11th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The Clerk reported the receipt from the acting clerk to the Governor-General of a copy of the original writ for the election of a member to represent the Northern Territory, endorsed with the name of Mr. Harold George Nelson.
Mr. Nelson made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
– I have received from Mrs. Higgins, widow of the late Mr. Justice Higgins, a letter thanking the House for its letter of sympathy.
– I understand that the Minister for Home Affairs intends to confer in Melbourne next week with representatives of missionary organizations regarding the report on the aborigines of Central and North Australia recently made by Mr. Bleakley. Has the Minister made arrangements for the various women’s organizations to be represented at that conference? I have received this day a letter from Mrs. Britomarte J ames, president of the Victorian Women’s Citizens’ Committee, who desire to nominate Mrs. John Jones as a delegate to that gathering.
– It is proposed to hold a conference in Melbourne in the second week in April with the representatives of missionary and other societies interested in the welfare of the aborigines. Invitations to be represented have been sent to all those societies which have made representations to the department on the subject during the last few months.
– Is it proposed to restrict the representation at the conference to men, or does the Minister propose to invite women representatives also ?
– It is proposed to invite to the conference any one who has a knowledge of, and is sympathetic with the aborigines.
– Can the Minister inform the House when the report furnished by Mr. Bleakley regarding the trouble with the aborigines in Central Australia will be printed?
– I tabled the report some weeks ago, and understand that it is now being printed.
Overtimein Mail Branch
– I have received a letter from the secretary of the Victorian branch of the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union, stating that the staff in the mail branch, Melbourne, is working excessive overtime, although men with experience of the work are unemployed. For the past fortnight the men in the branch have been working from 9.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. Will the Postmaster-General investigate this statement and inquire whether some of this extra work can be allotted to qualified men who are unemployed ?
– The honorable member advised me in advance of his intention to ask this question, and I have been able to get the information for him. The system of sorting mail matter for certain places in north-western Victoria was rearranged on the 9th February, and necessarily some delay in the work occurred until the sorters could become familiar with the new conditions. Normal conditions have prevailed in the branch since the 16th February. The change entailed the working of a certain amount of overtime, which could not be obviated, because trained officers were necessary for the work. The men who were required to work from 9.30 a.m. till 9.30 p.m., had breaks of two hours daily for meals ; consequently, the amount of overtime duty they performed was two hours per day.
– Can the Prime Minister inform the House of the result of his negotiations with the representatives of the coal-mining industry on Monday? Is the statement, reported in the Sydney newspapers, correct that the right honorable gentleman offered to increase the bounty to be paid by the Commonwealth Government upon export coal from ls. to 2s. per ton?
– As a result of the conference in Canberra on Monday, the representatives of the unions engaged in the coal-mining industry are submitting a report to a full meeting of workers’ representatives, who will be asked to say whether they desire the appointment of an independent accountant to investigate the figures submitted by Mr. Bavin, and whether in the event of such an investigation proving that the profit of the owners is 2s. or less per ton, they will agree to the proposals made by Mr. Bavin, whereby the selling price of coal may be reduced by 5s. per ton. There is no truth in the published statement that I suggested an increase of the Commonwealth contribution from ls. to 2s. per ton.
– I ask the Prime Minister why representatives of Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia were not consulted when Federal action was taken in connexion with the coal industry of Australia?
– I presume that the honorable member for Maribyrnong is referring to the conference held in Canberra on Monday last.
– Yes, and to other action taken recently.
– The conference held on Monday last at which representatives of the coal-mining industry of New South Wales were present was not to consider the action which the Commonwealth proposed to take. That had been determined and announced some time before. The conference was held to consider the position which had arisen in New South Wales, and to ascertain if the parties would agree to the proposed reduction in the price of coal.
Transport for Police Officer
– A settler in Central Australia has reported to me that the police constable stationed at Arltunga is engaged in searching for a native murderer, but that owing to the drought no horses are available for his expedition. Will the Minister for Home Affairs ascertain whether that statement is correct, and, if it is, issue instructions that the constable be supplied with camels or preferably a motor car, so that he may be better equipped to perform his duties?
– I shall make inquiries and let the honorable member have an answer at a later date.
– During a recent tour of my electorate, I heard a good deal of complaint of the unduly high price charged for fertilizers. Having regard to the importance of cheap fertilizers in the development of our primary industries, will the Prime Minister cause an investigation to be made to ascertain the fairness or otherwise of the prices charged for fertilizers used extensively in Australia?
– On several occasions the prices charged for fertilizers, particularly superphosphates, have been mentioned in this House, and some months ago I asked the Development and Migration Commission to ascertain definitely how the prices charged in Australia compare with those charged in other countries. As a result of its investigations, the Commission has reported that the price charged in Australia for superphosphates is higher than that in any other country. As superphosphate and other fertilizers are essential to the development of the primary industries, the Government has asked the Tariff Board to investigate fully the prices charged in Australia and report as early as possible.
– In view of the fact that I have upon the business-paper for to-morrow a notice of motion dealing with the subject mentioned by the honorable member for Bendigo, will the Prime Minister make available to honorable members any reports that have been received in. connexion with this matter?
– A considerable amount of valuable and interesting statistical matter has been put together, dealing with the price per unit of phosphatic content in various countries, and I think it will be possible to make some of it available to honorable members in time to assist them in the discussion of the notice of motion in the name of the honorable member for Swan.
-I remind the Prime Minister that recently I moved the adjournment of the House to direct attention to the relative prices of superphosphate in Australia and New Zealand, and I suggest that, to help honorable members in the discussion, he should send a cablegram to the Government of New Zealand, asking to be furnished with the present ruling prices in the dominion for superphosphate, because the earlier quotations were declared to be trade-war rates.
– I shall look into the matter. My impression is that our information is up to date, and that the figures were carefully analysed at the time.
– In connexion with the question raised by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr.Rodgers) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hurry) regarding the alleged exploitation of farmers by the combine of fertilizer manufacturers, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett), who stated recently in Sydney that there is full power under the Commonwealth laws to protect the consumers and users against exploitation, if he will give the name of the act under which farmers can be protected against exploitation ?
– The honorable member has been misinformed as to the actual words I used on the occasion to which he refers.
Secret Ballot - Prosecutionof Mr. E. J. Hollow ay.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral provide means whereby this House may test the bona fides of the alleged application of ten members of the Timbers Workers Union for a secret ballot in connexion with the present dispute in the timber industry?
– Is it a fact that the holding of a secret ballot has been ordered without consultation with members of the Timber Workers Union ? Also, in the event of the ballot being in the negative, that is to say, if the employees in the industry refuse to accept the award of Judge Lukin, will their decision be accepted by the Government? If not, what is the value of the secret ballot?
– The procedure provided by the Arbitration Act is being followed. The order for the holding of a secret ballot is in the first instance provisional. A notice has been served upon the officers of the union, who are at liberty to make representations to the court, and they must be heard before a final order is made. No decision by secret ballot can make legal an act which otherwise is illegal.
– I notice in the daily press a report that Mr. E. J. Holloway is being persecuted and prosecuted by the Federal Government. I should like to know if he is the Mr. Holloway who opposed the Prime Minister at the last Federal elections, and if so may we attach any significance to the action of the Government in prosecuting and persecuting him?
Question not answered.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral give Edward Holloway, who is now about to be prosecuted, a similar opportunity to that given to the Abrahams Brothers, to “ square “ the case before it goes into court?
Question not answered.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether the Crown will pay the expenses of the proposed secret ballot of timber workers, or is the expense to be borne by the union ?
– The proposed ballot has not been ordered to be taken by the union, but is to be held under the supervision of officers of the court. The Crown will pay the expense.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral been consulted, and has he expressed any opinion, as to the power of the court to direct the holding of a secret ballot, in view of the fact that in point of law there is no dispute pending?
– I have not been consulted on that matter, and the question has not been brought in any form before me.
– Under Mr. Justice Lukin’s award, certain timber workers at Ballarat will receive only £3 18s. instead of £411s. per week. Is the AttorneyGeneral prepared to sanction the imprisonment of men who will not work for the lower amount?
– I do not know if the figures given by the honorable member are correct or not; but where the law has been broken it will be enforced.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform the House of the method adopted by the Arbitration Court, or the Industrial Registrar, to satisfy himself as to the bona fides of those who make application for a secret ballot?
– The Arbitration Act provides that secret application may be made to the registrar for a secret ballot in a certain manner. It is an offence for the registrar to disclose in the case of one of these applications, such as the application in the present timber workers’ case, the names of the applicants or any particulars concerning them, to any person except the judge. It rests with the registrar and the judge to satisfy themselves of the bona fides of the applicants. It is by the legislation passed by this Parliament that these matters are left to be dealt with by the court in the manner mentioned.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that employers in the timber industry are supplying strikebreakers with revolvers? Does he not consider it of grave danger to decent citizens that individuals of such low mentality should be armed with lethal weapons? Further, what does the Attorney-General intend to do in the matter ?
– I have received no such information. The laws relating to the carrying of firearms are administered entirely by the States.
– Last year the Commonwealth Government granted a subsidy to certain societies interested in inland development work for the carrying on of air medical services, with Cloncurry as a centre, to serve the Northern Territory and the northern part of Queensland. In view of the excellent results which have been obtained from the subsidy, I ask the right honorable the Prime Minister if it is the intention of the Government to continue the payment this year and, if that is in order, I urge him to do so.
– The Commonwealth Government has assisted the Australian Inland Mission in providing medical air services for residents in Central and Northern Australia, the assistance taking the form of a subsidy towards theflying costs of the service, based on the number of miles flown. The period for which the subsidy was payable was one year, and will expire shortly. In view of the excellent results achieved, the Government has agreed to continue the subsidyfor another twelve months.
– I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the report of the speech made recently by Dr. Rivett, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, to the effect that Australia was completely out of step with all other countries in connexion with the cost of obtaining protection by patents and its treatment of patentees. Will the Minister give this matter his attention, and see if it is not possible to amend the act, so as to allow the Commonwealth Patents Office to reduce its charges?
– I have not seen the report of the speech referred to by the honorable member; but it is more likely that legislation will be introduced to increase than to decrease the fees chargeable on patents, in order to make the Patents Office self supporting.
Views of Sir Hugo Hirst
– I ask the Prime Minister if he has seen the cabled report of a speech by Sir Hugo Hirst, a member of the British Economic Mission which visited Australia recently, in which he stated that whilst in the Commonwealth he came in contact with some employers who believed in the policy of starving labour into submission, and also that he became quite friendly with Mr. J. Garden, with whom he had sat for several hours at different functions. In view of this statement by a prominent member of the British Economic Mission, does the Prime Minister still hold the view that Mr. Jock Garden, the secretary of the Sydney Labour Council, should be used as a target for criticism by the Government and should be blamed for so much of the industrial unrest that is retarding Australia’s progress ?
– I have not seen any such statement as that attributed to Sir Hugo Hirst, and if it is suggested that he approved of the policy of starving Labour into submission, I should indeed be surprised to find that the newspaper account was an accurate report of anything he may have said.
– I have based my question ian reports in the Melbourne Herald and in the Sydney Sun.
– I had many opportunities of meeting Sir Hugo Hirst while he was in Australia, and the sentiments he expressed in my presence were quite to the contrary. If Sir Hugo Hirst became a very great friend of Mr. Jock Garden, and on many occasions sat next to him at functions, it is extremely unlikely that he made the statement referred to, and I cannot believe that Mr. Garden would have been on friendly terms with Sir Hugo Hirst if the later held such views.
– Last Friday, when speaking on the Transport Workers Bill, I said that while the leaders of the Labour movement were advising the strikers to return to work in terms of the regulations made under the Transport Workers Act, the Australasian Council of Trade Unions had passed a resolution at a conference urging them not to resume work. That statement was challenged by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Culley), who spoke as a member of the conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. In the daily press, the honorable gentleman is reported to have said that he threw the lie back in my teeth. I assure the House that my statement was made in good faith and was based on reports which appeared in a number of newspapers. So far as I am aware, all the newspaper reports of the conference were to the same effect. I propose to quote from the Argus report of the conference, and I feel certain that the honorable member for Denison will then realize that if I made a misstatement, I did so without malice. According to the Argus of the 3rd October, 1928, a motion was submitted to the conference by Mr. J. S. Garden, Secretary of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, and seconded by Mr. C. O’Neill, of the Victorian Branch of the Seamen’s Union, in which it was decided to instruct all workers to refrain from taking out licences, and to form councils of action in each State. The Argus report stated, further, that Mr. H. C. Gibson, a member of the Emergency Committee of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which body had convened the conference, moved an amendment that the best policy to adopt was to accept the inevitable and advise all unionist waterside workers to apply immediately for licences under the obnoxious Transport Workers Act.
– In making a personal explanation, an honorable member is entitled only to show that he has been misrepresented. As the honorable member is now attempting to give reasons for a statement he made, he is going beyond the limits of a personal explanation.
– The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) is not quoting from a report of the conference of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions.
– I have quoted the Argus report to show that my remarks on Friday were not made regardless of accuracy. If I made a misstatement, I am sorry. I maintain, however, that I am entitled to give reasons for the statement I made. I was not at the Australasian Council of Trade Unions’ conference, and cannot say whether the Argus report of its deliberations is correct; but I point out that all the newspaper reports that I read agreed as to what took place at the conference.
– In a personal explanation an honorable member is entitled to show how he has been misrepresented or placed in such an unfair or improper light as to amount to misrepresentation. To the extent to which the honorable member has done that, he has kept within the limits of a personal explanation; but be will, I feel sure, recognize that he cannot now read a series of quotations in an endeavour to justify a statement he has made.
– The report goes on to show, not that the motion was agreed to, but that it was referred to a subcommittee. According to the Argus of 8th October, 1928, the conference agreed to advise the strikers not to return to work.
– About a fortnight ago I brought under the notice of the Prime Minister the distress which existed in South Australia, particularly in the Port Adelaide district, when the right honorable gentleman promised that an investigation would be made. I should like to know if such an investigation has been conducted, and, if so, what relief is to be afforded ?
– I am unable to give the honorable member the information at present, but I shall ascertain what has been done.
Report on Evaporated Apples and Vegetables.
– I ask the Minister for Markets and Transport if the Development and Migration Commission has prepared a report on evaporated apples and vegetables, and, if so, when will the report be available to honorable members ?
– The Development and Migration Commission is not directly associated with my department; but I understand that that body is at present engaged upon the ‘ preparation of the report, which it expects to complete very shortly.
– Is the Honorary Minister (Mr. Marr) able to give an answer to the requests submitted to him by certain residents of Queanbeyan about two weeks ago in relation to granting the Canberra allowance to public servants resident in Queanbeyan?
– The representations made by the deputation from Queanbeyan have been placed before the Prime Minister, who, I understand, is at present inquiring into the whole matter.
– I wish to repeat a question which I put to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) when he was Prime Minister as long ago as 1922, and later to the present Prime Minister. Will the Government take drastic action to prohibit the exportation of stud sheep from Australia?
– This matter has been raised on many occasions - I received a -deputation on the subject in Central Queensland. The Government has not, on any occasion, indicated that it is prepared to ‘take action in the direction suggested.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you will take into early consideration the revision of the Standing Orders which govern the procedure in this Chamber, with a view to bringing them up to date, and on somewhat similar lines to those in use in other Parliamentary institutions in Australia?
– The revision of the Standing Orders is a matter for the Standing Orders Committee which was recently appointed by the House, to consider. It is my intention to convene a meeting of the committe at an early date.
– With reference to the -statutory rule tabled last week, containing amendments of previous statutory rules, which provide, among other things, that the War Service Homes Commissioner may, if in his opinion it is desirable, appoint a board of inquiry to hear and report upon any charge made in accordance with regulation 6 of these regulations, I ask the Treasurer who is to constitute such a board? Will it consist of a chairman and other members, and will the personnel of the board include a representative of the employees? What fees are to be paid to the members of the board and will any member of it be independent of the department?
– The question asked by the honorable member does not concern my department, and I suggest that he direct it to the minister in charge of War Service Homes.
– Will the Prime Minister cause a memorandum to be prepared for the convenience particularly of new members,’ setting out the various departments and sub-departments of which respective Ministers are in charge, so that we may know to whom inquiries should be addressed?
– A list of the departments was published in the Common- . wealth Gazette some three or four weeks ago, and under each department every act and every activity administered by each Minister were set out. In all copies of Hansard, too, the titles of Ministers are given. Therefore, I think that the honorable member can obtain the information he requires without a ^special memorandum being prepared, but if he is in any difficulty, and will make a personal application, I am sure that something will be done to comply with his wishes.
– In view of the fact that over nine months ago the matter of the protection of the cotton industry was submitted to the Tariff Board, and Parliament, it is reported, will rise in a few weeks, will the Minister for Trade and Customs expedite the presentation of the report ?
– The report is expected at a very early date.
– Will the Prime Minister give the House an opportunity to discuss the suspension of Mr. M. L. Shepherd, Secretary to the Defence Department, and the inquiry that resulted from it, before the House rises?
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) asked me a similar question recently, and it was my intention to reply to him that’ the Government did not propose to give any special opportunity for the consideration of this matter. It can only be discussed if an opportunity arises in the ordinary course of proceedings.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) that he proposes to move the adjournment of the House for the purposes of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., the necessity for the immediate construction of the Red Hill to Port Augusta railway.
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- I take this opportunity to place this subject before the House again because it is of a very urgent nature, and because I desire to call the attention of the Government to the necessity for making immediate provision for the building of the line. My two reasons for adopting the course that I have taken to-day in moving the adjournment of the House are, firstly, that the line will provide facilities needed by the district that it will serve, and, secondly, that acute unemployment obtains in South Australia at the present time, and there is no other avenue, apart from the construction of this railway, wherein the unemployed could be absorbed. The work is long overdue. It was referred to the Public Works Committee in the early months of 1926. I was a member of the committee then, and we understood that our inquiries into this line had to be expedited. We hastened the investigation as far as possible, and, in May, 1926, our report was printed. Prior to that an agreement was entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the South Australian Government. In the limited time at my disposal I do not intend to discuss the terms of that agreement ; but I refer to it to show that there is no obstacle in the way of proceeding with the work so far as South Australia is concerned. The agreement has been ratified by this Parliament and also by the South Australian Parliament.
The matter was then held up for some time; but, to show that it was still before the Government, I remind honorable members that the Treasurer (Dr. .Earle. Page) referred- to it in his budget-speech in 1927, in these terms -
Under the Railways (South Australian) Agreement Act 192G, provision is made for the extension of the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge from Port Augusta to Adelaide to enable the Commonwealth trains to run between Kalgoorlie and Adelaide. The work has been recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Works, and the necessary bill for the construction of the railway will be introduced during the present session. The breaks of gauge at Port Augusta und Terowie have greatly hampered and restricted business, and it is expected tli.it the extension of a uniform gauge to Adelaide will considerably increase the traffic.
Those remarks show that the Government realized the necessity for action at that time. I recently asked the Prime Minister if he would expedite the passage of the necessary legislation to enable the construction of the line to proceed. He replied that the work could not be done this year, because there was no loan money available for the purpose. I believe that the reply given by the Prime Minister was not quite accurate, as our Estimates for the year ended 30th June, 1929, provided money for the construction of this railway. Those Estimates also contained provision for the expenditure of £300,000 for “Advances of passage money, landing money, and medical fees of assisted immigrants “ ; and that when our unemployed are legion! The necessity of the moment is not to spend money on immigration, but to relieve existing unemployment; migration activities- should be temporarily suspended. I remind the Prime Minster that, on the 3rd November, 1927, I asked him in this House, if, because of the great amount of unemployment which then existed in South Australia, the Government would place as much Commonwealth work as possible in operation in that State, without delay, with a view to alleviating the unemployment problem in South Australia, and the right honorable gentleman replied -
Whenever, through any local circumstances, a period of unemployment occurs in a State, the Commonwealth endeavours to relieve it by pushing on with Commonwealth works that have been authorized in that State. The last instance of the kind was, I think, furnished when certain representations were made by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) regarding Commonwealth works in that city. I can assure tlie honorable member for Grey that that policy will be pursued in the present case, if unemployment is acute.
Unemployment is acute in South Australia at present. It has never been worse, and I know of no other State in Australia in which it is as bad, so tha the time is opportune for the Prime Minister to redeem his promise. I hope tha I shall be able to convince both the Prime “Minister and the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Paterson) that the project is of so urgent a nature that the Government would be well advised if it introduced a special loan bill to provide the necessary money immediately. It is not that money will be thrown away on this railway, as the line will pay from the outset. On several occasions, I have enumerated the advantages that would result from its construction, and I shall now briefly reiterate the salient features of the scheme. The length of construction necessary from Port Augusta to Red Hill is 82 miles. Work could be started simultaneously at three points, Red Hill, Port Augusta, and Port Pirie. Already there is a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway running from Adelaide to Red Hill. Red Hill- is approximately 28 miles from Port Pirie, and the route to Port Augusta ia 58 miles from Port Pirie. The proposal is io continue the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge from Red Hill to Port Pirie, and to lay along that section of the line a third rail, to provide a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line. The 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge railway would be continued from Port Pirie to Port Augusta, so making a continuous length of 4-ft. 8^-in. railway from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide, and a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway from Port Pirie to Adelaide.
The bill for the construction of this railway was introduced in this House on the 12th October, 1927, by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill), who was then Minister for Works and Railways. The necessary surveys have been made, and the work could now be proceeded with immediately. When introducing the bill in 1927, the then Minister said, amongst other things -
The bill before tlie House gives the cost of the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill only, but the Honorable the Treasurer will also make provision as may, be necessary for the expenditure on rolling-stock and on the third rail from Red Hill to Adelaide, and the sums necessary for these works will be provided for and submitted to this House with the Estimates in the usual way.
Those who are interested in this scheme thought that a great deal more would have been done ere this. The line would he of inestimable value to the people on the adjoining areas. The following is a statement that was made by the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways, repeated by the then Minister of Railways and also incorporated in the report of the PublicWorks Committee, and it deals with the advantages that will accrue from the line when constructed. According to the Commissioner the line -
Australian railway to be conveyed from the point of loading to the market in the same vehicle, thus affording arrival of stock in better condition. Under existing conditions live-stock for Adelaide has to be transhipped at Port Augusta into 3-ft. 6-in. gauge trains, and again at Terowie into 5-ft. 3-in. gauge trains.
It is really unnecessary for me to elaborate those very sound reasons in favour of the railway, but I shall amplify them by pointing out that evidence was tendered to the Public Works Committee to the effect that the country between Red Hill and Port Pirie contains some of the best agricultural land that is to be found in South Australia, while from Port Pirie on, the land is very suitable. Evidence on the subject also indicates that those engaged in the wheat industry in the district concerned are considerably hampered because their product has to be carted a distance of 22 miles from Wandearah to Port Pirie. This line would pass through a district which has an assured rainfall and has seldom had a crop failure. Evidence on that point was given before the Public Works Committee. Many railways are constructed with a view to developing country and do not pay. I am in favour of building railways whether they pay or not, if they lead to greater production and to an increase in settlement, and I should be justified in asking for the construction of this line solely because of the development it would bring about. I propose, however, to show that it will be a payable proposition. The estimated cost of the line is £735,000, the rolling-stock required to serve the section from Port Augusta to Adelaide is estimated to cost £104,250, and the third rail between Red Hill and the Adelaide railway station, £380,000, making a total of £1,219,250. The Commonwealth Railways anticipated from the railway between Port Augusta, Red Hill and Adelaide an annual revenue of £101,000. The annual working expenses are set down at £64,000, and the annual interest charges on the same basis at £78,000, leaving an estimated annual loss on the working of the Commonwealth trains and traffic between Port Augusta and Adelaide of approximately £41,000. But against this it is estimated that by the building of this line the financial results of the Trans- Australian railway will be improved to the extent of £35,000, and that because of the extra traffic which will come from the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway there will be a gain of £13,000. The line will, therefore, show an actual profit of about £7,000 per annum, after paying working expenses and interest. Those figures are not mine; they were given by the then Minister for Works and Railways in moving the second reading of the bill for the construction of this railway.
– Is it proposed to take the Oodnadatta traffic via Port Augusta to Adelaide?
– Yes. The proposal is to take the stock trains from Quorn to Port Augusta and water the stock there before sending them on in a through train to Adelaide. At present, stock from the north have to be detrained at- several points on the journey from Alice Springs to Adelaide, but by travelling by the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway these changes would be avoided, ten hours on the journey would be saved, and the cattle would not be knocked about to the extent they are at present. The national aspect of this proposed railway has been emphasized on many previous occasions. The line would popularize the East-West service. I have on a previous occasion mentioned that I have known passengers from Perth booked through to Adelaide, to leave the train at Port Augusta and continue the journey to Adelaide by bus, their object being to gain an additional six hours in that city. With the construction of the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway, Adelaide would be reached by train nine hours earlier than is now possible. These advantages are all pointed out in the report of the Public Works Committee. I trust that the Government will realize that if ever there was a time when it should come to the assistance of South Australia, it is the present. I have received numerous letters and telegrams urging that something should be done by the Commonwealth to relieve the unemployment trouble in South Australia.
Ministers have already entered into an agreement with the South Australian Government to build the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway, and from time to time they have expressed their anxiety to proceed with the work because of the many advantages that would follow its completion. Surely it is time for them to take steps to secure these advantages and at the same time help to relieve the unemployed difficulty now existing in South Australia. There are in that State 1,500 returned soldiers and 7,000 other persons out of employment. Every town has a considerable number of people unemployed. There are, for instance, 400 men in Port Pirie out of work. Some men are unemployed for a. time and then secure work for a while, but I know men at Port
Pirie who have not had employment for two years. A large number of men were thrown on the labour market by the Butler Government under the State railways rehabilitation scheme. Some of them have done no work since ; others have had ‘a few days’ work each month, but have not earned sufficient to maintain their families. Committees in Port Pirie are doing all they possibly can to relieve the distress there, but I am afraid that the position will gradually grow worse. Most of the South Australian wheat crop is on; the water, and what is not on the water is on the wharf waiting shipment; the fruit season is over, seasonal occupations generally are finished and the completion of the construction work on the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway will throw an additional 600 men on the labour market in June next. The position, therefore, instead of improving, will grow gradually worse. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) when speaking a few days ago did not exaggerate the condition of affairs in Port Adelaide. No one could exaggerate it. An honorable member representing another State has shown me a letter written to him telling him of families in South Australia who are living on bran because they cannot afford to buy any other food. According to the Port Pirie Recorder, a speaker at » meeting held the other night said that he knew of a child that had died because the family breadwinner, being out of work, could not buy proper nourishment for it. Councillor Coffey, of that town, said that the men at Port Pirie did not’ want a dole, but would welcome work, and’ that at present many were living on one meal’ a day, slowly starving because their pride would not allow them to join the bread line. The Rev. Lade, a man who has done good work assisting the unemployed and relieving the distress at Port Pirie, says that 85 per cent, of those who wait on him want work and not charity. The secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation stated, also, that he knew of many waterside workers who were earning from 14s. to 15s. a week. These men are mostly married, and their wage does not pay their rent. How are they to keep their wives and families? There are on the books of the Waterside Workers Federation to-day three times as many men as can be given assistance. At times there is no work offering at all for the waterside workers. The unemployment in the northern parts of South Australia is being increased because of the action of the Government of that State. The Premier, obviously to stop the demonstrations by the unemployed in the capital -city, has offered the unemployed free railway passes to any place 120 miles from Adelaide. Men are taking advantage of that offer, and, as there is no work in the country, they are in a very bad way. According to statements in the press and by the Premier of South Australia, there is the prospect of a few small public works being undertaken in the near future ; but it is almost certain that most of the money available for those works will be expended in the purchase of material, and little employment will be offering.
This Government should honor its promise to construct the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway. This work should be put in hand immediately, because it would not only relieve unemployment, but also confer a great benefit on the farmers in the northern parts of South Australia, who have experienced four successive droughts. In 1914 these settlers experienced a severe drought, but were able to carry on and keep their stock alive by work on the transcontinental railway, which was then being constructed, At present no work is offering and they are unable to buy feed for their stock. Our unemployed :to-day are being forced to accept charity. I agree with the statement of the Rev. Lade that the unemployed want, not charity, but the opportunity to earn sufficient to keep themselves and their families. Not only are the workers suffering, but the whole of the community is feeling the ill-effects of unemployment. The Government, to show that its sympathies are with the workers and the nation as a whole, should commence the construction of this railway, which from the first day of its operation, will pay working expenses and interest and show an annual profit of £7,000. If the Government side-tracks this project that will be tantamount to saying, “Let the thousands who are starving continue to starve.” I hope that the Government
Ifr. Lacey. will give immediate consideration to my suggestion and put this work in hand in the near future.
– I wish to congratulate the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) on the forceful way in which he has presented his case to the House. Almost his first statement was that the Commonwealth should, for the time being, suspend immigration in view of the considerable unemployment existing in Australia at present. It cannot be too often emphasized that this is a matter entirely for the States, and that not one single assisted migrant has been brought here at the initiative of the Commonwealth. There are only two channels through which the assisted migrant may come here, the requisition and the nomination channels. Either there must be direct requisition on the part of a State Government, or nomination on . the part of citizens, whose nominations have to be endorsed by the respective State Governments before the Commonwealth can take action regarding them, so that the responsibility for the. admission of migrants whose passages are assisted rests entirely with the States. That fact cannot be too often repeated.
Provision would probably have been made before this to commence the construction of the line from Red Hill to Port Augusta, had it not been for the grave necessity which arose last year for reducing to a minimum all loan programmes, federal and State. There is, I think, little or no difference of opinion among honorable members on either side of the House as to the advantages which will accrue from the building of this line. The present line, at an . altitude of some 2,000 feet, follows a tortuous track over the Flinders Range. The new project will be better in every respect. It will reduce the time of the journey between Adelaide and Port Augusta by some five hours, and the distance by some 70 miles. The altitude will be reduced from 2,000 feet to 455 feet. In addition, when this project is carried out, and if the third rail is laid, or, alternately, the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge only is used, two breaks of gauge will be obviated. The Minister who preceded me in my present office introduced a bill, the year before last, to authorize the construction of this line, but it did not get beyond the second reading stage, because of the pressure of legislation at the close of the session. Shortly after that a period of extraordinary financial stringency ensued and it became necessary for the Commonwealth and State Governments to cut down ruthlessly their loan programmes. Honorable members opposite were then most insistent in their demands for a reduction in loan expenditure, and on the hustings they had a good deal to say on that subject. The cost of this line is estimated at £735,000, plus £104,000 for rolling-stock and £380,000 for the laying, at Commonwealth expense, of’ a third rail from Red Hill to Adelaide. In addition, the State Government, would be put to the expense of laying a. third rail from Red Hill to Port Pirie. Although the Uniform Gauge Committee, which met in 1921, recommended the building of this line as a part of the scheme for the unification of gauges, South Australia did not participate in the proposals for a uniform gauge. The undertaking which the honorable member for Grey has referred to this afternoon is, strictly speaking, not an agreement between the South Australian and Commonwealth Governments which is binding on either party, it merely gives a permissive right which the Commonwealth Govermnent may make use of at any time. Since that arrangement was made, a new factor has arisen* The subject of unifying the gauges in Victoria and South Australia has been given prominence in the report of the British Economic Mission, the members of which referred to the possibility of amending what is known as the £34,000,000 agreement in such a way as to make its funds available for the unification of gauges. Needless to say, if that were done, the cost of this project would be lowered enormously. We should get from Great Britain money for the first five years at half the normal rate of interest, and for the second five years at two-thirds of the normal rate of interest. If the proposal of the British Economic Mission comes to fruition, with the prospect of greatly reduced costs, and South Australia becomes favorable to the conversion of its railways to a uniform gauge, the necessity for the laying of the third rail from Red Hill to Adelaide at Commonwealth expense, and from Red Hill to Port Pirie at that State’s expense would disappear and an enormous saving would be made. The whole project would be immensely simplified. Apart from the necessity of refraining from borrowing, we had the best of reasons for making a pause at this juncture before the Commonwealth commits itself to the building of a third rail project at heavy expense. The Railways Commissioners of the Commonwealth and of the States on the mainland are, on instructions from the Commonwealth and State Governments now engaged in investigating the present cost of carrying out the modified conversion scheme which would change the railways of South Australia and Victoria to the 4-ft. 8-J-in. gauge. When their report is available all the Governments concerned will be in an infinitely better position than they are in to-day to determine what action they should take and whether the third rail project should be scrapped. It must be evident to all honorable members that if the unification of gauges becomes a subject of practical politics as a result of the proposals which have been put forward, and which may result in immense savings being made in interest costs, the expenditure on the Red Hill to Port Augusta railway will be considerably reduced. For these reasons I trust that the House will not decide to take such precipitate action as has been proposed by the honorable member for Grey.
The Prime Minister, in answer to a question asked in this House recently, said that the whole question was governed by the amount of loan moneys available, and that he could hold out no prospect of the railway being proceeded with during the present financial year. He also said that the project will receive full consideration when the Government is framing its financial policy for next year. In view of the possibility of the unification of gauges being proceeded with in the near future on a basis which would be much more advantageous to Australia than any other previously contemplated, we should do well to pause until we receive the report of the Railways Commissioners of the Commonwealth and States on the cost of unifying the gauges.
.- The reply of the Minister to the plea of the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) is totally inadequate and extremely pitiful. He has advised us to postpone the building of the railway from Red Hill to Port Augusta until the report of the Railways Commissioners on the unification of gauges is available. The motion for the adjournment of the Hou3e, although it relates to the construction of that railway, has one specific purpose, and that is to provide employment for the workers of Australia. To-day men and women are starving and children are being fed with bran. The Government does not care one jot. The Minister wishes us to postpone giving relief to these people until some decision has been come to respecting the unification of gauges. We should grasp the nettle firmly, and take immediate action to relieve the distress existing throughout this country. The Minister took the honorable member for Grey to task for his suggestion that migration to this country should cease. The Minister knows that we should cease to assist migration. Any one with a grain of common sense knows that. We have no right to bring men here until we can usefully employ every working member of the community. The Minister is evading the issue by saying that the States and not the Commonwealth are responsible for bringing migrants here, The Commonwealth supplies the sinews of war to the States. If this Government refused to make funds available to the States for immigration purposes, immigration would cease immediately. We are wasting money not only in bringing migrants here, but also in inviting them here. I have before me a Scotch newspaper containing an advertisement inviting people to come to Australia, the land of opportunity. A similar advertisement appears in almost every newspaper of Great Britain. The honorable member for Grey has told us of the distress that exists at Port Pirie among the miners, who, in prosperous times, helped the mine-owners to make enormous profits. Not only are the people of Port Pirie suffering, but tradespeople and other members of the community are feeling the pinch. The honorable member for Grey has put forward a practical proposition. He has asked the Government to carry out a portion of the policy which it enunciated on the public platforms of this country. The construction of this railway would not only relieve unemployment, but would benefit the people on the land who are at present in the throes of a drought. The Minister took refuge behind the statement that loan expenditure must be reduced to a minimum. Was the last Budget of the Treasurer framed with that object in view? The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr, Hughes) said in this House “ The road from Goulburn to Canberra shakes up my liver. We must make a bitumen road.” and the Government supinely asked Parliament to spend over £100,000 on that road. If that expenditure would have the same result as the honorable member for Grey anticipates from the construction of the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway, I would not mind the liver of the right honorable member for North Sydney being protected. But I want the people in Port Pirie to have an opportunity to earn a living. The Minister for Transport said that migration is the responsibility of the States, not of the Commonwealth. I ask him what would happen if the Commonwealth Government decided to proceed no further with the £34,000,000 scheme which it has arranged with the British Government. If the flow of migrants were stopped immediately the Commonwealth would be able to find work for the people who are already in Australia. He spoke with his tongue in his cheek when he said that the control of this matter was beyond the Commonwealth. The statement that the Government cannot find money for an urgent railway project is in keeping with its other actions recently. Rather than pay a living allowance to certain postal officers in Canberra, it asked this Parliament to disallow the Arbitrator’s award and to declare that he had made a mistake. Yet an extra £2,000 can be found for the Governor-General and a home can be bought for the High Commissioner. When the Government is asked to make money available to build a railway and succour some of our people, the Minister for Transport pleads poverty. The honorable member for Grey has merely asked the Government to carry out its policy, and it may do that without fear, because this project was approved by the Public Works Committee years ago, and a bill for the construction of the line was actually introduced into the House. The Minister’s explanation of the situation was not entirely frank. The reason for delay is not the shortage of money.
– The Government has a mandate from the people.
– It has a mandate to proceed with this work, and the line should and could be built. When it is completed we shall have the advantage of a continuous 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge from Port Augusta to Adelaide, and travellers will be spared the discomforts attendant on the present breaks of gauge. The Government recommended the South Brisbane to Kyogle railway to Parliament as a step towards the unification of gauges. The House assented to that policy, which is in accordance with the wishes of the people. The project for which the honorable member for Grey has pleaded is another and more important instalment of the uniform gauge. The Minister ‘ cannot deny the facts quoted by the honorable member, because they are the result of a complete investigation, and were, indeed, the basis of the bill introduced by the Government. We are told that the Railway Commissioners are now considering the possibility of unifying the gauges between the capital cities of Australia. If the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill were built on the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge, all that would be needed to extend that gauge to Adelaide would be to lay a third rail on the existing 5-ft. 3-in. track.
– At great expense.
– Not necessarily. When the Fisher Government extended the 3-f t. 6-in. gauge from Pine Creek southwards, the track and culverts were so formed that at any time the gauge could be widened to 4-ft. 8-J-in. without undue cost. Surely it would not cost £380,000 to lay a third rail on a wide track that is already built. In any case that expenditure will not be obviated by waiting for a decision regarding the unification of gauges; the third rail will have to be laid some time.
– We might shift inwards one of the existing rails.
– The Minister’s argument will not bear investigation. If he is sincere in his statement that delay has been due to the fact that consideration was being given to the unification of gauges, then the question of cost is not involved. If unification be decided upon the third rail between Adelaide and Red Hill will be in line with that policy. The work on that section of the main line will have been done. This disposes of the Minister’s contention that the work should not be proceeded with until the Commonwealth and States concerned have agreed about the policy of unification. Financial reasons are not so much involved as the Minister would have us believe. Money can be made available readily enough for the payment of a pension of £1,000 a year to an exgovernor of the Commonwealth Bank, but when it comes to providing loan moneys for a work that will provide employment for those urgently in need of it, objections are raised in certain quarters. I hope that honorable members will support the motion.
.- It is not my intention to take up the time of the House by prolonging this debate, because the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) has put up a splendid case in support of the proposed railway. He has shown clearly that the line, will be reproductive, and therefore honorable members should support the proposal. I was rather disappointed with the statement of the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Paterson) concerning the use of loan moneys. It is inconsistent to place obstacles in the way of spending loan moneys for essential services, such as the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill, and at the same time to make loan provision for the building of a road for the convenience, as the honorable member for Adelaide said, of the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes when travelling between Sydney and Canberra. I am in favour of this proposed work being constructed without unnecessary delay. We are all agreed that the time has come when Australia must call a halt in the expenditure of loan money on undertakings that are not likely to be reproductive. But there are special reasons why the Government should proceed with this work.
The honorable member for Adelaide spoke of the great amount of unemployment in South Australia, particularly among the wage-earning section of the community. I remind honorable members that there are thousands of farmers who, with their wives and children, are subsisting on what is virtually a starvation ration to-day. It is essential that, in their interests as well as in the interests of unemployed workers in South Australia, this railway project should be proceeded with as soon as possible.
.- In the short time at the disposal of honorable members, it is impossible adequately to deal with the motion of the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey). If the honorable member’s intention is to urge on the Government the necessity of proceeding with the railway proposal in question I shall support the motion. On the other hand, if his object is to censure the Government for not having put the work in hand, [cannot vote for his motion. The honorable member was extremely temperate in his remarks. He adduced sound, local reasons why the work should be proceeded with. There are ,also solid national reasons why the. construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill should have been proceeded with before now. I am not altogether satisfied with the reply of the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Paterson). In particular, I do not agree with his reason tha,t a shortage of loan money should have been responsible for the delay. If all the facts had been taken into consideration by the Government, Ministers must have been aware that leading railway authorities regarded this proposal as a reproductive undertaking. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner in particular advanced many sound reasons for the early construction of the railway. I think the Minister was on sounder ground when he urged that there should be complete agreement 01:1 the unification of railway gauges before the Government put this work in hand. We are all alive to the urgent need for unification at the earliest possible moment, but I disagree with the honorable member for Adelaide, when he says that if the third rail is laid it will be a comparatively simple matter to link up this. section when unification is decided on. If there were a possibility of an agreement to unify the gauges of all main lines, the Government would be justified in delaying the construction of this particular work, involving as it does the laying of a third rail, but I should like to see’ more evidence of agreement among the States concerning this problem. If unanimity is not likely to be reached within the next twelve or eighteen months, the Government will not be justified in holding up this work any longer. What is the attitude of the Government of South Australia? It seems to me that if the State Government had been keen about putting the work in hand, the Commonwealth Government might have been stirred to action long before now. Unquestionably, the people of South Australia are deeply interested in this proposal, which received the careful attention of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I happened to be chairman of the committee at the time, and with other members of that body made an exhaustive inquiry into the proposal. We examined 42 witnesses, including the Railways Commissioners of the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, as well as a considerable number of independent railway engineers. I think I am justified in saying that no fewer than thirteen engineers favoured the introduction of the third rail, as against five engineers who were doubtful of or opposed to the installation. I suggest that honorable members should peruse the evidence taken by the Public Works Committee, so that they may inform their minds on the various aspects of the project. Lengthy negotiations were entered into between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments, and the agreement reached was ratified by the Commonwealth Parliament and the Parliament of the State concerned. Under this agreement the Commonwealth undertook to build a railway on the 4-ft. 8 1/2-in. gauge from Port Augusta to Red Hill, and the South Australian Government became responsible for the laying of a third rail at the expense of the Commonwealth on thu standard gauge on the line from Red
Hill to Adelaide, a distance of 103 miles. It has been said that the technical advisers of the South Australian Government were opposed to the third rail. That statement is entirely contrary to fact. The Public Works Committee took a good deal of evidence on this point. If time permitted I could quote extensively from the evidence of the Chief Railways Commissioner for South Australia to show that in his view at all events, the laying of the third rail would not interfere with the safe working in station yards along the route or in Adelaide itself. Some honorable members not now in the House, were under the impression that Mr. Webb opposed the scheme entirely. That is not correct. It is true that he believed the Commonwealth was getting the better of the arrangement because it would be possible for the Commonwealth train to run right through from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide, and .the State would lose a certain amount of traffic. Doubtless there was something to support this view, but it is entirely a mistake to suppose that he objected to the laying of the third rail. As a return for this concession the Commonwealth Government agreed to introduce a third rail on their 4-ft. 8 1/2-in. gauge line at the expense of South Australia, from Red Hill to a point near Port Pirie, thus enabling South Australian rolling stock to run right through from Adelaide and the western, railway division to Port Pirie. It will be seen that the agreement presented features favourable to both Governments, though probably the Commonwealth stood to gain more than the State. In view of the important issues involved, I hope that the Government will make up its mind about the proposed unification of gauges or as an alternative that the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill will be put in hand at an early date. In rendering financial assistance to the States of Queensland and New South Wales in connexion with the broad gauge railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane, the Commonwealth has shown its desire to bring about unification of our rail systems. I look forward to the time when we shall have an opportunity to discuss the pro]!0.*al for a third rail, with which many people arc, as yet, unfamiliar.
.- It is unfortunate that the time at our disposal for the discussion of this important matter is so short. From the speeches already made it would appear that members generally are agreed as to the advisability of constructing a railway from Red Hill to Port Augusta. I urge the Government to make available the money necessary for the construction of this line, in order not only to provide a railway which will be a national asset, but also to relieve the distress which now exists in South Australia because of unemployment. I remind the House of the promise contained in the Prime Minister’s policy speech delivered in 1925 -
The connexion of Adelaide with Port Augusta by a standard gauge railway is also provided for under the agreement. This will constitute a further step in the carrying out of the unification df gauge proposals. The Government proposes to submit the agreement with the South Australian Government to Parliament at the earliest possible date for its ratification in order to enable the work to proceed. “
– That pledge is three years old.
– The agreement has been ratified, and all that is now necessary is that the money be provided and the work commenced.
– The Government frequently refers to the mandate it has received.
– I trust that the Government will abide by the decision of the House in this matter.
– I support the motion for three reasons. The first is that the construction of this railway has already received the approval of this House; the second reason is that its construction has been strongly recommended as a business proposition by men set apart specially to investigate that phase of the matter ; and the third reason is that if money can be found for the development of Canberra, funds ought to be made available forthwith for a work of this kind, in order to relieve the pressing problem of* unemployment.
– I support the motion and desire to emphasize the urgent need for the undertaking to be proceeded with without delay. The construction of this line of railway would not only help to solve the breakofgauge problem, but it would also tend to relieve the serious unemployment now existing in South Australia. The people of that State are asking that the Commonwealth Government should honour its obligations to South Australia, and put in hand this work which was recommended by the Public Works Committee and approved by Parliament.
– I desire to notify the House that the clock has stopped, and that the time allowed under Standing Order 119 for the discussion of this motion has expired.
– The clock is going, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I point out, moreover, that honorable” members have been timing their speeches by the chamber clock.
– The time allowed under the Standing Orders for the discussion of this motion has expired.
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that the deliberations in this chamber are governed, as to time, by the clock facing the Speaker’s Chair. We had until 5 o’clock for the discussion of this motion. Honorable members are desirous of a vote being taken. If we are to be guided by the clock in the* chamber, there is still time for a vote to be taken.
-The Standing Orders do not provide that in matters of time the deliberations in thic chamber shall be governed by the clock facing the Speaker’s Chair, although I admit that that clock is generally used by the occupant of the Chair to determining questions of time. The actual fact is that the time provided by the Standing Orders for the discsusion of this motion has expired, although the hands of the chamber clock do not -yet mark the hour of 5 o’clock.
– By what clock or watch have you, sir, arrived at that decision ?
-The Standing Orders specifically provide that the discussion of a motion such as that which has occupied the House this afternoon shall end two hours after the commencement of the sitting. The Chair has no option in the matter. Two hours have elapsed since the House met. If honorable members desire that the debate shall be continued, it is for the House to decide the matter.
– I will move for an extension of time. Will that provide for the taking of a vote, if time is extended?
– I rise to a point of order. Your decision, Mr. Deputy Speaker, has placed me an an invidious position, for I should not have risen to speak had I thought that by so doing I would deprive the House of an opportunity to vote on this motion. Seeing that by the clock in the chamber there were still several minutes left, and as I was desirous of expressing my views as to the advisability of constructing a railway from Red Hill to Port Augusta, I availed myself of the opportunity to support the motion. I certainly intended to resume my seat in time to allow a vote to be taken, and I thought that I had done so. I trust that even now we shall not be deprived of an opportunity to divide.
– The matter is not one for the Chair to decide. The Standing Orders say specifically that two hours after the opening of the House a discussion on a motion for the adjournment of the House must cease.
– How do you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that two hours have elapsed since the House met ? What clock or watch shows that the time has expired ?
– There can be no further discussion of this matter The two hours allowed under the Standing Orders for the discussion of this matter have expired. I ask the Clerk to call upon the orders of the day.
The Clerk having called “ Questions on notice “ -
– I understood you to say, sir, that if the House so desires, you would allow the time to be extended.
-It is not for the Chair to submit such’ a motion. The Chair informed honorable members that if the House so desired the time for the discussion of the motion could be extended, but no effort to extend the time was made.
– I moved that an extension of time be granted.
– It is true, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) rose and moved for an extension of time, whereupon you announced that the time allotted for the discussion of the motion had elapsed. If in no other way the matter can be set right, and if permitted to do so, I shall move that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable a division to be taken on the motion which was before the House a few minutes ago.
– I cannot agree to the course suggested. If a motion for an extension of the time in which to discuss this subject had been moved before 5 o’clock, the Government would have opposed it, as it has a great deal of important business to transact.
-Call on the next business.
– Do you decline, sir, to take the motion I submitted for the suspension of the Standing Orders?
– Yes. The circumstances are exceptional, but as two hours have elapsed since the House met, the time in which the motion could be discussed has expired.
Dummying of Expropriated Properties
asked the Prime Minister,upon notice-
With regard to paragraph 47 of the AuditorGeneral’s Report for 1927-28, in which the fact is disclosed that wholesale “ dummying “ in regard to expropriated properties has been carried out by the Melanesia. Company and other trading companies in New Guinea, and that the operation of the Transfer of Lands Control Ordinance has been circumvented -
Will he inform the House as to what action, if any, has been taken in regard to the matter?
Will he ascertain and inform the House as to who are the principal shareholders in the Melanesia Company?
Will he consider the question of having a special investigation made into the matter following upon the report of the Auditor-General?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
No. 76 of 1927, and the Ordinance is No. 26 of 1927. Applications have been made by two persons considered to have acted as “ dummies “ for approval of transfers totheir undisclosed principals. These applications have been refused, and the original contractors are being required to perform their contracts.
Details of the German holdings are not available.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact -
If so, does the Government propose to take any action to remove this extraordinary anomaly respecting the promotion of public servants ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) Yes. (See Public Service Act 1922- 1928, section 29.)
Yes. Under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act a determination may be made which is not in accord with a law of the Commonwealth, subject to report to the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General (see section 22, Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920), and to the power of either House of Parliament to prevent the determination becoming operative “by disapproving it.
AUDITOR-GENERAL’S Report - Purchase of Concrete Mixing Plant - Missing File.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
With regard to paragraph 52 of the AuditorGeneral’s Report for 1927-28, in which it is stated that the balance-sheet of the Federal Capital Commission was not received in time for audit, will the Minister inform the House when the Auditor-General’s report on the Commission’s accounts will be available?
– I am- informed by the Auditor-General that until the final balance-sheet figures of the Federal Capital Commission have been presented for audit, he is unable to say when his report thereon will be available.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Police - Golf Links - Forestry School
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
One constable - 14 years 9 months.
One constable - 11 years.
One constable - 10 years 6 months.
One constable - 9 years 11 months.
One constable - 8 years.
One constable -6 years 10 months.
One constable -6 years 4 months.
One constable - 11 months.
One constable - 9 months.
One constable - 5 months.
One constable - No previous civil police service.
Three constables have passed for the position of first class constables. None have qualified for the rank of sergeant.
As to these questions generally, I wish to add. that the proper procedure for a member of the Force who believes that he has a cause of complaint is to make representations to the chief officer or through the chief officer, to the head of the department. No such representations have been received from any member of the Force with respect to any of the matters mentioned in these questions.
– On the 22nd February the honorable member forReid (Mr. Coleman) asked the following questions : -
What amount has been expended on the erection of -
What is the annual cost of maintenance, tuition, &c. ?
I am now in a position to advise the honorable member as follows: - 1. (a) £10,502 16s. 9d.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
1926- 27….. £579
1927- 28 .. £1,074
July, 1928, to 18th February, 1929 .. £1,297
It is expected that the revenue will cover only out-of-pocket expenses this year, will contribute thereafter to capital charges, and within three or four years will pay interest on capital expenditure.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Government rescind the gazettal of wire and wire netting of British manufacture from the provisions of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act; if not, will he state what are the reasons for a continuation of this action?
– There are no gazettals of wire of British manufacture under the act mentioned. Wire netting from the United Kingdom is so gazetted under section 4 of the act, which only applies when the goods are sold for export at a lower price than the value for home consumption. If these goods are so dumped in Australia there seems to be no reason why the dumping duties provided for by the act should not apply.
Compensation to ex-Masters.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– On the 22nd February the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Jones) asked the following questions: -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that it is not proposed at present to subsidize the establishment of an aerial service between Melbourne and Sydney.
The following papers were presented : -
Land Tax Assessment Act - Applications for Relief from Taxation during the year 1928.
Public Service Act - Attorney-General’s Department - Appointments of E.R. Avdall and C. P. Healy.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Dr. Earle Page) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is to provide for the appointment of a Wine Export Marketing Board to be elected by those engaged in the wine-making industry, and to be clothed with statutory powers similar to those enjoyed by the Dried Fruits Export Control Board and the Dairy Produce Export Control Board.
That the Australian wine-making industry is becoming increasingly important may be judged by the growth of our exports. Before the payment of a wine bounty was commenced in 1924, our exports were in the neighbourhood of 800,000 gallons a year, practically the whole of which consisted of dry wines. Until then Australian manufacturers had not been exporting sweet wine, or, if they had, the quantity was negligible. In 1925-26,. owing largly to the impetus given to the industry by the payment of a wine bounty, our exports increased to 1,700,000 gallons, and during the year 1926-27 they reached 3,077,000 gallons. In 1927-28 Australia exported 3,770,000 gallons. The exports to which I have just referred were undertaken in a more or less haphazard manner, each exporter being a law unto himself. Up to the present there hasbeen little or no co-ordination of effort, and the lack of marketing organization was particularly felt in 1927. In April of that year the late Minister for
Customs (Mr. Pratten), in introducing a bill to provide for the payment of a reduced bounty, indicated that, while the Government was prepared to continue the bounty, which would expire on the 31st August of that year, it would be at the reduced rate of ls. a gallon. “From the time that announcement was made until the reduction became effective the winemakers generally strained every effort to take advantage of the higher rate of bounty on the wines they exported, and that resulted in the shipment of huge quantities of wine. Some was despatched on consignment iu the hope of purchasers being found at the other end. A large quantity was purchased by speculators not actually engaged in the industry, who had no clientele to whom they could sell the wine, and merely bought it on the chance of the price of Australian wine advancing with the reduction in the bounty. Little or no advertising was undertaken by those engaged in the industry to endeavour to increase the demand for Australian wine, and to bring it up to a point which would conform more closely to the huge growth of the export trade. The result was that, in 1927, the huge excess of our exports over and above the quantity, great though it was, that went into consumption in Great Britain was almost entirely responsible for the glut on the London market, which since that date has to a great extent reduced the demand for this wine.
– Is it proposed to establish a London control board?
– I propose an export board, similar to the existing boards, with a London agency. That glut has been cleared to. some extent, but if we are to dispose of our large exportable surplus profitably, if those engaged in the industry are to advertise it on an adequate scale, and if a repetition of the chaotic condition that has prevailed in the industry for some time is to be prevented, proper marketing organization, particularly in connexion with the export trade, is essential. I believe that that view is now generally accepted. In December last, at a meeting of the Commonwealth Board of Trade in Sydney, the situation of the industry was discussed, and a resolution to the following effect was carried: -
The Board of Trade deplores the apparent haphazard export of huge quantities of wine from Australia, on which bounty has been paid, without any adequate marketing arrange ments being made.
The board considers that the wine industry should now take steps to put its own house in order, by arranging an adequate system of organized marketing.
Information has come through from Great Britain to the effect that the opinion is now held there that some form of organized marketing should be adopted to take the place of the more or less disorganized methods that have obtained during the last few years.
– Have we no organized system at the present time?
– There is little or no organized marketing of wine. The following quotation from the Sydney Morning Herald of 18th February, on this subject, is interesting: -
Despite the so-called “ crisis “ in the Australian wine trade in the United Kingdom the demand in that country appears to have been maintained, the consumption during the eleven months of 1928 to the end of November totalling 1,912,000 gallons- a loss of 150,000 gallons on the year, and there still remained the seasonal Christmas demand to satisfy. A writer in the London Times points out that this further indicates that the responsibility for the present state of business rests with the trade itself, and adds weight to the movement for “ rationalisation.” In many influential quarters in London it is held that a con trol of exports from Australia by the wine industry itself is the only way to stabilize prices, improve quality, and control vintages - so far as that is humanly possible.
To obtain the opinion held by those concerned in the industry in Australia, I called a conference early in January of persons engaged in making wine and in growing grapes for wine-making. At that gathering all sections of the industry were represented - both wine-makers and growers - and it was resolved unanimously that an export board on similar lines to those of the existing export control boards should be established and clothed with similar statutory powers.
We now come to consider the kind of board to be set up and the powers that should be delegated to it. This measure is framed much on the lines of the Dairy Produce and Dried Fruits Export Control Acts. It is provided in the bill that before the measure becomes operative a ballot of the wine makers engaged in the industry shall be taken to determine whether a majority of them are in favour of the board’s establishment. We have very strong evidence, as will be seen from the result of the conference held in Melbourne, to which I have already alluded, that there is a general feeling on the part of those engaged in making wine that an export board should be set up. But, merely on that account, the Government does not intend to depart from its practice of causing a ballot to be taken to settle the question, and when it is held the opportunity will be availed of to elect representatives to the board.
– Will the grape-growers take part in the ballot?
– The representatives of tlie five co-operative companies engaged hi making wine and distilling spirit will take part in it, and the growers will have representation through those companies. It must be realized, of course, that this board is one to control the marketing of wine, and it is a body in which the wine-maker will be primarily interested. Undoubtedly the grapegrower also is interested - indirectly interested- but I think that it will be admitted by everybody that it would be quite impossible to conduct a ballot by which the growers in an industry who might number several’ thousands would determine the marketing methods of manufacturers, who number only hundreds. We must leave the settlement of that matter to the wine-maker, whose business it is to dispose of the wine. There is no doubt that the question, should a board be established, will be answered in the affirmative. The election of the members of the board will be provided for by regulation, it not being desirable to include a lot of unnecessary material in the bill. But it is proposed that each wine-maker and each distillery should have one vote, and the small wine-maker shall have just as much voice as the manufacturer in a large way in determining whether or not the board shall be appointed and in deciding its personnel. Arguments have been put forward by a section of the industry in favour of the number of votes permitted at the ballot to be in proportion with the quantity of wine produced, the large producers to have greater voting power than the small manufacturers. That could result - although I do not say that* it would - in a comparatively small number of large wine-makers, whose sales are almost entirely made on the local market, and who are perhaps not so keenly interested in the export trade as the smaller man-
– And some of them not interested at all-
– That is so. It would make it possible for a comparatively small number to outvote the large number who are keenly interested in the export trade. The Government has decided, therefore, to give to each winery or distillery one vote for both the settlement of the major question whether a board is to be set up, and the election of representatives to the board. It is proposed that there shall be four representatives of the proprietary and privately-owned wineries or distilleries and two representatives of the cooperative enterprises. The production of the proprietary and co-operative concerns is roughly, on the basis of two-thirds and one-third respectively, so that the representation on the board will, as nearly as possible, conform to the ratio of production. It is proposed that the proprietary concerns shall have two representatives for South Australia and Western Australia - the latter State being bracketted with South Australia for that purpose - one for Victoria, and one for New South Wales and Queensland. I may say that there are five co-operative companies operating. The whole of the shareholders are growers, and the profits are divided among those growers. There are over 1,000 grower-shareholders in these five companies that are engaged in making wine and spirit. In addition to the six members of the board representing the wineries and distilleries, there will be a nominee of the Commonwealth Government. Honorable members will realize that it is necessary, when such a board is clothed with statutory powers, that the Commonwealth Government should have its own nominee upon it.
– Will its power be limited to the granting of licences?
– A number of boards of this nature have been established.
– But this is a new Parliament, and we are entitled to that information.
– I shall deal with the point raised by the honorable member in due course. It has become almost an established practice for the Commonwealth to nominate as its representative on a board of this description, a gentleman who, while possessing first class commercial experience, is not in any way connected with the industry concerned. For example, the Commonwealth Government’s representative on the Dried Fruits Export Control Board is engaged in the flour milling industry; on the Canned Fruits Export Control Board, he is engaged in the wool industry; and on the Dairy Produce Export Control Board, he is in a stock and station agency business. It will be seen that the Commonwealth Government has adopted the practice of selecting as its representatives on these boards, gentlemen who are in no way directly interested with the particular industries concerned, and that practice will be continued.
Mi-. Rodgers. - “What does the Government seek to achieve?
– The practice is regarded as one that safeguards the industry against the nominee of the Government who might otherwise use the knowledge that he might acquire as a member of a board for his own personal advantage. It is felt that the Government representative, at least, should be free from any such suggestion.
– If he is an auctioneer,’ is he not just as likely to take advantage of such information?
– Not in the least. If the honorable member knew the gentlemen who are doing this work for Australia and the Government, he would realize that, they are of such a calibre that they would not, in any circumstances, take unfair advantage of their positions.
The board to be established will meet from time to time to deal with the subject of the overseas marketing policy of the industry. It will meet at whatever place, is selected by the board. I suppose that most of the meetings of the wine board will take place in Adelaide, since South Australia is the State with the greatest production of wine. The gentlemen composing the board will be paid for their services by means of fees for sittings and travelling expenses. It is proposed to fix these by regulation in the same way as has been done in the three export control acts that have been passed already.
– What chance will this Parliament have to review those fees?
Mi-. PATERSON.- A means is provided by which regulations can be disallowed. It is proposed that there shall be a London agency of the board, which shall consist of such members as the board may determine. There already exist in London agencies for the Dairy Produce Export Board and the Dried Fruits Export Board, the chairman and the Commonwealth nominee of which is Sir James Cooper. That gentleman is also acting on’ behalf of the Canned Fruits Export Board, which has not yet decided to appoint a London agency. Some idea of the possibilities of the expansion of our export wine trade in Great Britain may be gleaned from available figures, which indicate that Great Britain imports annually some 18,000,000 gallons of wine, 2,250,000 of which are supplied by Australia. This country has the advantage of a preferential duty, under which, by organized marketing, we should be able to secure a very much larger share of Great Britain’s trade. The bill particularly lends itself for discussion at the committee stage, but I wish to deal very broadly with the statutory powers which it is proposed shall be vested by Parliament in the board. The principal power conferred by the bill is the granting of export licences, and that is dealt with in clause 14. The chief advantage of these export licences, which are recommended by the board, is that regulations will be framed governing the export of wine, which will enable the board to secure respect for the general marketing policy which it lays down. The export licence system is entirely beyond the experimental stage, as there are three of these boards now operating, two of them since the latter part of 1924, and the system has proved perfectly satisfactory. It works quite smoothly and, to a very great extent, continues to utilize the ordinary channels of trade. What I might describe as the second power in importance is that the board itself may act as an agent, and do everything required with regard to the marketing of wine placed under its complete control. I wish to make it clear that, while the board has power to recommend conditions to be embodied in export licences for the whole of the wine exported, it also has a specific power to act as agent and do everything required in marketing to advantage the wine which is voluntarily placed in its hands by those engaged in the industry. Clause 20 provides that the board may arrange finance; that recourse may be had, through the instrumentality of the board, to the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank.
– Is that the whole object of the clause?
– No, but that is a very important object. A man may export in the ordinary way, and through the ordinary trade channels, subject to licence, and yet find himself unable to obtain an advance from the Rural Credit Department of the Commonwealth Bank. But if that man decides to place his wine in the hands of the board for the purpose of obtaining an advance, his opportunities for obtaining accommodation are widened, as the board, being an incorporated body, can facilitate his arrangements with the Rural Credits Department.
The board is also given authority to negotiate with shipping companies with regard to ocean freights on an industry basis. It can make contracts on a big scale for the carriage of wine which will be of advantage to the whole industry. It is already fairly generally known that very substantial freight reductions have been gained by our dairying and dried fruits industries through the wise use made of a similar power which is vested in their boards. The board will have power to require information to be furnished relating to the wine industry, such as particulars of quantities produced, exported, and so on, as may be necessary. Further, the board will have power to utilize funds for advertising in overseas markets. At present the Dried Fruits Board spends more than half of its revenues advertising its products overseas. The Commonwealth Government has adopted the policy of assisting any exporting industry which displays sufficient enterprise to spend sums of money in advertising its Australian product overseas, by supplementing that expenditure on a £1 for £1 basis, up to a limit of £50,000. That policy has been of very great assistance to our exporting industries, and has enabled them, so to speak, to make double use of the money which they provide from their own funds for this purpose.
It will be noticed that the bill relates to both dry and sweet wines. There are some of those engaged in the industry who desired that dry wines should be excluded from the measure. I do not see any sound reason for their exclusion. The Dairy Produce Export Board deals with both butter and cheese, while the Dried Fruits Export Board deals with sultanas, currants and lexias, and, although I admit that I speak without an intimate knowledge of the matter, there seems to me to be a sufficiently strong family resemblance between dry and sweet wines to warrant the inclusion of both.
– What is the object of those persons who seek the exclusion of dry wine?
– I do not know. But I do know that it is proposed to collect levies on a tonnage basis of grapes processed, regardless of their use for the purpose of providing- the Export Board with the necessary funds to carry out its work and to provide for advertising.
– Then the grower, and not the wine-maker, will pay the levy.
– Not at all So long as the Commonwealth Government has the right to fix the price of grapes, it will safeguard the interests of the grower.
– The trouble is that the wine-makers cannot be compelled to pay it.
– The Commonwealth can provide, as a condition of the payment of the bounty, that a certain price must be paid for the grapes used to obtain it. The point that I desired to make was that if dry wine were excluded from the measure, a levy would be imposed on the wine-makers in respect of their tonnage processed for both dry and sweet wine-making purposes, but the board would be able to use the revenue obtained for advertising sweet wines only. That would be an anomalous position, and, in order to make the position an equitable one, dry wines have been included in the measure. Quite apart from the advertising aspect, I can see no sound reason why dry wine should not be included, because if organized marketing is of advantage in disposing of our sweet wines, there is no reason why a similar state of affairs cannot apply to our dry wines. If the suggestion is put forward that our trade in dry wines is proceeding quite satisfactorily, and that that section of the industry is not faced with the difficulties which confront the marketing of our sweet wines, I merely answer that surely a board which is elected by and composed almost entirely of winemakers may be trusted to see that no unnecessary interference with the dry wine trade takes place.
There are a good many points of detail which can best be discussed in committee. An endeavour has been made to meet the desires of the majority of those engaged in the wine industry and to be fair to all in the matter of representation. This is a non-party measure and, in view of the position of the industry and the obstacles which, until this export board comes into existence, will continue to exist, in the way of obtaining adequate finance to deal with the present season’s vintage, I hope the bill will have a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Price) adjourned,
In committee (Consideration resumed from 22nd February, vide page 559).
Clause 1 (Short title and citation.)
.- I consider that the title of the bill does not correctly set forth its purpose, and that some very radical alteration should be made in it. I am glad to have the opportunity to place before honorable members the knowledge that I possess of the manner in which this legislation operates in one of the chief seaports of the Commonwealth, and to point out its adverse effect on our maritime industrial conditions. The bill would be more rightly entitled, “ A Special Licence to Ship-owners Bill,” because it seeks to confirm them in the possession of a power which has already been exercised by them in a manner coercive, provocative, and irritating to the waterside workers. Furthermore, it affords them an opportunity to give certain people preference in employment, to the serious injury of many good, straightforward and honest citizens, who, in the past, have done theirwork faithfully and well to the advantage of the ship-owners and the community in general. In these circumstances, I cannot permit this legislation to pass without the most spirited of protests. I feel that the Government is not giving to this aspect of the question the consideration it deserves. If the ship-owners are given freedom to discriminate in regard to the labour they employ, it will not be conducive to the best interests of the people of Australia. ‘ Port Adelaide and Melbourne are the ports that have suffered most by the application of the regulations issued under the Transport Workers Act passed last session, and, in this regard, I am expressing the views of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) as well as my own and those of my constituents. Negotiations I have carried on with the AttorneyGeneral have shown to me that shipowners are not prepared to play fair - that they are not even prepared to display a reasonable spirit in applying the existing regulations, and that they take advantage of the protection and sympathetic consideration extended to them by the Commonwealth Government to impose on the legitimate working class organizations and their membership.
– Unfortunately, the ship-owners have always had sympathetic consideration extended to them.
– No doubt the honorable member has reason to feel aggrieved at the way in which the ship-owners have treated those who have occasion to market their products. It is time we took a hand, and instead of giving a special privilege and licence to these people-
The honorable member is endeavouring to make a second-reading speech. The marginal note to the clause is simply, “ Short title and citation.”
– Exactly, and I am endeavouring to show that the title of the bill does not correctly set forth the purpose for which it has been introduced. It is not a transport workers bill. I am endeavouring to show from my own knowledge that it is nothing but a bill to give a special licence, privilege and protection to the ship-owners. It certainly does not refer to the position of the transport workers as was intended by the AttorneyGeneral.
– The honorable member will have ample opportunity at a later stage to deal with that aspect of the question. He is not in order in making a second-reading speech on this clause.
– May I ask you, Mr. Bayley, to set forth the limits within which an honorable member may address himself to this particular clause, because, if I am not permitted to show why the title given is not a proper one to apply to the bill, I am at a loss to understand what rights an honorable member has in discussing this particular clause.
– The honorable member will see that there is very little to discuss in a clause which deals solely with the short, title and citation.
– I have no desire to come into conflict with the Chair, because’ I am always anxious to conform strictly with the Standing Orders and keep within the limits they prescribe. But, surely, I have a right to explain why I feel that the title given to the bill is not appropriate. I hold that my rights should not be unduly curtailed, and that I should be allowed to state my case.
– The honorable member’s rights will not be curtailed. He will be given every opportunity for debate, so long as he keeps within the limits allowed by the Standing Orders.
– Very well. I was proceeding to intimate that the shipping interests have used the regulations made under the Transport “Workers Act-
– Order! The honorable member’s remarks are not relevant to the clause under discussion.
– You did not permit me, Mr. Bayley, to conclude my sentence.
– When I called the honorable member to order he was transgressing my ruling.
– I seek from you, Mr. Bayley, some definite information as to the limits within which I must keep in speaking to this particular clause.
– The marginal note sets out clearly the nature of the clause, and the honorable member is not in order in embarking now upon a general discussion of the bill.
– As for embarking on a general discussion, I can assure you, Mr. Bayley, that every clause of the bill is one on which an honorable member could speak for the full period of time allowed to him by the Standing Orders in pointing out its defects. Many titles might appropriately be given to the bill, though some might not be accepted by you as not being permitted by the Standing Orders. I am anxious to conform with the Standing Orders, and I ask you to display reasonable patience and permit me to put my case to the committee.
– The honorable member might have finished by now if he had not been interrupted.
– That is quite possible. I can assure the Chairman, if he is desirous of curtailing the debate, that greater progress would be made if he did not seek to interrupt me, as he has been doing. I was proceeding to say that in Port Adelaide and Melbourne we had an indication of how unfairly provisions of this nature-
– Order ! The question is not whether the provisions of the Transport Workers Act have been applied fairly or unfairly to any section of the community, but whether the clause as printed should stand part of the bill. The Chair has no desire to hear anything that does not relate to the short title.
– I think the title given is quite foreign to the provisions of the bill, and these in effect embrace regulations dealing with the working conditions along the waterfront. How can I discuss the title of the bill if I am not allowed to make some passing reference to the conditions which are operating on the water front to-day? They have a direct relation to it. “We do not want this legislation to impose on those engaged in labour the tyranny which is exercised over members of Parliament in regard to the restrictions imposed on debates.
– Order !
– I have endeavoured to show a great deal of patience to the Chair.
– The patience has not been confined to one side.
– I have several times asked you, Mr. Bayley, to inform me correctly as to the limits within which I may address myself to this particular clause, but as yet you have not been able to give me that information. In the circumstances, I shall proceed to say that the conditions that prevail on the waterfront to-day justify me in forming the conclusion that when legislation of this character is brought down -
– Order ! No general discussion can be permitted on this clause.
– On a point of order, I take it that the honorable member for Hindmarsh,, in endeavouring to show that the workers provided for under the licensing system have not proved to be the best, is perfectly within the Standing Orders. If you, Mr. Bayley, had only allowed him to finish a sentence, he would have been able to show what poor work the licensed workers are doing at Port Adelaide. Surely he should be permitted to do that in discussing the title of the bill, which embraces the word “workers.” It is beyond my comprehension how you came to rule him out of order.
– No point of order has been raised by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). The fact that certain workers at Port Adelaide or elsewhere are not good workmen is wholly irrelevant to the clause.
– I rise to a point of order. I seek an interpretation of Standing Order 173 -
Tlie discussion shall be confined to the clause or amendment before the Committee.
I want to know just what are the limits of debate in regard to the clause now before the Committee, and I raise the point with all due seriousness, because honorable members are embarrassed if the Chair does not define the exact limits within which the debate may range.
– The Standing Order cited by the honorable member requires the discussion to be relevant to the clause before the committee. It must be obvious to honorable members that little discussion can take place on tlie short title and citation unless for the purpose of showing that the bill is wrongly named.
– That is my contention, and I feel that I have been unduly interfered with by the Chair. At all stages of this bill I seem to have been singled out for hostile treatment.
– The honorable member is not in order in making that statement.
– Twice the “gag” has been applied to me and on my third attempt to discuss the merits of this legislation, I find my liberty circumscribed by all sorts of restrictions. The facts that are in evidence throughout Australia, and particularly in certain ports, prove that this title is not correct.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that honorable members may only discuss whether the short title properly describes the legislation contained in the succeeding clause. The honorable member will not be in order in discussing now the merits or probable operation of this proposed legislation.
– I have ruled to that effect several times this afternoon. Honorable members may only discuss whether the short title mentioned in this clause properly describes the contents of the bill.
– I respectfully draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that this clause consists of three parts, and that sub-clauses 2 and 3 refer to the Transport “Workers Act of 1928. Because of those two sub-clauses honorable members are entitled to greater latitude than if the clause said no more than that “ This act may be cited as the Transport Workers Act 1929.” The clause, as drafted, at least entitles us to survey generally the purposes of the principal act as well as this bill.
– Sub-clauses 2 and 3 do not broaden the scope of the clause. If any honorable member thinks that the short title mentioned in the clause does not adequately describe the bill he is entitled to state his reasons for so thinking, but he. may not discuss the general effect of the principal act or the amendments contained in the later clauses of the bill.
– I rise to a point of order. This clause does not apply, nor does it pretend to apply to this bill. It reads “ This act may be cited as the Transport “Workers Act 1929 “. As a matter of fact, it is not an act. In any case we should not discuss the title until we know what form the remaining provisions will have when the committee has finished with them.
– This clause deals only with the short title and citation. The title will be put to the committee after all clauses have been disposed of.
– I have been seeking to keep my remarks within the limits of this clause. The bill deals with all sorts of individuals who are not really transport workers. Therefore, in my opinion, this short title is misleading. I stated earlier that this proposed legislation gives a special licence-
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing on this clause the merits of the bill.
– The bill provides machinery for the licensing of certain persons. Surely I am entitled to say that a measure which gives special licence to certain persons is not correctly described by this short title.
– The honorable member would be in order in doing so if he were addressing himself to the second reading of the bill, but on this clause he cannot be permitted to argue such matters.
– I have no desire to make a second-reading speech at this stage, but I think the bill might be more correctly styled “ The Transport Workers Extermination Act,” or “An act to provide special licences and privileges for ship-owners “ or “ An act to suppress the lawful ambition of working-class organizations engaged in the maritime industry. “
– The short title and the contents of- the bill are distinctly at variance. This measure might be more aptly described as a bill for “ an Act to conscript maritime labour.” It discriminates unfairly between honest citizens and some nondescripts to whom protection is given by the licensing provisions in the later clauses.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The honorable member is not in order in discussing on this clause the way in which the provisions of the bill will operate.
– For the 25 minutes 1 have been on my feet you, sir, have converted my speech into a duet by interfering with my rights as a public representative to express the view# of my constituents. I have not been able to utter two connected sentences without interruption by you.
– The Government, with the assistance of the Chairman, is trying to suppress me.
– And I have not been allowed the privileges of a representative man.
– The honorable member must withdraw that reflexion on the Chair.
– I am not prepared to withdraw it.
– I name the honorable member.
– I appeal to the honorable member for Hindmarsh to bow to the ruling of the Chair and withdraw the remark to which exception has been taken.
– Occupying the responsible position of a temporary chairman I would not lightly transgress the Standing Orders, but I have been so unfairly dealt with at all stages of this bill that I would not be doing justice to my constituents or myself if I did not make a vigorous and spirited protest. I am not prepared to extend to the Chair the consideration that is its due if the Chair will not show any consideration to me.
– In those circumstances, I have no option but to ask the Attorney-General to move that the honorable member be suspended from the service of the committee.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh has been, given an opportunity to withdraw his offending statement and apologize to the Chair. If he is not prepared to do that I can adopt only one course.
– Having been twice gagged by the Prime Minister at the second-reading stage of the bill and being denied to-day the opportunity to express the views of his constituents, the honorable member for Hindmarsh has a sense of injustice. Nevertheless, I ask him to withdraw any reflexion he has made on the Chair.
– In view of the request of my leader -
– The honorable member must withdraw unconditionally.
– Your refusal, sir, to allow me to express myself in my own way is an illustration of the treatment I have had to contend with.
– The honorable member is not in order in addressing the Chair in those terms.
– I naturally feel-
– The honorable member is not in order. He must withdraw unconditionally.
– I desire to do the right thing and show to the Chair due respect. I have always tried to conform in a manly way to the rules of the committee, but I have some rights as a public representative. I have sought to express myself
– The honorable member will compel me to take drastic action if he continues in that strain. He has been called upon to withdraw a reflection on the Chair and he must do so unconditionally.
– I shall satisfy the requirements of the Chair, but I ask you to recognize, sir,-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw.
– So long as the honorable member withdraws in accordance with the requirements of the Chair, may he not do so in his own words, providing that he keeps within the Standing Orders?
– When an honorable member is called upon to withdraw, he must do so unreservedly and without comment.
– I have no desire to offend against the Standing Orders or to reflect upon the procedure of this committee. In view of the appeal to me, particularly by my own leader, I withdraw the words to which exception has been taken and apologize to the Chair.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I suggest that the consideration of this clause should be postponed until the other provisions of the bill have been dealt with. By the time those other provisions have been considered, honorable- members may think that the title should be altered. The trouble that has arisen this evening arises out of the fact that only about 25 per cent, of the members of this chamber had an opportunity to address themselves to the motion for the second reading of the bill. The Prime Minister, by summarily closing the debate, deprived 75 per cent, of the members of an opportunity to discuss the bill with the latitude that is allowed at the second reading stage. That is a good and sufficient reason for the postponement of the clause. Another is that this title may be found to be decidedly misleading. Indeed, I am sure it is, in view of the indications of Government policy given by Ministers when speaking on the motion for the second reading. After consideration of the later provisions, honorable members may decide to postpone indefinitely the operation of the bill on the ground that it is calculated to promote discord instead of tranquillity in industry. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that the measure might be cited as an act to conscript labour. I think it might be called “ an act to promote industrial strife,” or “ an act to provoke contempt of the law and those administering it,” or “ an act to foment industrial unrest for political purposes.”
– Or “ the Bruce bludgeon act.”
– Or “the Latham leg-iron act,” or “ the dog-collar act,” or “ the class-discrimination act,” for its provisions are directed against one class of the community. Any one of those descriptions would be apt. Unfortunately, owing to your ruling, sir, it is impossible to describe the bill with that latitude which is usually allowed. I protest against the action of the Government in gagging the motion for the second reading and thus preventing me and other representatives of the people from expressing our opinions regarding this legislation.
.- As a new member, I may find it difficult to describe the enormity of this bill and its reactionary tendencies within the limits prescribed by you, sir, but I hope that allowance will be made for my parliamentary inexperience. As the Government is noted for appointing boards, commissions and committees, I .suggest that a select committee of four might be appointed from the ministerial parties to invite the transport workers to give a title to the bill. I am sure they would name it readily and aptly, but perhaps not in parliamentary language. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) said that a great deal of unnecessary suspicion was created in the minds of industrialists, particularly the transport workers, by inflammatory and provocative speeches by Labour leaders. My reply to that is that the Transport Workers Act is anathema to all right-thinking men and women, and has created more suspicion in the minds of the workers than anything else within my knowledge. That being so it is clear that the title of the bill is objectionable to the largest section in the community; and furthermore, that this Government is not sincere in its profession that it desires to bring about peace in industry. How can it ensure peace if it introduces provocative legislation like this?
– The Government does not desire peace in industry.
– In the light of what has transpired during the last five years and what is happening to-day, I am inclined to agree with the honorable member.
– Order ! The honorable member must not go beyond the scope of the clause.
– Time will convince the Government that this measure will not do what it purports to do. It will be used to protect certain unskilled persons to secure employment in an industry where they may be a menace not only to themselves, but to others engaged in it. This happened during the industrial upheaval in 1917. The bill in all its aspects is derogatory to the workers of Australia, and as one who has lately been employed in industry, I feel it incumbent upon me to raise my voice in protest against it. I represent a very large number of workers in various branches of the transport industry, and I say without hesitation that there is a feeling in the minds of the people that the Government is not sincere in its efforts to secure peace in industry.
.- Unlike some honorable members on this side, I believe that the short) title, as set out in this clause, is a correct and. apt description of the bill. The clause reads -
This act may he cited as the Transport Workers Act, 1929.
This is not a bill dealing with the regulation of an essential industry, nor is it designed to ensure the continuity of all services requisite for the carrying on of transportation by sea. It is concerned with only one class of persons employed in that essential service, and therefore the title clearly indicates the discriminatory character of the bill. It deals, not with the workers generally, but with only those workers engaged in the business of transport. Later, the restrictive terms employed in the definition of the term “Transport Workers” suggest that there should be some qualification even in the title, because as ordinarily understood, the term “ transport workers “ would include a number of persons other than those employed merely in transport services by sea. The title indicates, and the other provisions of the bill clearly demonstrate, that the measure deals exclusively with transport workers who must ‘be registered and licensed before securing employment in the industry. It does not propose to deal with transport employers. A stevedoring company, for example, is an integral part of this essential service, but it will not be brought within the scope of the bill. No regulations, restrictions, or obligations to apply for licences to employ labour will be imposed upon employers. Having regard to the provisions of the bill, it is appropriate that the word “ workers “ should be included in the short title, to emphasize the particularly restrictive character of the measure and to bring into bold relief the class consciousness of tlie Government in introducing this legislation. Therefore, unlike my honorable friends on this side, I congratulate the Minister in charge of the measure on the correct designation in the title of the bill. I also congratulate the Government on having had the courage to make it plain to the people generally that the bill deals only with transport workers, and will not be applied to other persons, including employers, who are as essential as workers to the conduct of transport by sea. Obviously the Government’s intention is to impose restrictions and regulations upon the workers and to give the employers an “ open go.” I repeat, therefore, that the short title is a correct designation for the bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
This act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation.
.- I move -
That all the words after “ on “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the first day of January, 1931.”
This amendment, if carried, will give the people of Australia nearly- two years to understand what the Government is “ putting over “ them. It will give them an opportunity to understand fully the class of legislation that is being bludgeoned through Parliament.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).Order ! The use of the word “ bludgeoned “ is’ out of order.
– Well, I -will say that the postponement of the operation of the act will give the people time to understand the class of legislation that is being “belted” through Parliament by the unfair tactics of the Prime Minister during the second-reading debate. This class-conscious legislation proposes to deal with only one section of the people - the transport workers. At present the people are not fully alive to what is being done in this House. They have no opportunity to know, because legislation is being rushed through. This, I submit, is a very sound reason why the act should not commence until the date fixed in my amendment. The people should know more about the provisions of the bill, and the pernicious effect it will have upon industry generally. _ ,
– Has the honorable member fixed the date in his amendment with clue regard to the date of the next general election ?
– I purposely fixed upon a date prior to the next general election, so that honorable members on this side would be able to go before the people and expose the act in all its nakedness. Only to-day it was necessary for an honorable member on this side of the House, speaking as the representative of a large number of workers, to urge the Government to realize its obligation in regard to a matter affecting all the people of Australia. Had there been a division on the honorable member’s motion we should have had an opportunity to see where all parties stand.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing that matter.
– I wish to give my reasons why the commencement of the act should be postponed, and to do this I desire to place in true perspective the position of a large section of our primary producers - I refer to the miners in every grade. . Ever since this Government has been in power we have heard over and over again that the economic position of Australia is unsound ; that wages are too high, and that costs must come down. Accordingly the policy of this Government has been to introduce vicious measures containing penal provisions curtailing the privileges of the workers. We all know what has happened in connexion with the Arbitration Court. Honorable members are now being asked to agree to a measure which will bludgeon the workers into submission.
– Order ‘. . The honorable member may not use the word “bludgeon.”
– Then I shall substitute for it the word “sandbag.” This is one reason why I am moving an amendment to postpone the operation of the act. In the last Parliament a similar bill was rushed through this committee in the same way that this measure is now being dealt with. Were I permitted to say so, I should put it that the Prime Minister is acting with brutal ferocity, but as I know that term would not be permitted, I shall say instead that he is again attempting to govern Australia on the castor oil principle. If this legislation is placed on the statute-book, the transport workers of Australia will be reduced to the level of convicts, and forced to carry dog discs.
– The honorable member is now going beyond the scope of the clause under discussion.
– I am advancing reasons why the date of the proclamation of the act should be postponed. That date should be fixed, not by proclamation, but by Parliament. Legislation of this land is a direct attack on that section of the electors which is represented by honorable members on this side. Instead, of the bill being “ gagged “ through this chamber, the freest discussion of its provisions should be allowed in the interests of the workers of this country. If the date of the commencement of the act is not extended, thousands of workers throughout Australia will have to apply for licences to work. The clock in this chamber stopped this afternoon. If it were animate I should feel disposed to think that it had stopped after having contemplated the bill now before us. Legislation of this kind puts back the clock of progress 50, 60 or 70 years. In order that the persons who will be most affected by this legislation may have an opportunity of understanding it, the date on which it is to come into operation should be carried forward. Otherwise thousands of workers throughout the country will be dragooned into accepting a standard of living which they thought belonged to the past. This-bill is one of the most brutal pieces of legislation ever introduced into a British Parliament.
– The honorable member is not in order in now discussing the merits of the bill as a whole.
– I am advancing reasons for the postponement of the operation of this legislation.
– The honorable member is in order in giving reasons for the postponement of the date of the coming into operation of the bill, but not in discussing its merits.
– I am endeavouring to show what the effect of the bill will be in order to convince honorable members that it should not be brought into operation at an early date. Probably the proclamation has already been prepared for gazettal, but it should not be gazetted until 1931 at least, so that the electors may have an opportunity to express their views concerning it soon after it becomes operative. This bill is a direct attack upon the workers, who, after much tribulation, have at last obtained conditions which enable them to live in some measure of comfort. Unfortunately, the benefits of that memorable award made by the late Mr. Justice Higgins have to a great extent been whittled away.
– The honorable member is not in order.
– I can only convince honorable members of the wisdom of postponing the operation of this legislation by reminding them of what has taken place in the past.
– There will be no need foi’ this legislation until after the resurrection.
– If this legislation has not been repealed before the resurrection day, I hope then to have an opportunity of handling the branding irons. All the flotsam and jetsam of the Prime Minister’s specious scheme of immigration
– The honorable member is not in order.
– By postponing the operation of this legislation until the date mentioned in my amendment, an opportunity will be given to remedy some of the evils for which the Government is responsible. Some of the recent happenings in Australia remind me of the time when I was taken from Le Havre to the fighting lines in a horse box. One half of the men now employed on the wharfs at Port Adelaide do not understand the English language. Many of them are dressed in chocolate coloured corduroy clothing, and one would expect them to be carrying banjos or mandolins, or accompanied by organs and monkeys, rather than by policemen. The Government and its supporters surely cannot be pleased with the results of the regulations under the Transport Workers Act, yet they now seek to incorporate those regulations in an act of Parliament. If only to allow every honorable member an opportunity to discuss this bill, the date of its coming into operation should be postponed. I am not an unreasonable man, and, should the Prime Minister desire it, I am prepared to alter my amendment to provide that the act shall not come into operation for several hundred years. We have no right to impose such conditions on posterity. We have alienated the best of our land from posterity, thus robbing posterity of its birthright. Having robbed those who will follow us of the opportunity to make the world a garden, we should not now make it necessary for them to wear a crown of thorns. I urge those members who claim to represent the primary producers of this country not to forget the miners, the navvies, the shearers and the rouseabouts, who comprise two-thirds of those engaged in primary production. Honorable members opposite, who say that Ave on this side should not preach class consciousness, not only themselves preach class consciousness, but also endeavour to enact class legislation.
– The honorable member is again getting beyond the scope of the clause.
– The bill is all embracing. That is one reason why it should not be put into operation too soon. Such legislation will tend towards a greater class consciousness in the community. I hope that honorable members opposite will not blindly follow the Prime Minister and his frail of castor oil. They should not try to force on men who, year in and year out, toil for their living, the indignity of wearing a dog collar and disc. I hope that the committee will agree to my amendment.’
.- This clause provides that the bill shall come into operation on a date to be fixed. We on this side hold the view - a view that is shared by many people throughout Australia - that this is one of the most obnoxious pieces of legislation ever introduced into a British Parliament, and therefore should never come into operation. That being so, I shall call for a division on the question that the clause be agreed to. I sympathize with the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), in his desire to delay as long as possible the coming intooperation of legislation of this kind, but the bill is so obnoxious that no postponement could be satisfactory. I propose to use all the forms of the legislature and all the powers we possess in an effort to prevent the bill from coming into force. We on this side shall deal with the several clauses as we think fit when they are before us ; but, on the question of the date of the . commencement of the act, there can be no compromise. We shall vote definitely against such legislation ever coming into operation; no postponement can satisfy us.
.- I agree with the opinion expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) that whatever date might be fixed for this bill to become operative would be too early. I do not intend to support any date, however distant it may be, as I do not believe in the principle embodied in the bill. I can scarcely understand the audacity of the Government in introducing such a measure. I say most emphatically that at the last general election the people pronounced themselves against legislation of this character. That was shown by the Senate vote in three of the most populous States, where the Government supporters met with an overwhelming defeat. Where is the ex-honorable member for Macquarie. a strong advocate of the bill? Where are the honorable members who represented Barton, Herbert, Fremantle, Franklin, and Wakefield in the last Parliament? All have lost their seats in this House. Every honorable member opposite elected received a largely reduced majority.
– Not all.
– Practically every one. During the campaign the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) did not deal with political issues, but introduced the cursed question of sectarianism.
– I rise to order. The statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat is untrue.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).Order ! The honorable member for Corio is out of order in saying that the statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat is untrue. I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– Iwithdraw it. The statement of the honorable member for Ballarat is inaccurate, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Supposing I can prove it.
– It is not a question of proof or otherwise. The honorable member knows that the honorable member for Corio, having taken exception to the remark as being offensive to him, it must be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Corio knows that he obtained his majority not on political grounds, but upon the question of a grant to an orphanage.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw his statement concerning the honorable member for Corio.
– I withdraw it. Notwithstanding the fact that the whole of the wealth as well as the press of Australia opposed the Labour party, we did not lose a single member, whereas the Nationalist party, which went to the country with a big majority, and had the assistance of a large number of sitting members, lost eight seats. All the evidence at our disposal shows that the country is emphatically opposed to legislation of this character. I represent a constituency where the only battle ever fought on Australian soil was waged, and on that occasion the question at issue was the granting of licences without which men were not to have the right to work.The miners at Eureka revolted against such an interference with their freedom, and the workers enjoyed some freedom until the Bruce-Page Government came into office. To revert to the days of the “fifties “–
– The honorable member will not be in order in following that line of argument.
– I am showing why the people do not want this class of legislation.
– The honorable member will be in order in showing that, in his opinion, the country is opposed to this class of legislation.
– You, Mr. Chairman, who supported this class of legislalation, were returned with a very small majority at the last election. You narrowly “ escaped getting your walking ticket,” and practically every other Nationalist who supported the Transport
Workers Act was returned with a greatly reduced majority. During my association with the Victorian State Parliament the Irvine Coercion Act was placed upon the statute-book, but I remained a member of that Parliament sufficiently long to see that tyrannical legislation repealed. I have not the slightest doubt that when another appeal is made to the country this Government will be defeated, and this measure will be treated as other tyrannical legislation has been. I suppose it is useless arguing against the passage of the bill, because it is part and parcel of the Government’s policy, and one which will assist in causing industrial trouble prior to the next election. Will the Prime Minister tell us when the next strike is likely to occur, and where the bombs will be manufactured for use before the next election. Perhaps he will also tell us if he is going to place upon trade unionists the blame for throwing bombs. These are, I suppose, tricks which he learned in America, where the Government when it is anticipating defeat arranges for bombs to be thrown and trade unionists to be blamed.
– The honorable member is out of order.
– I join with other honorable members on this side of the chamber in strongly opposing this clause, and I trust the Government will not succeed in fixing a date on which the bill shall come into operation. I hope that honorable members will defeat this bill; which instead of bringing about industrial peace, will lead to further trouble. I can remember meeting many honorable members opposite on the public platform when, as so-called staunch loyalists, they were appealing for recruits to fight for Australia and the Empire. But the men whose assistance they were then seeking are those whom they now stigmatize as criminals. The unionists whom the Government wish to punish are only asking for a living wage to enable them to purchase the necessaries of life for themselves, their wives and children. The Prime Minister of Australia is the only Prime Minister in the British Dominions who has introduced legislation of this character. I am strongly opposed to the bill, and shall vote against the clause.
.- I cannot support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), to make the 1st January, 1931, the date on which this clause shall come into operation, as I believe that no date should be stipulated. Frequent reference has been made to the necessity for peace in industry; but legislation of this character will make that desirable objective impossible. As one who may be termed a moderate Labour man, I regard the action of the Government, in introducing this measure, as ill-advised; it will only engender bitterness and cause widespread industrial unrest. I was in England during the great industrial upheaval caused by the general strike, but I cannot recall such drastic legislation as this being introduced into the British Parliament.
– It was even more repressive.
– The honorable member for Warringah was also in Great Britain at the time, and if he had studied’ the industrial situation in that country, or the legislation introduced, he would not make such a statement. When in England I had the privilege of listening to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) deliver a number of excellent speeches, in which he told the people in England of the wonderful workers we had in Australia, and of the efforts that were being made to maintain here a high standard of living. But, in introducing legislation of this character the right honorable gentleman is defeating the object which, he said, the Australian Government had in view. I trust the clause, which I intend to oppose, will not have the support of the majority of the committee.
– If this clause read “ This act shall commence on a date never to be fixed,” it would, I think, meet the views of honorable members on this side of the chamber. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), in a careful analysis of the preceding clause, showed clearly the class nature of the bill, and that it has been introduced on behalf of those whose interests the Government are advocating at the moment. The reason why no definite date is fixed may be that the Govern ment wishes to be able, as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said, to proclaim it at the psychological moment round about election time. The real reason why the date is not fixed, in my opinion, is that the Government desires to be in a position to comply with the wishes of its masters, which in this case are the ship-owners.
– It has no regard for the people.
– The people are but a secondary consideration with this Government. That has been proved conclusively, particularly upon this issue. No matter at what length honorable members on this side may address themselves to this subject, the Government will have its way in passing the bill, but while it may have its numbers in this Parliament it will not have the last voice on the matter. Thanks to the organization of Labour on the. industrial side, that great body is capable of using the power at its disposal to force the granting of what it considers justice in a country like Australia. While the Government may “ put over “ this clause, and “ get away with “ this bill, while it may arrange matters in such a manner as to proclaim the act at a time that suits its masters, the workers will never lose sight of the objectionable features of the measure. These will furnish them with a rallying cry and administer to them a lesson as to the value of cutting away from the craft system of unionism and getting down to an industrial basis by which their economic strength will be felt far more than it has been in the past. When that time comes, Labour will be able to treat the Government in the way that it deserves.
.- I owe my presence in” this chamber to my continuous opposition for five months to the industrial legislation of the present Government. My opponent at the election, in his opening address, said that he was prepared to stand or fall by the Crimes Act, the amended Arbitration Act, and the Transport Workers Act that had been passed by the Bruce-Page Government. And he fell. I intend to vote against this bill, lock, stock and barrel. I claim to know something of the industrial conditions of the waterside workers. The
Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) was good enough to compliment me upon my secondreading speech on the bill, by saying that it was of a bitter and sceptical character. If it was bitter it was because I have bitter feelings towards this Government. I give Ministers and their supporters no credit for honesty of purpose so far as this legislation is concerned, and when the whole of the people get back to a commonsense view of it they will reject this Government, just as they have rejected every other Government that has attempted anything of the kind, so that it should be repealed. The bill, instead of being calculated to promote peace in industry, seethes with everything that makes for industrial strife. I have been trained in the school of adversity, and I have had bitter experiences in fighting against the principles espoused by honorable members opposite. Because I feel bitter against those things I am not prepared to trust honorable members behind the Government, when they say they are holding out the olive branch, with a view to bringing about industrial peace. I am pleased to know that the Leader of the Opposition intends to divide the committee on this clause, and I hope that as the bill proceeds through the committee stage, a number of divisions will be taken to show exactly where the people’s representatives stand on this important issue. I stated in the course of my second-read- ing speech that there was reason to believe that the Government was receiving money under false pretences by requiring workmen to purchase licences to carry on their avocation. The Transport Workers Act has been appropriately referred to as the “ dog collar “ act. In Queensland, a charge of 2s. 6d. is made for the registration of a dog, so that dog licences are not as cheap as those issued to workmen under this act. If the Government insists on passing this offensive and provocative legislation, my prognostication of its downfall will be fulfilled, because it is not fit to have charge of the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– I am opposed to legislation such as that embodied in this bill, which may be summed up in the one word, coercion. History right down the ages has taught the lesson that coercion is not conducive to industrial peace, and it never will be. The AttorneyGeneral claims that the Transport Workers Act has been successful because few industrial interruptions have occurred on the waterfront since its proclamation.
– The clause under discussion is clause 2 which deals with the date of the proclamation of this bill. The honorable member is not in order in discussing the operation, of the measure generally.
– I am attempting to argue that no date should be fixed for its proclamation.
– Then the honorable member will be in order.
– I am trying to show that this bill is coercive, and that all coercive legislation has been a failure. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) gave us the spectacle of volunteers proceeding to work on the waterfront with police in front of them, police behind them, and police all around them. Anybody who says that peace has been established on the waterfront when these conditions obtain is a super-optimist. I agree with the- honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) that a bill such as this is calculated to provoke another Eureka, but one on a more gigantic scale than that historic affair. I for one, and, I think, every other honorable member, would be sorry to see acts such as then took place repeated in Australia. The Government would be well advised to drop the bill, lock, stock and barrel.
.- I had not imagined that I should live to see a bill such as this brought into the Commonwealth Parliament. Every clause is unworthy of the Government, unworthy of this Parliament, and unworthy of Australia. I recall only one similar bill to that now under discussion. It was introduced in the Victorian Parliament by the present Chief Justice of Victoria (Sir William Irvine), who was then State Premier, and even the Legislative Council of that State ultimately rejected it unanimously. No member on either side would believe for a moment that any portion of this bill would be accepted by the people of Australia if they had the power of vetoing it. The people elect the Parliament once every three years, and the Government makes itself more powerful than the people. The party opposite says that it trusts the people; if so, I challenge honorable members opposite to refer this bill to the electors. I am sure that if the people had the power of veto they would not permit the clause under consideration, or any other clause of the bill, to pass into law. Some day the people will have that power, and when that time comes no tinpot dictators such as the present Government will attempt to bring in such a measure as this. From my many years’ experience of the people in the capital cities of the Commonwealth I am prepared to challenge the Prime Minister to obtain their agreement to this bill. I do not think that they would disgrace their manhood or womanhood by consenting to such infamous legislation. I stamp it as infamous, lock, stock, and barrel, and look upon it as unworthy of the Government, the Ministerial following, and the Commonwealth.
.- Having regard to the views expressed by honorable members, I do not insist upon my amendment, and, with the permission of the committee, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 7 agreed to.
Debate resumed from 13th February (vide page 220), on motion by Mr. Gullett -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure, which has been brought down to deal with the protected industries of the Commonwealth is a quite inadequate contribution towards the solution of the problems which were outlined bythe Prime Minister in his policy speech at Dandenong. It will be remembered that on that occasion the right honorable gentleman contended that there were four great objectives towards which all our efforts should be directed, namely -
Basicly those objectives involve the provision of adequate security for the industries of the country and, quite patently, in dealing with the fiscal situation, the consideration of that problem warranted that the Government should do something more than was contained in the principal Tariff Board Act. The amendments which this bill proposes to make to the principal act will produce no fundamental change in the board’s functions or in the efficiency with which it will perform its work. When all is said and done, this measure merely alters the remuneration of the members of the Tariff Board, and affords the board a. certain amount of relief from what I may describe as the perfunctory investigations with which it was previously charged. And even in that respect the relief is more apparent than real, because all that the bill proposes to do is to enable the Minister to exercise his own discretion in certain inquiries where previously . it was mandatory upon him to refer such matters to the board. Hitherto, when the board engaged in these inquiries, very little time was occupied in their determination, unless they were the subject of dispute. It is certain that, in future, should there be a dispute concerning a matter which is before the “Minister, he will, in order to relieve himself of the obligation of making a decision which is bound to offend somebody, exercise the right that he retains under the amending bill and charge the board with the responsibility of making the inquiry. The statistics set out in the report of the Tariff Board indicate that of 824 reports submitted by it to the Minister in the last fiscal year, no fewer than 717 related to request for the admission of goods under by-laws. It is proposed in this bill that such requests shall be referred to the Tariff Board, whenever the Minister desires so to do. Except in particularly difficult cases, these requests have not previously occupied the attention of the board to any great extent, and it will be found that the situation will not be altered much in the future. It is almost certain that the Minister himself will not decide intricate points when he has, conveniently at his elbow, an authority upon whose shoulders he can lean.
– And which will relieve him of any risk of making a bad decision.
– Yes, and which will relieve him of the risks which are inseparable from any exercise of discretion on his part. The rest of the work which the board performed in the last fiscal year will still be allotted to it. The amending bill does not suggest to me that the board will be any more efficiently composed to ‘ deal with these matters in the future than has been the case in the past. It is true that power is taken to enable the board to sit, as it were, in two sections, as two members of the board may conduct an inquiry in one quarter and the other two in another. But neither of those sectional boards can make a report to the Minister until the matter has been brought before the full board. So that, instead of being a contribution towards the efficiency of the board, that provision merely sets up an additional method of circumlocution. Obviously, if a matter is of no very great moment the chairman will not occupy himself very long over it, but if it is important it is certain that the members of the board who did not participate in the original inquiry will not accept the decision of their colleagues without further investigation as they, equally with those who made the first examination, are charged with the responsibility of the final decision.
There are other considerations attached to the decisions of the board itself that seem to me to need attention. I consider that it is entirely wrong that the members of the board should be paid a sitting fee instead of an annual salary. I presume that the reason why the Minister said that it had been found difficult to obtain men of the type that he considered best suited to serve on the board if an annual salary were paid, was that the persons whom he had in mind were already engaged, in an executive capacity, in important commercial and industrial undertakings. The Tariff Board is a semi-judicial body, charged with the responsibility of impartially reviewing matters that profoundly concern the commercial interests of important sections of this community. I consider that it is net right that men who have important business affiliations, with which they continue to remain associated, should be given positions of a semi-judicial character and empowered to make findings that may affect the profits and losses of firms actually in competition with the business interests with which they are personally concerned. Furthermore, it occurs to me to be an entirely vicious principle that men who have no definite and binding responsibility to the Commonwealth as a nation should temporarily have thrust upon them the responsibility of making important investigations and findings which profoundly effect the interests of certain traders. We are perfectly safe in dealing with this matter impersonally, because the proposed appointees to the Tariff Board are not at present within our cognizance. We do not know who they are likely to be, and I am quite unconcerned whether they are Brown or Jones or Robinson. But if Brown, the director or manager of, say, a large metal firm is appointed, and as a member of the board is charged with the responsibility of investigating one or other of the matters which under this bill may be submitted to the board for investigation, the possibility is that the subject of the investigation may relate specifically to the particular interests of the corporation with which he is associated.
– A case of that sort has actually occurred.
– I have no doubt that it has. Is it defensible that men who are engaged in important investigations and charged with the duty of making a recommendation to the Minister for Trade and Customs should have, either at the time or in prospect, an indirect interest, unconscious though it may be, in the ultimate consequences of their finding or recommendation. It is very properly provided that the chairman of the board shall be an officer of the Customs Department, but the board is to consist of four members, and surely if it is desirable, as undoubtedly it is, for the chairman to be responsible solely to this community, it is equally desirable that his colleagues, who may outvote him in respect to any recommendation submited to the Minister, should be no less responsible to the community. They should not be able to wash their hands of their Commonwealth obligations and continue to engage in private business which may unconsciously, or consciously for all we know, profoundly influence their findings. The subjects which may be referred to the board for inquiry go to the very roots of the economic life of the nation. They embrace every important industry. They relate to the raw materials of many of our essential industries and to the development in every respect of our secondary industries. Manufacturing in all its aspects, with all its varied interests and competitions, is the particular subject of the researches of the board. If it is to be worth its salt, the board’s pronouncements must materially influence the ultimate decisions of the Minister. If the Minister will not as a general practice carry out the findings of the board, there is the strongest reason for at once terminating the existence of the board. The decisions of the Tariff Board must either be a paramount factor in determining the decisions of the Minister, or the board is a costly extravagance which the country in its present position cannot afford. As I have already said, it is of the utmost importance that its members should be entirely free from any association, direct or indirect, with the interests of private traders. They should not lay themselves open to the suspicion, justly or unjustly founded, that they are concerned in the welfare of any trader or group of traders. In some respects, the board functions after the style of the Arbitration Court; and the very first essential in respect to the acceptance of its decisions is that its members, like those who preside over the Arbitration Court, should be free not only from any possibility of partisanship, but also from the suspicion, that in coming to their decisions they have been influenced by considerations other than the weight of evidence. Individuals associated with the fortunes of any particular trading corporation, therefore, ought not to be chosen as members of the Tariff Board. The payment of fees, for which provision is made in this bill, postulates that a member of the board who is not the chairman, will be quite free to continue his participation in a particular business. There is nothing in the act or in the bill to disqualify for membership a director or manager of a company who is already being paid handsomely for safeguarding the interests of a group of shareholders. It is entirely wrong that a person discharging the semijudicial duties of a member of the Tariff Board should at the same time be in the receipt of emoluments for services rendered to any particular trading firm or group of firms. When, therefore, we come to the clause in committee, 1 trust the Minister will recognize that there are others than those engaged in the sordid street commerce who are quite competent to give adequate service to the Commonwealth, as members of the Tariff Board. I trust that he will abandon his contention that it is impossible to secure good men who will give their whole and unfettered service to the work of the board. 1 should be quite content if the board consisted of an officer of the Customs Department, an officer of the Statistician’s Department, and some responsible person associated with the proposed Bureau of Economic Research, to which reference is made in this bill. A board such as this should make its investigations quite independently of any particular business interests. The work of the Tariff Board is primarily one of investigation - the final responsibility rests with the Minister for Trade and Customs- and- the men. who make the investigations should be definitely and solely responsible to the Commonwealth. Men partially responsible to the Commonwealth and partly to a particular corporation should not, in my judgment, be entrusted with important investigations, because inevitably - already the suggestion has been made - it will be said that the inquiries are not conducted as they should be.
The memorandum furnished to honorable members indicates that when a Director of Economic Research has been appointed, the Minister may direct the board to confer with him upon any particular matter referred to it for inquiry. I ask the Minister to let honorable members know if the consultation is to take place in public, the Director being sworn as a witness in the usual way, or whether he is to have a sort of confidential conference with the board, at which he will impart the conclusions he has formed. It is important that we should know the precise relationship between the two bodies. Economic research is not an exact science. Nor is it completely a statistical science. Much of the ground that the Bureau of Economic Research will traverse will be, in many respects, speculative. A good deal df its work will consist in the examination of opinions, theories and deductions, and confidential conferences between the
Director of the Bureau and the members of the Tariff Board would probably induce the latter to accept as facts matters highly contentious in their nature and most certainly unproved, which later on might be completely overthrown in the light of established knowledge. The word “Research “ suggests the possibility of this. I wish to rescue the proposal of the Government for a Bureau of Economic Research from the misuse to which this bill intends it to be put. The bureau must be regarded - solely as a body engaged in investigation and as one whose conclusions will be very doubtful. For the most part they will be contributions to thought rather than to knowledge, that is to say, the work of the bureau will lie in the examination and consideration of various hypothesis, rather than in laying down established conclusions in regard to any particular subject. It will, therefore, be entirely wrong if the Tariff Board, which has to deal with the particular interests of particular traders is exposed to the influence of a bureau of this description, without the representations that the bureau may make being challengable. by those whom they concern. I hope that in committee the Minister will make it plain that the Director of Economic Research will go before the board as an ordinary witness, and be required to justify his evidence, and submit to cross-examination. Unless that is done, the board will be put in a false position, and the Bureau of Economic Research will be brought into mischievous relationship to certain aspects of our national and industrial life. The bill provides that upon receiving a direction from the Minister, the board must confer with the Director of Economic Research.
– He becomes an economic policeman.
– Not even that. The bureau will necessarily operate under the direction of a Minister, who will have official knowledge of particular inquiries and findings, and if those conclusions are acceptable to him, he will direct the Tariff Board to consult with the director in order that the board may be influenced by him to recommend in accordance with ministerial policy. The function of the board should be semi-judicial, and no person, not even the Director of Economic
Research or the Commonwealth Statistician, should be permitted to engage in a confidential discussion with its members. If the board is to have a permanent influence on our economic life, the Minister must show substantial reasons before he rejects any of its findings. The Tariff Board Act is based upon the contention that, because the tariff involves special interests, it is undesirable that this Parliament should engage in a detailed examination of tariff problems.
– The board can not be placed above theMinister, and consequently above the Government.
– No, but we cannot have it both ways.If this Parliament considers it reprehensible that the lobbies of this building should be converted into a bear garden through the clamour of canvassers with private interests to serve, it must realize the impropriety of placing the Minister in the position of appearing to utilize special witnesses to influence the determinations of the board. Either that body is a proper authority to investigate and make decisions–
– No; recommendations.
– What is the difference between a recommendation and a finding? Presumably the board bases its findings on the weight of evidence. If the Minister and the Parliament are not to be influenced by the weight of evidence as epitomized in the findings of the board, they must be influenced by other factors.
What I said earlier regarding the desirability of the members of the board being placed above the suspicion of being influenced by special interests, applies particularly to the relations of that body with the Minister. He has the responsibility of accepting or rejecting the recommendations made to him, and the fact that certain members of the board have retained their commercial associations and continue as managers and directors of private enterprises may be the reason why the board has arrived at findings which the Minister has considered wrong. In future the board should be differently constituted. There should be no suspicion as to the propriety and impartiality of the board’s decisions, and then the Minister would merely have to decide whether effect should be given to them as matters of policy. I recognize that some things which cannot be justi fied by ordinary commercial standards are, nevertheless, desirable in the national interest. The board might make certain recommendations, which the Minister, taking a broader and longer view of the necessities of the future, would not be prepared to recommend to Parliament. I can appreciate that a government concerned with the problem of national development must look to the ultimate as well as to the immediate, but I cannot understand why a body to which is entrusted semi-judicial functions, should be partly composed of men liable to be influenced by private commercial interests. What would happen if the Director of Economic Research were paid only sitting fees, but were permitted to hold managerial and directorial posts with private organizations? Could we reasonably be asked to accept his findings and recommendations as true and impartial expositions of economics? When the bill is in committee I hope that the two provisions which I consider fundamentally unsound will be removed, so that, firstly, it will not be possible for the Director of Economic Research to influence the decisions of the board in private conferences, at which his evidence will not be challengeable by those directly concerned, and, secondly, the members of the board will have no association with particular firms or private interests.
– Apply that principle to members of this House.
– Members of Parliament are elected by the people, and are removable by them at regular intervals. Members of the Tariff Board are appointed by the Government.
– They are also removable.
– Yes ; but it is improbable that they would be removed except in extraordinary circumstances As a matter of fact we have had resignations of members of the Tariff Board because the pressure of private business interests has prevented them from giving the whole of their services and the best of their talents to the work of the board.
– I do not think that is quite fair.
– He is an extremely capable man who can engage in two or three important occupations and give satisfaction in all of them.
– Certain members of the board bave given their best services to this country at great cost to themselves.
– If the provisions in the bill are justified it is necessary that the full board should be relieved of cer.tain of its functions which, up to the present, have proved onerous, and have prevented members from carrying out important duties, and at the same time engaging in other activities.
– What the honorable member is saying is fairly correct, but is it possible to get the ideal man who has not wide business interests?
– I can only say that if the question of salary stands in the way of .getting the right man, then the obvious thing to do is to offer a higher salary so as to attract the right type of man. This is the course which we follow with regard to many other important appointments. We say that a person in the Commonwealth employ should be in receipt of a salary high enough to render unnecessary his engaging in outside employment to supplement his income. Actually public servants are prohibited from engaging in outside work. The chairman of the board is not allowed to accept outside employment. If he is expected to give the whole of his time to Tariff Board matters - I agree that it is proper that he should do that - it certainly is equally important that his colleagues also should give the whole of their time to the board’s business, because the board functions as a whole. The suggestion that the board should be divided into two sections for the purpose of certain inquiries will not work well in practice, because all recommendations must be made by the full board. If certain members are to be free in the daytime to engage in private work, the chairman, in respect of some matters, will be working without the active and full collaboration of his colleagues. They may be occupied with their ordinary private business engagements and when they meet as a board, the chairman will have to inform them of the stage of his investigations.
– In practice that has not been the case.
– If it is a fact that the board has had adequate leisure which would warrant members attending to their private affairs during the days upon which they have received sitting fees, then one of two things must have happened. Either they have been paid full day sitting fees for less than a full day’s work, or they have given only casual attention to the problems that have come before the board.
There is not much more that I need say about the bill. As the fulfilment of the ideas mentioned in the Prime Minister’s, policy speech, I regard the bill as a feeble instrument for the realization of a great objective. It does not alter in any material degree the procedure or the character of the board and it will not contribute very much towards the satisfactory solution of tariff problems that have arisen in the last three or four years. For this reason I consider that it is anything but a satisfactory discharge of the high expectations which the Prime Minister led the country to believe would follow the passage of the bill.
.- I am in complete agreement with much of what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) has said, but I differ from him in regard to one or two points. All honorable members concur in his statement that members of the board should be absolutely free from any suspicion or taint of commercial interest, which might affect their judgment when dealing with important tariff problems. We have had in the history of the board a lamentable instance to the contrary. In one of its reports, the board thought it necessary to point out that one of its members had an indirect personal interest in a certain matter that had come before it for decision, and evidently conscious of the reflection which this might cast upon their work, the members of the board proceeded rather elaborately to justify what had been done. I drew particular attention to this incident in one of the tariff debates, and I regret to say that at the time it did not seem to shock the conscience of honorable members to any appreciable extent. I am, however, glad to hear a chorus of approval at the enunciation of the principle that this should not occur again. I should like to carry the idea a little further. I should like members of the board to be not only free from suspicion of commercial interest, but free also from any suspicion of political pressure. I am well aware that the majority of honorable members, being strongly protectionist in their beliefs, are not disposed to find serious fault with the methods adopted by the board in the past; but I feel sure that if any fair-minded person reads the board’s reports and studies its work, he will be bound to confess that the work of the board has not been quite satisfactory. The object of its appointment was to lift all tariff matters out of the arena of personal or sectional interests which would be fought out on the floor of this House. It was intended that the board, in making its recommendations, should be free from the pressure of any political class; that it should weigh the claims of individuals against the interests of the community.
We have now arrived at a position when many high protectionists are prepared to admit that we have gone to absurd lengths with our protectionist policy, that our high duties have been carried to a point beyond reason and common sense, and are contrary to the teaching of plain economic facts.
– The board was supposed to be impartial.
– That was the whole purpose of its creation. Its inquiries were to be conducted impartially, without pressure from either moneyed or political interests. Unfortunately, that has not been the case; indeed, it could not have been.
– That is a strong statement.
– The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) can see nothing wrong in a board of his own creation. My statement is justified by the facts.
– It is an improper statement to say that the board has been influenced.
– Nevertheless I make it. It is strange that whenever a member attempts to point out the deficiencies of a system he is accused of making improper statements against persons. I shallnot be silenced by such remarks. The board has not been satisfactory. For a long time its inquiries were held in secret. Only as a result of action taken in this House were its inquiries thrown open and evidence taken on oath. That that reform was necessary shows that matters were not right previously.
– The honorable member said that the board was subjected to political and financial pressure; he should prove his statement.
– Honorable members have only to read the reports of the board to convince themselves of the truth of my statement. I wonder how many honorable members who profess a desire to see the board’s reports, take the trouble to study them carefully. I have done so, and have on many occasions quoted from them to show that in some cases the board’s recommendations have been against the weight of evidence. So long as a board considers that its duty is to carry out the policy of the Minister and the Government, it cannot be unbiased. That has been the trouble with the Tariff Board in the past, and for that reason 1 differ from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), who says that he is perfectly satisfied that its chairman should be an officer of the Customs Department. In saying that I make no reflection on any departmental officer. It is the duty of the officers of a department to carry out the instructions given to them by the Minister.
– That does not apply in the case of the Chairman of the Tariff Board.
– The honorable member’s remark is a reflection on both the Chairman of the board and the Minister.
– In the United States of America, with its elaborate tariff system, no member of the Tariff Board may be either directly or indirectly associated with the Customs Department.
– They employ their own experts.
– Our position should be the same as it is in the United States of America, where all inquiries by the Tariff Board are entirely independent of departmental control. If the Tariff Board does not work properly it is merely a useless and costly extravagance.
– The’ system there does not result in low tariffs.
– I am not saying that it does. The honorable member for Wannon is pleading for an organization which will ensure high tariffs. I am pleading for an impartial judgment in tariff matters.
– That is a silly statement, for I never have done so.
– “ By their fruits ye shall know them. “ Reference has been made to the need for co-operation between the Tariff Board and the Bureau of Economic Research. When the Tariff Board was established it was expected that it would take economic facts into consideration. The honorable member for Fremantle would have us believe that all economic research is uncertain and indefinite, but I point out that while in almost all departments of knowledge, we are as yet in the developmental stages, there is a great deal of exact knowledge to be obtained by a proper use of economic research. That the Tariff Board has riot seen fit to undertake economic research is one of the reasons why it has perpetrated so many absurdities. So far from showing a desire to take advantage of any economic facts at its disposal, there is at least one instance on record in which the chairman of the board objected to evidence being given before the board, by one of the ablest economists in Australia. That he was a free trader was .probably the reason for the objection to his evidence being heard. Although the honorable member for Fremantle does not appear to be a rabid protectionist, he seems to fear that by bringing economic research to bear on tariff matters some of the fallacies of the protectionist system might be exposed. Many protectionists are afraid of economics; they prefer to belittle the advantages of research rather than face economic facts. The board should take economic principles into account all the time. Instead of conferring with the Director of Economic Research from time to time merely at the whim of the Minister, economic truths should be taken into account all the time. Indeed the members of the board should themselves be trained in economics and be capable of weighing economic facts. I agree that in the event of the Director of Economic Research being brought be fore the board he should give evidence on oath and be subject to cross-examination. I do not believe in private conferences between - him and the Tariff Board.
– The board may call evidence from any source.
– The board should not only be empowered to obtain evidence from any source, but it should also be capable of weighing that evidence when it is given. In our law courts it is not unusual to have the evidence of say, six medical men on behalf of a plaintiff and the evidence of a similar number of medical men to the opposite effect. Without this, a judge, not possessing the necessary medical knowledge, would be unable to determine the value of the evidence tendered. The members of the board should have the necessary qualifications, including, if possible, a knowledge of economics, to enable them to crossexamine witnesses and critically analyse the evidence given before the board. I have known cases where professional men were biased in favour of the interests they represented; but if entirely independent they would be able to sift evidence and come to a correct decision. Much depends upon the complete independence of the members of the board. They should be independent of monetary interests and of political prejudice.
I wish now to mention one matter, discussed at some considerable length by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) who recommended that Parliament ought to determine the amount of protection, and that the board should only be able, within the limitations laid down by Parliament, to state what protection should be afforded. That is quite wrong, and, in my opinion, is begging the question. If a principle is to be employed in giving effect to a protective policy, we should try to assess duties in such a way that the conditions of internal manufacture will be subject to exactly the same disadvantages as the imported articles, or vice versa. We should try to equalize the conditions between the two. That is, I think, a fair way of expressing the principle, and that cannot be done before an inquiry has been conducted. The whole inquiry should be based upon facts, such as Parliament cannot have at its disposal. To arbitrarily determine certain limitations, under which the board shall operate would be to annul the whole benefits and objects of the board. .
The honorable member for Dalley also dealt extensively with the subject of dumping. The word “dumping” has been frequently used, is very often wrongly employed, and is also used as an excuse for additional protection, ft is said . on general principles thai if any article manufactured in England is sold in Australia at less than the home consumption pride, that is an act of dumping. I have searched the Tariff Board’s reports, of which I have read many, and have not found a reference to a common commercial fact which has a direct bearing on the subject of dumping. In England the manufacturers for the home market in many cases work under conditions which differ from those manufacturing for export. Articles manufactured for home consumption are subject to duties and rates, whilst those manufactured for export have their duties remitted under drawback. Obviously, that is done to encourage the manufacturer in England, and to develop an export trade. That is’ what we ought to be doing in Australia. To describe manufacturing and selling under - such circumstances as dumping is manifestly unfair, as all the conditions are not taken into account. Usually it is only the difference in prices which are considered. Surely it. is an ordinary commercial proposition for a manufacturer with a comparatively limited home marketto export in large quantities, and at a lower price than would he charged for home consumption. There is nothing unfair or wrong in the system. It is merely a difference between wholesale and retail prices.
– -Even if the price’ in Australia is below the cost of production?
– It is not below the cost of production. The cost of production is taken into account.
– It is called dumping when the price at which goods are sold in
Australia is lower than that at which a similar article can be manufactured in Australia.
– That is so. Such a system of keeping costs on an artificial basis prevents many persons in Australia who are carrying on developmental work from obtaining necessary articles at a reasonable price. The subject of dumping requires careful study, apart altogether from the stand-point of prejudice from which it is frequently considered today. It is one which the members of the board, as men of character and ability, ought to be able to thoroughly examine and report upon.
The only other point to which I wish to refer is the remuneration proposed to be paid to the members of the board. On the one hand, it seems only right that they should be paid a. salary for the services they render, and on the other there does not seem to be any valid objection to the payment of fees, which provide an assurance of continuous work. It is difficult to say which is the better course to adopt, and the proposal in this instance is only a compromise. Since the Tariff Board is really intended to hear appeals from the decisions of the department itself, ‘it should be entirely independent of departmental control, and the chairman should not be an officer of the department. There is no reason why the board should not have the full benefit of the experience of officers of the department, but the decisions should not rest with an officer who is concerned in the administration of a public office in’ which, as a matter of duty - I cast no reflection on the officer - he is bound to carry out the instructions given to him by his Minister. I join with the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) in saying that the bill does not appear to bring about a very satisfactory re-arrangement of the functions of the board. It would be better if new principles were adopted and a new conception of the duties and responsibilities of the board arrived at.
.- The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) is of the opinion that there is ground for fear regarding consultations between the board and the proposed Director of the Bureau of Economic Research. T assure the honorable member that I have fear as to not only the director, and the provisions in the bill which lay down the procedure whereby he may be consulted by the Tariff Board, but also the whole fiscal policy of theGovernment. While the bill provides certain machinery and fixes the payment to be made to the members of the board, I am wondering what is in the mind of the Minister for Trade; and Customs regarding the altered functions of the board, which were mentioned by the Prime Minister. As I understand that the Minister is prepared to adjourn the debate, I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1929/19290227_reps_11_120/>.