11th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– A Commonwealth
Gazette, published on the 15th December, setting out the duties of various Ministers, mentions as portion of the responsibility of the Minister for Health the “ conducting of campaigns of prevention of disease in which more than one State is interested.” Will the Minister, therefore take steps in conjunction with the State Governments to issue a pamphlet briefly setting out the measures to be taken by the public to preventinfection by pneumonic influenza ?
– The risk of an influenza epidemic was very carefully discussed this week by the Federal Health Council, the members of which are of opinion that all possible action is being taken to safeguard the health of the community. In the circumstances it would not be wise to issue a pamphlet such as the. honorable member has suggested. It is inadvisable to scare the public with warnings of a danger that does not seem imminent. It will be time enough to take further action if, and when there appears to be a probability of an epidemic of this disease in Australia.
– In a letter contributed by a migrant to the Sunderland Echo, appears this statement -
Australians are intensely jealous of English migrants and are rapidly driving the white men away.
As it is obviously the impression of the writer that the majority of people in Australia, including, no doubt, members of the Ministry, are of the aboriginal race, will the Prime Minister convey to the Sunderland Echo and others in England who are interested, the fact that most of the people in this country are of the white race, although, perhaps, all of them are not “white men.”
– There is no need for the Government to take official cognizance of all statements made by writers to the newspapers.
– Havingregard to the fact that the Melbourne newspapers have reported that with the approach of winter the distress amongst a large number of the unemployed will become serious, and as conditions are equally bad in
Sydney and no doubt in other Australian cities, will the Prime Minister take steps to safeguard people from the contemplated privations ?
– The responsibilities of the Federal and State Governments in regard to the relief of distress consequent upon unemployment, were discussed in this House from time to time before the honorable member became a member, and I need only remind him that the obligation to provide for those who are suffering privation because of unemployment rests on the States.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether the Director of Postal Services, upon his return to Australia, advised the Government that in Great Britain a listener-in pays only 10s. for a licence, whether for a crystal or valve receiving set, and that the British Broadcasting Corporation provides the most interesting and educational wireless programmes to be heard in any part of the world? As Australians are required to pay 24s. for a licence, will the Postmaster-General consider the advisability of reducing that fee considerably and providing more up-to-date programmes ?
– The fact is wellknown to the Government that the licence for a receiving set in Great Britain is only 10s., whereas the fee in Victoria is 24s., but I remind the honorable member that in Australia only 300,000 listenersin are licensed, as compared with over 2,000,000 in Great Britain. It would not be possible, for a fee of 10s., to provide in Australia a programme equal to that enjoyed by listeners-in in Great Britain.
– Did I understand the Postmaster-General to say that broadcasting was not profitable in Victoria? Is it not the fact rather that the broadcasting companies of that State are making huge profits under the existing conditions?
– I did not say that broadcasting was not paying in Victoria with the licence fee of 24s., but that it would not pay with a licence feeof 10s. The licence fees in Germany, Austria,. Sweden and many other countries are higher than in Australia.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether, at the recent conference between himself, Mr. Bavin, and representatives of the coal mine-owners and the miners, Mr. Bavin said that he could not accept the right honorable gentleman’s suggestion for the appointment of an accountant to investigate the profits of the owners until he had received their consent?
– I do not recollect exactly what Mr. Bavin said on that point at the conference, but the verbatim record of the proceedings will supply the honorable member with the information he desires. The object of the conference was to arrive at an agreement acceptable to all parties. There was no attempt by me or the Premier of New South Wales to dictate to the representatives of the miners or the mine-owners.
– Is the Prime Minister convinced that the coal-owners are making a profit of only 2s. per ton? Even that profit is, in my opinion, excessive. If so, will he inform me why the coal-owners have refused to allow an accountant selected by the miners to examine their books ? If they have nothing to hide they should have nothing to fear.
– The only information I have as to the profits of the coal-owners is that the figures submitted by the Premier of New South Wales, which have been subjected to the closest scrutiny, have disclosed that the average profit of the coal-owners is 2s. per ton. Until evidence is forthcoming that these figures are incorrect I intend to accept them. I have replied a number of times recently to the second part of the question.
– Will the Prime Minister give consideration to the feasibility of the proposition made by the Coal Miners Federation that it should select an accountant, the colliery-owners should select one, and the general public, who are vitally interested, should also select one, and that these should each make a careful investigation of the books of the collieryowners and submit reports upon them?
– I have sent a letter to the committee representing the coalminers in which I have set out exactly the attitude of the Government upon the proposals which it has made. That letter has been published in the press.
– In September and October next the people of Western Australia will celebrate the centenary of the foundation of that State. As the celebrations will be of interest to all Australians, will the Prime Minister agree to the adjournment of this Parliament for three weeks in order to enable honorable members to visit Western Australia and participate in the rejoicings ?
– I recognize the importance and significance of the centenary celebrations in Western Australia this year, and if the state of public business permits, I shall be delighted to adopt the honorable member’s suggestion; but at present I can give him no undertaking. I can only say that the Government will give to the matter every consideration.
-Will the Minister for Home Affairs consider increasing the rate payable for dingo scalps in the Northern Territory? At present it is 2s. 6d. per scalp. The Cloncurry Dingo Board pays 15s. per scalp. The result is that every self-respecting dingo when he is shot manages somehow to get over the border into Queensland, so that his scalp may fetch the higher rate.
– I will look into the matter and advise the honorable member later.
– The following cablegram was published in the Adelaide Advertiser on the 7th March : -
In the House of Commons to-day, Mr. Oliver LockerLampsom asked leave to introduce a bill to enable British migrants to receive unemployment pay for two years after migrating to the Dominions. He suggested that a proper scheme of training should be established under which local employers could take and train prospective migrants whose unemployment pay would bc able to make up the ruling local wage.
Will the Prime Minister undertake to represent to the British Government that such a scheme would be most objectionable to Australia, and would seriously affect our unemployment problem?
– My attention has been drawn to the fact that Mr. LockerLampson asked leave to introduce a bill on the lines mentioned in the cablegram. The measure appears to me to contain many features that seem undesirable from the Australian viewpoint ; but I do not anticipate that it will go very far. Should the British Government show any inclination to favour the bill, we shall take all necessary steps to submit our views on the subject.
– It is usually understood that when a private member gets the rare opportunity of introducing a bill into the House of Commons, the Government is more or less behind it. In these circumstances, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will at once take steps to ascertain the real position and submit the views of his government on the subject to the British Government?
– The Government is ascertaining the exact position, but I have no intention of making any official reprepresentations unless the British Government indicates in some way. that it is favorable to the measure, in which case I shall certainly do so.
Appointment oi? Returned Soldiers - Temporary Employees.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the services of a number of ex-soldiers temporarily employed in the Commonwealth Public Service (who have been employed, in some instances, over a number of years) have been, or are about to be terminated, will the Prime Minister arrange for the Public Service Board to make a full report of the circumstances, and also on the whole question of the temporary employment of ex-soldiers in the Commonwealth Public Service?
– I am advised by the Public Service Board that the reduction in the number of returned soldiers temporarily employed in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Queensland is due to completion of the large works programme which has been in hand for some years. The provision of employment, both permanent and temporary, for returned soldiers is continuously before the board by reason of the preference accorded by the Public Service Act. Such employment must necessarily be restricted by the requirements of departments generally.
I may add that the whole question of temporary employment in the Commonwealth Public Service is at present being investigated by the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice- -
What is the total value of orders placed overseas by the various Federal Government Departments for the years 1926, 1927, and 1928 1
– The matter is being looked into with a view to ascertaining if the desired information can be obtained at a reasonable cost.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With regard to the inquiry being conducted by General Griffiths into the” rising of natives in Rabaul, will the Prime Minister see that a copy of the evidence and the report are tabled for the information of honorable members as soon as Parliament meets after the recess ?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr. Kell’s Position
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister in Charge of Repatriation, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be given as early as possible.
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether he will give the House an opportunity of discussing the question of extending the height of the Hume Reservoir beyond the original proposal, before the Government commits itself to further expenditure towards increasing the height as proposed later?
– While the River Murray agreement made no reference to the capacity of the Hume Reservoir, the design originally prepared provided for a reservoir of 1,100,000 acre feet. As the result of discussions at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, the four contracting governments decided in 1926 that provision should be made for a storage with a capacity of 2,000,000 acre feet, and the work isnow proceeding on that basis. The question as to whether the dam shall forthwith be raised to the full height for a storage of 2,000,000 acre feet is a matter for decision by the four contracting governments, following upon consideration of a report by the River Murray Advisory Committee, which is now investigating the question of the economical use to which the water made available can be put. Opportunity for discussing the matter will be afforded during debates in the House on the granting of Supply, and on the Estimates.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Why was the Tariff Board’s recommendation to grant a bounty on peppermint oil not carried out!
– This is a matter of Government policy. The Government did not consider it advisable to adopt the Tariff Board’s recommendation.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The subjects mentioned by the honorable member are obviously matters which will fall within the scope of the royal commission on the coal industry, which the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales propose to appoint. I am not, therefore, prepared to institute inquiries into those matters, independently of the commission.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
With regard to the question by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie on the 6th instant regarding the sale of the new blue 3d. “ Kookaburra “ stamp over a certain period, will the Minister supply in addition the sales of the previous issue of 3d. stamp still in stock concurrently with the same period?
– A reply to the honorable member’s question will be given as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the fact that Australian peanut- growers can supply the local demand for peanuts, will he have effective protection given to the industry by a sufficiently high duty to keep the product of black labour countries out of Australia and thus foster the local industry ?
– The Tariff Board inquired into this matter and was unable to recommend any increase in the duty, which is already 4d. per lb. on foreign peanuts.
Boiler Attendants’ Certificates
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made regarding this matter, and the honorable member will be advised in regard thereto as soon as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Terms of Reference
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Duty on Gears.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– There is already a duty of 55 per cent. on foreign gears and 40 per cent. on British gears. An application has, however, been made for an alteration in these duties and this application has been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report.
Transfer to Canberra
asked the Minister in Charge of Repatriation, upon notice -
In connexion with the transfer to Canberra of the head-quarters staff of the Repatriation Commission, is it a fact that most of the staff are returned soldiers and temporary employees : if so, is it intended to place these employees on the same basis as the permanent officials who have been transferred to Canberra?
– The conditions under which the head-quarters staff of the Repatriation Commission will be transferred to Canberra are still under consideration.
– On the 8th March the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
– On the 7th March the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) asked me the following questions : -
I am now in possession of the desired information. It is as follows : -
Hotel Kurrajong, £73,732, includes cost of buildings, also accessory services (such as electric light and power, heating and hot water services, paths, sewerage, drainage and water supply within the area allotted to the buildings).
Hotel Acton, £68,458, includes cost of buildings, also accessory services (such as electric light and power, heating and hot water services, paths, sewerage, drainage and water supply within the area allotted to the buildings).
Hotel Wellington, £29,530, includes cost of buildings, also accessory services (such as electric light and power, heating and hot water services, paths, sewerage, drainage and water supply within the area allotted to the buildings).
Hotel Ainslie, £31,554, includes cost of buildings, also accessory services (such as electric light and power, heating and hot water services, paths, sewerage, drainage and water supply within the area allotted to the buildings).
Brassey House, £26,350, includes cost of buildings, also accessory services (such as electric light and power, heating and hot water services, paths, sewerage, drainage and water supply within the area allotted to the buildings).
Beauchamp House, £26,943, includes cost of buildings, also accessory services (such as electric light and power, heating and hot water services, paths, sewerage, drainage and water supply within the area allotted to the buildings).
Printers’ Quarters, £29,925
Gorman House, £39,300
Bachelors’ Quarters. Costs are not available; built and furnished in conjunction with other buildings prior to Commission control, and separate costs not recorded. Valuation of old buildings was £7,000, and an additional £18,155 was expended to 30th June, 1928.
Hotel Kurrajong, £15,288
Hotel Acton, £18,197
Hotel Wellington, £5,581
Hotel Ainslie, £6,646
Brassey House, £5,585
Beauchamp House, £4,407
Printers’ Quarters, £7,210
Bachelors’ Quarters. Sec note above.
Gorman House, £7,233
– On the 8th March the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) asked me the following question, upon notice: -
What number of assisted migrants (nominated and otherwise) has arrived in Queensland each year since the recent Migration Agreement with Great Britain came into operation -
upon the requisition or recommendation of the Queensland Government; and
without such requisition or recommendation.
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
– On the 28th February the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Collins) asked me certain questions in regard to the cost of administration of Australia House, and the wool exhibit displayed there. I am now in a position to give the following details of the total expenditure for the year 1927-1928: -
Advice has been received from the High Commissioner’s Office, intimating that the wool exhibit consists of 24 excellent fleeces, well displayed in glass cases in the same manner as South Africa’s twelve fleeces, and that it is considered that no useful purpose would be served by displaying a larger exhibit in view of the fact that wool is bought through wellknown recognized channels, and any ordinary display, however extensive, would therefore be unlikely to materially influence business in any way. It is pointed out that no wool exhibit is displayed by New Zealand.
– On the 20th February the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) referred to an apparatus which enables vessels to ascertain exactly their position in bad and foggy weather, and asked that consideration be given to the question of installing radio direction finding stations at Moreton Bay, Sydney Heads, Wilson’s Promontory and Queenscliff. In accordance with the” assurance given to the honorable member, the matter has received consideration. A report furnished by the Marine Branch, Department of Trade and Customs, states that, although direction finding stations and radio beacons are valuable aids to navigation, lighthouses are still, and will remain for many years, the most important aid to navigation. In Australia, the proportion of foggy weather is small, and it is considered that the general policy of the Lighthouse Service should be to use the funds made available to complete the lighthouse system, and then follow, where necessary, with the supplementary aids to navigation. In all the circumstances it is considered that the urgency of installing radio direction finding stations at the places mentioned is less pressing than is the completion of the lighting of the coast of Australia.
The following papers were presented : -
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Eleventh Session, held at Geneva, 30th May to 16th June, 1928 - Draft Convention and Recommendation adopted by the Conference.
International Radiotelegraph Congress - Held at Washington in October-November. 1927 - Report of the Australian Delegate.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1929 -
No. 1 - Recovery of Lands.
No. 2 - Fish Protection.
Statement by Sir Hugo Hirst.
– A few days ago re ports appeared in the press in Australia regarding certain statements alleged to have been made in Great Britain by Sir Hugo Hirst, one of the members of the British Economic Mission that recently visited the Commonwealth, and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) recently asked me a question on the matter.
On the 8th instant I received the following cablegram from Sir Hugo Hirst -
Very distressed to hear from private sources that it is alleged I have made statements derogatory to employers of labour or Australia generally. Have given interviews on arrival to press association DailyNews and Telegraph but am certain nothing contained therein would be adversely criticized by you. Have addressed two gatherings of important business men with object of preaching collaboration of science, engineering, commerce and labour between Australia and United Kingdom stating Australian problem is an Empire one and we must all help in its development or other countries will step in. Any other version of anything I said is deliberate, foolish, or mischievous misrepresentation.
To the cablegram I sent the following reply-
Many thanks your cable. I was quite certain there must have been some misunderstanding with regard to statements attributed to you. The particular one to which exception has been taken was, “ I actually found some employers who talked of starving labour into submission “.
To-day I have received the following further cablegram from Sir Hugo Hirst -
Thanks for telegram. Assure you no such statement made by me as British press reports will testify. Have only expressed here same views and sentiments as I expressed in Australia which am under the impression secured me many friends amongst employers.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn till 1 1 a.m. to-morrow.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The measure provides for the establishment of a Bureau of Economic Research and the appointment of a Director of Economic Research. In the policy speech which I delivered on behalf of the Government prior to the last general election, I announced that we proposed to establish such a bureau. Most people will recognize that our development has expanded to a point at which we should give serious consideration to the economic results of our policies and the expenditure we are incurring in respect of them, and I do not think there is much difference of opinion as to the need for the establishment of a bureau for conducting fuller and more satisfactory economic research into the many great problems that confront us. There are some, however, who do not realize the necessity of ascertaining and examining the facts, and seeing how they apply to our problems. Yet they are few who would suggest that the great science of surgery could have approached its present perfection had there not been the consistent research which has solved so many of the surgeon’s problems. It will be generally admitted, too, that great engineering problems could not have been overcome without similar consistent research into questions of engineering. Still, many appear to think that in regard to this almost new science of economics they are inspired by God, and possess, untaught, all necessary information on the subject. There are few who will not talk (about tariffs, bounties, wages and standards of living, and other questions associated with our economic position with little or no exact information about the subject of their remarks. Very few indeed are qualified by education or by reading to express reliable opinions upon any of these topics. And we are so far handicapped that if an earnest student of economics really wishes to study a subject in. the light of economic facts, we have not yet established an economic service by which such information can readily be made available to him. As it is, we have to work these things out for ourselves, whereas if science were applied to them we should be in a better position to understand the economic effects of the policy we are adopting.
All sections of the community desire that our primary and secondary industries shall expand, that our national wealth shall increase, and that more avenues of employment for our people shall be opened up. The question which faces us is what is the best way to achieve those results. In the past certain policies have been adopted to attain those ends, chief among which is that of erecting customs barriers. Although for many years Australia has followed a protective fiscal policy, even in this House there is great diversity of opinion regarding its effect.
On the one hand, among us are those who believe that Australia would be better off without protective duties, that there should be no restriction on imports, and no attempt to protect Australian industries, while on the other hand, there are others who advocate that the importation into Australia of goods which could be manufactured here should be wholly prohibited. Between these extremes there is a wide range of fiscal beliefs, but I make bold to say that while many may be prepared to speculate, not one person in Australia is able to say definitely what Australia’s position in the world to-day would be - how far our primary industries would have expanded or to what extent Australia would have been capable of ‘ carrying a large population - if a policy of protection had not been followed. For some time I have given this matter thought, and about eighteen months ago I sent for three men who, I considered, would be able to enlighten me upon it. I asked them to say whether, in their opinion, the policy we had been following had led to the economic development of our industries, or had increased our wealth, and if so, at what cost? After a long conversation, we arrived at the conclusion that many facts must be examined before any one could say authoritatively what the effect of our fiscal policy had been. The three men whose aid I sought were Mr. Dyason, of Melbourne, a stock broker associated with Pelaco Limited, who has given a great deal of consideration to economic questions; Major Giblin, the Government Statistician of Tasmania; and Mr. Wickens, the Commonwealth Statistician. They said that they were prepared to devote their spare time to considering the question we had discussed. After some preliminary investigation had been undertaken by them, they asked that Professor Brigden, of the University of Tasmania, and Professor Copeland, of the Melbourne University, should be requested to join them. These two gentlemen consented to act, and for the last twelve months the whole five men, without remuneration of any kind, have been examining this question in the interests of the people of Australia. They have almost completed their labours, and have prepared a report which will be ready for publication in about a month. They are agreeable to its being made available to the public, but before it is published they wish to check carefully some of the figures. Their report will not be an expression of the views of the Government - indeed, I do not know what conclusions they have arrived at - but their effort is the only serious attempt yet made to examine this matter thoroughly, with a view to obtaining facts which will enable the people of Australia, and their representatives in this Parliament, to judge the effect of our fiscal policy.
The work undertaken by the gentlemen I have mentioned is similar to that which will be required of the Bureau of Economic Research. Had such a body been in existence eighteen months ago, I could have gone to the Director of the Bureau and from him obtained the considered opinions of men trained in the study of economic problems. At present, no serious research work along economic lines is being undertaken by any Australian ‘Government; nor are our universities active in that direction. I admit that the main reason why so little is being done is lack of funds. I hope that when the bureau has been established, we shall be able to assist the universities to devote more time to economic research. All honorable members are agreed as to the desirability of research work being undertaken in the interests of our primary industries. So much depends upon the quality of the soil and the best types of wheat for different soils and varying climatic conditions that it is essential, in the interests of the country, that trained men shall devote their efforts to research in those directions. In this country there are millions” of acres of land which could not have been brought under cultivation if research had not resulted in the production of drought resisting varieties of wheat for areas with a known low rainfall. We all admit the value of research in connexion with the breeding of livestock, and for the elimination of animal and plant pests, and yet we have done practically nothing in the way of research into the most important of all problems - the effects of government policy upon the economic condition of our people. It is essential that we should, without further delay, give serious attention to the application of the science of economics to the solution of this problem.
For many years we have been carrying out important developmental schemes in Australia, unfortunately in a most haphazard manner, with little thought to the economic result of increasing production or the greater difficulty of marketing our products. Let me give honorable member’s some idea of the trouble with which we are faced, and the expenditure which has been incurred. In the Murrumbidgee area of New South Wales the expenditure to the 30th June, 1927, was, in round figures, £9,000,000. Unfortunately, up to the present, only one-third of the irrigable land there is being used, and the returns from that area are sufficient only to pay part of the interest upon capital expenditure. It might reasonably bo argued that we should have looked ahead and considered the probable economic effects of that vast expenditure of public money on land development. There is also the group land.settlement scheme in Western Australia, upon which £8,000,000 has been expended, and the evidence is that the greater portion will have to be written off. The Murray River scheme, about which we heard so much to-day, is another. The locking of the River Murray and the incidental works were designed to bring an enormous area of land under irrigation. Up to the 30th June, 1928, these works have cost about £6,000,000, and it is believed that an additional £4,000,000 will have to be expended to complete them. If to this we add the State Governments’ expenditure on irrigation works, the installation of pumping plants, and in other directions, we find that no less than £33,000,000 has been expended on River Murray works. As a result of all this activity, production has increased enormously, and to-day we find it extremely difficult to market our output in dried fruits, wines and soft fruits. At present, this appears to present an almost insoluble, problem. Clearly, to reach the solution of our difficulties, we must look ahead and gauge with some degree of accuracy, the economic results of our developmental schemes. Many of the problems which now confront us, would not have arisen if there had been available to us well authenticated results of economic research along the lines I have suggested.
It will be interesting to honorable members if at this stage I set out the total of the Commonwealth disbursements for the assistance of a number of primary industries. The figures which I am about to quote are to be found in the last report of the Auditor-General, and relate to the period from the 30th June, 1920, to the 30th June, 1928. We have assisted the dried fruits industry to the extent of £218,000, the whole of which has had to be written off; the canned fruit industry h’as been subsidized to the extent of £134,000, and the subsidies paid to wine-growers total £1,170,000. Under the Export Guarantee Act the subsidies paid on fruit have totalled £60,000 and the loss on fruit pools has amounted to over £700,000, while the expenditure on publicity and advertising has been £70,000. The total disbursements under these various heads is £2,360,000. If it had been possible to estimate the economic results of the assistance given to the industries mentioned, we should not today be faced with these paralysing problems. We have been doing something in the direction indicated through the Development and Migration Commission, and the Government now proposes to establish a research bureau in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, for the purpose of opening up many new avenues for economic research. It is felt that it is better to establish a bureau of economic research under a first-class director, so that the many problems arising out of schemes approved by the Development and Migration Commission, may be sent on to the bureau for investigation. The same remark applies with equal force to the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, because it is useless to sanction heavy expenditure upon lines of research unless we have some, assurance that we are likely to get economic results from it. Unless we establish economic research on well defined lines, our future problems will be more difficult than those which confront us to-day. Every other country recognizes the value of economic research. Australia, therefore, should give its attention to this important matter.
Let me direct the attention of honorable members to what is happening in connexion with the awards of our Arbitration Court. As that tribunal from time to time makes awards that are of transcendent importance to the people of Australia, it is highly desirable that it should be able to seek advice as to the economic effect of its awards. At present there are no avenues from which the court can obtain this assistance. Surely this is a matter that should be rectified. Similarly the Tariff Board is, from time to time, confronted with important problems, in the solution of which economic research unquestionably enters. Let me give an illustration. Let us suppose that representations are made to the Tariff Board that a certain industry can be established in Australia and will provide a considerable amount of employment if it is granted a protection of 50 per cent. Research into the economic results of the suggested tariff, may disclose that it will have far reaching and disastrous effects upon some other industry in Australia that already is providing large avenues of employment, and in fact is of the utmost importance to the Commonwealth. Surely, then, it is essential that the Tariff Board should be afforded assistance in its its examinations of what are purely economic problems. It is possible to obtain statistics, but it is difficult for the untrained mind to draw from them the necessary deductions. With the establishment of the Bureau of Economic Research, an institution will be provided of the utmost value, to which the Tariff Board can turn for assistance in its efforts for the development of our industries and the opening and widening of avenues of employment for our people.
The need for considering economic problems is being increasingly recognized in all parts of the world. A book entitled Britain’s Industrial Future, which was published recently, and is the work of recognized leaders of the Liberal party in Great Britain, deals interestingly and at some length with this subject. Let me quote from it a short passage which indicates the trend of thought prevailing on the subject elsewhere. It reads -
We propose, therefore, as an essential instrument of better and wiser government, the creation of what, following Sir William Beveridge, we may call an Economical General Staff with duties in general terms as follows: -
. To engage in continuous study of current economic problems affecting national policy and the development of industry and commerce;
To co-ordinate and, where necessary, to complete statistical and other information required by the Government and by Parliament.
To act on its own initiative in calling the attention of the Cabinet (or the Committee of Economic Policy suggested below) to important tendencies and changes at home or abroad ;
To suggest to the Government plans for solving fundamental economic difficulties such, for instance, as measures for stabilizing trade conditions, avoiding unemployment, and developing national resources.
Action in this matter is being taken in Great Britain without regard to party politics. There they are doing much more in the way of economic research than has been done in the past, and in Canada and in India they are also beginning to consider economical problems. But the country that is doing most in this matter is the United States of America, a country whose policy is frequently mentioned with considerable approval by honorable members opposite. The Tariff Commission of the United States of America has something like 27 trained economists attached to its actual staff, for the investigation of the economic effect of the proposals made for the revision of the tariff. There arc three organizations in that country which really deal with such matters ; the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, the National Research Council, and the National Industrial Conference Board. In addition, it is estimated that something like 70,000,000 dollars are being expended annually by private industrial concerns on economic research. This country must realize the necessity of similar research if it is to compete successfully with other nations. If it is wise it will pursue a similar course. If we fail to do so, and do not apply science to the elucidation of our problems, we shall inevitably fail to maintain our position in the world’s markets, and shall be unable to extend our overseas trade, upon which the future of Australia depends.
The main criticism that will be directed against the measure is that the bureau is unnecessary; that this is a proposal to give effect to a new bureaucratic idea of mine, or to shift the burden of responsibility from Ministers to somebody else. To such criticism the following extract furnishes some reply -
There ia a certain very vocal type of publicist who greets every proposal to increase economic knowledge with the 01-3’ of Government extravagance, of the futile growth of bureaucracy. It is time that these people were told plainly that they are enemies of the light and of science and honest truth, missionaries of secrecy and suspicion.
Let us examine the suggestion that the scheme is superfluous, and that individual members of the Government should grapple with the economic effect of the policy which the Government is proposing. It may be contended that, even if the members of the Government do not possess rho intelligence, time, or inclination to do this work, our great Public Service, that is, its senior officers who are the responsible advisers of Ministers, might undertake it. But neither Ministers nor the senior public servants, who are responsible for the administration’ of our great departments, have the time to give to this work. It would be absurd to throw all the research work into the many problems that must result from the policies we pursue on to the already heavily loaded shoulders of our senior public servants. “ But, “ the critics of the scheme may ask, “ Why not let our university professors- carry out this work? “ That question assumes that Australia has a great supply of professors of economics, who enjoy ample leisure in which to carry out the necessary research work. Until the present year, the Sydney University alone had a Chair of Economics. This year the Melbourne University, as the result of a most munificent gift, will inaugurate a Chair of Economic Research. It already has a Chair of Commerce. There is no Chair of Economic Research at any of our other universities, although economics is taught in them. There is a further point, to consider. At present, the man who devotes himself to the study of economics, and displays great ability for his work, is rewarded with a teaching job at a university. Often such a man is utterly unsuited to teaching; he possesses a mind fitted for research. It is unwise to take such a man and ask him to devote the greater part of his life to teaching. In any case our Australian universities .are ill equipped at present for the teaching of the great science of economics, and it is time that something was done to remedy that. Under the proposals contained in the bill that position may possibly be met, because one of the duties of the director will be to investigate and report to the Minister on (i) the granting of assistance for the promotion of economic research; (ii) co-operation in economic research with academic and other bodies in Australia and elsewhere; and (iii) the establishing and awarding of economic research studentships and fellowships. A. director will be appointed, and he will establish the bureau. It is hoped to stimulate the study of economics in the universities, and the attempt will be made to develop in every possible way the investigation of this subject in Australia. It is desired to place the study and use of economics on as satisfactory a basis as that of the application of science to industry through the efforts of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In this matter we have obtained complete co-operation between the university, the pure scientist, the commercial scientist, the ordinary nian of business, and the producer. It is essential that we should similarly develop the science of economics, because the future welfare of Australia depends largely upon our ability to cope with economic circumstances as they arise, and the formulation of policy in the light of information gained as a result of the fullest and completest research. Whatever our differences on most questions, the proposal to develop the science of economics, in order to apply its principles to our future political actions should commend itself to every honorable member.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Scullin) adjourned.
In committee (Consideration of the message of the Deputy of the GovernorGeneral) :
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the export of wine, and for other purposes.
Resolution reported, and (by leave) adopted.
Debate resumed from the 27th February (vide page 587), on motion by Mr. Paterson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This legislation is necessary because of the unsatisfactory position that lias been caused in the attempt to find a market overseas for Australian wine. It is to be hoped that it will have the effect predicted by the Minister. At the present time there is a big glut of Australian wine in bond in Great Britain, and a market cannot be found for it. If the suggestion that was made frequently by honorable members who sit on this side had been adopted, much of the disability under which the industry is labouring to-day would have been obviated. If, for example, the Government had granted a bounty on the production of dried fruits, simultaneously with the granting of the wine bounty, a large quantity of grapes that were previously used for drying purposes would not have been diverted to the wineries and distilleries. As honorable members are aware, the wine bounty was instituted originally to give effect to a promise made by the Government of the day to assist the growers of doradillo grapes, who were contending with serious difficulties. The growers of grapes previously used for drying purposes also realized that they derived greater advantage by supplying their product to the wineries and distilleries than by having it made into dried fruits. In 1926, the quantity of grapes so diverted to wineries and distilleries was 21,000 tons, and in the following year, 25,000 tons were so diverted.. At that time it was suggested by honorable members who sit on this side that the Government should give to the dried fruits industry a bounty of £10 a ton. If that step had been taken simultaneously with, the granting of the wine bounty, those 46,000 tons of grapes would have been converted into dried fruits to the extent of 13,000 tons. A bounty of £10 a ton would have meant a payment by the Government of £130.000. That 46,000 tons produced 3,608,000 gallons of wine on which bounty amounting to £506,000 was paid. If the suggestion made from this side of the House, for the payment of a bounty on dried fruits, had been adopted, and this 46,000 tons had been converted into dried fruits, the bounty payable would not have exceeded £130,000. The taxpayers would have saved £376,000 and the people engaged in the dried fruits industry and incidentally the growers of doradillo grapes would have benefited. The wine bounty was originally intended to help growers of doradilla grapes, and diversion of 46,000 tons of grapes from the dried fruits processing to the distilleries and wineries, resulted last year in a glut of 3,000,000 gallons of Australian wine in Great Britain. Distillers, exporters, and grape growers have a just grievance in the reduction of the wine bounty from ls. 9d. to ls. a gallon. The argument advanced by the Government to justify this reduction was that a preference had been given by the British Government to Colonial wines. But that preference has been nullified because grape juice, known as “ must,” and imported from Spain and Greece is made into wine in Great Britain - there is no more justification for calling it British wine than there is for saying that port wine is British wine. Another reason for the nullification of the British preference is that low-grade wines, are imported at ‘ low rates of duty for blending in Great Britain with high strength wines. The so-called wine made from must and the blends of high strength and low grade wines sells so cheaply that the preference extended to Australian wines is entirely nullified. The wine growers of Australia have a just grievance because they were led to believe that the bounty would extend over a three-year period, and when the Government reduced it, naturally those who had entered into contract for the purchase of grapes, fortified spirit and so forth, described the step as an act of repudiation. The figures of the importation of wine into Great Britain are interesting. From the leading countries they are as follow :- Portugal, 8,890,000 gallons, Spain, 3,222,000 gallons, Australia, 2,305,000 gallons. With a preference of 4s. a gallon . Australian wine should be able to hold its own on the British market, but last year over 3,000,000 gallons of it was held in bond in Great Britain. That quantity is equivalent to about fifteen or sixteen months’ supply of Australian wine. I have already explained the causes which have brought about this glut.
– How are those causes to be overcome?
– They are problems the new board will have to face.
– It will be a big task.
– Yes, and much will depend on the board and particularly on the personnel of the London agency. If the proposed board is not an improvement on some of those previously appointed, I am not sanguine that very great advantages will accrue from its activities, or that it will overcome the difficulties that have been piling up since the present Government has been interfering with the industry. Much will depend upon the constitution of the board. The bill provides that it shall consist of seven members. This Government has a wonderful liking for boards; hence the name “’ the wooden Government. “ It has appointed boards to handle dried fruits, butter, and canned fruits, and now one is proposed to control the export of wine. Australia’s greatest industry is wheat production, but the Government does not bother about the wheat farmer.
– The wheat farmers have not asked for a board.
– They have asked for a great deal which tins Government has refused. The farmers of New South Wales and Victoria asked for a wheat pool, and this ‘Government insisted that before a Federal pool could be created, the States must be unanimous. When the New South Wales Government arranged for a ballot of the wheat farmers in that State, an insidious propaganda was conducted by the agents whose interest lay in prejudicing the minds of the growers against the pool, and the result was not a true reflex of the views of those engaged in the industry. If there is justification for the appointment of boards to deal with butter, fruits, and wine, why does the Government stop there? What is good for one industry should be good for another. In regard to the composition of the Wine Control Board, it is desirable that the Government nominee shall not be directly or indirectly interested in the industry.
– I have said that he will not be.
– That is not stated in the bill.
– It is not stated in any of the acts providing for the appointment of boards.
– There should be some definite assurance in print on that point. On one of the boards is an auctioneer, and it is possible for him, acting as a commission agent, to interest himself in the industry to the detriment of the producers. The greatest disability associated with our export trade is the lack of a proper marketing organization. Of this evidence is accumulating almost daily from Australians travelling abroad and correspondents overseas.
– What is Australia House doing?
– Hearing so often of scathing reports regarding Australia and its products, we might well ask what the officials at Australia House are doing to boost this country and improve the markets for its produce. I have yet to learn that anybody connected with Australia House is doing any striking work to advertise the Commonwealth.
-Order! The honorable member is entitled to suggest the possibility of Australia House helping in the marketing of produce, including wine, but he is not in order in discussing generally the activities of the High Commissioner and his staff.
– Whoever is appointed London agent for the Wine Control Board should he a man with an Australian outlook who will not lie down on the job as the officials at Australia House are doing. Not a day passes but we hear of the inadequate advertising of our products abroad.
-. - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Our advertising methods are now being copied by Canada.
– Canada has chosen a very poor model. Not long ago, 30 Australian primary producers went on a conducted tour of the world, and over a period of ten months visited all the principal European markets in which Australian produce was being sold. The chairman, upon the return of the delegation last .year, said -
The producers visited the principal markets for Australian products, and had come to the conclusion that the cost of handling Australian produce was excessive. There were too many middle men concerned, and although Australian products were bringing high prices in the markets, the primary producer was getting little of the profits.
That statement is in marked contrast to the assertion of the Minister that other countries are copying Australian methods of advertising. Mrs. Evan Rees, President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Victoria - a very observant and intelligent woman whose opinion is entitled to respect - said, on her return from a trip abroad -
T attended a big health exhibition in London, where though Canada had a splendid display and New Zealand was well advertised with an attractive exhibit of honey and other produce, Australia had an insignificant corner stall.
Subsequently, Mrs. Rees visited various provincial towns, and, recounting her experiences, she said -
I once passed a shop in Cardiff and saw, to my horror, a shelf of shrivelled apples, no bigger than buttons, in the window marked “ Australian apples “. I walked straight in and protested to the proprietress. We would not consider them worth picking off the ground.
Mrs. Rees also said ;
The Englishman is not exactly prejudiced against Australia, but he is very ignorant, and associates us mainly with droughts.
This illustrates the results of the advertising methods which,. according to the Minister, Canada is copying. If casual visitors can see the kind of thing that Mrs. Rees saw, the officials of Australia House should also be able to see it.
– Were they really Australian apples, or were they only marked “ Australian apples “ ?
– If they were not really Australian apples the case is still worse. There is a serious fault somewhere, if fruit which is not of Australian origin is being advertised as such.
– We made a miserable exhibition at Wembley. Some of the pictures of our fruit trees were a disgrace.
– There is undoubtedly plenty of room for the improvement of our advertising methods in Great Britain. I am hopeful that the passage of this bill may help the wine industry. If the board functions properly, it should be able to lift a heavy burden from the shoulders of our wine producers. It is deplorable that we have 3,000,000 gallons of wine in bond in Great Britain for which there is no sale. It would be an excellent thing if the board could do something to insure that fruit-growers who formerly dried their grapes would * revert to that practice. The board should also do everything possible to make the so-called British preference real. At present it is a preference in name only. The importation of must into Great Britain and the blending of high and low strength wines are important factors to be remembered.
– British capital is making possible the blending of this wine and the sale of it as a British product.
– That is so. It is no more British wine than port wine is. We cannot hope to compete against this wine so long as it is sold at 5s. per gallon. If the British Government has any real desire to grant a preference to the Australian wine industry it will put an end to the present state of affairs, and make sure that its preference is real. We are not getting the results that we expected from the Fruit .Marketing Board.
– The members of that board are obtaining excellent results- and doing magnificent work.
– We have seen very little evidence of it. If the board were operating sucessfully our overseas sales should be increasing. No mention is made in the bill regarding the fees of the members of the Wine Overseas Marketing Board.
– That is a matter for the members of the board to consider after they have been appointed. I expect that they will follow the example of the other boards that have been appointed under similar conditions.
– At any rate, we shall expect this board to get down to its job promptly after it is constituted. I am pleased to notice that the Rural Credits Branch of the Commonwealth Bank, which does not seem to have done very much so far to assist our primary industries, is to be used in connexion with the work of the board.
– It assists the wheat industry to the extent of millions of pounds annually.
– Such assistance was given by the Commonwealth Bank long before the Rural Credits Branch was established. So far as I can see, the Rural Credits Branch does nothing whatever to assist the man on the land. I have never yet met a farmer who has been able to obtain an overdraft from it. If the Commonwealth Bank had branches in all our large country towns it might be possible for the country people to deal with it ; but the tendency of the directors of the bank is definitely against establishing additional branches in country centres. Some time ago I endeavoured to arrange with the bank for an overdraft for an important municipality, but I was politely told that the bank did not engage in that kind of business. I should like to know what kind of business it does engage in. The proprietors of picture shows in our big cities appear to have no difficulty in trading with the bank, but the primary producers who really need help can obtain no assistance from it. The name “ rural credits branch “ is a misnomer. But perhaps the branch is about to awaken from its Rip Van Winkle slumber. . I certainly hope so. Clause 21 of the bill refers to the Wine Grapes Charges Act. I suggest that the Minister should intro duce this measure before we are asked to pass this bill through its committee stage.
– That is a reasonable suggestion.
– The bill is ready.
– Our wine-producers are laboring under a double disadvantage to-day. They are obtaining no real preference from Great Britain and are suffering from a breach of faith on the part of this Government. If the appointment of this board will lead to the removal of these disabilities and place the industry upon a sound footing it will be worth while.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I, too, had intended to draw attention to the state of the House. It is most distressing that so little heed should be paid to a matter that vitally concerns thousands of men who went overseas and fought for the freedom of this country. I represent nearly half of the wine grape producing districts of Australia, and for that reason, if for no other, I take a deep interest in this bill. To obtain a proper appreciation of the need for the measure, I shall give a short resume of the history of the industry - of its prosperous times and its days of depression. It is not an industry of yesterday; it has been established for nearly a century. It was begun in South Australia and Victoria over 80 years ago, and the men engaged in it to-day, both manufacturers and growers, are, in many cases, the grandsons and the great grandsons of those who established the original vineyards and wineries. 1 may mention, by way of example, the Smiths, of Yalumba, and the Seppelts, of Seppeltsfield, in South Australia. For many years the industry thrived. The plantings were governed by the law of supply and demand, and so far as the local trade was concerned, and also in the export trade, which was quite considerable, especially in dry wines, there was no need whatever for legislation. I hope that great care will be taken, in dealing with this bill, to see that the London agency, if, established, does not prejudicially affect the Australian wine trade in England. Some years ago South. Australia established a wine depot in London. This was carried on for about three years, but it was a failure. The trouble flint has arisen in the industry is not due to any action that the growers or the wine-makers have taken, but has been wholly brought about by State Parliaments, animated by the best of intentions, placing returned soldiers on vineyard blocks. At that time an enormous price was being paid for currants and other dried fruits. Currants reached a price in the neighbourhood of £120 per ton. In repatriating our soldiers, it was decided to place many of them on the irrigation areas along the Murray Valley. It was considered that, as large sums had been spent in the locking of the Murray, ex-soldiers could make an easy living on those areas, and at the same time enjoy the open-air life to which they had become accustomed during their war service. I confess that I, in common with everybody who took an interest in this matter, thought it an excellent idea at the time, but we did not look far enough ahead. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has referred to the need for economic research, and it is regrettable that we did not then have a body like the Development and Migration Commission to which the proposal could have been referred, for then some of the repatriation schemes would probably have been carried out in a more economical and common sense way than that adopted. To give an illustration of the false basis on which these soldiers were placed on the land, I may mention that a few years after the price of currants had soared to £120 per ton it fell to about £22 a tona figure very much below production cost. Fortunately, owing to the operation of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board, the prices realized for dried fruits have been much higher since than they would otherwise have been, and, in addition, a small market for them has been found in Canada, but that is largely due to the operation of. the wine export bounty, which relieved the dried fruits section of its surplus production and thus brought the wine industry into -its present trouble. This Parliament advanced a large sum for assistance to the producers of dried fruits during the period when the price did not cover the cost of production. Subsequently £218,000 had to be written off these advances. Hundreds of repatriated men are to-day engaged on wine grape-growing propositions, and they will be in exactly the same position as the producers of dried fruits were if action is not quickly taken to relieve them ; and the necessary assistance may cost a good deal more than £218,000.
The necessity for the bill arises, first, because at the outset the bounty was not handled in the best way. The first wine bounty bill was brought down in 1924, and provided for the payment of a bounty of 4s. a gallon on all fortified wine manufactured for export. The Prime Minister, in introducing the bill, said that the industry was in a unique position in that it provided its own bounty, by reason of the excise collected from the industry. It has been said repeatedly that the cost of the bounty comes out of the pockets of the consumers, but I shall show that those who say so know very little, if anything, about the wine industry. In 1927 a bill was brought down for the reduction of the bounty, and the way in which that was done, and the action taken subsequently, brought about the enormous surplus of wine in Great Britain. The first bounty bill provided for the payment of a bounty of 4s. a gallon for three years, but in. March 1927, when the period of that bounty was shortly to terminate, a bill was passed providing for a reduction in the bounty of ls. from 1st September, 1927. The result was that everybody who had wine to dispose of, did so while the extra ls. was available. That meant a huge building up of stocks overseas, but that was not exactly an unmixed curse, because, if an enormous quantity had not been shipped overseas, it would have remained in storage in Australia, and to that extent the purchase of wine grapes would have been restricted owing to lack of storage. During the debate in March last, on the second reading of the bounty bill, and in May, when the bill was in committee, I went to great pains to convince the Minister and honorable members generally that the arguments advanced by him in favour of the reduction of the bounty were unsound.
– But the honorable member supported the Minister.
– No; I voted against the Government.
– The honorable member counted heads first, and, when he saw that the Government was safe, he voted against it.
– I object to that remark, and ask for its withdrawal. I did no such thing.
– As the remark is offensive to the honorable member for Angas, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Judging by the demeanour of the honorable gentleman on that occasion, I formed the opinion that when he saw that the Government was safe, he decided to play to the gallery, and for spectacular purposes voted against the Government. If the words that I used are offensive to the honorable member, I withdraw them.
– At that time I pointed out that the new British tariff provided for an increase in the duties on imported wines of over 25 per cent, strength from 6s. to Ss. a gallon, and a preference on Australian wines of 4s., and I said that that increase would net effect the purpose for which it was made, because foreign wine-makers would import into Great Britain three pipes of wine under 25 per cent., which would be admitted at a duty of 3s. and blend it with one pipe of wine of 42 per cent, fortification, on which the duty would be 8s. That would result in a blend of about 28 per cent, or 29 per cent, fortification, making the average duty about 4a. 3d. and giving the Australian wine-maker an effective preference of only 3d. a gallon instead of 4s. The Minister said that that could not be done. He added that an attempt had been made in that direction, but the pipes had burst. Nevertheless, I have complete and absolute evidence that the blending of foreign wines is being done successfully in Great Britain. I could quote many authorities to prove my statement, but shall be content to refer to a report that has been presented recently to the press and those who are interested in the industry by Mr. Hugo Gramp, of Messrs. G. Gramp and Sons Limited, Rowlands Flat, South Australia. Every grape-grower in the district of Barossa has the highest respect for Mr. Gramp, who has always “ played the game,” and given the best possible price for grapes, sometimes paying even better prices than other buyers. Mr. Gramp said -
The Australian sweet wine trade in England is suffering considerably through the manufacture of so-called British wines in England made from foreign concentrated grape juice, dried fruit, and sugar.
The use of sugar in the manufacture of wine is unknown in any other country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Paterson) seemed to doubt that our export trade in wines is in any way affected by the competition of so-called British wines. The sales of socalled British wines have, ‘ however, been increasing at the expense of the Australian product. One of the reasons given is that whilst the British Government retained a nominal preference of 4s. it raised the duty on highly fortified Australian wines from 2s.- to 4s. a gallon, which gave the makers of so-called British wines an additional advantage of 2s. a gallon. Subsequently the excise was increased by 6d., which reduced the addition to ls. 6d. a gallon. The effect of the new duty was to encourage competition from a source which was more pronounced than that of Portuguese and Spanish wine-makers. Mr. Gramp continues -
The grape-juice is mainly imported from Greece; but during the last six months several new companies have commenced making wine in England from grape-juice imported from Spain and Portugal. If the British Government does not raise the excise duty the manufacture of these wines will continue to grow, and in a few years’ time there will be very little sale for any imported sweet wine. The so-called British sweet wines are being sold at half the price of Australian, their cost of production is exceptionally low, and they only have to pay an excise duty of ls. Gd. per gallon compared with 4s. on Australian. They also enjoy an advantage by being sold as “British,” which ‘leads the consumer to think that it is an Empire product.
Mr. Gramp told me that these so.called wines are being sold in London as of British production, and suggested that the British Government should be requested to see that such wines are properly branded when offered for sale. He goes on to say -
It is also incorrect for same to be sold as wines, as all wine-producing countries claim that wine is the fermented fresh juice of the grape. When the grape juice is concentrated the flavour and aroma of the grape is lost in evaporation. In the manufacture of British wines ib per cent, of genuine wine is added to give same some resemblance to wine. Owing to the low cost of the so-called British wines they are largely used in blending with both foreign and Empire wines. The cheap sweet wines from Spain and Portugal arc also strong competitors, and they are being sold considerably cheaper than what our Australian sweet wines can be landed at in London. The Tarragona and Lisbon wines are imported at two different strengths, the duty on foreign wine N.E. 25 per cent, is 3s. per gallon, and that.of N.E. 42 per cent., 8s. A very large trade is done by blending three pipes of 25 per cent, together with one pipe of 42 per cent. This gives an average strength of 28-29 per cent., and the duty is only 4s. 3d. per gallon, which is only 3d. more than the duty on Australian, and the cost of these wines is only a few pence more than the cost of our casks and freight alone. Some shippers of Tarragona sweet wines have succeeded in keeping their wines by distributing them at a strength N.E. 25 per cent., and the duty on same is only 3s. per gallon. The Douro Ports pay the full rate of duty of 8s. per gallon, as these are only shipped at a high strength. The fortifying of wines in bond with any kind of cheap spirit free of duty up to a strength of 42 per cent, is a great assistance in blending with low strength wines. The cost of the wine is actually reduced by adding grain and other cheap spirit, which only costs ls. 6d. per gallon.
The so-called British wines consist of a cheap spirit, must, and sugar, and are not wines in any sense of the word. The spirit used in the British product costs ls. 6d. a gallon, whilst the spirit used by Australian wine-makers for fortifying purposes costs 5s. a gallon if doradillo spirit, and 6s. a gallon if spirit made from other grapes, plus an excise of 6s. In other words, the Australian wine-makers have to use a spirit costing Ils. to 12s. a gallon, whereas their competitors in England obtain a fortifying spirit at ls. 6d. a gallon. The report continues -
There are a number of large wine merchants in England who have done a lot of good work in placing the Australian wines on the market at reasonable prices. The quality of the Australian wines generally is superior to the cheap foreign wines; but the Australian cannot compete in price, and then there is -also very strong competition from South African sweet wines, which are also being sold cheaper than the Australian. The consumption of Australian wines has already dropped from 2.305,151 gallons in 1927 to 2,161,842 gallons in 1928, which is a decrease of 143,309 gallons, and a further drop can be expected during the coming year, as when the present stocks are exhausted, which were nil shipped under the 4s. and 3s. per gallon bounty, it will be impossible to replace them at the same prices owing to the bounty and rebate only now being 2s. 3d. a gallon.
In a letter covering Mr. Gramp’s report he states that in England the retail price of “British” wine is ls. 8d. a bottle, Spanish and Portuguese, 2s. 2d., and Australian wine, 3s. 3d. to 3s. 6d. a bottle. I hope that the Export Control Board, which is to be appointed, will be able to assist the wine-making industry; but it will be confronted with a difficult position if it has to dispose of Australian wine at 3s. to 3s. 6d. a bottle when socalled British wine can be obtained at ls. 8d. and Spanish or Portuguese wine at 2s. 2d. a bottle. I believe the Minister, who is a primary producer, is sincere in his desire to assist the industry, but I am sorry that he has been unable to visit the wine-growing areas, particularly those in the district which I represent. If he were to do so he would thoroughly understand the disadvantages under which grapegrowers and wine-makers are operating. The position is so unsatisfactory that definite steps will have to be taken if people are to remain in the industry. When a reduction in the wine bounty was under consideration, we were told that grapegrowers would be protected, as the Government intended to. fix a fair price for grapes. Shortly after the bounty was reduced, the price offered for grapes dropped by from 20s. to 25s. a ton according to quality, and the grape-growers immediately realized that they would have to meet the reduced bounty on wine. Under date March 7th, 1929, Mr. J. Gersch,. the Secretary of the Grapegrowers Association of South Australia, expresses the opinions of those engaged in grape-growing in that State in this way-
I beg to advise you that the prices being offered for grapes this vintage, are on various scales. To-day I interviewed two wine-makers, who informed me that they intend paying for grapes the prices fixed by the Government. Then when I got to Penfolds Wines Limited a list, of which I enclose a copy, 13 seen posted up on their window. This is for regular customers only, others will be obliged to accept less again, and these ure a few figures that were supplied to me.
The prices paid by Penfold’s Limited to regular customers is for Frontignac £8, and to others £6 a ton; although the price fixed by the Government this year was £9 10s. a ton. The price fixed by the Government for Grenache grapes was £8 5s., but the price paid by Penfolds to regular customers is £6 5s. and to others only £4. I could give other illustrations but these will suffice. Mr. Gersch’s letter continues -
Glancing over the whole list of juices one can see nothing but disaster staring at him. And if we ask who is to blame for it, we are fully convinced that the Government is not moving in order to assist the grower. After discussing the matter at length with several makers we are convinced that the only solution is the reinstatement of the bounty. We are fully aware of the fact that this request has time and again been refused us, and the last time by the Minister for Markets at the Melbourne conference on the 8th January last. Notwithstanding all these rebuffs, we again - both makers and growers - respectfully ask you to press the matter in the House. We have the definite premise from the Prime Minister himself that he would not let the grower go under, and we urge the Government to move in that direction if they are at all concerned about saving the industry.
The Minister has said that the Government had the power to fix the price of grapes.
– Under certain conditions.
– Yes; any one desiring to take advantage of the bounty must pay the prices fixed. The export trade is not worth while to most of these people, and, therefore, they offer what price they like for the grapes, knowing that the growers must accept it, or leave the grapes to rot on the vines. The growers are not protected. My prophecies last year when the Wine Export Bounty Bill was before us have been fulfilled. If only because I was then right and the Minister wrong, my suggestions now for the salvation of the industry should receive the consideration of the House.
– Does the honorable member think that the industry will ever be established on a sound economic footing ?
– Yes. I desire to quote the concluding remarks from a paper read by Mr. R. H. Martin at the Ninth Viticultural Congress held at Rutherglen, Victoria, in October, 1928 -
And yet, in spite of it all, owing to illconsidered legislative enactments, the future is shrouded in gloomy forebodings: for, if in the watches of the nights to come the troubled grape-grower happens upon a spectre wandering disconsolately through the unpruned vineyards and ruined wine cellars, and if, from impulse or idle curiosity he follow it throughout the night until the first shrill cockcrow, lie will sec it disappear at the foot of a little mound; and at the head of the mound he will sec a tombstone, on which, in the soft light of the slowly awakening dawn, he will read these words: “In memory of the Wine Export Bounty Act 1924. It died the victim of its own success.”
I desire to offer a few suggestions for the improvement of this measure. [Quorum formed’]. Instead of providing in clause 3 that 60 owners of wineries or distilleries must petition before a poll can be held, I suggest that it should be held on the petition of 30 per cent, of them. There is a danger in the provision that a wine maker who handles only ten tons of grapes may be a member of the board.
– There is no such qualification. A member of the board need not even be a wine maker.
– The members of the board should have some knowledge of the industry with which they will have to deal. Unless some restriction is placed on membership it might happen that persons who have no interest at all in the wine industry would be elected to the board.
– That would be a sheer impossibility.
– I suggest also that South Australia and Western Australia should have greater representation on the board. South Australia produces fivesixths of the wine grown in the Commonwealth, yet that State is to have no greater representation on the board tha; is given to other States. South Australia is really entitled to four or five representatives, but I suggest that the representation of that State on the board should not be less than three. That the grapegrowers have no particular wish to be represented on the board was made clear to me less than a fortnight ago at the
Tanunda show, when I had a long interview with the president and the secretary of the South Australian “Wine-growers’ Association.
– Is the honorable member speaking on behalf of the South Australian wine-growers only?
– South Australia makes five-sixths of the wine produced in Australia. There is no necessity to place the makers of dry wine under the control of the board. For many years they have carried on a steady and profitable export trade. One firm alone has spent £500,000 in advertising its dry wines. The charge that the wine-makers have flooded the British market with Australian wines cannot be justified, nor can it be said that they have benefited by the wine bounty. “Why, then, should they be interfered with? The Minister will probably say that as they will have to meet the levy, they should be represented on the board. I suggest that, for the time being at least, the makers of dry wines should be excluded from the operations of this measure, but that provision be made to include them should they, later, desire to come within its scope. If that were done, the way would be open for these men to take advantage of the act should they desire to do so ; but I predict that it would be a long time before they would seek to have it applied to them. This bill will jeopardize the Australian dry wines industry. Already one large buyer of colonial wines in England has made inquiries in South Africa about obtaining supplies there because he fears that this legislature will interfere with the supplies of Australian dry wines. I realize that the Minister is concerned chiefly on. behalf of the growers. I, therefore, desire to make it known’ that they have suggested that the bill should not apply to dry wines. I see no necessity for including them within the scope of the bill. In introducing this bill, the Minister said -
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…..
Quite apart from the advertising aspect, I can see no sound reason why dry wine should not be included.
I have now given the Minister sound reasons for not including any dry wines. During the Minister’s speech the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) interjected “ What is the object of those persons who seek the exclusion of dry wine?” The Minister answered “ I do not know “. He knows now. The bill may prevent the speculator from operating to the disadvantage of the producers, and is designed to regulate the export of wine, but I trust that something more will be done to assist those engaged in the industry. The Minister would be well advised to accept the suggestions which I have made to ensure the export of our wines at competitive prices. Last year, when this House was discussing the Government’s ‘ proposals, an undertaking, almost in the nature of a promise, was given that the drawback on excise would be increased from ls. 3d. to ls. 6d. a gallon. That has not been done, mainly, I understand, because of a difference of opinion as to the advisableness of that course. The view of the department, I believe, is that the drawback should be not more than ls. 3d., but the wine-makers contend that if all the factors, including wastage, are taken into account, the drawback should be not ls. 6d. but ls. 7d. a gallon. Nothing was done to give effect to the promise then made, which is one factor why the industry is in its present difficult position. I hope that the board will give this matter early consideration.
We were also informed at the same time that second-hand Australian-made casks would be re-admitted duty free, so that they could be used again for wine export purposes. That has not been done. Only recently 49 Australian casks were returned empty and the wine exporter was called upon to pay a high rate of duty. If these casks were re-admitted duty free they could be used over and over again. I am informed that the cost of oversea marketing would thus be reduced by 3-Jd. or 4d.. a gallon. It is extraordinary that Australian-made casks should be dutiable at 45 per cent., the rate charged on foreign casks. Actually they are returned empties, and having been made in Australia should not be dutiable. If necessary, the wine exporters could enter into a guarantee that they would be re-exported.
I do not wish to be egotistical, but 1 can fairly claim that no honorable member in this House, not even the Minister in charge of the bill, has devoted more time than I have to the study of the problems connected with the industry. I have spent many weeks in my own constituency interviewing the growers and wine-makers and discussing with them the many phases of overseas marketing, and I have put before the House the results of my consultations with those most closely connected with the business. It has been stated that the industry has received over £1,000,000 by way of bounties and the inference is that it has received generous treatment. Let me state the facts. The actual amount of bounty paid during the years 1925 to 192S inclusive, was £1,259,805, but during the same period the amount of excise duty collected from the industry was £1,862,105 or £600,000 more than the amount of bounty paid. In the six years from 1922 to 1928 the amount of excise collected on fortifying spirit was £2,399,031, and the excise collected on grape brandy was £1,610,696, or a total of £4,009,727. In. 1922-23 the excise duty on fortifying spirit was equivalent to the levy of £8 ls. 4d. on every acre of wine grapes in. bearing. It will be seen from these figures that the industry contributes very substantially to the Consolidated Revenue. No other bounty-fed industry can show the same result.
– Since the honorable member is a prohibitionist, to be consistent he should not advocate the encouragement of the wine industry.
– I am not a prohibitionist. Earlier in the debate the Leader of the Opposition, by way of interjection, stated that the consumer pays the excise duty.
– I did not say that. I said that the excise duty was taxation.
– And I contend that it is being extracted from the industry and that the industry is not in a position to bear the burden. Unless something is done to relieve the growers the Government will, I fear, be obliged eventually to take over a large number of properties at present occupied by returned soldier settlers; or at all events it will have to authorize a revaluation and a substantial writing-down of the settlers’ liabilities. This will cost the Commonwealth a huge sum of money. I know of only one cure for the present state of affairs, and I shall endeavour to outline it this afternoon. In Adelaide recently I convened a conference of grapegrowers, wine-makers, representatives of the co-operative distilleries and representatives of the dried fruits industry. After a long discussion it was agreed that the only effective remedy was the restoration of the wine bounty of ls. 9d. a gallon. I suggest that in future the excise collected on fortifying spirit, less the actual cost of collection and supervision, should be definitely earmarked and placed to a fund for the payment of the bounty. At present there is an exportable surplus of about 7,000,000 gallons of wine. Great Britain takes about 1,500,000 gallons of sweet wine, to which must be added 1,500,000 gallons for fortifying spirit and wastage, making a total of 3,000,000 gallons. This leaves a balance of approximately 4,000,000 gallons for which we must find a market, and I submit that the provisions in the bill do not meet the situation. When the industry was in difficulties in 1924 the Viticulturists’ Council and representatives of the growers conferred with the Prime Minister and a proposal was made that the excise on fortifying spirit, which was imposed in 1918, should be reduced by at least 3s. a gallon; but after a consultation it was unanimously agreed that it would be better to leave the excise untouched so as to provide a fund for the payment of a bounty on the exportable surplus. Because of that understanding, those connected with the industry did not press their claim to be relieved of some portion of the excise duty. They realize that the better way would be to continue to collect the excise, but on the definite assurance that the excise collected should be used as a fund from which the bounty on export would be paid. In his second-reading speech on the principal act in 1924, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) indicated that the industry was in a unique position, as it was providing its own bounty by a tax collected on fortifying spirit. But it is useless to continue to tax an industry that is unable to stand taxation. The price of grapes is dropping alarmingly, because we cannot sell our product overseas. It must be realized that one cannot take more from the industry than it can pay. During the wal- years, every one in the industry was prepared to make sacrifices, but the position is now so desperate that it is futile to continue to tax them. As I have said, growers are being taxed through the excise department to the extent of £8 ls. 4d. an acre, and they cannot pay that tax. The only solution of the problem is for the Government to face the situation’ courageously. It must realize that, if the present policy is continued, there will be a greatly reduced amount of excise to collect in the very near future. The scheme that I have outlined would overcome the difficulty, and would regulate grape production in Australia. As the exportable surplus increased, the amount of excise available would decrease the bounty per gallon, which would provide a natural check to planting. As local consumption increased, and the exportable surplus decreased, the amount of excise available would provide for an increased bounty. This would then permit further planting. The scheme, which would provide a safety valve for the industry, has the approval of both growers and makers. No other wine-producing country in the world collects an excise duty on fortifying spirit for wine, and if this Parliament persists in its present policy, it will merely ruin the industry.
– Order ! the honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Before dealing with the bill itself, I shall quote the following extract, taken, from the Melbourne Age of Monday, 11th : -
At a meeting of the Rutherglen and Wahgunyah District Vinegrowers’ Association, a copy of the Wine Export Control Bill, which has just passed the second-reading in the House of Representatives, was placed before the meeting for discussion. While the majority of vinegrowers in this district appear to favour the proposed control board, there are many who view its introduction with suspicion due to the prevailing belief among local vignerons that in the past they have been repeatedly misled by the Federal Government during the operation of the Wine Export Bounty Act. In fact some growers openly state that the Government broke faith with the wine-makers iu prematurely reducing the bounty, and has thereby created the present disastrous position. Owing to the lack of storage room, consequent to the serious falling off in exports of sweet wine, many small growers have been so far unable to sell their grapes and their position is critical as the grapes are now ready for picking, and any further delay will entail serious loss to these growers, many of whom are returned soldiers.
That point was well stressed by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons). In passing, I shall give a brief resume of the history of the Australian wine industry, and the vicissitudes through which it has passed. It has experienced periods of under and over-production. In 1904, a period of over-production, the position was very acute, as the price for some varieties of grapes dropped as low as 30s. a ton. It then did not pay to grow grapes, and many acres of vines were uprooted. In 1921, a period of underproduction and of wine shortage, grapes realized as much as £19 a ton. At that time many returned soldiers were awaiting repatriation and the State Governments thought it advisable to encourage them to go on the land and cultivate grapes. Many did so with success. Overproduction again occurred in 1924, and to assist the industry to establish an adequate oversea market the Wine Export Bounty Bill was introduced. The principal act has since been twice amended. Originally the bounty granted was 4s. a gallon, which included ls 3d. drawback, making a net bounty of 2s. 9d. a gallon. In April, 1927, it was reduced from 2s. 9d. to ls. 9d., while a further reduction of 9d. a gallon was effected on the 9th March, 1928. That the passing of the original act greatly stimulated the wine industry will be seen from the export figures. In. 1921-22 the export of wine from Australia amounted to 605,030 gallons, while in 1927-28 it amounted to 3,700,000 gallons. As the result of overproduction and the inability to obtain adequate markets, many returned soldiers who were encouraged to engage in the industry, and who have done their work well, are now in a desperate position. This bill is a much belated effort to remedy matters. Had it been introduced some years ago it might have obviated the present disastrous state of affairs.
– How will the bill create a market for our wines? I realize that it may establish a marketing system.
– I take it that the purpose of the bill is to open up new markets in order that Australia may dispose of its surplus stock. In January of last year 3,000,000 gallons of Australian sweet wine was stored in London awaiting a market.
– “Why do not the retailers reduce the price of wine in Australia?
– An endeavour was made to fix a standard local price for Australian wines, as is done with whisky, but it was unsuccessful.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I have given a brief review of the history of the wine industry from the year 1904. It now- finds itself faced with a crisis. The Wine Export Bounty Act was passed in 1924 with the object of counteracting the effect of overproduction. There was not a great deal of expansion in trade for some time after the passage of that act, the reason being that the Imperial Government did not give a sufficient amount of preference to Australia. Early in 1925, however, that Government gave us the benefit of a preferential tariff, and from that stage the industry in Australia made rapid strides. In the year 1924-25 the quantity of wine exported totalled 881,468 gallons. In the following year there was a marked increase in the figures, the quantity exported being 1,722,622 gallons. In i926-27, however, the huge quantity of over 3,077,588 gallons was exported. The reason for that rapid expansion was that the Wine Export Bounty Act provided for a payment of 4s. a gallon on sweet wine exported from Australia, including a drawback of ls. 3d. of the excise duty paid on the fortifying spirit used in the manufacture of the wine. In April, 1927, amending legislation was introduced, under which the bounty was reduced from 2s. 9d. to ls. 9d. a gallon. That reduction, however, did not become operative until the 1st September, 1927. Exporters were thus given from April until September to dispose of as much as possible of their surplus stocks, and reap the benefit of the higher rate of bounty. That full advantage was taken of this concession is apparent from the fact that in the quarter which ended on the 30th
September, 1927, the quantity of wine exported amounted to 500,000 gallons, while for the corresponding quarter of the ensuing year the figures dropped to 50,000 gallons. In December, 1927, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the then Minister -for Trade and Customs, the late Hon. H. E. Pratten, what amount had been paid by way of bounty from the passing of the 1924 act and received the reply that up to the 7th December, 1927, the figure was £1,082,087 10s. 4d. It will thus be realized that during that period a considerable quantity of wine was exported. In a further question the honorable member for Melbourne asked what was the highest amount paid to any single firm, corporation or individual, and to whom it was paid. He received -the reply that the amount was £12S,849 6s. 10d., and that it had been paid to R. C. Walker Limited, Adelaide. It cannot be gainsaid that the 1924 act succeeded in stimulating the wine industry and conferred considerable advantages upon, not only the grapegrowers, but also the wine-makers and others who were interested in the industry. Thousands of soldiers had been encouraged by the different Governments to settle on the land, and their efforts in the direction of cultivating the vine were successful. Now a crisis has been reached because they have crops of grapes and no market for them. There are about 3,000,000 gallons of Australian wine unsold in London, and practically the whole of last year’s vintage is in either store or bond.
– There is a good deal less than that in London now.
– I am very pleased to hear that it has been reduced considerably. The point I wish to stress, however, is that the different Governments who encouraged soldiers to go on the land should now accept ; the responsibility ‘of endeavouring to get them out of their difficulties. Some of the growers view this bill with suspicion, because they believe that they have not been treated fairly in the past. The wine-makers also have twice found themselves in the position of having to take the grapes from the growers before the price had been fixed, and subsequently finding that on the one hand the bounty was reduced and on the other hand they were compelled to pay an increased price for their grapes. Every honorable member must admit that that was not acting fairly towards them. It appears to me that the Government - to use the vernacular - first “ kidded “ them up’ a tree and then attempted to chop it down from beneath them. I hope that this bill will achieve the object for which it has been designed - that is, the disposal of the surplus stocks of wine. I have already quoted figures illustrating the remarkable expansion that took place in regard to exports. I shall now show the great advantage that has accrued to the Government in connexion with the revenue it has received from the duty imposed on fortifying spirit. From 1921 to 1924 inclusive, £986,929 was received from that source. Then the Wine Export Bounty Act was passed, and in the ensuing four years, during which the bounty was paid, from 1925 to 1928 inclusive, the revenue jumped to £1,862,105. The Prime Minister has said that this industry is unique in that it is practically paying for itself. That is very largely true. The amount of bounty paid was £1,170,779, while the revenue received from the excise on fortifying spirit rose from £986,929 to £1,862,105. It will thus be seen that that increased revenue has gone a very long way towards paying for the bounty. It can therefore be claimed that the act has been a success. As a further illustration of the progress which the industry has ‘made, I shall compare the number of acres under vines in 1917-18 with the number under vines in 1927-28. In 1917-1S there were under cultivation for vines 67,000 acres, which produced 6,SOO,000 gallons of wine. In 1927-2S there were under cultivation for vines 115,000 acres, which produced 20,000,000 gallons of wine. The rapid strides made by the industry since the payment of the wine bounty are apparent to all.
– The output has not been so great during the last two years, owing to drought conditions.
– Since the reduction of the bounty there has been an output of 50,000 gallons in one quarter, compared with 500,000 in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. When the act was passed it was a great mistake that no graduation was made, the bounty being paid whether the wine was matured or not ; and as the makers had five months’ notice of the Government’s intention to reduce the bounty it was only natural that in order to secure the extra shilling they would get rid of all the wine they had on hand. I was pleased to hear the Minister say that there had been a considerable reduction in the quantity of Australian wines held in bond in England, but I think that practically the whole of the 1928 vintage still remains in Australia in bond or in store. Mention has been made of the decline in the consumption of foreign wines in Great Britain, but the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) has explained the cause for this. He has spoken of the importation into Great Britain of duty free grape juice or must from countries bordering on the Mediterranean, particularly Greece, and its manufacture into wine in Great Britain. It is sold as British wine, and as the excise on it is only ls. 6d._ per gallon it can be put on the market for 5s. a gallon, whereas Australian wine, which has to pay a customs duty of 4s. per gallon, cannot be sold for less than 9s.
– That is one of the patriotic actions of the importers.
– Two honorable members have already shown that the product of this grape juice or must cannot by any stretch of imagination be called British.
– It is not wine.
– The company that is placing it on the market produced 2,000,000 gallons last year, and showed a profit of 4S per cent, on ordinary capital.
– But do not the British public get a cheaper wine?
– Yes, if it can be called wine. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) has just said it is not wine. The spirit used in it is not of the quality of that which is used to fortify wine made from doradillo grapes. In my electorate is the Rutherglen district which grows the grapes from which the best wine is produced, but it cannot be sold in England for less than 9s. a gallon. Australia has shared in the decline in the importation of wines into Great Britain, but not to the same extent as Portugal and Spain. Another cause which has been given by the honorable member for” Hume for the reduction in the British consumption of imported wines is the method of blending low strength and high strength wines. Three gallons of .25 wine on which the duty is 3s. per gallon, are blended with one gallon of .42 wine on which the duty is 8s. ; and the average duty paid is thus only 4s. 3d. per gallon, compared with the 4s. per gallon preferential tariff rate of duty paid by Australian wines. The value of the preference given by Australia to Great Britain is £8,000,000 on a total annual importation of £60,000,000. The value of the preference Great Britain gives to Australia is about £1,000,000, mostly on sugar, wine ranking second in the list. But as the honorable member for Hume has already explained, the preference given to Australian wine is nullified. I think that Australia should get a quid pro quo from Great Britain. A reduction of the duty on wine to 2s. a gallon would help the Australian industry. We have one consolation in the knowledge that although there has been a reduction in the quantity of wine imported into Great Britain the proportion of Australian wines consumed in the United Kingdom has increased from 14 per cent, in 1927 to 17.9 per cent, in 192S. In 1927-1 928 .the average monthly consumption of Australian wine in England was 154,000 gallons. In 1927 it was 192,000 gallons. Speaking in this House on the 9th March last, the then Minister for Markets said -
The Government regards the interests of the grape-growers as paramount…….. So long as we continue to give some measure of assistance to this industry we shall be able to enforce the conditions that growers must receive remunerative prices for their grapes.
I should like to know what prices the growers are getting now. I have heard honorable members asking why some growers are getting less than the price fixed, and I am afraid that many of them will get nothing for their grapes this year. Such is the position of the wine industry to-day. On the same occasion the Minister said -
T point out to honorable members that although the bounty is payable only on sweet wine produced for export, all grape-growers have enjoyed an advantage from it, for the wine-makers have paid the fixed price for all wine grapes, regardless of whether they have been used for the manufacture of wine’ for export or for consumption within Australia.
I should like to know whether it was done voluntarily or not. As a result of the payment of the bounty on export wine, our wine trade expanded, unparalleled stimulus was given to the industry, Australian stocks were considerably reduced, there was a greater demand for grapes aud confidence and optimism prevailed generally in the wine industry. A book issued by the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia sums up the position as follows: -
As the demand increased, stocks in Australia naturally began to bo reduced, and the average price for export became firmer. Correspondingly as the surplus wines were shipped, the demand for grapes became marked by keener buying competition, with a consequent rise in price. With freely moving stocks and an apparently insatiable market overseas, the wine trade was swept up and carried forward on a vast wave of confidence and optimism. The wine-makers drew heavily upon their resources, and solidly backed by the financial houses, increased their storage capacity, made and laid down the increasing vintages, and were thus able to cope with the rapidly expanding overseas trade, which was demanding wines from eight to eighteen months old.
I agree with that, and also with the following : -
And yet, in spite’ of it all, owing to ill considered legislative enactments, the future is shrouded in gloomy forebodings; for if, in the watches of the nights to come, the troubled grape-grower happens upon a spectre wandering disconsolately through the unpruned vineyards and ruined wine cellars, and if, from impulse or idle curiosity, he followeth throughout the night until the first shrill cockcrow, he will see it disappear at the foot of a little mound; and at the head of the mound he will see a tombstone, on which in the -soft light of the slowly awakening dawn he will read these words:- - -“In memory of the Wine Export Bounty Act 1924; it died the victim of its own success.”
Clause 5, dealing with the composition of the board, provides that one member shall be a man “ with commercial experience (in this act referred to as the Government representative) who shall be appointed by the Governor-General as the representative of the Commonwealth Government.” In committee I shall propose an amendment to provide that this representative shall not be directly or indirectly connected with the industry. Clause 21 .provides for the establishment of a wine export fund, into which shall be paid all moneys received by a prescribed authority under the Wine Grapes Charges Act. It would be an advantage if the Wine Grapes Charges Bill had been circulated with this bill, because the two are so interrelated that they ought to be considered together. The definition clause proposes that only a winery handling not less than 10 tons of grapes for wine-making shall be eligible to vote in a poll taken under this legislation. I should like to know whether those wineries which handle less than the prescribed quantity will be required to contribute to the export fund. If so, and they are not to have a say in electing the person to represent them on the board, the well-established political principle that there shall be no taxation without representation will be violated.
– Does the honorable member know of any winery handling less than 10 tons of grapes?
– I do not; but there must be such establishments or the bill would not be so worded. I assume that those who drafted the bill know as much about the industry as does the honorable member. He said that it would be possible for a member to be elected to the board who knows nothing about the industry. That is hardly possible, because those engaged in the industry would not be likely to choose a representative who did not understand it. The Commonwealth has paid in bounties during the four years in which the Wine Export Bounty Act has been - in operation £1,170,000, of which £4S2,843 was paid last year. South Australia has had the lion’s share of the money. I understand that this legislation is almost unanimously desired by those engaged in the industry. They realize the need for organized marketing, and because the bill will help to bring that about it will be of advantage to the wine-makers, and incidentally to the growers. At present with the London market glutted with Australian wine, and our cellars full, the wine-makers can hardly be expected to buy grapes. The Government has appointed a Trade Commissioner in Canada at a salary of £3,000 a year, and he will have a chance to show his worth by developing the Canadian market for Australian wines. I trust that the bill will have a speedy passage.
– I regret that the Minister, when moving the second reading of the bill, did not make an Australian-wide survey of the wine industry. He merely offered this measure as another instalment of the doubtful system of farming our legislative powers to an extra-parliamentary body, which may go to the extreme length of prohibiting the export of an Australian product except upon conditions which it specifies. Kindred measures have already found their way to the statute-book, and they represent a substantial advance towards socialism. To-day the Prime Minister in an admirable speech lamented the many mistakes made in Australia through lack of economic research, and the many great public works that were undertaken without adequate preliminary investigation. But with dole3 and grants of bounties, plus statutory power to control exports, we are moving steadily towards State socialism and State marketing. I am aware that this bill is not to operate until a poll has been taken of those engaged in the wine-making industry. I am sorry that the grape-growers are not to have a vote. There is not the slightest doubt that the vignerons have made up their minds to take advantage of the benefactions that the Government is offering, so we may take it for granted that the bill will be passed and control of export will become an accomplished fact. I believe in an industry organizing itself in an intelligent way, but I am entirely opposed to giving to an outside body statutory power of prohibition of export, even though such power will be exercised only through the Minister. To allow exports to be prohibited, except upon conditions specified by some gentlemen who are still unnamed, will be dangerous. The crux of the bill is clause 14, which provides -
For the purpose of enabling the board effectively to control the export and the sale and distribution after export of Australian wine, the Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the export from the Commonwealth of any wine except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister subject to such conditions and restrictions as are prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the board.
The Minister will have the right of veto, but he will not prescribe the conditions.
– No. The board will formulate the conditions, regulate the exports, and lay down conditions for sale and distribution overseas. An agency will be established in London to carry out the directions of the board. The industry is within its rights in organizing within Australia or overseas, but the wine-maker who does not see eye to eye with the board regarding the disposal of his wine will be in danger of being denied a licence to export.
– This is preference to unionists.
– It is much worse. It may place certain manufacturers in Australia who, by their special knowledge and experience in the industry, have developed processes of manufacture which have gained them a special clientele for their particular products, in the position of not being able to obtain a licence. It is quite easy to conceive of a situation of that description arising. It would be most unfair to prevent these firms with special reputations from supplying the orders of their customers overseas. I should be the last to vote for a prohibition against export from Australia except under conditions fixed by certain unknown and unelected gentlemen, even though the Minister had the right to veto their recommendations. The point is that the Minister would not have the right to specify the conditions that should apply to the export trade. The fixing of these conditions has hitherto been the prerogative of Parliament, and I submit that we should act most unwisely if we passed this right on to some subordinate body not responsible to the people, nor even to Parliament.
– The board will have to report annually to Parliament.
– That is so and we shall read its reports and say whether they are good or bad, but we shall not be able to control its actions. To the credit of this industry the cost of this board will not rest upon the general taxpayer. The people engaged in the in dustry will meet the cost of this scheme. This is one of a group of measures, the object of which is to place in the hands of the producers at both the Australian and the London end the control of their products ; but in this case there will be no control at the Australian end. I am speaking now, of course, of the wine consumed in Australia. There have been set up in other industries certain powerful organizations, which have fixed prices for Australia much higher than world parity. It is high time for us to examine our methods of handling Australian products in Australia. Although this country abounds in rich and luxuriant pastures and produces far more than sufficient food to meet the needs of our people, we have, by legislation, made it possible for the Australian consumer to be charged prices far above world parity. This policy is extremely dangerous.
– Is it not true that the honorable member tried to obtain a duty of £4 per ton on potatoes?
– That i§ a stupid interjection for the Minister to make. Protection is the policy of this country and I have always assisted to grant legitimate protection to Australian primary and secondary industries, although I have, on occasions, refused to go as far as the present Government desired me to go in that direction. There is a vast difference between the protection of a primary or secondary industry and making a machine to control the price of our products in Australia and overseas. We have an obligation resting upon us to insure that Australians shall, as far as possible, do the work of Australia, and that our people shall have the first call upon our products; and we should not do anything that will permit prices to be fixed for Australian products in Australia vastly in excess of the price fixed for them in the world’s markets by world conditions.
– Even though our people may not be able to earn a living wage?
– Properly speaking, the question of a living wage should not be involved in our consideration of this industry. If we were standing upon firm economic ground the problem of how to pay a living wage in our primary industries would not be confronting our people.
– It is confronting the grape-growers.
– The Prime Minister did well this afternoon when he outlined the proposal of the Government in respect to economic research. He said that the object of tlie Government in setting up the Board of Economic Research was to discover ways and means of getting back to sound economic commercial and industrial conditions. Our system of providing bounties, gratuities and doles, and of establishing statutory bodies, which are really price-fixing organizations, will never bring ns to a stable position. The solid ground of economic law has been departed from.
– What are these laws that have been departed from?
– If the honorable member had listened to the Prime Minister this afternoon he would have heard something on that point. There is no political chemist who can dispense a prescription to correct all our economic ills. The remedy is to be found in sound finance and economics, combined with common sense. All attempts to meet our difficulties by artificial means must fail. I am not opposed to the grape-grower getting for his product the best price that he can legitimately get in Australia or in the world’s market.
Mi-. Killen. - How can he get it except by a bounty?
– No industry can be built en a sound foundation by the payment of bounties. Immediately a bounty 13 provided a false economic position is created. Our first business should be to abolish the foundational falsities upon which we are trying to build our economic structure.
– Will the honorable member explain how the law of supply and demand can operate in this industry when there is no demand for its product?
– If there is no demand for the wine that is produced, some wine-makers should go out of business.
– That is the policy of despair.
– Not at all. I have won my way through life by conducting industries which have never been assisted by subsidies but which, nevertheless, have paid. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Jones) said this afternoon that the Government had encouraged the ex-soldier grape-grower to climb a tree and then had cut it down. That is not so. This Government did not settle any ex-soldiers on the land. The policy of soldier land settlement was initiated by the State Governments. When pur ex-soldiers, with the aid of benevolent governments, took up grape-growing they and the rest of Australia were encouraged to believe from the artificial expansion -that followed in the industry that all was well, but later experience proved that there was nothing substantial in the development that occurred. Apparently some honorable members are prepared to act upon the principle that it does not matter what happens to the wine that is made so long as it is sent out of Australia. They do not care whether it remains a drug on the British market or not. Our whole situation compels one to the belief that the sooner we thoroughly overhaul our economic position the better it will be for the nation. If upon investigation it is shown that we are growing more grapes in Australia than are required for our own legitimate consumption, or the requirements of the world market, the sooner we curtail our production the better. We cannot be for ever helping, by bounties and doles, limping industries that cannot themselves march successfully along the path to prosperity. The sooner the people of Australia realize that there is no inexhaustible well from which bounties may be paid, the better it will be. We should not assume that because the Commonwealth. Government had a surplus for several successive years, it can continue for all time to grant bounties to economically unsound industries. We must realize that in the last fourteen years we have borrowed no less than £800,000,000. In these circumstances it would be folly for us to continue granting bounties and gratuities to struggling industries and inviting the States to come to us for financial aid whenever they feel like it. There is no bottomless well of wealth from which we may draw when we please; and we cannot continue for all time borrowing excessively and taxing heavily in order to provide bounties for insecure and economically unsound industries. A continuation of that policy will only lead us into deeper economic mire. I am sorry that so many returned soldiers were encouraged to take up grapegrowing, but that would not justify me supporting a policy of paying bounties with the object of stimulating an industry the outlook of which) to say the least, is not rosy.
– Does the honorable member think that the Government has no responsibility to our returned soldiers?
– I did not make a stupid statement like that. Australia has realized her responsibility to these men, and has attempted to discharge it by spending more than £100,000,000 in assisting them. We shall never be able to discharge this responsibility completely, for many of the men who deserved our help have gone. But I do not think that we are discharging a responsibility to returned soldiers by endeavouring to keep them in an economically unsound industry. By placing our exsoldiers in the grape-growing industry we brought them into rivalry with grapegrowers in other countries whose ancestors were engaged in the industry before the time of Christ. Mediterranean countries were supplying the markets of the old world with currants and raisins long before we were a nation. I cannot think that such artificial means as the establishment of an export control board, a London selling agency or the payment of a wine bounty will assist those engaged in the industry to profitably dispose of their products in the world’s markets. By a gradual process we can educate the Australian people in the use of local wines; that is a point which should be seriously considered by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons). Although we have an important home market which we can effectively control by the imposition of customs duties and the creation of an organization within the industry, we are going to the expense and trouble of providing machinery to exploit an overseas market. I intend to support the Government in establishing an Australian and London organization, but I do not intend to support legislative proposals to provide a subordinate body with authority to prohibit the export of an Australian commodity.
.- The grape-growing and wine-manufacturing industries which this bill is to protect, are, perhaps, more closely interwoven than are any other in Australia. I have been coming’ in contact with grapegrowers and wine-makers ever since I have been a member of this Parliament, and I gather from conversations with them, that it is exceedingly difficult to have regard to the interests of one without involving those of the other. I am not conversant with the ramifications of these industries; but I propose to direct attention to a report published by the Viticultural Council of Australia, which contains a paper read before the association by Mr. R. H. Martin on the 3rd October, 1928, concerning the benefits derived by the wine-makers from the Commonwealth bounty. It reads -
The object of this paper was to chronicle a history of the operation of the bounty, and as thus far it seems to have only dealt with the difficulties of the problem, it would certainly seem desirable to record a few of the benefits that have accrued to the industry since its inception. Whether or not the excise on fortifying spirit be regarded as the means of raising a fund to subsidize the export of wine, it is obvious that the consumer in Australia ultimately foots the bill. In this respect the wine industry in no wise differs from all the industries in Australia in which the cost of production is higher than the world’s parity, and the excess production has to be exported at a loss. The dried fruits, the canned fruits, butter and sugar industries can be named as such. Since its inception, the Bounty Act has cost the consumer a total of £843,850, or an amount of £210,962 10s. per annum, but when these figures are contrasted with the sum that in the year 1927 the consumer had to pay in order to maintain the sugar industry, it sinks into absolute insignificance. In that year, the price paid by the consumers of sugar in order to maintain the sugar industry would amount to somewhere in the neighbourhood of £5,000,000.
– During the war period the sugar-growers saved the Australian consumers over £16,000,000. The statement of the honorable member is one-sided and absolutely misleading.
– I am merely giving the opinions expressed in this paper. It continues -
On the other hand, if we ignore the consumer of wine and regard it in the light that the bounty is paid out of revenue collected from the industry, then, after deducting the increase in revenue directly due to the operation of the act, the actual sum that it has cost the taxpayer is £384,629, over the fouryear period, or the amount of £96,157 per annum. The expenditure of this sum averted a crisis in the trade. It enabled a price to be paid for grapes that has rendered grapegrowing profitable.
Since the Bounty Act of 1924 came into operation, the production of wine in Australia has been as follows: -
All this enormous increase has been processed and stored, and the surplus over and above the requirements of Australia, and excepting the vintage of 1928, which is still in the wine cellars, has been successfully marketed overseas.
It has been estimated that the growers of wine grapes have benefited to the extent of approximately £1,000,000, and the growers of dried fruits by sending the grapes fresh to the wineries have received some £150,000 more than if they had been placed upon the trays; these two sums represent an amount greater than that paid in bounty. New capital brought into the country amounts to over £1,500,000, the value of our wine exports being -
In addition, there has been a full employment of labour through allthe ramifications of the industry: in the vineyards, wine cellars, cooperages, and factories which supply bricks, cement, machinery, hosing, timber, iron, &c. The railways, carriers and wharf labourers have all had their share. In fact, an analysis of these figures will reveal that the Wine Export Bounty Act of 1924 from every aspect, proved itself one of the most successful legislative speculations that has ever been introduced. It turned an industry, facing a crisis due to overproduction, into one of prosperity and intense activity, the benefits of which to Australia could be reckoned as several million pounds.
Mr. Martin has made out a good case in favour of the retention of the bounty at the original rate. Although the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) referred to the economic aspect of this subject, we cannot overlook the fact that there are hundreds of grapegrowers in Australia, many of whom fought and bled for the Empire, who are facing disaster, and who would not benefit by the adoption of sound economic principles. I have received a letter from a grape-grower, who states -
I hereby wish to draw your urgent attention to the position of the grape industry, and to ask you to do your best to get the Government to help the growers. Things out here have not been anything like they are at present for the past 30 years.
During my election campaign I attended a picnic held by a Murray river settlement, at which hundreds of grape-growers were present, principally soldier settlers, and that gathering was one of the most depressing I have ever attended. The severe frost experienced in the Murray Valley a little over a year ago had destroyed all their crops, and as many of them cannot find a market for this year’s crop they are facing starvation. During the debates in this chamber, honorable members opposite have referred to the unfortunate position of the timber-workers and coal-miners in Australia; but I remind them that there are large numbers of grape-growers in Australia to-day who, after working hard for two years, cannot see a possibility of any return for their labour. There are some who say that some soldier settlers have proved wasters. There are wasters in every community; but if there ever were any on the fruit-growing areas they have drifted away during the past five or six years. The men settled there to-day are true Australians, who, after fighting for their country, are now strenuously fighting for a bare living. The problem confronting them is a difficult one, but I do not think its solution is the responsibility of this Government. Most of. the troubles of the grapegrowers of South Australia are due to maladministration by the Repatriation Department of that State.
– Does not the honorable member think that some government should assist them?
– Yes ; but the whole of the responsibility should not be thrown on the shoulders of the Commonwealth Government.
– The South Australian Government will not assist them.
– The South Australian Government placed hundreds of returned soldiers on blocks on the river Murray which were assessed at £200 or more per acre. They were not consulted as to what they should grow on those blocks, for that matter was decided for them by the Government. Indeed, the Government planted many of the blocks. But it did not look ahead to see whether there would be a market for the products of those blocks when they came into full bearing.
– The Liberal Government of South Australia did not care about the returned soldiers so long as it disposed of the land.
– Both Liberal and Labour Governments in that State are to blame. While the responsibility does not belong to the Federal Government, the position of the grape-growers in South Australia is so bad that some government must take immediate steps to save them from disaster. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) said the men should abandon their holdings if they were not profitable. Does the honorable member realize that if they relinquished their holdings thousands of acres of land, valued at £200 an acre or more, would be thrown back on the hands of the Crown?
– I said no such thing about these men.
– I believe that this bill will, to some extent, alleviate the distress among the grape-growers, because it will enable them and also the wine-makers to get from the Commonwealth Bank, through its Rural Credits Branch, more liberal financial assistance than they can get now. When I was in Melbourne recently a firm of wine-makers told me that they had verbally contracted to take 2,000 tons of grapes at the price fixed by the Commonwealth Government, but that when they found that they could not get the financial assistance which they expected would be forthcoming they had to advise the grape-growers that they could not proceed with the undertaking into which they had entered.
– They should have been sure of getting finance before entering into the contract.
– Something occurred to cause the Commonwealth Bank to take that stand. That portion of the bill deal ing with dry wines should be deleted. The dry-wine industry has been conducted on a profitable basis for many years, and it would be unwise to interfere with it. No government should interfere unnecessarily in any industry.
– That is what this bill will do.
– I believe in the bill as a temporary measure to assist men who are in difficulties, and I intend to support it.
.- The Government is to be commended for having introduced a measure to organize the grape-growers, because they badly need organization. ‘ This bill will not solve their problems, but it will assist to do so. I believe that every industry should be organized. Organization is the order of the day, and the time is not far distant when all our primary industries, as well as our secondary industries, will be organized. No other primary industry in Australia is in greater need of organiczation than is the wine industry. The primary producers of Australia will never get full value for their products without organization. They should so arrange matters that they will be able to follow their products from source to destination, and market them in - the most profitable manner. A good deal has been said about the reduction of the wine bounty. The Minister told us - and I am sure that he believed what he said - that the reduction of the bounty would not adversely affect the grape-growers, because the British preference would compensate them for any loss of bounty. Unfortunately, his expectations have not been realized. The grape-growers to-day are in a very much worse position than they were before the reduction of the bounty. I have no great love for bounties, and should like to see a condition of affairs in this country which would render them unnecessary; but I hold - and I believe T am perfectly consistent in so doing - that, so long as protection is the policy of Australia, the primary producers of this country have a right to share in it. If they cannot do so by means of customs duties, as is the caste in connexion with this industry, they should be protected by bounties, or in other proper ways.
– This bill does not provide for a bounty.
– This measure cannot be separated from the wine bounty. The only two ways in which the growers can be assisted are either by the granting of a bounty, or by the system proposed in this bill. A bounty on wine is in a different category from other bounties, because the Government has already collected in excise duties a larger amount than it has paid by way of bounty. I understand that the revenue collected by way of the excise duty on wine is far more than has been paid in wine bounties. Surely the Government does not want to make a profit at the expense of these unfortunate grape-growers, who will indeed be in sore straits if something is not done for them speedily? I suggest fib at the amount which the Government has received in excise duties on wines should be returned in the shape of bounty, although not necessarily all at once. The bounty should not have been reduced while the Government held a surplus of excise duties over bounties. Numbers of returned soldiers were placed on the land to grow grapes.
– That was done by the States, not the Commonwealth.
– It does not matter a great deal who instructed them to grow grapes. The fact is that they were encouraged to do so, and that a great deal of money has been expended by the various governments on their holdings. Unless something is done to assist these mcn they, and the industry in which they are engaged, will be ruined. The honorable member for Wannon said that this measure was a form of socialism of industry.
– It goes three-fourths of the way towards State socialism.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. It is a measure to enable the grape-growers, without interference by governments or persons, to market their product in the way most profitable to them. How can it be an instalment of State socialism when the Government will have only one representative, out of seven, on the board?
– If the Government gives to an outside board power to prohibit the issue of licences to export wines, that is government interference in the form of socialism.
– The Government is not doing that at all. It is part of the business of the growers to market their produce. This bill provides that they may do so themselves. I fail to see how the Government is concerned.
– The honorable member would see if the Government prohibited the exportation of wool.
– I have said that I am in favour of the organization of our primary industries and I include the wool industry. I supported the proposal made by Sir John Higgins to deal with wool as with other primary industries. I believe the time will come when we shall have the wool industry organized in the same way as are other industries. I trust that the bill will pass, and also that the Government will see its way to restore the original bounty or assist those who are engaged in the industry in. some other way.
– When the Government brought forward its original proposal to encourage the development of the wine industry it claimed that it would solve the problem of returned soldiers who are settled on the land. Only eighteen months or two years have passed since then, and now the Government has come down with a bill to appoint another board to assist the wine-growers to market their products overseas. This ‘bill will not provide overseas markets for our surplus wine. If those engaged in the industry believe so firmly in private enterprise, surely they have enough initiative to be able to market their products without seeking government assistance. Why should they wish to have a government representative on the board?
– Because they are seeking certain statutory power for the board.
– What is that power ?
– To issue licences for the export of wine.
– Will not that power include authority to raise money?
– Then to that extent it will be another government board. I do not’ object to any proposal calculated to stabilize any of our primary industries, but I feel sure that this proposal to appoint another board will prove a failure. Already this Government has appointed 30 or 40 boards since it assumed office.
– This will not be a government board.
– If it is not to be a government board, where is the need for one member of it to be appointed by the Government ? The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Collins) claim to be staunch advocates of private enterprise, but whenever private enterprise is in a dilemma they turn to the Government for assistance.
The appointment of a government representative on the board will give that body a status which otherwise it would not possess, and actually the Minister will control the board through his representative on it. I should like to do everything possible to assist the industry, but I am afraid that if there is overproduction the appointment of a board will not solve the difficulty. I do not intend to oppose the bill, but I am afraid that later Parliament will be asked to consider some other remedy.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Jones) and several other honorable members who have spoken to the bill, raised a number of points which can better be replied to in committee. When we reach that stage I propose to deal with the matters mentioned by them. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), in that airy manner which distinguishes him in this House, roamed over a fairly wide field and mentioned a number of points which, if they are to be replied to at all, should be dealt with at this stage. In his characteristic manner the honorable member blamed the Government for the present difficulties in which the wine industry is placed. May I remind him that if two years ago the industry had taken the steps which it is endeavouring to take now, it probably would not be in its present unfortunate position. The honorable member said also that this bill was a belated attempt on the part of the Government to assist the industry. As a matter of fact the Government offered this form of assistance to the wine-makers at least two years ago, so if blame attaches to any one, it certainly is not the Government. The honorable member urged that it would have been of advantage to the industry if the suggestions made by honorable members opposite for the payment of a bounty on dried fruits had been adopted, because the exportation of the surplus production, in the form of dried fruits, instead of as wine, would have obviated the glut which has existed in London for some time. The figures dealing with the situation do not support the honorable member’s point of view. He endeavoured to show that if in the years 1926-27 the 46,000 tons of grapes the equivalent of which had been exported as wine had been converted into dried fruits, it would have represented 13,000 tons, and if it had been exported in that form, a bounty of £10 a ton would have cost the Government £130,000, whereas that quantity of fruit converted into wine cost the Government, in bounty payments, something like £500,000. The honorable member then endeavoured to show that the Treasury was worse off to the extent of £370,000. Does the honorable member think that if the additional quantity of dried fruits had been placed upon an overstocked market in 1926-27 the ruling rate for dried fruits would have held? Does not he realize that in those two years Australia had to find a market for 65,000 tons of dried fruits - 23,000 tons produced in 1926 and 42,000 tons in 1927? Is it not clear to him that if an additional 13,000 tons had been exported, the market price would have declined very seriously? The Dried Fruits Board, which was dealing with this matter in those two years, had great difficulty in finding a profitable market for even the 65,000 tons. Fortunately it succeeded in getting a fairly satisfactory price, but if it had been called upon to dispose of an extra 13,000 tons, there is little doubt that the market would have broken and the price for the total quantity handled by the board would have been at least £5 per ton less than was realized. Indeed, it is probable that the board would have been obliged to accept a reduction of £10 per ton ; but even if the reduction had been only £5 per ton, the loss to Australia, because of the extra quantity marketed, would have been greater than £370,000. The honorable member endeavoured to show that because the suggestion made by honorable members opposite had not been adopted, the Commonwealth had been involved in a loss of £370,000. In an industry such as this we should always look ahead to see whether the market is likely to be favorable. There is no doubt that during the years 1926 and 1927 there did appear to be a better prospect of disposing of grapes in the form of wine than in the form of dried fruits. No one with any knowledge of the subject will argue to the contrary. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) likewise criticized the scheme of advertising in Great Britain. He declared that the Government had not carried out an effective campaign. I remind the honorable member that the Dried Fruits Export Control Board in three years spent £45,000 in advertising in Great Britain, which sum was added to on the £1 for £1 basis by the Government, so that the total expenditure in advertising, in the years mentioned, was £90,000. The work was carried out so efficiently that a great deal of praise was showered on the board by disinterested business men, who thoroughly approved of the methods adopted. The Director of Commonwealth Trade Publicity in the United Kingdom was then in direct touch with no fewer than 70,000 retail grocers in Great Britain, and as a result, there was a very strong demand for our dried fruits. The honorable member for Hume referred also to the rural credits department of the Commonwealth Bank, and alleged that it was of little value to the primary producers. I said, by way of interjection, that I would furnish the honorable members with some figures dealing with the work of the rural credits department to show to what extent it is assisting our primary industries. I find that in 1925-26 the department made available £2,400,000; in 1926-27 the sum was £7,500,000, and in 1927-28 £5,360,000,
The decrease in the amount made available in 1927-28, compared with the previous year, is accounted for by the very much smaller wheat harvest marketed. These figures show that the rural credits department of the Commonwealth Bank has been of the greatest assistance to our primary producers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Paterson) agreed to -
That, subject to a lower charge being prescribed by regulations made under the act passed to give effect to this resolution, a charge at the rate of live shillings per ton be imposed on all grapes which are, after a date to be fixed by proclamation under that act, delivered to a winery or distillery for use in the manufacture to wine.
That the charges imposed in pursuance of this resolution shall cease to be imposed upon a date fixed by proclamation under the act passed to give effect to this resolution as the date upon which that act shall cease to be in force.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Paterson and Mr. Gullett do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Paterson, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill now be read a second time.
This is a measure to impose charges upon grapes intended to be used in the manufacture of wine. It is really to provide the sinews of war for the Wine Overseas Marketing Board. The bill will enable a levy of not more than 5s. per ton to be imposed on grapes handled by a winemaker or distiller. The object of the levy is to raise funds to meet administrative and other expenses, such as advertising, incurred by the Wine Overseas Marketing Board. I remind honorable members that other boards already in existence, such as the Dried Fruits Board, devote the larger portion of their revenue to this purpose, and one of the main purposes for which this revenue is being raised is to enable similar action to be taken on behalf of the wine industry. The maximum levy of 5s. per ton of grapes is equivalent to about one half-penny per gallon on dry and about three farthings per gallon on sweet wines. In an average year of production, the amount of levy thus raised, if the maximum rate be imposed, will be about £30,000. The actual rate of levy to be imposed will be determined by the board. The figure which I have mentioned is to be regarded as a maximum and not necessarily the amount to be imposed. Other boards which are now in existence have in no case imposed the maximum amount. It might some day be necessary, when a government is in power which no longer supports the policy of assisting overseas advertising on a £1 for £1 basis, for the Wine Industries Board to impose the full amount of levy provided by this bill. It is proposed to collect the levy some months after the vintage, in order that the wine-makers may not be faced with the necessity to pay it at the same time that they are experiencing the difficulties of financing the vintage.
– Of course, they will take it from the price they pay for their grapes.
– A wine-maker must pay the price fixed by the Minister for Trade and Customs before he can receive the wine export bounty. It would not be possible, under the conditions laid down, for the wine-maker to deduct this amount of 5s. per ton from the price he paid the grower.
– Has the honorable gentleman any idea as to how much the levy will bring in?
– If the maximum were imposed it would bring in, in an average year, something like £30,000. Out of that the board would have to find the wherewithal to meet its administrative expenses both here and overseas, if it decides to have a London agency. Apart from that, it would no doubt employ the greater part of its funds for advertising overseas.
.- The Minister did not make it quite clear whether the levy is to be upon all grapes, including those used for local consumption and manufacture.
– It will be upon all grapes.
– So that a manufacturer for the local trade will contribute to the creation and upkeep of a board whose duty it will be to stimulate the export of wine.
– It is being done at the request of the industry.
– The honorable gentleman did not make that clear. Therefore, all grapes delivered to a winery will be submitted to a levy which is to be used to stimulate our export wine trade. Will the honorable gentleman tell me what proportion of Australian wine production is exported?
– I think the ratio is 60 per cent, local consumption, and 40 per cent, exported.
– The levy is to be paid to “a prescribed authority.” Who will constitute that “ prescribed authority”?
– An officer of the Department of Markets.
– I should be obliged if the Minister would explain whether an officer of the Department of Markets will merely become the bailee of the money, also what will be its final destination. An officer of the Markets Department will not be a suitable person to decide how it should be distributed.
.- When I first perused this measure I obtained the impression that the charge to be made on the grapes would be paid by the wine-maker. The Minister explained that so long as the wine-maker was an exporter he would have to pay the price fixed; otherwise he would not be entitled to the bounty. The information that has been supplied to us by Mr. Gersch and others, has revealed the fact that at the present time there are some makers who are not in the least interested in the export of wine, and therefore are not concerned about the collection of the bounty. The quantity of grapes affected by this represents about 75 per cent, of the total production; therefore, in three cases out have to bear the brunt of a further deduction from his receipts. I should like to see it made clear that this charge will not come out of the pockets’ of the growers. It would have been very much better if the bill had provided that the charge should be made not on grapes but on the wine that is manufactured. In such an event, it could not come out of the pockets of the growers.
– It might be just as likely in that case as in this.
– I do not think so. 1 understand that normally about 120,000 tons of grapes are used annually in the making of wine. Therefore, the amount involved is about £30,000, three-quartets of which will come out of the pockets of the grape-growers. The quantity of wine exported in a normal year is 2,000,000 gallons, while that consumed in Australia is roughly from 4,500,000 to 5,000,000 gallons. As a representative of thousands of grape-growers, I am fearful that this will be an additional charge upon them, and will be the last straw that will break their backs. Many of them are already ruined.
– I should like the Minister to say whether this charge of 5s. is to be paid by any person who makes wine ?
– That is right.
– Will they be permitted to deduct it from the fixed price of grapes ?
– Certainly not.
– In order that we may benefit the exporters of wine we are proposing to put a tax upon those who manufacture for local consumption.
– This measure bears a relation to that which we were discussing a few minutes ago. If honorable members will turn to clause 21 of that bill they will find that the money which is collected by this means is to be paid into a wine exportfund. That clause reads -
There shall be a wine export fund, into which shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, all moneys received by a pre- . scribed authority under the Wine Grapes Charges Act 1929.
This money will be collected in much the same way that excise is collected. It will be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. from which it will afterwards be taken and paid into the wine export fund referred to in the other bill. It will then be available for the use of the Export Board. These provisions have been worded in such a way as to afford to the grower the maximum amount of protection. So long as a wine-maker exports wine, it will not be possible for him to pay less than the fixed price and at the same time to obtain the bounty. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) raised the point that a certain proportion of this charge would be payable in regard to grapes- that are made into wine to be consumed in Australia. That is perfectly true; but it appears to me to be an absolutely sound and fair proposition that the whole of the wine produced should bear a portion of the expense incurred in finding a profitable market for the disposal of surplus stocks. The price obtainable on the local market is to some extent dependent upon the profitable sale of the exportable surplus. One honorable member who addressed himself to the previous bill, stated that the price which can be obtained for wine in Australia to-day is lower than it normally should be, on account of the fact that there is a huge exportable surplus. If that surplus is (marketed in a profitable way and the local market is not burdened with a greater quantity than it can reasonably absorb, an advantage is conferred upon the local market. Therefore, from a business point of view, the whole of the wine produced should bear a share of this tax, whether it is exported or consumed in Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clause 1 (Short title)–
.- I consider that the title of the bill is misleading. It is proposed to place an impost upon the manufacturers of wine according to the quantity of grapes they purchase. The title would lead one to assume that it is a levy upon the production of grapes.
– Not necessarily.
– This may or may not be the best way to overcome the existing_ difficulty. I remind the committee, however, that large quantities of grapes are used for purposes other than the manufacture of wine.
– This relates to grapes that are intended to be used in the manufacture” of wine.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2. (Definitions.)
.- According to this clause “ grapes “ means any grapes delivered to a winery or distillery for use in the manufacture of wine. I should like to know if it can be regarded as a delivery to a winery or distillery when grapes are wheeled in a barrow, to use a phrase, from a winemaker’s vineyard to the winery or distillery on his own property?
– That is a delivery. The wine-makers must deliver their own grapes.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3. (Charge on grapes for winemaking.)
.- We have just had this bill placed in our hands and I think progress ought to be reported upon it. It seems to me that the charges which are to be imposed may fall on the grape-growers in the majority of cases, and as I represent many grape-growers I should not like this bill to pass without having the opportunity to study it closely.
– Everything has to go before the wine-makers for a vote by ballot.
– I am speaking for the grape-growers. The wine-makers have no need to worry. The only assurance the Minister can give us is that if the maker buys grapes to make into wine for export, he must pay the prescribed price for them or go without the bounty.
– The Government can do no more than that.
– Many wine-makers will not take part in the export trade, and I am frightened that the grapegrowers who cannot afford it will have to bear the charges imposed by this bill. It would be better for the Minister in the interests of the growers to impose the levy on wine made and not on grapes delivered. The Prime Minister has on more than one occasion said that the interests of the growers are his concern.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).This bill having been founded on a resolution in Committee of Ways and Means; cannot now be amended as suggested. This provision may be rejected but no alteration can be made in it.
.- I gather that the charges are to be imposed on the wine-makers and not on the grapegrowers.
– That is so.
– I should like to know if the word “winery”, as used in this bill, has the same meaning that is given to it in the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill?
– In the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill, “ winery “ means an establishment which handles not less than ten tons of grapes for use in the manufacture of wine during the year ending the 30th day of June last preceding a poll or election. In this bill the limitation with regard to the ten tons of grapes does not appear, and therefore, the charges will apply to all wineries. But clause 4 of the bill now under consideration provides -
The Governor-General may, from time to time, by order published in the Gazette, after report to the Minister by the Wine Overseas Marketing Board constituted under the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929, exempt any grapes from the’ charges imposed by this act.
This provision will enable the board to have a regulation drawn up by the Minister, exempting from the charges imposed small quantities of grapes in respect of which it would probably not be worth the trouble of collecting them. It will be a matter for the board to recommend the quantities of grapes, if any, that shall be exempted.
.- I am concerned in the point raised by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) - whether the levy will be imposed on the owner of a winery or on the owner of grapes delivered to a winery. With other honorable members, I met many grape-growers prior to the opening of this Parliament, and they were wroth because of the treatment meted out to them by the “ big bugs “ in the wine business - men whose business probity is supposed to be above suspicion. As a city man, I was somewhat confused by what these growers were saying, and to make the issue clear I asked “ Just how does this bounty work ; does it get to you at all?” One man replied, and his statement was not contradicted by the others, that when the bounty was 4s. a gallon, the growers got 2d. out of it and the wine-makers 3s.10d. If that is true, it seems that when we grant financial assistance to people who are struggling to develop the rural industries of Australia, the middle men and manufacturers are not satisfied with getting their labour as cheap as they can or with imposing harsh conditions of labour upon their operatives; they evidently also do all they can to squeeze the growers. If it is true that a bounty which is paid to stimulate the grape-growing and winemaking industry, goes into the pockets of the wine-makers to the extent indicated by the gentleman who answered my question, I think the Minister should make it very definite in this bill that the levy imposed by it must not fall on the growers. From what we hear and from what we can see, the wine-makers of Australia are fairly opulent, yet they are always crying with a poor mouth that they cannot struggle on without assistance from the Government. They have been helped to a considerable extent, but the assistance has not reached the persons whom Parliament intended it to reach. For the information of honorable members and the direction of the board which will be appointed, I ask the Minister to make a definite statement on the point I have raised.
– It is true that nothing in this bill provides that the owners of wineries must pay the fixed price for the grapes that they buy in order to qualify for the bounty, but a provision to that effect appears in the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill, and the Minister has also assured us that that is the definite intention of the Government. Consequently, I do not think that there is any risk in allowing this bill to pass without such a provision in it.
.- My point has not yet been met. “ Winery “ is defined in the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill as - an establishment which handled not less than 10 tons of grapes for use in the manufacture of wine during the year ended the thirtieth day of June last preceding the poll or election.
The proprietors of wineries which have handled less than 10 tons of grapes in the year preceding the election will not, therefore, be eligible to vote for the election of members of the board. But is it provided in this bill that a charge shall be levied and paid on all grapes delivered to wineries or distilleries for use in the manufacture of wine. This appears to me to amount to taxation without representation, and I strongly object to that principle.
In committee (Consideration resumed, vide page 1045) :
Clause 3- (1.) If, within one monthafter this act has been in operation for a period of three years or within one month after the expiration of any further period of three years, a requisition for a poll, signed by at least sixty owners of wineries or distilleries, is sent to the Minister, a poll shall thereupon he held in the prescribed manner in regard to the question whether the act shall continue in operation.
.-I move -
That the word “sixty” be omitted with the view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ thirty per centum of the “.
It is quite possible that with the growing tendency towards co-operation in industry and the linking together of small concerns in a large organization, it may not be possible in three years’ time to get 60 owners of wineries together. In any case it appears to me to be a sound principle to provide that a percentage of the total number of electors may request a poll to be taken rather than that a specified number may do it. That principle is embodied in most measures which provide for the taking of polls. Seeing that the roll of eligible voters will be available at the end of September of every year, it would be perfectly simple for the
Minister at any time to ascertain whether a requisition for a poll was signed by 30 per cent, of the voters.
– How many wineries and distilleries are there in the Commonwealth?
– Between 200 and 300.
.- The bill provides that a poll of owners of wineries and distilleries shall be taken in the prescribed manner and that if a majority of the votes recorded are in favour of the Government’s proposal, the act shall be brought into operation. As stated by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) there may be an overwhelming majority of owners of wineries and distilleries in one State, who may favour the appointment of a control board, whilst the owners of wineries and distilleries in the other States may be opposed to a board. Does the Minister propose to fix any limit in each State, or is it to be a block -vote for the whole Commonwealth?
– A block vote.
– Control will not be decided by the votes of a majority of owners of wineries and distilleries in a majority of the States.
, - In reply to the point raised by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) I may say that no provision is made in the bill for the recognition of State boundaries. If a majority of the owners of wineries and distilleries favour the appointment of a board, their decision will be accepted regardless of geographical situations.
With regard to the point raised by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) I may say that at present it seems that 60 is a reasonable proportion of the number of wineries and distilleries in existence to fix upon, but it is possible that in years to come 60 may not . be a fair proportion. For example a number of winemakers who are to-day engaged in the industry in a small way, may go out of business, or the manufacture of wine may be undertaken by larger concerns with the result that perhaps ten years hence there would be a smaller number of wineries and distilleries. On the other hand, there might be a larger number. At any rate, in a decade, the ratio of 60 may differ from what it is to-day. In these circumstances I shall accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Angas.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - “Wine” means any wine produced from grapes grown within the Commonwealth;. . .
.- In order to exclude the makers of dry wine who should not be controlled by this measure, I move -
That after the word “ any “ in the definition of “wine”, the word “fortified” be inserted.
The definition would then read “ ‘ wine ‘ means any fortified wine produced from grapes grown within the Commonwealth.” In discussing the second reading of this measure I explained that the makers of dry wines who have always carried on their business in an efficient manner and have paid the fixed prices for their grapes should be excluded from this measure. I fail to see why they should be controlled by this bill which, as explained by the Minister, is to con-trol those engaged in the export of fortified wine. It must be clear to even those who are not particularly interested in the industry, that whilst those engaged in the manufacture of dry wine have in consequence of the wine bounty, had to pay a higher price for grapes used in the manufacture of dry wines, they have not received any bounty. I have been assured by the makers of dry wines that they have no objection to paying the charges imposed under another measure if they are only allowed to control their own business. They rightly claim that no one can truthfully assert that they have not carried on their business most efficiently. One firm has spent £500,000 over a period of years in advertising Australian dry wines which are favorably known on the British market.
– Do not the manufacturers of dry wines also make sweet wines ?
– They usually export only dry wines. If at any time the dry wine-makers were confronted with the difficulties now facing the manufacturers of fortified wine, they could be included in an amending measure. The president and secretary of the Grape Growers Association of South Australia - an association which represents a majority of the wine-grape growers of Australia - were deputed to interview me at the Tanunda Show last Saturday week when they informed me that there was no valid reason why dry wines should be controlled by this measure.
– I am unable to accept the amendment, for it would be a great mistake to exclude dry wine from the scope of this legislation. It is wrong to assume that, because dry wine comes under the supervision of the board, there will necessarily be interference with the normal channels . through which the dry wine trade flows, whether they are satisfactory or not. I realize the truth of the remarks of the honorable member for Angas (Mr Parsons) that the dry wine industry is not in the same unsatisfactory position that the sweet wine industry is in ; nevertheless, it would be manifestly unfair to require the manufacturers of dry wine to provide revenue to enable the board to engage in advertising and to preclude the board from using any of that revenue to advertise dry wine. Clause 22 (a), which reads -
Themoneys paid into the fund shall bo applied by the board as follows: -
In payment of the expenses and other charges incurred by the board or for which the board may become liable in the course of its business. empowers the board to expend some of its revenue in advertising. Theboard should not be restricted as the honorable member would restrict it. Moreover, the board will have considerable powers to negotiate on an industry basis in connexion with shipping freights, and to make contracts with shippers for the carriage of wines on the most favorable terms obtainable. In these matters it would be very difficult to separate dry wine from sweet wine. I desire to particularly emphasize that a considerable number of manufacturers of dry wine desire that dry wine shall be included within the. scope of the bill.
– Are they exporters?
– Their wines are sold both in the home market and overseas. As I can see no good reason for excluding dry wine from the operations of the measure, I regret that I cannot accept the amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 - ( 1 . ) For the purposes of this act there shall be a Wine Overseas Marketing Board. (2.) The board shall consist of -
.- As it is desirable that the Government representative on the board shall be impartial and in no way connected with the industry, I move -
That the following words be added to paragraph (a) of sub-clause 2:- “and who shall not be directly or indirectly connected with the industry.”
Mr. PATERSON (Gippsland- Minister for Markets and Transport [10.50]. - I regard the amendment as unnecessary, although I do not in any way object to it. I informed the House, in my second-reading speech, that the Government would follow the established practice and appoint, as its nominee on the board, a person who was not in any way connected with the industry. It seems to be unnecessary to load the bill with the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Indi, but if it will give him a feeling of satisfaction, I shall accept it.
Amendment agreed to.
– I enter my protest against’ the composition of the board. The clause provides that it shall consist of one member with commercial experience, to be known as the Government representative; two representatives of the co-operative wineries and distilleries, one representative of the proprietary and privately-owned wineries, and distilleries in New South “Wales and Queensland, one representative of the proprietary and privatelyowned wineries and distilleries in Victoria, and two representatives of proprietary and privately-owned wineries and distilleries in South Australia and Western Australia. It seems to me that the 50-50 representation of South Australia and Western Australia is not fair. I consider further that, as the board will necessarily meet in ‘Adelaide, South Australia iB entitled to larger representation. I move therefore -
That the word!s “two,” paragraph (e), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ three “.
The Minister might object that the board will then consist of an even number; but there is provision in another clause for the chairman to have a deliberative and, in the event of the voting being equal, a casting vote. In view of the enormous interests involved in South Australia - that State produces from four-fifths to five-sixths of the total production in Australia - it should have larger representation on the board. “While I am on this point I remind the Minister of the difficulty in which we became involved over the composition of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board. Although Tasmania is not a large producer of grapes, it is possible that an objection might be taken before the High Court, and the Commonwealth might be in much the same position as it was in the James case.
.- I should like to emphasize that the provision for the representation of Western Australia is not adequate. Paragraph e states that two representatives shall be elected to the board to represent the proprietary and privately-owned wineries and distilleries in South Australia and Western Australia. I do not disagree with the contention that South Australia should have two representatives on the board, having regard to the dimensions of the industry in that State ; but I should object to the election of three for South Australia and Western Australia, because’ the association of the two States in one electoral group will .have the effect of giving the whole of the representation to South Australia. In view of the vast distances that separate South Australia from Western Australia, and in view also of the growing importance of the industry in my Slate, it is entitled to direct repre,sentation A considerable number of returned soldiers are engaged in the industry in Western Australia. Their difficulties are precisely those of similar producers in the other States. At present the output of the wine industry in my State is not very great, but. the industry is growing in importance and provision should be made for its adequate representation on the board.
, - I am at a complete loss to understand what has. influenced the Minister in connexion with the composition of the board. One member is to be nominated by’ the Government, two are to be elected to represent co-operative wineries and distilleries, one will represent proprietary and privately-owned wineries and distilleries in New South Wales and Queensland, one will represent similar concerns in Victoria, and two will be elected to represent the proprietary and privatelyowned wineries and distilleries in South Australia and Western Australia. In 1927, there were 5,000 acres under vines in Western Australia, and the industry is making steady progress, large areas having recently been brought under cultivation. Surely it is entitled to some representation on the board? I strongly object to the growers in Western Australia being without any representation in any shape or form, and consequently being under the control of the industry in the eastern States. It is preposterous to put forward a proposal of this nature. One representative will be appointed by the Government, and he is sure to come from the East.’
– Not necessarily.
– Western Australia should have at least one representative on the board, and I suggest that the honorable member for Angas (Mr Parsons) withdraws his amendment to enable me to make provision for a Western Australian representative;, ‘
.- As I appreciate the point of view of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) I -am prepared to withdraw my amendment, provided that paragraph (e) deals only with the election of two South Australian representatives.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the words ‘’ and Western Australia,” paragraph (e), be omitted.
The paragraph will then read -
– Is the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) satisfied with paragraph (e) as it will stand after the words “ and Western Australia “ are omitted?
– Yes. I merely wish the paragraph to provide for two South Australian representatives. I understand that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) intends to move for the insertion of a further paragraph providing for Western Australian representation.
– I am prepared to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Swan.
.- Sub-clause 5 reads -
The election of representatives in pursuance of paragraphs (b), (c), (d) and (e) of subsection (2.) of this section shall be carried outin such manner as is prescribed.
The mode of election of representatives is to be prescribed. Would it not be advisable for the Minister at this juncture also to amend paragraph (c), which refers to a New South Wales and Queensland representative, as the position of those States is similar to that of South Australia and Western Australia.
– New South Wales and Queensland do not experience the. geographical difficulties which attach to South Australian and Western Australian wine areas, by reason of the great distance which separates them. Queensland produces but a small quantity of wine, and I believe that no objection will be raised to its being represented by the same individual who represents New South Wales. The Government has endeavoured to meet the wishes of the industry as far as possible. Representation is always a thorny problem. It is almost impossible to satisfy everybody, and it is so. easy to make a board unwieldy. The Federal Victicultural
Council, which is representative of all States,put forward this proposal practically as it is, except that it made provision for only one co-operative representative. The Government decided to increase the number to two, as a fair percentage of wine is produced by cooperative wineries, and also because such a provision gives additional representation to the growers. If it will give greater satisfaction to the industry as a whole, I have no objection to accepting an amendment providing for a representative for Western Australia.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Gregory) agreed to -
That the following new paragraph be added : - “ (f) One representative elected to represent proprietary and privately-owned wineries and distilleries in the State of Western Australia.”
Clause also verbally amended and, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Deputies of members).
.- Why should the Government appoint a person to be the deputy for a member? Why should not the deputy be appointed by the people who appoint the representative?
– The clause providesthat the person appointed to be the deputy of an elected member shall be a person named by the board. I think that that meets the point raised by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann).
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Fees and Expenses).
.- The Minister has not indicated what fees are to be paid to the board. The method adopted by the Government in these matters is to reserve to itself the right to fix the fees. Will the Minister tell us what he has in his mind?
.Those boards which are at present in existence have adopted as their fee five guineas for each sitting for the chairman and four guineas for each sitting for the other members. The suggestion is made by the board, accepted by the Minister and then embodied in a regulation; therefore the Government exercises some control.
– Is there any limitation upon the number of days on which sittings may be held 3
– In the past there has not been any attempt by these boards to swell unduly the number of sittings for their personal gain - if that is what the honorable member suggests. They come together as business men, transact their business as speedily as possible, and return to their respective States. The type of men who will be elected in this case can be trusted to act similarly. Mr. Pauker Moloney. - What about the agency in London?
– With the exception of the Commonwealth Government representative, those men are really the servants of the hoard at this end.
– Do they receive fees?
– They receive payment for their services.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 (London Agency of Board).
.- Can the Minister give us any indication of the cost of the existing London’ agencies of the Dried Fruits Board, the Butter Control Board and the Canned Fruits Board? Are their activities sufficiently controllable from this end, or is it a case of leaving to their discretion the administration at the London end ?
– The London agency is absolutely under the control of the board. I am sorry that I have not at hand the exact figures regarding cost. The Canned Fruits Board has not a London agency. So far it has been content to make use of Sir James Cooper, the Commonwealth Government nominee on the other two boards, both of which have London agencies. The Butter Board has two representatives in addition to the Commonwealth Government representatives, and I believe that the Dried Fruits Board has three.
– Are these boards located at Australia House, or do they have separate quarters? 1 am beginning to wonder whether in the multiplicity of hoards, agents-general, and trade representatives there is not a sufficiently large organization to cope with this work. I have visited Australia
House, and I cannot say that .1 was convinced of the impracticability of work of this character being undertaken by existing organizations. Will the Minister make- a further explanation on the matter I
– It would be impossible to have a’ body of men constituted at this end as they arc to be constituted under this bill - that is to say, elected by the industry concerned and divorced entirely from government interference - and yet to provide that at the other end they should use as their agency the officers of Australia House. Obviously, if an industry is to carry on its business in its own way at this end it must have at the other end representatives who will do its bidding. Consequently, the London agencies of the various boards are not closely linked up with Australia House, although the offices which they occupy are not very far from it. Conferences take place from time to time between the commercial representatives at Australia House and these London agencies, but the latter are not part and parcel of the one organization.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 (Wine not to be exported save in accordance with determination of board).
.- This is the vital clause of the bill. Without it there would have been no necessity to introduce the measure, because the industry itself can do everything else that the machinery provisions will enable it to do. The provisions of this clause will impose on the wine-grower, as has been imposed on the waterside worker in Australia, the obligation to take out a licence before he can earn anything from the export of wine. We are deliberately handing over to a board the power to make regulations governng the sale arid export of Australia products. A similar principle, of course, is embodied in other legislation that has already passed through this chamber. I oan imagine the probability of a crop of similar boardsbeing appointed. Already there is anagitation for the appointment of a control board to deal -with the marketing- of wheat. Possibly the Government will be asked to take similar action with respect to fat lambs, beef, and wool.
– Only if an industry asks for it and pays for it.
– I admit that the industry accepts the responsibility of paying. That, however, is beside the question. I take no exception to the organization of an industry by the industry itself, and its control by boards in both Australia and London, so long as the work is voluntarily undertaken by the industry and the controlling body is not vested with authority by this Parliament. The principle applied to the waterside workers, the obligation to take out a licence, is imposed on distillers and wine-makers before they are permitted to export their wines or handle them at the other side of the world.
– It shows that we are absolutely impartial.
– It shows the length to which this licensing principle may be extended. I can foresee the Government being asked by every non-paying branch of primary industry to come to its aid with a compulsory marketing system because, although there may be limitations in regard to it by confining it to Australia, it becomes more or less a compulsory pooling system. I am opposed to this because it is a vicious principle. Were I elected, as honorable members opposite are, to support state control, I should welcome this measure with open arms, because it goes three-fourths of the way towards socialism. The Government cannot excuse itself on the ground that it is giving aid to an industry in trouble. It is only industries in trouble that bother the State for assistance.
– Then why is the honorable member supporting the bill?
– I am not. I have consistently objected to the application of the licensing principle to the exportation of Australian produce. I am aware that my objection will not carry weight, but I can foresee the day when the Government will be confronted by a proportion of those engaged in the woollen industry for the application of the same principle to the export of wool. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) said that he would welcome it, but I think that he would be voting with me when the time came for the application of this principle to the wool-growing industry. We should be on dangerous ground if we placed in the hands of any body of men, not elected by the people or responsible to them, the power to veto the export of our stud stock, fat lambs, wheat, wool, or any other of our staple Australian products.
– Does the honorable member think that if we had a central body to co-ordinate with these various marketing bodies it would be equivalent to a supreme economic council?
– What I am fearful about is the possibility that honorable members opposite may one day occupy the treasury bench. I hope that day will be long deferred, but I can imagine the rejoicing there is already among the socialists at the knowledge that there is in existence machinery which will enable them to control the food products of Australia. The control boards are now under the management of representatives elected by the people. But will they be staffed by the same class of persons as they are to-day ; will the regulations governing the issue of licences be the same when the socialists are in control of this Parliament? I warn honorable members on the Ministerial side that they are playing with a double-edged sword. The issue of licences under conditions favorable to the producers of Australia, may in the course of time, be administered by those who are not sympathetic with the primary producers, and whose aim will be to deflate the value of Australia’s primary products.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Coal-mining Industry : Prosecution of Colliery-owners.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to call attention to the Government’s failure to apply the law to the coalowners of New South Wales in the same way as it has been applied to employees in Australia. My reason for doing so is that at question time to-day I asked the Attorney-General whether he had seen a report in the press in which it was stated that he proposed to proceed under the Crimes Act against one of the colliery proprietors. The Attorney-General replied by saying that there was already on the notice-paper a question covering the matter. I probably did not express myself clearly, but the question on the noticepaper referred to taking action for a breach of an award and had nothing whatever to do with the Crimes Act. My desire was to ascertain whether or not the Government proposed to apply to the present trouble the provisions of the Crimes Act that have been applied in previous industrial troubles. Subsection 1 of section 30j of the Crimes Act provides that if in the opinion of the Governor-General, a serious industrial disturbance is in existence in Australia that is likely to prejudice or threaten trade or commerce with other countries or between the States, he may make a proclamation to that effect. Every one will admit that the upheaval on the coal fields of New South Wales prejudices or threatens our trade and commerce. What I was anxious to discover was whether the Government intended to take action under sub-section 1 of section 30 j of the Crimes Act. The Government has power, in the event of a lockout occurring, to issue a proclamation. The definition of “lockout” is as follows : - “Lock-out” includes the closing of a place or part of a place of employment, if the closing is unreasonable, and the total or partial refusal of employers, acting in combination, to give work, if the refusal is unreasonable, or the total or partial suspension of work by an employer, if the suspension is unreasonable, with a view to compel his employees, or to aid another employer in compelling his employees, to accept any term or condition of employment.
I did not expect the Attorney-General to say that he intended to issue a summons against any particular person or persons, for it would be improper for him to do so; but I was anxious to know whether the Government intended to issue a proclamation to the effect that a serious industrial disturbance existed which prejudiced or threatened our trade or commerce. If that were done, action could be taken at a later stage if necessary against the persons responsible for the disturbance.
Mr. LATHAM (Kooyong - AttorneyGeneral [11.34]. - I did not understand that the honorable member’s question this afternoon related specifically to the Crimes Act. I thought he wanted to know whether the Government con templated taking any action against the colliery-owners in relation to the closing down of the mines. But even had I understood the question correctly, I should have been in exactly the same position. I think the honorable member, and honorable members generally, recognize that, as Attorney-General, I am the legal adviser of the Commonwealth and that when litigation of either a civil or criminal nature is contemplated it would, as a general rule, be wrong for me to make statements in the House or in the public press which would, to put it shortly, give information which might be very useful to the other side. Accordingly, since I have been AttorneyGeneral I have never made threats of proceedings or stated that I proposed to take proceedings in certain eventualities, but have waited until the nature of any contemplated proceedings has been settled, and after evidence has been obtained which could be properly submitted to a court, and perhaps after advice has been taken. The first thing that the defendant has known of the matter has been the service upon him of the process of the court. I suggest that that is, generally speaking, the proper course for the legal adviser of the Commonwealth to follow. Proceedings by the Commonwealth would be gravely prejudiced if an obligation rested upon the Attorney-General to state beforehand what he intended to do. Before proceedings can be instituted the precise nature of them must be settled and evidence obtained. I do not propose by making premature and unnecessary statements to confer upon any opposite party to the Commonwealth, in any form of litigation, any advantage to which he is not justly entitled. I do not intend by reason of statements which appear in the press to alter the practice which I have hitherto followed. One of the commonest devices used for the purpose of extracting a confirmation or denial of any matter from a Minister of the Crown is to cause a statement to appear in the press, and then to place it before the Minister concerned. I shall not be drawn into indicating my intentions on any matter by tactics of that description.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 March 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1929/19290312_reps_11_120/>.