. I am particularly interested in the Finke River Mission which is conducted 80 miles from Alice Springs by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australasia. The mission has had to contend with severe drought conditions for some years past. We are at present subsidizing this work to the extent of £400 per annum. The mission provides food, clothing and shelter for 130. aged and infirm aborigines and aborigine children, and also provide education for the children in the English language. If it did not do so the Commonwealth Government would be morally bound to undertake the responsibility. It costs the mission £25 pelton to transport provisions from Adelaide to the mission station, while it only costs the same organization, which has a mission in New Guinea, £4 per ton to transport stores from Sydney to New Guinea. It will be realized therefore that the North Australia Mission is labouring under severe handicaps. Recently it had to pay £10 in railway charges on 11 cwt. of secondhand clothing, which was carried from Adelaide to Oodnadatta.
This mission is well worthy of more liberal support.
A site has recently been purchased by the Defence Department at Woodside in South Australia for military camp purposes. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform mo. whether anything is provided in this bill to commence the erection of permanent buildings on the site?
I also have a query for the PostmasterGeneral. Owing to seasonal and other unfavorable conditions there has been considerable curtailment in the South Australian railway service. This, however, is not peculiar to the South Australian railways. One effect of this is that persons living on certain railway lines on which there is only one train a week receive only a weekly mail owing to a provision that where practicable mails shall be carried at a poundage rate on State railways. Some of their friends who live eight or ten miles from the railway line receive a daily mail by motor. This causes considerable dissatisfaction. I should like the Postmaster-General to look into the matter.
We have heard a good deal of late about the amount of unemployment in Australia. I hold that this has been caused chiefly because we have had a comparatively poor season. The last South Australia wheat crop was 15,000,000 bushels short of that of the previous year. At 5s. a bushel this means that the wheat crop was worth £3,750,000 less this year than last. Such a loss must inevitably cause unemployment. We have, therefore, need to do everything possible to increase our production to minimize reverses of this description so that the results may not be so serious for the general community. A good deal has already been done in this direction by the adoption of scientific methods of cultivation. We are often told that there is no need for us to worry about our costs, because other countries must buy our products. It may surprise some honorable members to know that a pamphlet entitled Ten years’ progress in wheat-growing, written by Professor Perkins, Director of Agriculture in South Australia, and issued by the South Australian, Government, publishes the following table of the principal wheat-growing countries of the world -
– But the honorable member is surely aware that most of those countries consume more wheat than they produce.
– There is something in that, but it must come as a shock to us to realize that Great Britain grows nearly half as much wheat as Australia. Unless we can curtail costa in this industry it will be necessary for the Government to provide a bounty on wheat produced for export. In recent experiments conducted at the Turretfield experimental farm in South Australia it has been ascertained that it costs 4s. 7d. to produce a bushel of wheat. The details are as follows -
Labour is allowed for at the rate of £1 per acre. The bulletin in which those details are given was also written by Professor Perkins. It is entitled A plea for nation-wide research into the economic position of our various rural industries. I quote the following passage from it : -
I shall draw special attention to the costs of production of wheat. Over four successive seasons a mean harvest yield of 19.79 bushels has cost at Turretfield £4 10s. 7d. an acre, or 4s. 7d. a bushel to produce, irrespective of the cost of conveying the grain from the farm to market. Over the same period wheat netted us 5s. 7 id. at the farm door; our net profit was, therefore, represented by ls. lid. a bushel Statement “ B “ shows that in these costs labour has been represented hy £1 an acre. From this it follows that if we suppose a farmer working under Turretfield general conditions to have 300 acres under wheat, averaging 19J bushels per acre, for which he receives 4s. 7d. a bushel on his farm; and if in addition wc suppose the farmer and his family to be exclusively responsible for all manual operations; then, in such circumstances, the farmer and his family would, after due satisfaction of interest and depreciation claims, be remunerated for their labour at the rate of £300 per annum. But there would be no net profits, the latter becoming available only in proportion to the enhancement of the price of wheat above 4s. 7d. a bushel.
If we allow 6d. per bushel as the cost of transporting the wheat from the farm door to the seaport, it will be seen that there is very little profit in the industry for the wheat-grower. I am speaking, of course, of outer districts when I allow Cd. a bushel for transportation.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Professor Perkins goes on to say - .
It is perhaps advisable to stress again the fact that I am not putting forward these figures as typical of conditions obtaining throughout the Commonwealth, or even in South Australia only. It is certain that there are localities in which these crops can be raised at lower cost; but there are others in which costs of production per unit may be higher. At Turretfield soil conditions lead to relatively costly tillage operations; under Mallee conditions, for instance, corresponding work could be carried out at less cost. Again, whilst in districts with higher mean yields per acre than those quoted for Turretfield, costs of production per acre may be higher, the costs per bushel or per ton would probably be lower.
We are continually piling up the costs of primary production, and are rapidly nearing the stage when it will be impossible for primary producers to carry on profitably. One of the principal reasons for our existing unemployment is the imposition of unduly high protective tariffs. I have had a number of instances placed before me in which excessive duties had to be paid on machinery imported into Australia. Recently, I took the matter up with the Department of Trade and Customs in connexion with certain machinery installed by the Adelaide Milk Supply Cooperative Company Limited, a company which has over 500 dairymen shareholders. That company, being very progressive, imported new machinery, which was unobtainable in Australia, in the endeavour to keep its plant up to date, tt was forced to pay £4,000 duty on that machinery, merely because Werners, an engineering firm in Melbourne, claimed that they would be able to manufacture that machinery in Australia if they possessed the blue prints. The Adelaide Milk Supply Co-operative Company Limited went to the expense of engaging Ehmcke, a consulting engineer, to investigate that claim, and he reported that he considered that it would be impossible, without having a sample and the necessary blue prints, for any company to make a facsimile of that machinery, as it introduced some entirely new ideas. I placed that report before the Department of Trade and Customs, and was informed that that engineer was an employee of ‘tho co-operative company. I explained that he was a consulting engineer, and was told that as he had been paid a fee by the company he was their employee. If that reasoning is carried to its logical conclusion, a doctor or a lawyer would ]] ave’ to be classified as an employee. It was a wicked reflection upon the consulting engineers of Australia, and illustrates the attitude of the Trade and Customs Department towards the pampered individuals engaged in industry in the big cities. That customs tax of £4,000 imposes a levy of about £100 on each shareholder of that co-operative concern. If there is a sweated industry in Australia it is our dairying industry, and I protest vigorously against such an imposition. I have not finished with the matter. I am going to inspect a plant made by Werners which, they claim, is giving the same results in Melbourne as the plant installed by the Adelaide Milk Supply Cooperative Company Limited in Adelaide. If I find it is quite incapable of doing so I shall endeavour to obtain satisfaction from the Customs Department.
Some very serious sharp practices are put over the general public, of Australia from time to time. In 1926 this Government, introduced some new duties on cotton piece goods. In 1927 the late Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) was asked what effect the new duties had had on the price of cotton piece goods manufactured in Australia. He replied that the Australian public were now able to purchase cotton piece goods 10 per cent, cheaper than previously as a result of the increased duties. It was later discovered that, during the twelve months succeeding the imposition of that duty, the price of cotton piece goods had fallen to the extent of 20 per cent, in the world’s markets owing to the fall in the price of raw cotton, so that actually the Australian purchasing public was penalized by an additional 10 per cent. It is frequently claimed that lower prices will prevail if an effective tariff is provided. That is a fallacy that needs exposing. The late Minister for Trade and Customs stated that, as a result of the Australian protective tariff, the price of towels of British manufacture had dropped from 2ls. to 17s. per dozen, equivalent to a reduction of 20 per cent. “We are now aware that that 20 per cent, was the extent to which the price of cotton goods had fallen in the world’s markets, so that the Australian public gained nothing by the tariff, but paid 10 per cent, more for their requirements. We are also menaced by the activities of so-called “ patriotic “ manufacturers. Recently I rated their alleged patriotism at about 5 per cent., and their pocket interest at 95 per cent. Not long ago a certain individual appeared before the Tariff Board and asked for the imposition of a protective duty upon an article that he stated he intended to manufacture. He then wrote to an American firm that manufactured the article, telling that he had an idea that a very good market existed for its product in South Australia, and asking if they would be good enough to give him their agency in that State. He also requested that they should supply him with blue prints and all information in relation to the working of the business, in order that he might establish an efficient service organization, and effect any repairs that might be necessary. His letter was referred to a firm in South Australia which represented the American organization, with a request for a report upon it. It then leaked out that the person who desired to take over their agencies was identical with the person who appeared before the Tariff Board asking for a protective tariff. In the interval he approached two of the fitters employed by the South Australian agents, and offered each of them £1 if he would hand over his instruction books and blue prints relating to the installation of the machines upon which he worked. Fortunately, his machinations were frustrated. He was merely a thief, because he endeavoured to persuade honest Australian working men to sell documents which did not belong to them.
Reverting to the effects of the high cost of primary production, I remind honorable members that a few years ago we did not hear requests for bounties for this and for that, and the only reason why they are sought to-day is because we have an excessively high protectionist tariff. I am a moderate protectionist and believe that we should assist to establishing our secondary industries, but my gospel of tariff is that the first duty of the Government is to assist the primary producers. If the primary producer is in a bad way the country suffers. Most of the ills from which we are now suffering are due to poor seasons. If we increase production in our primary industries we shall return to prosperity. Never in the history of Australia have we had greater production in our secondary industries, yet we have never heard a louder outcry about unemployment. Unfortunately, primary production is becoming unattractive. Young people are not prepared to remain in the country and to make themselves slaves, in order to provide additional benefits for their cousins in the cities. My State, in particular, has not received a benefit commensurate with the enormous costs involved in the establishment of its secondary industries. Only recently I received a letter from the South Australian Chamber of Manufacturers asking me to advocate that a grant of £750,000 per annum should be made to South Australia, in order to recompense that State for the disabilities from which it is suffering as the result of federation. The letter candidly states that one of the greatest of those disabilities is the high protective tariff. As a South Australian, born and bred, I contend that we are building up two big cities in the eastern States to the detriment of the smaller States. I am not opposed to reasonable protection, but I am bitterly opposed to the imposition of a duty of from 65 to 70 per cent, on machinery which is designed to advance our secondary industries. That is an. example of protection gone mad. Everything is right in its place. Protection is good in moderation, and so is religion, hut I have known people to hecome religious maniacs, who have had to be sent to a lunatic asylum. There are members in this committee who, on the subject of protection, have gone tariff mad.
.- I desire to call attention to an industry of great importance to Central Queensland, namely, the cotton industry. On the 31st May the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) gave the following list ‘ of subjects which had been referred to the Tariff Board : -
I am glad that these matters will be investigated, but I should also like the board to consider the advisability of increasing the bounty on seed cotton.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The honorable member has a motion on the notice-paper dealing with that subject. Consequently he is not in order in discussing it now.
– That notice of motion will lapse, and I shall have no opportunity of discussing the matter at all. I do not, however, intend now to pursue the matter further than to read the following letter which I have received from Mr. R. Gustavson, the secretary of the Queensland Cotton Producers’ Association : -
I am directed by the members of the Wowan L.P.A. to ask your assistance in on endeavour to have the cotton bounty increased from11/2d. per lb. to 2d. per lb., irrespective of grade.
– The honorable member is now dealing with his motion.
– I have no intention of discussing my motion now, but I ask the Government to. reconsider its policy in regard to cotton, and to instruct the Tariff Board to consider the matter 1 have mentioned. The cotton industry in
Queensland is to-day in a very serious condition. The appropriation made by Parliament in 1926 is sufficient to provide a bounty of 2d. per lb. on cotton, instead of l1/2d. per lb. which is now being paid.
I also call the attention of the Government to a very fine report presented by the royal commission on the Queensland beef cattle industry. Recommendations were made by the commission that there should be closer co-operation between the State and the Commonwealth, and that a bounty should be paid on exported cattle. I have frequently advocated the same thing in this Parliament, and the Government has already spent a good deal of money in paying a bounty on the export of beef cattle. The industry in Queensland to-day is not paying.
– The cattle raisers have not had a bad season in Queensland this year. They have been getting their chilled meat down to the southern market at profitable rates.
– It is about time that Queensland did get some chilled meat on to the southern market; and it is a good thing for the consumers in New South Wales and Victoria. I admit that the butchers should sell it as chilled meat, but I contend that chilled meat is as good as fresh. The number of cattle in Australia is shrinking rapidly, and itis estimated that in about twelve years’ time we shall not be able to do more than provide sufficient beef for local consumption. At the present time 80 per cent, of the cattle killed in Australia are used for local consumption, and unfortunately the export price of beef determines the price at which beef is sold in Australia. That is not right.
– The honorable member’s statement is not right.
– I am referring to Queensland, not to Victoria.
– The honorable member said Australia.
– Half the number of cattle in Australia are in Queensland. I can, if necessary, give the actual figures, but of a total of about 13,000,000 cattle in Australia, about 6,500,000 are in Queensland. The population of that State being only 800,000, its people naturally cannot consume locally all the cattle raised there. At least 50 per cent, have to be exported, and the price obtained for what is exported determines the price paid to the Queensland producers for cattle purchased on the hoof.
– The last return prepared was for 1925, and we have not 5,000,000 cattle in Queensland to-day.
– According to the report of the royal commission, there are over 5,000,000 cattle in Queensland now, although it is hard to arrive at the actual number because of the difficulty in mustering the stock on the large properties. Large tracts of country in Queensland are not at present suitable for anything but cattle raising, so that it is in the interests of Queensland, and of Australia as a whole, that the industry should be fostered.
– What bounty does the honorable member suggest?
– I suggest the bounty which was previously paid. I do not know exactly what it was, but I think it was 10s. a head.
– A bounty of 10s. was paid on live cattle shipped to the Islands.
– That was the bounty previously paid, but I ask the Government to investigate the whole matter thoroughly. I do not want it to pay a bounty without first investigating the position. I ask that the report of the Queensland Royal Commission on the beef industry should be fully considered, with a view to co-operating with the State of Queensland in helping the industry. The annual value of the industry to Queensland is approximately £9,000,000, while its value to the whole of Australia is £20,000,000. In 1920, there were 14,441,000 cattle in Australia, while in 1926 there were only 11,118,000, showing that, owing to droughts, millions of cattle had perished.
– There never were 11,000,000 cattle in Queensland.
– I am quoting figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician. If the honorable member refers to production bulletin number 20 for the years 1915-16 to 1925-26, page 25, he will see that the number of cattle in Australia in 1921 was 14,441,309.
– The honorable member said in Queensland.
– I said that half the number of cattle in Australia were to be found in Queensland, namely, about 6,000,000. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) will appreciate the fact that the Queensland cattle industry is iri a very serious condition at the present time, and it would be a good thing if we could resume the payment of the bounty on exported beef. Cattleraising has not been profitable in Queensland since 1922. Working costs have been so great, and prices have fallen to such an extent, that thousands of selectors today are practically bankrupt. Many have had to go off their holdings, and the land is deserted and unproductive. Some who went into the industry a few years ago with what were comparatively large fortunes are to-day absolutely penniless. Anything which can be done by this Government or by the State Government to assist the industry should be undertaken at once.
– We recognize that we should do everything possible to assist what is a great industry, but droughts are one of Queensland’s chief difficulties, and we cannot legislate against them.
– We cannot legislate against drought, but when an industry is struggling to get on its feet after a drought, the Government can help it by paying a bounty, thus enabling those who have a few cattle left to obtain a payable price for them.
– But Ave cannot pay a bounty to one State and not to the others.
– I admit that Ave must pay the bounty to all the States, but some of them - such as Victoria - do not export beef. That State produces hardly enough beef for its own requirements. Dealing with this aspect of the matter, the royal commission to which I have referred, stated -
With regard to the transport of chilled meat interstate, there is every reason to believe that each year this trade will continue to expand between Queensland and the southern capitals, but if it is to be successfully operated it is necessary that proper organization should be effected so as to provide for the requirements over and above the supply which can he pro- vided locally by each of the southern States, and regular shipping accommodation. At the present time there is little organization in this direction, and as a result it is difficult to prevent short supplies or gluts of chilled meat arriving, with the result that up to the present the business, while useful, has been far from satisfactory. Both New South Wales and Victoria have declining numbers as far as beef cattle are concerned, and with their increasing population the necessity of importing supplies of beef will become more apparent each year, Large numbers of fat cattle have been trucked each year from the various parts of Queensland to the Flemington saleyards, to assist in providing supplies for the City of Sydney, and the question is, whether it would not prove more economical to convey the carcasses of the animals in a chilled state rather than the live animals over the extra distance of COO miles of railage.
– They have been doing that during the last six months.
– It has been done, but the distance is so great, and refrigerated space has been so hard to get, that operations have been restricted.
– The exporters have been given permission to use the refrigerated space on overseas ships.
– I know that a trade is being built up in this direction. It would be a good thing for the consumers and the cattle producers of Queensland if good, cheap meat could be placed on the markets of the various States.
Before Parliament goes into recess, I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs to submit to the Tariff Board the question of increasing the tariff on imported marble. Every year Australia imports £50,000 worth of Italian marble in the form of sawn slabs. In central Queensland alone, it is estimated that there are 1S,000,000 tons of the finest marble, which the geologists of the State declare is sufficient to supply the requirements of Australia for the next 50 years. Notwithstanding that, we continue to import marble from Italy. For a decade, at least, £1,000,000 is lost to Australia because of the importation of Italian marble. Marble deposits also exist at Angaston, in South Australia, and near Michelago railway station, about 30 miles from Canberra. The reasons why the Australian marble industry is not able to compete successfully with imported Italian marble are, first, the depreciation of the currency of Italy and the failure of the Commonwealth Government to impose a sufficiently high duty on imported marble; secondly, the low wages in Italy; and thirdly, the high wages and freights in Australia. In Italy the wages are from 5s. 3d. to 7s. a day, and the Italian Government, to encourage the working of marble in Italy before it is exported, pays an export bounty on worked marble, with a view to keeping as much work as possible in that country. That is a good policy for Italy, but I am putting up a plea for the Australian industry. A duty should be imposed on imported marble to enable the Australian marble quarries to be” worked, and thus give employment to a large number of our workers. It has been suggested by State authorities that the Australian marble is not of a high quality, but independent authorities, including Mr. Harold Parker, a sculptor of great repute, does not agree with that contention. On the 18th February, 1921, he wrote to Messrs. D. W. Custer and Company, Sydney, commenting upon plain white marble from central Queensland. He said.
The samples show quality equal in texture to most of the Italian marble imported into Australia and should find a ready sale amongst the monumental and building trades.
Mr. H. C. Richards, Professor of Science of the Queensland University, has stated -
From the dressed specimens it is seen that the marble can be worked very well indeed and there is no evidence of cracks or brecciation
There is a magnificent statue of Robert Burns in North Terrace, Adelaide. I had the pleasure of inspecting it last year, and I understand it is made of Angaston white marble. It has been standing for 30 years, and shows no signs of deterioration through exposure to weather.
– It is comparable with the statue of Venus not far from it.
– A considerable quantity of Queensland marble is being used in the re-construction of the Melbourne Town Hall. The bar of the Hotel Australia, in Sydney, is made of Queensland marble, and is showing no signs of deterioration.
I wish to bring . under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs the need for establishing wireless receiving sets at the lighthouses on our coast. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) is interested in this subject, as is Captain Rhodes, the editor of the Capricornian. The lighthouse keepers render a great service to the community, and it is the duty of the Commonwealth to study their convenience wherever possible. Recently I directed a question to the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I was informed that there were 63 manned lights, 92 automatic lights, and two lightships with automatic lights on the Australian coast under the control of the Commonwealth Government. There are 179 employees on the manned lighthouses, and the Minister promised me that he would go into the whole question, with a view to ameliorating the lot of these lonely lighthousekeepers. He pointed out that it would cost approximately £45 to establish a receiving set at a lighthouse station: Since then the Prime Minister has taken over the Trade and Customs portfolio, and no decision has yet been come to. I wish to know whether the Government intends to provide lighthouse-keepers with wireless sets. It is a full partner in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and the actual cost to the Commonwealth of these sets would be infinitesimal; but the benefits to the lighthouse-keepers would be considerable. It has been said that many of these men have installed their own receiving sets. If they have, that is no reason why the Government should not instal sets at each lighthouse, and allow these men to dispose of their own sets. If they are good instruments, the Government should purchase them.
I wish, finally, to refer to the royal commission’s report on the serum tragedy at Bundaberg, and it is with reluctance that I mention the subject in this chamber. The report is of a technical nature, and it is not possible for a layman to understand fully the medical terms contained in it. Honorable members are doubtless aware that last January the residents of Bundaberg a»d the surrounding district were advised by -the Bundaberg City Council to inoculate their children against diphtheria. The medical specialist said that the form of immunization proposed “was a fine pre.ventive. Many of the poorer people, with the best of intentions, took their children to be inoculated. It is not necessary for me to detail the tragedy that followed; but twelve children died as the result of the inoculation. In all, eig’h’t families were affected. I do not wish to see again such distressing scenes as those which took place at the funerals of those children. At the time I telegraphed to the Minister for Health suggesting that a full investsgation should be made. I give him credit for immediately appointing a royal commission, consisting of Dr. Charles H. Kellaway, Professor P. MacCallum, and Dr. A. H. Tebbutt, whose standing in the medical profession is very high. They made a full investigation, and their findings are as follow : -
In addition to those findings the commission made numerous recommendations. The first reads -
That biological products in which the growth of pathogenic organisms is possible should not be issued .in rubber -capped containers for repeated use unless there is present in the material a sufficient concentration of antiseptic to inhibit bacterial growth.
The fourth recommendation is that the Commonwealth Department of Health should make full and careful inquiry as to whether it is advisable to substitute anatoxin or some similarly modified immunizing agen’t for’ toxin-antitoxin, I was surprised at the action of the Minister in placing his report on (he ta’ble -without comment. I hope that he will give us some information respecting the intention of the Government, telling us whether a further inquiry will be made into the whole subject of immunization in order to clear the minds of the medical men, and to remove the prejudice that at present exists respecting this form of inoculation. I was at Bundaberg last week, and the parents of the deceased children waited upon me and asked what the Government intended to do. I informed them that it was awaiting the report of the Royal Commission, and that when that was received a statement would be made. When children are accidentally killed by motor cars in the street, their parents are able to sue for damages. The bereaved parents of Bundaberg have raised the question of compensation. I have given notice for to-morrow of these questions -
It will undoubtedly be of great benefit to science, as well as to future generations, to know whether this method of immunization is effective in preventing diphtheria, or whether some better method should be sought. These investigations will cost money, but they would not have been made had it not been for the sacrifice of twelve children at Bundaberg., Nothing that we can do will allay the grief of the parents of those children ; but a full investigation may prevent the recurrence of such an appalling tragedy. I hope that the Minister will indicate the intention of the Government in this connexion.
. -To-day I laid on the table of the House the report of the royal commission on the Bundaberg serum tragedy, and my first duty now is to acknowledge the very valuable contribution to science made by the commission. The desire of the commissioners was to find the scientific cause of the deaths of the twelve children who died at Bundaberg after they had been inoculated against diphtheria. Even a casual glance shows the report to be a highly complex and technical document, and, because of my definite promise to place it on the table at the earliest possible moment, I have not yet had an opportunity of carefully considering the scientific aspects of the tragedy dealt with by the commission. It seems to be clear from the report that the process of inoculation for the prevention of diphtheria, which has been used all over the world under all sorts of conditions without any accident occurring, has suddenly, in one isolated instance, become fatal to human life. The commissioners found that the product as supplied by the department was pure and sterile, but that after it left the department, and before it was injected into the children by some means it becomes contaminated. The Government intends, so far as is possible, to pursue the line of investigation suggested in the commission’s report. The report refers to very many matters to which long and tedious study must be given if a right understanding of the cause of these deaths is to be arrived at. It has been awaited with the greatest interest, not only by the people of Australia, but also by people in other parts of the world. The Government has had numerous inquiries from other countries as to when the report will be available. There is a general desire throughout the world to pursue the investigation to a final and satisfactory conclusion.
The appalling nature of the tragedy at Bundaberg should not blind us to the value of preventive medicine to the world. Since the discovery of this method of immunization from diphtheria, many hundreds of millions of injections have been made without many fatalities occurring. Whatever the expense, it is of the greatest importance that the inoculation of persons against disease shall be placed on a proper scientific basis, so that there shall be no retardation of the advance which has been made in the last ten or fifteen years in the prevention of disease. I give the House my assurance that at the first opportunity I shall carefully study the scientific aspects of this report, and call into consultation men who are competent to give advice in the matter, and particularly the members of the commission. Having done that, I shall, without delay, and irrespective of the cost associated with obtaining a clear understanding of the cause of the tragedy, bring the matter before Cabinet.
The report contains one or two items of the greatest importance. The commissioners recommend that certain steps be taken without delay to prevent the recurrence of a similar tragedy. One point which the public ought to know is that the preliminary examination indicates that the Behaviour of a certain group of microorganisms which the commission held responsible for the deaths of the children, was a departure from the usual action of those organisms on the human body. What happened at Bundaberg has never been known to happen previously under similar conditions. These particular organisms, the staphylococci referred to in the report, and allied organisms of similar groups, have been known for years; but on no occasion has this particular group or the allied group, followed the procedure they followed in the cases at Bundaberg. It is, therefore, essential that the life history of these organisms be further studied, particularly in their relation to humidity or climate, to other diseases, and to their hosts, that is children and others of specific ages. That is a recommendation in the commission’s report. I shall, as I have said, bring it before Cabinet at the earliest possible opportunity with a view to seeing whether it is possible to prevent further similar appalling tragedies.
– I regard this debate as a prelude to the debate on next year’s budget. Therefore, in the hope that some of the discussion may influence the Government I venture to make one or two suggestions. I hope that the Government will not take any special notice of the request made by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde). There is now scarcely anything grown in Queensland which is not assisted by a high duty, a bounty, or an embargo. Products ranging from marble to fluorspar have already been given assistance. I am surprised that a special duty has not been, asked for the protection of macaroni and garlic there. The revenue from such sources ought to be fairly large. The honorable member for Capricornia should recognize that the embargo on sugar considerably increases the cost of living throughout Australia.
– Would the honorable member remove the embargo on imported sugar ?
– Certainly I would.
– The removal of that embargo would kill the Queensland sugar industry. Yet the honorable member is a member of the Country party which professes to believe in assisting our primary producers.
– A commission inquired into the sugar industry and reported to Parliament that a duty of £6 a ton was more than sufficient. However, the cost of production in Australia has increased to such an extent that today a duty of £6 a ton would be almost useless. There is also an embargo on the importation of peanuts.
– There is no embargo on peanuts.
– There is an embargo on bananas, and it has ruined our trade with Fiji. Japanese children are able to obtain from Fiji the best bananas in the world, whereas our children must be satisfied with the worst.
– Queensland produces very good bananas.
– Good bananas are not procurable in the southern portions of Australia.
– “Yes, we have no good bananas “ down here.
– The Prime Minister in an elaborate address recently referred to the economic conditions of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition dealt with migration and unemployment, but he did not answer my question as to the cause of unemployment.
– The cause of unemployment is want of work.
– During the past five or six years the governments of Australia, both Commonwealth and State, have been guilty of extravagance. Unfortunately their example has affected the whole community. When Mr. Bruce introduced his budget in 1922 he told us that taxation would be reduced by £3,000,000, and that a similar sum would be provided for public works out of revenue, in addition to £900,000 for extensions of the telephone system. During subsequent years very little money for public works has been provided out of revenue, notwithstanding that since 1922 the revenue of the Commonwealth has continually been on the increase. It has now reached the amazing total of £78,000,000 per annum. “What are the people getting in return ?
– The honorable member should ask the leader of the -party to which he belongs.
– In 1921 the revenue from customs duties was nearly £32,000,000, whereas for the three preceding years it averaged about £16,000,000. Is it any wonder that people in Australia complain of the high cost of commodities? The Prime Minister said that we ought not to accuse the Government of extravagance unless we could point out directions in which it had been extravagant. I therefore mention the Development and Migration Commission with its enormous staff and huge expenditure, and ask whether it is not an example of extravagance. Again, what adequate benefit do we derive for the huge expenditure in connexion with the High Commissioner’s office in London, or the heavy expenditure incurred in the development of Canberra? Nowhere have I seen such extravagance and waste as I see daily in this city. The conditions here are scandalous.
– Yet the honorable member supports a Government which permits such things to be done.
– Who is responsible for the heavy expenditure incurred in providing concrete footpaths in Canberra? In Melbourne and Adelaide bituminous footpaths, which cost much less than do the footpaths of Canberra, give satisfaction. The cost of the billiard tables in this building has also been excessive. A Melbourne firm, which could supply a full-sized billiard table for £150, wanted £500 to provide tables to the specifications prepared. It takes four great boilers, generating sufficient power to run a 30-head battery, to heat this chamber. ‘Similar -evidences of extravagance are to be seen throughout this city.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the billiard tables cost £500 each?
– The three tables cost £875. The tender of a Melbourne firm was £500 each, and of a Brisbane firm £1,100. Yet in Melbourne a standard table ia supplied at £150, plus £6 10s. for packing. It is time the Government took action to curb this waste. When I was a member of the Public Works Committee, I always advocated that the Commonwealth should set an example to the community in the character of the buildings it erected; but I hate waste such as we see in Canberra, and elsewhere. We were told that the Hume reservoir was to cost £4,600,000. I was enthusiastic over that project, because I believed that it would enable tens of thousands of families to settle along the Murray river valley. Imagine my surprise when I was told that the cost was to be increased to £14,000,000. Fortunately, the expenditure is being reduced because, owing to the financial stringency, the full amount of money required is not available. I expected much of this scheme, but we now see the results of high costs and government interference. It is all very well for the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) to suggest presents of money to different sections of the community, bounties for the growers and increased duties for the manufacturers. No doubt we could make ourselves very popular by giving money to every mendicant section, but who would pay for our generosity? Honorable members opposite talk platitudes about the uneconomic condition of industry, but time after time they vote to increase the duties on imports, thus increasing the cost of the farmer’s machinery and other requirements. And yet they talk of reducing the co3t of production. I am tired of their hypoerisy.
– The honorable member’s indignation is mere affectation, because he keeps in power the Government that is responsible for the present policy.
– I do my best to point out to the Government the way it should go. I certainly have no desire to follow the honorable member, who tries to make the primary producers believe that they benefit by the imposition of heavy duties on mining and agricultural machinery. The honorable member voted for a duty of £9 per ton on barbed wire, and £10 per ton on wire netting, and yet pretends to be a friend of the farmer.’
– Were not those high duties introduced by the Government which the honorable member is supporting ?
– Honorable members opposite are always complaining that the duties are not high enough. The honorable member for Maribyrnong would build a tariff wall as high as the great wall of China in order to shut out imports.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) dealt at length with migration and unemployment. Cannot honorable members see that if we continue to take money from the people by heavy direct taxation and high tariff duties, and by the flotation of large loans within the Commonwealth, the funds available for development and the creation of employment must be correspondingly reduced. The fixation by the Arbitration Court of extravagant conditions in all industries, and the Navigation act impose further restrictions upon industrial development. The coastal provisions of the Navigation Act make it often impossible for the local manufacturer to sell his commodities in other States. Even the manufacturers of South Australia are complaining of the high freights, because they find that they have to pay from 42s. to 44s. a ton for coal. They cannot carry on their industries while they have to meet such costs. These are the conditions that are creating unemployment. Surely it is apparent to honorable members that when the cost of production is excessive, unemployment must result. How many men are holding huge areas of country on which they would like to carry out developmental work, but are deterred from doing so by the high costs, upon which they could not expect to get an adequate return ! The lot of the man on the land is not all beer and skittles. The recent increase of duty may put the butter producer in a sound position, but for some years the wheat and wool in dustries have been practically the only support of our people.
– Was the honorable member opposed to the increase of the duty on butter ?
– Yes, I voted against it, and if the honorable member had any sincere regard for the workers, he would have done the same. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) who has had long experience as a dairy produce merchant, pointed out that a heavy duty on butter is an imposition upon the worker. The rich- man’s family can afford all sorts of dainties, but bread and butter are the staple foods of the poor. When the cost of living is made unduly high, nobody can blame the worker for agitating and striving for increased wages. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), has stated that the effective wage to-day is less than it was in 1922. The economic policy pursued by governments throughout Australia during the last few years could not but create unemployment. Persons desirous of developing their properties and industries were scared by the high costs. A man must see some prospect of profit before he will invest his money ; otherwise he is courting ruin. I have previously spoken of the huge loss that has resulted to the community through the closing down of the Mr Morgan mine. In Queensland are huge deposits of copper and tin, the winning of which should give employment to thousands of men. Western Australia, too, has huge metalliferous areas, but owing to high costs mines in that State are closing down. When hundreds of miners are put out of employment, depression is felt throughout the community. If legislation deprives manufacturers and producers generally of all prospect of profit, they cannot be blamed if they withhold money from developmental projects. It would be absurd to suggest that this continent, equal in size to the United States of America which carries. 120,000,000 people, cannot find profitable employment for more than the 6,000,000 people who now occupy it. We have ample room for millions more, but we must have common-sense legislation, less interference with the people, less taxation, and less taking of money from one section to give it to another in the form of bribes and bounties. The sooner the Prime Minister appoints a board of sound economists to investigate the conditions of Australia and advise us as to our future policy, the better it will be for the people.
If we wish to build up this nation, we must export our goods and accept goods in exchange from other countries. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has supported big loan policies, although he knows perfectly well that money borrowed abroad must come to this country in the form of goods. Western; Australia is carrying out a great developmental programme. The progress of agriculture in that State during the last twenty years has been remarkable, and now the Government is trying to open up another huge area of land suitable for wheat cultivation. Yet, upon 7,000 tons of rails recently imported the State Government had to pay £12,000 in duty. That impost swells the revenue of the Commonwealth, but it is increasing the cost of railway construction, which later on must be reflected in higher freights upon the producers’ goods. We must get more people into this country, and they will come if the Government will alter its policy. Let us have moderate customs duties. I have never advocated free trade, but I see the folly of placing heavy duties on iron and steel, thus making the manufacturers’ raw material so costly that he cannot compete with the products of other countries.
– The honorable member would like Australia to get all its requisites from China.
– If the honorable member had any understanding of economics, he would realize the folly of placing heavy duties on iron and steel. If that industry is essential to the development of the country - and I say that it is - let us support it by bounties instead of customs duties, so that the manufacturer may have cheap iron and steel, and thus be able, with the aid of a moderate duty, to compete with the possibly more efficient manufacturers in other countries. I suppose no man in Australia is more competent to speak on the electrical industry than Mr. Julius, the Chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In a thoughtful speech he made in Hobart eighteen months ago, he declared that it would pay us to pension off all men engaged in Australia in the manufacture of electrical goods, and to remove the customs duties upon imported goods, so that the manufacturer, the man on the land, and the housewife, might have all the advantages of cheap electrical power. Not long ago the Postmaster-General informed me, in answer to a question, that in one year he had paid the Australian Metal Company, of Port Kembla, for copper wire for telephone and telegraph lines, £134,000 more than the price at which the wire could have been obtained from England. Australia can produce the copper, export it to England, and reimport it in the form of wire, more cheaply than the wire can be manufactured locally.
Some time ago I asked for a return relative to the drift from the country to the cities. I asked how many years it would take for the metropolitan area of each State and all the country outside the metropolitan area in each State to double their respective populations. I shall deal only with the figures for Victoria. They make the worst example. At the present rate- of increase Melbourne will double its population in twenty years, but it will take the remainder of Victoria, inclusive of Geelong and other cities, 302 years to do so. Will Melbourne in the next twenty years be able to find work for double its present population ? It will not be able to do so. Our economic policy is all wrong, and must be corrected. There is surely something “ rotten in the state of Denmark.” We should at an early date appoint an economic council of specialists, absolutely independent of party politics, to advise us on economic questions. I believe that honorable members opposite would be quite willing to reduce the tariff if they were convinced that it would be in the interests of the workers to do so. I am firmly of the opinion that our tariff has been chiefly responsible for the great increase in the cost of living, and for our present economic difficulties. The worker is not any better off, if he is as well off, to-day as he was in 1911, when his wages were only about half what they are now ; and hardly any of our primary industries are being developed on sound lines. Our butter export trade is being maintained only by the help of bounties, and that is also true, unfortunately, of our dried fruit industry. When Mildura was first established we were in high hopes that this industry would provide a living for tens of thousands of people, but our anticipations have been bitterly disappointed. Before we can establish industry on a sound footing we must reduce the cost of living. We must also introduce the competitive spirit into industry. That would do a great deal for us. We certainly must break down our high tariff wall. As an illustration of the effect that our tariff duties are having upon the people letme read the following extract from a report which appeared in the Argus on the 11th June: -
Piecegoods which are priced in London at 2s.6d. a yard are now quoted at 5s. 3d. a yard landed in Australia. Those at 3s.6d. cost6s. 11d., those at 5s. in London cost in Australia 9s. - and those priced in London at 8s. a yard can only he landed in Australia at 13s.6d. a yard.
We have the wool in Australia, and have imported up-to-date machinery to manufacture it, but we cannot sell our manufactured article at a reasonable price. It should be unnecessary for us to impose duties of 100 per cent, and more upon imported textiles. I have had invoices forwarded to me which indicate that a dumping duty of over 600 per cent, has been imposed upon children’s clothing imported from Belgium. That is madness. I should have no objection to a reasonable duty for the purpose of encouraging Empire trade; but many of the existing duties are absurd. Certain State Governments have said “ We must have Australian goods irrespective of what they cost.” That kind of thing has caused the troubles which are being investigated in Sydney to-day.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have listened to the fulminations of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) and some other honorable members opposite. They have severely criticized the Government. But I suggest that they should join the Antediluvian Order of Capitzers; an historic associa tion composed of persons who can always advise others how to play a game, but cannot play it themselves.
– Does the honorable member intend to defend the Government?
– Certainly not. I would destroy it if I could; but, unfortunately, honorable members opposite, who have been such severe critics of it, would be the first to rush to its aid if it were in any danger. They may well be compared with a gramophone record which repeats the same tune over and over again. The honorable member for Swan informed us that at the present rate of increase the population of Melbourne would be doubled in twenty years, and that of the remainder of the State in 302 years. His figures were all wrong.
– They were supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Wickens.
- Mr. Wickens only knows what has been ; he cannot tell what will be. Under a Nationalist administration, such as Victoria has had until recently, the population of Melbourne would be doubled in ten years, while it would take 604 years to double that of the rest of the State. I say this because of the marked tendency there is to permit land to be tied up in huge estates which cannot be worked to proper advantage. Some years ago the Canowie Estate in the division of the honorable member for Wakefield was subdivided with the idea of increasing the number of people in the district, but one man who already had more land than he could properly use, was allowed to buy three sections of it.
– The owners of that estate in England had only had a return of 3 per cent, from it for twenty years.
– I am of the opinion that the absentee owners of many large estates in Australia should be forced to make their land available for settlement. In that way it would be possible for the people who are herded in our cities to get out into the country districts. But honorable members opposite show no inclination to do anything to make that possible. They are causing thousands of migrants to be brought here to work in country districts, but they know well that work is not available there, and that these unfortunate people must drift back to the cities in order to get a crust to eat. This Government has shown how little it cares for the development of the country by relieving Crown lessees of land taxation. The evidence of that may be found in Hansard. At one moment honorable members opposite express sympathy for the millions of Japan, China, and India, who have not elbow room, but at the next they support a policy which forces our own population to live in crowded city areas when we have millions of acres unsettled and waiting to be developed. Are they prepared to increase the unimproved land value tax that was introduced by the Fisher Government? It is of no use to blame our tariffs, as they are to a great extent responsible for the success of our energetic and virile race. Without them our land settlement would be immeasurably less than it is to-day. As regards the drift to the cities, honorable members know well that the man who twenty years ago could not farm 500 acres, is now able to farm 3,000 acres comfortably. When I was a commercial traveller, I went ohe Wednesday afternoon to a town in the Murray Flats area. The shops were closed, it was cold, and there was a drizzling rain. In the commercial room of the hotel I found a man sitting by the fire, and addressing him, I asked if he was a farmer in that district. He was afflicted with an impediment of speech, and with some difficulty and hesitation he replied “ Yes “. I asked if he was having a day off on ac-. count of the rain and he said, “ Oh, no. I don’t work now,” and told me that he paid to have his farming done for him. I hazarded the opinion that farming was pretty arduous, especially in such weather, but he replied “ Not at all.” I said that I had always thought that farmers worked very hard, and he declared, speaking slowly, and stuttering, “Not now. You s-s-sit on your plough, you s-s-sit on your harrow, you s-s-sit on your cultivator, and you s-s-sit on your harvester. You sit on everything.” I know now that many farmers spend a good portion of their time sitting down ; some of them merely sit and watch their crops growing. In that district one can- not get into a show ground unless he starts early, because of the multitude of motor cars which clutter the ground. There are no buckboard buggies now, or, if there are, they are among the exhibits ; there are not even Chevrolets. Each farmer now aspires to a Rolls-Royce or a Sunbeam. Honorable members opposite squirm when I tell them these things, so that I must be getting beneath their skins, though that is a difficult task, as one could almost make motor tires of their epidermis, it is so tough. If there is a drift to the cities it is not because the cities offer greater attractions than the country, as suggested by honorable members opposite, nor is it due to our policy of protection. Farming is now comparatively simple because, with the aid of superphosphates, farmers are getting from ten to twelve times more out of their land than they did before scientific methods came to their aid. Some of the most prolific land of which I know is on Yorke Peninsula in the district of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster). He cannot deny that.
– That is quite true, but why does not the honorable member go on the land?
– If I were a younger man, and had an opportunity to do so, I would go on the land to-morrow. Indeed, at one time I was about to go on the land. When I returned from the war, and was kicked out of Parliament for going there, and sent to gaol for standing by my pals, I applied for a block on the river Murray. I was prepared to go through the preliminary training period of twelve months. I bought a couple of blankets through the Repatriation Department, and got ready. My neighbour was an officer of the Repatriation Department, and one night he informed me that next day I would be given my ticket to Morgan. I informed Mrs. Yates, and the next morning, when she was performing her wifely duty of bringing my cup of tea she also brought the newspaper, and in it I saw that there was a strike on the Murray. So I did not go on the land. My claim, however, still stands, so that even yet. I may become a primary producer.
If there is truth in the statistics quoted by the honorable member for Swan, he should blame the Government, and not the honorable members on this side. It has always been the endeavour of the Labour party to develop and people Australia along reasonable lines. In South Australia we have forced into occupation more land than has any other State government. Australia will not develop properly until we wrest land from those who are holding more than they are entitled to. It is of no use to bring hordes of people to Australia and expecting to tin them up like sardines. They will not stand it. They must have elbowroom, and the responsibility rests upon honorable members opposite to provide that elbow room. It is of no use declaring that we must have more people in Australia to defend and develop it. That catch-cry is influenced by the desire to have more shoulders upon which to place the burden of debt.
The honorable member for Henty began the criticism of the Government on this bill and suggested that economy should be effected. He criticized what he claimed was extravagant expenditure. 1 dare say that an accusation lies in this instance.
– In what sense?
– I shall not develop every phase of the subject, as that has ‘been done by other speakers, but I mention the activities of the Development and Migration Commission as one source of wasteful expenditure. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) stated yesterday that the commission had achieved effective results in most of the States, vet out of the £34.000,000 which has been made available for development and migration, only £6,000,000 has been allocated up to date. When we measure the cost of this commission against the results obtained, it is evident that much money has been wasted. The Federal Capital is a huge monument of waste, and the graft inquiry in Sydney is a mere circumstance compared with what would be revealed, here, if we could only get the truth. It so happens, however, that we have a lot of cute and cunning gentlemen to deal with here, persons who . occupy high official positions. One cannot name any one in particular, but since there has been so much waste, the blame must lie with some one. It certainly does not lie with me, because if it had depended on my vote we should never have come to Canberra.
The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) expressed the hope that there would be no economy in the building of the national war memorial. 1 cannot be accused of want of appreciation of the efforts of the soldiers. I’ was one of them, lived and fought with them, and have every admiration for what they did. I have no objection to the building of a war memorial, but if it is estimated to cost half a million pounds, and it will surely cost that before it is finished, I consider that the money could be better spent in the relief of distressed soldiers. The site is at the foot of Mount Ainslie; a splendid site, I admit, from an aesthetic point of view, and I can appreciate the sentiment which lies behind the building of such a shrine. The Minister knows where I stand in regard to the soldiers. There is no soldier who has made any sacrifice in the war, and who is above ground now, whom I would not recompense for what he has done. I would be prepared to go to the limit in assisting the soldiers and those dependent upon them, but how many diggers will ever see any memorial at the foot of Mount Ainslie? If the Government gave them a free trip to the place every Christmas, there might be something in it; but I should first of all give the consumptive soldiers enough to live on for the rest of their lives, and see that no man who had suffered for his country was in want. Sounding the reveille will not wake a single dead soldier. The honorable member for Henty hoped that no economy would be exercised in the building of the memorial ! He was merely playing up to the war sentiment, with one eye cocked on the next election. If he was genuinely questioning the expenditure of this Government, he would not make a reservation in connexion with something which he knows that any digger would be prepared to give up so that the money might be spent on those who needed it. So much for the honorable member for Henty. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) rose on his hind legs and dilated on the need for greater production and the necessity for reducing the cost of production. He referred to the marvellous development in the production of wool and wheat. I point out, however, that apart from the few scientific discoveries of’ recent years, wheat growing is the most primitive thing that one can mention. All that has to he done is to plough the soil, scarify it, sow the seed, watch the wheat grow, and then harvest it.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat made one statement with which I agree, namely, that it is regrettable to see so many people leaving the land, and going into” the cities. I do not think, however, that this Government is responsible for that; it has taken place under both Nationalist and Labour governments. However, things are not actually so bad as they appear on the surface. Our wheat yield is an everincreasing quantity, and more and more wool is being grown each year. The reason is that science has come to the aid of the farmer, who is now able to sit down while machinery does the work for him. This naturally reduces the amount of labour required, and the surplus men are drifting away to the cities. Our secondary industries have made great progress, and still greater progress would be made if Ave embarked upon an ambitious migration scheme. The production in most secondary industries very soon overtakes the local demand, and when the home market is exhausted, there is no outlet because the high cost of production in this country makes it impossible ‘for us to compete in overseas markets. I regret that there is unemployment in Australia, but I believe that the best cure for unemployment is a proper migration policy. I should like to see people coming out here, not in their hundreds, but in their thousands. If we could treble the number of migrants arriving, it would not increase unemployment. Many of those coming here bring capital with them, and they have all to be fed, housed, and clothed. Consequently, they add to the demand for both primary and secondary products. I regret to see so many foreigners coming into the country, but the Prime Minister has explained the position very well.
My chief purpose in rising to-night was to speak on the film industry. When Item No. 3 of Government business is under discussion, I have the right to resume my remarks on the Film Commission’s report.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The honorable gentleman will not be in order in anticipating any business on the order paper.
– With your permission I propose to make a few remarks-
– It is not a question of permission. The honorable member is not in order.
– I did not know that, or I should not have risen. However, I shall now discuss some matters relating to the Federal Territory. Several references have been made in this House to the roads leading to the Territory, and while I admit that roads are parochial matters, they nevertheless concern the development of the Capital and the districts round about. We have not yet been able to get a statement from the Minister for Works as to what it is proposed to do in this connexion. Since the Capital has been established here, the roads in the surrounding districts have depreciated. This should not be so. I was hopeful that when a large amount of Federal money was made available for roads, even though
Ave were handing it over to the States for expenditure, we should be able to call the tune to some extent, and that we should be able to stipulate that some of it should be spent on the roads surrounding the Federal Capital. It is almost impossible to motor from Yass at the present time without breaking a spring, and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has referred to the condition of the road from Goulburn. I hope that a fair proportion of Federal money will be spent on the roads leading to the Capital. When it Avas decided to establish a capital here, many honorable members fought very strongly to have a narrow strip of land reserved between the Territory and Jervis Bay for the purpose of building a railway. That was done, and although the Capital is now established here, no steps have been taken to build the railway. We know that motor traffic has made great progress lately, and perhaps the Government does not intend to proceed with the building of the railway for that reason. If that is so, the Government should proceed at once with the building of a road to Jervis Bay.
– What for?
– Because it was part of the understanding with New South Wales that the Federal Capital should be connected by rail with a seaport. This Capital certainly ought to be connected either by road or rail with the nearest port.
The hospital at Canberra is under the control of the Federal Capital Commission, and during the last few months that body, evidently as part of its policy for balancing the ledger, has increased the rates at the hospital. It has done the same thing at the hotels, and, so far as I can see, the only effect is to drive the people away from the hotels. Most people will agree that it is excessive to charge a working man £4 4s. a week for treatment at the hospital. A case was brought under my notice last week of a man who left the hospital, although unfit to do so, to return to his home for treatment, simply because he could not afford to pay £4 4s. a week. In Queanbeyan there is a hospital and its maximum charge is £2 5s. a week. That town is only a few miles from Canberra, so naturally its hospital is patronized by Canberra patients. The result is that the Queanbeyan hospital is, to a large extent, doing work that should be done by the Canberra hospital. When the Federal Capital was first established, there was no hospital at Canberra, and the Queanbeyan hospital was subsidized by the Commonwealth Government to enable it to provide for Canberra patients. A few years ago that subsidy was withdrawn, but the hospital has still to cater for Canberra residents. There is a double injustice. It is an injustice that Canberra hospital should charge a fee of £4 4s. a week, and it is an injustice that the Queanbeyan hospital should be compelled, without being subsidized, to take in. Canberra patients. The residents of Queanbeyan have to contribute towards the upkeep of their hospital, but that is not the case with the Canberra hospital, which is the responsibility of the Federal
Capital Commission. The Government should realize that the public health of this community must be suitably catered for. The fees at the Canberra hospital should be reduced. In any case, the Commission should not be placed in the position of having to make the Canberra hospital a payable institution by imposing these high charges.
.- I. wish to bring under the notice of the Government the condition of the goldmining industry in Australia. I have refrained for some time from discussing this subject, because I have been waiting for the presentation of the final report of the Development and Migration Commission respecting this industry. The Government promised that that document would be available as early as last December, but it has not yet made its appearance. We are in the closing hours of the session and, therefore, I must avail myself of this opportunity to place before the Government the position of the gold-mining industry. The Government has, during the last few years, gone to great pains to develop its policy of protection in relation to secondary industries, and so much so, that last year the customs revenue and excise duty amounted to over £40,000,000. That burden has, to a large extent, been placed upon the primary producers of this country. I realize that the protection of secondary industries is the settled policy of Australia, and under the circumstances, I am not prepared to rail at it for the moment because, ultimately, the producers of Australia must receive great benefit from it. It must also be remembered that this Government, to placate the primary producers, has inaugurated a system of bounties to assist the primary industries. The amount of bounty paid for primary and other products in 1926-27 amounted to £780,000. I mention that, not by way of complaint, but to show that this Government is pledged to a policy of protection with which I do not altogether disagree, except in respect of certain anomalies. The shovel industry has been mentioned at various times, and that industry, during one year, employed only seventeen men; yet it was the means of increasing the duty to. 4s. Comparatively few Australian shovels are used, and what were used in the gold mining industry of Western Australia were soon scrapped. As has been previously pointed out, it would pay the Government to give the employees in that industry a pension of £10 a week and allow shovels to be imported free of duty altogether. As I have stated, last year £780,000 was paid in bounties to certain industries. The wine industry received £442,410; the iron and steel industry, £256,853; the sulphur industry, £34,339 ; the seed cotton industry, £17,037; and the cotton yarn industry, £30,602. Unfortunately the Government has no desire to assist the gold mining industry, so I take this opportunity of making out a case in its defence, particularly in view of the assistance that has been given by way of protection to the secondary industries and to primary industries by way of bounties. Just as gold mining made the western side of the United States of America and California in ‘49, and attracted people from the eastern side of the United States of America and elsewhere, so a few years later the great gold discoveries in Victoria attracted o people to that State. It is only fair to say that if the cry of “ Eureka “ had not been heard throughout the world, the little State of Victoria would not be so thickly populated and so well developed as it is to-day. It is the most highly developed State of the Commonwealth, and that is entirely due to the fact that gold was discovered in it early in its history. For a time it was a formidable competitor with New South Wales. We have a parallel in Western Australia. In 1892 important discoveries of gold were made on the eastern gold-fields by Paddy Hannan who, by means of camel transport, journeyed through what was then regarded as a desert. Up to that period that country had been considered absolutely worthless. It was territory fre- quented by a few nomadic natives who were able to obtain just sufficient sustenance to keep body and soul together. When it was announced that gold had been discovered in Western Australia people flocked there, and within a few years the population of that State increased from 40,000 to 400,000. As has been the experience of other countries, the initial discovery of gold in Western Aus tralia led to its development and the settlement of its lands. To-day that State has reached a stage of development comparable in some degree with that of the other States. Unfortunately the gold mining industry has fallen upon evil times, and, of course, that is the common history of gold mining development after a long period of time. The industry received a serious setback during the war, when most other industries flourished. The price of wheat, meat and wool increased enormously, and primary producers generally benefited by these increases: At the same time the cost of living increased, as also did wages, to meet the cost. In 1913, the price of gold was £4 4s. ll£d. per fine ounce. ‘ The price to-day is the same. Yet the cost of mining requisites has in many instances increased by 150 per cent. The mine-owners, as a result, were forced to adopt the system known as selective mining. Previously, they had been able to work a lode to its full width, and to make it pay. Now they have to follow narrow ore channels, and as a result the life of gold mines has been considerably shortened. That has made the position worse for the gold miners. Early in the war the Commonwealth Government commandeered all the gold in Australia for £4 4s. 11-Jd. per fine ounce, because of the necessity to increase the note issue in order to meet our war obligations. At that time gold was being sold elsewhere for more than 30s. an ounce above the price paid to the Australian gold miners by the then government. The mine-owners and the golddiggers were prepared to sell the gold at £4 4s. ll£d. per fine ounce in order to assist the nation in its time of need. No other industry was asked to make such a sacrifice. When the gold was released early in 1919 the gold producers were over a period able to secure more than £3,000,000 above the £4 4s. 11½d. per fine ounce paid by the Government. They claim that they could have obtained that additional money if they had been able to trade in gold during the war. They do not complain of the action of the Government of the day in taking control df the gold, but they do claim that if other industries are granted bounties they also should be similarly assisted in their time of need, particularly in view of the fact that the price of gold remained stationary. I have brought this* matter forward in this chamber on several occasions. Recently, however, I have not referred to it, because I was waiting for the report to which I have already referred. The Prime Minister has objected to the payment of a gold bounty, yet he has been willing to grant bounties to those engaged in other industries. I do not ascribe to the right honorable gentleman any but the highest of motives; but it seems remarkable that the gold-mining industry, which exists in only one or two electorates, is neglected, while other industries which are more general throughout Australia are assisted. The gold-mining industry has done much for Australia. Surely now that it is in low water the Government should come to its assistance ? We have been told that the granting of a gold bounty would be uneconomic, but I point out that in Japan the Government has subsidized the gold yield for some time. The output of gold iu Japan for 1922 - the latest figures available - was valued at over £1,000,000. The Japanese Government granted the gold industry a bounty of 25 per cent, of the value of the gold produced. The production of gold in Japan is less than one-half that of Australia. The purchasing power of Japan, with a population of nearly 70,000,000, is about equal to that of Australia with only 6,000,000 persons. There is no reason why this comparatively wealthy country should not do what Japan has done for her people in the industry which has assisted to make this country what it is. The granting of a bounty would do a great deal towards the development of the outlying portions of Australia. The country between Esperance and Wyndham, a distance of about 2,000 miles, is, for the most part auriferous. No other district has so large an area of gold-bearing country. To-day a large portion of that area is unexplored. Unless a prospecting party is particularly well equipped, it does not pay to go into that country to attempt to discover minerals. Gold-mining to-day is not favoured by investors; but if the Government were to grant a bounty of fi an ounce, representing about £500,000 per annum, it would do a great deal towards opening up the back country of Australia. The granting of a bounty would advertise throughout the world Australia’s possibilities as a goldproducing country, and encourage investors to invest their money in Australia. That gold-mining assists in the development of the country is made clear at Southern Cross, Western Australia. There are wheat fields there to-day where previously it was said wheat would not grow. Indeed, the average wheat yield per acre at Southern Cross last year was better than that in any other part of the Commonwealth. In other portions of Western Australia where the gold mines are considered no longer to be productive, pastoral interests have developed. In the Menzies district, and north of it, pastoralists from South Australia have invested more than £1,000,000 in the last two years. The encouragement of goldmining in Western Australia would lead to the establishment of other industries. I hope that something will be done to assist this industry which has done so much for Australia.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to the slow increase of population in our farming districts. I understood the honorable member . to attribute the cause to high wages and high tariffs. It is significant that in the eastern States the farmers are in favour of high tariffs. They claim that the establishment of factories provides them with a good home market, which is better than an uncertain oversea market. I attribute the slow increase of population in farming districts to land monopoly. The population of a small district in Victoria in which both the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) and I were born has decreased during the last 30 years, not because the surrounding land is not good, but because, instead of its being held by a large number of small farmers, it has got into the hands of a few rich land-holders who run sheep on it.
– This is borne out by an examination of school statistics.
– The same conditions exist in some portions of South Australia.
Another factor is the large increase in the price of land. In Adelaide there is a large number of retired persons, the majority of whom were farmers who sold for £10, £15 and £20 an acre land which originally cost them £1, £2 and £3 an acre. The land for which such high prices were realized is about equivalent to that which is being sold in Western Australia for £5 an acre. No man can make wheatfarming pay on any land I saw in South Australia if he has to pay £15 an acre for it. If an investor had sufficient money at his command, he would be wise to employ it in some other channel; he could put it into war bonds, live restfully, and make more money than if he tried to grow wheat profitably on land acquired at inflated values. In the western district of Victoria, which in respect of soil and rainfall is one of the richest areas in Australia, land was acquired originally by pastoralists at very cheap rates, and has been subdivided and sold at as high a price as £150 an acre. People are paying rentals of £5 per acre per annum for land that originally was bought for not -more than 10s. an acre.
– The honorable member’s time has expired, but as no other honorable member desires to speak, he may take his second period now.
– The lot of these tenants is equivalent to that of the peasantry of other countries. Because of the high price of land, the butter industry is suffering, and the Minister for Markets has found it necessary to impose an additional charge of 3d. per lb. on all butter consumed in Australia. Without this special aid from the community, the industry could not pay its way, owing to the fact that so much of the land upon which it is carried on has a false market value. Similar conditions exist in all the eastern States and New Zealand, and will sooner or later develop in Western Australia, where to-day land is cheap.
As for the contention that wages have been partly responsible for the drift from the country to the cities, I remind the committee that there is no industrial union of farm workers; thus the wages paid to the farm labourers have very little influence upon the cost of wheat production. In Western Australia a farmer neighbour of mine raised £3,700 worth of wheat from 500 acres with the labour of two men receiving £4 and £4 10s. a week respectively. His total wages bill for the year amounted to less than £450. The two men did most of the laborious work, the boss supervising, but with the aid ‘of a tractor and modern Australian machinery, the best in the world, they were able to drill and seed 40 acres a day. Therefore wages represent a very small proportion of the cost of wheat production, and some other cause must be found for the comparative failure of this industry to maintain the rural population.
The condition of affairs that we deplore in Australia exists in the United States of America also, only in a worse degree. Early during the war period the farmers in the middle west there did remarkably well ; they sold their wheat to the allies for as much as 2£ dollars a bushel. The consequence was an immense inflation in the prices of land. When, however, the price of wheat fell to the normal level, a large number of the banks which had advanced money on farming land bearing inflated values of from £50 to £100 an acre were forced to foreclose. The banks crashed and the farmers were driven off the land. In support of these statements I quote some facts from a contribution by Senator A. Kapper, of Kansas, to Current History of May, 1926, a reputable journal published in New York. According to that gentleman, farming in the United States of America does not pay. In the preceding five years one million people had left the farms for the cities, although during that period the population of the United States had increased by 7,000,000. That shows that Australia is not alone in facing the problem of the drift of rural population to the cities. I am reminded of the reference of the American poet, Walt. Whitman, to the defeat of the British by the farmers at Concord -
Beside the bridge the embattled farmers stood,
And fired a shot that roused the world.
One million of the descendants of those rural warriors have been forced off the land in five years, notwithstanding a general increase in the population of the United States. Farming in that country represents a capital of $59,000,000,000 upon which the return last year was equal to 3 per cent. In 1921 the capital value was $79,000,000,000. For every dollar of national income received by other workers the farmers got less than 50 cents per capita, according to the National Industrial Conference Board which recently concluded a year’s study of the agricultural situation. That body stated that in 1924 the average annual net income of the farmer was $730 as against $1,250 for the common labourer, $1,678 for the preacher, $1,298 for the teacher, $1,650 for Government employees, and an average of $1,450 for all walks of life outside agriculture. The average earnings of the people engaged in farming was 11½d. per hour as compared with factory workers, 2s. 4d. per hour, rail-roaders 2s. 3d., anthracite miners 3s. 6d., and building tradesmen 4s. 2d. Is it any wonder that 1,000,000 farmers left the land in five years? The legislation of the United States decrees that the railroads shall have a return of 5.75 per cent, on their investment. The tariff on wheat is ls. 9d. per bushel; 650,000,000 bushels is required for home consumption, and the exportable surplus varies from 100,000,000 to 200,000,000 bushels. It is clear that inflated land values are the bete noire of the farmer in the United States as in Australia. The disaster they have caused there will assuredly be repeated here in the near future unless we- devise some means of limiting the price at which land may be sold. I confess at once that I have no feasible scheme in mind, but the problem is of sufficient supreme importance to warrant the attention of the legislature.
I propose to deal briefly with the erection of post office buildings. When we ask for new post offices in country districts we are told that it is better for the postal department to expend money on the extension of telephone services. With that I entirely agree. If money were not available for post offices for the cities I should not complain because it could not be had for the country, but the schedule of works to which reference was made earlier in this debate shows that £448,000 is to be spent this year on five or six buildings in Sydney and its suburbs, and only £4,400 in the whole of Western
Australia. Some years ago the PostmasterGeneral of the day promised that when the post-office business at settlements along the Wongan Hills railway line and the Midland Railway in Western Australia showed a turnover of £400 annually, consideration would be given’ to providing them with official post offices. Perhaps it was not anticipated that those new areas would develop at such a rapid rate. The revenue at some of those places exceeds £S00 or £900 per annum now, but the people have been told that so long as the unofficial post offices give satisfactory service - and the department is the judge of that - no official post offices will be built. I submit that the country districts of Western Australia, in common with those of other States, should -be given every consideration when money is being allocated for post office buildings. Some fine post office buildings are to be seen in the country towns of New South Wales and Victoria, but they were built prior to the advent of federation, and the areas in Western Australia demand attention.
– It is somewhat gratifying to honorable members on this side of the committee to find that a few ministerialists are at the eleventh hour waking up to the fact that the Government has been extravagant, and is heading the country for disaster. [Quorum formed.] Years ago members of the Opposition drew attention to the number of commissions and boards which the Government was appointing, and complained that this was an extravagant method of conducting the affairs of the country. But it was not until the revenue began to decline that Government supporters seemed to realize the seriousness of the situation. In reply to the criticism of the Opposition, all that the Prime Minister would say was “Parliament has appointed the commissions, and they must be allowed to discharge their functions.”
It is high time that an effort was made by the Government to straighten out the finances of the country. The other day when the Prime Minister was discussing this subject, he said, in effect, that the remedy for our troubles was more production and harder work. He did not actually say that wages should be reduced, but he left an impression upon my mind that he thought that that was necessary. I suggest to the right honorable gentleman that the Government could relieve the financial stringency by bringing its influence to bear upon the financiers abroad to reduce the interest- rate. We are paying about £52,000,000 per annum in interest, and our rate of interest is increasing. In 1921 Denmark was paying 8 per cent, for the money that she borrowed, but she has now been able to reduce the rate to 41/2 per cent. If she could do that in a few years, this Government and the governments of other dominions of the Empire should also be able to do it. The Treasurer is at present endeavouring to float a redemption loan of £21,000,000. If he could obtain the money, at 1 per cent, less than the present rate of interest, he would save the country £210,000 per annum. If the loan had a currency for ten years, the saving would be £2,100,000. If the rate of interest upon the whole of the Commonwealth debt of £464,000,000 could be reduced by 1 per cent., the saving would be £4,640,000 per annum. If we could effect a similar saving on the total indebtedness of the Commonwealth and the States of £1,052,000,000 we should save the country £10,250,000 per annum.
– How could we force the money lenders to reduce their interest rates ?
– I realize that that is a difficulty; but my complaint is that when our finances are not healthy, the worker is asked to bear the whole burden. Why not make the wealthy financiers bear their share. During the war the suggestion was made that the wealthy classes of the community- should be compelled to subscribe to the war loans. The proposal was never made effective by legislation. But the financial interests of the nation should be forced to bear a fairer share of the burden which is resting upon the general community.
– How could we oblige the money lenders of New York and London to reduce their rates?
– It would be difficult to influence international financiers, but the British Government is able to obtain money at low rates.
– Because it has better security than we have.
– The honorable member for Barton has referred to New York. Perhaps he knows that Australia was forced by British interests to apply to the New York financiers for money. We were told that we could have from London £5,000,000 of a needed £20,000,000 loan, but must look to New York or elsewhere for the remainder. There is now co-operation between’ the money-lenders in Great Brtiain and those in the United States of America, and we are. in a worse case than before. When the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) was Premier of Queensland, the financiers of Britain closed their doors against him and he was compelled to borrow from the United States of America; but at that time there was competition between the financiers of Great Britain and America, and now there is no competition.
The time has arrived when the Government should make a determined effort to induce the money-lenders of Australia to advance money to the Commonwealth at less than the current rate of interest. During the war the Commonwealth Bank charged its customers 1 per cent, less than was charged by the private banks on overdrafts, so saving millions of pounds. If the Commonwealth Bank were operating as it was intended to operate by the Labour party, it would be assisting at present to keep down the cost of loans. Are we forever to be held in the talons of the money-lenders on the other side of the world? It appears to me that it is well worth striving to save the country £10,000,000 per annum in interest. Many members of the Nationalist party, including the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), and the ex-High Commissioner for Australia (Sir Joseph Cook), have admitted that, in the final analysis, the burden of our taxation falls upon the workers in the community. Why do we not endeavour to relieve their burden ? I agree with the Prime Minister that we need more production in Australia, but we must also find markets abroad for our products. With the ex- ception of our wheat and our wool, we are in a somewhat precarious position with all our products. It is necessary to investigate that difficulty. I know that the “ Big Four “ are coming to Australia, and that there is some talk about inaugurating a Board of Trade. That might be a good thing. I have no objection to it as, if properly conducted, it would be a splendid thing for our trade and commerce and also for our workers. But we have such a plenitude of boards and commissions that it appears to me that the appointment of an additional one would be a waste of money. We need organization on the other side of the world, in order to find markets for our products. What would be the use of bountiful seasons in Australia if we were unable to market most of our products? What are we doing to stimulate those markets? Much money has been spent, but very little progress ha3 been made. And that is due to the action of the financiers. British financiers are interested in the trade of Argentina to the extent of £1,000,000,000, and they are also interested in the currant fields of Greece and in other southern European industries. We cannot expect them to assist us to find markets for our products in Great Britain. They will fight for their own interests. The Labour party has been reviled in banking and financial circles, but it is the only party that has a plank in its platform to extend our markets. The present Prime Minister of England, Mr. Baldwin, said to Mr. Phillip Snowden when the latter was Chancellor of the Exchequer -
What is to prevent us from making an arrangement with the overseas governments with a view to the distribution and sale of their products in Great Britain over a period of years?
He meant that his party would stand behind that move, and assist their British kinsmen overseas. Mr. Snowden immediately replied: - “I “can assure the right honorable gentleman that his suggestions meet with the approval of my government, and we are prepared to do all we can to assist in that direction.”
– By inaugurating a system of State marketing?
– Perhaps the honorable member knows a good deal more about overseas marketing than I do, but he must admit that, with the exception of our wool and our wheat, we are up against it in locating markets abroad for primary products.
– I stated last night that we cannot> blame Great Britain for that, but that we must blame our own system of economics.
– Our greatest difficulty is that so much British capital is invested in the Argentine and elsewhere. We have sent representatives of our cooperative butter concerns to the other side of the world, but they have been like a voice crying in the wilderness. The markets are controlled by Tooley-street, the blenders and big multiple shop proprietors, and Australian butter is marketed in England under the guise of other brands that have been long established in Great Britain. Tooley-street and the margarine manufacturers, representing millions of pounds’ worth of capital, have matters all their own way, and fix prices as they think fit, so that our products have no chance of reaching the average consumer under their true colours. Honorable members opposite’ may scoff at what they term “ socialism,” but something of the kind is needed if we are to market our products in Great Britain. Lord Inchcape sent a cable to the then Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Hughes) saying, in connexion with the Commonwealth Line of Steamships, “ We can compete against private enterprise, but we cannot compete against government enterprise.” If the Labour party in England is returned to power, one of its first acts will be to put into effect that plank in its platform which provides for the organization, distribution and sale of Dominion products in Great Britain. The working people there are prepared to accept our commodities, as they have no liking for cheaplabour products, and there is no reason why the people of Britain should not obtain our goods more freely than at present.
– I think I can claim the credit for being mainly responsible for sending two missions to Great Britain to inquire into the marketing of foodstuffs. Both said that if we sent the right quality, and could guarantee continuity of supply, the market was there.
– We have had experience in the wine industry of what can happen. Great Britain granted us preference, and the Commonwealth Government paid a bounty, but the good effect of those provisions was nullified by the fact that unfermented grape juice was allowed into Britain free of duty. Nothing short of complete co-operation between the Governments of Great Britain and Australia will solve the problem. I have discussed this matter with many butter producers, and they are all convinced that something more than their own co-operative efforts are required.- For one thing, they could not raise the large sums of money required to place their products on the market to the best advantage.
– How did the Danes capture their market?
– Who fixes the price of the Danish butter?
– Its own consistent ex- cellence.
– The honorable member wants industry to be pulled up from the front, and pushed up from behind.
– Denmark is the best organized country in the world, and it is organized on co-operative lines. The price of every shipload of butter which crosses the North Sea to England is fixed by the co-operative committee sitting in Copenhagen, and that butter always fetches the highest price on the British market. I admit that the Danes are nearer to their market than is Australia, but the fact remains that they are able to fix their own prices. So marvellously are their co-operative concerns controlled that if anything goes wrong it is possible to place the responsibility, even to the man who sends away a bad egg.
The Prime Minister made a good deal of the fact that this Government intended to bring in a scheme for continuity in public works. That is not new in Australia. The Fisher Government brought in such a scheme, and it was put into operation in carrying out the undergrounding of the telephones. This work was not confined to any one financial year, nor was it stopped at the end of each financial year. Much waste is caused when large works are stopped on the 30th June and the plant dismantled and the men put off until the work is resumed again after the Estimates are passed. Under a system of continuous work this waste is avoided.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- During an earlier stage of the debate I referred to the contention of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) that the cost of production should be reduced. I pointed out that if there was to be a decrease in the cost of production the obligation devolved, in the first place, upon those who controlled production. I cannot help thinking that high costs are the result of the thimble-rigging by those in control of industry. The primary producers do not control these matters; they are in the hands of the commercial community. The responsibility certainly does not lie with honorable members on this side, nor with those whom they represent. When Sir William Irvine represented the constituency of Flinders in this House, he made an appeal to the farmers, following the drought of 1914, to put as much land as possible under crop. During that season there was more acreage under crop than there ever has been since.
– That was in 1915-16, which was the peak period for production.
– Yes, the yield that year was 179,000,000 bushels; the highest yield prior to that was 103,000,000 bushels. During that period of national distress, the farmers answered the appeal and placed a greater acreage under crop than was ever done before, or since. I admit that the greater yield was, to some extent, due to the fact that the fallow land was put under crop again owing to the previous bad season.
– It invariably happens that, after a bad season, the extra year’s rest makes the soil more fertile.
– That is true, and the result is reflected in the increased crop. I point out, however, that the acreage sown that year has never been increased. We have a smaller area under cereal crops now than we had then. If production costs are to be decreased, we must start by a reduction of the inflated land values created since the war by the horde of land speculators who flourished during the boom period. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr.Rodgers) spoke of the returned soldiers, and pointed out that many of them were to have their leases cancelled. The Government placed on the land many returned soldiers who are not fitted for the work. I, myself, intended at one time to go on the land, and it is possible that, if I had, I should have been a round peg in a square hole, having been used all my life to earning my living in a factory.
Mr.Rodgers. - The State Governments were mainly responsible for what was done in regard to soldier settlements.
– That is possible; but we must remember that in the repatriation of the soldiers, the State and Commonwealth Governments are, to all intents and purposes, one and the same. Many soldiers failed on the land because of the inflated values of the areas on which they were placed. Those who made huge profits by selling their land to the Government for the use of returned soldiers are responsible for the position in which we find ourselves to-day.
The Prime Minister defended himself skilfully against the criticism levelled against the Government by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who charged it with wasteful expenditure. The matter resolved itself into a discussion of the use to which borrowed money was placed, and the Prime Minister stated that the increased indebtedness of the country was due to money being borrowed for developmental purposes. He asked the honorable member for Henty to point out what particular items of expenditure could have been avoided’. In my opinion the Prime Minister proved his argument, and it would be very hard for any one to show that the Government had spent money unnecessarily. According to the Government the money, in the main, has been spent in the interests of Australia and for its development and progress. Where is this money obtained? The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) dealt with the financial commitments and requirements of Australia, and said that if we did not borrow abroad the private financial institutions here would be unable to assist the general business of the community. He gave an instance of an insurance company, of which at one time he was a director, and said that during the war that company was forced to refuse business, which it was essential to transact in the interests of the general community. He certainly showed that the system of finance that we have to-day must follow lines and forms which bring certain results in their train. In other words, we have to borrow in accordance with the wishes of the manipulators of the money market, and to pay interest rates as fixed by them. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Ley) interjected when the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was speaking, and asked where could we get more money. I suggest that we have an unlimited supply of money within the Commonwealth itself, and that is in our note issue. The honorable member for Barton laughs, and I quite expected him to do so, but let me tell him that long before the note issue was introduced in the Commonwealth, I had read articles on finance. I do not claim to be a financial expert, but let me place before the honorable member a- few facts which cannot be controverted Before the note issue was introduced by the Fisher Government in 1910,I had the idea that an inconvertible note, if used in Australia, would be a useful instrument in facilitating the financial operations, not of the Commonwealth, but of the States. Subsequent events have proved my contention to be correct. I have been informed by a member of the South Australian Parliament that at one time the Treasurer ofthe day, to test the possibility of using an inconvertible note, asked the advice of the Under-Treasurer, and he was informed that for the. internal requirements of the State there was nothing unsound in the use of an inconvertible note. It was used in this Commonwealth at the time of its greatest stress and for all practical purposes it is in use to-day, chiefly because no one desires to carry gold about for ordinary business purposes. I admit that there are instances of persons demanding gold, but anote is never refused by business undertakings. The people have as much confidence in the note issue as they have in the gold currency. There is nothing unsound in the note issue. We may have to use gold to meet our obligations overseas, but for all practical purposes in Australia we utilize the note issue.
– Take away our gold and assets and what would become of the note issue?
– A German economist has said that if we sunk in the sea tomorrow al] the gold that is produced, the world would still go on; productivity would still continue, and we should have to produce and negotiate with one another for our requirements. Just after the war started, Mr. Fisher the then Prime Minister, wished to negotiate for a loan of £20,000,000 to meet our war commitments. He consulted the financiers of this country, and met the heads of the Stock Exchange. He went into the temple of the money changers seeking assistance on behalf of the people of Australia, and he was badly fleeced. However, these gentlemen decided that it would be better to float the loan in instalments of £5,000,000. At that time the Adelaide Register published a leader commenting on the decision of the Fisher Government to raise a loan in instalments. It agreed that it was a good thing that the money should be raised and spent in Australia, because it would thereby circulate through the channels of industry, and be available for the next instalment of the loan. The right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) was at one time the Treasurer of Victoria, and subsequently the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and can, therefore, claim to be a financial expert. When discussing these loan proposals^ he said that Mr. Fisher had been well advised to raise the loan in instalments of £5,000,000, because to take £20,000,000 out of the coffers of Australia at one time would be impracticable. To use his own words “ It would disturb the equilibrium of the financial structure of the Commonwealth.” During the war it was stated that we could not borrow £20,000,000 in Australia, but before the war had ended we had borrowed £300,000,000. It is a mattei* of creating credits which become negotiable, and in that way the money is used twice. If I give a promissory note to a person I receive money in exchange, and he is able to negotiate my note. Let me give an instance. The Printers Union of South Australia was induced to put £1,000 into a Commonwealth loan. That sum represented the bulk of the union’s finances; but later on it was involved in a court case which cost it over £1,000. The union did not have the money, and its lawyer was informed of the position. The lawyer thereupon took the £1,000 bond. It will be seen that the cost to the union was £2,000. I ask honorable members what they think now about two blades of grass growing where only one blade grew before. I have given the actual experience of Australia as late as 1915. Heaven alone knows when the loans will be paid off.
– I admit that the world revolves on public credit, but there must be something behind it.
– The world is behind its own credit. The Commonwealth is being hoodwinked into paying £1,000,000 a week interest on borrowed money. The east-west railway was built out of the note issue. Is it a worse railway because of that than other railways in the Commonwealth which have been built with borrowed money? What we have done in the case of the east-west railway we can do in other directions. The Treasurer’s budget statement is full of inaccuracies. It shows that £23,000,000 of the note issue is held by the banks, and £24,000,000 by the general public. The Commonwealth has lent to itself approximately £6,000,000 ; to New South Wales. £2,400,000; to Victoria, about £2,500,000; to Queensland, about £1,490,000; to South Australia, £1,900,000; to Western Australia, £3,100,000; and to Tasmania, about £1,250,000. Great Britain has received from our note .issue the sum of £6,592,328. Do the public hold any of that? The total amount lent from the note issue to the Commonwealth, the Australian States, and the British Government is £25,134,509. The people of Australia are paying for a huge joke. The Government of the United Kingdom has obtained out of our note issue £49,462 at £4 6s. 3d. per cent. £29,674 at £4 7s. per cent., £909,957 at £4 7s. 7d. per cent., £395,750 at £4 5s. 3d. per cent., £98,937 at £4 5s. 3d. per cent., and £785,221 at £3 10s. per cent., which is the lowest percentage charged in this connexion.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The Prime Minister referred to the unemployment which existed in the years 1910-13. That was when the Labour party was in office. Migration was greater and unemployment less during those years because the finances of the country were conducted on a proper basis. At that time migrants could be absorbed because employment was available for them. The Prime Minister by making that statement unconsciously paid a fine tribute to Labour administration. Today things are entirely different. The bulk of the people who arrived in Australia during the years 1911-13 were of our own stock, but that has not been the case during the five years the present Government has been in office. I entertain no ill-will against the people of other nationalities, but ifI had to choose between Britishers and foreigners I should certainly choose those of my own blood. Every time the Prime Minister speaks about immigration he says that Australia’s population is still 98 per cent. British. I doubt whether that is so. The right honorable gentleman also endeavours to show that the influx of those whom we call aliens - I do not use the word offensively - has very little effect on the labour market. During the years 1923 to 1927 aliens to the number of 57,296 came to this country. Their presence in Australia has had a serious effect on the labour market. It is interesting to note how many of those people have become naturalized. The following statement sets out the number of aliens who arrived in Australia between and during the years 1923 to 1927, and the number of them who have become naturalized -
Those figures prove conclusively that these people are not being assimilated. I do not blame the people of Italy for leaving a country controlled by Mussolini. Men who delight in freedom would naturally desire to leave such a coun try.But there appears to be an organizedattempt to bring them here and to prevent them from assimilating with our people.While the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) pleads that employment be provided for Australians, the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) advocates the employment of aliens in the Northern Territory, and the Government is employing a large number of foreigners there. It is a disgrace. The Prime Minister says that he accepts no responsibility for the ordinary migrants. I say that the Government is responsible for the people who come here. The following newspaper extract is of interest in this connexion -
London, May 21.
That is the opinion, not of a prejudiced Australian but of a French publicist. The Government is not treating the people of Australia, fairly. It could regulate migration without causing international complications, by bringing into operation sub-section 1 of section 3k of the Immigration Act, which reads -
The Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit, either wholly or in excess of specified numerical limits, and either permanently or for a specified period, the immigration into the Commonwealth, or the landing at any specified port or place in the Commonwcalth, of aliens of any specified nationality, race, class, or ocupation, in any case where he deems it desirable so to do -
On account of the economic, indus trial or other conditions existing in the Commonwealth -,
because the persons specified in the proclamation are in his opinion unsuitable for admission into the Commonwealth; or
because they are deemed unlikely to become readily assimilated or to assume the duties and responsibilities of Australian citizenship within a reasonable time after their entry.
I base my comments upon paragraph a, “ on account of the economic, industrial, or other conditions existing in the Commonwealth.” During the last five years there has been a certain amount of unemployment in Australia, and Government officers have reported in regard to the operation of that section. Therefore, the Prime Minister has no excuse; with his eyes open he has acted to the detriment of the Australian people. I say this without any ill-will against the people of any nation who come to our shores. I should like honorable members to study in the Library a cartoon published in a “Western Australian newspaper. It portrays five foreigners at a post office remitting money abroad. On one side stands the Prime Minister, and next to him an Australian worker. The text of the cartoon is contained in these words, “ Every mail which leaves Australia carries wads of money which foreign workers are sending out of the country.” The dialogue is -
Aussie Worker. - While I look in vain for work these fellows get work, and send all they save to foreign countries.
Bruce. - Don’t make a noise. I must let them in or be spoken to crossly. It will be better for you by and by when these chaps bring down wages; it may not cost you so much to live. See?
That cartoon is true to life. At the post offices in the cities, and most of the provincial centres, one may see foreigners, particularly on the Saturday morning, remitting money to their native land. The following extract from the Daily Guardian shows how the aristocrats are betraying their fellow citizens : -
Italians Making Golf Course at Elanora. £300,000 for £90,000.
In a typical Australian bush land setting, out beyond Narrabeen, the Elanora Heights Estate has been laid out and offered to Australians as an ideal spot in which to build week-end residences in close proximity to the country club and golf course that are being constructed by the directors of the estate. Before the scheme is completed the outlay will be about £90,000; but if the company realizes its selling price of building blocks at an average of £5 per foot, the revenue will run into well over £300,000. . . .
The work of clearing the course was started a fortnight ago, but to the disgust of those Australians who expected to get work on the course, a gang of eight Italians was sent over from an Italian employment agency in East Sydney and commenced work. . . .
When a Daily Guardian representative visited the spot yesterday, he spoke to a number of the Italians, who were all grubbing out roots, but only two could understand plain Australian, ‘and the manner in which they swung an axe showed them little more than novices.
Unlike Australians engaged in bush work the Italians do not live in tents, but the whole of them have rented a small cottage, and they live there on the community basis.
Two Australian labourers spoken to near Narrabeen expressed disgust that the directors of the company, among whom appear the names of Mr. H. Y. Russell, Colonel Playfair, M.L.C., and Mr. J. Crocket, had shown a preference for foreign labour before first giving the bush workers among the unemployed in the city a chance to show what they can do.
Not only the workers, but the middle classes are absolutely disgusted at the manner in which this so-called Nationalist Government is treating Australians. They want to know why men who have paid taxes for years and their sons are not given preference over new arrivals. This is a matter of which more will be heard both inside and outside this chamber. Even the Premier of Victoria was asked at a Labour gathering in my constituency a few nights ago, “ “Why are so many Italians and other Southern Europeans coming to Australia?” and the sentiments he expressed were enthusiastically applauded. I am certain that he and Mr. Collier, the Premier of Western Australia, have repeatedly represented to the Prime Minister that their Governments and the party supporting them are opposed to this foreign influx. But they have no power to prevent it, and the Commonwealth Government will not take the necessary action. Therefore the Prime Minister cannot lay the blame upon the State governments. If time permitted I could quote other authorities, independent of Labour, upon this matter, and I assure the committee that one of the reasons why the Australian Workers Union rejected the Prime Minister’s invitation to attend the so-called Industrial Peace Conference was that he was taking no steps to prevent Australia from being flooded with cheap foreign labour. This matter will be dealt with by the people, and I know that they will speak in no uncertain voice in condemnation of the Government’s policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to -
That towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1928-20, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £0,343,035.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, read a first and second time, and passed through committee without amendment or debate.
Question proposed -
That the bill be reported without amend ment.
.When you, Mr. Chairman, asked the committee if it desired that the bill should be taken as a whole, I objected and interjected that when the schedule was reached I would speak on an item in the Post master-General’s Department. Because I was unable to obtain a copy of the bill, the schedule was agreed to without my having a chance to speak. I realize that the laugh is against mo; I don’t mind that, but I suggest that you, Mr. Chairman, knowing my desire, might in ordinary courtesy have afforded me an opportunity to discharge my duty to my constituents. I do not wish to give offence to you in your official capacity, but I must protect my rights. Either the Treasurer or the Postmaster-General could have afforded me an opportunity to speak on the postal items.
– The honorable member can do so when the Loan Bill is before the Blouse to-morrow.
– I shall, but I object to h trick being played upon me.
– I gave the honorable member ample opportunity to speak, for T paused appreciably after stating the question and before putting
– I do not wish to be offensive to the Chair, but I consider that I have been unfairly treated. Perhaps it was partly my own fault; but I intimated clearly that, when the proposed vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department was under consideration, I intended to raise a matter affecting an important part of my constituency. The Treasurer might have called my attention to the fact that my opportunity to do so had come.
I shall not allow treatment of this kind to pass in silence. I have had it “put over “ me.
– Order. The honorable member must withdraw that reflection upon the Chair.
– I withdraw it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Bruce) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. BRUCE) agreed to-
That the House at its rising adjourn until
II a.m. this day.
House adjourned at 12.20 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 June 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1928/19280613_reps_10_119/>.