12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and offered prayers.
– In the absence of the Attorney-General, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government proposes to revoke the proclamation of ports under the Transport Workers Act ; if bo, is- the object of the Government to restore to the Waterside Workers Federation control of work on the waterfront?
– The AttorneyGeneral has announced that he proposes to issue a proclamation exempting those ports to which the Transport Workers Act now applies. Later a bill will be introduced to repeal that statute. The purpose of the Government is to discontinue the issue of licences to work upon the waterfront.
Mr. LACEY, as chairman, brought up the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed establishment of an automatic telephone exchange at North Sydney, New South Wales.
Ford Tractor Parts
– I have received definite information that Ford tractor parts which in 1927 were listed at 21s. each, are now listed at 43s. Will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs cause immediate inquiry to be made as to whether the advance in price is due to the recent increase of customs duties?
– The matter will be fully investigated. The Government has appointed a qualified accountant of the Trade and Customs. Department to investigate all complaints of profiteering under the tariff or bounty laws ; wherever possible, he will utilize the services of the investigating officers in the various States. Already many investigations have been made, and nearly all have proved that the manufacturers have not been profiteering.
– Having regard to the thousands of people who have been rendered homeless, foodless, and, but for the apparelthey are wearing, without clothing, by the recent disastrous floods in the Hunter river district of New South Wales, will the Prime Minister make an immediategrant to the distress fund that is being organized in the affected area?
– Every honorable member must sympathize with those who have suffered as the result of the floods in the Hunter river district, but it is not one of the functions of the Commonwealth to grant relief in connexion with disasters of this kind. This is primarily a concern of the State, and, usually, if the Commonwealth intervenes at all, it is only after representations by a State Government. I remind the honorable member for Hunter that already the Commonwealth Government has made a substantial amount available to assist the surplus coal-miners in the coal-mining areas of New South Wales. I would further remind the honorable member that Australia is a very large continent.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether there is any foundation’ for the report that the Government is considering the introduction of a general scheme for rationing employment throughout the Commonwealth Public Service?
– The report is unfounded. Rationing was introduced in connexion with the Defence Departmenr, because there was a clearly established surplus of men, and the Government had the option of discharging about 300 of them or rationing the work amongst all. There is no evidence that other branches of the Public Service are overmanned.
– Has the Minister for Markets and Transport read the report in yesterday’s Melbourne Age of a meeting of dairymen at Benalla to protest against the rumoured intention of the Commonwealth Government to abolish the butter stabilization scheme known as the Paterson scheme? While making allowance for the political motives that may have actuated the conveners of the meeting, will the Minister say whether there is any justification for the suggestion that the Government intends to interfere in any way with the Paterson scheme ?
– The butter stabilization scheme is wholly voluntary, and there has been no suggestion that any interference in regard to it is contemplated by the Government.
– Has the Prime Minister come to a decision upon the request recently made to him by an interstate deputation of representatives of the dried fruits industry?
– The Government has not come to any definite decision, although I clearly indicated to the deputation the Government’s views. Since then I have asked two Ministers to investigate the industry, to ascertain if there is any way of overcoming the difficulties in which the producers find themselves.
Use of Military Barracks -
Distribution of Clothing
– Having regard to the distress existing among the unemployed in Hobart, will the Minister for Defence make provision for single men to use the military barracks as dormitories?
– The Government is making available from the surplus defence stores, clothing, boots, and blankets, but barracks or drill halls in which arms are stored or which are otherwise in use cannot be made available, not alone because of the arms, but also because these buildings are mainly in large centres and are without proper, sanitary and ablutionary conveniences. If a drill hall is available to which these objections do not apply the department will endeavour to comply with the honorable member’s request.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been directed to a statement by the Mayor of the Glebe that the clothing being issued by the department for the relief of the poor and suffering is so disreputable that he considered that, instead of being distributed, it should be sent to the incinerator; if so, what does the honorable gentleman propose to do in regard to the matter ?
– I have not seen the statement. Most of the clothing issued was in first-class condition. Before being issued, it was washed, fumigated, and dyed. A small number of overcoats which were not suitable for other use were distributed to women to be cut up for clothing for children; possibly those are the articles to which reference was made. The department has received numbers of letters to the effect that the overcoats and other clothing which have been distributed have been highly appreciated by the recipients.
– The Brisbane Courier of the 17th June, published the following report regarding the medical examination of migrants : -
An allegation thathis experience had proved to him that the medical examination of migrants prior to their departure for Australia was not adequate was made by Dr. E. Culpin, when he gave evidence before the Royal Commission on Hospitals yesterday. Dr. Culpin, who is honorary surgeon at the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of the Brisbane Hospital, was explaining the reasons for the long waiting list. He declared that a number of immigrants came before him suffering from chronic diseases that they must have had years before they came here.
Mr. W. Harris, P.M. (Chairman). Do you think the migrants are not properly examined before they depart for Australia?
Dr. Culpin. I know they are not.
He added that, in private practice, he had been struck with the number of consumptives among them.
– I have not read the statement; but I shall take the first opportunity of perusing it, and investigating the matter.
– I noticed in the Sydney newspapers a very fine photograph of the Minister for Defence taken in connexion with his visit to Victoria Barracks. Those barracks consist of a few dilapidated and useless structures. Is it the intention of the Government to waste money in an attempt to improve them?
– It is true that I was at Paddington Barracks ; the camera does not lie. I presume that what is at the bottom of the honorable member’s mind is the opinion that I should have informed him of my visit to his electorate; but I merely called at the barracks on my way to inspect a much more important work, and was accompanied by the honorable member representing the district concerned. The Victoria Barracks are considered by the military authorities to be suitable for their particular purposes, and I assure the honorable member that certain work is contemplated which, when completed, will make him proud of having such an institution in his electorate.
– There have recently been several eviction orders obtained in the courts with respect to war service homes in the various States, particularly New South Wales. I wish to know what is the Minister’s policy in regard to these evictions, particularly in view of the badness of the times through which we are at present passing?
– Shortly after assuming office I issued an order against any evictions of returned soldier occupants of these homes who were out of work, and there is no intention to evict these men while unemployed.
– On the 19th of this month, in reply to the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), the Minister for Home Affairs promised to make a statement regarding recent prosecutions of unemployed persons in the Northern Territory, in consequence of which eleven men were sentenced to terms of im prisonment, ranging from 48 hours to six months. Some of the persons concerned who were fined are remaining in prison until such time as the fines are paid. Is the Minister now in a position to make a statement regarding those prosecutions?
– I hope to be in a position within a couple of days, if certain legal proceedings are completed, to announce that the whole of the men concerned have been released from prison.
Rationing of Employment
– In view of the fact that a considerable number of firms engaged in industries which have recently obtained embargoes or largo increases in tariff, are rationing their employees, and, in many cases, reducing wages, will the Minister for Trade and Customs have a list prepared by the officers of his department showing the number of firms who are taking this action, and the details of each case?
– I am not aware that what the honorable member has stated is a fact, but I do know that quite a number of firms, since they have been given tariff protection, have increased the number in their employment, while others have kept employed hundreds of men who would otherwise have been dismissed.
– Is it a fact that a number of Commonwealth public servants who are not members of Public Service organizations are being refused admission to those organizations unless they are prepared to pay dues dating back to the time when they were first eligible for membership? Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to this matter, and does he approve of this procedure ?
– I have no knowledge of the matter, nor have I received any communication from anybody intimating that such is the case.
– Is it true that it is the policy of the Government to insist upon members of the Public Service joining Public Service unions, and that, in some instances, those desiring to gain admission to those unions have been asked to pay dues for as far back as seven years? If so, does the Prime Minister approve of that procedure?
– The Government has made no declaration requiring public servants to join unions. My own opinion is that all public servants should be members of the unions for which they are eligible; but no instruction has been issued that they must join the unions. The Government, however, insists that only those who are members of organizations that have received awards from the arbitrators shall receive the benefits of those awards.
– Does the Prime Minister consider that private employers who do not happen to be bound by awards should not pay award rates or observe award conditions with regard to their employees, in the same way as the Government proposes to withhold the benefits of such awards from public servants who are not members of organizations which have obtained them?
– If the honorable member has any specific case which he can place before me, I shall deal with it on its merits, and supply him with the information required. I do not propose to answer hypothetical questions.
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the estimated number of persons who will obtain employment by reason of enlarged industries as a result of the customs tariff revision by the present Government?
– The information will be obtained as far as possible.
Mr. D. CAMERON (through Mr.
Francis) asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Employment in England.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Only 56 are paid by the Commonwealth. The remainder are on exchange service and are paid by the admiralty. The 56 are distributed as follow : - 3 in Naval Representatives Office, London; 1 at Imperial Defence College; 1 at Staff College, Greenwich ; 1 in Hydrographic Branch, Admiralty; 22 in various ships of the Royal Navy; 3 at Gunnery School; 2 at Torpedo School; 9 doing course for lieutenant; 9 at Royal Navy Engineering College, Keyham; 2 in submarines; 2 doing observer courses; 1 in Royal Navy Hospital, Haslar. 2. (a) 54.
£1,520 15s. 2d. per month.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) A person who is permanently incapacitated for work and fulfils the other requirements of the act is qualified to receive an invalid pension; (b) No. Form 16, however, contains the following note: -
Cases of a transient nature, only temporarily incapacitating the claimant for work; or of a permanent nature, but only partially incapacitating him for work, do not come within the act.
It is not considered necessary to take action on these lines.
Judge Lukin - Registered Unions
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
On 20th June, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr.Keane) asked me the following question: -
How many persons are registered in the Arbitration Court as members of unions?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that, according to the latest returns filed in the Principal Registry of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, unions registered as organizations under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act comprise approximately 767,200 members.
– On the 20th June, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) asked me the following question : -
How many industrial awards made by State industrial tribunals in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania have been supplanted and rendered inoperative by awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that I know of no case in which an award of a State industrial tribunal has been supplanted or rendered inoperative. No data are available for ascertaining how many State awards are affected by reason of the fact that some or all of the persons bound by them are also bound by a paramount Commonwealth award.
Unemployment Relief Measures
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2 and 3. No advances have yet been made. Thirty-one of the unemployed signified their intention of availing themselves of the scheme. Thirty-one farms at Katherine and Mataranka have been made available and allotted by ballot. Agreements are being prepared for signature by the men. Consideration is now being given to the question of the supply of implements. 4. (a) Rations, £1,696; hospital treatment, £263; (6) relief works, £12,464; rations, £24,474; hospital treatment and incidentals, £660. 5. (a) Since the present Government took office, £681; (b) since 1919, £4,786. 6. (a) Since the present Government took office,59; (b) since 1919, 341.
Emigration of Inmates
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Migration to Australia
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1.£ 2,000 per annum. 2.£104 16s. 3d. travelling expenses.
On the 19th June, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
Shares in Bank of International. Settlements.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Aerodrome at Western Junction.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– On the 20th June the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to. inform the honorable member as follows : -
Motion (by Mr. Scullin) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to. enable the Minister for Defence to make a statement.
: - I should not have sought the permission of the House to make this statement had it not been for certain criticism of my department by two honorable members of another place, for from dayto day I have the opportunity of replying to many questions. But these two gentlemen have made statements which are entirely incorrect, and require a definite reply. I take no exception to honorable members expressing their opinions in Parliament, for they can then be replied to effectively; but it is not cricket to carry on the kind of propaganda that has been indulged in lately in regard to the voluntary recruiting’ movement.
Iwish to refer, in the first place, to statements made by Senator Sampson at Launceston. This gentleman is an officer of the. Military Forces. I had the doubtful privilege on the 17th of April last of granting an extension of twelve months of his term as commanding officer of the 12th Battalion, Tasmania. I quote the following pressreport ofthe remarks which I consider to be objectionable:-
The number of young men who have enlisted in the voluntary forces in Australia is not so satisfactory as the public has been led to believe, and the services of 9,000 more are required before the authorities will have reached their objective. Statements to this effect were made by Senator B. Sampson, when responding to the toast of his health at the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Launceston Battery of Artillery on Saturday night.
Senator Sampson overstated the requirements by 1,000; we need 8,000 more enlistments to reach our objective. The report of the speech continued as follows : -
Last year there were 48,000 men in training, and, on’ top of that; therewere 17,000 or 18,000 cadets who would have been signed on in due course. However, the new regulations did away with all those men and it was thought that 35,000 men, which was the number hoped for by voluntary enlistments, would be suflicient for the needs of the country. But the objective which had been set for the authorities last November had by no means been reached by a long way, and there were only 26,000 in training.
In mentioning 48,000 men Senator Sampson made another mis-statement; the correct number was 47,000. But the statement to which I object most of all is the following: - “ We read in the papers,” said Senator Sampson, “ that voluntary enlistmentshave, exceeded the most sanguine expectations, and that everything is going very well. ButI want to give the lie direct to these statements which are damnable rotten, mean lies.”
I will not permit a member of either this House or another place to make such statements without replying to them, for I consider that they are made with the object of playing what the Melbourne Age described, the other day, in a leading article on our defence system, as the “ dirty party game.” I suggest that persons holding such positions as that held by Senator Sampson should do their best to assist the volunteer movement; for we are anxious to improve the position.
– That is doubtful.
-The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) is now playing the “ dirty party game.” The Government believes that the voluntary system will ultimately prove to be the most satisfactory method of providing for the defence of this country, and persons who are supposed to support the recruitingmovement should not, at the same time, be playing the party game. Although Senator Sampson stated that under the old system 17,000 or 18,000 cadets would have signed on in due course,” he neglected to state that more than 100 per cent. of the number required under the voluntary system - - 7,000 cadets - has already been obtained.
In order to reply authoritatively to the statements of Senator Sampson, I have obtained a report on the whole subject from the Adjutant-General. I trust that the figures that I shall quote from it will be sufficient to put an end to the misstatements that are being made, particularly by some senators at political gatherings, for party purposes.
The enlistments to the end of May, 1930, under the voluntary system, have been as follows : -
Although the voluntary system has been in force for only five months, 77 per cent. of the requirements have been secured. It is significant that in Victoria, where Senator Elliott has been speaking against the system, and Tasmania, where Senator Sampson has been speaking againstit, the response has been lowest. This, of course, was to be expected from such propaganda. The recruiting results each monthare as follow : -
It will be noticed that in Tasmania, where they require an establishment of 113 senior cadets, they have obtained only 51 per cent. of their requirements. That is not the fault of Tasmania, but is the natural outcome of the efforts of a man who has been endeavouring to discourage voluntary recruiting and to decry the present defence system. In connexion with recruiting, Major-General Dodds states that -
From the above it will be noted that there has been in the past six months a regular increase in the militia and senior cadet forces amounting to 9,400 militia and 2,232 senior cadets.
It is considered that, up to the present, recruiting has been quite satisfactory ; indeed, more satisfactory than might be expected under the complete and sudden change from compulsory’ service to a voluntary system without any transition period when the Force was practically disbanded and a new force brought into being.
It might reasonably have been expected that the effect of the sudden release of practically 65,000 from compulsory training, would have hada much greater reaction, and have militated against successful early recruiting.
The position with regard to officers is considered very satisfactory indeed, the strength being 2,647 out of an establishment of 2,807, i.e., 94 per cent.
The position as regards warrant and noncommissioned officers is that the present strength, 5,229 out of an establishment of 7,410, or 71 per cent., is not unsatisfactory, but encouraging. Apart from those who actually held non-commissioned rank and reenlisted under the voluntary system, the number of whom was approximately 4,000, aspirant’s for non-commissioned positions had to be selected and trained in order to reach the examination standard, which they have to pass before being appointed. If would not have been wise tofill the appointments until sufficient time had elapsed for commanding officers to assure themselves of the capacity for leadership disclosed by aspirants. Under these circumstances it is considered good work has been done during the past six months.
The position with regard to the rank and file is 19,180 out of 24,783, or 77 per cent. In view of the monthly increase shownon table 1 this is considered encouraging.
Over a period of five months we have averaged nearly 2,000 new recruits monthly, and the total required should be reached by the end of October. The statement continues -
The position in regard to the senior cadets is that they are 80 per cent. of strength, and in the infantry alone 100 per cent. This is very good indeed. These cadets are all potential recruits for the militia, and it is reasonable to anticipate that50 per cent. will join the militia during the financial year 1930-31.
It is estimated, however, that when the efficiency classification is made at the close of the training year, 30th June, 1930, the present strengths will be temporarily reduced, possibly by 12 per cent. or 15 per cent., owing to discharge of those unable to fulfil their obligations to render efficient service, to change of address, occupation, or other causes. The actual figures in this regard will not be available until early in August.
Recruits will, however, be coming in from the. senior cadets and outside. The holding of camps during the next financial year will be most helpful in stimulating the recruiting. The beginning made in the. supply of better fitting uniforms for militia should also have a good effect in maintaining and recruiting the militia.
– Who said that?
– Major-General Dodds. Another critic has appeared, in the person of Senator H. E. Elliott, who commands the third division in Victoria, and is paid £250 a year for his services to the Defence Department.
– Is Senator Sampson paid?
– Yes; but a comparatively small sum. Senator H. E. Elliott displays either a lamentable ignorance in regard to the responsibilities of his position or is doing something which he knows to be wrong, and eminently prejudicial to our defence system. One can only imagine that this gentleman’s object in writing to the Melbourne Herald of the 21st June is for the purpose of getting into the limelight. I propose to give him that opportunity by quoting from an open letter from him published in that newspaper. A portion of it reads -
The subject of Australian defence is greatly exercising the minds of the most thoughtful of our citizens; butthe multitudes who find the latest test match scores of absorbing interest seem to regard defence as entirely a matter to be left to Providence. With a view to arousing some thought on the subject I invite the undermentioned authorities to answer through your columns the following questionnaire: - Sir Harry Chauvel, Sir John Monash, Sir Brudenell White, Major-General Coxen Brigadier-General Dodds, . Captain G. J. C. Dyett.
Senator H. E. Elliott then asks a number of questions as to the efficiency of our defence system, one of which reads-
In the event of a sudden descent of a hostile force upon, say, the coast of Fremantle–
He is anxious that the great western State should be protected; but he should first devote his attention to recruiting in his own State. Ifhe studied the records he would find that the Naval Depot in Western Australia was the first to get its full quota under the voluntary system, and that, from a military view-point, it is well up in the list. But in the State which he represents the figures are not so satisfactory; for which this gentleman is, to some extent, responsible. If I were inclined to be petty in matters of this kind, I would be justified, as Minister for Defence, in declining to recommend his re-appointment to his present position.
Although they are officers of the Defence Department, they are decrying in the public press a system that is working very successfully. Senator Elliott knows as well as any one that General Monash and General Sir BrudenellWhite, as members of the Council of Defence, are not at liberty to disclose matters relating to defence policy.
-Why not attack them in the Senate?
– Because I can do it better here. The members of the Council of Defence met, the Treasurer and the Prime Minister and myself in conference, and between them the present system of voluntary training was drawn up. It is a fact that withinfiveor six months weshall have the full numberof voluntary trainees as laid down in the scheme, and that is what thesegentlemen are really annoyed about. They are annoyed because the voluntary system is proving a success. The. Council of Defence agreed that 35,000 trainees would be the necessary nucleus, and that 180,000 troops could be quickly called to arms in case of an invasion. This was all that was provided for under the old compulsory system, and such a force, it was considered, would be sufficient defenceagainst any possible invading force that could be landed in Australia. Senator Elliott must know all this, and it is evident, therefore, that he is simply playing the party game. It would really not matter very much, except that, by publishing statements of this kind in ‘an endeavour to boom himself, he can do harm to Australia.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Forde) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for ‘the payment of bounties on the production of flax and linseed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) - by leave - proposed - .
That the resolution be adopted.
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) had not the courtesy to answer me when I asked him to state the amount which Parliament would be required to vote under this bill. There may be a reason why he was unable to accede to my request for information, but if so, he should have stated it.
– Idid not answer the question of the
Leader ofthe Opposition (Mr. Latham) because I expected to make my secondreading speech within a few minutes, and it will contain the information asked for. The sum involved in this bounty scheme is less than £20,000, covering a period of three years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That Mr. Forde and, Mr. Scullin do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
. -by leave -I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill provides for bounties for five years from the 1st March, 1930, on flax and linseed produced in Australia from flaxplants, of the genusLinumUsitatissimum. The rates of bounty are the following percentages of the net cash selling value, exclusive of casing and packing, of flax or linseed at the time and place of delivery from the factory:- 15 per cent. from 1st March, 1930, to 29th February, 1932 10 per cent. from 1st March, 1932, to 28th February, 1934. 7½ per cent. from 1st March, 1934, to 28th February, 1936.
These are the rates recommended by the Tariff Board in its report of the 3rd March, 1928. The bounties will be paid to the manufacturer of the flax or linseed, provided -
As honorable members are aware, the flax plant produces both flax fibre and linseed. In some countries, especially India, certain varieties of the flax plant are grown mainly for the production of linseed. . But in other countries it is found more payable to grow varieties of flax plants that will give better financial results in the production of flax fibre and linseed conjointly. That is the experience in Australia.
Sowing is usually carried out in springtime; but in Australia it may also be done early in autumn. Harvesting usually takes place in January or February. The flax plant is commercially cultivated in Russia - which, before the war, produced well over half the world’s supply - the Baltic Provinces, India, Argentine, Ireland, and several other countries. In New Zealand a different kind of flax, Phormium tenax, is produced, which is much coarser than the Australian flax, and is grown chiefly for the seed and also, to a slight extent, for the manufacture of a rough cordage. Manufactured flax goods, as well as linseed and linseed oil, are imported into Australia from the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, the United States of America, Argentine, and Phormium tenax is imported from New Zealand.
The following products are the most important of those which are manufactured from flax fibres: - Linen thread for tailors’ and bootmakers’ use; thread for embroidery; twine for harness-mounting, lines and nets for fishermen; and all kinds of cords and ropes. In the manufacture of woven goods, flax, when prepared and spun into yarns, is the essential fabric of lawns, cambrics, handkerchiefs, canvases, pillow-cases, sheets, linens, aprons, shirtings, collars, surgical bandages,hollands, crashes, and similar materials. In deciding upon the introduction of this bill the Government was impressed by the opinion of the Tariff Board that the industry is well worth establishing in Australia. On the 18th January, 1929, the board stated -
If the future establishment and success of the industry be achieved, even at a maximum bounty cost of £30,000 per annum, the cost would be small in comparison with the result obtained.
– Is it anticipated that the assistance will be temporary or permanent ?
– It will be of a temporary nature only. There will be a diminishing bounty, which will cease entirely on the 28th February, 1935.
– Does the Government anticipate that it will be necessary to ask for a renewal of the bounty?
– No. The Development and Migration Commission was impressed with the importance of the industry. In a memorandum dated the 13th February, 1929, that body stated -
A consideration of the Australian requirements for linen goods, linseed oil, and linseed meal or cake, however, indicates that the industry is of considerable economic importance.
It is questionable whether this industry will be able to overcome the initial stages of development without some active Commonwealth and State assistance in the form of bonuses, or organizing and educational propaganda.
Having considered the representations made by honorable members representing flax-growing districts, I convened a conference, which was representative of all the interests which had asked for the bounty, with a view to arriving at a determination. In addition, an officer of the Trade and Customs Department was deputed to go into the matter carefully with a view to ascertaining whether the Commonwealth Government would be justified in assisting the industry. The conference was held in Melbourne as recently as last Saturday week, and was attended by Mr. Fricker and Mr. S. G. Stitt, of Linen Flax Products Limited, Colac ; Mr. W. T. Sage, representing Mr. Moore Robinson, Victoria ; Mr. J. Moore Robinson, of the Flax Corporation, Launceston ; Mr. F. Shackleton, of Australian Country Industries; Mr. G. C. Wulf, Manager, Australian Country Industries Mills; Mr. N. Grigg, of Flax
Limited, Drysdale; the Honorable W. Slater, Attorney-General and Minister for Agriculture, Victoria ; Mr. F. Crowe, Acting Director of Agriculture, Victoria ; and Mr. P. Ryan, Flax Expert, Department of Agriculture, Victoria. After a full discussion the conference unanimously agreed to the following resolution : -
That the proposed bounty to assist the flax industry as explained by the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs is acceptable to tin’s conference and should result in big developments both in primary and secondary branches of the industry, with resultant increased employment.
– Are any of the producers of flax making a living to-day?
– Yes. One man told me that for 30 years he had made a living from flax-growing.
When representations were originally made to the Government for a bounty, the request was for a larger bounty than the Government was prepared to give. After carefully considering the matter, the Government decided to accept the recommendation of the Tariff Board. In its report of the 3rd October, 1928, that body referred to the excessive importations of flax products and other goods which might be manufactured in Australia, either in whole or in part, with flax as the raw material. The latest figures in relation to these importations ar.e -
– How many of those things are made here? - Is canvas, for example, made in Australia?
– Some of them are made here and some of them are not. The first four items, of a total value of £551,670 for 1928-29, are entirely flax products. As regards canvas and duck imports, amounting to £6S9,991 in 1928-29, the Tariff Board estimates that flax is a raw material for one-third of these goods, of a value of £229,997.
– Did the Minister understand from the deputation that the industry could not be established without government assistance?
– Yes. The conference and those who made representation were of the opinion that, in order to establish this industry on a firm footing rand give it a chance of success, it was necessary to pay this bounty for at least a limited period. It has a much better chance of succeeding to-day, because of the introduction of more modern machinery, scutching machines and so on, than was formerly used. An effort is being made, I believe with every chance of success, to establish a canvas mill in Tasmania for the purpose of manufacturing many lines now imported.
A large proportion of linen piece goods, twines other than cotton, nets and nettings, cordage and rope, is also made from flax. Taking the flax proportion of these at as low as one-half, this would mean another £206,018. Therefore, it is estimated that in 1928-29 £987,685 worth of flax products was imported into Australia. These figures show that if flax- growing and the flax-manufacturing industry can be established in Australia they will be of immense benefit, not only from the point of view of land settlement, but also because of the employment they will afford and because less money will be sent from Australia to pay for imported goods. At this time we are anxious to establish new industries. This is one that I think can be satisfactorily put on its feet, giving employment to primary producers and secondary workers.
Taking the linseed and linseed oil positions alone, the Tariff Board has calculated that 150,000 acres of flax plants would require to be cultivated each year in order to provide the 23,000 tons of linseed now processed in Australia by manufacturers of linseed oil, linseed meal, oil cake, &c. Flax-growing is best carried on as a three-year rotation crop. Therefore, under ideal conditions, 450,000 acres of suitable flax country is necessary, and the 300,000 acres not used for flax in any given year could be used for other crops. The estimated areas of land suitable for flaxgrowing are -
The Darling Downs country in Queensland, and a large area of New South Wales are also suitable.
– That ought to insure a good many votes.
– There are great possibilities of expansion. In Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, however, 647,000 acres are suitable for flaxgrowing. The figures for the first two States are official; the Tasmanian estimate has been made by a Tasmanian flax manufacturer.
The industry has been carried on in Australia in a somewhat desultory fashion in Victoria and Tasmania for some years. In 1907, the Commonwealth granted a bounty of 10 per cent. of the value of flax fibre and linseed produced ; but the results were meagre, only £2,376 being paid up to 1917 when the act ceased to operate. From 1918 to 1922 the Commonwealth Government guaranteed the flax-growers from £5 to £6 a ton, and the area under cultivation increased to 1,640 acres. It was essentially a war-time measure, and, as such gave the industry no assurance of continuity. One of the problems in those days was the difficulty in retting. That will be overcome by the use of modern machinery. Money was lost by the Government under that guarantee, and the industry did not prosper.
– How much was lost ?
– Ishall give the whole of the figures showing the amount lost. The failure between 1918 and 1922 seems clearly to have been due to the much higher prices then being received by the farmers for other farm produce, which made the returns from flax comparatively unattractive. Moreover, there was insufficient pure seed available to meet the suddenly increased demand by farmers at that time for flax-growing, and in consequence, the yield of flax plants per acre was abnormally low. Now, however, every effort possible will be made by the State Agricultural Departments to provide expert advice to flax-growers, and to co-operate with the farmers with a view to bringing success to the industry. In view of the recommendations of the Tariff Boardand the views of the Development and Migration Commission, as well as the introduction of modern machinery, I believe that the Commonwealth Government is justified at this stage in doing something practical to give this industry a chance of success.
– Has the Minister decided where the money is to be obtained ?
– It will be paid out of Consolidated Revenue. I remind the honorable member of the Tariff Board’s opinion, and that of the members of the Tariff Board, the chairman, who is a government official, and the representatives of the primary producers and manufacturers and commercial interests were appointed by the last Government. It is the unanimous opinion of the Tariff Board that if the future establishment and success of the industry be achieved, even at a maximum bounty cost of £30,000, the cost will be small in comparison with the results obtained. It has recommended the rates of bounty I have outlined in the House.
During the last four years, further attempts have been -made to revive the flax industry, and it is now organized on a much better basis than at any previous period. Moreover, other farm products have diminished in value and flax plants, at £5 a ton, are generally recognized as being a payable crop, and quite attractive compared with other crops at current values. The principal manufacturers of flax fibre and linseed in Australia include the following: - Flax Corporation of Australia Ltd., Launceston, Tasmania; Flax Proprietary Ltd., Drysdale, Victoria, and Linen Flax Products Coy., Colac, Victoria. There are several other manufacturers, operating mainly in Gippsland, Victoria. At the present time there is great activity in the industry. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) is probably aware of recent activity in this direction in his electorate. The people engaged in flax-growing anticipate that by the payment of a bounty their industry will be resuscitated.
– Why does the Minister desire to resuscitate an industry that has recently been showing great activity?
– .1 speak comparatively. The industry has shown considerable activity compared with its progress some ten years ago. The Government offered an incentive to the farmers to engage more actively in flax-growing by promising to introduce a bounty on the production of flax and linseed. As a result, farmers are now planting larger areas. That is strikingly borne out by the fact that the area under cultivation in Tasmania increased from 8 acres in 1926 to 87 in 1927; to 225 in 1928; to 1,181 in 1929; and, if this bounty bill is passed, it is anticipated that 3,000 acres will be under cultivation in 1930. The area under cultivation in Victoria has increased from 200 acres in 1926 to approximately 2,200 acres in 1930.
– The industry seems to be going ahead pretty well.
– It is. When this Government came into power, flax-growers appealed to it for assistance, and for the past seven or eight months they have had a most sympathetic hearing. The Government told them that it was very anxious to establish new industries, and particularly industries like this, that had both primary and secondary branches, and was estimated to give considerable employment, an industry that, if established, would keep large sums of money in Australia that would otherwise go overseas.
Experts have advised that the soil and climate of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, as well as portions of New South Wales and Queensland, are ideal in extensive areas for flax-growing. All the farmer witnesses, and several flax experts, who appeared before the Tariff Board, expressed strongly the opinion that if farmers are assured of this bounty there would be a great revival of the industry.
– What per cent, of improvement will this bounty make on a ton of flax?
– The rates of bounty are 15 per cent., 10 per cent., and 7$ per cent, on the net cash selling value of flax and linseed, at the time and place of delivery from the factory. Clause !) of the bill provides that the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty if he finds that the manufacturer has paid less than a reasonable price to the farmer for flax plants.
– Who is going to decide that ?
– The Minister, after a careful investigation has been made by the responsible officers. That will ensure that farmers will not be fleeced by manufacturers. The provision is similar to one contained in the Wine Export Bounty Act, which has operated successfully. Flax-growers are therefore assured of assistance and protection under the bill. The chief difficulties now operating against a large expansion of the industry are’ the lack of any assurance that the payable price of £5 per ton will continue for a reasonable term of years, and the’ uncertainty as to the future which precludes the manufacturers from raising capital to install the latest improved machinery. That is a very important consideration. ‘ Factories that have been operating during the past four years have been turning out high quality products and disposing of them, but without profit, owing to the entire lack of assistance from the Government by way of bounty, or protection, and also to the fact that their output was insufficient. The Tariff Board and officers of the department over which I temporarily preside, are of the opinion that the flax industry is well deserving of assistance for a developmental period of five years, in order to give it an opportunity to demonstrate whether the industry can be permanently established here on a large scale.
– Will the honorable member say why the other variety of flax, Phormiumtenax, is excluded from the bounty?
– At present that variety is not growing here. It is a coarser variety, grown chiefly for its seed, and to a like extent for manufacture into rough cordage.
– Is Phormium tenax included in the genus Linum usitatissimum?
– No. Theannouncement in March, 1930, that the Government intended to introduce a bill to Parliament providing for bounties on flax and linseed has already produced evidence of the benefits of the proposal. In the Melbourne Argus of the 25th March last, the managing director of a new company, called the “ Linen Flax Products Company,” operating in the Colac district of Victoria, announced that a minimum of 1,000 acres will be set aside for flax-growing in the coming season, and that much enthusiasm is being shown by the farmers. The project will result in 45 men being employed in the Colac mills, and their wages will amount to about £10,000 per annum. That gentleman also stated that his company proposed to establish a chain of mills in the Colac districts, with subsidiary mills in outlying centres. These will be scutching mills, where the deseeding, retting and fibre extraction will take place. I have in my hand some samples of rough fibre, fibre after scutching, and cordage and rope made of Australian flax at the Drysdale factory. Last year there were in the Australian flax industry approximately 60 farmers, 60 permanent field-workers, and 100 mill employees, making a total of220. This year there has been a slight increase in numbers, and it is hoped thatthere will be asubstantial increase next spring. The potential market for flax products in
Australia, amounting to approximately £1,000,000 per annum, will result in the following estimated employment if Australia is able to grow 80 per cent. of its flax requirements: -
When the industry expands to a sufficient extent it is the intention of some of the present manufacturers to engage in the production of canvas and linen piece goods, and to endeavour to sell a good deal more flax for the production of cordage, twine, netting, &c. I think that it was the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) who paid a visit to Tasmania and was much impressed with the possibilities of both the primary and secondary branches of the Australian flax industry. The honorable member cannot be accused of making the statement in an endeavour to influence votes in his favour. It is important to note that an Australian market already exists for 23,000 tons of linseed per annum, all of which is now imported, and is used to make linseed oil, linseed meal, oil cake, &c. If this quantity of linseed were to be produced from locallygrown flax plants, there would also be produced about 25,000 tons of flax fibre, which is substantially more than Australia could now use for the manufacture of cordage, twine, rope, canvas, linen and soforth. However, the experts engaged in the flax industry consider that a large demand could be created in Australia for flax fibre, for various manufacturing purposes, and that any surplus over local requirements could be profitably exported to other countries when the industry eventually became well established.
– Has not Belfast already expressed a desire to take some flax fibre from Colac?
– That is so. It is hoped that, when the industry revives, there will be no difficulty in exporting any surplus production.
Mr.E. Riley. - Will the bounty apply to flax grown. in Papua and New Guinea?
– Why is a bounty necessary?
– During the next five years, before the big mills are established, some encouragement should be given to the people who are prepared to’ invest their money in reviving the industry. Particularly at this time the Federal. Government has a responsibility to endeavour to assist an industry that will give additional employment. By the time the industry is well established, and, in addition to supplying local requirements, is able to export the surplus, local costs of production will have been reduced by the adoption of better machinery and methods, and lower overhead costs will naturally result from large scale production.
Flax is not a one-sided industry. Its value lies in the fact that it will create new wealth and- employment both in primary and secondary industries, and will help to place many more settlers on the land. A further consideration is that this crop is specially suitable for production in Tasmania, and will help that State, whose, financial position is generally recognized to be weak. Tasmania claims to have suffered as a result of federation, and the present Government is prepared at all times to give sympathetic consideration to any industry that will help to lift the State out of its difficulties. The development of this industry will tend to modify the present necessity for the younger generation of Tasmanians to depart for the mainland in order to secure employment. Without the proposed bounties, the industry has neither stability nor a sufficient inducement to expand on a large scale. With a bounty it is believed that rapid expansion will be possible, which, in turn, will conduce greatly to lower costs of production and distribution, and so render the bounty unnecessary after a few years.
-The Minister stated that the deputation asked for a larger sum. Was he able to convince them that they could do with much less?
– I was able to convince them that the Government was not prepared to give more than was recommended by the Tariff Board. When the honorable member was chairman of a wages board in Victoria he arbitrated between the claims of the employees on the one hand and the employers on the. other. . I, likewise, arbitrated between the requests of the deputation and the interests of the general community. The bill provides for bounty on a diminishing scale ranging from 15 per cent, to 10 per cent, and finally 7£ per cent, of the net Australian market value. The manufacturers concerned have accepted these reduced rates. I pointed out to them that, having regard to the present economic and financial position of Australia, they must be reasonable. At the present time the net Australian market values are approximately.: Flax, high grade raw material, £60 per ton; flax, low grade, £35 per ton; linseed, average, £20 pelton .
– Did the Tariff Board recommend that the bounty should be confined to the variety Linum usitatissimum, to the exclusion of Phormium tenax?
– The bill is based on the board’s recommendation. I shall consider further the merits of Phormium tenax, and, if desirable, it will be included. My advice is, however, that that variety is not suitable to Australia. The production for 1930 is variously estimated at from 400 tons to 500 tons of flax, and from 380 tons to 450- tons of linseed. In this regard, the Tariff Board originally recommended that no bounty should be paid until the annual flax production is worth £20,000 and linseed £70,000. On the 18th January, 1929, however, the Tariff Board advised that minimum quantities of 200 tons of flax, and 4,000 tons of linseed should be stipulated. After the most careful consideration, the Government decided that the existence of a hard and fast condition regarding minimum production would militate against the development of the industry. If producers could get no encouragement or assistance until their linseed production reached the high total of 4,000 tons per annum, this factor, together with past disappointments, would be an obstacle to development. Furthermore, an important practical point to be borne in mind is that a given quantity of flax crop produces approximately equal quantities of flax fibre and linseed. Therefore, the proposed stipulation of a minimum of 250 tons of flax, and 41,000 tons of linseed, was not consistent; it meant that producers would qualify for the flax bounty years before they could obtain bounty on similar quantities of linseed produced at the same time. The Government has decided, therefore, that, in the best interests of the industry, no quantity restrictions should be imposed, especially as inquiries show that the minimum production of 250 tons of flax will be considerably exceeded for 1930, and that production will be appreciably greater in the following year. On the basis of a production in 1930 of 500 tons of flax and 450 tons of linseed, the bounty payments for 1930 will be about £8,000. Allowing for reasonable increases in subsequent years, it is estimated that the following amounts of bounty will be paid under this bill:- 1930, £8,000; 1931, £15,000; 1932, £13,000; 1933, £15,000; 1934, £15,000; total, £66,000. The percentage decrease in the rate of bounties will prevent an increase in the annual liability. The total appropriation proposed is £20,000 per annum, or £100,000 for the five years. This leaves a margin of £34,000 to cover a larger expansion in the industries than is forecasted in the foregoing estimates.
The farmer will be protected by being assured of a reasonable price for his flax plants. The bill also gives protection to consumers of flax and linseed and to employees. The Minister may, under clause 12, withhold the whole or part of the bounty, or obtain refunds of bounty already paid, if the claimant does not sell his flax or linseed at a reasonable price. Further, under clause 13, the net profits of claimants are limited to 15 per cent., and the Minister may withhold the payment of any bounty, or obtain refunds of bounty already paid that would otherwise result in the claimants earning more than 15 per cent. profits.
In regard to employees, clause 14 provides that the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty if he finds that the conditions of employment or rates of wages observed by manufacturers of flax, or linseed, or by growers of flax plants are below the declared or standard conditions or rates prescribed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or by any other industrial authority of the Commonwealth or a State. That provision is similar to the industrial clauses recently adopted by the House in respect of the “Wine Export Bounty Bill and the Cotton Industries Bounty Bill. Sub-clause 1 provides that a Commonwealth authority, to be appointed by the Minister, shall not be appointed unless there is no Federal or State award or determination, or registered industrial agreement applying to the industry. An appointment would be made by the Minister only in exceptional circumstances. Under sub-clause 8 such a Commonwealth authority will be composed of one representative of the employers, one representative of the employees, and a chairman appointed by the Minister on the joint nomination of the representatives of employers and employees.
Having regard to the considered opinion of theTariff Board “ that if the establishment of the flax industry can be achieved, even at a maximum bounty cost of £30,000 per annum, the cost would be small in comparison with the result obtained,” and in view of the views expressed by those engaged in the industry, the officers of the Development and Migration Commission, and others who have been consulted, I submit the bill to the House in the confident hope that it will be acceptable to honorable members, as a measure that has reasonable expectations, even with the reduced expenditure limit of £20,000 per annum, of establishing an industry of a potential value to Australia of £1,000,000 annually.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Latham) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 20th June (vide page 3089), on motion by Mr. Brennan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- “When the House adjourned on Friday last, I was referring to the deplorable conditions that exist in Australia to-day. This afternoon a question was asked in this House in regard to employment. The poverty of our people is so great that requests are being made for blankets, clothing, and sleeping accommodation.
This is taking place in a country which is the size of theUnited States of America, and has wonderful resources. Yet, because of ignoring the great economic laws which have ruled the world for centuries, we are in a most deplorable condition. We continue to introduce legislation imagining that by so doing this country may become prosperous. We should learn to mind our own business and allow those engaged in industry to manage their own affairs. If that were done there would be a marvellous change within a short time. The object of this bill is not conciliation and arbitration; it is purely a trade unions bill, regardless of all interests except those of the trade union official and the factory worker. Any honorable member who believes that this legislation is in the interests of the nation, and will bring about peace in industry, is indeed an optimist. Will this legislation be in the interests of the manufacturers ? Their latest statement is as follows : -
Amongst other menus for the reduction of production costs, -without reducing wages, the following are suggested for serious consideration: -
Will the passing of this bill do anything in the direction of assisting the manufacturer to compete with other countries? It will have the opposite effect, despite the revision of the tariff in the interests of Australian industries generally. Today a bill was introduced in this House for the purpose of giving a bounty to even another industry. So the thing goes on. Goodness knows from where the money is to come. This legislation will go a long way towards paralysing industry. It is the duty of this Parliament to endeavour to see that equal justice is done to every section of the community. Why did the big timber strike take place? It was not because the trade unions wanted to interfere with the wages of the timber- worker in the country or his working hours of 48 hours a week. It was because the city worker objected to work 48 hours a week that the trouble started. Can we give every person in the community the same conditions? Can we give the man on the land the same conditions as are enjoyed by the men in the city? While it is our duty to look after the interests of the poorest people, and to give them some little concession, if necessary, it is also our duty to see that equal justice is done to every section of the community. This legislation is not likely to accomplish that.
– Why not?
– The honorable member knows that if we applied the conditions of the city worker to the worker in the agricultural areas the farmers would immediately be driven off the land. Recently this House passed legislation with the object of giving a guarantee in connexion with the production of wheat. The cost of production has become so high that the farmers cannot carry on, and consequently this Parliament has had to come to their aid. During the British seamen’s strike, which took place some five years ago, I was addressing a meeting, and a man in the audience wanted to know whether I considered that £8 a month was a fair wage to pay a British seaman. I told him that that was not his business or mine, because the British ship-owners and seamen were quite capable of settling their own differences without outside interference. This man was a farmer in the district, and I asked him what wage he paid to the men that he employed on his farm. Instead of answering he left the meeting amid roars of laughter from the audience. I discovered afterwards that the wages of his labourers were 35s. aweek and board, while that of the British seaman was £2 a week and board. This man was like many honorable members opposite who seek popularity no matter what the cost may be to the nation. The industrial position of Australia is serious, and I did anticipate that this Government would, at least, show some little sympathy with the unemployed. The introduction of the bill itself is an impertinence. If the
Attorney-General were dealing with a company, he would charge the persons concerned with fraud for producinga prospectus similar to thisbill. It is proposed, under this legislation to appoint conciliation commissioners. It is suggested that this is conciliation legislation ; but there is no mention in thebill of conciliation except in the term “ conciliation commissioners.” Under thisbill we are substituting coercion for co-operation, and injunctions for voluntary contracts. The whole billteems with coercion so far as the Worker is concerned. A conciliation commissioner is to have almost the same power as a judge. The Government may appoint any person that it likes as a conciliation commissioner, and’ I certainly should not care to see industry at the mercy of the commissioners who are likely to be appointed. We should deal with conciliation as it is being dealt with in other countries. According to Webster the definition of the word “ conciliate “ is -
To win over, to gain from a state of hostility, to gain the goodwill or favour of, to make friendly, to mollify, to propitiate, to appease; to draw, or bring together, to become friends, make, friends; to win goodwill.
According to Byrne’s law dictionary the definition of conciliation is the settling of disputes without litigation, and dealing with the British Conciliation Act of 1896, it says -
No such body (conciliation board), or person (conciliator), can do more than bring the parties to the dispute together and endeavour to get them to come to a settlement.
Is that the idea underlying the appointment of conciliation commissioners? Is there any intention of, bringing the parties together for the purpose of getting them to come to an agreement? Certainly not, because these conciliation commissioners are ito be given the most absolute power to reduce wages and hours and to vary any award that may be made by a judge of the court. I have looked through the bill in vain to find any proposal to settle disputes in industry by conciliation. The Government claims that it has amandateforthe introduction of this legislation. I say that it has not. Much has been said about the mandate that was received by this Government at the last election, but at that time there were innumerable questions at issue before the people, particularly the question of taxation.
– Was not arbitration an issue ?
– Yes, but it was not the great feature that it has since been made out to be by the Labour party. ‘I agree with the following statement which was recently made at Renmark by a Catholic priest : -
The present FederalGovernment pride themselves on the fact that they were returned to power on the arbitration issue. Yetduring the election campaign, whilst it was difficult even withthe aid of the press to coax more than 50 or60 people together in our various towns to listen to “ the merits or the demerits “ of the arbitration question) or the “ Faults of the Bruce Government”, our picture theatres were crammed nightly and canvassed in favour of the present Government. No wonder the sweeping Labour victory! No wonder the greatest political landslide in the history of the Commonwealth! It was the first time a government crossed swords with the picture magnates and their audiences, and the result of the elections revealed the mighty power of the picture theatre.
In addition it has, since the election, been revealed in the tariff issues before this Parliament.
– The Labour party did not use the picture shows at the last election.
– The honorable member evidently does not know the facts. The opinion of the people in respect of conciliation and arbitration has been clearly demonstrated’. The issue of the last referendum was the taking over by theCommonwealthof full industrial powers. On that occasion even the Attorney-General himself had a little surprise in his own electorate. In addition, the Prime Minister’s majority was lessenedby about 10,000 votes. When that question was put before this Parliament only two members, the then honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) and myself, opposed the Government. Every member of the Labour party voted with the Government. They pledged themselves to support the issue that was being placed before the country.The people, By an enormous majority, decided against giving to the Commonwealth full control of industrial matters.
– I give the honorable member full credit for his consistency and, therefore, he should give the Labour party full credit for its consistency.
– I cannot give the Attorney-General credit for consistency, because during the referendum campaign he did not, in his electorate, use his influence to confer upon the Commonwealth Parliament the industrial power that it desired.
– That is avery unfair statement. I spoke in favour of the proposal in every State.
– The Attorney-General was one of the few shining exceptions.
– I need say no more.
– There is not the slightest doubt that, on that occasion, the Labour party slid on a proposal that it had strongly supported in the House. Labour members declared that they werenot going to deprive the States of their control of industrial legislation. On Friday last, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who lived for some years in Western Australia, mentioned that work in the mines of that State under local industrial legislation proceeded smoothly, and that no industrial trouble of any magnitude had occurred, the employees, speaking generally, being contented with their conditions.
– Is there no arbitration act in Western Australia ?
– Of coursethere is State legislation, and it is, working quite satisfactorily. The people of Western Australia do not want interference on the industrial side by the Commonwealth. This is what Mr. Barker, the. secretary of the Western Australian executive of the Labour party, said on the 30th May, 1929-
The Federal Arbitration Act has never given the court sufficient powers to enable it to function as freely as do the State courts, and the court has been blamed for many faults that were inherent in the act. In his opinion, many unionists would be glad of the change as they preferred to use the State court rather than the Federal.
The secretary of the Western. Australian branch, oftheAustralasian Society of Engineers has expressedthe views of his organization in these terms: -
Sofaras we are concerned, the Federal Arbitration Court will die “ unwept, unhonored and unsung”.
Mr. S. Faull, secretary of the Western Australian Amalgamated Society of Engineers also said that the repeal of the act would be a blessing to all the unions in the State.
Since 1904, the Commonwealth Parliament has been called upon to consider measure after measure to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. All these legislative proposals have had industrial peace as their objective, but I suppose in no country in the world is -there so much antagonism between employer and employee as in Australia. The very atmosphere of the Arbitration Court is provocative of trouble. The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde), when moving the second reading of one of the many bounty bills that have been introduced during this session disclosed, perhaps unwittingly, the methods which were responsible for so much of the dissatisfaction that exists with regard to arbitration court awards. He said the usual practice was for the employees to ask for something more than they anticipated they would get in the way of shorter hours and higher wages, and the employers, acting on the same principle when they approached the court, endeavoured to make out a case for longer hours and lower wages. As a rule the judge gave something to the workers, who then took the view that they owed nothing to the “boss” because he had tried to increase their hours of work and reduce their wages. As a result, the men were antagonized by the Arbitration Court proceedings, and determined to give as little as possible in the way of labour output for the wages received. No one can doubt that this attitude is taken by a considerable section of the industrial workers in Australia. We all remember the difficulty which the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) had to meet during the war, because of the persistent trouble in the coal-mining industry. Eventually he introduced and passed the Industrial. Peace Act, under which a specialtribunal was constituted to deal with disputes in the coal-mining industry. What has been the result? There has been nothing but chaos and trouble for the people of Australia.
– The coal tribunal saved us during the war. Its findings enabled us to get our ships away.
– Does the honorable member for South Sydney suggest that we have any reason tothank employees in the coal-mining industry simply be cause they worked for good wages during a crisis in ourhistory?
– I suppose the honorable member is. thinking of the action taken by so many industrialists who, at that time, did their utmost to destroy Australia’s efforts during the war. I do not imply, of course, that the honorable member was mixed up with that crowd. We had no special reason to thank men for producing coal at good wages during the war while so many of our young men were, sacrificing their lives for their country.
This industrial unrest appears to be without end. Only the other daythe Tyldesley colliery, near Lithgow had to be closed down. It appears that there were 47 strikes in fourteen months, and in only one instance was there a difference between the management and the men. All the other stoppages were due to disputes between the men themselves. The management stated that there had been so many interruptions during the year that it was found impossible to compete with collieries in other parts of the world. Consequently the mine was laid idle.
– Employees in that mine were not working under an Arbitration Court award.
– Does that make any difference ?
– It does, because the honorable member has been condemning the arbitration system.
Mr.GREG ORY.- I assume that these men were working under the Industrial Peace Act. Ifnot, theArbitration Court was available to them, but apparently they did not approachit. These disputes in industryare costingthe workers of Australia millions of pounds. If the men engaged in coal-mining had remained at. work instead of striking so often during the last few years, the money which they would have earned would have enabled them to purchase shares in all the collieries, and many of them would have been wealthy men to-day.
I have always opposed this class of legislation, because I am convinced that thef ramers of the Constitution never intended the Commonwealth to seek legislative control of industry in the various States. No one can doubt that our legislation in this direction has caused a great’ deal of friction between the Commonwealth and the States, particularly because ofour interference with State instrumentalities. The several State Parliaments are supposed to scrutinize the receipts and expenditure of their respective governments, and yet they have no control over railway employees, whose conditions of employment and wages are determined by the Federal Arbitration Court. The following resolution was carried by the Australian Railways Union in May, 1929 : -
That the perpetuation of arbitration is to the detriment of organized workers of the Commonwealth and the Australian Railways Union in particular, and that, with a view to bringing about some measure of social justice, the efforts of the Australian Councilshould be directed towards placing before members their real economic position.
– I am afraid the honorable member will notfind in that journal a statement of Labourpolicy.
– Probablynot but the Australian Railways Union and similarorganizations arebehind the Government in thismove to amend the act. I haveno hesitationin saying that the Ministry would nothaveintroduced this measure but for the pressure of these industrial organizations.
– I can assure the honorable member he is wrong.
– I must, of course, accept the Minister’s assurance; but we have so much evidence of trade union influence in industriallegislation that we are almost forced to the conclusion that the Government has brought forward these proposals to placate certain industrial organizations. Onlya few weeks ago the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne attacked the Hogan Ministry because of its action in connexion with the waterside workers’ dispute. The following resolution was adopted by. that body:-
That this councilcondemns the action of the Hogan Government in having provided special trains and police protection for volunteer workers, thusminimizing the efforts of the Federal Labour Government to provide preference for bona fide trade unionists on the waterfront, and demands, that the money so spent be used in relieving distress and unemployment.
This was part of the move on the part of industrial organizations to ensure the re-employment on the wharfs of a number of men who were responsible for so much of the trouble that occurred on the waterfront recently, and for the desperate acts and outrages in Adelaide, the bomb outrages in Melbourne, and also the later trouble in Sydney.
-What outrages occurred in Sydney as a result of the waterside workers’ strike?
– -The honorable member for Corio must recall the desperate outrages that, occurred in Sydney during the timber-workers’ strike. He need not try to make out that Sydney was free of trouble.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the bomb outrages in Melbourne were part of our policy?
– No ; but certain provisions in this bill, which repeals the penal sections of the act, are in the nature of a protection for the bomb-thrower.For example this bill repeals section 86a which enacts - 86a. No person shall -
Penalty: Twenty pounds, or, in the case of an officer of a registered organization, One hundred pounds.
If honorable memberssupporting the Government did not approve of the extreme measures so often resorted to by industrial organization’s which refused to abide by the law they would not agree to the repeal of this salutary provision in the act.
Mr.E.Riley. -What was the decision of the people at the last election?
– I am entitled to assume that Government supporters are in accord with its industrial policy as outlined in this bill, because they endorsed a letter of appreciation sent to timber-workers congratulating them upon their defiance of the laws of this country. I take the view that every section of the community should becompelled to abide by the law.
-What did the honorable member say about the coal-owners?
– If they were responsible for the recent trouble, why did not this Government take legal action against them ?
– Is the honorable member in favour of coercive legislation?
-What is this bill but coercion ? Apparently this Government believes in coercion in everything except the means to defend . Australia. This is no time for all the cant and humbug which we hear about the destruction of the temple of labour. This is no time for the “sob stuff” we have been getting lately from Ministers and their supporters to appease the unthinking people. We have tens of thousands of unemployed persons in Australia. Our trade is languishing, and our basic industries are imperilled. I am one of those who desire to keep taxation as low as possible, so that industry may be built up, and the country developed. Recently there have been heavy deficitsin both State and Federalbudgets.Public credit is endangered; we have a public debt of £1,100,000,000;and an annual interest bill of over £55,000,000. At a time like this we dare not pass any legislation tending to injure the great primary industries upon which Australia’s solvency depends. I cannot see how industrial conditions will be improved if this hill is passed, nor can I see how the removal of penalties from the Arbitration Act can aid primary production. Members of the Waterside Workers Federation, who defied the law and proved themselves unworthy of Australian citizenship, will, however, be enabled to displace the men who came to the rescue of. their country in a time of industrial upheaval. Recently, Judge Beeby said that the industrial history of the federation had made it impossible, to legalize control by the federation of waterside labour; yet, within a few weeks, the members of that organization will be back again on the waterfront, and the volunteers will be displaced.
– Are the members of the federation to lose all human right because of what they did in the past?
– I would give them the right to go back to work, but not the right to force from their jobs those men who served their country well in time of need. Under this bill, the conciliation commissioners to be appointed will bo given practically absolute power. In Canada a system of conciliation is in operation, but there is no provision for arbitration. Under the law there, if a dispute occurs, the Minister may appoint a committee consisting of a judge and two other persons to inquire into it. They have to make a report as soon as possible, and endeavour to bring the parties together. If an agreement is reached, it can be registered, and it will then have the force of law, but only so far as the contracting parties are concerned.
– That is what we hope to do if the. honorable member will give us a little help.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral hope to achieve that by appointing commissioners with power to frame awards, increase wages, and reduce hours? It practically amounts to fraud to appoint persons allegedly as conciliation commissioners, and to arm them with practically absolute power.
-The honorable member does not approve of judges. We are offering him conciliation commissioners, and he will hot have them. Apparently he does not want anything.
– No provision is made for appeal from the decision of the commissioners.
– We do not want litigation.
– In Canada, where the conciliation system operates without compulsory arbitration, wages are, in many instances, higher than in Australia. For instance, in. 1927, bricklayers working 44 hours a week received from £9 3s. to £1111s. per week; carpenters, from £4 18s. to £9 3s. for 48 hours; plasterers, from £9 3s. to £1111s.; and conductors, 2s.1d. to 3s.1d. per hour for a 60-hours week, which works out at about £6 5s. a week.
– How does the cost of living in Canada and Australia compare ?
– I think that it is lower there than here. The cost of living has been reduced enormously in Canada since’ 1923. It is difficult to make an exact comparison because they work on different index numbers. Mention has been made during the debate of the Canadian railway system. In Canada the locomotive men and traincrews are paid so much per train mile. It is worth noting that while Freights on wheat are practically the same in Canada as in Australia, those on live stock, machinery, fencing wire, and wool are only about half what they are here, while, speaking generally, there is no friction between employer and employee.
In the United States of America also, the general feeling, even among labour organizations, is opposed to arbitration. Mr. Short, President of the Washington State Federation of Labour, made the following statement : -
Australians were mistaken in accepting compulsory arbitration, thus permitting politicians to control economic questions and the conditions of the workers. The only effective machinery to deal with such matters was economic machinery mutually established between employer and employee. The compulsory Arbitration Court established in the State of Kansas was bitterly opposedby the Federation of Labour, and the president of the Kansas Miners Union and other unionists’ went to gaol for contempt of court in declining to be governed by the court. The court was afterwards withdrawn. This fight prevented the idea of arbitration courts spreading throughout the States. Machinery for settling industrial disputes must be available on the job when the problems arose. If the mission found a plan to replace class hatred with mutual co-operation, aiming at an equitable division of production, it would fulfil its purpose.
That is what we should endeavour to do here. Our first aim should be to keep politician’s out of economic matters.
– How can that be done ?
– By not allowing Parliament to control industrial conditions through arbitration legislation. No effort has been made in Australia to promote co-operation between workers and employers. Within a very short time we have had the engineers’ strike, the cooks’ strike, the waterside-workers’ strike, and the timber-workers’ strike. No country can be prosperous if industry is continually subjected to interruptions of that kind. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) in his policy speech of 1922, said -
The workers must face certain facts but then so must the employers. Labour cannot get more out of an industry than it puts into it. Before labourcan get high wages it must create the wealth necessary to provide them. Production cannot be carried on at a loss - no one will engage in can enterprise unless there is a reasonable prospect of a margin of profit. World competition has to be faced. If we cannot compete successfully, the industry cannot be carried on. It is the eternal law.
The great primary industries of Australia, have, in the past, been able to keep Australia solvent. Those industries are now in difficulties, and if there is again serious trouble on the waterfront through the interference of the. Attorney-General, it is difficult to see how they can pay their way, or how the country is to carry on. I do not propose to delay the House-
– Hear !hear !
– I quite understand that my remarks do not meet with the approval of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), and I never desired that they should. If this bill becomes law it might have the effect of keeping up wages for a while, and of enabling the manufacturers, under cover of a tariff which prohibits imports arid stifles competition, to make increased profits, but the eternal law referred to by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) must eventually assert itself. The real purpose of this measure seems to beto give absolute control of industry to the trade unions, andto place the country under the domination of unionism.
.-Almost every member of the Opposition who has spoken on this bill has said something like this - “ Theworkers must not expect to get more out of industry than they put into it,” Other outstanding pronouncements have been “ shorter hours are being sought all the time;” “unemployment is world wide ; “ “ longer hours and lower wages arenecessary.” The honorable member who has just resumed his seat spoke of an eternal economic law. Another honorable member said it was true that, to a great extent, machinery had displaced labour. Another said, “ This bill gives the owners an open go ; there is no penalty for lockouts.” Of course we know that no lockout has been proved against an owner in this country, so it is just as well to remove a penalty provision that there is no prospect of ever enforcing. After dealing with the general principles of the bill, I propose to return to these pronouncements of honorable members, and discuss them one by one. The primary object of the bill is to make our arbitration law more effective, to promote goodwill in industry, and to repeal the penal provisions of the 1928 act. One of the objects of the act is, “ The prevention of lockouts and strikes in relation to industrial disputes.” The present measure provides that those words shall be omitted, and its primary object is to be the promotion of goodwill in industry by conciliation and arbitration. In order to achieve this the bill provides for the repeal of those sections prohibiting lockouts and strikes. Under section 18a of the act, three judges are required to hear any case with respect to the increase or decrease of the standard hours in industry. The bill provides that three judges shall hear a case in which an increase inthe standard hours of work-
– And one commissioner shall deal with a decrease in hours of work.
– I shall come to that. Three judgesare to hear a case inwhich an increase in standard hoursor a reduction in the basic wage is involved ; but a reduction in the standard hours of work may be decided by one judge. The bill also increases thepowers of conciliation commissioners so that they shall have all the powers of a judge for the purpose of settling or preventing industrial disputes, with the exception of those powers enumerated in paragraph c of clause 8 of the bill. Under this measure the Arbitration Court judges are given power to determine whether an industrial dispute exists, which, under the act, is a matter to bedetermined by a judge of the High Court. Under the act the court is compelled, before making an award, to take into consideration its probable economic effect; but under clause 17 of the bill this provision is to be repealed. It is also proposed to repeal the following sections of the act: - Section 33, power of the judge to require security for observance of awards; section 38c, court not to hear disputes where State authority is more desirable; power of court to suspend or cancel award; section 47., issue of process against property of “organization ; section 48, power to make orders to compel compliance with awards ; section 50, disability upon wilful non-compliance of award; sections 56a-56o, secret ballots ; section 58b, rules, &c, of organizations not to prevent agreements; sections 62-64, extension of act to proclaimed organization; sections 70a and 70b, suspension or expulsion from membership of organizations; section S6a-86b, certain offences as to boycotts. &c ; section 87, counselling or procuring offences; section 89b, penalties for certain offences. The Government believes that by the repeal of these punitive provisions goodwill in industry will be promoted and that the Commonwealth arbitration- system will become far more effective.
I now wish to refer to the industrial position in New South Wales and throughout Australia generally, with respect to that chorus of protests heard every day, to the effect, that the 44-hour week is ruining industry in Australia. That is one of those untrue statements made by some politicians and public men, and appearing in the Australian press, which should be refuted,’ not only on the floor of this House, but all over Australia. I, therefore, intend to quote some interesting figures to show that a 44-hour week is not ruining industry in Australia as some contend. It has been freely stated in the New South Wales press, particularly in the Sydney. Morning Herald, that the 44-hour week in industry in that State is a huge handicap to employers; so much so that they find it impossible to compete, with Victorian secondary industries. What are the facts? According to the New South Wales Year-Booh, the production per employee in, secondary industries in that State’ is higher than in any other State, while Queensland, another State in which the 44-hour week is in operation, comes next. The output per worker in the secondary industries in each State for the year ended 30th June, 1920, the latest figures available, are: - New South Wales, £993; Victoria, £801; Queensland, £979; South Australia, £885; Western Australia, £798; and Tasmania, £667. According to the same publication, 43$ per cent, of the total output of Australian factories is produced in New South Wales. In 1928, there were 8,361 factories in that State, employing 1S2,660 workers - 137,936 males and 44,724 females - of whom 8,763 were children under the age of sixteen years. In factories employing more than 100 workers, 83,760 employees were engaged. It is interesting to note that productivity was considerably higher in the larger enterprises. The output per employee for the year ended 30th June, 1928, was as follows : -
The decrease in the production per employee in factories employing 51 and’ under 100 workers was due to the fact that highly-developed factories in that division are not numerous. In 1918 the surplus of production, after paying for raw material and wages, was valued at £14’,798,599, and in 1928 the amount was £33,986,373, or more than double that in 1918. In ten years, the factory-owners of New South Wales, more than doubled the value of their surplus production, although during that period the 44-hour week became operative. What becomes of these huge surpluses each year? A portion is absorbed in overhead costs, depreciation of plant, government taxes, interest to banks, and some to landlords, as factories are often leased to the occupiers. In 1918, the value added to raw materials in process of manufacture was £244 4s. per worker, and in 1928 it wa» £393 4!s., or an increase of £149 per worker. That is highly satisfactory when one considers the complaints that have been made concerning a 44-hour week and the slowing up in industry. In 1918, the average wages paid to each worker was £126 3s. 7d., and in 1928 it was £215 4s. 9d., or an increase of £89 1s. 2d. In 1918, the surplus production per worker was £1180s. 5d., and in 1928, £177 19s. 3d., or an increase of £59 18s. 10d. per worker in 1928 as compared with 1918. Surely that is an answer to those who contend that the introduction of the 44-hour week has had the effect of ruining industry. Recently I read of an English coal company - the Powell-Dufferyn Steam-coal Company - the chairman of which, after he had gratified the assembled shareholders by announcing that their trading loss of £36,000 for 1928 had been converted into a trading profit of £307,000 in 1929, made a few remarks concerning the Coal Bill which was then before the British Parliament. He said -
I deplore that at this moment, when the coal export trade of this country is in process of recovering so many of its lost markets, recovery should be jeopardized once more. The shortening of hours must of necessity increase the cost. Our competitors will be put in a stronger position at the expense of the British coal trade in the foreign markets.
I am not concerned with this particular company or its chairman. His is only one voice in the chorus of insistence that if Australian industry is to hold its own in the markets of the world our wageearners must work longer and harder and consent to wage reductions. I do not wish to argue the economic aspect of this subject with such persons. On the contrary, I am inclined to agree with them that capitalism has nothing else to offer the worker. In the competitive scramble in a capitalistic world, one who asks for a high standard of life and human leisure receives the inhuman leisure of wageless unemployment. The process is surely obvious. There will be no work unless the product of labour can be sold, and. it cannot be disposed of in the markets of the world unless it is as cheap as that on a competitive stall. If orders are to come in for our goods, and employment is to be secured for Australian workmen, our labour costs must be lowered so that our goods can compete with those on the next stall. That is quite true, and I do not see how a govern ment of archangels could obtain any other result from the capitalist method of supplying the world’s needs. I would like to point out to those who are constantly harping in this way upon the worthlessness of capitalism that to any worker desiring a full life the matter does not rest there. They seem to think that the chance of drudgery for other men’s profit is all the worker wants, and that when they have proved that wage cuts and longer hours are necessary to ensure employment in competition with cheap production elsewhere, the matter is settled in the minds of all sensible people. The simple fact which I put to these orators is that, so far from ending the matter, their demonstration of the need for longer hours and lower wages is the Labour demonstration of the inability of capitalism to serve the needs of human life. The more conclusively they prove their point, the more they strengthen our case that capitalism means the abandonment of any hope of a fine and spacious life for the world’s workers.
All this takes us down to the foundation of things - to the single and elementary truths that are at the core of human purpose and human action. The Labour movement, in its final analysis, does not owe its strength merely to economic calculations; but to the quite simple and elemental perception that, in relation to the now known and available resources of the world, the kind of life to which this capitalistic reasoning would condemn us is not good enough. Why should we, in response to such reasoning, abandon our belief in the possibility of a fine and spacious lifefor the world’s workers?
We are living in a new world - a world of abundant resources and wonderful powers. The sole purpose of work is to supply the needsof human life. Until quite recently that had to be done by long drudgery. To-day, with the new powers and new instruments at our disposal, an hour of human labour is as productive in the supply of those needs as a thousand hours of hard toil were only a few generations ago. We are furnished to-day with the knowledge and the implements of possible resplendent abundance for all human life. Living in such a world with such resources we know by the clear instinct of sanity and sequence of things that there must be a lie at the core of any reasoning whatever which leads to the conclusion that spacious living is impossible for men in such circumstances. Whatever may be the process of such an argument, whether it be simple or complex, plausible or ridiculous, if it comes to that conclusion we proceed with perfect confidence in the sanity of things to append to it the old tag, “ which is absurd “, precisely as Euclid appended it to such conclusions as “ the whole is less than its part “, or “ things which are equal to the same thing are not equal to one another “.
Capitalism dares not use the productive powers with which science has equipped us. It only produces for a market in which the purchasing power of the mass of the people is at a minimum far below the full satisfaction of their real needs. If, for a single year only, we were to produce goods up to the full capacity of our powers and resources, the whole capitalistic system would collapse under a glut of commodities of every sort. It is very doubtful whether the entire production of the world under capitalism is so high as even 10 per cent. of the world’s capacity for production.
But while that sort of full-capacity production would ruin capitalistic commercialism would any one be mad enough to say that the distribution of produce on that scale into the lives and homes of men and women would be other than an enormous enhancement of the world’s life ? Production indeed ! We can produce up to the requirements of a scale of life far beyond the dwarfed imagination of a starveling capitalistic world. When, therefore, we are told that in order to find any employment and livelihood at all, We must accept a low standard of life and leisure so as to make our produce cheap in the markets of the world, our reply is that the fact that it is so under capitalistic conditions of production and distribution is the final and convincing proof of the sheer imbecility of the capitalistic way of handling the resources of the world. The only sane way of handling the resources of the world is in relation to human needs and for the full satisfaction of human life. No capitalist producer would dare to dream of producing in relation to human needs. If he did so he would be bankrupt inside a month, for he would be producing beyond the capacity of his market - a market unrepresentative of human needs, because the mass of the people are stripped of effective purchasing power by the low standard of living which these capitalist apologists insist upon as a condition of keeping their trade going at all.
I ask those who are constantly talking about keeping labour costs down, to answer me one very simple question. If the essential condition of keeping trade prosperous is that the worker must not ask to share in it - if leisure and a high standard of life for the worker would, as they assureus jeopardize prosperity - why in the name of all miracles, should the worker care a hang about it?
Just as other honorable members who have participated in this debate have wandered from Australia all over the world, I propose to go some distance afield to discuss the subject of rationalization ; but my remarks will have relation to the subject of wages, hours and arbitration. In my opinion there has never beena time in the world’s history when arbitration was as much needed as at present. We have been told that rationalization will solve the world’s economic problems, but, I deny this. I remember reading years ago a noble speech which Lord Byron delivered in the House of Lords against the persecution of the Luddites, when, between the years 1811 and 1816, they revolted against rationalization. From that speech I make the following quotation : -
The workman does his penance for the crime that hunger drove him to commit,
Machinery stole ground beneath his feet,
Thrust relentless on the road to want,
Rebellion cried within him:
Nature demands that all shall live!
Nature denies that some must feast while others famish!
Bationalization, like most theories, is best judged by results. What is meant by rationalization ? I think I define it fairly as any scheme which secures the maximum production of goods with the minimum amount of labour. This, it is argued, will so cheapen the cost of the goods produced that British manufacturers will be able to undercut any competitor in the world’s markets and thus secure more employment for British. workers. This is the theory advanced by all advanced employers of labour in Britain, Germany, Poland, France, America, and, indeed, in every country where there is already a surplus of goods. In the ship-building industry in England the inventor and the new system of costing have succeeded in adding 100 per cent. to the efficiency of the individual. A revolution has thus been effected in this industry compared even with 1914. To-day, a liner is built in less time than it took formerly to build a trawler. Two men to-day are able to place a given steel weight on a ship in less time than 30 men formerly took to do it. New methods have displaced riveters. The hydraulic machine and the pneumatic gun worked by two apprentices, will crush red-hot rivets into place in a tenth of the time required by the hand hammer; the caulking machine and the acetylene burner have also revolutionized the work of cutting and caulking and cutting the steel plates. But perhaps the greatest revolution of all is in the method of templating. In one afternoon more templating is done than was formerly done in three weeks. Professor C. Delisle Burns made the following statement on the 25th January, 1930 : -
In the Clyde engineering and ship-building trades, the same production as in 1914 can now be obtained with only about 60 per cent. of the labour. There was an indication of the new situation when an engine was placed in a ship in one afternoon which it would have taken three weeks and perhaps six times the number of men to place in a ship in 1914.
But what does the workman, as an individual, get from his power to increase production? If he is a piece-worker, he is supplied with a machine which allows him to double his output in a working day. In that case if, say,1s. per foot was required to earn 10s. per day by hand, he can now obviously earn 10s. if he only receives 6d. per foot; and so he receives 6d. per foot. The value of his increased production has all gone into the pocket of some one else, and although all economists tell him that he has cheapened the cost of the ships and thus reduced the cost of carrying his food and clothes, he is still unconvinced, for his grocery and clothing bills are actually higher than in the days before he began to reduce the price of ships. But if the individual gets nothing as a result of increased production, there is still the hope that the mass may benefit. A study of the tonnage figures will make this clear, and it will also help us to judge the soundness of the contention that cheapness provides additional employment. The way in which this theory actually works out in practice is shown by Mr. John Hill in the February number of the Boilermakers Society Journal. He says -
We do get the annual output in ships and here wefind an increase of work and a diminution of men employed. In 1921 the tonnage of new ships built was about the same as in the year 1929, yet the number of men employed was much less last year than in 1921. The figures are- -
From these figures it will be noted that with an increased output last year of over 22,000 tons we had 72,000 less men employed. Our output per man is increasing year by year and as a consequence every one is being squeezed out except the strongest and most efficient. In 1921 the registered number of men in the ship-building and ship-repairing industry was 358,278. In 1929 the number had dropped to 204,613. Thus, in the last eight years 154,337 men in this one industry have died or have been eliminated by rationalization. At this rate in another ten years we shall be able to further increase our output without human labour. This is a bit of the rationalization which we are told is going to solve the problem of unemployment.
And so one could go on, and point out that in other industries such as the cotton, the woollen, and the engineering industries, the same thing is happening. The lesson to be learned is that, so long as capitalism exists, rationalization means a further degradation of the worker in industry. While thousands of men in Great Britain are going about poorly clad, the consumption of woollen goods has dropped 40 per cent., as compared with thepre-war consumption. In its annual review of 1928, the Times Trade Supplement stated -
Business in wool textiles on home accounts apart from foreign goods imported, was unsatisfactory because of the limited purchasing power of the people.
The only remedy suggested by employers is more rationalization, or less purchasing power. On every hand we hear the cry-“ The worker must not expect more from industry than he puts into it.”
What has been the effect of rationalization in. the iron and steel industry? The experience of the workers in that industry shows the necessity for a- properly established Arbitration Court in .order that Australian workmen may receive fair treatment. In 1920 each, man employed in the pig-iron industry in England produced 199 tons of metal. By 192S the per capita production had increased to 298 tons. In 1920, 40,250 men were employed in this branch of the “engineering industry, but that number had dwindled to 22,160 by 1928. In other words, over 20,000 men who formerly found employment in the iron and steel industry produced so much steel that nobody needs them any longer, and now they are enjoying England’s incomparable system of social services- - they are receiving the dole.
Now let us see how the increased output has improved the workers’ wages. Again let me repeat the parrot cry - “Workers must not expect more from ari industry than they put’ into it.” That has’ been said so often in’ this House that by this .time it must be true! Let us see what the steel-worker receives and has received. Mr. John Baker, a member of the House of Commons, stated recently that every steel-worker to-day is 20,000 per cent, more efficient than’ was the steelworker of 1873. Mr. Baker said- “ In 1873, in all probability the average wage for blast furnace men would be between 25s. to 308. a week. An elaborate return for South Wales for 1923 gives an average of about £2 19s. per week, and in 1929 about £3. In a period in which the efficiency of men had increased over 20,000 per cent., the wages had only doubled.”
This wage of £3 per week is a terrible commentary on our whole social system, and our hopelessly wrong ideas of social value. The steel-worker who is engaged on heavy, arduous, and skilled work, which keeps him in a bath of sweat for long hours each day, receives only £3 per week. To-day the British worker is told that he is poor because the capacity of the average French furnace is 30 per cent, greater than that of the British furnace; that Belgium’s average furnace capacity is 37 per cent, greater; Germany’s 129 per cent, greater; and that of the United States of America 276 per cent, greater. Great Britain’s problem now is’ how to make her men more efficient than the American. . Obviously, it would be useless to increase his efficiency the bare 276 per cent.”; it must be brought, to at least one point higher than the American or he would be no further forward. How many years .it would, take to obtain that result, nobody has yet attempted to estimate, even assuming that America stood and waited until Britain caught her up. The passing of this legislation will do much to promote peace in industry. It will, at least, give . the workers an opportunity to obtain decent conditions in their employment. I congratulate the Government on having brought the bill forward, and shall give it my support.
Sitting suspended from 6.7 to 8 p.m.
.- While many honorable members on the Government side have shown evidence of a detailed knowledge of trade union matters and arbitration, law as it affects trade unions, there has been little or no attempt on their part to examine closely the proposals submitted and to convince honorable members . of the ‘Opposition that the amendments proposed in this bill for amending the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are justifiable or in the best interests of Australia. It is true that the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) put forward a constructive proposal which apparently was given some attention by the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan). [Quorum formed ] The honorable member made a suggestion that the best kind ‘ of arbitration tribunal would be one comprising a judge, a representative of the employers and a representative of the employees. I was particularly interested in the suggestion because it appeared to me to be a means of making the Federal Arbitration Court in its make-up and in its working, approach more closely the wages board system than has hitherto been attempted. I hold strongly the view that the State wages board system, as operating in Victoria, is a much sounder method of determining industrial conditions than is possible under the federal system, so long as the latter is confined in the constitutional strait-jacket in which it finds itself to-day. And I do not believe the people of Australia are prepared to increase the powers of the Commonwealth in respect to industrial matters; at any rate it does not look as if the Government thinks the people will do so, if one is to judge by the indefinite postponement of the referendum proposals. Whatever chance there might have been to obtain from the people greater powers in industrial matters, that chance has been greatly lessened by the introduction of a bill so obviously biased as this. I think it is a fair assumption that the shackles will remain on our constitutional authority with regard to industrial affairs.
– I hope that the honorable member will devote some part of his speech to proving his statement, which has been repeated, about bias; I submit that he should prove it, if it is capable of proof.
– I hope that long before I have finished the AttorneyGeneral will have realized the truth of my charge that the bill is biased. The shackles which have been imposed by the Constitution upon federal powers in connexion with industry are likely to remain, and as a result the Federal Arbitration Court, even though the legislation under which it functions is amended in various ways, will be unable to do many things which wages boards may readily do. I do not condemn the federal system simply because it is a federal system; neither do I extol the Victorian State wages board system simply because it is a State system. I am not what is known as a great States-righter, but I take up this attitude because the State wages boards have behind them a complete charter of powers which enables them to do their job completely, whereas the federal arbitration system has a most incomplete charter under which it cannot deal satisfactorily with all the troubles that arise in industrial matters.
I want to contrast the two systems. A State Wages Board is in a position to make a common rule; it can lay down the wage to be paid to all plumbers, bricklayers, carpenters and so forth in the State; whereas it is generally recognized that the Federal Arbitration Court is onlyable to make its awards apply to those individuals, unions, or employers who have been cited before it. Sometimes, in one town, three factories engaged in the same class of manufacture may be working, one under an arbitration award, another under a variation of that award to which the first is not subject, and a third, which has started business after the award and variation have been made, subject to neither. One can readily imagine a great deal of dissatisfaction being caused when a position of that kind arises. It cannot arise under awards laid down by State Wages Boards. These boards can operate without the necessity for a dispute, whether it be real or manufactured, whereas the Federal Arbitration Court can only operate when a dispute has occurred, either a bona fide dispute in the ordinary acceptance of the term, or a paper dispute manufactured for the purpose of getting access to the. court, and it must have occurred in more than one State. Through the machinery of State Wages Boards an award can be obtained at very much less expense or delay than is possible when the federal machinery is invoked. Under the State wages board system fair conditions can be secured without all the waste of time, energy, and money involved in an endeavour to secure an award from the Federal Arbitration Court. Honorable members on both sides of the House know of the enormous sums of money that have to be expended by trade unions in an endeavour to secure certain awards, or sometimes by employers in an endeavour to resist the efforts of the unions to obtain those awards. No one will gainsay that satisfactory conditions of labour can be obtained with the simple State machinery of wages boards without involving a tremendous loss of time and expense. If all the time, talent, money, and energy which are to-day devoted to fighting for and resisting attempts to. obtain awards in the federal sphere were devoted to bringing about greater production in the industries themselves, this country would soon lead the world, and be an exporter of manufactured articles, instead of having to confine its production of them to the limited and sheltered market of Australia.
– Does the honorable member submit that this bill could be amended in the way he is suggesting?
– lt is not possible to amend it in that direction without alterations of the Constitution, and I do not think those alterations will be granted by the people. I am simply using this as an argument to show honorable members that the State wages board system is preferable; that it is sounder than the federal arbitration system, working as the latter does under constitutional shackles.
To my mind, the most important difference between the State wage3 board system and the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is that, under the former, there is an impartial chairman Avith representatives of employers on one side of the table and an equal number of representatives of employees on the other side. The representatives of the employers and those of the employees deal with each other. The representatives of the employers are able to realize the grievances of the men, and the latter can be made to see that the employers have their difficulties. The impartial chairman has a casting vote if the position should reach a deadlock.
– Under this bill the Conciliation Commissioners should have that power.
– Yes, but there is always the suspicion, particularly in a measure couched like this one, that the persona appointed as conciliation commissioners may be men who, with the best intentions in the world, have been brought up in an atmosphere which sees only one side of a case. Under the State wages board system the employers and employees can deal directly with each other, whereas under the federal system they arc compelled to go into opposing camps and deal, not with each other, but with a third party, a judge, a gentleman of high standing, trained in the law, but in many cases, ignorant of much of the technique of the industry in connexion with which he is asked to make an award. The result is that awards are sometimes brought: down which are difficult for either the employer or the employee. There may be in them harassing conditions to the employer or to the employee.
One illustration of that which comes to my mind is the condition which was laid down in connexion with pick-ups in a recent dispute. No doubt that was a condition which was irritating to the employee. I can hardly recall an instance of a strike occurring in connexion with a wages board determination, due, I think, to the fact that every such determination is arrived at by men who understand all there is to know about the technicalities of the industry concerned. Any body made up of an equal number of representatives of employers and employees must come to a decision which is reasonable, practicable and workable.
Many attempts have been made to improve our arbitration system. The first step taken was to ask the people for additional powers. That has been done on no less than four occasions, and on no less than four occasions the people have said “No”. Yet without the power which is necessary to make a federal arbitration system simple and successful we cling to a- discredited system, and again and again have attempted, by amending the legislation within our narrow constitutional limits, to attain the unattainable. The most notable attempt to amend, in a comprehensive manner, our arbitration legislation, was that which was made in 1928. On that occasion we approached very closely the highwater mark of constructive amending legislation in this field. The only mistake we made on that occasion was by retaining - I stress the word “retaining” and do not use the word “imposing” - penalties for strikes and lockouts. There are, no doubt, good theoretical reasons why these penalties should be retained. Some years ago Mr. Justice Isaacs said - “If parties are compelled by law to resort to law, it necessarily connotes that, they cannot lawfully resort to force.” No one disputes the logic and theoretical soundness of that dictum, but many of us have been forced to the conclusion that penalties in connexion with strikes and lockouts are absolutely futile. It is impossible to make men work by imposing penalties on them.- It is equally impossible to compel employers to open their factories or mines by imposing penalties on them. In my opinion, therefore, the bill of 192S would have been improved by the deletion of the penalties in connexion with strikes and lockouts. I want to make it abundantly clear that what I say with regard to penalties applies only to penalties dealing with strikes and lockouts. It does not embrace the deletion of some of the penalties that have been withdrawn in a later part of the bill, when they should have been left in the act. Had the present Government confined itself to amending the 1928 bill by merely deleting the penalties with regard to strikes and lockouts I should have said that the highwater mark of constructive legislation had been reached in this bill. But one does not need to go very far through the measure to realize that that high level is rapidly falling. I believe that if the. bill as it stands to-day is passed into law we shall soon reach the lowest level of arbitration legislation yet seen in this country.
I propose briefly to review the principal amendments, a procedure that very few honorable members of the Government side have troubled to follow. I have already stated that I agree with the amendment that involves the withdrawal of the penalties in connexion with’ strikes. and lockouts. But I concur with what was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) that it would be wise if these penalties still applied to what may be regarded as essential industries, so that, those engaged in . them may not be encouraged to hold the community to ransom owing to the absence of the penalties.
The second point that I desire to ‘make is that the conciliation commissioners under this bill are to have extraordinarily wide powers, powers very little inferior to those of the judges themselves. Special qualifications apparently are not regarded as necessary; yet these gentlemen are to fill the role of conciliation com-missioners, a position requiring the strictest impartiality. To be appointed an arbitration judge, a. man must have very definite qualifications. He must have been a barrister or a solicitor of the High Court of the Com- monwealth, or a State Supreme Court for at least five years. So that he must b«; a man of some standing. Again, his appointment is of a ‘permanent nature, which makes him more or less independent of criticism. While I am quite willing to admit that a legal training does not necessarily make a man the best that can be obtained to deal with purely industrial matters, it at least enables him to realize that there are two sides to every question. A man trained in the legal world realizes that evidence must be called from both parties, and that there are two sides to every question. Contrast that with the position of these commissioners. They are not required to have any special qualifications, at any rate substantial qualifications that can be written down in black and white, but I realize that any government that wished .to make the bill workable would endeavour ,to appoint commissioners who had. alt least some qualification, even though those qualifications could not be reduced to writing, as in the case of arbitration court judges. The appointment of the commissioners may be for a limited period. I know that it will be .said by- the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) that that has been the practice in the past; that the former conciliation commissioner was- appointed for a limited period.. It is safe enough to do that kind of thing when a commissioner is entrusted with limited powers such ‘ . as: were granted to the former commissioner, but it is entirely a different matter when, the status’ of the commissioner is to be raised practically to the level of that of the arbitration judges. In one respect; the commissioners, arid indeed, the judges too, are to have considerably greater powers than were formerly exercised by the judges alone. I refer t’o the. amend; ment to section 3S of the’ principal by the addition of new paragraph oa giving the judges and conciliation commissioners alike power to “ set aside an award or any of the terms of an award.” It appears to me that a provision of that nature will mean that finality will very rarely be reached. Awards will be more or less always in a state of flux, a condition dear to some official hearts, but a very bad thing for industry.
Another thing that I desire to emphasize in connexion with the appointment of these commissioners is that :i conciliation commissioner may, under the powers granted to him by this bill, do what it will take three judges to undo, or undo something that it has taken three judges to do. A commissioner may reduce hours, but it takes three judges to increase them. Also a commissioner may, on his own initiative, increase wages ; but it takes three judges to reduce them. Formerly there was a magnificent impartiality about our industrial legislation - an honest attempt to treat both sides alike and to put the position of the employer and employee on exactly the same footing with regard to penalties and everything else mentioned in the act. That satisfactory state of affairs has disappeared. The bill is now heavily loaded against the employer. That is one of the arguments that I advance to the AttorneyGeneral in support of my contention that the measure shows a definite bias.
A commissioner “may do many things. One can speculate as to how his powers are going to be used. Take, for example, section 40 of the principal act, which is amended by clause 31 of the bill. It reads -
The court, by its award, or by order made on the application of any party to the proceedings before it . . . may -
direct that us between members of organizations of employers or employees and other persons offering or desiring service or employment at the same time, preference shall be given to such members, other things being equal;
It is proposed to delete the words “ other things being equal”. That may result in a judge or a conciliation commissioner awarding absolute preference to unionists, regardless of their capacity or incapacity. To give a concrete illustration, we will assume that a pastoralist wished to have his sheep shorn andwas engaging men to do the work. Along came a unionist able to shear 80 to 90 sheep a day and a non-unionist, a capable man able to machine shear 200 sheep a day. The pastoralist had this protection, that even if the judge had awarded absolute preference in the industry the four words “ other things being equal “ afforded him a safeguard and enabled him, if unable to obtain efficient union labour, to employ efficient non-union labour in its stead. That protection is taken away by the dele tion of those four words, and it may mean that absolute preference has to be granted, regardless of capacity or incapacity. Under this clause a zealous conciliation commissioner might compel absolute preference to unionists, whether capable men were available or not. It puts a tremendous power in the hands of ambitious secretaries if a man’s only chance of obtaining a job is through the medium of a union secretary. I wish to say at this stage that I believe that union secretaries are no worse than any other people. That may be of some satisfaction to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) who valiantly fought for the trade union secretary, his integrity and so forth. But I think that even the honorable member for Bendigo will admit that among union secretaries there are men who would not scruple to profit by the absolute dependence of their members upon them to provide employment. Again - and I put this question to the Attorney-General in the hope that it will elicit a reply from him, perhaps at a later stage - could not this power to grant absolute preference to trade unionists by the exclusion of those four words be used as a backstairs method of defeating preference to returned soldiers ?
– Of course it could.
– I merely ask the question. Another very bad and inexcusable feature of the bill is what is, in my opinion, the craven acceptance of the decree of officialdom that the secret ballot must go. Wrap that up as you will in all the sugar coating of ingenious sophistry”, yet the plain fact cannot be concealed that this will take away the undoubted right of the trade unionist to claim a fair share in the control of his union without a possibility of victimization. I know that honorable members opposite will say that trade union rules to-day provide for secret ballots to be taken, that secret ballots are taken, and so forth. But it must be admitted that there are occasions when a man, if he were to ask for a secret ballot to be taken, would subject himself to victimization. It is because of that that the Bruce-Page Government included in the 1928 amendment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act the provision relating to secret ballots.
Under that provision the trade union was safeguarded, as also was the trade unionist. Any ten men in a union could apply to the Registrar for a secret ballot. Their names could bo divulged only to the judge, who was then required to investigate the matter and determine whether it was of sufficient importance to warrant the trouble and expense of taking a secret ballot. That was done to protect the union just as much as to protect the unionist.
– Does the honorable member’s party insist upon a secret ballot being taken before it selects its candidates?
– My party does not believe in pre-selection. Any man may come along and put himself forward for the choice of the electors, provided he is properly nominated. What will the fair-minded trade unionist say in connexion with the deletion of the secret ballot provision contained in the 1928 amendment? Is it evidence of the great natural law of self-preservation among trade union officials who have reason to fear a silent vote? Might that silent vote result in condemnation of their official policy? Is it too great a risk to be taken? Truly, judging by the deletion of that safeguard from the act, the Bumbledom of Dickens’ day is as nothing compared with the modern officialdom of Australian trade unionism.
– Does the honorable member consider that ten members of a union should have the right to involve the organization in the expense of a secret ballot?
– I do not. That is the reason why the judge was required to examine the matter and say whether, in his opinion, it was of sufficient importation to warrant the taking of a secret ballot. That provision safeguarded the union.
We have heard a good deal from honorable members on the Government side and their Ministers asto the mandate that they have in. connexion with federal arbitration. I agree that they have a mandate to continue federal arbitration. But have they any mandate from the rank and file of trade unionism to take out of the bill provisions designed to give unionists -an opportunity to obtain a secret ballot? Are the rank and file of trade unions not to be trusted to use the secret ballot properly? It makes one ask if this is really a democratic country. I wonder if the Attorney-General is really proud of this particular amendment. Is he willing to father it? Will he loudly proclaim it all over the country or remain discreetly silent on that particular part of the amending bill, while dilating the while at considerable length on other sections of the measure?
– The honorable gentleman is only the putative father of the bill.
– It is an action that would make any decent, fair-minded Labour man ashamed of his party and of his Government that has so meekly submitted to the dictation of union officials. I hope that the trade unionists all over Australia will realize what is being done, will grasp its significance, and understand that steps are being taken to withdraw from them the measure of control of their own unions that was their right. Such an action is the very antithesis of democratic government; it is the last word in abject craven submission to trade union bureaucracy in its most high-handed, intolerant, and tyrannical mood. If the Government values the respect of the rank and file of trade unionists it will, even at the eleventh hour, repent of its mistake and leave that provision in the act.
Another injustice to trade unionists is the re-introduction of the old section 61. By this amendment, trade unionists will be unable to resign from their union? while a dispute is in progress.
Mr.Keane. - Quite right.
– The members of some very big unions take a very different view. Amongst them are some of the railway-workers, of whose organization in Victoria the honorable member for Bendigo was a distinguished ornament. The Sydney Morning Herald of to-day published this paragraph -
Protest Against “Conscription.”
Mr. W. Fletcher, general secretary of the Railway Service Association, said yesterday that many unionists in New South Wales viewed with concern the action of the Federal Government in attempting to re-introduce section61 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which provides that resignation from membership in a union cannot take effect while the union had matters pending or before the court. The clause, he said, was regarded as conscriptive, and much satisfaction was expressed at its deletion by the Bruce Government in 1928. “This iniquitous clause will not bring about harmony among workers because of the abuses they could be subjected to in the name of unionism,” read a statement issued by Mr. Fletcher. “The Australian Workers Union, for instance, filed a log of claims in the Federal Court early in 1924, and is still before the court.” Mr. Fletcher further pointed out the A.R.U. was empowered by its rules to impose compulsory levies, and that many members of the federal unions were now resigning their positions rather than be conscripts, and were joining State organizations.
Six years have elapsed since the Australian Workers Union plaint was filed in the court, and if section 61 is re-instated, a member who belonged to that union in 1924 will be prevented from resigning now however valid his reasons may be. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), as Leader of the Country party, has received the following letter : -
New South Wales Government Railways
Permanent Way Association. (Registered Industrial Union of Employees.)
Sydney, 10th June, 1930
The Hon. Dr. E. C. Page,
We have seen an announcement in the press stating that the Amending Arbitration Bill now before your honorable House proposes to re-enact clause61 of the original act, which provided that no member of any federally registered trade union could resign or be discharged from his union whilst the organization had any plaint before the Arbitration Court.
This obnoxious clause was happily repealed by the late Government, much to the satisfaction of many thousands of trade unionists throughout Australia.
We now desire, on behalf of 5,000 members of these and affiliated associations, to express our strongest disapproval of this attempt to renew this form of industrial conscription. When it previously operated, certain unions deliberately filed plaint after plaint in the courts with the sole object of preventing their members from exercising their rights as freeborn citizens and resigning when they desired to do so.
A re-enactment of the clause will again destroy the liberty of the subject and bring many workers under a system of Soviet control.
We appeal to you, sir, to exercise every power which you may possess to prevent the passage of this iniquitous clause.
The members of the associations now approaching you are all trade unionists who are loyal to Australia and desire to preserve that liberty of action so dear to members of the British race. We do not desire to do anything detrimental to the best interests of clean, sane trade unionism, but rather to keep it on a plane where fraternity rather than compulsion shall be the guiding force.
For these reasons, therefore, we beg of you to prevent this proposed encroachment or. the liberties of Australian workmen by preventing the passage of the clause in question.
We are, sir.
– These unionists realize and wish to retain the advantages which accrued to them through the action of the Bruce-Page Government in deleting the section. By another provision of the bill a trade union will no longer be required to have its balancesheet audited by a qualified auditor. Companies are required to have their accounts examined by a qualified auditor; why should not the same obligation be placed on trade unions?
– The last Government never applied that provision, and never had the slightest intention to do so.
– If there is no objection to the words “qualified auditor” remaining in the act, why does the Government propose to delete them ?
– Ninety per cent. of unions have qualified auditors.
– Why should not 100 per cent. of them have that protection?
– Because it is not the function of a government to interfere in the domestic control of the unions. .
– If it is proper for a State Parliament to provide for auditing by qualified persons of the accounts of organizations that are registered under State laws it is equally proper for the Commonwealth Parliament to require the efficient auditingof organizations that are registered under federal laws.
But whether this provision is of advantage or not, I suggest to the Minister for Home Affairs that the deletion of it causes a certain amount of suspicion and distrust.
By another provision of the bill the Arbitration Court is to supersede the High Court in respect of some functions which the latter tribunal has exercized in the past; the Arbitration Court is to decide for itself whether a dispute is interstate, whereas hitherto that matter has been decided for it by the High Court.
One of the most amazing proposals in the bill, particularly at a time of great economic depression and unparalleled unemployment, is the amendment deleting the words which require the judge, when making an award, to take into consideration its probable economic effect. Australia is already suffering because too little attention has been given to economic facts; but, apparently, still less attention is to be given to them if the judges are to interpret the amendment as a deliberate instruction to them. The honorable member for Bendigo endeavoured to justify this course by saying that the omission of the instruction would make no difference; that arbitration judges had always paid some regard to economic facts, and under this bill the arbitration judge or conciliation commissioners would continue to do so; therefore, a definite instruction was not needed. Had the honorable member been in this House when the amending bill was under discussion in 1928, that argument might very well have been employed by him as a valid reason why, in his opinion, an instruction to judges was not necessary, but it is useless as an argument in favour of the deletion of that instruction. The judges and conciliation commissioners will ask why this provision has been taken out, and they will naturally conclude that it is a deliberate instruction to them to ignore entirely the possible economic effects of their awards. Australia is suffering from arrested development. Why? In the sphere of rural development, particularly pastoral and agricultural, great improvements are left undone because the cost of doing them is more than they are worth. Neither the primary nor the secondary industries are expanding as they should because we are attempting to ignore the competition of the world. Yet at this time of unparalleled depression and economic difficulties, the Government is, in this bill, instructing the judges and the conciliation commissioners to push their heads still more deeply into the sand. In this way we shall never find employment for our people or develop our country.
– Wilful and reckless mis-statement !
– Order ! I ask the Attorney-General to withdraw the words “ wilful misstatement.”
– I withdraw. Reckless mis-statement !
– I am not speaking recklessly; I am weighing my words, and I repeat that the removal of these words from the act can bear no other reasonable interpretation than that it is a deliberate instruction to the judges and the commissioners that they may disregard economic facts.
– Reckless or incurably stupid mis-statements !
– It is a logically sound deduction from the facts. Despite the sufferings of the unemployed, the Government still clings tenaciously to the old dictum that if an industry cannot afford an impossible standard of working conditions the wiser course is to close it down. We shall not increase the avenues of employment in that way. I believe in the highest wages that an industry can bear. But we cannot take more out of a pot than is put into it, and the industrial and financial condition of the country will not be improved if judges and commissioners, acting on the instruction of the Government, deliver awards that disregard economic facts. I appeal to the Government to discard this fetish and face realities.
– The court is only required to award a fair living wage for those engaged in the industry.
– I doubt whether the honorable member realizes that the last Government, when inserting this provision in the act, carefully excluded the basic wage. The judge is only required to take into consideration the economical effect of awarded conditions in excess of the basic wage.
– That limitation was inserted against the wish of the Government.
– The fact that it was inserted, whether at the instance of the members of the Labour party, or on the initiative of the Ministry, indicated, at all events, that the former Government was prepared to do the generous thing whenever the opportunity presented itself. I hope that the Government will, even now, put those words back into the bill, otherwise it will be impossible to place on its purpose any interpretation other than the one which I have given to-night. If the bill is passed in its present form it will aggravate the problem ofunemployment and augment the number of unemployed.
In conclusion, I wish to say that apart from one amendment which I mentioned earlier in my remarks, namely, the amendment repealing the penalties in regard to strikes and lockouts, I regard this measure as a retrograde step in legislation. I consider some of its provisions as so dangerous and so biased that, instead of promoting peace in industry, it may work great havoc, and possibly even destroy the system it was designed to further develop. There is little or nothing in the bill to justify its title or its claim to promote goodwill in industry. Unless it is drastically amended, I shall certainly oppose it as a biased, mischief - making measure, unfair to trade unionists and employer alike, and introduced almost solely in the interest of trade union officials.
.- In speaking in support of this bill, I wish to emphasize that I shall not attempt to discuss it from a legal standpoint, or from the point of view of a trade union official, but from the standpoint of a man who has workedin industry for the whole of his life, and is familiar with the effect of the Arbitration Court awards upon the rank and file. Conversant as I am with the industrial life of the Commonwealth, it, is amusing to me to listen to the yes-no utterances of honorable members opposite and to contrast what they are saying now, in criticism of this bill, with their remarks only a few months ago when they supported a government that did its utmost to kill all attempts at con ciliation and arbitration by endeavouring to pass the iniquitous Maritime Industries Bill, which wrecked the Government. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), and one or two other honorable members opposite, say now that they are in accord with the wish of the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) to delete certain penal provisions from the act. Why did not they take this stand when the Labour party was protesting against the attempt of the Bruce-Page Government to penalize a large number of men and women engaged in industry? Instead, they applauded the Government for its action, and when finally there was an appeal to the people, the election was fought on this issue. The electors returned the Labour party to power, and this. Government, in furtherance of its declared industrial policy, has introduced ‘ this measure to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act with the object of ensuring to employees improved conditions to which they are fully entitled.
The honorable member for Gippsland a few moments ago made a point of a judge of the Arbitration Court, in making an award, having to pay due regard to its economic effect. I have no wish to make an attack upon any individual judge of the Arbitration Court, nor is it my desire to speak disrespectfully of the judiciary.; but 1 direct the attention of the honorable member for Gippsland, and the attention of other honorable members, to the fact that not long ago one of the judges of the Arbitration Court made one of the most vicious, cruel, and cowardly awards ever delivered in this country. I refer to the award relating to timber workers made last year.
– Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the fact that the honorable member for Lang has just said that a judge of the Arbitration Court delivered a vicious, cruel, and cowardly award. I submit that that is not in order.
– If the honorable member for Lang used those words they were decidedly disorderly. I ask him not to make any disparaging reference to the judiciary.
– I may have used words that perhaps are not parliamentary, but-
– The honorable member must not aggravate his offence.
– Do you rule, sir, that T may not allude to the judiciary?
– The honorable member will not be in order in criticizing the judiciary disparagingly. I ask him not to make any reflection on any member of the judiciary.
– I assume that the honorable member for Lang withdraws his statement.
– I bow to your ruling Mr. Speaker. I contend, however, that I am in order in referring to the effect of an award upon the industries of this country, and I mention particularly the timber-workers’ award, which was responsible for a reduction in wages from 4s. to 26s. a week per individual, and an increase of four hours in the working week. If honorable members opposite believe that this is the way to bring about peace in industry, then this Government and its supporters want none of it.
The bill provides for the appointment of conciliation commissioners, who by reason of their knowledge of conditions in a particular industry will be competent to deal with any dispute that may arise. In this way it should be possible to ensure some measure of industrial peace. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) emphasized the fact that it was proposed to delete from the act the words requiring Arbitration Court judges to pay due regard to the economic effect of all awards upon industries. To show that this is not worth a second thought I direct the attention of honorable members to certain information contained in the Commonwealth Year-Booh relating to the secondary industries of Australia for the years 1925-26 and 1926-27. In 1925-26 the total value of the output of the manufacturing industries in Australia was £400,342,392; the wages paid to employees in those industries amounted to £S6,724,683, leaving a balance of £313,617,103 to be received by someone, and the average wage paid to each individual was £227 10s. In 1927-28 the total value of the output was £416,994,009 ; the salaries and wages paid amounted to £91,365,319, leaving a balance of £325,628,690 and the average wage paid per employee was £205 10s. Thus it will be seen that during these two periods wealth production increased by £16,651,616, and the wages paid during the same period increased by only £4,640,636; but it must be borne in mind that the actual individual wage paid per annum showed a decrease from £227 10s. to £205 10s. It has to be remembered also that of the total number of employees engaged 22,565 were children of both sexes, so the need for protective legislation is apparent.
– We never held the contrary opinion.
– Some honorable members opposite have suggested there is no need for our arbitration system and no need for governmental control in industrial matters. I need only remind them of the situation in the early ‘90’s . when the law of supply and demand was operative. Being then without the protection now afforded by our Conciliation and Arbitration Act the workers were forced to accept practically anything that would never lift them above the breadline. It is true that we have at present a. huge army of unemployed in Australia, but the sam,3 conditions obtain in practically all civilized countries, so it cannot be urged that the Commonwealth Labour Government or our system of arbitration is responsible for Australia’s present economic and financial difficulties. Other factors have to be taken into account. No one suggests that we shall be able to check the evolutionary march of science, and the application of scientific methods to production. At the present time machinery is coming in at the front door and man-power is going out at the back, and, unfortunately, there is no redress for workers who are supplanted in any particular industry. I am a practical boilermaker, only two years removed from the industry. When I followed that avocation, two boilermakers, a labourer, and a rivet boy were required to rivet the end in a boiler. Today that work is done by one man working a pneumatic hammer with one man inside holding up the rivets and a rivet boy heating rivets. Under modern conditions these two men and a boy can do three times the work formerly done by two boilermakers, a labourer and rivet boy. It follows therefore that a considerable number of men in that industry are today unemployed. They reap no benefit from the application of scientific methods to production. Practically all men engaged in that particular occupation are suffering from the reactionary effects of scientific machinery, being affected with nerves or deafness. No one can deny that one of the results of the application of scientific methods to production is the need for a universal shorter working week in all secondary industries, and it should bo mandatory from the court.
– Throughout the world.
– That is so. Is it not obvious that if we are to find a solution of our economic difficulties we must cease blaming one another? Let us come together in a conciliatory spirit and see if it is not possible to reach a common understanding about our economic problems. If we cannot agree, then let us agree to differ. Let us cease vilifying one another and making all sorts of innuendoes concerning men who spend their lives working in the industries of the country. Any man who belittles the attempt by this Government to give some measure of protection to employees through an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has little or no understanding on the subject.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) referred to State wages boards, but with great respect I must differ from the conclusions he drew. I have no quarrel with the honorable member for Gippsland, and apart from his politics, I regard him as a friend. I recognize that he holds views of his own, just as I do myself. I cannot agree with him that conditions are any better under State wages boards than under the Federal Arbitration Court. I have been unable to learn of any State which is free from industrial discontent. The conditions of the workers under wages boards are not better than under the Arbitration Court; in fact, in wages board States they are worse. The honorable member for Gippsland said that with the Federal Arbitra- tion Court in existence there was interlocking and overlapping of awards. I agree with him, but point out that that constitutes one of the soundest arguments in favour of the abolition of State industrial courts in favour of a Federal court with jurisdiction from one end of the Commonwealth to the other.
– Each State Arbitration Court would have a separate sphere of influence, and there would be no overlapping if the Federal Arbitration Court were abolished.
– Then how can it be claimed that they overlap now?
– It is the Federal and State awards that overlap. The different State awards do not overlap each other.
– Well, I still regard that as a reason for getting rid of the State courts. Under the present system there is a 48-hour week in some States, and a 44-hour week in others. If industry is to progress on a sound basis in all parts of the Commonwealth, it should be governed by uniform legislation. As things now are the industrial courts of the different States are pulling against one another. Members of the Opposition pray that the Federal Arbitration Court will never bc in complete judicial control of industrial affairs throughout the whole of Australia, because when that day comes the workers will be able to apply to the court with the confident expectation of getting a fair deal, something which honorable members opposite would like very much to deny them.
– Then why did not the unionists support the referendum at which it was sought to obtain increased industrial powers for the Commonwealth ?
– For a very sound reason. The workers refused to place in the hands of three High Court judges absolute power to control industry in Australia.
– And yet the Minister at the table supported it.
– I was asked why the unionists of the country did not support the referendum, and I have given a truthful reply. The trade unionists refused to set up an oligarchy consisting of three High Court judges with absolute power over industrial affairs, and entirely free from parliamentary control.
The time has arrived when something must be done to substitute beneficial industrial legislation for a system which has led only to costly litigation. The trade unions have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds fighting for awards, and there is still discontent in the ranks of the workers, and rightly so. They are discontented, not with the principle of arbitration, but with the manner in which it has been applied during the last few years. I received a letter from the Tramways Union a few days ago pointing out - and I hope the Attorney-General will listen to this - that they have had an application before the court for over twelve months, and have been unable to get it heard, while the Chief Railway Commissioner of New South Wales, within one month of the lodging of his application, had his case dealt with, and the working week for the tramway men increased from 44 to 48 hours. Under a rationing system recently introduced, the members of my own organization are losing 26s. a week, but although they have lodged an application with the court they have not been able to get a hearing. These things are very naturally causing discontent. One of the great benefits which will follow from the appointment of conciliation commissioners will be the more expeditious despatch of business. I do not expect that this bill will result in the workers getting everything they are entitled to, but it will, at any rate, remove many of the anomalies from which they are suffering to-day.
The honorable member for Gippsland referred to the proposed deletion of that section in the present act providing that any ten members of an organization may apply to the court for an order requiring that a secret ballot of members be taken. He mentioned the word “democracy”, and said that this was a democratic country.
– I thought it was before I read the bill.
– The first rule of democracy is majority rule, and if the honorable member for Gippsland is a democrat, how can he justify giving ten members of an organization the right to involve their entire organization in the holding of a costly ballot? Why should any ten members of an organization be given the rig] t to upset the amicable working of their union?
– But a secret ballot cannot be taken unless the judge agrees.
– Every trade un 10111 in Australia has embodied in its constitution a provision empowering members to demand the taking of a secret ballot. What the trade unions object to is outsiders coming in and interfering with their domestic arrangements. The policies of trade unions are directed by majorities.
– They would be if decisions were arrived at by secret ballot.
– The honorable member will keep harping on that. Let me emphasize this point. Nothing can be done at a trade union meeting without the holding of a secret ballot if the members demand one. The officers of the union cannot deny members this right.
– Sometimes members are afraid to insist on it.
– I have been concerned in quite a number of industrial upheavals.
– Has the honorable member ever yet had a vote?
– Yes; and I exercised it intelligently. When an industrial organization is engaged in a dispute, the members of that organization have the right of saying yea or nay on any proposal submitted. If the majority says “ Strike “ the minority must concur, and vice versa.
– Do they express their opinion by an open vote, or in a secret ballot?
– I have said that it is by secret ballot, and I mean it. Reference has been made to one trade union which has objected to the deletion of the section referring to the holding of secret ballots. There are 149 unions registered with the Federal Arbitration Court, and it is certainly significant that out of that number only one has been found to support the retention of this section. I was at Eveleigh workshops during the 1917 strike, when this union came into being. A scab organization from the start, it grew by stealing members from other organizations which were on strike fighting for their rights.
– Was the honorable member on strike in 1917 ?
– Yes ; I was.
– That was during the war.
– Yes ; during the war that is still going on - the economic war in which the workers are fighting for decent living conditions. Some honorable members opposite always refer to the war as if they alone ever did anything to win it, when, as a matter of fact, there are honorable members on this side of the House who did just as much, and perhaps more, but who do not say anything about it.
Earlier in my speech you checked me, Mr. Speaker, when I was referring to members of the judiciary. I may be permitted, however, to say something of the salaries which are paid to judges of the Federal Arbitration Court. The workers all over Australia are being asked at the present time to make sacrifices by accepting less pay and working longer hours, but one judge of the Arbitration Court receives £3,000 a year, and two others £2,500 a year each, besides being entitled to retiring allowances after a certain, period of service. The workers are asking, not without reason, why the judges are not required to make some sacrifice when they themselves are made to feel the economic pinch so keenly. I am aware that there is nothing in this bill providing for a reduction of judges’ salaries, but the matter seems to me to be worthy of attention.
– The Arbitration Court judges made a sacrifice when they relinquished, their practices to serve on the Bench.
– It is. hard to believe that the professional fees which they received when practising their profession totalled in one year more than they now receive as judges. I do not think for a moment that in accepting their present positions they ma.de any sacrifice. With all respect to these judges I may repeat what wa3 said previously- they may be qualified but not competent to deal with industrial conditions. Whatever they are receiving does not alter the fact that at present they have to keep in view the economic effect of awards upon industry. It would be interesting to know to what extent economic conditions were considered when their salaries were fixed. The only time when the economic effect of an award upon industry is taken into consideration is when the wages of men and women engaged in industry are concerned. It is time we had progressive industrial legislation, embodying more conciliation in the settlement of our industrial problems. I do not quarrel with those who are endeavouring to get a fair return for what they may be doing in developing the industries of this country. During this debate unwarranted attacks have been made upon trade union officials. Any one would think from the remarks of some honorable members opposite that they are persons to be feared, but they know that the statements they have made are not in accordance with facts. They should remember that such persons are the paid officials of the rank and file.
– And the rank and file keep reminding them of the fact?
– When the honorable member for Warringah was the secretary of a political organization I suppose he was frequently reminded of his duty to those who paid him his salary.
– They did not need to do so. I recognized it.
– I appeal to honorable members opposite to understand the feelings of the men an ‘ women engaged in industry.
– They understand their feelings.
– Yes ; and those who prate about their patriotism and loyalty should give a practical illustration of it when the workers of this country are involved. They should endeavour to make the conditions of labour the best possible, and to assist the men and women who are proving their patriotism by giving their lives to the building up of the industries of this country. I trust that when the measure reaches the committee stage honorable members opposite will not retard its progress but support the Government in placing it upon the statute-book. By doing so they will be assisting in giving the workers of this country better conditions than they have enjoyed in the past. If any honorable members opposite submit logical amendments which will be beneficial to the people to whom this measure is to apply, they will find that many honorable members on this side of the chamber will be willing to support them; but if they are similar to many of the provisions in the act as it stood under the last Government they cannot expect our help. As the measure will prove of some benefit, to the workers of this country I sincerely trust that it will have a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Earle Page) adjourned.
– I move -
That, in accordance with, the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 10.13-1021, the following proposed work, which was referred to and reported upon by thu Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, be proceeded with, namely: The proposed erection of 30 cottages on section 0, Griffith.
With the object of providing houses at low rentals in Canberra, the Government referred to the Public Works Committee the question of constructing groups of cottages. That committee has investigated and reported upon the erection of 30 semi-detached cottages at Manuka. The estimates provide for the building of 5-roomed cottages which should be made available at from 30s. to 33s. per week. Provision has also been made for the erection of four buildings, each containing three flats, which it is anticipated will be let at 25s. a week each. The estimated cost of the semi-detached buildings is £1,800; but when allowance is made for the erection of fences, construction of footpaths, provision of plantations and overhead charges, the cost will be approximately £1,985.
– Is the land included in that figure?
– Yes. A rental of 33s. a week for a semi-detached house, and 25s. a week for a flat will include the rental of the land.
– Is the price given for each pair of cottages?
– Yes. To the £1,800 mentioned, the cost of fencing, footpaths, plantations and overhead expenses must be added, which brings the amount to approximately £3,985. In the course of a few months it is expected that 305 or 106 officers of the .Patents and
Copyrights Department will be transferred to Canberra.
– Have tenders been called for these cottages?
– I shall deal with that phase of the question shortly. At present, a number of men receiving the basic wage or a little more are occupying cottages costing £2, £2 5s., and £2 10s. a week, and it is anticipated that a number of such persons will leave the higherpriced houses and occupy those which it is now proposed to erect and make available at lower rentals. There are also a number of persons occupying other cottages in the various areas who desire to rent houses of a better type, and it is thought that those to be constructed will meet the demand. It is proposed that the first group of eight pairs shall be built by day labour. The Government is not yet ready to call for tenders for the other groups, and it is desired that an early start should be made upon levelling the land on which they are to be built and also on the work of actual construction which would be. delayed if the work were simultaneously carried out bv day labour and under the contract system. One of the urgent needs of Canberra is the provision of cottages at low rentals for workers and their families.. Every £25 increase in the estimated cost will mean an additional ls. a week or £2 12s. a year in rent. In these circumstances, it will be recognized that every care will be exercised to have the cottages constructed at the lowest possible price in order to bring about a reduction of rentals. Mr. Murdoch, the late Director-General of Works, who also occupied the position of Second Commissioner on the Federal Capital Commission, is designing a cottage which it is anticipated will provide four rooms and a kitchen at a rental of 25s. a week. These cottages will be of the single brick type with studs and lining of a material to be determined upon.
– With what material will they be lined ?
– Several kinds of material suitable for lining are available, and the department will select the most suitable.
– Surely they will not be of wood.
– The lining will not be’ of wood, but of a cheaper and better material such as fibrous plaster. Experiments as to the suitability and cost of quite a number of materials will be made. I repeat that it .is hoped that we shall be able to build cottages comprising four rooms and a kitchen which can be let at 25s. a week. I commend the motion to the House, and trust that it will be carried.
.- Honorable members who have read the report of the Public Works Committee will acknowledge that they have rendered a useful service in investigating the proposal for the erection of cottages at Canberra. I am inclined to think that the Minister has not been quite candid with the House in stating that it is proposed to commence by building eight pairs of cottages on the day-labour system. Honorable members should realize that if this motion is carried the Minister will have complete authority to build all the 36 cottages by day labour.
– Surely the honorable member will accept my assurance that tenders will be called as soon as the necessary plans and specifications have been prepared.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance ; but I did not understand him to say that that is what is proposed. I wish to emphasize the importance of carrying out the recommendations of the Public Works Committee, particularly when we realize the disabilities experienced by many public servants in having to pay high rentals for their homes. We know perfectly well that these high rents are being charged because of the high cost of construction. Probably all honorable members have not read the report, and do not realize that the price of bricks is principally responsible for the high cost of building at Canberra.
– It is proposed to charge £4 16s. a 1,000 for the bricks for these cottages.
– That is so. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) is a member of the Public Works Committee and knows the facts in connexion with the Canberra Brick Works. On page 6 of its report on the proposal to erect these cottages the committee says -
One of the contributing factors to the high cost of building in Canberra is the price charged for bricks. It is generally admitted that the Canberra brick is a very fine, high- class brick, but, owing to the shale from which it is manufactured containing a’ large percentage of lime, the material must be carefully picked over, and what is called the “wet plastic process” of manufacture adopted which demands more coal in the burning, and is consequently more costly than the “dry press process” usually followed in Sydney and elsewhere where the raw material is suitable.
Two or three other paragraphs in the report contain a wealth of information which accounts, to some extent at least, for the high cost of construction in Canberra. In this connexion I quote the following : -
Labour at the brick works is said to bc 17 per cent, higher than in Sydney, and the cost of cartage from the brick works is also high, being lis. per thousand per mile for the first mile and ls. 3d. per thousand per half-mile thereafter.
It was stated in evidence that the cost of preliminary investigations and experiments before the” brick works were established has been added to the capital cost of the plant which has a ledger value of £85,000. It is represented that this contributes to the higher cost of bricks, which, if the capital cost were to be written down to £55,000, which is stated to be a fair present-day valuation, the cost of production with the plant in full operation could bc reduced by approximately 3s. 6d. per thousand.
The report goes on to say that the bricks for this work will be supplied at £4 16s. a 1,000, although the actual cost of them to the Commission is £5 5s. 7d. per 1,000.
– Last year the bricks produced at the kilns cost £10 ls. lOd. a 1,000.
– That is bo. A table which appears on page 6 of the report states that the average cost of bricks in 1929 was £10 ls. lOd. a 1,000, including interest and depreciation charges, although the cost was “reduced to £8 5s. 4d. a 1,000 for the last three months of 1929, duc to re-organization and reduction in management charges.” I lay particular stress upon the wisdom of calling for tenders for the erection of some of these cottages, because bricks can be supplied from Sydney at £2 18s. 6d. per 3,000 plus freight, &c.
It appears to me that sooner or later the Government will have to face the high cost of building construction and also the high cost of land in Canberra, for it is at a considerable disadvantage at present in having to pay large sums of money in cost of living allowances to public servants because of the high cost of living here. According to the report the land upon which these cottages will be built will represent about £150 for each of the blocks for the two-storied semi-detached houses. I cannot for the life of me see why it is necessary to maintain these fictitious values. I realize that interest and redemption costs must be paid on the many miles of expensive roads, sewerage and lighting; but these modern conveniences were provided from the national rather than the civic necessity, and other provision should be made to share the cost. From a statement in the press I was led to believe that the Government proposed to proceed with the whole of this work by day labour, but the Minister’s speech this evening has disarmed me to some extent. I emphasize, however, that day labour in Canberra has been expensive. This policy is discredited throughout the Commonwealth. It is somewhat surprising to find that, although Labour governments usually stand for the day labour policy in the expenditure of public moneys, the Ministers of those governments do not adopt it in their own private undertakings.
– The contract system is more expensive than day labour.
– When the trustees of the Ipswich and Brisbane Trades Halls wanted to make alterations to their buildings they called for tenders for the work. It was not done by day labour.
– That is also true of the trades hall in Perth.
– This shows that they believe the contract system to be less costly. That is easily understandable, for even when we were boys we used to hear about “ the government stroke.” The trouble with the day-labour system is that there is associated with it a lack of proper supervision. In the circumstances, I do not propose to labour this question, but I feel strongly that the Government should not proceed with any of these cottages by day labour, but should, at the earliest possible moment, call for tenders for the work. If it does so, I am satisfied that the public officers who will occupy the houses when they are erected will reap the benefit.
– I also was led to believe that it was the intention of the Government to have all this work done by day labour, and I had intended to speak very strongly against the adoption of that policy. I think the Minister is justified, owing to the great need for houses here, in adopting the course which he has proposed. The members of the Public Works Committee visited many of the homes in Canberra, and it realizes that there are many structures here which are no credit to the city. It will be remembered that the estimated cost of Parliament House was £220,000. For many years the estimates of Mr. Murdoch, while he was the Commonwealth Director-General of Works, were sound. It is true that certain alterations were made in the plans and specifications of this building, particularly in the rear portion of it, which might have been expected to add £30,000 or £40,000 to. the cost of it ; but nobody ever dreamed that it would cost £660,000, particularly as all the glorious timbers in it were bought in 1913 and 1914, when prices were very much lower than after the war. The huge waste of money in connexion with the remodelling of Yarralumla House to convert it into a residence for the Governor-General was, perhaps, the greatest scandal that has occurred here.
– The Government supported by the honorable member was responsible for the expenditure of £70,000 in that connexion without referring the matter to Parliament.
– I am not reflecting upon honorable members opposite, but merely pointing to the fact. It is extraordinary that bricks cost £101s.10d. per 1,000 to produce here last year. I am aware, of course, that a comparatively small quantity was produced and that made the overhead cost high. But tiles cost £34 a 1,000 here, which is far beyond a reasonable price. The members of the Public Works Committee visited Yallourn in the course of their inquiry into the proposal to build these cottages, and inspected some very fine weatherboard homes there. We could not build the same type of home here; but I am sure, if the Minister would study the report of the committee, he would realize that we could, with advantage, adopt a cheaper type of construction in Canberra.
Some of the buildings here are particularly good. A Mr. McGrath, for instance, built his own home of special patented reinforced concrete, but the Federal Capital Commission refused to allow him to build any more homes of the same kind. I cannot understand this, for the man himself would have accepted the responsibility. If the dwellings were unfit for occupation they could have been condemned. But some stupid blunders have been made here and a great deal of money wasted. The houses in which some of the people here are living are an absolute disgrace, and fit only for slum areas. As honorable members are aware,’ I have no attachment for Canberra, and I do not want to see too much money spent here; but I recognize that these houses are essential, and I hope that they will be erected quickly. I accept the Minister’s assurance that he will call for tenders in the terms he outlined. We do not want poorly built houses here.
If the brick kilns could be put into operation under proper conditions it should be possible to reduce the price of bricks. When the Electricity Commission was operating the two brick kilns at Yallourn bricks were being produced at £2 8s. 6d. a thousand. The kilns have since been leased to a private person and he is turning out bricks at £4 0s. 3d. a thousand. The quantities required are not so large now as in the peak constructional period. The Yallourn bricks are carted for 8s. 6d. a thousand, whereas the charge here is lis. a thousand for the first mile and ls. 3d. a thousand per half-mile thereafter. Those figures are altogether too high. I hope that the Minister will do his best to bring the costs down to those which prevail in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– I did not expect that we should be called upon to debate, on this motion, the relative merits of the day labour and contract systems; but a very good case could be made out in favour of day labour. “ I am living at the Hotel Kurrajong, which was built by the contract system, and we all know how the work there was scamped. Many of the walls have had to be papered to hide the poor workmanship of the builders. Numerous alterations have been required in that building, and almost directly after the contractor had finished the job expense had to be incurred to correct faults. We well remember that certain foundations were put in, under contract, a hundred yards or so from this building for the first permanent administrative block, and the quantity of cement- used was cut down, * which increased the risk of putting a big building upon them. I thing the Government is acting wisely in building the first eight of these houses by day labour. I do not see why the whole lot of them should not be built by that method.
– The difficulty is to get proper supervision and competent clerks of works.
– We all know that supervision is the main thing. I agree with honorable members who have said that the cost of land here is too high. The Government acquired the land for about £4 per acre, and there does not seem to be any justification for charging such an extremely high price for it for residential purposes. It is also unfair that the price of bricks should be so high. We have two very expensive kilns and a large quantity of machinery .Which have been unproductive for many months. The overhead charges in these circumstances should not be added to the price of the bricks. It is true that the Canberra bricks are of excellent quality; but there is no need for them to be first-class for internal walls. We should be able to turn out seconds and thirds which would be suitable for that purpose.
– They cannot produce other than first-grade bricks here.
– That is so; and yet the bricks are covered with rough-cast and cement. These are good plastic bricks - almost face bricks - and there is no reason why they should be smothered with whitewash and cement, which only adds to the cost of construction. Tuckpointing would give a much neater job. I hope that the first eight of these cottages will be constructed at a cost which will justify the Minister in proceeding with the remainder of them by day labour. Let the Government pick its own men, and if they do not suit, let others be employed.
– The War Service Homes Commission has shown the Government how to build good houses cheaply.
– I prefer not to say too much about some of the buildings that body has erected. Some of them are a disgrace.
– They are the exceptions.
– I believe they are. It is all a matter of supervision. With a good man in charge of the work each man will render faithful service, and the cost of the work will not be excessive.
.- I rise to refer to a matter which, at first sight, may appear insignificant, but is, in fact, important in connexion with the building of homes. In Canberra the custom has grown up of having floors of polished hardwood or of some form of cement construction. Such floors are exceedingly dangerous. The floor in King’s Hall is an example of the dangerous nature of such materials.
– They are safe if persons walking on them use rubber-soled shoes.
– Many of the floors in the hotels of Canberra are constructed of ironite, or some similar substance. They are so slippery and dangerous that already numerous accidents have taken place through people having slipped on them. When I first lived in Canberra, the rooms which I occupied had attached to them a balcony or verandah with a floor of ironite. The floor was so slippery that I scarcely used the balcony at all. Now I have a balcony with a wooden floor, which is so pleasant and safe that I use it frequently. I recognize that wooden floors involve more work in cleaning them; but I suggest that the authorities concerned should invite the opinion of the housewives of Canberra as to whether they would prefer their verandah floors, at least, to be of wood instead of hard, unfriendly and dangerous cement. If a person has a projecting nail in the heel of his shoe, he runs a risk of slipping and seriously injuring himself when walking over these cement floors. At the Hotel Canberra it has been found necessary to treat the cement surfaces with an acid preparation from time to time in order to make them safe to walk upon. The recommendation regarding the floors of these houses is -
The floors of the verandahs and offices referred to will be finished in concrete surfaced with ironite.
I understand that ironite is the red slippery substance which the people of Canberra know to be dangerous.
– It can be finished in a comparatively rough state.
– That is so; but then it loses its sanitary virtue. The rougher surface may be satisfactory from a sanitary point of view where it will be washed by rain or by water from a hose, but it is not satisfactory for use indoors. A wooden floor in a verandah is infinitely more comfortable than is one of cement. I do not like occupying the time of the House in discussing what may appear to be a minor detail of house construction; but in a house in which young children may run about, we should provide floors which are not dangerous.
.- While I am strongly of the opinion that the Federal Capital is in the wrong place, we are, unfortunately, in the position that we must go on with the building of the capital. Consequently, houses are necessary for the unfortunate people who have to live here. This is the first opportunity I have had of telling the people of this country what I think of Canberra.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the subject before the Chair.
– I shall endeavour to do so, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, the statesmen of the past have committed this country to such an extent in connexion with its federal capital that we must go on. Surely that means that we must provide satisfactory accommodation for those who are compulsorily brought here. I am pleased that the Minister has decided to build these houses by day labour, for, in my opinion, that system will prove cheaper and more satisfactory than has been our experience with contract work in Canberra.
– Would the honorable member build his own house by day labour?
– Yes. I have built more than one house by day labour. Canberra has had some unfortunate experiences in connexion with the contract system. Honorable members have only to visit the foundations of the permanent administrative buildings to see how, under that system, the people of this country were robbed. We do not want a repetition of that state of affairs. I compliment the Minister on his decision, and hope that the system will prove a success.
In my opinion, it should be possible to produce bricks in Canberra more cheaply than they are now produced. One honorable member said that the clay from which Canberra bricks are made is of such a. character that only the best quality bricks can be made from it.
– That is so.
– Surely in some parts of this Territory there is a clay from which cheaper second-grade bricks could be manufactured ? The bricks which are being placed in the new Presbyterian Church are the best I have ever seen. While I realize that nothing is too good for a church, such bricks are not necessary for inside walls. Realizing that because of the large expenditure already incurred we must go on with the development of this city, I support the motion.
– I wish to emphasize the remarks of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) regarding the high cost of bricks in Canberra. He attributed that cost largely to the heavy capital expenditure incurred in connexion with the ‘brickworks. It is not fair that the people who come to live here should be saddled with the total cost of those works, which I understand is about £86,000. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has shown how practically every building and public work undertaken in Canberra has cost more than was anticipated. That additional expenditure has been borne by the people of Australia as awhole in the form of taxation. Why then should bricks be singled out for different treatment? Why should the people of this city have to meet the excessive cost of the brick kilns, and also the heavy overhead expenses in connexion with them? The Government would do well to write down the capital cost of the brickworks to a figure which would enable bricks to be made and sold at areasonable price. The Minister said that many residents of Can berra in receipt of the basic wage, or a wage slightly above it, are paying from £2 to £2 5s. a week in rent. No man in receipt of the salary mentioned, should pay such an amount for the right to occupy a house. He cannot do so and have sufficient left to clothe and maintain his family properly. It has long been recognized that any person who pays more than 25 per cent. of his earnings in rent, pays an excessive amount.
– When I mentioned 25s. a week as rent I was speaking of flats, but we are developing a cottage with four rooms and a kitchen, which we hope to be able to let at 25s. a week.
– If cottages can be putup which people may rent for 25s. a week it will be most desirable. The Minister spoke also of the suggestion that while the outer walls should be of brick, to conform with building requirements, the inner walls might be stud-lined with some other material. I know of no better material for the purpose than celotex.
– That comes from Queensland does it not?
– Yes. Celotex is among the good things with which Queensland has provided the Commonwealth. A wooden partition is far from satisfactory in a house, whereas celotex has the advantage of being almost soundproof and is also warm in winter. I hope the Minister will carry the idea further in his endeavour to obtain for. the workers of this capital and those men in the government service in receipt of little more than the basic wage, a type of cottage which will enable them after they have paid their rent to have sufficient to feed and clothe their children as they should be fed and clothed.
.- The statement of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) that he has no pride in the Capital City, and that if he had his way he would try to move it to Adelaide, is the sort of talk one would expect from men whose minds are not broad enough to view the Capital City in the light of what is necessary to meet the future requirements of Australia. Honorable members should view Canberra in a national spirit so that those who come after us will be proud to realize that their fathers had a better idea of Australia’s future than some who are envious because the Federal Capital has not been established within the State they represent.
The bricks made in Canberra are, I understand, double-pressed and faced. A less pressed brick would not cost much less. I do not think it would represent a saving of more than £1 5s. a 1,000. A well pressed brick is essential for 41/2-inch. partitions, and nothing would therefore be gained by turning out a lower quality brick. In regard to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) about slippery verandah floors, concrete work makes a very much nicer exterior flooring than timber. It is also more hygienic and impervious to borers.
Complaint has been made about the price of land in Canberra. At the last auction sale 398 blocks were offered. Some were business blocks and some cottage sites. The upset price fixed by the Government totalled £13,500, but the price realized at auction was nearly £60,000. The Public Accounts Committee which inquired into the annual rental value of city blocks recommended 5 per cent. as a fair annual rental value. The difference between £13,500 and nearly £60,000 is what many of the tenants in the city have to pay. Those who have been responsible for the high cost of blocks are those persons who competed against one another to obtain business and cottage sites. When the Public Accounts Committee was inquiring into the re-appraisement period I secured information from Great Britain which showed that in most cases the reappraisement period there is 25 years. In Birmingham it is 35 years, and in the Duchy of Cornwall Estate, from which the Prince of Wales derives his revenues, it is 50 years. If certain conditions are complied with the lessees have the right of renewal. The Public Accounts Committee ascertained that the period was fixed at twenty years in Canberra because no one had any idea as to what the future of the Territory would be.
Nothing causes me to laugh more than statements frequently made about the number of bricks a bricklayer ought to lay. About twelve months ago I was interested in a contract in Brisbane. The contractor, a smart man, was quite satisfied when his bricklayers laid on an average 360 bricks a day. On a side wall with only one joint to strike they did 420 a day. When I was a boy I saw, in London Punch, a cartoon, which I have never forgotten. Some men were engaged building a cottage when the owner came along and asked them when he was likely to be able to get into his home. One of the bricklayers replied, “I cannot tell you exactly because the boss is away. He has just gone down town to try to get another job. If he gets the job it won’t be long ‘ before we finish here. But if he does not get it, I can’t tell you when we are likely to finish.” There is a good deal of stupidity in the talk of what bricklayers can do. Some bricks weigh 61/2 lbs., others weigh 9 lbs., and good black stuff weighs 10 lbs. Only a lunatic would expect a bricklayer to stoop down, pick up a 10-lb. brick, lay on the mortar, strike a joint and keep on doing that at the rate of 1,000 a day.
I should like all the cottages and buildings in the Territory to have brick or freestone fronts. There are very few cities in which the houses and buildings have what I call mud fronts - plaster on brick. Everybody in Canberra would have a brick house if he were afforded a reasonable opportunity to obtain it. Wooden buildings are uneconomical, and have to be painted continually to keep them presentable. I draw attention to the magnificent brick and freestone buildings in the cities, many erected by insurance companies, and particularly to that of the Australian Mutual Provident Company, one of the finest architectural structures in Australia. The Bank of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney also have very fine edifices, but I marvel at the architectural monstrosity erected by the New South Wales State Savings Bank Department. Although erected at tremendous cost, it is atrociously lighted. I do hope that the architects will ensure that these Canberra cottages will be well lighted. When you have plenty of light you have adequate ventilation.
I hope that these houses will be proceeded with as quickly as possible. Honorable members frequently refer to the high cost incurred in constructing the buildings originally erected in the Territory. They fail to realize the conditions that then existed. At the time plasterers, bricklayers,and other tradesmen were drawing £7 and £8 in our capital cities. Could it be expected that they would incur the heavy expense of coming to Canberra without demanding adequate compensation? Consequently, an additional inducement had to be offered to them, and that resulted in labour costs in Canberra being 25 per cent, higher than in the principal cities. The cost of construction was also inflated because of the high railway freights.
I hope that eventually we shall have a well-staffed Works Department, with highly-qualified tradesmen at its disposal. They will become permanent residents here, an acquisition to the business people and to the Territory itself.
– I believe that the most important factor about day labour is adequate supervision. I suggest to the Minister that, as architects are being retrenched from the War Service Homes Commission, their services might well be utilized as clerks of works or in some other similar capacity in connexion with the erection of these cottages. I feel sure that my suggestion is conveyed to a receptive disposition, and that neither the Minister nor anybody else desires to see men who have been in the service of the department for a great number of ; years discharged at such a time as this, when they could do useful work in Canberra.
.- I desire to draw attention to the specification of these cottages. Now that the Minister has reassured us that he is trying day labour only as an experiment:-
– The Government is also trying the contract system as an experiment.
– If it is trying both methods as an experiment I have nothing to criticize in that regard, but I desire to draw attention to the type of roofing material used. I am not asserting that either the works committee or the Government is responsible for it. It seems to me to be part of the bad tradition that has grown up in Canberra of building for ostentation, rather than for service. It is provided that these houses shall have tiled roofs. Tiled roofs in a climate such as this are unnecessary, except, perhaps, to afford a congenial outlook for the neighbour or for the tourist. Their utility amounts to about 10 per cent., and their ostentation to about 80 to 90 per cent. It is unfair to expect people earning little more than the basic wage to bear this additional charge entirely for ostentation. Approximately 90 per cent, of the people of Australia, whether in hot or cold climates, live comfortably under iron roofs. They are quite serviceable and much more economical than tiled roofs. An additional cost of £50 a cottage because of a tiled roof means more than ls. a week in rent to the occupant. I do not know the precise difference between the cost of an iron and a tiled roof, but I know that it must represent an appreciable extra amount in rent at the end of the year. I endorse the remarks of the honorable members for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) and East Sydney (Mr. West) regarding stucco walls. Any honorable member who has travelled in other parts of the world must have been struck with the beauty and durability of brickwork even in climates much more severe than that of Canberra. One portion of the institution which I was privileged to attend was built of brick, and although it was 600 years old it was as solid as granite, and its appearance was as good as any stone I have seen. Canberra produces a magnificent brick but mainly for reasons of vulgar ostentation many of the brick cottages have been covered with stucco at additional cost. This is needless extravagance. I support the construction of the cottages at Manuka and hope that the Minister will be able to commence the work at an early date.
.- The writing down of housing costs in Canberra is at present under consideration. The Public Works Committee has suggested that the brickworks should be written down from £85,000 to £55,000 ; I am not sure that the reduction should not be even greater. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) rightly drew attention to a fact which must be taken into consideration when discussing the high cost of building in the early construction stage of Canberra. Sydney,
Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart, during the period 1923 to 1927, were experiencing a building boom, with the result that when the construction of the Federal Capital was undertaken the demand for artisans was abnormal. The result was a foregone conclusion; a big job like the building of a city cannot be carried put efficiently and cheaply without expert tradesmen. The public servants who have been compulsorily transferred to Canberra should not be expected to pay for ever,1 interest on the- excessive cost of buildings erected during the initial stages of Canberra. I am informed that one group of cottages has been written down by £86,000, and that to bring them to present-day values a further £20,000 or £30,000 should be written off. The Government is now erecting cottages with greater and more comfortable accommodation, which can be rented at from 10s. to £1 a week less than older cottages situated within 100 yards of them.
– May I suggest to the Minister that he might consult with the womenfolk with regard to the internal’ arrangement of the cottages?
– The experience of cottage construction at Canberra has shown that even the best qualified architects may err. An Australian-wide competition for a group of 100 cottages was held by the Commonwealth Government, and the competitive plans and specifications were adjudicated on by a committee of three of the foremost Australian architects. The prize was awarded, and the cottages were built in accordance with the winning plans and specifications. We have since found that they are not of a type suitable for Canberra, and we have developed a different and much improved cottage. The Canberra type is different from that of Melbourne and Sydney; a large living room is one of the essentials. Some of the best architects in Australia put on paper their ideas of what would be most suitable for this city, but, apparently, they were wrong. The residents of Canberra have discovered the type of comfortable home that they require, and the Government is providing it at a cost much below that of the earlier cottages. The motion before the House relates to cheap but commodious cottages having five rooms, kitchen, bathroom and all conveniences. The comfort of the housewife has been carefully considered by the designer.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) suggested that architects now being retrenched by the War Service Homes Commission should be taken over by the Works Department and employed as clerks of works. Unfortunately, the services of many architects who were employed by the Federal Capital Commission have been dispensed with. Honorable members will recognize that the first stage of the development of Canberra - the erection of Parliament House and office accommodation, and the making of roads, parks, and gardens - has been completed, with the result that whereas three years ago about 3,000 men were employed on the constructional programme, now comparatively few are employed. Most of those remaining are on the office staff, with the exception of the artisans engaged on cottage construction, which is the only work in progress in Canberra to-day. Therefore the staff necessary for present requirements is already in Canberra.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) advised the use of a cheaper roofing material than tiles. The wooden cottages at Reid are roofed with iron, but I think that in the brick areas tile roofs are to be preferred. We hope to be able to evolve a brick cottage with tiled roof that can be rented at 25s. a week. The cottages at Manuka will have an attractive elevation, plenty of space at the rear for gardening, and many other desirable features.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Scullin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On Thursday last I asked several questions of the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) regarding appointments to the Royal
Australian Air Force. Candidates must be possessed of certain qualifications before they can obtain a commission in the Air Force. Since I received a reply from the Minister for Defence I have had communications from several persons who are concerned in this matter. I take the following from one of the letters I have received -
Being an elector of Lang, also a member of the Citizen Air Force, would you, through your party, ventilate the method of selection of cadets for training as pilots in the Citizen Air Force?
The necessary standard of education, namely, a university education, is the first obstacle to a working-man’s son, and is merely a class barrier to make it more conservative. At Richmond they have men with more knowledge of aircraft and aviation and two or more years’ experience than outsiders, and when the time comes round for selection of cadets they arc not even considered, merely because of their education and social standing. The position as it is now takes all interest out of the work of the nien, when they are overlooked in preference to outsiders (i.e., university students who have sufficient irons in the fire), and I think that with a little more agitation the position could be changed along better lines.
Thanking you, in anticipation;
I shall not give the name of the writer but the Minister may see the letter itself. He has been at the Richmond Aerodrome for four years, and has attained to the rank of aircraftsman, first class (A.C.I.) . He, amongst others, is desirous of obtaining a position in the Air Force but cannot do so. He has informed me that on the back of the application form which is used when applying for a commission are the following words in brackets : - (Applicants must come up to an educational standard of a university, or Melbourne intermediate examination, and be between the ages of 18 and 20 years, and unmarried).
This applicant and many others conform to the age regulation and are unmarried. These young men have been informed by an Air Force Sergeant-Major that unless they can conform to educational requirements as set out on the back of the application form it will be useless for them to apply for a commission. I have no desire to harass the Minister or cast any reflection upon his administration. E have the utmost faith in his integrity and honesty. I believe that the answers which he gave me were strictly in accordance with what he believed to be facts, but evidently from the information which I have received, there is something radically wrong; hence my desire to bring it under his notice, and the notice of honorable members.
– This afternoon I asked the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) a number of questions concerning the working and purpose of the Borstal Institute in England. I asked him particularly if inmates of the institution referred to were sent to Australia, and if so would he endeavour to prevent this class of migrant from coming to the Commonwealth. In his reply the Minister said he had no detailed knowledge, but understood that endeavours were made by the Borstal Institute to effect reform in young offenders sent to it from the courts ; also that inmates of the institute had not, since the inception of the joint Commonwealth and State migration scheme in 1921, been brought to Australia as assisted migrants. I should have accepted the right honorable gentleman’s statement as accurate if he had not mentioned the date 1921, and if I had not obtained some knowledge of the institute when I was in England in 1924. During my visit to the Mother Country in that year, I was engaged in a Labour concert in the constituency of Lewes in the south of England, and came across one of the institutes near the town of Portslade. I learned that nineteen of the lads had been sent to Australia as migrants the previous week. I knew nothing then of the working of the institute, and upon making inquiries I learned, as the Prime Minister stated this afternoon, that its purpose was to effect reform in first offenders sent to it from the courts, and the custom was, if these young people did not misbehave, to encourage them to migrate to the dominions. About two years ago I obtained copies of the annual reports of the institute but could find no reference in them to the migration of inmates, although from time to time I have seen press statements of the success of the Borstal Institute, and the fact that young men committed to its care were sent to the dominions if they proved satisfactory. The Prime Minister has informed us that there has been no migration of unfit immigrants since 1921, but statements have been made by Dr. Culpin, who at one time was a member of this House, and is now a medical superintendent in a Brisbane hospital, that some are being sent out to Australia, so I suggest that further inquiries be made. When I was in England in 1924,Itook advantage of the opportunity to investigate the emigration methods adopted, not only at Australia House, but at an agency in the Strand. The advertisements of this agency appeared all over London and at all the approaches to Australia House. I learned that the agent in the Strand was working in the interest of a certain shipping company. This method seemed to me to be rather lax. Instead of intending migrants obtaining all the information necessary at Australia House they were being induced to apply to the shipping agent who was interested in booking passages for migrants under the assisted migration scheme, and he cared little for the health or character of the migrants so long as he obtained their passage money. On the steamer on which I returned to Australia there was a young man, suffering mentally, who, I understand, had been refuseda passage by Australia House officials, but was sent out by the agent referred to. I believe he is now in Tasmania. I have been informed that of the total number of migrants sent from England to the dominions in February and March, 838 or 60 per cent. came to Australia, and 370 went to Canada. This suggests the need for stricter inquiries. It should be the duty of some one to see where the leakage is on the other side, because of the risk of physically unfit, and perhaps undesirable migrants whom the Mother Country is glad to get rid of, coming to Australia. No doubt the answer of the Prime Minister was based on information supplied by his department, and was given in all good faith. I urge, however, that a stricter examination be made of immigrants on the other side.
.- The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) asked me to-day what salary was paid to Judge
Lukin, and I answered that his salary was £2,000 a year. I regret that I was not at the time able to check that figure, and I have since learned that the salary received by Judge Lukin is £2,500 a year. It was fixed by the act of 1926, and has remained unaltered.
.- The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long) referred to the educational qualification required for cadetship in the Royal Australian Air Force. In a question addressed to me the other day he suggested that university qualifications were required. I replied then that a student was not required to attend a university; that an ordinary high school education was sufficient. The standard insisted on is what in some States is known as the Intermediate Certificate, but in others as the Junior Public Certificate. It is necessary that cadets should have a fairly good education in view of the work they are required to do. There are usually ten to fourteen cadetships advertised, and there are frequently from 300 to 400 applicants. It is necessary, therefore, that a fairly high standard of qualification should be required. At the last examination 400 applicants presented themselves. Only fourteen passed, and of those only one was a student from a university. The others were from State high schools, or from other secondary schools. I shall be pleased if the honorable member for Lang will give me the letter which he read. The case mentioned therein might have some special personal features which it would be desirable to consider.
– The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) stated that he had learned authoritatively that boys from the Borstal Institute had obtained assisted passages to Australia in 1924. The reply which I gave to his question was based upon information received from my department, and accepted by me in good faith. It may be that these boys would not receive assisted passages. I assure the House that the answers I give to questions I understand to be accurate. In this case I shall have further inquiries made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.45. p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 June 1930, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1930/19300624_reps_12_125/>.