12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and offered prayers.
– The newspapers announce that the Commonwealth Statis- tician is to make certain inquiries regarding the basic wage. I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether those interested will be afforded an opportunity to submit evidence to the Commonwealth Statistician, or whether the inquiry is to be merely departmental?
– The services of the Commonwealth Statistician have been placed at the disposal of the Arbitration Court for the purposes of an inquiry into the basic wage. All persons interested will have an opportunity to submit their evidence or testimony.
– I ask the Acting Prime
Minister whether the inquiry by the Commonwealth Government into the price of petrol has yet commenced ? Will thepersons making the investigation have power to compel the petrol companies and the petrol distributors to give evidence and submit relevant documents to prove whether the recent increase in price was justified or not?
– A preliminary inquiry is being made, and I cannot say off hand whether it will be possible to compel those engaged in the sale of petrol to produce their books and relevant documents for the information of the investi- gator. That is a matter to be determined b y the legal advisers of the Crown.
– Recently country mail services have been considerably curtailed, daily mails being reduced to two or three a week. If this step is necessitated by departmental economies, will the Postmaster-General consider the advisability of discontinuing the afternoon delivery in the suburbs to enable essential services in the country to be maintained?
– The financial circumstances of the Commonwealth compel the adoption of all possible means of economy in departmental expenditure, and wherever possible postal services which are not absolutely-essential are being curtailed with the object of effecting savings which will help to balance the budget.
Mr.WATKINS. -Will the Acting
Prime Minister inquire into the news’ paper reports that Mr. Jacoby, a Perth citizen, presented Commonwealth notes at the London branch of the Commonwealth Bank and was unable to getcash or English notes for them?
– I shall inquire into the matter.
Mr. COLEMAN’S EUROPEAN TRIP.
-Will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House how much the Commonwealth has paid, or will pay, for the unnecessary and unduly prolonged holiday tripto Europe of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) ?
– Honorable members are well aware of the conditions upon which Mr. Coleman went to Europe, and I assure them that no unnecessary expenditure is being incurred; indeed, tlie Government hopes that the services rendered by the honorable member for Reid while attending the International Labour Conference at Geneva, and later in London, will more than repay to the Commonwealth the cost of the trip.
Mr.Archdaleparkhill. - How much has the trip cost ?
– I shall let the honorable member have the information later.
– Having regard to the distressed condition of many primary producers because of the serious fall in the prices of their products, will the Government take steps to prevent the pegging of exchange to their disadvantage ?
– Exchange rates have advanced somewhat, and. from what one can gather they are likely to increase still further.
– Will the Minister for Home Affairs state what steps have been taken by his department in connexion with the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries?
– I hope to be able to announce within the next two or three weeks the personnel of the commissions to be appointed in the various States in which a redistribution of electoral boundaries will be necessary.
– Has anything been done yet?
– Has the Acting
Prime Minister seen the report in the Labor Daily, of Saturday last, of the following resolution said to have been carried at a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Labour party presided over by the honorable gentleman in Canberra last week : -
That the Commonwealth Bank be required to create sufficient credit, as and when required for the following purposes: -
– I rise to order. I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, if, in framing a question, an honorable member is in order in quoting what appears in the press ?
– It has been the practice to allow an honorable member whenasking aquestion toquote newspaper extracts, but in doing so he must accept responsibility for their accuracy.
– On this occasionI cheerfully do so. The resolutions continue : -
The ultimate amount of credit tobe arranged under this head to be determined by the effect upon the commodity price levels.
The credit under the various heads to be made available for interest rate not exceeding 5 per cent. per annum.
An effective exchange pool be continued to provide Australian Governments first claim on Australian funds in London.
The external exchange rates to be fixed at such rates as will give primary producers the full benefit of the exchange premium on their exports to compensate for the diminished market prices.
I ask the Acting Prime Minister if his attention has been called to that report; if it is substantially true; and if it is the intention of the Government to compel the Commonwealth Bank to carry out these extraordinary proposals?
– As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is aware, it is not customary to disclose matters of policy in answer to a question.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that Wing-Commander Kingsford Smith, recently completed a successful flight from England to Australia, and, if so, does the Government propose to recommend to His Majesty that some signal honour be conferred upon that gallant airman?
– It is my intention to make an announcement on the. subject later in the sitting.
– I ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been directed to the arbitrary action of the New South Wales authorities in imposing restrictions upon the entry of Queensland sheep into New South Wales via Kyogle, for consumption in the northern river districts. If not, will the Minister have inquiries made in order to ascertain to what extent this action is an infringement of interstate freetrade, and in violation of section 92 of the Constitution?
– The answer to the first portion of the honorable member’s question is No. My reply to the second portion is that I shall have inquiries made.
– Is the Acting Minister for Markets aware that invitations have been issued to the State Ministers of Agriculture and those concerned in the production and sale of wheat to attend a conference on Tuesday next? If such invitations have been issued, on what basis have organizations and individuals been selected?
– Invitations have been issued not only to the State Ministers of Agriculture, but also to the representatives of organizations that attended a similar conference previously.
– Only to those who a t tended previously ?
– The representatives who attended the previous conference will be invited; but if the honorable member can submit the names of others to whom invitations should be sent, his suggestions will receive sympathetic consideration.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister inform the House as to the future movements of the right honorable the Prime Minister, and state when he is expected to return to Australia?
– I have not yet received definite information, but I anticipate that the right honorable the Prime Minister will arrive in Australia either at the end of this year or early next year.
– I rise to a question of privilege. Standing Order285 reads: -
Any member complaining to the House ofa statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question, and be prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
I submit the motion in the following terms : -
That Mr. Speaker give effect to the resolution agreed to by this House on the 20th December, 1912, having reference to newspaper misrepresentation, which is as follows: -
That, in the opinion of this House, immediate action should be taken to protect members of this Parliament from the aspersions and misrepresentations of the newspaper press by making an order that, when any article or paragraph appears in a newspaper reflecting upon the good conduct or integrity of a member which, in the opinion of the said member, is calculated to prejudice him in the eyes of the community, and the member affected, by personal explanation or otherwise, declares that the statements so made in regard to himself arc erroneous, misleading and injurious, and the House, in good faith, accepts such statement, no representative or representatives of the newspaper implicated be allowed within the precincts of Parliament House unless, or until, the explanation or contradiction made by the aggrieved member be given in the aforesaid newspaper prominence equal to that given to the offending article or paragraph.
This is a matter which affects the honour, privileges and rights of honorable members generally. If my memory serves me aright, a former honorable member for Eden Monaro (Mr. Perkins) during the last Parliament had occasion to take exception to certain statements regarding himself which emanated from the press gallery of this chamber.
The representatives of the press are here to let the public know actually what happens in this chamber, and are not entitled to malign, misrepresent or in any way ridicule the proceedings in this House. On the occasion to which I have ro erred, tho late honorable member for Eden Monaro rightly objected to a most scurrilous attack which had been made upon him by the press. I have never endeavoured to avoid the consequences of any utterances I have made in this chamber. I have never tried to side-step a question, and I have never tried to squib. During the war period I was imprisoned for two months, but I did not shirk my responsibility for anything I had done. I have never done so, and have no desire to do it now. What I said in tho speech in regard to which I have been, misrepresented I am prepared to stand up to to-day. The Deputy Leader of t tie Opposition (Mr. Gullett) quoted a certain resolution to which I have said that, if permitted, I would give effect. I defy any honorable member, or any person in the press gallery, to say truthfully that I ever suggested any such thing as repudiation.
– Instead of “ repudiation” they should have said “inflation”.
– As this matter affects the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) as much as it affects me I ask him to stand by me in seeing that those who are paid to report the addresses of honorable members report them correctly, fu- make due amends for not doing so.
– What did tho newspapers say about the honorable member ?
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) may interpret my remarks as he likes; but it is a misinterpretation of the King’s English to say that I at any time advocated repudiation.
– The honorable member lias advocated a policy which is equivalent to repudiation.
– I shall not allow members of the Opposition to interpret my remarks according to their own desires. The incorrect report of my remarks finds favour with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) because, as a journalist, he has been reared in an atmosphere of misrepresentation. Indeed, he is so accustomed to misrepresentation that he speaks the truth only when force of circumstances compels him to do so.
– I rise to a point of order. Tho honorable member purports to be acting in accordance with Standing Order 285, which requires, in addition to other provisions with which the honorable member has not hitherto complied, that An honorable member raising a question of privilege concerning a newspaper shall submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt. I submit that the honorable member has not moved a motion declaring any person to have been guilty of contempt, with the result that the House is unaware of the subject-matter of his complaint. . I submit that the honorable member is not acting in accordance with Standing Order 285.
– I require to hear the honorable member for Adelaide further before determining whether he is or is not in order.
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that I have complied with Standing Order 285. I have moved a substantive motion in terms of the Standing Orders adopted by this Parliament to meet special circumstances. The misrepresentation of honorable members by the press is not new, for in 1912 Parliament found it necessary to pass a specific resolution to protect its members from such misrepresentation. In accordance with the Standing Order then, adopted, I now submit that the persons responsible for these press articles are guilty of contempt of Parliament. In the interests of honorable members, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, as the custodian of the rights and privileges of honorable members in this chamber, to protect them from further misrepresentation.
– Am I to understand that the honorable member for Adelaide will name some one as the person responsible for the alleged misrepresentation?
– I shall name the newspaper concerned, and give the name of the printer and publisher of it, as required by the Standing. Order. The newspaper with which I am particularly concerned is the Advertiser, of Adelaide, printedand published, so far as I am aware, by Bonython & Co., of Adelaide, although it would be difficult to say with certainty who are the real owners of the press of Australia. The Advertiser has, perhaps, given this matter more prominence than have the newspapers published outside South Australia, but throughout the Commonwealth various newspapers have indulged in similar misrepresentation. The Register News Pictorial, published in Adelaide on the 25 th July, 1930, over the heading “Repudiation of War Debts Urged”, contains similar misrepresentation to that published in the Advertiser. Queensland newspapers which have similarly offended include the Courier, the Daily Mail, the Evening News, and the Telegraph, of the 25th July last. In Sydney similar misrepresentation appeared in the Evening News and the Sun of the 24th July, and in the Daily Telegraph Pictorial of the following day. The Herald and the Age, published in Melbourne on the 24th July, and 25th July respectively offended similarly, as did also the Hobart Mercury and the Launceston Examiner of the 25th July. It is part of the propaganda of . my political opponents to publish throughout Australia that I favour the repudiation of our war debts ; but not one honorable member opposite is prepared to rise in his place and accuse me of having advocated such a policy. The Advertiser informed its readers under the headings, “ “War Loan Interest; Mr. Yates Suggests Repudiation “, that I stood for the repudiation of interest payments to those patriots who had made.no sacrifice during the war.
– What did the honorable member say?
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) should know what 1 said, for I sent to him, as I did to all honorable members, a copy of my reply. In the issue of the Advertiser following that to which I have already referred there appeared a letter from Mr. W. A. Hamilton, the leader of the Liberal Federation in South Australia, a gentleman who, before his defeat at the last election, represented the district of Torrens in the House of Assembly, and previously represented Bendigo in the Victorian Parliament. Mr. Hamilton at one time signed the platform ofthe Labour party, which had printed at the top the slogan, “ The Labour party is. the only party which is not a party. It is the nation.” His letter was given prominence on the cable page of the Advertiser, as were also the references to repudiation to which I have referred. Indeed, the Advertiser sought to give as much publicity to the matter as possible, even going so far as to publish my photograph. I ignored Mr. Hamilton’s letter, with the result that eleven days later a further letter from him appeared in the Advertiser. A little more than a week later the newspaper correspondent, probably in order to occupy his time during the recess, supplied to that newspaper some items of gossip concerning Canberra. To that letter I replied; but it was published in the Advertiser, not on the cable page, as were the other articles, but under the heading, “ Views and Comments “. That action on the part of the publishers shows clearly that they were actuated, not by principles of justice or fair play, but only by a desire to malign me and place me in a false position. As honorable members profess to be ignorant of my reply, I shall read what I said in my letter to the Advertiser -
Your Canberra correspondent again reiterates his libel of me in the Advertiser of Saturday, August 30, and I now demand that a halt be called. He now states: - “ Only a small minority of the members of the Federal Labour Party favour the policy pushed forward by the repudiationists, and notable among these is the member for Adelaide. Mr. Yates has shown on several occasions his contempt for the Scullin Government’s financial policy, and he may now have the opportunity of leading a repudiation section of the Federal Labour Party.”
The only portion of that paragraph which is true is that referring to the financial policy of the Scullin Government, and I have no hesitation in again averring that it is opposed to the policy of the Labour Party, and that it will land the nation in just such another position as has the policy of the Conservatives.
On the former occasion on which your correspondent misstated facts was in thereport of my speed) on the Budget. It was then published with prominent headlines that I had advocated repudiation, whereas there is not one word in my speech which mentions the repudiation of either interest or principal of the existing public debts.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) was most consistent on that occasion to know what I proposed to do to alter the situation, and interjected no fewer than nine times to that end. . After having referred to thu £48,000,000 which was converted in March last, I said that as the bonds fell due “ .1 would pay to the bondholders exactly what the ‘bondholders paid to the Government. If I were the Commonwealth Treasurer and was assured of sufficient support from my party I would instruct the Treasury officials to hand buck to the bondholders Government security - Government notes, if you like - equal in value to the bonds that they held.”
When I made this statement Mr. Maxwell said, “I. should have no objection to the honorable member reducing the interest bill by repaying the principle,” to which I replied, “ I am glad that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) is converted to my view,” and Mr. Maxwell did not reply.
My proposal is quite on all fours with “ sound banking practice,” and was proved by Professor Gregory in his Fisher lecture last week, when he said, “For internal currency the gold standard has ceased to exist, and the reserve banks in the different countries now meet their commitments with notes.’* Therefore, it is idle to say that Australia cannot do the same, or that such a proceeding would lie repudiation.
Without mouthing the phrase, “national and personal honour “ because someone else has said it, repudiation is unthinkable, and would be dishonest, but the continued burdening of posterity with faked credits is equally so, and should be stopped.
T have urged a safe and practical method of doing this, and I have nothing to apologise for; nor do I desire to retract one word, and notwithstanding the gratuitous advice tendered by your correspondent, I intend still to continue my endeavours to give effect to Labour’s platform regardless of the consequences.
I have proved that the announcement which appeared in the Advertiser, to which I have referred, was a misstatement of the facts. I have proved that not only by my utterance to-day, but also by quoting an extract from Hansard published at the time as the statement by which a scurrilous press reporter attributed to me repudiation. I contend that every member of this House must, if this Parliament is to conform with the resolution carried by it on “the 20th December, 1912, vote for the motion, and that any newspaper which has deliberately misrepresented any honorable member should be adjudged guilty of contempt of this Parliament. The Advertiser, by publishing my photograph and my statement as if it were avowal of repudiation, attempted to damage me in my electorate and also my party throughout the country. I am pleased that the honorable member for
Henty (Mr. Gullett) has seen fit this afternoon to set out certain resolutions, because included among them is one that I supported on the floor of this Hou3e. During the whole of my speech, I did not once mention the word “ repudiation “ in respect of our commitments. I did at the end of my speech, state that I would repudiate any further borrowing by this Commonwealth. I stand to that now; but I do not for one moment propose to take any action to side-step our present obligations, even though I disapprove of them. What I strenuously oppose is the faking of our credits in the manner in which they have already been faked. 1 supported the motion moved during the war by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) as an alternative te borrowing. I believe in the principle now. Although this nation has been bled white, I do not for one moment suggest that we should dishonour the obligations to which this country has been committed. What I advocate is the prevention of further borrowings. The loans that are shortly falling due should be met out of our national exchequer by means of an extension of credit. By keeping the wheels of industry moving by that means, ultimately the results of industry itself would enable our obligations, both here and overseas, to be met. To-day unemployment is rife. I know that in my own State 24 per cent, of the people are on the breadline. Industry is practically at a standstill.
– Order !
– I have no wish to develop that argument further. In submitting this motion I have kept within the four corners of the Standing Orders. The motion is substantive and is in the nature of a direction to you, Mr. Speaker, to give effect to the resolution of this Parliament carried in 1912. I suggest that the editors of the Advertiser and other newspapers who acted upon the advice of the pressman who communicated with them by telephone or telegram, after I had spoken in this House, should be adjudged guilty of contempt.
– The question is-
That the editor of the Adelaide Advertiser be declared guilty of contempt of this House, and that Mr. Speaker give effect to the resolution agreed to by this House on the 20th December, 1012, having reference to newspaper misrepresentation.
Mr.LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [3.38].- I second the motion of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). All honorable members will, I think, admit that we are not trying to run away from public criticism. We are used to it, and have no objection to it so long as it is fair; but when instead of criticism we have a contemptible lie and the distortion of facts, which are given prominence by paid satellites of the Nationalist press to create confusion in the minds of the public and thus strike a blow at the heart of democracy in this country, it is time that this Parliament took action.
– The honorable member does not like the facts to be made known.
Mr.LAZZARINI.- If the facts about the honorable member were made known, his electors would never return him to this Parliament.
Mr.Morgan. - Why run away from criticism ?
Mr.LAZZARINI.- The honorable member, by making that interjection, is showing his stupidity. No one would run away from fair public criticism. The action of the Advertiser, in publishing the statement which it attributed to the honorable member for Adelaide, is most reprehensible. The statement was concocted by the paid writer of a press which is intimately associated with the financial institutions of this country, with the object of creating a psychology to enable these interests to stave off any attack that might be made upon them. With the country in its present perilous financial position, these men should not be allowed to come here and abuse their privileges. They should be compelled to give the public correct reports of the proceedings of this Parliament, and should not be allowed to create a public psychology which will cause the people to uphold the interests which they represent, but which may be attacked in this Parliament. Of course, one can understand the attitude adopted by honorable members opposite on this subject. They support the press because they support the same interests as the press. They have shown this afternoon, by their interjections, that they are not very much concerned about the misrepresentation and falsehood which the press is disseminating. In fact they are prepared to stand behind it, no doubt because they think they may reap some political advantage from it. If they had a spark of political decency in their make-up they would at least remain quiet, and not be so barefaced in their support of the shameful policy which the press has adopted. I, and other honorable members on this side of the chamber, have suffered seriously from press misrepresentation.
– Why does not the honorable member admit the charge?
Mr.LAZZARINI.- What charge?
– That he is in favour of a repudiation policy. Let him be honest about it.
– Does the honorable member really suggest that this party stands for repudiation ?
– Order !
– The honorable member is a barefaced liar.
– Order ! I warn the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) that disobedience of the Chair cannot be allowed to pass lightly. I ask the honorable member to withdraw the statement he has just made.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker, and sincerely apologize to you for having made it. The statement that has been published and uttered in many places that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) and myself have advocated a policy of repudiation in this chamber is false. Any honorable member who, after hearing the speechesI have made on financial subjects in this House, or reading the Hansard report of them, could declare that I stand for repudiation would show himself unfit to be a member of Parliament and fit to be an inmate of a lunatic asylum. He would indicate that he had not sufficient mentality to understand simple English.
This Parliament, and all the parliamentary and governmental institutions of this country, should be able to rely upon the press giving fair publicity to the speeches made by their members. All public men, including honorable members of the Parliament, have the right to expect that their utterances, and the policy of the parties with which they are connected, will be fairly stated in the press of this country. If hirelings are allowed to come here for the purpose of misrepresenting and distorting facts, our democracy will be misled and the brains of the people befogged. The people will be reading and absorbing lies. A man who will not lie and misrepresent facts cannot get a job on the press to-day, because the press is living on lies. The newspapers are a big lie from beginning to end. The proprietors of the press must have liars to do their work. If they could not get liars they could not get their work done. Parliament should be protected from cold-blooded liars of this character. The democracy of this country should not be subjected to the danger of assimilating lies every morning. If this Parliament is sufficiently jealous of its reputation, and if honorable members are sufficiently jealous of their rights and privileges, they will support the motion.
– Will the honorable member tell me whether he regards himself as a hireling?
– I certainly do not so regard myself. I am not like the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who holds himself free to become the hireling and defender of any criminal who has sufficient money to pay him. I am paid to uphold principles in which I earnestly believe; I am not paid to appear in court for the purpose of screening any criminal who may have sufficient money to pay me to screen him. That is not my profession. I hope the motion will bc carried.
Mr. LATHAM (Kooyong) [8.47 j.- It is a matter for regret that this subject should have been raised this afternoon, for the people of Australia are anxiously waiting to learn the financial proposals of the Government. At the same time, I can quite understand the feelings of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Fates) if he considers that he has been gravely misrepresented. I must say, however, that the comment to which he has objected seems to me to be the kind of comment to which we are. all liable as members of this Parliament. The honorable member has moved a motion to the effect that the editor of the Adelaide Advertiser should be declared guilty of contempt, and that effect should be given to a resolution of this House some years ago, under which Mr. Speaker may exclude from Parliament the representative of any newspaper which has reflected upon the integrity and good conduct of an honorable member, until such time as the newspaper gives full publicity to the honorable member’s reply to the charges made against him. The motion raises the whole question of the relation of Parliament to the press - a very important and interesting subject. Our liberty of speech consists of liberty of speech in Parliament and on the platform, and also in the press. We should be careful to see that we do not allow anything done to preserve liberty of speech in this Parliament to infringe unduly the liberty of the press. The course which the honorable member for Adelaide desires to be taken should be pursued only in very grave and plain cases. It has to be remembered that only one side of the case has been put to us this afternoon. The case is ex parte. The other side has not been heard. Parliament should act very cautiously until the other side has been heard. Speaking generally, this special power of Parliament should be exercised only in the gravest cases. All honorable members of this Parliament are subjected to public criticism, but they have more than an ordinary opportunity to reply to it. They are able to reply on tho floor of Parliament and to obtain publicity for their remarks in the report’ of the parliamentary debates. As a general rule, publicity is also given to their replies in all sections of the press which devote any considerable attention to political matters. Accordingly, honorable members are in a better position to defend themselves than are the general public. They have the right of action for libel if they are damaged in their reputations by any statements published in the press. That is a right which every citizen of the Commonwealth enjoys; but, in addition, members of this Parliament have an opportunity to obtain publicity for their replies to newspaper criticism by speeches in this House, a privilege not enjoyed by ordinary citizens. It appears to me that the resolution to which the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) lias referred would be very difficult indeed to administer. In the first place, its operation would depend upon the view taken by the honorable member concerned as to the character of the statements appearing in the press; whether, in his view, they reflected upon his good conduct and integrity. All of us have opinions concerning press criticism of out public utterances. I am accustomed to seeing statements about myself in the press which are entirely without foundation. I have read allegations about myself, particularly in the Labor Daily, which were purely inventions - without any foundation whatever, immediate or remote. We all, at times, feel that we have good reason to complain about the attitude of certain sections of the press ; but are we going to spend the time of this Parliament in discussing all press criticism that may affect our reputation in the eyes of the people? The resolution goes on to state that, if the complaint of the honorable member concerned is accepted by this House in good faith, certain action shall be taken against the offending newspaper. That, I suggest, raises a difficult question. We are expected to accept in good faith the statement of an honorable member that his character has been unjustly impugned by criticism published in the press. Having regard to the differences of opinion that exist with reference to many political questions, and the fact that the application of this resolution will be determined on an ex parte statement, it may be extremely difficult to agree that an opinion of an honorable member on such a matter is justified. The particular complaint of the honorable member is that he is charged with being in favour of repudiation of the financial obligations of the Commonwealth. He declares that statement to be untrue. Others take the view that the honorable member’s public utterances, if effect were given to them, would amount to repudiation. It is all a matter of opinion. In this House both views are held. This being so, it seems to me that the complaint of the honorable member is not one that should be dealt with by the extraordinary method suggested, namely, by excluding representatives of the offending newspaper from the precincts of Parliament. I suggest that on the contrary, it is desirable that the whole of the press of Australia should have the fullest opporunity to obtain accurate reports of the debates. No good service would be rendered by excluding the representatives of any journal.
– Does not the honorable member think that they should publish accurate reports of the debates?
– Certainly ; but the proposal of the honorable member will not be effective. We can all understand his indignation. All of us have been in a similar positionon occasions: but it would be a mistake to apply a motion passed in 1912 to deal with a similar complaint, . and, so far as I am aware, never put into operation. Surelythis. should be taken as an indication of the practical judgment of Parliament since that time. I therefore suggest that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), having ventilated his complaint, should withdraw the motion, and that we should get on with the important business which awaits this Parliament.
Mr.MACKAY (Lilley) [3.57].- The honorable member for Adelaide having been given a full opportunity this afternoon to explain his position, should accept the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) to withdraw the motion, or agree to an adjournment of the debate. Naturally, the honorable member is jealous of his good name, just as is every other honorable member; but I respectfully submit that he has not proved misrepresentation. The honorable gentleman has made many speeches in this House in support of his policy to inflate the note issue for the purpose of paying off Australian bond-holders. I, and many others, believe that an inflation of the note issuewithoutthe security of real wealth behind it will, in effect, decrease the value of Australian bonds, and that this amounts to repudiation.
– The honorable member must recognize that he cannot proceed far along those lines. The House is not, at the moment, discussing the merit’s of any financial policy.
– I referred to the effect of note inflation merely to illustrate the view which an influential section of the community takes of the proposal made by the honorable member for Adelaide. In ordinary circumstances, I should support his motion ; but I am sure that if he realizes what note inflation means - I do not think he does - he will see that the Adelaide Advertiser had not sinned very grievously. I therefore urge him to save the time of thisHouse by adopting the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition. We have met this afternoon for a very important purpose. The country is anxious to hear the proposals of the Acting Treasurer to meet the difficult financial situation that confronts us. In the circumstances, the honorable member for Adelaide cannot expect the House to accept his motion. I am sure that all honorable members wish to get on with the business of the country.
Debate (on motion by Mr.Fenton) adjourned.
– I should like the Assistant Minister (Mr. Beasley) to say whether he concurred in the following statement made by Mr. Lang; now Premier of New South Wales, whom he was. supporting in the recent New South Wales election campaign: -
We promised, and we paid, 7s.6d. a bushel forwheat. What we did then we can do now.
Is the honorable gentleman, as the Minister administering the Department of Industry, considering the taking over of the handling of wheat from the Minister for Markets ? I should also like to know how he explains the possibility of paying 7s. 6d. a bushel for wheat?
– I should like the honorable member to produce the responsible parties in the press associated with the statement to which he refers, so that we may learn who they are.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. In reply to my question, the AssistantMinister suggested that, in referring to the hopes held out by the Labour party during the recent election campaign in New South Wales, I was quoting from unsubstantiated press reports. As a matter of fact, I was quoting from the Labour advertisement published in the Sydney Bulletin on. the 22nd October last, in which, under a photograph of Mr. Lang, and over a facsimile of his signature, were given certain extracts from his speeches. The passage which I read, which the Minister apparently regards as unsubstantiated, was -
We promised, and we paid, 7s. 6d. a bushel for wheat. What we did then we can do now. - Mr. Lang, at Parkes,6th October, 1930.
Clearly, that is not an unsubstantiated report. If what was said by Mr. Lang was not definitely put forward in the form of a promise, it was certainly a suggestion that, if made by a company promoter, would land him in serious difficulties.
– I am perfectly satisfied that what the Premier of New South Wales stated-
– Order! Unless the honorable member is rising to a personal explanation he is out of order.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Forde) whether on Saturday last he made a statement, reported in the daily press on Monday in a form which was rather difficult to follow, to the effect that the Federal Government had under consideration the granting of abounty of 2s. a bushel on wheat ; and, if that is so., whether he proposes any form of collaboration with Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, in regard to his recent promise of 7s. 6d. a bushel for wheat ?
– The statement published in the Melbourne Herald on Saturday, and again on Monday-
– And. in the morning papers on Monday.
– That is probably correct - contained an announcement that the Federal Government proposed to pay a bounty of 2s. a bushel on wheat. What I said was that the Federal Government recognizing the parlous position of the wheat-growers, and that it is the duty of all governments to do everything possible to assist them, had convened a conference of Ministers for Agriculture of all the States, and representatives of the interested organizations, to discussthe whole future of the wheat industry in Australia.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister noted that, in a case recently heard in Hobart, there was difficulty in proving membership of a union registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If so, will he inquire into the matter, and see if it is desirable to amend the act in order to afford proper facilities for proof of membership of a trade union?
– I shall have inquiries made.
Mr.ARCHDALEPARKHILL.Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to the following statement which appeared in last night’s Melbourne Herald: -
An important development since last week’s meeting is that the Prime Minister has cabled expressing dissatisfaction with last week’s caucus decisions, and it is apparent from the tone adopted by Mr. Scullin that he considers caucus to some extent, at least, has failed to frame a policy to meet the undertakings given by him at the Premiers’ conference.
Will the Acting PrimeMinister indicate the extent to which caucus decisions depart from Mr. Scullin’s proposals, and what reply he has made to the Prime Minister in this connexion?
-Surely the honorable member does not take seriously all that he sees in the press. What he has read out is merely another of the creations of the journalistic mind.
Mr.WHITE.- Will the Minister for Defence explain why the Munitions Supply Department is now undertaking the manufacture of bodies for motor vehicles in. competition with private enterprise?
– The policy of the Defence Department is to utilize the MunitionsFactory at Maribyrnong, and the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow to explore, as far as possible, new industries capable of being introduced into Australia. Already a considerable amount of work has been undertaken in that direction, but I do not propose to touch upon it at the present time. The honorable member, however, has referred to the manufacture of bodies for motor vehicles. The department was approached by a particular company with a view to the manufacture of motor car bodies by the Maribyrnong Munitions Factory. I presume it knew the high-class work it was possible for the factory to turn out. Everything is charged on a cost basis, allowing for overhead charges. The department is not desirous of entering into competition with private enterprise. It tries to avoid doing so as far as possible. Its endeavour is to explore new avenues of manufacture; but in any circumstances it is necessary for the employees in the Defence factories who are experts in the high-class work which they have to perform to be kept in employment for the purpose of maintaining what the honorable member and I have so much in mind - the defence of Australia.
– I should like the Acting Minister for Markets and Transport to indicate the position which has been reached in regard to the construction of the proposed Port Augusta to Bed Hill railway. I should like to know if a recent proposal has been considered by him, and, if so, whether he will have the work put in hand with a view to preventing not only unemployment in South Australia, but also great losses on the East-West railway?
– Since the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) took me over the route of the proposed railway the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways has been asked to submit a report on the whole scheme. He has done so and is now collaborating with the South Australian Railway Commissioner with a view to getting additional information. The whole matter is now under consideration by the Government.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister state approximately the profit or loss of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, or can he make available the company’s balance-sheet?
– Obviously, I cannot reply in full to such a question, but I shall make inquiries, and although 1 am not too sure that it will be possible for me to obtain a complete balance-sheet of the company, I shall endeavour to do so.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister prepared to say what plans have been made for dealing with reparation payments accruing to Australia estimated at £864,000 per annum, for 37 years; if it is true that these sums, or any of them, are to be diverted from the sinkingfund, and, if so, whether such action will not violate the provisions of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act, which require that reparation moneys received under the Treaty of Peace with Germany Actshall be so applied?
– The honorable member will receive full information regarding this matter a little later.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister able to give honorable members any information regarding the decision arrived at by the Imperial Conference on the proposal to adopt a quota system for the marketing of wheat?
– I hope at an early date to be able to give full information in regard to this matter also.
– Can the Acting Treasurer inform the House whether the Commonwealth Oil Refineries have yet, paid any dividend?
– I shall obtain the information, and make it available to the honorable member.
– What saving does the Postmaster-General anticipate effecting by the withdrawal of licences to sell stamps, so that the public will have to buy all stamps at post offices?
– I cannot furnish the honorable member with the exact figures, but it is expected that a substantial sum will be saved. As I have said in reply to honorable members who have approached me in regard to this matter, Australia is the only British community which pays commission to licensees for the sale of stamps.
asked the Acting
Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the amount of the Commonwealth’s overdraft (a) in London, and (b) in Australia, on 20th October, 1920, and 20th October, 1930, respectively?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The overdraft figures for London are closely approximate, being based on the figures advised on 14th October with allowances for estimated transactions between that date and 20th October. The figures do not include overdrafts or treasury-bills in the name of the Commonwealth which were obtained on behalf of the State Governments.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
Why the price of gold in Eaglehawk, Vic toria, is £3 15s. per ounce, while the price in Bendigo, four miles distant, ranges from £3 17s.6d. to £4 per ounce?
– I am advised by the Commonwealth Bank that all gold producers can send gold to the Royal Mint at Melbourne and obtain the standard value plus the premium granted on account of exchange rates on London. The bank further states that it can only assume that the gold offered at Eaglehawk is not of as fine a quality as that offered at Bendigo.
asked the Acting
Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The actual figures as at 30th October, 1929, have not been tabulated by the Commonwealth Statistician’s Office, but the figures for the third quarter of 1929, collected during the month of August, give the percentage of unemployment as 12.1. For the same quarter in 1930 the percentage was 20.5.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the House copies of all cablegrams or other communications which passed between the Government and its London representatives with reference to the arrangements for Sir Otto Niemeyer to visit Australia?
– The Government considers it would not be in the public interest to lay these documents on the table of the House as they contain confidential communications between the Government and its advisers in London.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be made available as soon as possible.
asked the Acting Trea surer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for
Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The percentage of foreign arrivals (excluding persons of non-Europeau races), as compared with British arrivals during the quarters ended 30th September, 1 929 and 1930, was as follow: -
The foreign European arrivals for the quarter ended 30th September. 1930, totalled 1,491,as compared with 2,007 for the corresponding period last year.
Dismissal of Employees
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Position ofcommander Spooner, R.N. -Australian-Trained Sailors.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Three times -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Compulsory discharges of Australian-trained ratings (83 in all) were confined to men whose discharge had been recommended on account of their being- unsuitable for retention in the service, either on medical grounds or as being below standard in conduct or ability.
The loan ratings retained are being reverted as their short term engagements expire. Twenty-nine of them have since reverted, and 40 more will have left Australia by March, 1931.
Collections and Remissions
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The amount of federal land tax remitted to land-holders is as shown on the statement submitted herewith. Particulars of the amounts remitted during the financial years are not available, returns having been compiled and presented to Parliament for the periods as shown. Neither is it practicable to dissect the Central Office details as the assessments issued by that office cover land tax returns for more than one State. Taxpayers have been granted relief by the board constituted under section 66(3) of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1928, on either one or more of the following grounds: -
Air. CROUCH asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
How many Air Force officers have been promoted since 1st January, 1930?
In how many cases was their promotion ante-dated, and for what times, respectively, and for what reasons?
Did they receive pay at the increased rate for the ante-dated period?
Was the increased amount of salary paid in one amount, and, if so, what was the amount ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
One ante-dated two and a half months. The officer concerned performed duties of the higher rank satisfactorily for more than twelve months prior to his promotion. This had been deferred to avoid supersession of a senior officer who subsequently failed to pass the prescribed examination for promotion:
One ante-dated one and a half months. This officer belonged to the medical branch. The promotion was of an automatic nature and which had been delayed purely by administrative action:
One ante-dated five months’. This was the promotion of a junior officer who was detailed for duty with the Antarctic Expedition shortly after commissioning. On reverting to Air Force duty he qualified for promotion which was ante-dated to preserve his seniority.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, with a. view to co-operating in the matter of reducing expenditures, the States have been approached to abolish the existing Agents-General in the United Kingdom; if so, with what result?
– The question of the elimination of duplication in connexion with representation in London was submitted by the Commonwealth Government to the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held at Canberra in. February of this year, and it was decided by the conference that the matter should form the subject of an investigation by the Commonwealth Government.A report of the discussionwill be found on pages 18-19 of the record of the proceedings of the conference (Parliamentary Paper No.111, 1929-30). The Prime Minister will investigate the matter further during his visit to England.
– On the 31st July, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) asked the following question, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1930-31.
Acts Interpretation Bill.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 1) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 1) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 2) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 3) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 4) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No.5) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 5) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 6) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 6) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 7) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 7) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 8) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 8) 1930.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 9) 1930.
Sales Tax Bill (No, 9) 1930.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
London Naval Treat Bill.
Flax and Linseed Bounties Bill.
Dried Fruits Export Control Bill.
Canned Fruits Export Control Bill.
Wine Overseas Marketing Bill.
Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Bill.
Income Tux Assessment Bill.
Income Tax Bill 1930.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill 1930.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1930.
Appropriation Bill 1930-31.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
The following papers were presented : -
Public Service Act - Seventh Annual Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, dated 23rd October, 1930 -
Ordered to be printed.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank at 30th June, 1930, and Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department at 30th June, 1930; together with the Auditor-General’s Reports thereon.
Air Force Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 94.
Audit Act - Regulations Amended - Statu tory Rules 1930, No. 87.
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Fund Act-
Tenth Annual Report by the Trustees. 1st July, 1929, to 30th June, 1930 (including Sir Samuel McCaughey Bequest for the Technical Education of Soldiers’ Children).
Report by the Auditor-General on the accounts of the Trustees of the Fund. for year 1929-30.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act- Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930. No. 116.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Treasurer’s Statement of Combined Accounts of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth SavingsBank, at 30th June, 1930, together with certificate of the Auditor-General.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Regula tions Amended - Statutory Rules 1930. Nos. 97, 101.
Cotton Industries Bounty Act - Regulations- - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 105.
Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statu tory Rules 1930, No. 91.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descrip tions) Act- -Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 104.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930, Nos. 90, 92, 99, 100, 115.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930 No. 117.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Amended - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 89.
Campsie, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Mascot, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Rocklea, Queensland - For Defencepur poses.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930, Nos. 88, 93.
Navigation Act - Regulations AmendedStatutory Rules 1930, Nos. 95, 106.
New Guinea Act -
Ordinances of 1930 -
No. 16- Superannuation (No. 2).
No. 17 - Public Service.
No. 18- Supply (No. 2) 1930-31.
No. 19 - Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
No. 20- Supply (No. 3) 1930-31.
Northern Australia Act -
Central Australia -
Ordinances of 1930 -
No. 7 - Local Courts.
No. 8 - Marriage Validating.
No. 9 - Crown Lands.
No. 10 - Coroners (No. 2).
No. 11 - Interpretation.
No. 12- Pounds.
Dog , Act of South Australia as applied to Central Australia - Regulations Amended.
North Australia -
Ordinances of 1930 -
No. 10 - Crown Lands.
No. 11. - Coroners (No. 2).
No. 12 - Hospitals.
No. 13 - Interpretation.
No. 14 - Pounds.
No. 17 - Darwin Town Council (No. 3).
Dog Act of South Australia as applied to North Australia - Regulations Amended. Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1930. Nos. 85. 86, 103, 112, 114.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of Health - T. G. B. Boston, I. P. Stephens, C. V. Vaughan.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930, Nos. 107, 108, 109, 110, 111.
Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1 to 9) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 98. Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 102.
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Report by the Auditor-General on the Science and Industry Endowment Fund as at 30th June, 1930.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Scat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1930 -
No. 9 - Police Offences.
No. 10 - Court of Petty Sessions.
No. 11 - Administration and Probate.
No. 13 - Medical Practitioners Registration.
No. 14- Police.
No. 15 - Land Advisory Board.
No. 16 - Education.
No. 17 -Bank Holidays.
No. 18 - Public Health.
No. 19 - Real Property.
No. 20 - Interpretation.
City Area Leases Ordinance - Regula- lations Amended.
Medical Practitioners Registration Ordinance - Regulations.
Public Health Ordinances - (Dairy) (Medical and Dental Inspection of School Children), (Tuberculosis) Regulations.
Wine Export Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 96.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1930, No. 113.
Resolu tion of Sympathy.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its profound regret at the tragic loss of life that occurred in the destruction of the airship R.101, and tenders its heartfelt sympathy to the Government of Great Britain and to the relatives of the victims of the disaster.
The news of the tragedy, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday, the 5th
October, near Beauvais, Prance, came as a profound shock to the people of Australia in common with those of other parts of the world. The airship had embarked upon a mission which everybody hoped would prove of great and farreaching importance. Her voyage lasted but a few brief hours. After crashing into a hillside in France, the machine took fire, and the majority of the passengers and crew perished in the flames, or died, subsequently, from their injuries.
Among those who lost their lives were the Secretary of State for Air (Lord Thomson), the Director of Civil Aviation in Great Britain (Sir Sefton Brancker), and many other prominent officials and persons interested in airship development. It was my privilege to meet Lord Thomson on a number of occasions whilst I was attending the recentN aval Conference in London. I conceived for him the greatest admiration and respect, and can, with all sincerity, testify to the loss which Britain and the British Commonwealth of Nations have suffered by his untimely end.
Squadron-Leader W. Palstra, of the Royal Australian Air Force, who was in Great Britain as a liaison officer with the British Air Ministry, was another who met his death when the R.101 was destroyed. In him Australia loses a gallant and efficient officer, whose life was full of promise. To know him was to know his worth, and we grieve for his sorrowing widow and family. Our sympathy goes out to every one who suffered through this appalling disaster. We con but hope that the sacrifices that have been made will not have been made in vain, and that the great work to which the lives of the victims were devoted will ultimately be carried to a triumphant conclusion.
.- I second the motion . Airship R.101 was regarded by many experts as the greatest achievement in airship construction, and its destruction represents a grave loss to the British Empire, and particularly to the science of aviation. The complement, of the vessel and the passengers on the fatal trip represented a wealth of knowledge and air experience, the replacement of which will take many years.
The disappointment of the high hopes which had been formed of R.101 was a great blow to all who are interested in the navigation of the air. Once again the pioneers have succumbed to the hazards which are invariably incidental to the early stages of new and dangerous enterprises. This calamity, however, will be but a temporary setback; others of our race will press on to secure the mastery of the air. I join with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fenton) in expressing sympathy with those who have suffered directly as a result of this tragic disaster, and particularly with the widow and child of the Australian officer, Squadron Leader Palstra, whom I knew personally when he was on the staff of the Melbourne University. His death is a distinct loss to Australian aviation.
.- 1 associate myself with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fenton) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) in expressing regret at the tragic disaster which befell R.101. The passing of many intrepid pioneers of airship navigation, public-spirited men, and eminent public servants, is a calamity not only to the British Empire, but to the whole world. Unfortunately, all progress takes great toll of the bravest and best, and probably the development of aviation has taken a heavier toll, proportionately, than almost any other invention. The most recent disaster, however, will merely be a spur to higher endeavour to eliminate all the risks associated with aerial navigation, and I am sure that the most fitting memorial the victims of the disaster will be the thorough conquest of the air.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
-by leave - I move -
That this House., having noted with gratification the record-breaking aerialflight from England to Australia accomplished by WingCommander Kingsford Smith, tenders its congratulations to him on his great achievement.
Honorable members will, I think, agree that Wing-Connnander Kingsford Smith’s recent flight is an event of outstanding importance in. the history of aviation which merits the recognition of this House. Once again the skill and daring of an Australian aviator have stirred the imagination of the world and enhanced the prestige of the Australian name. It is not, however, the picturesque in Kingsford Smith’s wonderful exploit that appeals to us so much as its value as a practical contribution to the progress of the latest and least developed of the world’s systems of communication. From its inception the flight was followed with absorbing interest - nowhere more so than in this country. The remarkable progress achieved in its earlier stages gave rise to the confident belief that a new record for the air journey from Great Britain to Australia would be established. The anticipations thus founded were abundantly realised when we learned with pride and satisfaction that, on the 19th October, Kingsford Smith had landed safely at Darwin, having completed his flight within the remarkably brief period of 10½ days. Of all his dazzling achievements this is the greatest and most important. The previous record for a flight from England to Australia was held by an Australian, Mr. Bert Hinkler, A.F.C., who, many honorable members will recollect, was the honoured guest of the Federal Parliament when he visited Canberra early in 192S. The man who has now broken that record is another Australian, and this to us is a source of the deepest gratification. The value of aerial transport in bridging long distances in the remote districts of Australia, and in lessening the discomforts and disabilities of life in those areas, is widely recognized and acknowledged, and it is not difficult to visualize the part it must ultimately play in facilitating international intercourse and promoting international goodwill. That Australian aviators should be doing so much in demonstrating to the world the potentialities of aviation is an inspiring fact. I feel sure that all honorable members will readily join in extending congratulations to Wing-Commander Kingsford Smith upon his latest and greatest triumph, in appreciation of which the
Government has decided to confer upon him the highest rank in the Royal Australian Air Force - that of AirCommodore.
.- I join with the Acting Prime Minister in inviting the House to express its appreciation of another great achievement by a distinguished Australian aviator. This is the second occasion on which I have had the honour of speaking in this chamber of the deeds of Wing-Commander Kingsford Smith. After he crossed the Pacific Ocean in one continuous flight this House passed a motion of congratulation which I had the honour of moving. Seldom does it fall to the lot of one man to have his deeds recognized twice by congratulatory resolutions of Parliament. When Kingsford Smith flew from America to Australia he placed his name on a roll of honour which already bore the names of Sir Ross Smith, Sir Keith Smith, Messrs. Parer and Mcintosh, Moir and Owen, and Hinkler. His latest achievement is almost equally remarkable. We admire his initiative, enterprise, resourcefulness, skill, and courage, and I am confident that the House will be unanimous in paying a tribute of admiration to a very distinguished Australian flyer, who has brought fame to his native land.
.- I join in the congratulations to a great knight of the air who has performed the unique feat of circumnavigating the globe and flying over every ocean.
.- I support the motion. We all agree that Kingsford Smith is the greatest living airman. I regard his crossing of the Pacific as his most remarkable flight, but in addition ho has flown from Europe to America, and from Australia to England, to New Zealand and back, and lastly, from England to Australia in record time. I think, however, we should not overlook another Australian aviator, Flight-Lieutenant Cedric Hill, who was a comrade of mine during the war. He failed to break Hinkler’s record only through crashing at, his last take-off in Timor, and Australia was thrilled by his race with Kingsford Smith.
– Parer and Mcintosh are forgotten.
– Their flight, though meritorious, occupied a considerable time. Flight-Lieutenant Hill’s trip was a continuous effort in an ordinary Gipsy Moth plane and that he succeeded in doing so well is all the more to his credit. I am sure that honorable members appreciate his courage and dash, and sympathize with him. I know him to be possessed of dogged tenacity, and I am sure that he will complete the trip to Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Business of the Session.
– by leave - When Parliament adjourned in August last it was foreseen that necessity might arise for calling members together again, at short notice; to deal with the financial and economic position. Because that necessity has actually arisen we are meeting to-day. The financial and economic position of Australia is now more clearly defined than it was three months ago, and a revision of the budget adopted by Parliament has become imperative. It is now clear beyond all question that the estimates of revenue will not be realized, and that unless other steps are taken the revenue will be several millions short of anticipations. To give but one illustration of the decline of revenue I quote from the customs returns for the four months from July to October -
A policy of strict economy in the administration of departments has been steadfastly pursued but the savings in expenditure that will result therefrom will not be sufficient to equalize the shortage of revenue. It will be necessary, therefore, to obtain the authority of Parliament to raise further revenues, and to effect further economies which are not possible without legislative action. My colleague, the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) will lay before honorable members details of the financial proposals of the Government, and it is not my purpose to anticipate what he will say upon that subject.
With regard to the economic outlook, however, I wish to offer some observations. The deliberations of the Imperial and Economic Conferences are drawing to a close, and while the exact benefits which will flow from the conference are not yet clearly to be seen, I am sanguine that there will issue from this meeting of representatives of the Governments of Great Britain and the oversea dominions results that will be advantageous to all concerned. I am also hopeful that Australia will participate in the future, to a much greater extent than in the past, in meeting the needs of British consumers in respect of primary and other products. I am convinced’ that there is room for , a considerably increased absorption of our food-stuffs in a market where the purchases of food-stuffs . amount to £500,000,000 per annum. The conference has, moreover, provided an excellent opportunity for representatives of the oversea dominions to. engage in personal discussion of their mutual problems, and to continue negotiations initiated at an earlier date.
The prospects of increased reciprocal trade with Canada and New Zealand, for example, are very encouraging. It is expected that the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) will confer further with the Governments of these dominions on his homeward journey to Australia. “When returning to Australia a few months ago, I discussed the prospects of increased trade with Canada wi th Mr. McKenzie King, the then Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Malcolm, the Minister for Commerce,, and other Canadian Ministers. They were particularly favorable to closer trade co-operation between Canada and Australia, and I have no reason to believe that the present Government of Canada is any less favorably inclined to such a policy.
The same desire for increased interdominions trade was manifested by Mr. La Parelle, of the New Zealand Government, in the course of my discussions with him in Auckland.
It is pleasing to know that Australian manufacturers are seeking overseas markets, and are encouraged by the prospects.
I turn now to the position of our primary industries. The prevailing low prices for primary products and raw materials in the world’s markets are making the problem of financial readjustment extremely difficult for us. When we compare these prices with the prices of two years or even eighteen months ago, it will be seen that we must almost double our production in order to liquidate th< same amount of overseas liability. The marketing of our products, in such circumstances, becomes a matter of increasing importance and concern. This is particularly the case in connexion with the coming wheat harvest. The Government is devoting its earnest attention to the question of our wheat exports, and hopes to be able to make such arrangements with the State Governments and other interests as will ensure, the position being handled in the best possible way. A conference will take place next week with this end in view.
Unemployment, unfortunately, is very prevalent. In normal times about 2,000,000 wage-earners are at work, and of that number 1,600,000 are employed by those engaged in industry. The Government is in close touch with those who have big projects in hand and is urging action. All who can provide employment are being asked to proceed with their projects and thus help absorb those who are suffering from unemployment. Where practicable, the Government will render every assistance.
The Government proposes to afford assistance to the shale oil industry. Efforts are at present being made to bring about a combination of interests with thcobject of placing the production of shale oil upon . a sound and satisfactory footing, and of providing a considerable measure of employment for our people.
Amongst the legislative measures to be introduced will be bills to amend the acts relating to the Repatriation Commission, the War Service Homes Commission, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Commonwealth railways. The contemplated amendments have for their object the bringing of these important activities within the purview of the Public Service Board, as a result of which, it is anticipated, considerable financial and other improvements will be effected.
Mr. J. C. Westhoven, Deputy Director of Post and Telegraphs, Melbourne, and an officer of the New South Wales Public Service, are making investigations in respect of the overlapping of certain .Federal and State services. It is expected that considerable reforms will be effected as the result of this inquiry, which was decided on at the Premiers’ Conference.
Mr. Herbert Brookes, CommissionerGeneral for Australia in the United States of America, has asked to be relieved of his duties as from the 31st December next, and the Government has reluctantly accepted his resignation. In the step he has taken, Mr. Brookes has been actuated solely by motives of patriotism and a desire to help his country in its present financial difficulties.
Mr. Brookes has taken the view that, whilst the work upon which he has been engaged is of importance, ‘ it is not of such particular urgency and indispensability that it cannot wait until our financial position has improved. With this view the Government agrees. During his term of office Mr. Brookes has rendered very valuable service, and both he and his wife have devoted, themselves unsparingly to the advancement of the interests of Australia. Many Americans have testified to the good qualities and work of Mr. Brookes, the latest to do so being Professor Ross Livingston, who is now visiting Canberra. After the resignation of Mr. Brookes takes effect, the duties of his office will be carried out, for the time being, by the present official secretary, Mr. David Dow.
I should like to take this opportunity to refer to a matter of great international significance which has recently been brought to fruition; I allude to the treaty resulting from the London Naval Conference. The Parliament and the people of Australia rejoice at the fact that the ratifications of the London Naval Treaty have been deposited in London, to the accompaniment of congratulatory and conciliatory speeches by the representatives of the signatory nations. Our earnest desire is to live in amity with the rest of the world, and particularly with our neighbours in the Pacific, and we are grateful for tho contribution to the cause of world peace, which must follow the signing and ratification of this important treaty.
In common with the peoples of almost all other countries, those in Australia are confronted with serious economic problems and difficulties ; but, if we face them resolutely and unitedly, I believe we can win through.
– I present the following financial statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
In the course of his budget speech in July last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) referred to the deficits of the preceding three years, which at 30th June, 1930, had accumulated to £6,458,723. He budgeted to balance the accounts of the present year, but said that, in view of the depleted revenues, no additional taxation would be raised this year to reduce the deficit. He then made the following statement: -
Parliament must recognize, however, that no further drift in Commonwealth finances can be permitted and that the balancing of the budget is an essential step for the restoration of the credit of Australia. The Government proposes to watch the financial position closely throughout the year, and without waiting until the end of the financial year, will 1101 hesitate to take immediate steps, if such action appears to bc necessary, in order to prevent any’ serious disturbance in the budgetary position.
This declaration was in conformity with a policy that had previously been agreed upon by representatives of the Commonwealth and States at the Australian Loan Council meeting held on 10th and 11th June, 1930. At that meeting, when the Commonwealth was represented by the former Treasurer, the Hon. E. G. Theodore, consideration had been given to the general financial position, and the Commonwealth and State Treasurers had issued the following joint statement : -
The members of the Loan Council appreciate that the consideration of the financial position of the Commonwealth and each State involves a review of financial policy of each government, and that it is not- the function of the Loan Council to determine, or even suggest, the form which that policy should assume. The Treasurers feel, however, in view of the difficult outlook generally that it is proper and advisable for them to urge upon all governments the need for the utmost economy in regard to expenditures, and also that it is essential that the budgets of the Commonwealth and the States he balanced for the forthcoming financial year. This is necessary not only because of the Australian position, but also because of the serious effect which the continued deficits in the accounts of the Commonwealth and States have undoubtedly hud upon the credit of Australia abroad.
At it further meeting of the Loan Council on the 5th-6th August, when the Prime Minister represented the Commonwealth, the following resolution was unanimously adopted: -
That as the loan policy of the Commonwealth and States is wrapped up with the balancing of the budgets, representatives of the Commonwealth and State Governments should meet in Melbourne on Monday, 18th August, with the object of balancing the budgets.
A Premiers’ conference was accordingly convened, and, after full consideration of the whole position, the following resolution relating to the budgets was unanimously carried:–
That the several governments represented at this conference declare their fixed determination to balance their respective budgets for the financial year 1930-31, and to maintain a similar balanced budget in future years. This budget equilibrium will be maintained on such a basis as is consistent with the repayment or conversion in Australia of existing internal debt maturing in the next few years.
Further, if during any financial year there are indications of a failure of revenue to meet expenditure, immediate further steps will be taken during the year to ensure that the budgets shall balance.
Further resolutions relating to borrowing and other matters were also passed.
No reasonable conclusions regarding the position of the revenue account under the new budget could be arrived at until the results for the first quarter of the financial year were available. These results became available early in October, and disclosed a deficit for the quarter of £6,747,000.
It will be appreciated that, the multiplying of the quarter’s deficit of £6,747,000 by four would not give an indication of the deficit for the full year. On the one hand, interest and sinking fund payments falling due in the quarter were in excess of the pro rata estimate for the year, and on the other hand the bulk of receipts from income tax and land tax will not come to hand until the second half of the year. It is necessary, therefore, to examine the more important figures in the results for the early part of the year.
The actual receipts from customs and excise for the first four months totalled £10,230,000- a shortage of £3,003,000 compared with the pro rata budget estimate for that period. If the customs and excise revenue does not improve in later months, a shortage of £9,000,000 may be expected under this heading.
The receipts from sales tax amounted to £305,000 to 30th September, and to £385,000 for October. This tax was levied as from 1st August, and the tax on the hulk of the August transactions was not payable until September. Registrations of manufacturers and wholesale merchants have in some cases been* delayed, and there has also been some delay in the payment of the tax. The limited experience of the operation of the fax gives no definite criterion of what the prospective yield for the full year will be. The indications are, however, that’ there will be a shortage of at least £1,000,000 compared with the estimate, unless there is a revival of trade.
The falling off of the estimated receipts both from the customs and excise tariff and from the sales tax shows clearly that the financial depression and dullness of trade have been accentuated since the financial proposals for balancing the budget were determined some four months ago.
With regard to Post Office, the receipts for the four months totalled £4,426,000, or a shortage of £540,000 compared with the budget estimate. It must be remembered, however, that the Post Office receives half-yearly payments in December and June for certain services. It is not expected, therefore, that the decline in revenue of £540,000 for four months will be maintained for the full year. It is reasonably certain, however, that the estimated revenue will not be fully realized.
The balance of the revenue may be expected to conform closely to the budget Estimates.
Besides causing a loss of revenue, the depression has increased the claims for pensions and it now appears likely that an additional sum of £250,000 will be required during the year for invalid and old-age pensions, whilst war pensions will probably absorb £150,000 more than was estimated. The increase in invalid and old-age pension claims in recent months has been abnormal and can only be curtailed by reducing unemployment.
The sum of £400,000 provided in the Estimates for exchange on remittances to London will also be inadequate. When the Estimates were prepared it was anticipated that the exchange pool, to which I shall refer later, would operate from 1st January next and that a limited sum of new. money would become available in London during the financial year. It became necessary, however, to bring the pooling scheme into operation as from 1st September. The rates of exchange have also increased. On the basis of the present rate of exchange, an increase of £400,000 must be provided under this heading.
In all, these unavoidable increases of expenditure total £800,000.
In view of the total decline in revenue for the quarter and of these increased expenditures, it became clear early in October that the time had come for a review of the budget in accordance with the declaration made by the Prime Minister when it was delivered. The Government therefore decided to summon Parliament and to submit proposals for remedying the position.
Before dealing with these proposals, it is essential that I should place before honorable members a brief survey of the present financial position,
The annual overseas liabilities of the
Australian Government consist mainly of interest and sinking fund, and amount to about £34,000,000, of which the Commonwealth proportion is £12,500,000 and the States £21,500,000.
For years past the Governments have relied largely on overseas borrowings to finance their loan works. For five years to 30th June, 1928, the net increase in overseas debt averaged £30,000,000 a year. The loan moneys thus obtained overseas were in effect exchanged for revenue moneys in Australia without recourse to the banks, and were applied to meet the annual overseas obligations of the Governments.
As it has not been possible to raise any overseas loans for new money since January. 1929, our London payments for a considerable time have been met partly by remittances from Australia and partly by short-term borrowing by means of overdrafts and treasury-bills. The overdrafts provided in London by the Commonwealth Bank have been made possible mainly by large shipments of gold from Australia.
The short-term indebtedness gradually increased and on the 30th September, 1930, it stood as follows: -
In view of the operation of the exchange pool, the short-term indebtedness in London will remain practically stationary until a funding loan is issued.
Short-term Indebtedness in Australia.
The cash position in Australia at the 31st October was as follows: -
At the same date Queensland had advanced £750,000 to the Commonwealth for loan to the other States and the Commonwealth had advanced an additional amount of£2,932,000 to the States.
It will be seen that the overdraft of the Commonwealth was wholly caused by the advances to the States.
On the 30th June last, the cash balances of the Commonwealth in Australia totalled £2,950,000.
Banking Position in Australia.
An important index of the internal financial position is to be found in the movement of deposits and advances in Australia of the trading banks, including the Commonwealth Bank.
The figures at 30th June last, showed a decline in deposits for twelve months of £20,000,000, and an increase in advances for the sameperiod of £15,000,000, or a total adverse movement of £35,000,000.
At 30th June last, the deposits totalled £293,923,000, whilst the advances amounted to £279,272,000.
The proportion of total advances to total deposits on 30th June last was 95 per cent, as compared with 84 per cent, in 1929 and 80 per cent, in 1928.
At 30th September, 1930, the deposits had declined to £287,587,000 and the advances to £271,239,000.
Comparing September, 1929, with September, 1930, we find that deposits declined by £20,000,000 and advances by £7,000,000.
There has also been an adverse movement in the savings banks. Up till recently, deposits had increased consistently. In 1928-29, the increase was £10,000,000. Last year, they declined by £8,000,000. In July, there was a further drop of £6,000,000, due in some measure to withdrawals for subscriptions to the Commonwealth loans. During August and September, the deposits declined by approximately £500,000 a month.
For many years, portion of the surplus funds of savings banks has been made available to State Governments in the form of loans. This has been an important factor in financing the loan expenditures of the States. The decline of deposits has reversed the position and the savings banks have been forced to call upon the State Treasurers to redeem large amounts of maturing securities.
In February last, representatives of the Loan Council held a conference with the banks with the object of obtaining special assistance towards meeting the overseas situation. In view of their own heavy commitments and the shortage of London funds, the trading banks were unable to do more in the way of direct assistance to the Governments than provide temporary advances in London aggregating £2,950,000.
From time to time the banks raised the exchange rate for London moneyand rationed their customers with the object of conserving London funds, restricting imports and assisting exports.
Steps were also taken by the Commonwealth Government to restrict imports by rationing and by tariff measures in the early part of the present session of Parliament.
Subsequently, a scheme for the mobilization of London exchange was adopted under which the banks agreed to pool their London funds and to provide approximately £3,000,000 a month in exchange for Australian money. The London funds so provided were to be used to meet the national liabilities in respect of interest and limited services of the Commonwealth and State Governments. This scheme took effect from the 1st September.
These measures, combined with the diminishing internal trade in Australia, have reduced imports so that even with the existing low prices for wool and wheat, the value of our exports for the year will considerably exceed that of our imports. The diminished imports are, however, reflected in lower revenue from customs duties.
Our position would be greatly improved if we could at an early date fund some of the short-term indebtedness abroad. This floating debt is a disturbing factor, if not a real menace, and it is essential that it should be funded as early as possible.
The budget speech contained a statement showing the approximate London market quotations of Australian, New Zealand and South African securities from the 15th January, 1929, up to the 7th July, 1930. At. the last-mentioned date, 5 per cent, stocks of relatively approximate dates of maturity compared as follow: -
The prices of Commonwealth stocks since the 7 th July have fluctuated greatly. Immediately after the Melbourne ‘ conference prices rose to £91 17s. 6d. The latest quotation for Commonwealth stock is £75 5s., whilst on the same date, New Zealand securities stood at £102 10s. and South African at £100 15s.
Towards the end of September, the Australian market showed signs of great weakness, due to tho nervousness of holders. The prices of government stocks declined to such an extent that at one time the average yield was about 7 per cent. This weakness was due to rumours that interest would be specially taxed, and to suggestions of repudiation and default. Immediately after the decision of the Government to call Parliament together and the simultaneous announcement that there would be no special taxation of interest apart from taxation of property generally, the market steadily and progressively improved. Early last week the market again went back, but it has since recovered considerably.
Reduced Loan Programmes. lu dealing with the borrowing position, the Prime Minister in his budget speech of 9th July made the following statement : -
It lias, I think, been brought home to all of us that the time is long overdue when borrowing abroad should be reduced to a minimum, and that the domestic market should he relied upon to provide the bulk of the moneys necessary for developmental works. To revert to the overseas market for borrowing on the scale which obtained during the last, few years even if thu market were accessible to us, would be merely postponing the day of reckoning, and, now that we are facing that reckoning.” it should be done resolutely and with a fixed determination to arrive at a satisfactory and permanent solution of the problem.
In 192S-29 and the preceding three years, the annual loan expenditure of the Commonwealth and the States was approximately £43,000,000. In 1929-30, it was £30,000,000. At the beginning of the present year, the Loan Council planned a programme of approximately £22,000,000. Subsequently, it reduced the total to £15,000,000. which was considered the maximum for which funds could be made available.
The loan programme of the Commonwealth for 1930-31 as set out in the budget speech totalled £4,127,000. In view of the reduction made by the Loan Council in the total amount to be borrowed during the present financial yeal’, steps are being taken to keep the Commonwealth expenditure for the year within the sum of £2,623,000, which is the Commonwealth proportion, of the £15,000,000 fixed by the Loan Council.
Loan Conversions in Australia.
On the loth December next a Commonwealth loan of £20,000,000 matures in Australia. Of this sum, £2,000,000 can be paid off from the sinking funds. There are also shortages pf maturing State loans of approximately £9,000,000. The Loan Council must therefore face a conversion loan of £27,000,000. This’ is a large operation, but in the past the Commonwealth has faced much larger issues successfully and there is no reason why this excellent record should be broken; It will, however, require the hearty co-operation of all those who are able to help, even if only to a small degree. In a time of financial stress such as we are now passing through, such cooperation is a national obligation.
The most important index of the financial position of Australia is to be found in the amount of the national income. For last year owing to the fall in prices of primary products the value of exports (excluding bullion and specie) declined £44,000,000 and the total decline in national income amounted to some £70.000,000.
For the current year, notwithstanding a good wool clip and the prospects of a bumper wheat crop, there will be a further decline, due to the continued drop in prices since last year. Wool is now averaging about 9d. per lb. compared with ls. 3d. for the clip last year, and about ls. 7d. for the clip of the previous year, and the price of wheat f.o.b. Australia is less than 3s. a bushel, as compared with about 5s. a bushel last year.
The loss from lower export values fell in the first place on the primary producer, and, through his diminished purchasing power, it has permeated the whole community and has brought about further indirect losses. Up to the present the chief sufferers from the loss of income are the primary producers, the unemployed, and those in receipt of incomes from business profits which have seriously declined or vanished.
Before the Prime Minister left Melbourne on 22nd August, for the Imperial Conference, he seriously considered the advisability of cancelling his arrangements so as to remain in close touch with the local position. The Government felt, however, that as such important national issues were to be discussed it would be a grave mistake for the Prime Minister to absent himself from the conference, and they are hopeful that the results of the conference will be very beneficial to Australia.
In the meantime a sub-committee of Cabinet has been closely watching the position in Australia, with the object of evolving means of improving the general position and stopping the drift ofunemployment.
The people of Australia have accustomed themselves to a condition of prosperity due in part to high prices for our staple exports and to the heavy borrowings abroad. Now that the world prices of our primary products have seriously diminished, and the overseas investment market is for the time closed to us, a lack of confidence has developed.
The community generally is at present in a state of inertia and is awaiting a lead from some responsible authority to restore confidence. That lead should undoubtedly come from the highest representative body in the community, which is the Commonwealth Government. The Government recognizes this responsibility.
The first need in present circumstances is that the Government should take steps for the balancing of the budget.
Revision of the Budget.
It is not possible to estimate with reliability what the deficit on the basis of the July budget would be if no alteration were made. In the light of the results to date, a deficit of between £1 2,000,000 and £15,000,000 might be possible if the position continued to drift and trade and unemployment becameworse. On the other hand, with the restoration of confidence and the revival of trade and employment, a reasonable estimate of the deficit would be between £8,000,000 and £10,000,000. It is on this basis that the Government has approached the task of adjusting the budget.
At the Premiers’ Conference the Prime Minister announced that any necessary revisions of the budget would provide firstly for a reduction of expenditure, and that adjustments of taxation would not encroach on the State fields of taxation.
The proposals now submitted are as far as practicable in keeping with this declaration. They are designed so as to spread the additional burdens equitably over the whole community without unduly entering the fields of taxation on which the States rely.
Savings on Estimates.
The estimates of expenditure have been closely scrutinized and it is proposed to make additional savings aggregating £1,230,000, as follows : -
As savings of £1,000,000 were made before the Estimates of the year were first presented, the total reduction by administrative savings and economies now amounts to £2,230,000 per annum.
The National Debt SinkingFund, which was established in 1923 for redemption of Commonwealth debts, was designed to pay off the post office debt in 30 years and war and other debt in 50 years. To that end, provision was made for the necessary contributions from revenue.
By law, sundry other payments have been made to the sinking fund which if continued would provide for paying off the debt in a much shorter period. The most important of these excess contributions are reparation moneys and half the profits of the Commonwealth Bank.
The payment of these moneys to the sinking fund in times of abundant revenue was desirable, but the continuance of such heavy sinking fund provision in present circumstances would place an undue and unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Australia.
The total amount provided by the Commonwealth for debt redemption in 1928-29 was £6,230,000. In 1929-30, £6,422,000 was so provided. For the present year the provision under the law as it now stands is estimated at £6,850,000.
In the seven years since the establishment of the national debt sinking fund, a total of £43,727,921 has been provided for the redemption of Commonwealth debt. This sum is £14,000,000 in excess of the amount required in that period under a sinking fund scheme designed to pay off Post Office debt in 30 years and other debt in 50 years.
The debt of Great Britain to the United States of America and the debts of the Allies to Great Britain are being repaid over a period of 62 years.
In view of all these facts, the Government considers there is ample justification for adjusting the sinking fund to the original basis of 30 and 50 years. Under this plan, the contributions from revenue will be reduced by an amount equal to the reparation moneys, the bank profits and other excess contributions. The total amount of the reduction in sinking fund contributions will be approximately £1,950,000 for the current year and the amount which will still be available for Commonwealth debt redemption in 1930-31 will be £4,900,000.
This adjustment does not in any way affect the sinking fund for State debts established under the financial agreement.
Towards making good the loss of revenue it is proposed to impose new revenue duties which are estimated to yield £3,100,000 annually. The amount that will be realized from these duties during the remainder of the year is estimated at £2,000,000.
Details of the proposed new duties will be submitted by. the Minister for Trade and Customs to-day.
The new income tax proposals relate principally to income from property. The object aimed at is an increase in property taxation, which, with increases by the States, will result in property bearing a fair burden in the plan of budget re-adjustment.
Income from property, broadly speaking, consists of interest, dividends and rents.
The States themselves have no power to tax interest on Commonwealth loans and therefore the Commonwealth is the only authority which can effectively tas income from property, including interest on Commonwealth loans. Taxation of interest by itself is impracticable and would only defeat the restoration of national credit as it might be regarded as a breach of the loan contract. This has already been clearly demonstrated by the abrupt fall in market prices of government stocks in August and September arising from fears of special taxation of interest.
All fixed income from property, including interest, is in a relatively better position to-day than last year because of reduced commodity prices. In these circumstances, income from property may fairly be required to provide more taxation.
The Government therefore proposes to increase the tax and to limit the present exemption in the following manner : - increase in tax.
It is proposed that a super tax of7½ per cent, be imposed upon all incomes derived by every taxpayer (including companies) from property. limitation of exemption.
The present exemption for property income is the same as for personal exertion income, namely £300, and it vanishes at £1,200. In the case of composite incomes derived partly from personal exertion and partly” from capital, the exemption is at present deducted as far as possible from property income.
I t is proposed -
To reduce the exemption in respect of property income to £100.
The total increase in income tax from property expected as the result of these proposals is £1,500,000 per annum.
In the budget for the present year, provision was made for an increase of 10 per cent, in the rate of tax on income from personal exertion where the total income of the taxpayer exceeds £500. It is now proposed to increase the rate of tax in such cases by 15 per cent, instead of by 10 per cent, as was previously intended. The additional5 per cent, is expected to produce £160,000 additional revenue.
Special Income Tax on Salaries.
It is proposed to impose special taxation on the allowances of Ministers and members of Parliament and also on those salaries of government employees which exceed £725 per annum.
This will be done by means of a super tax calculated on the gross remuneration and payable at the time of payment of salaries.
In the case of Ministers the tax will be at the rate of 15 per cent.
Allowances of members of Parliament will be subject to a tax at the rate of 10 per cent.
As regards government employees, where the salary exceeds £725, and does not exceed £1,000, the rate of tax willbe 10 per cent., subject to the proviso that the salary shall not be reduced below £725 per annum.
Where the salary exceeds £1,000, but does not exceed £1,500, the rate of tax will be 12½ per cent., but the salary will not be reduced below £900.
Where the salary exceeds £1,500, the rate of tax will be 15 per cent., but the lower salaries of the grade will not be reduced below the amount to which a salary of £1,500 would be reducedby a 12½ per cent, tax, viz., £1,312 10s.
It is anticipated that this tax will produce £60,000 in a full. year.
The summarized effect of the proposals now put forward is as follows : -
As previously stated it is not possible to estimate with any degree of reliability what the deficit on the existing budget would be if the position were allowed to drift.
With the restoration of confidence and revival of trade it is quite likely the deficit would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of £8,000,000 or £10,000,000.
The proposals now submitted provide foran annual benefit to the budget of £8,000,000, of which £6,880,000 should be actually reflected in the accounts of this year.
Acareful survey of the finances has made it clear that it would be quite impossible in a period of eight months so to reconstruct the budget that a balanced ledger could be secured for the present financial year. The most that can be achieved, without undue sacrifice, is to plan the budget on such a basis that when it operates for a full year the Commonwealth will have redeemed its undertakings to secure a “balanced budget.”
FINANCIAL Assistance to South Australia.
The budget of the present year provided for paymentof a special grant of £320,000 to South Australia.
In view of the very serious position of South Australia, representations were made by that State for further financial assistance for this year. The Commonwealth was unable to provide assistance otherwise than in co-operation with other States, and the matter was accordingly discussed at the recent Premiers’ confer- ence.
As a result a resolution was passed under which the Governments of the several States agreed to forgo certain grants aggregating £850,000, which the Commonwealth proposed to pay them, and the Commonwealth Government agreed to pay this sum to South Australia.
The Commonwealth Government also decided that the claim of South Australia for further assistance beyond this year shall be investigated by the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
I propose to introduce as early as possible all the measures necessary to give effect to the proposals for the adjustment of the budget. The principal measures will be those for the amendment of the income tax laws, the taxation of salaries, the amendment of the sinking fund law. and the grant to South Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Latham) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Schedule to the *Customs Tariff* 1921-1930 as proposed to be amended by Tariff Proposals be further amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the Sixth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and thirty, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Territory for the Seat of Government, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff as so amended. That in this Resolution " Tariff Proposals " means the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 19th June, 1930 ; 9th July, 1930 ; and 25th July, 1930. That excepting by mutual agreement or until after six months' notice has been given to the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand, nothing in this Resolution shall affect any goods the produce or manufacture of the Dominion of New Zealand entering the Commonwealth of Australia from the Dominion of New Zealand.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 November 1930, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1930/19301105_reps_12_127/>.