12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and ‘ offered prayers.
– This is the first occasion upon which, in this House, I have referred to anything of a personal nature affecting either myself or any other honorable member. I have never, either inside or outside this House, made any claims or pretensions on account of war service, or anything of the kind; nor have I reflected on the war service of any other honorable member. But I feel that I should say something in defence of my reputation on account of the observations that were made yesterday and the day before by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. MoGrath).
I desire merely to say that I volunteered for active service in- the Australian Imperial Force. A few days before I had arranged to go into camp, however, I was ordered into the Navy to undertake special work for which the authorities considered that I possessed special qualifications. The Naval Board considered that I could do that work only if I held commissioned rank. Accord ingly, I was appointed a Lieutentant Commander, and was assigned to the Intelligence Branch. After some months had elapsed I applied for leave to resign my commission so that I might go overseas with the A.I.F. That leave was refused, and I was directed to remain in the position that I then held. I discharged, both in Australia and overSeas the duties that I was ordered to discharge.
Those are the facts of the matter, and that is all I desire to say concerning what I did during the time of the war.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation, on the ground that I have been subjected to misrepresentation in certain remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath). I should not have troubled the House with this matter, but that I thought it desirable that I should disclose the spirit of reckless irresponsibility that appears to have prompted the honorable member in the attack that he made on me, and the remarkable inaccuracies of which he was guilty.
The honorable member made three Specific statements concerning me. He said that I enlisted in 1917, that I was in the infantry, and that I left the infantry to go to Paris. I enlisted, not in 1917, but in 1916. I was never in the infantry; my training was confined to the artillery. I was never in Paris between 1915 and 1919.
– Oh yes, the honorable gentleman was.
– I beg the Minister’s pardon. I met him there in 1919.
I should have taken more notice of these charges had they come from what I regarded as a respectable source.
– (Eon. Norman Makin). - Order I The honorable gentleman is not in order in reflecting upon another honorable member by inferring that he is “ not respectable “. I ask the honorable gentleman to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. 1 have no wish to resort to retaliation in this matter ; but I am under some provocation because of the savage personal assault that has been made upon me and my reputation. In view of the source of these charges, I have no wish to enlarge upon my slight and safe service with the A.I.F.. except’ to day that T am in the uncommon position that the measure of such service is to be found in the Official History of the Light Horse Campaign, that is available to honorable members in the Commonwealth Library, and also in a« good part of the exhibits in the National War Memorial.
– I wish to make an explanation.
– Is it a personal explanation ?
– Has the honorable member been misrepresented?
– Certainly. I should not have risen had I not wished to correct a misrepresentation. For many years I have been the victim of misrepresentation, both in this chamber and outside it. I have been held up as an object of ridicule by honorable members who sit opposite.
– I rise to order. Should not the Minister, before he proceeds, state in what way he has been misrepresented ?
– It is impossible for the Chair to determine whether a statement that is about to be made is a personal explanation in the parliamentary sense until it has heard something of it; but to make sure that a breach of the Standing Orders should not occur, I asked the Minister whether he had been personally misrepresented, and he assured me that he had been. In those circumstances, he must be allowed to proceed without interruption, unless it should appear that what he is saying is not a personal explanation.
– If it were possible for me, by nods, winks, blinks, or other dumb motions, to convey my meaning, I should be most happy to oblige the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) by doing so, but I aim not capable of making a statement without employing some form of vocal expression. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, no honorable member is more moderate, more kindly, more discreet than I. I always refer in the most gentle terms to my opponents. But there are times when even the worm will turn. For many years I have been described, by the honorable gentleman opposite, as a coward, a cur, a mongrel, a coldfooter, a pro-German, an enemy of the British Empire, a. disloyalist, and a man who did not take part in the Great War. Those attacks have never come from the real fighters.
Honorable members interjecting-
– Honorable members opposite are anxious that a personal explanation shall not be made by other than those who sit on their side. I will get at them some other time if they prevent me from doing so now.
– On a point of order, 1 ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the Minister is in order in menacing and threatening honorable members of this House?
– The Minister would not be in order if he threatened or menaced any honorable member of this House. The Chair will see that every honorable member is protected from threats or menaces. My desire is to allow every honorable member to take full advantage of the privileges that members enjoy under the Standing Orders. If the Minister exceeds his privilege in the present instance, I shall immediately call him to order.
– The last thing that 1 would think of doing in this chamber is to threaten. A cowardly individual like myself would not dare to threaten such a brave and courageous soldier as the honorable member for Henty !
– -I ask the honorable member to confine himself to a personal explanation.
– The accusations which have been made against me during the last fifteen years have come not from real soldiers like the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell), or the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), but from men who have only masqueraded in the garb of soldiers, and who, if they have not referred to their own qualifications and deeds, have cast reflections upon other honorable members, belittling their qualifications as well as their service to their country and the Empire of which it forms a part. The two gentlemen who this morning have made a personal explanation, and who have sent their photographs abroad-
– Order ! I fear that the Minister is now exceeding the bounds of a personal explanation.
– I believe that I am. I shall say no more.
– I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether this House is a deliberative chamber, whose function it is to discuss the affairs of the country, or a meeting place for the washing of dirty linen, and how long you propose to allow these proceedings to continue?
– Order ! The honorable member’s question is a reflection on the Chair, and I ask him not to speak in such terms in the future. It is for the Chair to determine what is correct conduct and behaviour on the part of honorable members ; but the nature of the business brought before the House is not for the Speaker to determine.
– I have always endeavoured to treat the Chair with respect, and if you, Mr. Speaker, consider that my question contained any reflection upon yourself, I withdraw it unreservedly. It was certainly not my intention to give you offence.
– I appreciate the honorable member’s assurance.
– Yesterday I replied to the allegation that I had employed a nonsoldier in my business when a soldier had applied for the position. I wish to add to the explanation I then gave by saying that the ex-soldier whose application was rejected was at the time in a permanent position in semi-government employment, and I advised him not to take the risk of throwing up that position. While I was speaking yesterday, the Minister for Defence interjected that if I persisted in my lino of conduct he would make my military record known to the House. For his information I may say that my record is contained in Chapters I. and II. of the Official History of the Flying Corps.
Disorderly Language - Quotation of Letters - Conflict of Rulings - Hypothetical Points
– On a question of privilege, I should like you, Mr. Speaker, 10 rule whether, when a remark is made, which, in the opinion of the presiding officer occupying the chair at the time, should be withdrawn, if the member concerned is unconscious of having offended, he is entitled to ask what remark he is required to withdraw ?
– The direction tu withdraw a remark could not ha%re any good effect if the member who was called on to withdraw did not know what he was withdrawing.
– I desire to obtain a ruling from you, Mr. Speaker, upon a point which I think comes within Ihe scope of members’ privileges. A short while ago, when speaking on the second reading of the Wine Export Bounty Bill, I proposed to read a short extract from a letter I had received. I did not intend ro give the name of the writer, though us a guarantee of good faith I was prepared to tell it privately to an honorable member opposite who thought that it should be mentioned. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), acting in the capacity of Deputy Speaker, ruled that it was not- competent for me to read a portion of a letter unless I was prepared to give the name of the writer of it. Accepting that ruling, I did not read the paragraph in question. Yesterday, however, the honorable member for Ballarat, in hi? capacity as a private member, read a letter, or portion of a letter, in this House, and intimated that, in his opinion, the House would not desire that he should give the name of the person who wrote the letter. It appears to me that the honorable member for Ballarat did something in his capacity as a private member’ which, as Deputy Speaker of this House, he prevented me from doing. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, for your ruling as to whether it is competent for an honorable member to quote from a letter without giving the signature.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that this question should not be put to you, Mr. Speaker, because it is intended merely as an attack upon a member who was temporarily occupying the chair as Deputy Speaker in your absence. A Deputy Speaker might similarly be asked to rule in some decision of yours. That proceeding, I consider, is most irregular. The point now raised by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) should have been taken at the time the incident occurred.
– My reply to the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) is that I have been asked to give <& ruling. As I have not been officially apprized of the incident to which the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has referred, anything that T may say on the subject is, of course, not to be regarded as a reflection upon any ruling of the Deputy Speaker. Under the Standing Orders a Minister may not quote from a document unless he announces the source or origin of it; but it is competent for a private member to read from a letter or another document without naming the author of it.
– On a point of order, I ask whether it is the practice for Mr. Speaker to give rulings except’ upon points which actually arise during a debate, and at the time they arise. If that practice is not followed, we may occupy a great deal of time in the academic discussion of points of order.
– I raised the point mentioned by the honorable member for Gippsland during the debate.
– It is desirable that rulings should be sought at the time when the incidents to which they relate occur. If an honorable member desires a direction in order to assist him to comply with the Standing Orders, the Chair should give it.
– I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether it would be proper for you or for the Deputy Speaker to give a ruling inconsistent with one previously given without honorable members having an opportunity to discuss it?
– The future must take care of itself. The occupant of the chair must decide questions of order as they arise, according to the Standing Orders and the precedents available for his guidance.
– On a personal explanation, I desire to say that I asked for your ruling, Mr. Speaker, in order to guide us in the future and not to attack any honorable member.
– I wish to make further reference to the questions asked me this morning by several honorable members with regard to the practice of the House. As I said then, I am always pleased to assist members wherever possible in the matter of procedure, but I prefer to adhere to the practice of personal consultation. I cannot undertake to answer hypothetical questions based on a ruling of the Deputy Speaker, or a temporary chairman who may be relieving me’ in the chair; but Standing Order 287 states that if any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the Speaker it “ must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the House, and the debate thereon adjourned forthwith until the next sitting day”. This Standing Order applies equally to the rulings of Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– How much of that statement, Mr. Speaker, relates to anything new in the way of parliamentary procedure? So far as I know the practice you have mentioned has been followed for many years.
– The honorable member is not in order. The statement I have just given merely amplifies the statement of this morning. I have made it so that misunderstanding may not occur in the future.
– In what Way did I contravene the Standing Orders, Sir, by asking a question after you had made your statement ?
– It was not in order for a question to be asked at this stage of the proceedings.
– I desire to ask the Acting Minister for Trade, and Customs (Mr. ‘Forde) a question regarding the price of carburettors for Fordson tractors, and, by way of explanation, I shall read the following telegram -
My farm equipment includes a model T Fordson tractor. Mechanical seeding held up for parts of carburettor of same. . Parts are S634B and S635B. Price lists sent with machine when purchased four years ago state prices of these at 2s. and ls. 5d. respectively. Personally attended at Lynas Perth (Ford agents) to-day; prices wanted for these parts were 14s. and 7s. each respectively. Informed by salesman new tariff to blame.
Will the Acting Minister inform me whether it is a fact that increases of duty have been, responsible for such extraordinary advances in price for mechanical parts necessary in the carrying on of farming operations?
– I shall have inquiries made into the complaint of the person who communicated with the honorable member for Fremantle. Frequently persons who desire to exploit the public, blame the tariff when the tariff is not to blame at’ all. When the matter has been inquired into, the Government will consider what action shall be taken to prevent exploitation.
– Has the Minister for Defence drawn the attention of the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs to a complaint made by the Southern Cross Roads Board in connexion with the purchase of a cylinder block for a Fordson tractor? The original cost of this part was £24 10s., but owing to the increased duty the price is now £35 12s. The Acting Minister, in his weekly notice, allowed this duty to be waived.
– The Minister for Defence has brought many matters affecting Western Australia, under my notice, and I cannot recall them all. If the honorable member will place his question upon .the notice-paper, the information he seeks will be obtained.
Allegations Against Honorable Members
– Yesterday the Prime Minister stated that it was proposed to hold an inquiry into certain allegations of bribery affecting members of the Public Accounts Committee. Does the Prime Minister consider that it would be fair to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) to open such an inquiry in his absence?
– As honorable members will understand from the document I read yesterday, this matter was fully discussed by the Public Accounts Committee itself. The implications are directed against not one member only of that committee, but against all the members with the exception of one. The members of the committee agreed that it was necessary to take steps to vindicate their honour, but it was considered that Mr. Coleman could leave Australia, and that his interests would be safeguarded in common with those, of other members. I. have no intention of allowing ‘‘one hour’s! delay longer than is necessary in clearing up this charge. The Government proposes to appoint a royal commission, and the Attorney-General has been asked to secure, if possible, the services of a judge to conduct the inquiry.
– Is the Minister for Home Affairs aware that four aboriginals have been sentenced to death in Northern Australia? Is he aware that the offence for which they were sentenced to death was of a purely tribal character? Has the Minister ever witnessed a trial of any of these unfortunate, ignorant, savage or semi-savage people, and the abject lack of knowledge they display regarding the proceedings? Is it not a fundamental principle of our judicial system that when a person is incapable^ pf understanding the nature of .the proceedings he shall not be put on trial? Is the Minister aware that the offence for which these four natives stand condemned to death is in reality regarded as a virtue under their own tribal laws? Will he supplement the present drastic white man’s code of law with a code based on the sympathetic understanding of ignorant tribesmen, and with justice based on knowledge and humane understanding? Will he in this case advise the Executive to temper justice with mercy, and reprieve these unfortunate persons whose conduct is sanctioned by tribal laws of centuries standing?
– It is a fact that four aboriginals were convicted and sentenced to death at Port Darwin yesterday. I have communicated with the trial judge, and on receipt of information from him, the Government will take what further steps are necessary to temper justice with mercy as the honorable member has requested.
Cost of Maintenance
– Will the Prime Minister say what steps the Government proposes to take to reduce expenditure on the maintenance of vice-regal residences in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra?
– The subject of Government expenditure is now under review in connexion with the preparation of the new Estimates. The matter raised by the honorable member for South Sydney is one of those which have been brought under the searchlight. It is not proposed to make any change, however, in the existing arrangement while the present representative of the Crown occupies his position. Whatever changes are made, and I think some will have to be made in view of the country’s financial position, will be postponed until a new GovernorGeneral has been appointed.
– In December of last year the Public Accounts Committee recommended that an appeal board should be set up to deal with applications byrural lessees in the Federal Capital Terri.tary regarding rent assessments. In view of the fact that many of the lessees are finding it extremely difficult to carry on under present conditions, will the Minister for Home Affairs state when it is proposed to give effect to the committee’s recommendation ?
– Negotiations have been proceeding for some time with the New South Wales Government with a view to obtaining the services of the chairman of one of the New South Wales Land Boards to serve on an appeal board for Federal Territory lessees. Success has crowned those negotiations, and I hope that in the near future the board will be constituted and appeals heard.
– Yesterday the Prime Minister, in reply to a question relating to the possible ratification by the Commonwealth Government of the proposed treaty with Egypt, said, as I understood, that he had no information from the British Government regarding the progress of negotiations. I desire to ask him whether that is a fact. If he has not been kept posted, will he make representations to the British Government, and insist that he be kept daily and, if necessary, hourly, informed regarding a matter of such vital importance to this country?
– I did not say yesterday that the Government had received no information from the British Government regarding the progress of negotiations.
We have been kept fully informed. I stated.,in reply to a question asked a few days ago by the Leader of the Opposition that we had been kept posted on the progress of events, and that we would convey to the British Government our views regarding what was necessary to safeguard Australia’s interests. I am pleased to bc able to inform honorable members that certain changes of a satisfactory nature both to the British Government and to Australia have been made in the agreement. My statement to the Leader of the Opposition was that I had not received information to the effect that the negotiations which are proceeding have been finalized, and that until such information was received no treaty would be agreed to. I also said that before any treaty was agreed to by this Government, or any agreement ratified, honorable members would be given an opportunity of discussing the matter.
– Is the. Minister for Markets able to inform me whether the report of Mr. Gunn, of the Development and Migration Commission, on the proposals for the stabilization of the dried fruits industry, is yet available? If it is not available, can he tell me when we may expect it?
– The report has been presented to the Government and is now being considered.
– With the object of facilitating the discussion on the Wheat Marketing Bill, I ask the Minister for Markets whether he has been in communication with the various State advisory committees appointed to consider this subject ? If so, will he make a statement on the subject, or lay the communications he has received upon the table of the Library for the information of honorable members ?
– The conference held in Canberra some time ago recommended that advisory committees should be formed in each State, and 3 have been in correspondence with the Ministers of Agriculture in the various States with the object of securing their co-operation in arranging for the meeting of such committees. Up to date two committees have met, and I am in communication with them.
– Has any adjustment been made in the overseas freights on wool, ^ pursuant to legislation recently passed by this Parliament?
– The Government has nothing to do with any re-adjustment of freights. ‘ The legislation referred to by the honorable member made it possible for the shippers and the ship-owners to enter into agreements in regard to freights which would not be regarded as a contravention of the law. I am not able to inform the honorable’ member of what has been done in that connexion.
– Yesterday 1 asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs whether any exceptions had yet been made to the list of tariff items on which embargoes were imposed a month or six weeks ago, and, if so, whether he would indicate the items involved? The Minister answered only a part of my question. I should be glad if he could provide me with the other information that I desire.
– I told the right honorable member that if he would place the unanswered part of his question on the notice-paper I would have the list of exceptions prepared for him, but he did not do so.
Wages and Working Conditions!- of Employees
– Is the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs aware that since the introduction of the new proposals for the assistance of the cotton industry a strong agitation has been set on foot for an increase in the wages of cotton-pickers, and also for the provision of housing accommodation superior to that of the cotton-farmers?
– The new stabilization scheme will not become effective until next year. The prices for this year are those guaranteed by the Queensland Government. I know nothing of the agitation referred to by the honorable member.
Position of Senator Barnes
– It was stated in the Melbourne Herald yesterday that the action which the Government took with the object of reversing the policy of preference to ex-soldiers in connexion with Government contracts was entirely due to Senator Barnes. If this is so, will the Prime Minister explain how the departmental circular dated 17th April, from which I quoted, came to be issued?
– I have already made a full statement in regard to what has been published on this subject.
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - “1. Has his attention been drawn to the products of a factory which advertises its woollen goods as unshrinkable, with the Australian naval flag and the Swiss flag on its label?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. No.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will he make a full statement outlining the methods adopted by the Commonwealth Statistician in the compilation of cost of living statistics ?
– The methods adopted have been explained in the various issues of the Labour Reports issued by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. In Labour Report No. 19 for the year 1928, pages 15 to 18, a general review is given of the methods of collection, the list of commodities included in the investigations, the relative quantity or extent to which each item is on the average consumed, and the methods of computation. The average prices of food and groceries and housing in each town for each month are published in the Quarterly Summary of Statistics. Particulars of retail prices are supplied to the bureau by representative traders in the towns included in the investigations. These retailers are carefully selected to ensure accurate and representative figures. Prices of food and groceries are collected monthly. The cost of housing, clothing, fuel and light, and other miscellaneous items is collected quarterly. The index numbers used by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration are based on the prices of food and groceries and cost of housing.
Collection of Accounts
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– A reply willbe furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the amount of governmental loans raised each year, from and including 1920 up to the present date -
By the Commonwealth Government for its own purposes;
By the Commonwealth Government for the purposes of the States, and for what States;
By the State Governments for their own purposes - (a) in the Commonwealth, and (b) overseas?
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable member is not at present available, but I shall advise him as soon as possible.
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What were the quantities and values of (a) newsprint, . (b) fine paper, (c) brown paper,
paper pulp, and (e) all other paper, imported into Australia, for each of the last five years ?
– The information will be obtained.
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
This amendment is submitted as the result of representations made by the cottonspinners, who desire to maintain the rights enjoyed by them under the 1926 act, with respect to undelivered seed cotton or cotton yarn at the date of the passing of the new act. The old act would have operated up to the 15th August, 1931. It prescribes that claims must be submitted monthly, and unless the cotton is not only produced and graded in Australia, but also delivered at an appointed place, and a claim actually submitted immediately before the expiry of the old act, the producers cannot receive bounty. The Parliament, I feel sure, does not desire to deprive the spinners of any rights enjoyed by them under previous legislation. Sub-clause 3 of the new clause has been included in order to continue the rights earned under the old act, but reduces the maximum percentage of foreign cotton yarn from 49 per cent. to 10 per cent. This is to enable foreign cotton bought before manufacturers had any knowledge of the Government reducing the rate of bounty under the new bill to be made up within a reasonable period without the manufacturers being penalized. Under the old act they could have earned the bounty by using up to 49 per cent. of foreign cotton, but in order to encourage the use of Australian cotton the bill proposes to allow only 10 per cent. until the present stocks of foreign cotton are used up. This is purely a machinery provision in order to protect the rights of the cotton-spinners.
– Sub-clause 3 seems to protect the grower and the spinner, but not the knitter, who is the person most interested. Why have the rights of the knitter apparently been ignored?
– In November last a schedule was brought down giving what the knitters were pleased to call absolutely effective protection against importations from other countries, and they in turn are asked to buy the Australian-spun cotton yarn wherever it can be obtained. Of course, there are quite a number of types of this yarn that are not obtainable in Australia, and these still come in free and at 10 per cent., but the yarns that can be spun here are protected against the imported yarns, and the knitters who ask for 100 per cent, protection for all the goods they manufacture cannot object to buying Australian-grown and spun cotton yarn. It is true that they did have some difficulty for a time during the transition period. I find that there is a tendency on the part of certain knitters still to import their yarns from other countries. In order to get over that trouble I convened a conference in Sydney early in January, representative of the knitters of Australia, and of the spinning mills. We talked the matter over, and certain concessions were granted to the knitters It was arranged that yarn on order before the 22nd November should be allowed to come in, provided it was entered in Australia by the 21st January. Other slight concessions were also granted, and they met with the approval of both the cotton spinners and the knitters. There is naturally a transition period during which somebody must experience a little difficulty when changing over from imported yarn to the Australian article, but that difficulty has been largely overcome, and I appeal to the knitters to give first preference to the Australian-spun yarn. A government standing for a. comprehensive policy of protection for the building up of both primary and secondary industries, and one that has placed on the tariff schedule duties that give the knitters effective protection, expects that the knitters will give first preference to Australian-spun yarn. I can assure the honorable member for Corangamite that this difficulty, which seemed to be acute at the time, has, as the result of the conference to which I have referred, largely disappeared.
Mr. CROUCH (Corangamite) 11.56.-. I am glad to hear the Minister’s explanation, but in this case he seems to have been deceived by the spinners. I attended a conference held between the spinners and the knitters at which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) was present. This took place two days before he left for London.
– That was six weeks or two months later than the conference to which I have referred.
– This arrangement has been disastrous to a group of knitters in Maryborough,’ which is part of my electorate. It may result in the dismissal of a considerable number of factory employees. The honorable member of Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) was present at the conference, which I attended, and a definite promise was made that the price of yarn to the knitter would not be increased. It was also put on record by the Minister at the time that the duty would not apply until the local spinners were able to supply sufficient yarn to enable the knitters to avoid the use of imported yarn.
– The Australian spinners have large quantities of yarn on hand which they are not able to sell, because of the large importations that were made prior to the duty becoming operative. Certain people want to import their raw material and also have 100 per cent, protection.
– I will show that the Maryborough knitters wanted no duty at all. On the 9th April I asked the Acting Minister if the price of yarn had been raised to the knitters, and he replied in these words -
The slightly increased cost of yarn cannot prejudice the spinning mills as the latter make the yarn, nor can it bc seen that it could possibly have the effect of closing a weaving or knitting mill. Experience has shown that knitters who ask for effective protection for what they produce are sometimes not prepared to patronize the local spinner, but try to buy their requirements of yarn in cheap-labour countries.
Will the Acting Minister be surprised to know that the Maryborough knitting mills imported its machinery and started its factory when no duty at all was operating? It would be very glad to have no duty if it could obtain the manufactured article of the spinners duty free. The manufactured article of one industry is the raw material of another, and in this case the manufactured yarn is the raw material of the knitters. The Maryborough factory, which once employed from 450 to 500 men and women, has dismissed a number of them because of the .operation of the. tariff. This was done not- ‘Only because the factory wishes to obtain Australian yarn, but simply because the spinners will not supply it. The Minister stated a few moments ago that there were large supplies of this yarn available. I have received the following communication from the Maryborough knitting mills: -
In the past we have imported quantities of union yarns, i.e. mixtures of cotton and wool and cotton yarn, from England, but now that the tariff has been placed on this class of yarns, we are unable to import same. There are only two spinners of union yarns in Australia, and one of them, Geo. A. Bond and Co. (In Liquidation ) state that they are not at present making up union yarn. The Austral Silk and Cotton Mills, the only other spinner, will make up union yarns, but stipulate that a minimum quantity of at least 2,000 lbs. must bc ordered.
That statement is confirmed by the following letter from the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills to the Maryborough Knitting Mill-
Referring to your further letter of the 14th March, we note that the count you require is l-9s. worsted count.
In reply thereto, we have to state that we can supply you with the yarn referred to at 34d. per lb. (On cones - f.o.r. Melbourne).
In view of the unusually coarse, count and hence the extra internal mill work involved in the production, we would require a minimum order of 2,000 lbs. weight; delivery against which would commence four weeks from our confirmation of such order.
The Austral Silk and Cotton Mills, which has a monopoly of the production of this yarn, refuses to sup’ply unless the knitting mills will take 2,000 lb. The knitting mills, as I have said, formerly employed 450 men and women.
– There are 50 knitting employees for each spinning employee.
– The honorable member should not attribute to the protection given to the Australian spinner a slackness of trade that is due to the prevailing depression.
– The Acting-Minister is interested, in the cotton growers in Capricornia, but I have a responsibility to protect the interests of my. constituents in Corangamite, who are directly interested in knitting. They have orders for goods which they are not able to supply, because they cannot get their requirements of yarn from the one Australian firm which produces it. Another point that the Minister should bear in mind, is that the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills have a subsidiary knitting factory, which is able to get 500 lbs. or any smaller quantity of the yarn it requires. Thus, the Austral Mills can put out of business competing knitting mills by refusing them supplies of yarn. The knitting mills at Maryborough, Ballarat and in the constituency of Yarra, have been obliged to decrease the number of their employees since the introduction of this tariff, which is supposed to protect them and increase employment. If this continues, despite the promise given to me and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) by the Minister for Trade and Customs, a great injury will be done to Australian factories and workers. As another illustration of the methods being adopted by the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills to destroy their knitting competitors, I quote the following increases of yarn prices over the price guaranteed to the Tariff Board which have been made since the tariff was introduced - l-10s. to l-12s., Id. per lb.; l-14s. to l-16s., 1½d per lb. ; l-18s. to l-20s., 2£d. per lb. ; l-24s., 4d. per lb. ; l-28s., 5d. per lb. ; l-30s., 3£d. per lb.; l-36s., 4d. per lb. Clause 11 of the bill provides that if, after inquiry by the Tariff Board, the Minister is of opinion that cotton yarn, on which bounty has been paid, is not being sold by the recipient of the bounty at a reasonable price, he may withhold payment of the bounty, or of so much thereof as he thinks fit. I ask the Minister to insert, in lieu of the word “ a reasonable price “ the words “ the prices current on. the 30th November, 1929”. On the 3rd April I asked the Acting-Minister for Trade and Customs whether evidence had been produced to him that the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills were taking undue advantage of the tariff to charge higher prices to the spinners. The Minister replied -
This company has slightly increased its selling prices for the reasons already stated, but not in the sense of taking undue advantage of the tariff.
If increasing the prices of yarn by from Id. to 5d. per lb., is not taking undue advantage of their tariff undertaking I do not understand what the Minister means by the term. The Maryborough Knitting Mill uses 500,000 lbs. of yarn per annum, and an increase of from Id. to 5d. per lb. is a big tax on a country enterprise. I asked the Acting-Minister -
Is it a fact that when the Customs Duty on cotton yarns was recently raised, a promise was made by the Australian firms manufacturing yarns that they would not raise their prices to the spinners.
To that the Minister replied -
No. The undertaking given by the yarn manufacturers (i.e. spinners) was the event of the customs duties and increased bounty recommended by the Tariff Board on the 0th March, 1929, being granted, and subject to the then existing costs of production not being increased by circumstances or conditions beyond the control of the manufacturers, they would not increase their selling prices. However, the increased bounty recommended by the Tariff Board, viz., id. per count per lb. (instead of the present bounty of Jd. per count per lb.), was not granted, and slightly increased prices would, therefore, be permissible in view of the terms of the undertaking.
No such qualification or limitation was suggested to the honorable member for Ballarat and me when we interviewed the Minister for Trade and Customs. He promised that the prices for the. knitting mills would not be increased ; nevertheless, increases have taken place which are sufficient not only to create unemployment, but to wipe out a factory that has been providing work for 450 people.
– Does the honorable member say that workers in the Maryborough knitting mill have been thrown out of employment as a result of an increase of cotton yarn by Id. per lb. ?
– I say that unemployment has been caused by the increase in the prices of yarn and by the refusal of the spinning firm to supply in parcels of 500 lb.
– With all respect to the honorable member, I am certain that he has been misinformed. I shall have his statement investigated.
– I accept the Minister’s offer. If the investigation discloses that unemployment has resulted from (1) the requirement to order in parcels of 2,000 lb. instead of 500 lb., and (2) the increase in the price of yarn by from Id. to 5d. per lb., will he promise to take measures to rectify the position?
I am afraid that the cotton bounty will prove futile, because the industry cannot be established in Aus tralia without continuous spoon-feeding from time to time. The National City Bank of New York, in its bulletin for February last, states that cotton prices are lower than have prevailed in recent years, and in many instances are below ‘ production cost. I have seen the cotton fields in Egypt, and I am convinced that unless we reduce our wages to ridiculous rates, the cotton industry must depend always on some form or forms of artificial stimulus. It could not conform to Australia labour conditions without spoon-feeding to an extent that would prove an undue tax on the Commonwealth. If, by artificial means, we develop cotton fields in Queensland, and at the same time destroy factories in other part’s of Australia, what will be the net gain? The price of cotton goods has been so increased that people find it more profitable to buy artificial silk goods, and the Minister will not succeed in fostering the cotton industry unless he imposes almost prohibitive duties on silk and artificial silk. A woman will always buy artificial silk, or silk stockings, in preference to cotton, at the same price. The increased charges which the Minister is causing will . completely destroy the market for cotton stockings. Not only will this create unemployment at the Maryborough mill’ and other knitting factories, but eventually these enterprises will be compelled to discontinue, because cotton cannot compete with silk and artificial silk at the same price. I wrote to the Acting Minister on the subject a long time ago, and he promised to give my request for a duty on silk importations favorable consideration. Since then I have heard nothing further. I also asked the Acting Minister to meet a deputation from themanager of the mill and to discuss with him the duty on artificial silk. Unfortunately, the Acting Minister was extremely busy, and did not have time to receive a deputation.
– I assure the honorable member that I am prepared to receive a deputation from the company at the earliest possible moment.
– I am glad to have, at least that - assurance. I am a- protectionist, and have, been so all my life. Although’ an attempt has been made .to bring about a. trinity pf interests consisting, first, of the cotton-grower, secondly, of the . cotton-spinner, and, thirdly, of the cotton-knitter, there must eventually be some scientific arrange ment adopted. More protection must be given, to the cotton-knitters, otherwise unemployment will be considerably increased, and .the mills now operating in country districts and elsewhere, even the mills in the Yarra electorate, will go out of existence. This matter is of great importance to a country town like Maryborough.
– When the increased duties were imposed certain knitters who were importing their raw ‘materials objected because they desired still to continue to import cotton yarns. They were getting yarns from Japan, India, America, England, and Europe.
– -At least 75 per cent, of the imported cotton yarn is from England.
Mir. FORDE. - The knitters not only of cotton goods but also of woollen goods took that stand, although there were manufacturers in Australia turning out woollen yarns for which they were unable to get a market.
– Under the standard of. living that we enjoy in Australia we cannot hope to turn out woollen yarns in competition with the products of Japan and other countries in which the factory hands are employed 54 hours a week at a wage of about £2 10s. The woollen yarn manufacturers of Australia, as well as the spinners of cotton yarn, asked for protection against the importation of cheap woollen and cotton yarns. In November last there was a duty of 35 per cent, 50 per cent., and 55 per cent, placed on certain yarns, but the following were exempt : -
Cotton yarns mercerized, bleached, dyed, and random dyed, yarns for manufacture of cotton tweeds, cotton yarns for manufacture of twines, cordage, sewing threads, and the like; preparation yarns, condenser yarns, and waste yarns for manufacture of blankets and towels, cotton yarns being single ply yarns spun in count No. 50 or finer and yarns of two or more ply containing one or more ply spun in count No. 50 or .finer, as prescribed by departmental bylaws.
Those yarns were allowed to come in free, free, and 5 per cent., while other imported yarns that were being manufactured in Australia had to bear a duty of 35 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent. A deputation waited on the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) just before he left for England, and about a fortnight or three weeks after the Government assumed office. I have learned from the officials of my department that every promise made by the Minister to that deputation has been carried out. I realize the necessity for treating sympathetically all applications for assistance with a view to preventing any hardship from being inflicted upon the knitters. The Knitters Association of Australia approached the Government. It received protection at the hands of this Parliament, and, realizing that the additional duties were only fair and reasonable, it was prepared to accept them.
– Perhaps the knitters accepted the protection on the understanding that prices would not be increased.
– Bond and Company has not increased its prices. The Austral Silk and Knitting Mills have not increased their prices beyond what they told the Tariff Board it would be necessary for them to charge in order to run their mills at a profit.
– Prices have been increased above those set out in the Tariff Board’s report.
– When this complaint was first made it was investigated by an officer of my department, and it was found that the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills of Melbourne had honoured to the letter its undertaking to the Tariff Board.
– The Acting Minister should remove the duty, as he promised, in the event of the knitting companies being exploited.
– I am fully aware that the honorable member’s attitude towards this industry is hostile.
– Has the Acting Minister the Tariff Board’s report?
– Yes, and on page 13 the board states -
In this connexion it is pointed out that the Australian spinners have furnished the Tariff Board with particulars of prices at which they will be prepared to sell their yarns if the assistance asked for is granted, and have undertaken not to increase such prices, except to any extent which circumstances, such as altered labour conditions, or the increased cost of raw materials, may render an increase in prices necessary. A schedule of these prices is submitted herewith as annexure A.
That schedule is attached to the Tariff Board’s report. If the honorable member for Corangamite can produce evidence to show that the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills or Bond and Company have increased prices above what was guaranteed to the Tariff Board, I shall have a further investigation made.
– One quotation of 2s. 4d. set out in annexure A has since been increased to 2s. 8d.
– I promise the honorable member that I shall ,have that item investigated. I hold no brief for any of these companies. The spinners gave an undertaking on the assumption that the Tariff Board’s recommendation in respect of a bounty for spinning would be carried out. The Tariff Board recommended id. per count per lb. bounty, and the Government granted -Jd. per count per lb., and, in addition, gave the spinners protection.
I know something of the secondary industries of Australia. I have visited many woollen mills and factories, and I know that firms such as David Jones, of Sydney, have had to dispense with a considerable number of hands because of the financial depression throughout Australia. That firm recently put off 150 hands. The drop in the prices of wool and wheat has been responsible for taking £31,000,000 out of circulation in Australia. In addition, various governments of Australia have been compelled to cut down loan expenditure from £40,000,000 to £20,000,000, so that Australia is at present facing a loss of £50,000,000 in circulation. That position must drastically affect the purchasing power of the people. I visited the woollen mills of Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat, and the managers informed me that the retailers would not buy the quantity of goods that they purchased previously. As a result the woollen mills have had to put off many hands. The Maryborough Knitting Mills have suffered severely in competition with other and more recently established mills which have installed up-to-date and modern equipment. The duties on knitted piece-goods were increased from 30 per cent. United Kingdom, or 2s. 6d. per lb., and 50 per cent, foreign, or 4s. per lb., to the ad valorem rates plus the fixed rates. Also on the 22nd November, 1929, the Government introduced a new tariff schedule, and it provided, inter alia, for new and/or increased, duty on the following cotton products:–
Piece-goods, piece-goods knitted, blouses, coats, costumes, dresses or robes, knitted apparel, socks, stockings, towels, wadding and cotton wool, cotton yarn, raw cotton including linters, and edible oils.
So that protection was given not only to the knitters, but also to the whole of the industry. The Government stands for giving adequate protection to the knitter, but it would not be fair to allow him to import his raw material and to buy in the cheapest market, while at the same time the cotton-grower and spinner of Australia would be selling their products at less than payable prices. That would be absolutely unreasonable. The right of the spinner to protection is as great as that of the knitter. The Knitters Association of Australia agrees that the increased duty is reasonable, and has passed a resolution approving of it.
– It had no option but to do so.
– That may be the honorable member’s opinion. There are doubtless individuals who would have 100 per cent, protection for what they produce, and yet purchase in the cheapest markets the commodities that they require. We have been told, “If you do not give the knitters protection we shall be ruined and have to close down”; but those persons want to buy their raw materials whereever those materials can be purchased most cheaply. That, however, is not the view held by the Knitters Association, which believes in supporting the Australian product. I admire the honorablemember for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) for having interested himself on behalf of the Maryborough knitting mills. I assure him that I shall avail myself of the first opportunity to visit Maryborough and discuss with the manager of the mills the matter that he has raised. It is not the desire of the Government that hardship shall be inflicted on any section of the manufacturers. By means of- a conference that I convened, and that was held in Sydney, between representatives of the knitters and representatives of the spinners, we were able to overcome some difficulties, and I believe that a conference with the manager of the Maryborough knitting mills will enable us to overcome their difficulties, and that the manager of the mills will join with the Knitters Association of Australia in approving of these duties.
– I am very pleased that the honorable member for Corangamite has drawn attention in such striking fashion to the greatly increased prices that now have to be paid on account of the new duties. I cannot understand the lack of more general interest in this matter among , honorable members opposite. As I endeavoured to show in my second-reading speech, the protection that is being given under this till and in the tariff to the different sections of the cotton industry, means, a very steep increase in the price of cotton garments worn in this country. This particular item of protection has more effect upon the cost of living than any other item in the tariff schedule, and possibly as much as any other dozen items. It is- therefore remarkable that honorable members opposite who represent big industrial electorates should sit silent under this extraordinary tariff impost. I claim to know the facts of this case, and I submit in all sincerity that it was unnecessary to impose these greatly increased duties. Take the case of the spinners. Under the existing bounty only two, .big spinning firms - Bond.s, of Sydney, and Austral Silk and Cotton Mills Ltd., of Melbourne - were concerned. The Tariff Board did not investigate deeply the finances of those two companies; but I had a special investigation made by the leading accountant in the Customs Department in Sydney - a first-class, experienced accountant - and he found, definitely, that Bond’s business wa3 being carried on at a profit’; what losses were made were confined to . the knitting or the weaving end of. the business. I challenge the Minister now to go into the finances of Bonds and other companies and then say whether he can still justify this smashing1 duty of- 35 per cent, on yarns imported from Great Britain and 55 per cent, on foreign yarns.
What makes this the heaviest burden imposed by any item in the tariff is that it affects so many grades. The grower, the ginner, the spinner, the knitter; all are being heavily protected for the bene. fit of a handful of cotton-growers in the electorate of the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Capricornia). Practically no cotton is grown outside that electorate.
– It is grown in the Wide Bay and Moreton electorates.
– To only a limited extent.
– The Moreton electorate is excellent for cotton-growing.
– I admit that cotton may be grown on hundreds of thousands of acres in Queensland; but cottongrowing is practically confined to a handful of farmers in the Minister’s electorate. Those farmers would be very much better off if they had never taken up cotton-growing. They are working country which should not be subsidized, because it is excellent for dairying and mixed farming. Yet for the benefit of this handful of farmers an intolerable burden is placed on the wearing apparel of the workers. This is the most foolish and most wicked item of protection that has ever been brought forward in this chamber.
Another extraordinary feature about the industry iri Queensland is that, although cotton can be grown in &t least one-third of that State, it is not being grown by the older farmers. I doubt whether any quantity of cotton is being grown in any district in Queensland that has been settled for ten years. It is a useful pioneering crop, because it gives a quick return ; but as the farmers get into dairying they abandon cottongrowing for something more profitable.
– I understood from honorable members opposite that the dairying industry was languishing.
– This item of protection will tax the ears off the workers in the honorable member’s electorate, and will benefit only a handful of farmers in an ideal mixed farming district in central Queensland. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) has brought forward one specific instance of the hardship imposed by these new duties on the knitters. At the present time, for every person employed in a spinning mill 50 are employed in knitting mills, and that will always be the proportion. Yet account is not taken of the fact that these new duties are having the effect of putting knitters out of employment. I have no doubt that if they are being dismissed at Maryborough, the same thing is occurring all over Australia. There is a knitting mill of considerable size in Footscray, an industrial suburb of Melbourne. Two years ago it set out to install plant for the manufacture of ‘boys’ jerseys. In the first twelve months, very little good resulted. Experiments were then carried out with a mixture of imported yarns, with the result that the output since last July has totalled 50,000 of these garments, and they have been sold at a price which appears to me to be very low. They cannot obtain this particular type of mixture in Australia. One of the two spinners cannot supply it, and the other will not be able to do so before next July, and the mill is still obliged to import this yarn. The new rate of duty has had the effect of adding from 4s. to 6s. a dozen to the cost of the jerseys it manufactures. These garments are a very good article, and are worn mostly by the sons of workers. I suggest to the honorable member for “Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), that before agreeing to such a duty he should make sure that it will do good rather than industrial and economic harm. I have no hesitation in repeating what I said on the second reading, that this new duty was not needed, and that in any case 10 per cent, would have been ample to enable the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills Limited and Bonds Limited to trade successfully.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
– I take exception to the Government’s policy of assisting this industry only in respect to the new duty of 35 per cent. British and 55 per cent. General. The bounty paid to the growers and spinners amounts to a gift of 50 per cent, of the value of the yarn produced. For every £1 worth of cotton yarn produced from cotton grown in Australia the Government makes the growers and spinners a gift of 10s. On top of that the Acting Minister now proposes that a further protective duty of 35 per cent. - 55 per cent, shall be imposed, making the total pro.tection on spun yarn 85 per cent. British, and 105 per cent, foreign. Compare this with the protection of 7£ per cent, which was sufficient to enable Canada to build up a thriving cotton-spinning industry.
Both the Acting Minister and the Prime Minister have assured us that prices will not be increased as the result of the new duties. It is a fact, however, that one firm which turns out 50,000 boy’s jerseys a year has increased the price from 4s. to 6s. a dozen. By the time the retailer has finished with them, the price to the consumer will be increased by is. a garment. These jerseys are the kind worn by every working boy in the colder parts of Australia. The Acting Minister said that when the spinning industry gets on to its feet, and captures the market, there will be no need for prices to remain high. I am sorry that I cannot accept his assertion. In nearly all cases the price of goods is increased by the amount of duty imposed, and that increase is a permanent one. One of the biggest knitters in Australia told me that the average increase in the cost of all garments he was making would be ls. Id. a garment, as the result of the new tariff. Imagine the effect of that upon industry in this country. It must eventually lead to an increase in the basic wage, and every industry in the country will be affected. Existing protection will then become ineffective, and will have to be increased. The Government has promised that it will take steps to prevent any undue increase in prices as the result of the tariff. I do not suppose that the manufacturers as a class are-, moregrasping than any other section of the community, but they cannot control the cost of labour, nor of material, nor of transport. In other words, the Government has no power to control prices if, by its legislation, it brings about a monopoly. I again appeal to the Acting Minister to be moderate in this matter, and not try to force the pace.
– I desire to remove a wrong impression that may have been created by the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett). He tried to make capital of the fact that the Austral Silk and Cotton Wools, Limited, had been allowed to increase the selling price of their goods under the new tariff provisions. He triumphantly informed the committee that a subsequent- investigation which he had caused to be made by an expert accountant in the Customs Department, into the cost of yarn spun by Bond and Company, disclosed the fact that the company had been making large profits.
– I said the company had made profits, especially on the spinning side of the industry.
– He further said that there was no need to increase the selling price of the goods.
– I did not say anything like that. I said that the position of the Austral Silk and Cotton Mill was not as good as that of Bond and Company.
– I propose to prove that Bond and Company, far from making large profits, were actually working at a loss. I have perused the figures quoted by the expert accountant, Mr. Cooper, of Sydney, and I find that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, probably unintentionally, seriously misled the committee. The report discloses the following position: -
These figures clearly show that Bond & Company’s profits were rapidly declining.
– Is it the function of the Government to ensure that the profits of firms shall be kept up to the highwater mark?
– I have not said that it is. I am refuting the statements of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that large profits were made by Bond & Company, and I have shown that for the last period under review the company made a loss of over £4,000. It will possibly be said that that loss was due to bad management, inflation of capital, and undue overhead costs. These factors were in operation during the whole period, and the accountant reported that one important reason for the decline in profits during the latter period under review was the large overhead cost due to smaller factory output, this being caused by insufficient production, and increased competition by cheaper yarns imported from other countries. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted certain passages from the accountant’s report, but he did not quote the part which said that the output from the company’s mills had been reduced because of unfair competition by cheap yarns imported from other countries. It now transpires that the profits made during the earlier period under, review were not even so large as has been stated. The liquidators of Bond and Company have proved to the Income Taxation Commissioner that the reputed profits were fictitious, because the weaving and hosiery section of Bond’s business - established- under a separately registered company - had been paying the cotton mill company much more than the fair market value of the yarn delivered. I am informed that the Income Tax Commisioner has substantiated this contention, to his own satisfaction, and that substantial refunds of income tax have been made to the cotton mill company with due corresponding adjustments in the liquidator’s accounts for the weaving and hosiery company. It is inconceivable that the Income Tax Commissioner would have made such refunds unless he had been absolutely convinced that they were justified.
– The Acting Minister is attacking his own accountant.
– The honorable member for Henty quoted such parts of the accountant’s reports as pleased him, but ignored those which did not support his argument, and in doing so he misled honorable members.
– That remark is offensive to me and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– If the remark is offensive I will say that the honorable member unintentionally misled honorable members.
– I ask for an unconditional withdrawal.
– I withdraw the statemeat. The honorable member did not stick to the facts, and now that I am stating them he is uncomfortable. It is advisable that I should make the position quite clear. The whole case made against the Government by the honorable member in this connexion has fallen to the ground. The position of Bond and Company in relation to spinning costs and prices is consistent with the position of the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills as disclosed by the latter company to the Tariff Board. The honorable gentleman’s speech was typical of the wailing utterances of ardent freetraders.
I shall investigate the statements made by the honorable member for Corangamite, for the Government has no intention of supporting unjustifiable increases in prices. If certain companies are not abiding by the undertaking they gave to the Tariff Board, steps will be taken to oblige them to do so. This industry is being treated fairly and equitably. Knitting mills which are receiving substantial protection must have some regard for the welfare of the spinning mills. Surely they will not expect to buy their yarn in the cheapest markets and at the same time request increased protection. Not long ago these mills were given the alternative of an increased fixed duty or an ad valorem rate. The duty on knitted blouses, for instance, was increased from ls. Id. to 2s. 6d., and similar increases were made in other lines. Seeing that the knitting companies enjoy such substantial protection they should be prepared to use yarn made in Australia.
During the luncheon adjournment I telephoned the Maryborough knitting mills to ascertain whether they had dismissed some of their employees, and was informed that they had done so, and that the action was partly due to the prevalent depression. The Maryborough knitting mills were established years ago by Mr. Cuttle and Mr. Schemp. Mr. Cuttle died and I understand that Mr. Schemp, after carrying on the concern for a while, withdrew from it and started a spinning mills in Ballarat, into which le and others have put £50,000. I understand that he left the Maryborough mills because he was not satisfied with the manner in which the business was being conducted. He is confident that he will make a success of his Ballarat undertaking.
– Mrs. Cuttle is still connected with the Maryborough mills.
– I am aware of that.
– The management of the mills has not altered since November. The Acting Minister should go back to that date.
– The Maryborough mills were prosperous under the management of Mr. Cuttle and Mr. Schemp and they continued to be prosperous until Mr. Schemp withdrew. Since then they have not been so prosperous. Other concerns have won their way into the market. I intend to visit the Maryborough mills with the object of investigating the whole position, and I shall give sympathetic consideration to any representations made to me for I am anxious to help the industry.
.- I am afraid that this will prove to be an expensive “yarn,” and that the working people will have to pay for it. I was amused to hear the Acting Minister say that he intended to make an investigation with the object of remedying the existing troubles. How can he possibly do that? I suppose that these proposals of the Government will benefit only 7-J per cent, or 10 per cent, of the people, while 90 per cent, of them will have to foot the bill. This absurd policy of prohibitive protection bears very heavily upon the working classes. The following table shows the prices of certain articles before the war and immediately prior to the imposition of the latest tariff : -
In spite of these great increases in prices it is now proposed to apply a policy which will still further inflate them. It must be remembered that it is only the poorer people who wear cotton hose. They cannot afford to buy silk stockings.
– The honorable member supported governments which for many years increased duties.
– That is hardly a fair statement. It is well-known that I have consistently opposed the imposition of high duties. But this Government has done more than any of its predecessors to advance prices, for it has placed an embargo upon the importation of certain goods. This policy must undoubtedly lead to the creation of monopolies. Surely we cannot regard without alarm the fact that S.S.S. galatea has gone up from 9d. or lOd. pre-war to 22d. to-day. Crewdson’s No. 2 calico has advanced from 6d. to 11½d. a yard and Hor.rockses A.I. calico from 5¼d. to 10$d. Finlay’s 80-in. sheeting has increased in price from ls. 6½d. to 3s. 2d. a yard.
I ask the Minister to tell us how many mills will make cotton yarn in Australia if these proposals are agreed to. I well remember ‘ when Mr. Cuttle established the Maryborough mills. He endeavoured to counteract the tendency towards the centralization of our factories, and established a most up-to-date concern in a country district. But the same kind of thing happened that will always happen when an effort is made to support a small industry at the expense of the general community. Prices increased and economic difficulties followed. I do not know where this policy will take us, but I am certain that it will bring the working community to desperate straits, and because of that it is most reprehensible.
.- I do not intend to say a single word in support of manufacturers who do their utmost to get the highest possible duty and then import their raw material from other countries. I entertain no illusions about the Australian manufacturers. They are no better and no worse than the manufacturers of other countries. If they are given an opportunity to exploit the community they will do so. I support this proposal because I believe that it will result in the development of a good industry in Australia. But the figures disclosed by the honorable member for Corangamite seem to indicate that the statement of the case presented by the Government is only partially true. If there is practically a monopoly of yarn manufacturers in Australia, and if they are not only fixing the price, but also practically holding a pistol at the head of other manufacturers by dictating how much cotton yarn they must buy, their action is reprehensible in the last degree, and no government should protect them in such an immoral course, of conduct. In my opinion the Acting Minister should investigate the position, and see that such action is stopped immediately.
– It is not the fault of the Acting Minister.
– I am not accusing him of any responsibility in the matter,; I am attacking the manufacturers who are doing this under the cover of protection.
Mir. Gullett.- What will then become of the workers?
– Let the Opposition support the Government in its proposal that increased powers be granted to the Commonwealth, and then we shall soon stop such conduct.
– What would the honorable member do if he had the increased powers that are being sought ?
– I should pass a law to make conduct such as that of these manufacturers a criminal offence. The honorable member for Corangamite said that there were only two companies manufacturing cotton yarn, and that they had such a monopoly that they were able to demand a certain price, and force the buyers to take certain quantities.
– They have a thousand employees. The honorable member could not do what he says he would do.
– What would the Deputy Leader of the Opposition do?
– I would not create the monopoly.
– Does not that mean the removal of the duty? Neither the Ministry nor the duty has caused the monopoly.
– I should leave these manufacturers on a reasonably competitive basis. ‘
– Then reduce the duty.
– I would agree to that.
– Action such as that of these manufacturers could not be justified, even according to the present immoral code of “ big business.” No government could tolerate the continuance of a monopoly of that nature, and I hope that the matter will be thoroughly investigated.
.- If the Acting Minister succeeds in “ getting away with “ this bill, when he passes beyond that bourn whence no traveller returns, the residents of Capricornia should see that his body is suitably embalmed and placed in a tomb that will challenge in splendour that of Tutankhamen, because of his success in extracting from the pockets of the rest of the people of Australia £800,000 or £900,000 to bolster up an industry, established in his own electorate, that will be to the lasting disadvantage of this country. Doubtless the people of that electorate will make pilgrimages to the tomb. When an attempt was made to develop the cotton industry in the first place, I predicted that it would prove another white elephant, like the sugar industry. It must be apparent to any thinking person that this bounty will place an additional burden on the people.
– The bounty will eventually disappear.
– Not if the Acting Minister has anything to do with the matter. When the original act was introduced I pointed out how impossible it was under Australian conditions to develop this industry. We were told that it could be carried on by families on areas of 5 acres, and that it would not hurt children if they were allowed to assist in the cultivation of cotton. Now we are asked to pay this bounty at a time of depression when on every envelope that passes through the post office is printed the words “ Grow more wheat.” The Acting Minister told us to-day that the present depression in responsible for the difficulty experienced by the people engaged in the cotton industry. That depression is due to the increased cost of producing wool and wheat and the fall in the prices of these commodities, and that increase has been brought about by the policy adopted by various governments in the past. The wheat-farmers’ costs have doubled since 1914, and the action of the present Givernment will further increase the cost of wheatgrowing. The five economists who volunteered to submit a report to us as to the effect of the tariff on our export industries estimated that the tariff had increased their operating costs by 9 per cent. I should say that, since the present Government has been in office, that burden has doubtless been raised to 11 per cent. We are now called upon to increase the cost of articles of clothing commonly worn by’ workmen. Shirts made of 27-inch cotton gabardine, under 6 ounces to the square yard, have been coming in free of duty under the British preferential rate, and the foreign duty has been 15 per cent, ad valorem. Ninety per cent, of these goods are sold in country districts. The present cost retail is 5s. lid. in the cities, and 7s. 6d. in the country. Under the proposed tariff these goods will cost 10s. 6d. in the cities, and 13s. 3d. in the country. That means an increase from 7s. 6d. to 13s. 3d. in the cost to the country workman, and to the man who is asked to grow more wheat, although the cost of production to-day is greater than the value of the wheat. It is time for Australia to take a stand against such folly, for it is foolish administration to cripple one’s own country. Australia cannot afford many white elephants, particularly at the present time. I recently asked the Minister in charge of the bill at what price Australiangrown sugar is sold to retailers, and he replied “ £37 6s. 8d. per ton “. I also inquired the price at which the surplus sugar was sold, and the answer I received was “ 1929 season, £13 3s. 4d. per ton “. Therefore the retailers in Australia were charged £24 3s. 4d. a ton more for their sugar than the price at which the surplus was sold outside this country.
– But the honorable member supported the Bruce-Pago Government when it endorsed that policy.
– The ever-increasing cost of living in Australia has been brought about by the enthusiasm of honorable members opposite for high duties. When the late Mr. Tudor led a Labour
Opposition in this Parliament he pointed out that an increase in the duty on cotton goods would raise the cost of the clothing of the working man, but his advice, unfortunately, has been disregarded. Denim trousers, of 28-in. cloth, were priced wholesale under the previous tariff at 4s. 6d., and were sold in the city at 4s. lid., and in the country at 6s. 9d. Under the present duties those prices have been increased to 6s. lid., 7s. 6d., and 10s. 6d. respectively. That is only part of the extra burden that has been placed on the farmer, who is asked to grow more wheat. The last Government had come to the conclusion that the policy of protection had been carried too far, and more than. once I heard Mr. Bruce say that he and the Tariff Board had discovered that in attempting to protect the raw material, the yarn, and the woven cloth we were so loading the costs that not one of the stages of the industry could be carried on successfully, and that we would have to realize that the whole was greater than the part. The attempt of the Government to grasp the whole of this industry is suggestive of the greedy boy who grasped so many nuts that he could take none out of the jar. I say to the Acting Minister, “Let go half the nuts, my boy, and then try.”
Later we shall be dealing with another bill to help a much more important primary industry. This bill proposes to take from the Commonwealth exchequer between £800,000 and £900,000 to assist the cotton industry; the other bill to assist the wheat-grower proposes that the Commonwealth shall bear only 50 per cent, of any liability incurred, and the States concerned shall bear the balance. Will the Acting Minister agree to apply the same principle to the bill now before the committee, so that the Commonwealth will provide 50 per cent, of the cotton bounty and Queensland the other half? That might take away from the Minister some of the glory that he expects to get from the passage of this measure; but if the fifty-fifty basis is sound in connexion with wheat, it is sound in connexion with cotton. The Commonwealth is paying a huge bounty for the production of our galvanized iron and wire netting, and the policy of protection generally is paid for by the whole of the people, regardless of which State benefits. Why depart from that principle in connexion with wheatgrowing? It is a more important industry than cotton cultivation is ever likely to be. It is the bread-winner of the Commonwealth, the bulwark of the nation’s financial stability, and the decision to make the States concerned pay portion of the assistance to it is a departure from an established principle.
– I support the bill. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) did not mention the name of the firm which supplied him with the price-list from which he quoted. Recently I visited manufacturers in Victoria, and they assured me that they would not take advantage of the new duties to increase the price of cotton goods. Unusual circumstances surround the cotton-growing industry. Queensland has millions of acres of land admirably adapted for the production of this crop. The industry is struggling to compete against the cotton producers of other countries, and in order to help it to its feet the Government is offering a bounty, which will expire in 1936. The Commonwealth has paid bounties to many other industries.
– All have been failures. 1
– That is not so. The bounty of £3 per ton for the production of sugar by white labour placed the sugar industry oh its feet; to-day it is one of the most important industries in Australia, employing many thousands of people, and paying out in wages millions of pounds annually. Will any honorable member deny that that industry was worth fostering? Through Central and Northern Queensland and westerly to the Northern Territory are millions of acres suitable for cotton cultivation, and nobody will deny that the Australian product is equal, if not superior, to the imported. This Parliament is justified in giving to the cotton-growers some assistance in their struggling years. I refuse to believe that the prices of cotton apparel have been increased in Victoria. But if the manufacturers break their pledge to the Government that they will not increase prices, this Parliament will have no option but to withdraw the . increased duties. Similarly, if the cotton-growers or the spinners abuse the bounty that is being paid to them we must reconsider our attitude to the industry. There must be honest dealing. We should take a national view of this matter, and I as a well-wisher of Queensland and of Australian industries am prepared to assist the cotton industry until it is sufficiently established to take care of itself.
.- I desire briefly to emphasize the statement of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) that cottongrowing in Australia can never be an economic success. In support of that opinion I remind the committee that in 1926 this Parliament appropriated £900,000 for the assistance of the cotton industry, the payments to be spread over a period of five years. Because of the conditions under which the industry is carried on, I and some other honorable members, were of opinion that it would never be made an economic proposition, and I remember asking the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) - “ Is there any reasonable hope that with the payment of this bounty the industry will be able after five years have expired to carry on successfully?” His answer was - “ The growers, at least, seem to think that there is “. When the bill went to a division I and four others votedagainst it. Notwithstanding the statement by the then Minister (Mr. Pratten) that there was a reasonable prospect of the industry being self-supporting within the five years over which the bounty was to extend, the industry is now, only four years later, asking for increased assistance. No evidence has been furnished that the industry has any better prospect of success now than it had five years ago.
– Yes. Effective tariff protection alters the whole complexion of the industry.
– Surely not the growing of cotton. Not only are we asked to bolster up the secondary industries, but we are to subsidize also the production of the raw material. The history of the industry seems to prove that it has not the slightest prospect of ever being self-supporting, and in my opinion the sooner it is wiped out the better in the interests of Australia. . .
– One or two points have not yet been adequately met by the Acting Minister’s explanation. It has been brought under his notice that terrifically increased prices are being charged for goods as a result of the recent tariff revision, and he has not yet stated what action the Government intends. to take to prevent this.
– What goods has the honorable member in mind ?
– The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) showed indisputably that there has been a considerable increase in the cost of the raw material, particularly union yarn, which is necessary to keep the knitting industry in existence. The honorable member has cited chapter and verse to show the various increases in prices. They vary from Id. on certain kinds of yarn to 4£d. and 5d. His statement is proved beyond doubt by the correspondence that he has received from a manufacturing firm. The evidence is unmistakable and inescapable. In addition, the honorable member has shown that these particular manufacturers have a monopoly, being the only manufacturers of the yarn that the knitting factories require, and that not content with charging increased prices they go further and refuse to accept from the knitting factories orders for less than 2,000 lb. of yarn. There are only two spinning firms in Australia which make this yarn. Bond and Company are not at present making it, but the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills are making it, and it is the action of that particular firm to which the honorable member for Corangamite has referred. In addition, that firm has a branch establishment engaged in the knitting industry, which is competing with the legitimate knitting manufacturers.
– The Austral Silk and Cotton Mills have no knitting mill, but have shares in the Australian Knitting Mills, which is a separate concern and under entirely different management.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That is a distinction without a difference, and it is useless for the Acting Minister to attempt to deceive honorable members by saying that these are different firms, when it is very evident that one is a branch of the other. The honorable member for “Wannon (Mr. McNeill) wanted to know in what way prices had been increased.. He has now a clear case before him. It is as clear as the peak of a mountain that the prices of cotton goods are considerably higher than they were two years ago.
– Is the honorable member speaking of the manufacturers or of the retailers?
– I am speaking from the point of view of the consumers of this country. I am not at the moment concerned with the view of the manufacturer, distributor or the retailer. The ‘fact remains that the cost of cotton goods is infinitely higher to-day than it was a couple of years ago. No other necessary of life has increased in price during the last two years to the extent that cotton goods have, and I predict that in the next year or so there will be a still greater increase in prices. The Prime Minister has been repeatedly asked in this House what action he intends to take to protect the consumer in the event of prices being increased as the result of the recent tariff schedules, and he has replied, with ever increasing emphasis, that if any authentic cases could be brought under his notice he would take speedy action to counteract them. He said that, if necessary, he would be prepared to remove the tariff protection that had been given, but it was pointed out to him that if that were done we should, in many instances, punish the just as well as the unjust manufacturer. The most extraordinary and outstanding feature of the Government’s administration is its neglect to protect the workers and the general public from an increase in prices consequent on the recent tariff revision. The interests of the manufacturer and the grower have been considered, but this Government, whose first duty should be to protect the workers of this country, has shown an almost callous indifference to them by refusing to prevent its own supporters, and Nationalist supporters in industrial areas, from being exploited in respect of their necessaries of life. The Tariff Board recognizes the necessity for protecting the interests of the consumers, because in its report of June, 1929j it says -
With a view to protecting the consumer the Tariff Board, in dealing with every application for increased tariff protection, seeks from the applicants an assurance that, in the event of the desired protection or additional protection (as the case may be) being granted, advantage of such protection will not be taken to increase the selling prices of their goods. The calling for this assurance follows logically on the argument almost invariably presented by the applicants that the protection is needed to enable the Australian factories to increase their output and work to full capacity, an argument which is quite sound. Generally speaking, it should follow that, if by securing the local market to the Australian manufacturers the output of their factories is increased up to the full capacity of their plants, then production costs should be lowered and reduced selling prices should result, assuming that the prices previously obtaining were not unprofitable. This being so, in addition to the assurance against an increase in prices, the board, where the circumstances appear to warrant it,’ also calls for an assurance that, if as the result of the granting of the protection, costs of production are so decreased as to make a reduction in selling prices possible, consumers will be given the advantage of such reduction.
The board has under consideration the desirability of the establishment of a system of following up assurances given, in order to ascertain how far the promises made have been fulfilled. Clearly the value of any assurance given is discounted unless some effective check such as that suggested is in operation.
I commend that statement to the Acting Minister. The Tariff Board clearly intended that advantage should not be taken of tariff assistance in order to exploit the consumers. “When £900,000 of the taxpayers’ money is being put into an industry, surely the people generally should receive some benefit from that industry in the way of obtaining goods at reduced prices. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) showed that the price of jerseys worn by children had since the tariff revision increased from 4s. to 6s. a dozen. I am glad that at least one or two Government supporters have made some protest against the excessive charges which those who have received tariff assistance are already levying upon the workers of this country. It is not an unusual sight to see the wife of a working man dragging five or six children from shop to shop in order to obtain goods at the cheapest and lowest prices. It is the working man with a family like that who suffers most because of these increased prices. The man on the high salary is not affected at all, because he does not wear cotton goods, and in many oases has no children to clothe. The misery, the privations, and the hardships borne by most of the workers to-day as the result of unemployment and financial depression are nothing compared with what they will suffer during the later months of this winter and during next winter.
– Is the honorable member concerned about the working class?
– I have, all my life, been concerned about the working man and his family. It is time that someone was concerned about him, because the Government apparently is not. The late T. P. O’Connor, M.P., who represented a Liverpool constituency for a record number of years, on one occasion started a newspaper which he called The Star; and he announced that the barometer by which would be judged the effects of the politics of the country would be the material condition of the wharf labourer begging outside the dockyard gate, the charwoman in St. Giles, and the seamstress who sweated in Whitechapel. If we were to judge the policy of this Government in relation to the tariff by the material condition of similar units of society in Australia, what would be the result? We should learn that there is less employment offering for those who seek work on the wharfs; that the charwoman who is struggling to clothe, feed and rear a large number of children is much worse off because of the increased cost of living; and that other sections are similarly affected. I have no objection to the industries of this country being given a fair deal. But while I am prepared to do that for the manufacturer and the grower of cotton, I, in return, demand a fair deal for the general public and the workers of this country. They will not get that under this bill.
.- I am not astonished at the tone that the debate has assumed. Very little has been said about the clause; practically the whole of the afternoon has been spent in a discussion of the effects of tariff duties generally. The tariff has been blamed for high prices, and for much of the difficulty in which the country now finds itself. I shall leave any comments that I have to make on the tariff to the occasion when it is being debated on a motion that relates specifically to it, and shall confine myself to the clause, which contains nothing about duties or high protection, or the effect of giving a particular group of manufacturers a monopoly of the Australian market, and consequently the power to exploit the people.
I agree with a gre.at deal of what has been said this afternoon. I can see no reason why the manufacturers of Australia should be considered as a class apart from the general community. But that matter is not before the committee. The bill provides simply for the payment of bounties to cotton-growers and those who are engaged in the manufacture of cotton yarn. I can see no justification for the payment of a bounty to the manufacturers of cotton yarn. I supported the second reading of this bill because I believed that it was desirable to assist materially the development of the cottongrowing industry in Australia. That industry will be located in the rural areas of the Commonwealth ; thus this proposal of the Government will be of assistance to a primary industry that may be of very great importance to the future life of this nation. At the present stage of Australia’s history in connexion with the payment of bounties I consider that an experiment in relation to cotton-growing is as much justified as have been those hitherto made with other industries. I point out to the committee that the principle of paying a bounty for the production of cotton is not new to this Parliament, but was applied by the Government that was in power prior to the advent of this Ministry. The amount of bounty which it is proposed to pay may be an arguable matter, but that question is not relevant to the clause being debated. I agree that, broadly stated, a bounty is the only practical form of assistance for rural industries. I cannot see that the imposition of duties will assist to promote rural industries and, therefore, rural settlement. As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has stated, some years ago, when the previous government was asked to decide whether this industry might reasonably be supported financially by means of a bounty, the House of Representatives as it was then constituted unanimously agreed that it should be so supported. That is all that is now proposed. I would not give a bounty to the manufacturers of yarn. I can see no justification for regarding one or two factories as a national industry. If it is desirable that they should be assisted let them be assisted through the instrumentality of the tariff. That ought to be sufficient for them. But there can be no argument against the payment of a bounty to the growers of seed cotton. Do honorable members opposite propose to vote against the payment of that bounty, and to repudiate the contract and compact that was entered into with the men who have invested their all in this industry and have endeavoured to develop it?
– They have nearly all gone out of business.
– Nothing of the kind. The speech delivered by the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) proves that, as a result of the bounty and of the efforts of the State Government in Queensland, the industry is now in such a position that, in the view of experts, if that measure of support is continued for the period specified in the bill, it will then be able to stand on its own feet.
– That is what we were told five years ago.
– I remind honorable members that “ Art is long, and time is fleeting”. These industries are difficult to establish. It is not questioned that in respect to both cotton and sugar the State of Queensland is confronted with an extraordinarily difficult problem. We have to look to that State chiefly for the production of those two commodities. Each year we import cotton goods to the value of £11,000,000, and that fact is materially associated with our adverse trade balance. If we increase our population but yet make no attempt to develop the cotton industry, our imports of cotton goods will rise in value to £20,000,000 and ultimately £50,000,000 annually. They now amount to about £2 per head of population. Every unit that is added to the population means the addition of £2 to our import figures; and in the fullness of time, unless we make an attempt to establish this industry, we shall be crippled by adverse balances. I believe in a commencement being made in its primary section, the production of seed cotton, but can see no justification for giving a bounty to the manufacturers of cotton yarn. Although honorable members opposite have criticized that proposal, they have not moved for its exclusion. I challenge them to say whether the time has arrived when this Parliament should deliberately decide that the cotton industry shall go out of existence. If they are not willing to say that, they must vote for the continuance of the bounty.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
This morning the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) asked me a question regarding the progress of negotiations between the Government of Great Britain and the Egyptian Government. I informed him that we had been kept closely informed by the British Government concerning what was taking place. Just before the Easter adjournment the reports received were very favorable; but I have now received information that the negotiations finally broke down yesterday, owing to the British Government being unable to satisfy the Egyptian demands with regard to the Government of the Sudan. The negotiations commenced at the beginning of April, and when they were adjourned immediately before Easter such a measure of progress had been achieved towards an agreement on a clause to provide for the adequate protection by British troops of British communications through the Suez Canal that there appeared good reason for hoping that the negotiations would be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. However, since (be negotiations were resumed after Easter, difficulties have been encountered, with the result I have stated.
Yesterday I read a report of the proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee with regard to its inquiry into the claim by the “ A “ class broadcasting stations. In that statement the following appeared : -
– I do not know whether it is necessary for me to ask whether any individual member has been approached. Messrs. O’Halloran, Francis, Gardner, Guy, Hoare and Yates intimated that they had not been approached in any way.
As it might, however, be inferred that the other members of the committee whose names are not mentioned had been approached, Senator O’Halloran, tho Acting Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, desired me to make it clear that Senator J. B. Hayes and Mr. Chifley were not present at the meeting of the committee at which members were asked by the Chairman whether they had been approached. When those gentlemen were informed of what had taken place, they stated . that they had not been approached by any one.
– I am sure that honorable members have heard with regret the announcement that the conference between the British and Egyptian Governments has concluded without result. This, apparently, leaves the position as it was some years ago, when a re-arrangement was effected allowing Egypt a modified form of independence, subject to four conditions. The conference has evidently broken down over tho discussion on one of these four matters, the result being that no agreement has been reached on any of them. It is hoped that ultimately a friendly arrangement will be arrived at between the British Government and the Egyptian Government, because it is very important, from the point of view of Australia, that friendly relations should prevail betwen Egypt and the Empire, having regard to Australia’s interest in the Suez Canal. The Prime Minister has assured ns that the Government recognizes the importance of the Suez Canal to Australia, and that representations made on behalf of the Commonwealth have been inspired by that consideration . Although it is regrettable that negotiations have broken down there is no reason why they should npt be renewed when a suitable opportunity presents itself.
-It has been the custom in the past to issue a parliamentary handbook after every election, but although six months have elapsed since the last election the publication has not yet appeared. What is the reason for the delay ?
– The handbook was in course of preparation immediately before the last election, which followed closely on the previous one, making it impossible for the publication to be completed and issued then. It is now being brought to completion, and will, I trust, be issued at an early date.
-r- I wish to correct a mis-statement which appeared in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald regarding the allegations of bribery which have been made in connexion with the inquiry of the Public Accounts Committee into the claims of “ A “ class broadcasting stations for compensation from the Government. The statement of which I complain is as follows: -
It has been alleged by Mr. Boland Green, a member of the Committee, that an unnamed man had informed him that every member of the committee except himself had accepted a bribe as a consideration to influence the committee to decide in favour of the “A “ class broadcasting companies in their claim for compensation from’ the Commonwealth Government following the taking over of the stations. The claim was for ?66,000.
In order to show that there was no justification for publishing that statement 1 propose to read an excerpt from the report read by the Prime Minister yesterday. It is as follows: - “I am rather interested in this broadcasting inquiry yon are on. I hear that the committee is going to come to a verdict in favour of the companies. You are, I believe, the only one standing out.” I said, “Oh, where did you get that information from?” He said,
That information came from the Chairman.” I said, “That seems very funny.” He said, “ Why the hell are yon standing out? Anyway Coleman earned his ?500.”
Mr. Qit .AIRMAN What followed then!
– I was astounded. I tried to draw him on as to what proof he had about your obtaining ?600. He said, “He received it all right. I know that. Why be a damned fool? why stand in your own light?” The conversation then ended rather abruptly.
That is all that was said,yet the Sydney Morning Herald, a reputable and usually well-informed journal, informed its readers that I had alleged that every member of the committee except myself had accepted a bribe. That statement is absolutely incorrect.
– In yesterday’s issue of the Melbourne Argus appeared a report of a speech made by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) from which the inference might be drawn that I did not support the principle of preference to returned soldiers. The words I refer to are as follow : -
Mr. Jones was in an unfortunate position, because the Melbourne press had stated that he had supported preference.
My position is not unfortunate, and I am pleased that the Government has decided to restore full preference to returned soldiers. My letter to Mr. Joyce, the State Secretary- of the Victorian branch of the Returned Soldiers League, will appear in Hansard. My position would, I admit, be unfortunate had I been forced to make an admission similar to that made yesterday in this House by the honorable member for Balaclava when he had to confess that the firm of which he is managing director had turned down an application for a position as accountant by a returned soldier with high qualifications, and given the position to someone who was not a returned soldier.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 May 1930, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1930/19300509_reps_12_124/>.