House of Representatives
5 November 1930

12th Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and offered prayers.

page 26

QUESTION

ARBITRATION COURT

Basic Wageinquiry

Mr LATHAM:
KOOYONG, VICTORIA

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
Minister for Trade and Customs · MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA · ALP

– 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.

page 26

QUESTION

PETROL INQUIRY

Mr LACEY:
GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– 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.

page 26

QUESTION

REDUCTION OF MAIL SERVICES

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– 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?

Mr LYONS:
Minister for Works and Railways · WILMOT, TASMANIA · ALP

– 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.

page 26

COMMONWEALTH NOTES

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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– I shall inquire into the matter.

Mr. COLEMAN’S EUROPEAN TRIP.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES

-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) ?

Mr FENTON:

– 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 ?

Mr FENTON:

– I shall let the honorable member have the information later.

page 27

QUESTION

INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE

Mr PROWSE:
FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– 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 ?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– Exchange rates have advanced somewhat, and. from what one can gather they are likely to increase still further.

page 27

QUESTION

ELECTORAL REDISTRIBUTION

Mr MACKAY:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND

– Will the Minister for Home Affairs state what steps have been taken by his department in connexion with the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries?

Mr BLAKELEY:
DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES

– 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.

Mr Latham:

– Has anything been done yet?

Mr BLAKELEY:

– No.

page 27

PARLIAMENTARY LABOUR PARTY

Financial Resolution

Mr GULLETT:
HENTY, VICTORIA

– 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 : -

  1. That the Commonwealth Bank be required to create sufficient credit, as and when required for the following purposes: -

    1. Finance the requirements of the Commonwealth Government in connexion with all services covered by parliamentary appropriations.
    2. Meet that portion of the international loans maturing during the financial year which has not been other wise provided for. (c)Provide for financing State and Commonwealth loan works programme up to a limit of £20,000,000.
    3. Provide financial accommodation through the Commonwealth Bank, trading banks, State financial institutions, and, if necessary, through insurance companies to be used for productive purposes in pri- mary and secondary industries?
Mr Watkins:

– 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 ?

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– 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.

Mr GULLETT:

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is aware, it is not customary to disclose matters of policy in answer to a question.

page 28

QUESTION

WING-COMMANDER KINGSFORD SMITH

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– It is my intention to make an announcement on the. subject later in the sitting.

page 28

QUESTION

STOCK RESTRICTIONS

Mr MORGAN:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND

– 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?

Mr ANSTEY:
Minister for Health · BOURKE, VICTORIA · ALP

– 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.

page 28

QUESTION

WHEAT-GROWERS’ CONFERENCE

Mr HAWKER:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– 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?

Mr FORDE:
Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Customs · CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– 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.

Mr HAWKER:

– Only to those who a t tended previously ?

Mr FORDE:

– 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.

page 28

QUESTION

THE PRIME MINISTER

Mr BAYLEY:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– 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.

page 28

QUESTION

NEWSPAPER CRITICISM : PRIVILEGE

Mr YATES:
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– 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.

Mr Mackay:

– Instead of “ repudiation” they should have said “inflation”.

Mr YATES:

– 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.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– What did tho newspapers say about the honorable member ?

Mr YATES:

– 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.

Mr Gullett:

– The honorable member lias advocated a policy which is equivalent to repudiation.

Mr YATES:

– 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.

Mr Latham:

– 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.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– I require to hear the honorable member for Adelaide further before determining whether he is or is not in order.

Mr YATES:

– 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.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Am I to understand that the honorable member for Adelaide will name some one as the person responsible for the alleged misrepresentation?

Mr YATES:

– 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.

Mr White:

– What did the honorable member say?

Mr YATES:

– 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.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr YATES:

– 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.

Mr SPEAKER:

– 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.

Mr Gullett:

– 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.

Mr Gullett:

– Why does not the honorable member admit the charge?

Mr.LAZZARINI.- What charge?

Mr Gullett:

– That he is in favour of a repudiation policy. Let him be honest about it.

Mr LAZZARINI:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Does the honorable member really suggest that this party stands for repudiation ?

Mr Gullett:

– Yes.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr LAZZARINI:

– The honorable member is a barefaced liar.

Mr SPEAKER:

– 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.

Mr LAZZARINI:

– 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.

Mr Maxwell:

– Will the honorable member tell me whether he regards himself as a hireling?

Mr LAZZARINI:

– 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.

Mr Yates:

– Does not the honorable member think that they should publish accurate reports of the debates?

Mr LATHAM:

– 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.

Mr SPEAKER:

– 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.

Mr MACKAY:

– 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.

page 35

QUESTION

PRICEOF WHEAT

Mr HAWKER:

– 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?

Mr BEASLEY:
Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Industry · WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– 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.

Later -

Mr HAWKER:

– 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.

Mr BEASLEY:
ALP

– I am perfectly satisfied that what the Premier of New South Wales stated-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! Unless the honorable member is rising to a personal explanation he is out of order.

Mr LATHAM:

– 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 ?

Mr FORDE:
ALP

– The statement published in the Melbourne Herald on Saturday, and again on Monday-

Mr Latham:

– And. in the morning papers on Monday.

Mr FORDE:

– 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.

page 35

QUESTION

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION ACT

Mr LATHAM:

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– I shall have inquiries made.

page 36

CAUCUS DECISIONS

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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

-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.

page 36

MUNITIONS SUPPLY DEPARTMENT

Manufacture of Bodies for Motor Vehicles

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?

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– 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.

page 36

QUESTION

PORT AUGUSTA TO RED HILL RAILWAY

Mr LACEY:

– 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?

Mr FORDE:
ALP

– 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.

page 36

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH OIL REFINERIES

Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– 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.

page 36

QUESTION

GERMAN REPARATION PAYMENTS

Mr MORGAN:

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– The honorable member will receive full information regarding this matter a little later.

page 37

QUESTION

WHEAT QUOTA

Mr LATHAM:

– 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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– I hope at an early date to be able to give full information in regard to this matter also.

page 37

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH OIL REFINERIES

Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– Can the Acting Treasurer inform the House whether the Commonwealth Oil Refineries have yet, paid any dividend?

Mr LYONS:
ALP

– I shall obtain the information, and make it available to the honorable member.

page 37

QUESTION

STAMP LICENCES

Mr WHITE:

– 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?

Mr LYONS:
ALP

– 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.

page 37

QUESTION

LAND SETTLEMENT

Mr MAXWELL:

asked the Acting

Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Has his attention been drawn to a report that the Premier of Victoria has stated that matters preliminary to the issue of the Royal Commission on Migrant Land Settlement in Victoria have not yet been settled?
  2. Have such preliminary matters in fact been already settled?
  3. On how many occasionshas the Commonwealth requested the State Government to indicate when the inquiry mentioned will commence ?
  4. What was the date of each of such requests?
  5. What replies thereto were made on behalf of the Government of Victoria?
  6. What was the latest date for lodgment of complaints by settlers who desire their grievances to he heard by the royal commission ?
  7. What matters have caused the delay in the issue of the royal commission by the Government of Victoria ?
  8. Will the Acting Prime Minister lay upon the table of the House all communications which have passed between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Victoria relating to the proposed royal commission?
Mr FENTON:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. Yes; but us far as the Commonwealth was aware all matters preliminary to the issue of the royal commission had been disposed of. Under date of the 31st October, the Victorian Government has, however, made a request for the revision of arrangements previously agreed upon for the provision of funds to meet the cost of the commission. This request is now receiving consideration.
  2. See reply to1.
  3. 4, and 5. The royal commission, if issued, will be constituted under Victorian statute, and it is not customary to disclose the nature of confidential communications which have passed between governments, or to comment upon a matter where the executive powers are reposed in the State.
  4. 31st July, 1930. 7 and 8. See reply to 3, 4 and 5.

page 37

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH OVERDRAFT

Dr EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES

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?

Mr LYONS:
ALP

– 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.

page 38

QUESTION

PRICE OF GOLD

Mr KEANE:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

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?

Mr LYONS:
ALP

– 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.

page 38

QUESTION

UNEMPLOYMENT

Dr EARLE PAGE:

asked the Acting

Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. What was the percentage of unemployed, according to the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician, on 30th October, 1929?
  2. What percentage of unemployment do the most recent figures show?
Mr FENTON:
ALP

– 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.

page 38

QUESTION

PUBLICSERVICE ARBITRATOR

Mr LATHAM:

asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is the position of Public Service Arbitrator vacant?
  2. If so, how long has the position been vacant?
  3. What provision is it proposed to make for the continuance of the existing Public Service arbitration system?
Mr FENTON:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Since 31st May, 1930.
  3. This involves a matter of policy, in regard to which it is not the practice to make statements in reply to questions.

page 38

QUESTION

VISIT OF SIR OTTO NIEMEYER

Mr GULLETT:

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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– 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.

page 38

QUESTION

PUBLIC . SERVICE DISMISSALS

Mr FRANCIS:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND

asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. How may employees, both permanent and temporary, were in each department of the Public Service, including such bodies as the Federal Capital Commission, the Bureau of Science and Industry, &c, on the 1st October, 1929, and what was the number on the 1st October, 1930. Of the employees, permanent and temporary, dismissed between the dates mentioned, how many were returned soldiers?
Mr FENTON:
ALP

– The information is being obtained, and will be made available as soon as possible.

page 38

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH AND STATE LOANS

Mr LATHAM:

asked the Acting Trea surer, upon notice -

  1. What Commonwealth and State loans fall due before 31st December, 1931?
  2. Has any, and, if so, what action been taken to repay or invite the conversion of Commonwealth and State loans falling due before 31st December, 1930?
Mr LYONS:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The total amount of Commonwealth and State loans falling due before 31st December, 1931, is £76,643,807 13s.11d. Details of these loans, all of which are internal loans, are set out in the accompanying statement. The statement does not include treasury-bills. In London £5,000,000 treasury-bills mature on 31st December, 1930, and £5,000,000 on 2nd March, 1931. In Australia treasury-bills for £7,050,000 mature at varying dates between November, 1930, and May, 1931.
  2. The matter of the Commonwealth loan falling due on 15th December, 1930, is at present under consideration. Holders of securities in State loans are invited to convert into new securities from time to time as they mature. Those who do not convert are paid off.

page 43

QUESTION

PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT DISMISSALS

Mr WHITE:

asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -

  1. How many employees have been discharged front his department since the 30th June last
  2. How many of such employees were returned soldiers?
  3. How many ofsuch employees had been in the department for two years and over?
Mr LYONS:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Seven hundred and seventy-five.
  2. Three hundred and thirty-two.
  3. Seventy-seven. (Taken in conjunction with their service with the Federal Capital Commission, a further 183 commenced duty more than two years ago.)

page 43

QUESTION

ALIEN IMMIGRATION

Mr BAYLEY:

asked the Minister for

Home Affairs, upon notice -

  1. What was the percentage of foreign immigrants who landed in Australia ‘during the three months ended 30th September, 1930, in comparison to the number of British migrants to reach Australia?
  2. What was the percentage for thecorrespondingperiod of last year?
Mr BLAKELEY:

– 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.

page 43

QUESTION

POSTMASTER-GENERAL’S DEPARTMENT

Dismissal of Employees

Mr WHITE:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. -How many employees have been discharged from his department since the 30th June last?
  2. How many of suchemployees were returned soldiers?
  3. How many of such employees had been in the department for two years and over?
Mr LYONS:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Two thousand two hundred andninetytwo.
  2. One thousand four hundred, and twentynine.
  3. One thousand one hundred and fortyfour.

page 44

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN NAVY

Position ofcommander Spooner, R.N. -Australian-Trained Sailors.

Mr CROUCH:
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. How many times has Commander Spooner, R.N., been attached to the Australian Navy, and for what terms?
  2. What salary does he receive? 3.What pension floes he receive?
  3. Is there no Australian-trained officer able to fill the position to which he is appointed?
Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Three times -

    1. From 1st February, 1912, to15th February, 1915.
    2. From8th February, 1919, to 13th April, 1924.
    3. From 16th September, 1929, for three years.
  2. £949 per annum.
  3. Nil.
  4. The appointment of Director of Torpedoes and Mines at present held by Commander Spooner, has hitherto been filled by Captains or Senior Commanders. I am advised that an officer of experience, holding qualifications in gunnery and as Inspector of Naval Ordnance, is required for the position and that no such officer is available amongst those trained in Australia.
Mr CROUCH:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. Did Naval Order 201/694 of 30th May, 1930, compulsorily retire any Australiantrained sailors?
  2. Were any, and, if so, how many sailors, who received their first training outside Australia, retained in the Australian Navy when these Australian-trained sailors were compulsorily retired ?
Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -

  1. Yes.
  2. Eighty-six Petty Officers and men, on loan from the Royal Navy, were retained temporarily in the Royal Australian Navy.

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.

page 44

QUESTION

FEDERAL LAND TAX

Collections and Remissions

Mr CUSACK:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What was the amount of the federal land tax. collected for the year ended 30th June last?
  2. What was the amount collected oncity property during that period?
  3. What was the amount of federal land tax remitted to land-holders between 1st. July, 1923, and 30th June, 1929, showing the amount remitted for each financial year during such period, and the amount remitted for each State and territory of the Commonwealth?
Mr LYONS:
ALP

– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. £2,840,078.
  2. The information is not available as the collections have not been analyzed so as to distinguish between city and country lands.
  3. 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: -

    1. Bankruptcy or insolvency.
    2. Suffered such a loss that the exaction of the full amount of tax would entail serious hardship.
    3. By reason of drought or adverse conditions, the returns from the land have been seriously impaired.

page 45

QUESTION

AIR FORCE OFFICERS

PromotionandPay.

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 ?

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Twelve.
  2. Three-

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.

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes, £14, £13 and £40 respectively.

page 45

QUESTION

STATE AGENTS-GENERAL

Mr MORGAN:

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?

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– 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.

page 45

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH OVERSEAS OFFICIALS

Namesand Remuneration

Mr FENTON:
ALP

– On the 31st July, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) asked the following question, upon notice -

  1. How many officials are paid by the Commonwealth, in (a) Great Britain, (b) the United States of America, (c) France, (d) Eastern countries, and (e) other countries?
  2. What are their offices, and what pay do they receive, stating the amounts paid in each country ?

I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -

page 51

ASSENT TO BILLS

Assent to the following bills reported : -

Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1930-31.

Superannuation Bill.

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.

Loan Bill.

Appropriation Bill 1930-31.

page 51

SOUTH AUSTRALIA GRANT BILL

Message recommending appropriation reported.

page 51

PAPERS

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.9-Local Courts.

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.

page 62

LOSS OF AIRSHIP R.101

Resolu tion of Sympathy.

Mr FENTON:
Acting Prime Minister · Maribyrnong · ALP

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.

Mr LATHAM:
Kooyong

.- 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.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
Cowper

.- 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.

page 53

WING-COMMANDER KINGSFORD SMITH

Flightfrom England to Australia

Mr FENTON:
Acting Prime Minister · Maribyrnong · ALP

-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.

Mr LATHAM:
Kooyong

.- 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.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
Cowper

.- 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.

Mr WHITE:
Balaclava

.- 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.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Parer and Mcintosh are forgotten.

Mr WHITE:

– 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.

page 54

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

Business of the Session.

Mr FENTON:
Acting Prime Minister · Maribyrnong · ALP

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.

page 56

FINANCIAL STATEMENT

Mr LYONS:
Acting Treasurer · Wilmot · ALP

– 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.

Budget Results to 30th September1930

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,

Financial Survey

London Cash 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.

Exchange Pool and Exchange Rates

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.

Prices of Securities

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.

Reduced National Income

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.

General Comments

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.

Expenditure Proposals

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.

Sinking Fund

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.

Taxation Proposals

Customs and Excise

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.

Income Tax

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 -

  1. To reduce the exemption in respect of property income to £100.

    1. To make the exemption vanish when the taxable income reaches £200: and
    2. In the case of composite incomes, to deduct the general exemption first or mainly from income from personal exertion instead of income from property as at present.

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.

Proposals Summarized

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.

Legislation

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.

page 64

TARIFF SCHEDULE (No. 4) 1930

Customs, Excise and Primage Duties

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Mr FORDE:
Acting Minister for Markets and Transport · Capricornia · ALP

– 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.
That the Schedule to the *Excise Tariff* 1921-1928 as proposed to be amended by the Excise 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 Excise be collected in pursuance of the Excise Tariff as so amended. That in this Resolution " Excise Tariff Proposals " means the Excise Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : 9th July, 1930. That, in addition to the duties of Customs collected in accordance with the Schedule to the *Customs Tariff* 1921-1930, as proposed to be amended by Tariff Proposals, and in lieu of the primage duty specified in the Resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the ninth day of July, One thousand nine hundred and thirty, there be imposed 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, an ad valorem duty of Customs (in this Resolution referred to as primage duty), at the rate of four per centum on all goods whatsoever which are entered for home consumption on or after the said Sixth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and thirty, except - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. goods covered by Items 368, 370, 371, 372, 373, 400, 401, 409 and 423 of the *Customs Tariff* 1921-1930 as proposed to be amended by Tariff Proposals, 1. any other goods which are from time to time excepted from primage duty by Proclamation made by the Governor-General with the advice of the Federal Executive Council and published in the *Gazette.* That in this Resolution " Tariff Proposals " means the Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 19th June, 1930 ; 9th July, 1930 ; 25th July, 1930 ; and 5th November, 1930, and includes any Tariff Proposals to amend the *Customs Tariff* 1921-1930 which are introduced into the Souse of Representatives subsequent to the Fifth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and thirty. The three motions which I have just moved have been introduced for the specific purpose of raising additional revenue. Owing to other tariff motions being before the House, the wording of this customs tariff motion includes items not now being altered, which have to be repeated for drafting purposes. These items are - 118(B) Roof coverings, &c. 118(C) Linoleums, &c. 197(E) Cutlery (as to deferred duty). 334(F) Writing and typewriting paper (as to deferred duty). {: type="A" start="I"} 0. shall deal briefly with each item of goods affected by the increased customs duties provided for. The first of these is manufactured tobacco. The present duty is increased by 2s. 2d. per lb. On imported cut tobacco the rates are increased from 7s.1d. to 9s. 3d. per lb., whilst on the imported plug tobacco the rates are increased from 6s.10d. to 9s. per lb. The increased duties imposed are countervailing duties, as the excise tariff rates on locally manufactured tobacco are being increased by 2s. per lb. All rates on coffee and chicory are being increased by1d. per lb. The duty, on raw and kiln dried coffee and chicory is being increased from 3d. to 4d. per lb., and on roasted and ground, from 6d. to 7d. per lb. The duty on tea imported in packets not exceeding 20 lb. is being increased by 5d. per lb., making it 6d. per lb. A duty of 4d. per lb. is being imposed on tea imported in bulk. Bulk tea was formerly admitted free of duty. Most countries in the world impose a revenue duty on tea. Great Britain had such a duty in operation from the 21st May, 1906, to the 22nd April, 1929. Among other British countries which impose tea duties are the following: - >New Zealand. - Tea in bulk, namely, pack ages of 5 lb. or over net weight, free, 2d per1b. : tea, n.e.i., 2d., 4d. > >South Africa. - Tea in packets under 101b.. (id., (id.; otherwise, 4d., 4d. > >British East Africa. - -45 per cent, (appro mately 6d. per lb.). > >Cold Coast Colony and Ashantee. - 4d. per lb. > >Canada. - Tea imported direct from country of growth and production, and tea purchased in bond in United Kingdom, 7 cents, 10 cents; tea, n.e.i., 10 cents, 10 cents. Many countries other than British also impose revenue duties on tea. Among these are Belgium, Bulgaria, Czecho slovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Norway and Portugal. The Government is therefore not making an innovation in imposing this duty. An increased duty of 10 per cent, is being imposed on lace for attire, lace flouncings, &c, the advances being from free, British preferential, and 25 per cent, general to 10 per cent, and 35 per cent, respectively. The rates on carpets, carpeting, floor cloths, &c, have been increased by 5 per cent, from 10 per cent. British preferential and 25 per cent, general to 15per cent, and 30 per cent., respectively. In regard to fencing wire of gauges numbers 8 to 14 the British preferential tariff has been increased by 52s. per ton. Previously, fencing wire of British origin was admitted free of duty. The general tariff rate of 120s. per ton remains unaltered. With the coming into effect of the increased duty, the payment of bounty at the rate of 52s. per ton will cease. This is in accordance with the provisions of the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act. The bounty paid for the financial year 1929-30 on locally manufactured fencing wire was £114,141. The payment of this bounty will now automatically cease. An increased duty of1s. per lb. is being imposed on filament lamps for lighting and heating, advancing the rates from per lb. free, British preferential, and 2s. general, to1s. and 3s., respectively. The increase imposed on cutlery, spoons and forks is 5 per cent. Formerly the rates were free, British preferential, and 25 per cent. general. These will now be 5 per cent. and 30 per cent., respectively. A duty of1d. per gallon is being imposed on kerosene and other refined petroleum burning oils, n.e.i., irrespective of the country of origin. Previously, these were duty free goods. As the duty is so small, the Government expects that the oil companies will be able to absorb it. It should not be passed on to the consumers. An all-round increase of1d. per gallon is imposed on mineral lubricating oil, increasing the rates from 3d. British preferential, and 3½d. general, to 4d. and 4½d. per gallon, respectively. A duty of 4d. per lb. is imposed on crude rubber, rubber waste, masticated rubber, powdered or reclaimed rubber. No duty was imposed prior to the introduction of this motion. To-day rubber is down to a lower price on the world's market than it has been for many years. Rubber imported from any territory of the Commonwealth will be admitted free of duty. Rubber of Papuan or British New Guinea origin will therefore still be admitted free of duty, as Papua is a territory of the Commonwealth, and British New Guinea is governed by the Commonwealth under a mandate. Urgent representations have been made by interests in Papua that they should be given some measure of preference. They believe that these proposals will help them considerably. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Is any appreciable proportion supplied by those territories? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- The producers there are endeavouring to supply the Australian market. A considerable amount of Australian money is invested in Papua and also in New Guinea, where a number of Australian returned soldiers are trying to make a living. The rates on typewriting paper are increased by 10 per cent. On sheets not less than 16 inches by 13 inches, the rates arc increased from free, British preferential and 10 per cent general tariff, to 10 per cent. British preferential, and 20 per cent. general. On sheets less than 16 inches by 13 inches, the rates are increased from 30 per cent. British preferential and 40 per cent. general to 40 per cent. British preferential, and 50 per cent. general. I now direct the attention of honorable members to the schedule of excise duties. An increase of 2s. per lb. is being imposed on tobacco manufactured in Australia. On hand-made strand the rate is increased from 2s.1d. to 4s.1d. per lb. whilst on tobacco manufactured, n.e.i. the rate is increased from 2s. 4d. to 4s. 4d. per lb. The protection given by the present Government to the Australian tobacco grower of 3s. 6d. per lb. will be retained, notwithstanding these increased duties, because the duty of 2s. 2d. on imported tobacco more than counterbalances the increase of 2s. per lb. in the excise on local tobacco. The excise duty on cigarettes to-day is 7s. 6d. per lb. If cigarettes are made from imported tobacco, which is the usual practice, there is the import duty of 3s. 6d. per lb. on the leaf. Cigarettes made from locally grown leaf will escape this impost. The excise duty on pipe tobacco hitherto has been 2s. 4d. per lb. Pipe tobacco made from imported leaf, pays an import duty of 3s. 6d., making with the excise duty of 2s. 4d., a total impost of 5s.10d. per lb. Manufacturers are producing a fine cut smoking tobacco, in all essentials a cigarette tobacco which is largely used by cigarette smokers. On this tobacco there is an excise duty of 2s. 4d. per lb., plus of course the import duty of 3s. 6d. on pipe tobacco made from the imported leaf. Many persons in recent years have been discarding machine-made cigarettes upon which the excise duty is 7s. 6d. per lb. and are rolling their own cigarettes from imported leaf, which pays an import duty of only 2s. 4d. per lb. Notwithstanding the increase in excise of 2s. per lb. and in the import duty of 2s. 2d. per lb., the preference of 3s. 6d. per lb. in favour of the Australian leaf stands, and I am informed on reliable authority that within the next eighteen months fully half the tobacco smoked in Australia will be manufactured from the Australian grown leaf. The protection given by the present Government to local growers by increasing the duty on imported tobacco has greatly stimulated tobacco growing in the Commonwealth. Every effort is now being made to develop the industry further. This Government increased the import duties on manufactured tobacco, which includes plug and cut tobacco from 6s. 3d. per lb., imposed on the 22nd August of last year by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Gullett),** to 6s. 7d. per lb. then to 7s.1d. and now to 9s. 3d. per lb. It also increased the duty on plug tobacco from 6s. to 9s. per lb. The margin of protection given to Australian grown tobacco will, we believe, enable the local industry to compete with the imported article. We regret the necessity to impose these increases in the excise duties or any other form of taxation; but we are obliged to take this course to meet financial difficulties bequeathed to us by the previous administration. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- The Minister should examine the figures dealing with unemployment since this Government came into office. Mr.FORDE.- The Bruce-Page Government during its seven or eight years of office made a tremendous mess of tilings which it is now the unpleasant task of the present Government to clean up. The increase in the rate of primage duty from 2½ per cent. to 4 per cent. is imposed in a resolution similar to that proposed in July of this year. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 69 {:#debate-46} ### NORTHERN TERRITORY (ADMINISTRATION) BILL Message recommending appropriation reported. *In committee* (Consideration of Acting Governor-General's message) : Motion (by **Mr. Blakeley)** agreed to- >That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Northern Territory Administration Act 1910-1926, to repeal the Northern Australia Act, 1926, and for other purposes. Resolution reported and - *by leave -* adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Blakeley** and **Mr. A.** Green do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill brought up by **Mr. Blakeley,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-46-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-46-0-s0 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling -- *by leave -* I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. The objects of the bill are to abolish the North Australia Commission, to terminate the division of the Northern Territory into North Australia and Central Australia, and to revert to the system of administration in force in the Northern Territory prior to the passing of the Northern Australia Act, 1926. Provision was made in that measure for contiguous States to participate in any developmental schemes adopted for the Northern Territory. Section 35 of the Northern Australia Act enacts - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) The Governor-General may make an agreement with the Governor in Council of any State which adjoins the Northern Territory for the application to any part of the State contiguous to the Territory (in this section referred to as " the proscribed part of the State") of any or all of the measures of development which have been ormay be applied by the commission to the prescribed part of the Territory. The previous administration had in mind not only the development of the Northern Territory, but also the adoption of a more ambitious scheme embracing the northern portion of Queensland and the northwestern portion of Western Australia. In his second-reading speech on the 10th February, 1926, the then Prime Minister said - >The Commonwealth Government has already discussed this subject with the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia; but since it was discussed with **Mr. Theodore,** several changes have taken place in the Government of Queensland. No definite proposals lune, been put forward. In fairness to the Status, the Commonwealth should first put forward its proposals. The States would then consider the scheme, and, if it were thought desirable they could hand over some of their territory to the commission. It is not suggested that any State should at present relinquish its sovereignty over any portion of its territory. That may happen later, and lead eventually to the formation of a new State. The Northern Territory, as it is known, or North Australia, as we hope that it will be known, is bounded on the east by Queensland, mid on the west by Western Australia. Honorable members, if they glance at the map and see the position of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the north-western coast of Western Australia in relation to the Northern Territory, will understand why this scheme should ultimately include some portion of the territories of Western Australia and Queensland to obtain the best economic basis for development. The bill, however, leaves the matter to be dealt with by agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. It will be for them to determine the conditions under which portions of the State territory should be placed under the control of the commission. Of course, any arrangement would need the approval of this Parliament. This is the only way by which the natural development of certain portions of Western Australia and ) Queeusland can be hastened. But if we begin, before the scheme is put clearly before the States, to dictate to them regarding the arena to be handed over to the commission, they will naturally refuse to have anything to do with it. Wu must develop this project on right lines, and when it reaches a certain stage, no doubt a suitable arrangement will be made between the Commonwealth Government fmd the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia. The .scheme included the appointment of a commission to consider and recommend proposals for the development of Northern Australia and portions of Queensland and Western Australia. There were some negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government, which were subsequently broken off by the latter; but the attitude of Queensland towards the proposal was very cool indeed, and despite repeated representations from the Commonwealth, negotiations in regard to the matter did not even commence with that State. Frankly, I keenly regret that the development schemes which the previous Government had in mind were not brought to fruition ; but it was obvious almost from the beginning that any such scheme was doomed to failure. I pay a tribute to the ability of the present North Australia Commission, and my grief is that they have no job to do. They were given a job, but no money with which to do it. Obviously a development commission must have money with which to carry on developmental works, and as that money has not been made available to the North Australia Commission, it follows that the commission itself is unnecessary, and that, administration by a commission is costly and cumbersome. If funds had been made available and if arrangements had been made with Queensland and Western Australia to carry out a big scheme of development, particularly by building railways to open up the very valuable and rich Barkly tableland near the Queensland border, and the country right across to the Western Australian border, there would have been some justification for retaining the commission, but its need disappeared when the two States did. not proceed any further with the proposition. They neither appointed representatives to the commission nor were prepared apparently to hand over a portion of their territory nor to join with the Commonwealth in the development of North Australia. Furthermore, the financial stringency, which is now being experienced by the Commonwealth, has made it necessary that there should be a review of the present method of administering the Northern Territory. There is no longer justification for the retention of a highly paid commission to advise the Commonwealth Government on the development of that portion of Australia. Up to date the commission has produced three reports, of which the previous Government took no notice; at any rate it certainly did not act upon any of the recommendations contained in those reports. The bill proposes to abolish this expensive and cumbersome form of administration of the Northern Territory, and to revert to the previous *system.* I regret that hitherto we have been able to do but very little for the territory. Ambitious and enthusiastic Ministerswho have preceded me have painted in very rich colours the great potentialities of the Northern Territory, and while I believe, as they do, that great wealth awaits development there- {: .speaker-JVT} ##### Mr Nelson: -- The Minister knows nothing about the territory. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- The honorable member before speaking like that should have waited to hear what I was about to say. Presumably he is endeavouring to get an interjection recorded in *Hansard* to show that he is taking an intelligent interest in this matter. But there is no justification for hostile interjections on his part. I was proceeding to say that, although I realize that ultimately the Northern Territory will prove a valuable and rich possession of the Commonwealth, I cannot speak with enthusiasm of its immediate prospects of development. The reports of its wealth in cattle and agricultural lands, and in pastoral areas with particular application to sheepgrazing, are such that I regret, that money has not been made available to carry on the development that was intended. But a certain amount of money has been spent. The liability incurred by the Commonwealth upon the Northern Territory is indicated by the following table : - >Amount of debt owing in the Northern Territory when taken overby Commonwealth from South Australia - Total amount spent between 1911 and 1st February, 1927, when North Australia Commission commenced to function (includes interest and sinking fund, but excludes Port Augusta-Oodnadatta (now Alice Springs) railway) - Thus the total liability the Commonwealth has undertaken is over £12,000,000. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page: -- Does that include interest on a compound basis? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- I assume that compound interest is charged on the liability taken over from the South Australian Government. I have had a comparative statement prepared showing the costof administration of the Northern Territory prior and subsequent to the appointment of the North Australia Commission. It is as follows: - >Four years prior to appointment of North Australia Commission. That table indicates a fairly formidable increase in expenditure. The total cost of the commission from the 1st February, 1927, up to the 30th June last is shown by the following table: - >Total cost of commission, together with travelling allowances, salaries, and expenses of three commissioners, secretary, and one clerk, &c. - The annual cost of the commission is thus a considerable item, and, seeing that we are not making money available for developmental works, it is expenditure which can be ill-spared during a time of financial stress. Before deciding on the action contemplated in the bill, I took the opportunity to interview as many persons as possible in connexion with the method of administration now in operation in the Northern Territory. I appointed Messrs. French and Brown, responsible officers of the Auditor-General's Department and the Public Service Board, to investigate the present method of governing the Northern Territory, and, after a very careful examination, they recommended a reversion to the system previously employed. The consensus of opinion of residents in the Territory itself is apparently in favour of the action now proposed to be taken. The Northern Australia Act was responsible for the division of the Territory into North Australia and Central Australia. This division has brought about anomalies and difficulties, particularly in regard to the administration of land matters. It has added considerably to the cost of administration. Where formerly one ordinance was sufficient to cover the whole of the Territory, two are now required. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- What is the anticipated saving in administrative costs? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- The two officers who conducted the investigation to which I have referred are of the opinion that a saving of between £12,000 and £13,000 per annum is likely to be made; but I am not so optimistic. After we have arranged for certain lands and works officers to be taken over by the new administration, I anticipate a saving of between £8,000 and £9,000 per annum. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr Mackay: -- Is any compensation likely to be paid to the members of the commission ? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- I do not know what arrangements will be entered into between the Commonwealth Government, and the members of the commission; but, as their appointments expire in August of next year, if any compensation is awarded it will not be any great amount. *Sitting suspended from. 6.15 to 8 p.m.* {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- Among the duties of the commission was the maintenance and operation of railways, subject to the terms of any arrangement made between the Minister and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. Upon the abolition of the commission, the Railways Department will, in all probability, maintain and operate those railways. Another duty of the commission was the construction and maintenance of roads, excluding the area comprised in the town of Darwin. That work will now be carried out by the Works Department, which will take over as many of the officers of the commission as are necessary to carry on those duties in North and Central Australia. Other duties were the erection of telegraph and telephone lines, and water boring and conservation, which will now be allocated to the Works Department. The construction and maintenance of cattle and sheep dips, and the imposition and recovery of charges for the use of such utilities will be carried out by the Central Administration. There will be an administrator at Darwin and a deputy administrator in Central Australia. The latter will be given certain powers to carry out routine work, particularly with regard to land matters. As I have already pointed out, during the existence of the commission it was particularly difficult to further primary production activities because of the sparse population and the consequent poor mail facilities. I anticipate that, by giving the Deputy Administrator at *Alice* Springs greater powers with regard to routine administration, the man on the land will benefit. The commission also had power to recommend and report upon the construction of railways in North Australia, to recommend the construction of public works in relation to ports and harbours, and to submit to the Minister schemes for the development of North Australia. That body issued its reports to the Government and did quite a lot of work with regard to preliminary surveys and traverses of roads and railways in North Australia. In 1927-28 some £21,000 was spent on railway surveys, while £6,628 was expended on similar work in 1928-29, and £450 in 1929-30, together with approximately £4,754 on road traverses, making a total expenditure of £32,837 for that type of work during tho time the commission has been in existence. The tragedy of the whole thing is that after the roads had been traversed, the surveys made, and preliminary steps taken with regard to railway construction, it was found that no money was available to establish the proposed services. Personally, I think that coincident with railway development from the South Australian side to Alice Springs there should also have been railway development and construction from the Queensland side. While the North-South railway would pierce and go through the Barkly tableland, a line from the Queensland border, at a point somewhere about Camooweal and going straight across, would traverse the length of that extremely fertile country, which has such a high annual rainfall. I believe that ultimately the development of that area must originate from Queensland, rather than from Alice Springs. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- That would sound the death knell of the North-South railway. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- I believe that both lines of communication would be of great benefit to the territory and to Australia generally. Already the connecting link with Alice Springs has proved its value, particularly with regard to the transport of cattle. The last season .has been a very gratifying one, and a large number of stock have travelled over the line to the southern markets and brought very high prices indeed. It is thought that eventually Alice Springs and the country in the vicinity of that locality will become a fattening area for the cattle which are brought from the Westralian side of the far north. With a continuance of the existing good seasons, the cattle would fatten on the land surrounding Alice Springs and quickly become suitable for the market, where they would bring high prices. It has been apparent, during recent months, how quickly that country becomes rejuvenated and transformed into fine grazing territory, even after a drought of five years. Some are of the opinion that the Government will save £12,000 or £13,000 a year by the abolition of the commission. I think that the saving will be nearer £8,000- to £9,000 a year, and I hope to persuade the Government to make that money available to develop the pastoral industry in North Australia by the sinking . of wells and bores, especially along stock routes, where water is at present not available in the quantity or in the localities desired. Such facilities are' particularly necessary if the sheep industry is to be developed in the Territory. Portion of the saving will also be expended upon dips. The Territory is troubled with buffalo fly as well as with tick, and the fly especially is causing a good deal of trouble. So much is that so, that the Queensland Government has practically closed its borders against the entry of stock from the infested areas. Any money spent upon dips, and for the eradication of tick and buffalo fly will be well invested. The Government has not overlooked the development of mineral prospecting in both North and Central Australia.- At present, there are from 70 to 100 men, subsidized by the Government under the Precious Metals Prospecting Act, combing North and Central Australia -for precious metals. The majority of these men are experienced prospectors and bushmen. They procure a couple of camels and water tanks, make out west or north, as the case may be, and do not return until their food supplies are depleted, when they again visit civilized centres in order to replenish their supplies. Their activities in that rich metalliferous belt have already located some very fine silver-lead propositions, which, unfortunately, cannot be developed because of the high cost of transport, and the lack of the necessary capital to purchase machinery. I have in mind at least three very big "shows" of that description. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page: -- Are they close to the Alice Springs railway? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- No; they are at least 150 to 200 miles distant. Because of the lack of roads transportation costs are very high, and capital is at present, rather shy about going into that area to assist mining development. Upon the abolition of the commission the administration will revert to that of pre-commission days, as I have intimated. In addition to the Administrator at Darwin and the Deputy Administrator at Alice Springs there will be the two Advisory Councils, which have -been operating for some time; one at Alice Springs, and the other at Darwin. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- How will communication be effected - from the Deputy at Alice Springs, through the Administrator at Darwin, or direct to Canberra? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- Direct between Darwin and Alice Springs and vice versa, except with regard to questions of policy, which will be submitted direct to Canberra. The administration of stock and land laws will be a matter of direct communication between Darwin and Alice Springs, per medium of the telegraph and regular and frequent mail communication. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- What is the advantage of the innovation over the existing system? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- My estimate is a saving of £8,000 to £9,000 a year. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- But the honorable gentleman has stated that that saving will be expended on artesian bores and other items. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- The honorable member has remained in the House throughout the delivery of my speech. I have endeavoured to show that it is not of much use maintaining a costly administrative and developmental commission if no money is available to finance the schemes which it submits to the Government. I have pointed out that some £32,837 has been expended by the commission on preliminary work which could not be brought to fruition because of the lack of funds. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Will that not apply to the new administration? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- No. It will noi. be doing that kind of work. As an illustration of the cost of the commission I point out that salaries alone account for £22,062. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- Spread over how many years ? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- About three and a half years. Travelling expenses amount to £2^530, and other expenses £2,958, making a total of £27,550 during the commission's term of office. That body has supervised administrative work that was previously attended to by an administrator, a small staff, and the Public Works Department. Road maintenance and construction, and the construction and maintenance of buildings and dips have always been carried out in the past with a smaller staff and at lower cost than by the commission. If money is available for expenditure in North Australia it should be invested in dips, wells and other mediums which will help practically to develop the country, rather than on developmental and road and railway schemes which cannot be put into operation 'until the financial position of the country improves considerably. In view of the expenditure incurred by the commission in preliminary work of the naturito which I have referred, it seems to the Government and to me wasteful and costly to continue a body which was originally intended to be a developmental commission, when the necessary money is not available to put its schemes into operation. I do not think that the commission would have been appointed had it been thought that the Westralian and Queensland Governments would refuse to work with the Commonwealth Government, even in the matter of appointing State Commissioners to cooperate with the North Australia Commission in the development of schemes applicable to their respective borders. The Queensland Government, as a matter of fact, has treated the matter very coldly, and has merely acknowledged the first letter that was addressed to it. The Government of Western Australia carried on correspondence with the Commonwealth Government for some little while, and then discontinued it. The Government. ihat preceded the present Government in i hat State said very definitely that it was not prepared to cede to the Commonwealth any of its territory for the purpose of establishing that great northern State. Those, briefly, are the objects of the hill, which I commend to honorable members. Debate (on motion by **Dr. Earle** Page) adjourned. {: .page-start } page 75 {:#debate-47} ### IMMIGRATION BILL Motion (by **Mr. Blakeley)** - *by leave* -agreed to - >That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend section 5 of the Immigration Act 1901-1925. Bill brought up by **Mr. Blakeley,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-47-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-47-0-s0 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling -- *-by leave* - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. The object of the bill is to overcome certain technical and serious defects that have been discovered in the act. Section fi of the act confers upon the Government the power to deal with prohibited immigrants, particularly coloured persons, who have evaded customs officers, or who have otherwise illegally entered the Commonwealth. The original intention was that when a person was charged with having evaded an officer of the Customs Department the onus should be upon him to prove that he had entered Australia rightfully. Such a provision was absolutely necessary to deal with persons who entered Australia illegally. The act was specially amended in 1924 to provide that the onus in such cases should rest upon the person charged. It was then considered that the Commonwealth was well protected, and that the section, as amended, would apply to persons who had entered the Commonwealth illegally prior to 1924. The High Court, however, in a case that came before it recently, held in effect that, so long as the person charged proved that he was in Australia prior to 1924, he was entitled to remain here unless the Commonwealth authorities could prove that he had entered illegally. That decision has made it particularly difficult to apply the law effectively to certain persons who have evaded officers of the Customs Department, such as stowaways, or have secured entry after having been dropped, by luggers or other vessels along our coast.. The High Court decided that the act of 1924, in its existing form, did not applyto those cases. From time to time casesare placed before me, and I have found it exceedingly difficult to give a decision on account of the fact that that portion of the act is now regarded as having no value. I should not have brought this measure before the House at the present time had I not regarded it as extremely urgent; it would have been allowed to stand over until next year. But there are under review cases in which the officers of the Customs Department and the Home Affairs Department are quite convinced that the persons concerned were stowaways and are illegally in the Commonwealth. So long as those persons can obtain evidence to the effect that they were in this country prior to 1924, the act, as it stands at present, enables them to secure a verdict in any court. Unfortunately, there are citizens who apparently are quite prepared to give satisfactory evidence to the court regarding the bona fides of persons who are charged with being illegally in this country. When four, five, six or eight citizens of some repute swear that they have known this or that person for so many years, it is most difficult to secure a conviction, despite the fact that everybody is convinced that the person so charged is illegally in Australia. The amendment is embraced in one clause. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- What will be the effect of it? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- The effect of the amendment, when made, will be to lay upon the person concerned the onus of proving that he was in Australia before 1901, or that he had not entered this country illegally. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- What the Minister says relates only to the applicability of the " onus of proof "' section. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- Exactly. Section 5 in its present form reads - (1.) Any immigrant who - {: type="a" start="b"} 0. enters the Commonwealth at any place where no officer is stationed; 1. obtains entrance or re-entrance into the Commonwealth by means of any certificate, credentials or identification card which was not issued to him or is forged, or has been obtained by false representations; may . . . be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant . . . That is the section which it is proposed to amend in order to protect the Commonwealth against illegal migration to this country. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- Will that apply to persons who are already here? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- It will apply to all cases. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Latham)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 76 {:#debate-48} ### IRON AND STEEL PRODUCTS BOUNTY BILL Motion (by **Mr. Forde)** - *by leave -* agreed to - >Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922-1929. Bill brought up by Mr.Forde, and read a first time. {:#subdebate-48-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-48-0-s0 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
Acting Minister for Markets and Transport · Capricornia · ALP -- *by leave* - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. Under the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act, a bounty is payable on, *inter alia,* iron and steel, plate and sheet, galvanized, whether corrugated or not, so long as it is manufactured in Australia. The rate of the bounty was originally £2 12s. a ton. That was increased by acts of Parliament to £3 12s. a ton from the 1st January, 1928, and to £4 10s. a ton from the 1st January, 1930. By tariff proposals which operated from the 20th June, 1930, the duty on galvanized iron which entered Australia was increased by £1 a ton. In accordance with section 3 of the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act, which requires that the rate of bounty shall be decreased by an amount corresponding to increases of duties of customs, a reduction of £1 a ton was made as from the date when the duty was increased to that extent; that is, there was a reduction from £4 10s. a ton to £3 10s. a ton from the 20th June, 1930. Owing to the introduction of the primage duty of 2½ per cent. ad valorem, which operated from the 10th July, 1930. the rate of the bounty on galvanized sheets was reduced by a further 7s. a ton from that date, bringing it to £3 3s. a ton, which operated up to the time that the company gave an undertaking that it would not make any further claim for a bounty. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- every manufacturer to escape the sales tax in this way? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- I do not know what the honorable member is driving at. These works, which were employing 900 men, were closed down. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- For how long, and by arrangement with whom? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- By granting a prohibition against importations the Government was able to save the country during the present year at least the £130,000 that, otherwise would have been paid by way of bounty. The company has given an undertaking that there will be no immediate increase in the price of galvanized iron, and, before any increase is made, it is prepared to throw its books open to a representative of the Commonwealth Government, in the person of a qualified accountant, who will first satisfy himself that the proposed increase is justified. The reductions in bounty to which I have referred did not affect the Australian manufacturers of galvanized iron in regard to the competition which they had to meet from overseas, because the reduction of the bounty was offset by increased duties on imports. In September last, however, the Australian manufacturers - the branch company of John Lysaght, of Great Britain - found that, owing to the general falling off in demand for their product due to the prevailing depression, together with the competition of imports from overseas, chiefly from England, they were no longer able to carry on. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- They were themselves the heaviest importers. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Not immediately before t hey closed down. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- They were during the first five months of this year. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- I shall obtain the figures and make them public. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page: -- Lysaght's have brought in 10,000 tons this year. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- During the last five months the company's imports were 5,300 tons. The company was manufacturing 28,000 *tons* of galvanized iron a year in Australia when the Australian consumption of galvanized iron was approximately 120,000 tons. In order to meet the Australian requirements it installed sixteen mills at a cost of £700,000, and it is now able to produce sufficient galvanized iron to meet the whole of Australia's requirements. While the company was producing only 28,000 tons of the 120,000 tons used annually, it was importing galvanized iron from England. Instead of continuing that policy, however, it went to the expense of putting in another eight mills, so as to produce an extra80,000 tons annually. It is estimated that, during the present year of depression, approximately 70,000 tons of galvanized iron will be sufficient to supply the needs of the Australian market. If the Government had to pay a bounty of £3 3s. a ton on 80,000 tons, an expenditure of over £240,000 would be involved. A bounty of £3 3s. a ton on even 28,000 tons would require the expenditure of nearly £90,000. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- And now the user has to provide that money. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- The honorable member knows that there has been no increase in the price of galvanized iron. Furthermore, owing to the reduction in the price of zinc, which is lower now than for many years, and to lower costs of other necessary materials, it is possible that the price of galvanized iron can be reduced. The zinc used in the manufacture of galvanized iron by Lysaght's is produced in Tasmania. The steel bars are obtained from the Newcastle Steel Works, which in turn obtains its iron ore from Iron Knob, in South Australia. This is, therefore, an Australian industry. It is giving direct employment to 900 persons, and is providing indirect employment for probably three times that number. There fore, having regard particularly to the present state of the national finances, the Government was justified in coming to an arrangement which would relieve the Treasury of the payment of over £200,000 by way of bounty, and yet enable the company to carry on and furnish employment. It has to be borne in mind that the company requires annually 70,000 tons of steel, 11,000 tons of zinc, 3,500 tons of acid, and 200,000 tons of coal to meet Australia's requirements; while the number of employees engaged in supplying these wants is very considerable. It is better to help a company that is prepared to increase production, and build up an Australian industry capable of providing employment for Australian workmen, than to continue a policy which has resulted in a reduction of output, and the dismissal of workmen owing to the competition from overseas. If the company were unable to carry on, thousands of persons would be thrown out of employment at Newcastle and elsewhere. The company has definitely decided that should the demand for galvanized iron become at any time greater than the capacity of the present works it will, if the embargo remains in force, extend the plant to whatever size may be necessary to supply the whole of Australia's requirements. After the fullest investigation of the position, Cabinet decided that the situation would best be met by prohibiting, for the time being, the importation of galvanized iron, and at the same time ceasing to pay the bounty on the Australian product during the term of the prohibition. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr Earle Page: -- For how long will that be? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- The term of the prohibition has not yet been fixed; but if the prohibition be lifted an adequate duty should be imposed to enable the industry to carry on. This policy combines the advantages of - (1) at once providing employment for a considerable number of persons affected by the stoppage; (2) keeping in operation an important industry which it has taken many years to establish in accordance with the protectionist policy of the country; and (3) restricting imports to the advantage of the balance of our overseas trade. The last, consideration is important, having regard to the lower value of our exports at the present time. How can Australia meet its interest payments and other charges in London, amounting, in the near future, to £36,000,000, and continue to pay for the imports which some honorable members opposite would like to see pouring into the country, even though our own industries are languishing? A further advantage of the arrangement is that it will effect a considerable saving of expenditure, and will thus contribute towards balancing the budget. The bounty paid on galvanized iron during 1.928-1929 was approximately £90,000. This year it would have amounted to considerably more. Before the prohibition was decided upon the whole position was gone into thoroughly with the manufacturers - John Lysaght (Australia) Limited - and to ensure that the interests of all concerned were amply provided for, certain undertakings under seal were given by the manufacturers. The matter was discussed between capable officers of the department, and a representative of the company,, who. adopted throughout a very reasonable .attitude. It was agreed that there should be no increase in price of galvanized iron, and that if a prohibition were imposed, no demand would be made under the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act for any bounty on galvanized iron manufactured in Australia. The company's undertaking is in these terms: - >That in the event pf and during the continuance of a prohibition issued under the Customs Act in relation to the importation of galvanized iron, wc agree to make no claims at any time against the Commonwealth Government under the Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act 1922-1929, in respect of bounty on galvanized iron delivered from the works or factory during the period of said prohibition of importation, except in relation to a quantity of approximately 4,500 tons of galvanized iron at the Newcastle works or factory at the date of suspension of operations on 27th September, 1930, such quantity to be subject to verification by the Customs Department at Newcastle. The prohibition was issued on the 7th October, 1930, and the amendment now proposed to the act is necessary to enable bounty on galzanized iron produced in Australia to be withheld during such time as the prohibition on importation is *in* operation. The Government is satis- tied that it is pursuing the best course in the circumstances. If the bounty payments had been continued it would have involved the Treasury in the expenditure of about £100,000 which could not be paid without a great, deal of inconvenience. Nine hundred workmen would have been denied employment if the company had not re-opened its factory, and the stoppage of manufacturing would have affected other industries also. The effect would have been felt as far away as Iron Knob in South Australia, where the iron ore is obtained. We have heard a great deal from honorable members opposite of the need for cutting down expenditure. The Government now proposes to save over £100,000 by this step alone. Any one viewing the matter with an open mind must recognize that the Government has done the best thing possible by the taxpayer, by the workmen employed by John Lysaght Limited, and by the public generally. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Gullett)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 78 {:#debate-49} ### ADJOURNMENT Business of the House - International Regulation of Whaling - Discussion of Tariff Amendments - Postmaster-General's Department : Dismissal of Returned Soldiers - Payment of Overtime - H.M.A.S. Canberra : Training of Midshipmen. {: #debate-49-s0 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Acting Prime Minister · Maribyrnong · ALP £8.44]. - I move - >That the House do now adjourn. I thank honorable members on the Opposition side of the House for having given' leave to move without notice for the introduction of the bills which we have considered this evening and some of which have consequently reached the second-reading stage. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- How long does the Minister propose that the House should sit this week? {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- From present indications I am inclined to' think that there may be a fairly early adjournment to-morrow night. I now intimate to honorable members that, owing to a meeting of the Loan Council on Tuesday, and a conference with regard to wheat export that is being held simultaneously, it may be necessary to adjourn the House until Wednesday next. On the 3rd June last the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** informed the honorable member for Brisbane **(Mr. D. Cameron)** that he would make available to members the report of the committee of experts appointed by the League of Nations to inquire into the subject of the international regulation of whaling. The report is now- available, and I have had a copy placed in the Library where any honorable member may peruse it. {: #debate-49-s1 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY:
Swan .- Will the Acting Prime Minister give the House some information as to when honorable members are to have an opportunity to discuss tariff alterations? These changes have a far-reaching effect on the community, and the alteration submitted to-night is about the tenth brought down by the present Government. Over a year has elapsed since the first of the recent alterations was made: surely this Parliament is entitled to determine what taxation is to be imposed upon the people. The statements made concerning recent alterations axe such that the matter should be debated in this House at the earliest opportunity. I refer particularly to the duties on glass and timber. Parliament should lose no time in getting down to bedrock with regard to the tariff. {: #debate-49-s2 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- Since the House is adjourning early to-night, I am taking this opportunity to protest against the heartless discharge of returned soldiers, particularly from the Postmaster-General's Department. I asked in the House to-day how many men had been dismissed since the 30th June last, and I received the astounding reply that the services of 1,429 returned soldiers alone had been dispensed with. I have here a joint letter from 36 men who have been dismissed from the mail room of the General Post Office , Melbourne. Although they were classed as temporary employees, they had been in the department over two years, and were therefore, entitled to be classed as permanent members of the Service. They were thoroughly qualified for their. work, and although the Superintendent of Mails did his best to have them retained, the policy of the Government had to be carried out, and they were discharged. The Acting Treasurer has referred to-day to the savings that have been effected in this department. This is how they are being made. These men were classed as temporary employees. Others who could have gone to the front, but elected to remain behind, are now permanent officers of the department, while ex-soldiers are thrown on the industrial scrap-heap. The 36 men to whom I have referred, some of whom are partially incapacitated, have 74 dependent children. The number of unemployed has grown from 12 per cent, to 20 per cent, since the present Government has been in office.. Many of the men to whom I am particularly referring are partially incapacitated, and unable to follow their old trades. Having been taken into the Government Service, they have learned a Dew job. How are they to find other employment at such a time? If these dismissals effected direct economy, there might be some slight justification for them, although, personally, I see very small reason for the action taken ; but these men were in receipt of only the basic wage. They were getting only about £4 13s. 6d. per week. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- They were temporary employees. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Yes; but, under the classification, employees in the Service are regarded as temporary until they have been appointed under section 68(9)c of the Public Service Act. They may be classified as permanent after two years' service, and the men on whose behalf I am speaking . have periods of service ranging from two to thirteen years. Yet this Government has shamelessly thrown them aside, under a pretence of economy. I have written to the Postmaster-General on this matter, and I admit that I have received replies to my communications, hut they were indefinite and unsatisfactory in the extreme to all these men. The reply in each case was that the matter would be investigated; but not one of the men has been reinstated. One of them, who is resident in my own electorate, came to my house last Sunday to complain that he would be finishing up with the department in about a week. Both his legs have been amputated at the thighs. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- I suppose that he receives a pension. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- Yes ; but would any honorable member sacrifice both his legs for a sum less than the amount fixed as the basic wage for an ordinary labourer? The pensions paid to incapacitated exsoldiers have no relation to the matter which I am discussing and are in the nature of a war reparation. If the Government is looking at it in that light, and considering whether the men it is dismissing are in receipt of war pensions, it is taking an extremely unfair view. As I have said, 1,429 returned soldiers have been dismissed from the PostalDepartment, and nearly as many more have been discharged from the Public Works Department. If there were no alternative, the Government might be justified in saying that retrenchment of a temporary character was necessary in order to economize. But are there not alternatives? The men who were receiving £4 13s. 6d. a week in the mail room have been replaced by men from other branches - permanent linesmen - who know nothing about the work, and are being paid up to £6 a week. Thus the Government is securing less efficiency than before for an increased expenditure on wages. Since rationing has been introduced in the Defence Department among staff-officers and sergeant-majors, surely it might reasonably be adopted in other Government departments, instead of throwing returned soldiers aside. In nearly every instance these men are buying their homes through State institutions, and they have numerous dependants. Would it not be infinitely fairer to introduce a system of rationing in the department ? Every loyal public servant realizes that, owing to the drop in price levels, and the unparalleled unemployment, the time has come when he must accept a cut in his salary. Mouths ago in this House, and before this Government accepted the policy of a reduction of parliamentary salaries, I suggested that they should be reduced, and the Opposition made a proposal accordingly. The Government has agreed to a reduction of members' salaries, but it refrains from making any cut in the wages of the unionists connected with the Public Service Associa tions. I believe that every loyal public servant would agree to a reduction in his salary rather than that returned soldiers should be sacrificed because of their misfortune in being classed as temporary employees. The Government should be strong enough to say that it would ration the departments all round, so that the men to whom I have referred might continue in employment until better times come. Some months ago, when the Government withdrew the policy of preference to returned soldiers in the Public Service, the returned men throughout Australia objected to its action, and the Opposition unanimously opposed it. The Prime Minister eventually altered his decision, and agreed to give the soldiers the preference that they deserved; but the present action of the Government suggests that ex-soldiers are to be thrown piecemeal, instead of on a grand scale, upon the industrial scrap-heap. I ask the Minister to explain his action and to consider the re-employment of these unfortunate men. {: #debate-49-s3 .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH:
Ballarat .- I deplore the fact that, not only returned soldiers, but also other employees in the Post Office are being dismissed. A number of these employees, many of whom I am personally acquainted with, have their homes half paid for, but these will be sacrificed. The Government will have to look for a new method of governing the country, and that very shortly, in order to prevent the wholesale dismissals that are taking place. I amhopeful that the necessary action will be taken at a very early date, and that some honorable members opposite, who are deploring the dismissals that have been made for some months past, will support the Government in some of its new proposals for the purpose of finding money to help keep these men employed. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Any sound proposal will be supported. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Gullett)** was a member of a government that dismissed hundreds of returned soldiers from the departments. Ninety of them were dismissed months before the present Government came into office, and the anti-Labour returned soldiers' association in Melbourne refused to take up their case. It was not prepared to do anything that might injure the Nationalist Government then in power. The late Government, in which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition waa Minister for Trade and Customs, had given 1,400 returned soldiers notice of dismissal, when the present Ministry took, office, but the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Lyons)** cancelled those orders for dismissal {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- They have gone since. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- Circumstances have compelled such action. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- "What about the promise of work for all? {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- I hope that that promise will very shortly be fulfilled. The Labour Government will have fallen down on its job if it does not bring about a big improvement in regard to employment. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- The unemployed now number 20 per cent. The figures have increased month by month. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- Unfortunately, that is true; but the policy of reduced wages and longer hours of employment advocated by the party opposite, would accentuate the problem. The difficulty is that we are producing too much. There are returned soldiers, and other armies of unemployed in need of rations and boots. Could not the Defence Department's factories easily turn out hundreds of blankets and boots? There is something wrong with the social system when so many members of the community are compelled to go without necessaries of life. I am hopeful that Labour will come forward with a policy that will result in a strong attempt to solve this terrible problem. I deplore the fact that not only returned soldiers, but many other workers are being dismissed. Thousands of young men who were not of military age even when the war ended, and therefore could not have enlisted are being dismissed; they too are deserving of consideration. I would that the Postmaster-General could accede to the request that returned soldiers should be retained in the positions they have filled satisfactorily for years past, but I know his difficulties, and I cannot sit silent while he and the Government are charged with initiating a policy of sacking returned soldiers. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- In big numbers. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- The wholesale dismissal of returned soldiers was the policy of the Nationalist-Country party Ministry. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- The honorable member cannot honestly say that that was the policy of the last Government. He himself cannot believe that. {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- In one batch 90 returned soldiers were dismissed by the last Government; their eight years of service in the department did not count. The previous Postmaster-General **(Mr. Gibson)** made the blunder of holding examinations for cadet mechanics and the department was filled with boys who to-day are qualified and experienced. To provide work for them returned soldiers have to be dismissed. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- Has that policy been changed yet? {: .speaker-KRD} ##### Mr McGRATH: -- No examination for cadet mechanics has been held since the present Government assumed office. It has realized that too many boys were being taken into the department for whom employment had to be found when they became qualified. That could be done only by dismissing returned soldiers and others whose employment was semipermanent. If the Postmaster-General can see his way clear to retain the services of returned soldiers and others who have received notice of dismissal, and even reemploy those dismissed by the previous and present Governments, I shall be glad. {: #debate-49-s4 .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT:
Henty .- I warmly endorse the appeal to the PostmasterGeneral by the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White),** and regret that the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. McGrath)** did not see fit to support the plea without making an attack upon the last Government. I admit frankly that many temporary men in the Postal Department and other public services who became redundant were put' off from time to time by the last Government; but there is a vast difference between laying off returned soldiers at a time when employment was relatively normal and dismissing them to-day when there is no reasonable probability of their securing work. In the past, when men who had been dismissed approached honorable members, we were able to do something for them. By appealing to the PostmasterGeneral or the Deputy-Directors of Postal Services, I and other honorable members have helped many men to get employment. To-day, there are no openings for the men who have been displaced. I appeal particularly on behalf of the 36 men who are being dismissed from the mail room at the General Post Office in Melbourne. As the honorable member for Balaclava has said, all are returned soldiers. I doubt if one of them will be able to obtain outside employment, and there can be no real economy in the national interest in smashing up the homes of these men, and, in a material sense, destroying their families. Of course, money must be saved in the government departments, and I appeal to the Postmaster-General to institute a system of rationing employment which will enable the services of the threatened men to be retained. It is almost incredible that if a plea were made to the 300 or 400 men employed in the mail room they would not agree to a certain loss of time in order to help the 36 men who served their country during the war, and -are now being deprived of their livelihood. One case that has come under my notice is that of a returned soldier with ten years of service in the mail room. In all but the technical sense he is h permanent servant of the Commonwealth. He has five children between the ages of two and twelve years, and his home is partly paid for. He qualified as *a* permanent officer of the department, but failed in the final medical examination because of partial deafness, due to shellshock. That was an absurd disqualification for the work of mail sorting. Now lie is classed as a temporary employee, and is one of the 36 selected for dismissal. If the Postmaster-General would take action in regard to this matter he would experience no difficulty. He should impose rationing arbitrarily; but, if he is reluctant to do that, I hope he will assure the House that he will plead with the permanent employees to share their employment with their fellows in this distressful time. I beg of him at least to reconsider the dismissals retrospectively for a certain time with a view 'to re-engaging those whose services have been dispensed with during the last few months. {: #debate-49-s5 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP .- 1 had intended to raise this matter, for I am sure that, amongst the various ghastly surprises which honorable members received to-day, were the answers to questions relating to the number of dismissals from the Public Service in recent months. I very much regret that the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. McGrath)** saw fit to carry this matter into the arena of party politics. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- What are the speeches that have been delivered on the Opposition side but endeavours to gain a party advantage ? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- Unemployment is an issue that is above party politics, and there was no suggestion of party tactics in the speeches delivered by the honorable members for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** and Henty **(Mr. Gullett).** When 20 per cent, of the bread-winners throughout the Commonwealth are out of. employment, honorable members surely have hearts and brains big enough to place the interests of country before those of party! On the 7th May the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin),** in the course of a statement in the House on the subject of preference to returned soldiers, said - >The conditions in contracts will, therefore, be that preference shall be given, first to returned soldiers and sailors, and, secondly, to members of trade unions. This will also apply to employment and dismissals in the Public Service. To-day dismissals are of more concern to the returned soldiers than are new appointments. The circumstances under which the Government was forced to face the issue of preference to returned soldiers must be fresh in the memory of honorable members. But sufficient consideration does not seem to have been given to the reasons why returned soldiers are merely temporary employees. Men who could have gone to the war, but remained behind, filled the Public Service during the years 1914-18, and when the soldiers returned the best that Parliament could do for them was to give them temporary employment. Many of them have been temporary for ten or twelve years, and now, when the axe fulls, they are the first, to feel it. {: .speaker-KMU} ##### Mr Marks: -- Nearly all the returned soldiers have been sacked. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- They are the first to suffer. Of 1,500 temporary employees recently dismissed, nearly every one "was a returned soldier. That is their reward for having served their country in its time of peril. Those who did not take the risk of going overseas were appointed permanently to the Public Service. {: .speaker-JVT} ##### Mr Nelson: -- By what government? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- That policy continued under various governments; but it is of no advantage to seek to allot the responsibility for it. The chaps who went to the other side to serve their country in a larger sphere than the Public Service are now being thrown on a glutted labour market. In accordance with the promise made by the Prime Minister on the 7 th May last, I suggest t hat the Ministry should give effect to the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee in its report on temporary employment, that section 84, sub-section 9, paragraph *c,* of the Public Service Act should be put into operation. That paragraph provides for preference to " returned soldiers who have been temporarily employed continuously for not less than two years but have not passed the prescribed examination, and in respect of whom the Chief Officer certifies that their duties have been performed in a satisfactory manner." It is not too late for the Government to take action in accordance with the recommendation of the committee ; if that is done the returned soldiers can take their chance with the other permanent employees in the Service. In this way relief would be afforded to a large number of men who rightly feel that they are not being fairly dealt by. After a decade of continuous and satisfactory service, chaps who did something in the Great "War are being sacrificed by the Government because of a financial and economic depression which, I believe, is only temporary. Rationing of work has been carried out in other branches of the Public Service, both Commonwealth and State. This Government instituted it in the Defence Department, and peculiarly enough, it affected the returned men and not the civilian employees of that department. It appears to me that this policy of retrenchment is to apply only to returned men. The Ministry should adopt the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee and make the returned men who are left in the Service - and there are not many of them - permanent employees; it should give them at least an equal chance with those who remained at home during the war, when rationing of work or retrenchment is to take place. I appeal on behalf of ex-service men who are temporary and not permanent employees of the Public Service, only because they served their country overseas. {: #debate-49-s6 .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr LATHAM:
Kooyong .- The point which I am submitting for the consideration of the Postmaster-General is founded upon information which I have received from Sydney and upon which I am basing a question which will appear on the notice-paper at an early date. 1 mention it now because the question of the dismissals of returned soldiers and others from employment in the Postal Department has been raised. I have been informed that since the beginning of September last, about 700 returned soldiers have been dismissed from the Postal Department in New South Wales. At the same time, I am told that on Sunday, 12th September last, 300 permanent men were paid overtime rates at a cost to the department of some £600. I do not know whether the PostmasterGeneral is in a position to say whether that information is correct, but I can hardly expect that he would be aware of it unless it had been especially brought under his notice. I ask. that inquiries be made into this matter. While I recognize that sometimes a special rush in respect of a particular mail may mean that overtime has to be worked by permanent employees, I submit that every effort should be made to so arrange the work of the department as to afford men who would otherwise not be employed an opportunity to earn some money. I have no wish to take part in certain recriminations which, I am sorry to say. have been used in the course of this discussion, although I could say something in answer to what has been said by the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. McGrath).** I, therefore, content myself by merely asking the PostmasterGeneral to consider this matter of overtime with a view to seeing whether it is possible to employ some of the temporary men instead of working permanent men overtime. {: #debate-49-s7 .speaker-KMU} ##### Mr MARKS:
Wentworth .- I wish to support honorable members who *have* spoken about the dismissal of returned soldiers from the Public Service. My appeal to the Postmaster-General is for the limbless men in particular. It was only this afternoon that the honorable member for Martin **(Mr. Eldridge)** brought under my notice the case of one of my constituents living at North Bondi. He is a limbless man, who this week received notice of dismissal from the Works Department. He has an excellent record and yet he is being dismissed. If there is any section of the returned men who should be kept in employment, it is the limbless men and I should be quite prepared to forgo, not merely 10 per cent., but 20 or 30 per cent, of my salary, as a parliamentarian, if by so doing I could prevent their dismissal. A man who has lost a limb or is blind in one eye has not much chance of obtaining work. I realize the difficulties with which the Postmaster-General is faced, but I urge him to try to do something for the limbless men. I rose principally to ask the Minister for Defence a question. Now that H.M.A.S. *Canberra* is not to be sent home to join the British fleet, I wish to know how it is intended that the midshipmen who were to travel to England by that vessel shall receive their training. It is an essential training and I wish to know whether the non-despatch of this vessel will in any way detrimentally affect the training of our midshipmen? {: #debate-49-s8 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS:
PostmasterGeneral and Acting Treasurer · Wilmot · ALP -- I shall make inquiries into the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Latham).** Of course, the policy of the post office at the present time is to dispense with overtime as far as practicable, and to exercise economy in every direction. In regard to the question raised by the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** and other honorable members let me say that no one regrets more than I do that returned men in the Postal Department or Public Service generally should be dismissed. When I took office, I found that the programme of works provided by the previous Government, and the amount of loan money made available, would have entailed the dismissal of 1,700 mcn, mainly returned soldiers, soon after Christmas. I was concerned about the position, and, with the backing of the head of the Postal Department, I strongly urged the then Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore)** to do something for these men. While" it was very difficult to find any additional money at that time, he made special efforts on their behalf, and was successful in making available sufficient to enable us to keep them employed practically to the end of the financial year instead of to the end of the calendar year. So that we did, by our special efforts, provide employment for these men for another six months. Honorable members know perfectly well that there are two reasons why we cannot continue to employ them. The first reason is that loan money is not available. As I pointed out in my statement to-day, we are cutting down the total Commonwealth expenditure in respect of the works programme of all departments to £2,623,000. Not so long ago the. post office, alone, could have provided for a works programme costing £4,000,000. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- We recognize that the dismissal of men engaged in the Works Department is inevitable. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- We are anxious to keep these men employed. Only returned soldiers are affected because they received preference of employment. But now that their work has come to an end, they must be dismissed. We have done everything possible to keep them employed. To-day, we cannot raise the necessary money for that purpose. Even if it were available we could not profitably expend it, because the demand for postal services is decreasing all round, and, where a few months ago we could have expended money to provide facilities for the people, to-day their provision would be unjustified. They would be unproductive, because nobody requires them now. Because of the depression and a decrease of postal business, we are up against the problem of surplus permanent employees. In some cases, weare employing our trained mechanics on work which previously had been carried out by temporary employees. I am not out to make any political capital of this question. I am telling the truth us I see it. We are compelled by the law as it stands, not to employ a temporary hand while there is a surplus permanent hand in the Service. I did not make the law. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The work of the permanent men could be rationed. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- It is utterly impossible to ration work between temporary and permanent men. The act will not allow us to employ temporary hands, when there are surplus permanent hands, and while we have temporary employees there can be no justification for rationing permanent employees. It is too late in the day to raise this question. As has already been pointed out, returned men have been dismissed in the past because their services were no longer required. They are being dismissed to-day and no one regrets that more than I do. Our present financial position precludes their employment. How can we attempt to balance the budget for the year if we keep in employment men whom we cannot properly utilize? We cannot exercise economy if we employ two men where there should be only one man. Honorable members cannot have it both ways. It has been suggested, as an alternative to dismissal, that the work of the Public Service should be rationed. The Government did institute rationing for temporary hands in order to keep them employed as long as possible, but their employment is now at an end. There are no works to be carried out. We have surplus permanent employees, and we are compelled to find work for them. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Is the law against rationing ? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- The law will not allow us to employ temporary hands while there are surplus permanent hands. We are at a dead end. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- It is the trade unions that we are up against. They have complete control. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- Surely the honorable member does not say that the trade unions are responsible for the law as it stands to-day. This Parliament passed the law. The act provides opportunities for returned men to qualify for permanent appointment. Many of them did not take the trouble to qualify, believing that because they had been employed for a number of years there was little likelihood of their dismissal. No one anticipated the existing depression. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- There are men suffering a partial disability who could not qualify. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- I am not responsible for the law; it was made before I took office. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr.R. Green) said that the best that could be done for these returned men was to make them temporary employees. That was done by past Governments. Why was no objection raised at the time ? {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- The Public Accounts Committee has made a recommendation to Parliament. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- Even if the question has been raised before, Parliament has evidently decided to maintain the law as it was passed. I am compelled to administer the law, and any member of the Ministry must carry it out. That is all there is to it. If Parliament is prepared to alter the law, that is another proposition altogether. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- A bill could be passed to amend the Public Service Bill. {: .speaker-JLY} ##### Mr Anstey: -- The law passed by the honorable member's Government prevented these men from becoming permanent employees. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- But the law could be altered now. {: .speaker-JLY} ##### Mr Anstey: -- Why did not the previous Government' alter it ? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- I did everything I possibly could to keep these men in employment until the last moment. We adopted the rationing system with that special object, because we preferred that each should give up something than that some should give up all. While the law remains as at present there is nothing more that we can do. {: .speaker-KZO} ##### Mr Latham: -- During the last election campaign honorable members opposite said that a Labour Government would not dismiss any of these men. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- I can only speak for myself. I gave no such undertaking, and I have kept the men on as long as possible. I am quite prepared now to go into the whole matter with the departmental heads to see whether something more cannot be done for these men, but the fact remains that I am obliged to administer the act as I find it. Mr.White. - The department could at least ration the temporary men still employed so as to avoid the dismissal of some of these men. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- That can be looked into. We have done everything that we can possibly do to avoid dismissals. If any other suggestions can be made they will be carefully considered. {: #debate-49-s9 .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
Minister for Defence · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- In reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Marks)** with reference to the stopping of the *Canberra* from going to Malta for exchange duty, I only wish to say that the whole matter was governed by financial considerations. The policy of exchanging vessels has been followed in the past, and naval ratings and officers have been sent to the Old Country for experience. We have no money for that purpose at present. It would have involved the country in considerable expense to exchange the *Canberra* for the *Shropshire.* We should have had to pay the salaries and wages of our. officers and men overseas, and with the heavy exchange rates at present obtaining the cost would have been much greater than under normal conditions. It might be said that the men on the *Shropshire* would be spending their money in Australia, but their remuneration is on a much lower scale than the pay of our men, and the Government felt that it was not justified in putting the country to heavy expense in this connexion under existing circumstances. There would, of course, also be heavy expense in connexion with oil fuel, and other things. While the policy of exchanging ships is good its continuance could not be justified under present conditions. {: .speaker-KMU} ##### Mr Marks: -- How does the Government propose to train midshipmen, if they are not sent home. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- They get a very good training in Australian waters. Next month a number of them will be sent on duty near Tasmania, where they will come into contact with the men on a couple of New Zealand boats. The rubbing of shoulders with these men will not be costly, and will be beneficial to both services. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 9.35p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 November 1930, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1930/19301105_reps_12_127/>.