Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) cook the chair at 3 p.m., and offered prayers.
NEW SOUTHWALES FINANCE
Mr SCULLIN: Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP
– by leave - After an interview with the Premier of New South Wales yesterday regarding the financial necessities of his State, I sent the following telegram to all members of the Loan Council:
Following is summary of letter dated 15th July, received by Commonwealth Treasurer from Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales: -
During recent conference of Premiers it was generally understood that, providing governments reduced deficits from £40,000,000 to £15,000,000, banks would carry respective governments during current financial year. Assuming deficits are reduced to £15,000,000, leeway will be greater during first half of year, and, consequently, greater accommodation than £15,000,000 will be required between July and December, but accommodation so provided will be lessened during second half of year. I am enclosing estimate of receipts and expenditure of New South Wales for period 1st July to 30th September, from which it will be seen that, apart from non-payment of London exchange and interest and the amounts withheld by the Commonwealth from this State, we will require approximately £500,000 during July, further £2,000,000 during August, and further £1,000,000 during September. Amount for August includes local interest amounting to over £750,000 due on 10th August. In order to meet this it will be necessary to obtain substantial proportion of August requirements early during that month. Present position of this State is that unless £500,000 is provided immediately we will be unable to pay salaries and wages next week. Salary pay day falls 23rd July, but wages have to be paid practically every day. I have approached general managers of Bank of New South Wales and Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, but they point out that arrangement is that accommodation required by any government must be dealt with through Commonwealth Bank by issue of Commonwealth treasury-bills. In view of foregoing I shall be glad if you could assist this State by arranging, if possible, for issue of treasury-billsto the extent of £500,000 within next few days, and further amount of £2,000,000 in August, of which £1,000,000 will he required before 10th of that month. In regard to debt conversion, over £4,000,000 matures in this State on 10th August. I am inclined to think many holders will seek repayment, and this is a question which will require your earnest consideration as it is impossible for the State to pay off any portion of the loan.
To-day, at consultation with Mr. Lang, I informed him Commonwealth itself has no moneys available for loan to any State, but is itself borrowing from its bankers. I also pointed out that, as set out in resolutions of Loan Council meeting of 26th February last, provision of funds for advances to any State is a matter for Loan Council and not for Commonwealth Government; also that Loan Council had declared it could not arrange further borrowing on behalf of New South Wales until it is clear the State is prepared to honour its interest obligations. I undertook to submit present request of New South Wales for funds to Loan Council, together with any information likely to assist members of Loan Council in coming to decision. In regard to plan adopted by Premiers Conference, Premier of New South Wales states he proposes introducing this week legislation covering conversion agreement, trustees and private interest, and at earliest possible moment, legislation providing for economies in expenditure. This latter would be on lines indicated’ at Premiers Conference, namely, reduction to £500 of all Public Service salaries above that amount and such further economies as are necessary to secure total economies of 20 per cent. Premier also advised he would submit to his Cabinet and party, question of New South Wales rejoining Loan Council, and question of New South Wales assuming responsibility for payment of interest oversea. I consider it essential that meeting of Loan Council be held at early date to consider questions arising out of Premier’s letter and my conference with him; but, pending that meeting, early decision is desired whether Loan Council will approve issue of treasury-bills for £500,000 to cover immediate requirements of New South Wales. If Loan Council so approved, Commonwealth Bank would be approached with view to seeing whether, in conjunction with other banks, it would arrange sale of treasury-bills for £500,000 for Government of New South Wales. Immediately I receive advice from Premier of -New South Wales regarding the two questions on which he is consulting Cabinet and party, I will again communicate with you. This telegram has been seen by Mr. Lang.
for Chairman, Loan Council.
I am now awaiting further advice from Mr. Lang.
Mr LAZZARINI: WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES
– In view of the repeated statement that the Premier of New South Wales is asking for assistance from the Commonwealth Government, will the Prime Minister say whether it is not a fact that Mr. Lang is merely asking the Commonwealth to discount treasurybills issued by the Government of New South Wales for which that Government will be responsible?
Mr.SCULLIN- That, to some extent, describes the situation, but the treasurybills must be issued in the name of the Commonwealth Government, which will be legally responsible for their payment. The Commonwealth Government will be in exactly the same position in relation to such bills as it is to the consolidated State debts ; it will be responsible for the return of the principal and the payment of interest. This Government is not prepared to assume any further responsibility in regard to New South Wales, until Mr. Lang indicates his readiness to accept responsibility for past as well as for future loans.
Mr R GREEN: RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP
– Will the Prime Minister assure the House that, as a representative of the Commonwealth on the Loan Council he will not agree to any moneys being made available to New South Wales until certain specific legis lation has been actually introduced into the Parliament of that State.
– I received an assurance from the Premier of New South Wales yesterday that that legislation would be commenced to-day, and 1 am now waiting to hear what legislation is to be introduced. I have sent to the other Premiers a telegram to-day, pointing out that the successful launching of the Conversion Loan will be greatly prejudiced if the legislation for the plan is not proceeded with, and carried immediately. I urged that it was most important that all bills in all State Parliaments should be passed through all stages this week.
WHEAT MARKETING BILL
Mr CROUCH: CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA
– I ask the Minister for Markets whether the rejection by the farmers of New South Wales of the proposed State wheat pool will affect the Government’s intentions regarding the Wheat Marketing Bill?
Mr PARKER MOLONEY: HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP
– No ; the Wheat Marketing Bill only requires the consent of three States to the establishment of a Commonwealth wheat pool.
Mr KILLEN: RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES
– Will the result of the wheat pool ballot in New South Wales be taken by this Government as an expression of the opinion of the farmers of that State in respect to the Commonwealth pool, without a further vote being taken?
Mr PARKER MOLONEY: HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP
– The honorable member’s question shall receive my close consideration.
Use of Government Motor Cars
Mr GABB: ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
– I ask the Minister for Home Affairs if, on the 27th May last, a government motor car from Canberra was waiting at the Blayney railway station to receive the Minister on his return from a visit to the Broken Hill portion of his electorate? Did the Minister, because heavy rain had fallen that day, continue the journey by train, reaching Canberra via Sydney? Is it the practice of the Minister to use motor cars on journeys of this character, involving between 300 and 400 miles of travel, when trains are available?
Mr BLAKELEY: DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES
– The incident to which the honorable member refers occurred while the House was in session. For several reasons I was desirous of arriving in Canberra on the night of the day mentioned, and, therefore, arranged for a motor car to meet me at Blayney; but the rain made it impossible to travel to Canberra by road. It is not the custom to use cars for long journeys, except on special occasions such as that.
EMERGENCY ECONOMY LEGISLATION
Attitude of the Opposition.
Mr KEANE: BENDIGO, VICTORIA
– The following statement appeared in the Melbourne Argus on Friday last: - “ During the passing of the economy measures in the Federal Parliament,” said Mr. Lyons, “ The Opposition had been forced to keep on deck, and act as watchdogs to ensure the presence of a quorum.”
I ask the Prime Minister whether that statement is correct, and how often the Leader of the Opposition has been in this chamber since he usurped his position?
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– I am not certain whether, as Prime Minister, I should answer that question. I have not seen the paragraph referred to. The Leader of the Opposition, like the leaders of all political parties, no doubt is claiming as much credit as he can for his own party for the passage of legislation. 1 must acknowledge that the Opposition assisted the Government in passing the emergency legislation quite as ably as did the members of my own party.
Canned Fish : Government Purchases
Mr LATHAM: KOOYONG, VICTORIA
-Will the Government give consideration to the serious disability imposed under the Sales Tax Assessment Acts, upon houses that are both wholesale and retail - particularly in South Australia and Western Australia - which has been brought about by treating the proprietors of such houses as wholesalers only, where the greater proportion of the trade is wholesale in character? The Prime Minister is aware, doubtless, that in certain cases, severe hardship will follow the imposition of the sales tax at increased rates.
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– I shall give consideration to the matter. We shall be able to discuss such details when the bill is at the committee stage.
Mr BAYLEY: OXLEY, QUEENSLAND
– Has the Prime Minister yet given consideration to the request of the Fishermen’s Co-operative Association, South Brisbane, that canned fish should be exempt from the provisions of the sales tax? On the 28th May last the association wrote asking that consideration be given to this matter.
– Yes ; consideration has been given to this, among 500 other requests which have been dealt with. When one item of canned food is proposed to be exempted, we receive requests for the exemption of many other kinds of canned products.
Mr WHITE: BALACLAVA, VICTORIA
– Since exemption is granted under the bill to goods purchased by the Government of the Commonwealth or a government of a State, will the Government consider extending the exemption to purchases by municipal councils? I understand that the Victorian Municipal Association has already written to the Treasurer on this matter.
– All these points will be considered when the hill is before the chamber. A considerable number of exemptions have been granted to both State governments and municipal authorities, and the result has been that we have had to increase the rate of tax by 1 per cent, in order to obtain the required revenue. The greater the exemption we give, the higher must be the rate of tax; or, alternatively, the greater the increase in the income tax.
Mr MARTENS: HERBERT, QUEENSLAND
– Will the Prime Minister have compiled, if it has not already been done, a list showing the number of licences issued since the 30th June last?
Mr BRENNAN: Attorney-General · BATMAN, VICTORIA · ALP
– I think that particulars have been compiled almost to date, showing the licences issued, and the different classes entitled to them, under the new preferential system. I shall make a copy of the particulars available to the honorable member.
SOVIET FRUIT DUMPING
– The following statement appeared in the Melbourne Herald yesterday : -
Eliminating Australian Competition
Encouraged by the success of Australian fruits in the English market, the Soviet, says the Moscow correspondent of the Daily Mail, is preparing to attack with extensive dumping of fresh fruit and dried fruits from Central Asia. Orders have been issued to the effect, “ that costs and home requirements must be disregarded. Fruit means foreign currency - Russia’s most vital need.” The Russians hope that dumping will remove the competition, at least of Australian dried fruits from the market next season.
If the Minister has seen that statement, does he intend to ask Cabinet to petition the British Government to place an embargo on such dumping, so that the market for Australian fruits may be safeguarded ?
Mr PARKER MOLONEY: HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP
– The paragraph just read by the honorable member is being considered by my department.
Mr PROWSE: FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– In the interests of members living in distant States will the Prime Minister state when this Government is likely to get through its business and when the House will rise for a recess adjournment? Railway bookings in certain States can be made only twice weekly.
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– It is difficult to make a forecast. When Ave get through the essential emergency legislation, we can, I think, adjourn for four weeks. During most of that time the conversion of the Commonwealth loans will be taking place, and subsequently there will have to be meetings of the Loan Council and a Premiers Conference to consider the result of the conversion, and other matters arising out of it. That will occupy the period for which the House will be adjourned. If we bend our energies to this end, .the House should be able to rise some time towards the end of next week, and it might be possible for honorable members, hy throwing greater energy into their work, to so expedite business as to enable it to rise at the end of this week. I do not propose, however, that the work shall be scamped, or that undue pressure shall be put on honorable members by a series of all-night sittings, because the legislation that we are passing is important. One all-night sitting is, as a rule, quite enough.
Mr Archdale Parkhill:
– What about the tariff?
– My suggestion is to rise for four weeks, and then to resume to clear up matters arising out of the loan conversion, and afterwards to deal with the tariff. I have received requests from a number of honorable members of every party to make an opportunity for them to visit their homes for at least two or three weeks.
– We should adjourn for two or three months.
– We shall probably do that later. The session has been long drawn-out, but we are living in abnormal times. The Debt Conversion Bill has to be proclaimed. It cannot be proclaimed until we get the Debt Conversion Agreement, which I hope to bring down to-day. We are waiting to hear from the Premier of Western Australia before we can go ahead. There are various bills arising out of the budget, the sales tax and income tax legislation particularly, to be passed. There is also a small amendment of the Gold Bounty Act; the bill providing for it will be introduced in a few moments. The Attorney-General has a small amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to introduce, and we have also to pass the Wheat Marketing Bill.
– Is the Government going on with that?
– -The Minister for Markets will explain why. The resolution dealing with dominion legislation must be passed. I gave notice to-day of a small amendment to the Public Service Act, but that should go through in a few minutes. Then we have the Estimates to consider. When we have disposed of all those pieces of legislation, we shall be able to rise for four weeks.
IMPORTATION OP RUSSIAN TIMBER
Mr JONES: INDI, VICTORIA · ALP
– I am still receiving protests from my constituents against the importation of Russian timber into Australia, and, as the Minister for Trade and Customs has promised to make a full inquiry into the matter, will he state what stage this inquiry has reached?
Mr FORDE: Minister for Trade and Customs · CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP
– The invoices showing the value of timber imported from Russia have not yet arrived. The timber is not being offered for sale, and security to the amount of 10s. per 100 superficial feet has been demanded by the department. Instructions have been issued that delivery of the timber is not to be given until I have been consulted; so that the industry has no reason to be apprehensive. The Government will see that the Australian timber industry is adequately protected.
REDUCTIONS OF SALARIES, PENSIONS, ETC
Mr D CAMERON: BRISBANE. QLD · NAT
– In order to remove some uncertainty at present existing, will the Prime Minister, seeing that the Financial Emergency Act has been proclaimed on a date- between two pay days, state whether the reduction of salaries, pensions, &c, will apply for the whole of the period covered by the pay, or whether the reduction will be on a pro rata basis from the date of proclamation?
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– The budget was prepared on the assumption that the reduction would be made on the pay day following the proclamation of the act. It is obvious that some of the provisions of the act could not be brought into operation later than others, and a delay of a fortnight would involve a loss of revenue amounting to £200,000. Therefore, the reductions will apply to Public Service salaries, pensions, &c., on the first pay day after the proclamation of the act. In. the case of salaries, the next pay day is Friday, and the reductions will apply to the whole period covered by that pay.
PERMANENT TARIFF COMMISSION
Mr GREGORY: SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– Has the Minister for Customs noticed a report in the press of a speech by Mr. Baldwin at Hull, in which he said that -
He had made up his mind that he would not be head of a government which was “ going to make Great Britain a profiteer’s paradise or parliament a crooks’ corner,.” “We must make the tariff ‘ knave-proof ‘ as far as possible,” he said. “ Therefore, it is essential that the scientific adjustment and adaption of the tariff should be taken from the hands of politicians by the establishment of a permanent non-political tariff commission, the members of which ought to be lifted as far above party politics as His Majesty’s judges.”
In view of this statement will the Minister favorably consider the appointment of a permanent commission, free of party bias? If not, does he consider that Mr. Baldwin has been unduly optimistic in suggesting the possibility of removing tariff questions from political influence.
Mr FORDE: ALP
– I have not read the paragraph quoted by the honorable member; but I have read other newspaper paragraphs purporting to contain the remarks of eminent statesmen of Great Britain - remarks that were to the effect that in their opinion the time had arrived when a little protection would be a good thing for industry in that country. As for the appointment of a tariff commission, I may inform the honorable member that I was so sickened by the multitude of commissions, committees, and boards, numbering 58 in all, which were appointed by the last Government at a cost of £600,000 that I would not consider the appointment of any others.
Mr CURTIN: FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– Is it, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, an essential feature of the rehabilitation plan that the banks shall meet the Government deficits during the current financial year ? If so, does the scheme involve all the banks, the Commonwealth Bank acting in conjunction with them and on their behalf, and is there any limit to the amount of the deficits which the banks will carry?
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– There is an agreement that the Commonwealth Bank, working in conjunction with the other banks, shall carry the Government deficits for this year; but there is, decidedly, a limit to the amount. We were warned, in the first place, that the limit would be reached by the end of June, when the amount would be £25,000,000. At that time the Commonwealth Bank was carrying our deficit - a thing which no other bank was prepared to do, except through the Commonwealth Bank, which traded a portion of the Commonwealth bills to the other institutions, though it carried the bulk of them itself. By the end of June we had reached the limit. During the Premiers Conference in Melbourne the banks agreed that they would continue to carry government deficits if we did not exceed the limit set at that time, which included the £30,000,000 accumulated deficit for last year, which was to be carried until it could be funded as a long-dated loan, and the sum of £14,000,000 or £15,000,000, the estimated deficit for all Australian governments for this financial year. Other conditions were laid down by the banks with regard to the issue of treasury-bills, and there are conditions also to be observed under the Financial Agreement, which is supervised by the Loan Council.
CASE OF JACOB JOHNSON
– I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the newspaper report of a meeting of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne, at which the Jacob Johnson case was considered, which passed the following resolution : -
That the Argus be informed that its subleader of yesterday is false in substance, and apparently designedly prejudicial, inasmuch as there was documentary evidence in the Crown Law Department that Mr. Latham, then Federal Attorney-General, withheld very important material facts from Parliament at that time.
Is there any evidence at all, or any foundation whatever, for the statement that I, as Attorney-General withheld important material facts, or any material facts, from Parliament at any stage.
Mr BRENNAN: ALP
– If the honorable member withheld or suppressed material facts, he must have done it very successfully, because I have no information on the subject, and I have no reason to believe that there is the slightest foundation for the allegation said to have been made by Mr. Clarke, of the Seamen’s Union. May I add that the same gentleman has made, and promulgated a series of quite unfounded, wild, and irresponsible statements about myself so that honours are equal between the present AttorneyGeneral and his predecessor in that high office. Relative to the honorable member’s question is a statement by the Argus, that the inquiry proposed to be held is likely to be entirely vexatious and useless, or words to that effect. The Argus is not in a position to know what the matters are about which inquiry is to take place, and its judgment in that regard is ill-informed and premature.
– When will the Estimates be printed? Time could be saved if honorable members had an opportunity of perusing them some time before they are considered in committee.
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– It is hoped that the Estimates will be ready for distribution on Wednesday, and that we shall proceed to consider them on- Thursday. It has not been possible to have them printed earlier than Wednesday; but as soon as they are to hand, they will be distributed.
BROADCASTING OF POLITICAL SPEECHES
Mr LYONS: WILMOT, TASMANIA
– In the absence of the Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green), I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Postmaster-General’s Department has refused permission to station 5 AD, Adelaide, to broadcast speeches to be delivered at a meeting to be held in Adelaide to-night under the auspices of the Citizens’ League? What are the reasons for this refusal, in view of the fact that permission was given for the broadcasting of speeches made in Adelaide recently by the Premier of New South Wales, or his representative, and by the Treasurer, myself, and others, discussing political topics? Why has this permission been refused to the Citizens’ League to broadcast through a “ B “ class station, and is it possible, even at this stage, to give authority for the broadcasting of it?
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– I am not acquainted with the facts of the case. I understand that in these matters the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. H. P. Brown, exercises his discretion; but I shall inquire into the question raised by the honorable gentleman.
Mr MACKAY: LILLEY, QUEENSLAND
– Is it a fact that the Government has decided against the proclamation of a buffer area in Queens- laud for checking the spread of the buffalo fly? Will the Minister for Home Affairs make available to honorable members the reports of the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Walker, and of Dr. Mackerras?
– The Government has decided, in view of all the circumstances, that the proposed buffer area would not be effective in checking the spread of the buffalo fly; but it has determined to continue, so far as possible, the present biological control, and it is continuing the campaign on those lines. Any honorable member desiring to see the reports referred to may do so on giving notice.
– I had the good fortune to peruse the reports, and I would like to know if the department has considered the advisability of resorting to the spraying suggested by the experts ?
– The Government has considered the whole of the recommendations. It was decided that spraying was the responsibility of the State; but the Commonwealth has offered to the Queeusland Government the services of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, with the view to the preparation of a suitable spray. The advice of the scientists is available to the Queenslaud Government at any time.
PARLIAMENT HOUSE LIFT
Mr R GREEN: RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP
– I bring under your notice, Mr. Speaker, the fact that a lift in the Opposition corridor has been out of commission for three or four, weeks. Since this is causing great inconvenience to many members who desire to use it, will you take steps to have it put in order as soon as possible?
Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin: HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
– I am not aware that one of the lifts is out of order; but if it is, I shall have it put in order immediately.
DUPLICATION OF MEDICAL SERVICES
Mr McGRATH: BALLAARAT, VICTORIA
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the apparent duplication in the medical services of the Commonwealth with those of the States, and the recent enormous growth of the Commonwealth Department of Health, will lie consider the submission of the question of duplication and overstaffing of medical services to the Public Accounts Committee for full investigation and report, so that honorable members may bc in a position to consider such report when the estimates of the Health Department for the present financial year are under review?
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– The functions of the Health Departments of the Commonwealth and States are at present the subject of consideration by the committee arranged by the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers to inquire into the question of overlapping in Commonwealth and State departments.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether the Canadian Governor-General has adopted a special flag, which includes the Canadian emblem?
Whether the Governor-General of the Commonwealth uses on Government House, and generally, the English flag, which already appears as part of the Australian flag?
Is the Australian flag recognized as the national emblem by the King?
Is the English flag more the King’s flag than the Australian flag?
Is there any reason why the Australian flag, which shows its British connexion by the partial use of the English flag, should not bc adopted for Government House use?
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
His Majesty the King lias been pleased to approve that the Governor-General of Canada shall in future fly his own personal flag. The design of the flag consists of the Royal Crest in gold upon a blue ground with the word “ Canada “ underneath.
It is customary for the Governor-General of the Commonwealth to fly the Union flag on Government House. Except on Government House, the Governor-General uses a personal flag, which includes an Australian emblem in the form of a seven-pointed star.
The Union flag is the flag in general use in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Australian flag is significant of the fact that this country is an autonomous nation within, the Commonwealth of Nations.
The question . as to what flag should be flown on Government House will receive consideration.
Reduction of Rents - Rent of Electric Meters
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the recent large reduction in the salaries of public servants, does the Government intend to extend to officers renting government-owned houses at Canberra the benefit of the reduction of interest rates, by decreasing house rents in respect of houses for which the Government is now paying less interest on the capital cost?
If so, what will be the approximate percentage reduction in rent, and will it operate from the date of the salary reduction ?
Will a reduction in interest be also made in respect of houses in Melbourne purchased by the Government from officers transferred to Canberra, and sold on terms to other persons ?
– These matters are receiving consideration.
– On the 17 th July, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Cusack) asked me the following questions, upon notice : -
Has he seen the report of the chairman of the Electric Light and Power Supply Corporation Limited, Sydney, reported in the Sydney Horning Herald of the 24th ultimo, wherein it is stated that the directors of that company had decided to dispense with the charge of meter rents, and that the first light and power meter was supplied free to consumers? .
What was the contract price for the supply to the Federal Capital Commission of the household type of electric light and power meter now in use in Canberra?
What is the estimated life of these meters ?
What are the charges made to thehouseholder in Canberra for hire of light and power meters ?
What proportion of this charge represents capital charge, and what proportion represents annual interest charge?
What rate of interest is being charged for the hire of these meters after deduction of capital charge?
In view of the decision of the Sydney Electric Light and Power Supply Corporation Limited, and the general reduction in interest charges, will the Minister be prepared to reconsider the existing high charges made in Canberra for meters?
I am now in a position to advise him as follows : -
The report has since been brought to my notice.
£1 13s.6d. at Canberra.
About seven years. , 4.6d. per month.
Interest,1s. 9d. ; obsolescence, 4s.; ad justments, 3d. per annum.
No additional charges are made over and above those shown in answer to question 6 which are necessary to provide for interest and renewal of the meters at the end of their useful life.
In view of answers given to Nos. 5 and 0, the charge for meter rent is not considered high, and it is not proposed to make any reduction at present.
TOWNSVILLE STOCK EXPERIMENTAL STATION
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth Government has decided to take control of the Queensland Government Stock Experimental Station at Townsville, Queensland, for the purpose of scientific investigation of problems affecting cattle production?
If so, will he give particularsof the arrangement entered into with the Queensland Government ?
Mr SCULLIN: ALP
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The Commonwealth Government has arranged with the Queensland Government for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to take over the Stock Experimental Station at Townsville, Queensland, for the purpose of scientific investigation of problems affecting cattle production. This arrangement is conditional upon the Queensland Government providing a sum of £1.000 per annum and private interests, including the Pastoralists Association, meat companies, &c, contributing up to £4,000 per annum. The Empire Marketing Board will contribute for a period of five years up to £5,000 per annum on a £1 for £1 basis to match the money contributed by the Queensland Government and the private interests.
See reply to No. 1.
RELIEF OF UNEMPLOYED
Mr SCULLIN: YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936
– On the 8th July, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked me the following question, upon notice: -
Will the Prime Minister obtain the following information for the House: -
The allowances made to the unemployed single and married men and women, in the various States, and the allowances made for children.
Are there any obstacles raised or objections made to claims for unemployed allowances being paid to men and women who have no permanent address through inability to pay rent?
Replies have now been received from the State Premiers setting out the position in their respective States, and a summarized statement has been placed on the table of the Library for the information of the honorable member.
FINANCIAL EMERGENCY BILL
GOLD BOUNTY BILL (No. 2)
Mr FORDE: Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Towards the close of last year an act was passed for the purpose of providing a bounty to encourage the extension and development of the gold-mining industry in Australia. Shortly afterwards Senator Daly, who was then responsible for its administration, called a conference in Melbourne of the Ministers of Mines of the various States, and representatives of the gold-mining industry. Certain members of the conference were appointed to a gold council to consider the welfare of the industry and advise the Government. The conference made a number of suggestions for the amendment of the act and the regulations made pursuant to it. These suggestions subsequently received the careful consideration of the Government, which accepted some of them and rejected others. This bill gives effect to all the suggestions which received the approval of the Government.
As honorable members are aware, provision has already been made in the Financial Emergency Act to reduce the gold bounty by 50 per cent. It is only right, however, that in this connexion I should remind honorable members of the following observations which I made last year in moving the second reading of the Gold Bounty Bill:-
The contention has been raised that if the exchange rate increases the rate of bounty should be reduced. The representatives of the industry hold the view that, because of the resultant increase in the cost of living, wages, and other charges, an advance in the exchange rate would not improve their position appreciably, but the Government reserves the right to reconsider the matter in the event of an abnormal rise in the exchange rate.
An abnormal increase in the exchange rate did occur, and this was one of the reasons why in these abnormal, times a reduction of the bounty was justified. The reduction was considered by the representatives of the gold-mining industry, who conferred with the Treasurer on the subject at Canberra. I believe that those gentlemen went away completely satisfied that the fair thing had been done. As honorable members know, the bounty is payable only on the excess over the average production over the last three years. Bounty will he paid for the first six months of 1931 at the rate of £1 per oz., Australian currency, on the excess production over the average production for the years 1928, 1929, and 1930, and for the second six months of the year, and thereafter at the rate of 10s. per oz. Australian currency. But provision has been made that the rate of bounty shall increase at the rate of 1s. per oz. in respect of every decrease of 3 per cent, in the average rate of exchange per cent, below 30 per cent., but shall not in any case exceed £1 per oz. These conditions are provided in the Financial Emergency Act.
One of the proposals made at the conference presided over by Senator Daly was that an Australian gold council should be established for the purpose of advising the Minister responsible for the administration of the Gold Bounty Act. It was suggested that the membership and functions of this council should he as follow : -
To consist of sixteen members - The Minister, a member of the Executive Council, the Minister of Mines for each State, the member for the Northern Territory, and seven representatives of the gold-mining industry.
To advise the Minister on all questions relating to the industry.
To inspect, at request of the Minister, accounts, books and documents of any registered producer.
Council to appoint agents for such purposes and in such places as it saw fit.
Council to appoint such officers as necessary to assist the council.
Council to recommend claims for bounty and claims not recommended not to be paid.
Any dispute between the Minister and a gold-producer, as to compliance with his undertaking, to be referred to the council for a recommendation.
Council to receive up to 5 per cent, of bounty to cover expenses and for other purposes.
Council members to be paid fee for attendance at meeting or when engaged on other bounty business.
Council to receivetravelling allowances.
An executive committee of the council to be formed from the “ industry “ members with such powers and functions as the council decides.
Although some honorable members who arc enthusiastic advocates of the encouragement of the gold-mining industry sincerely believe that such a council should be established, and can, no doubt, advance good reasons in support of their belief, the Government felt that under existing conditions it would not be justified in incurring the heavy expense that would be involved in the setting up of such a body. The Trade and Customs Department, which is responsible for the administration of our bounty legislation, will bo able todo all the necessary work in connexion with the payment of the gold bounty and the checking of claims without setting up an outside body to be financed out of the Treasury payments for bounty. The Government has been promised the active co-operation of the Mines Departments of the various States. In these circumstances, it will not be necessary to engage any additional staff to administer this legislation. If a gold council were established and were authorized to retain 5 per cent, of the gold bounty, it would have an income of £10,000 per annum, assuming that if the payment of gold bounty at the rate of £1 per ounce, involved an expenditure of £200,000, and of £5,000 if it involved an expenditure of £100,000 at the rate of 10s. per ounce. Such a body would doubtless need to call for the assistance of the mining inspectors of the various State Governments. The Government has been promised all the assistance that the State Mines Departments can give it in connexion with the administration of this legislation, and the State mining inspectors will be available to inspect mines and report upon them, and to do anything else that might bo necessary in this direction. The Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Comptroller-General of Customs, will both be able to arrange with the State Governments for the assistance of the State mining officers. [Quorum formed.]
It has been found that several amendments of the act are desirable. The amendments now proposed do not affect the essential substance of the act, but involve matters concerning its practical application. In the first place, it is urgently necessary that the definition of “ licensed gold buyer “ should be extended. The present definition reads “ licensed gold buyer means a person authorized under the law of a State or territory to buy gold “. The effect of this is that in a State where there is no law authorizing persons to buy gold there are no licensed gold buyers for the purposes of this act. The only States which, up to the present, have such a law are Victoria and Western Australia, so that in the other States, until the definition is amplified, there can be no licensed gold buyers to whom producers can sell their gold and obtain therefor the certificates required to enable bounty to be claimed. This disability could be overcome by the Parliaments of New South Wales and Queensland passing legislation to provide for the licensing of gold buyers, similar to the acts . in Western Australia and Victoria, but as they have not taken that action it is deemed advisable that this Parliament should make the necessary provision. The amendment proposed will overcome this difficulty, as banks and others operat- ing in States to which the present definition does not extend can be specified by the Minister as licensed gold buyers for the purposes of the act. It is because of the urgency for action in this direction that the bill is now brought forward. The words proposed to be added to the definition are : - and includes any branch in Australia of His Majesty’s Royal Mint and any authority of a State specified by the Minister by notice published in thu Gazette, or any person so specified.
This will enable a storekeeper or State official if needed to be appointed n gold buyer in a centre where there is no branch of a bank. This matter was brought to my notice by several members, notably the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), who pointed out that many places in hi3 electorate have no banks, but gold could be sold there if local storekeepers or other reliable persons were appointed licensed gold buyers under the Gold Bounty Act. As to the reference to the branches of the Royal Mint, I may say that specific mention of these in the definition is necessary. There is a branch in Melbourne and one in Perth. They do not, however, come under the present definition, as they are not authorized by the law of the State to buy gold, but operate under British law. It is of course necessary that they should be “ licensed gold buyers “ for bounty purposes.
The second amendment is the addition of a definition of a “ tributer “. Later amendments make reference to tributers, and it is therefore desirable that tributers should be defined. The definition reads - “ Tributer “ means a person who works a mine or portion of a mine under an agreement with the lessee or owner of the mine to pay to, or receive from, the lessee or. owner, a portion or percentage of the product taken from the mine, or of the proceeds of the sale of that product. ,
The third amendment is to paragraph c of sub-section 3 of section 3. This section how provides that gold contained in material shipped abroad for treatment shall be deemed to have been produced in tho year in which it was so shipped. Before such gold can be considered for bounty it is, of course, necessary that sat isfactory evidence be furnished as to the actual quantity of gold recoverable from the material. Such evidence may not, however, be available in the same year in which the material was shipped ; in any such case, it is desirable that there should be authority for the gold to be brought into the accounts of the year in which the evidence is furnished. Otherwise the settlement of the bounty claims promptly after the close of any year might be seriously delayed. To provide for this the addition of the following words to the section is proposed: - or, where a shipper has not, in the year in_ which shipment is effected, furnished evidence to the satisfaction of the Minister as to the quantity of the gold commercially recoverable from such matte, concentrates, or other material, as the case may be, the gold shall, if the Minister so directs, be deemed to have been shipped in the year in which such evidence is produced.
The next amendment - that to section 7 of the act - is associated with that just mentioned. The proviso to section 7 requires the production of an assay certificate of the value and content of the gold in material shipped abroad for treatment. The quantity of gold in such material is not, however, necessarily the quantity of gold which is commercially recoverable from the material, and bounty should not, of course, be payable on a quantity in excess of that recoverable. The amendment to this section, therefore, is to require an assay certificate as to the gold content of the material, and, in addition, evidence as to the quantity of gold commercially recoverable.
The next amendment is to section 8, and is to make clear that bounty will be paid only in respect of gold for which claims for bounty have been lodged, and, so far as gold in material shipped abroad is concerned, in respect of gold commercially recoverable, which may be less than the gold actually contained in the material.
A new section-is proposed to be inserted after section 9 for the purpose of ensuring that tributers participate equally with the owners of the mine in any bounty on gold resulting from their labours. According to the nature of the agreement between the tributer and the owner or lessee of the mine the tributer may be entitled to the gold he obtains - in which case he would pay a share to the mineowner or lessee- or, on the other hand, the gold obtained may go to the owner or lessee, who would pay a proportion to the tributer. In the latter case the tributer should receive from the mineowner or lessee a. share of any bounty paid in respect of the gold concerned, and it is to make this clear that the section is added to the act.. The new section provides that where a gold mine or portion of a gold mine is worked by ,a tributer, the owner of the treatment plant at which gold from the ore produced by the tributer is recovered, shall pay to the tributer 50 per cent, of any bounty, received in respect of the gold obtained from such ore. This provision is urged by the Tributers Association of Western Australia. The views of the Chamber of Mines, Kalgoorlie, were sought. The chamber, in the first place, raised no objection, but within the last few weeks has advised that the matter has been reconsidered, and that it now opposes legislation on the lines suggested. The chamber states that this decision is in accordance with the cabled views of the London Board of Directors of Western Australian gold-mining companies. Mr. de Bern ales, who has been most actively interested in the bounty, has all along strongly opposed this amendment to protect the interests of the tributers. The Australian Workers Union of Boulder, Western Australia, which has also been consulted in the matter, agrees with the suggested provision.
Mr NAIRN: PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– Does that apply irrespective of the proportion the tributers are to receive under agreement?
– The agreements will be drawn up independently of this bounty. Some persons have said that, because of this new provision, the mine-owner will drive a harder bargain when letting tributes, but that is not a matter within the purview of this bill. The tributers in Western Australia are responsible for the production of over 100,000 oz. of gold annually, and their interests in the matter are, therefore, considerable. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. A. Green) knows the circumstances of the tributers in the
Kalgoorlie district very well, and he has represented to me their views. Moreover, the State Mining Act provides that 50 per cent, of any premium on gold is to be paid to tributers, and it is considered equally desirable that their rights in respect of the bounty should be similarly ensured. Minor amendments are made to sections 11 and 18 to cover work done by tributers, and at the end of section 18 an additional sub-section is inserted.
Sub-section 6 of section 18 authorizes the Minister to appoint in certain circumstances an authority for determining conditions of labour and rates of wages. It is desirable that the nature of this authority should be defined, to ensure particularly that such authority i3 representative of both employers and employees. The proposed new sub-section is in the same terms as sub-sections in recent bounty acts, notably those relating to cotton, flax, and linseed, and reads - (7.) An authority appointed by the Minister under the last preceding sub-section shall consist of a representative of employers engaged in the production of gold, a representative of employees engaged in such production, and a person, who shall act as chairman, and who shall be appointed by the Minister on the joint nomination of the representatives of employers and employees:
Provided that if the representatives of employers and employees fail to make a joint nomination of a chairman within twenty days of being called upon by the Minister to do so, the Governor-General may appoint a person to act as chairman.
The last amendment is to the schedule to the act, prescribing the form of application for registration as a gold producer. In the application, certain undertakings are given by the applicant, which bind him for ten years - the full term of the operation of the act. It is possible, however, that a producer may at any time desire to withdraw from the operation of the act and participation in bounty, and to be free from compliance with the undertakings he had given as to allowing inspection of the mine, &c. It is reasonable that this contingency should be provided for, and the suggested amendment of the form of application is for this purpose.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) adjourned.
INCOME TAX BILL 1931
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. Scullin) agreed to -
That a tax be imposed on Income at the following rates : -
Division C. -Rates of Tax inrespect of Taxable Income Derived Partly From Personal Exertion and Partly From Property.
Division D. - Tax Payable Where Amount Would Otherwise be Less Than Ten Shillings.
Notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding divisions, where a person would, apart from this division, . be liable to pay income tax of an amount less than ten shillings, the tax payable by that person shall be ten shillings.
Division E. - Rate of Tax Payable by a Trustee.
For every pound of the taxable income in respect of which a trustee is liable to be separately assessed and to pay tax, the rate of tax shall be the rate which would be payable under Division A, B, or C, as the case requires, if one individual were liable to be separately assessed and to pay tax on that taxable income.
Division F. -Rate of Tax Payable by a Company.
Division G. -Rate of Tax Payable by an Individually Owned Private Company.
For every pound of the taxable income of an individually owned private company, the rate of tax shall be determined as follows: -
Division H. - Rate of Tax Payable by a Severally Owned Private Company.
For every pound of the taxable income of a severally owned private company, the rate of tax shall be determined as follows : -
Division I. - Rateof Tax by an Individually Owned Partnership.
Individually owned partnerships other than Trusts whicli are partnerships.
For every pound of the taxable income of an individually owned partnership, the rate of tax shall be determined as follows: -
Trusts Which are Individually Owned Partnerships.
For every pound of the taxable income of a trust which is an individually owned partnership, the rate of tax shall be determined as follows: -
Division j. - Rate of Tax Payable by a Severally Owned Partnership.
For every pound of the taxable income of a severally owned partnership, the rate of tax shall be determined as follows: -
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Scullin and Mr. McNeill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Soullin; and read a first time.
Mr SCULLIN: Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP
– I move-
That the bill bc now read a second time.
The bill provides for these new rates of income tax to be applied in assessments for the present financial year, and will give effect to the Government’s proposals -
to increase the normal rates (i.e. the rates exclusive of the special tax on property incomes) of tax payable by companies and individuals by 5 per cent, all round; and
to increase the special tax on taxable incomes from property from 7i per cent, to 10 per cent, of the amount of that income.
As already announced in the budget speech, the estimated yield of additional tax from the increase of 5 per cent, is £380,000, and that from the increase of the special tax on property incomes is £830,000. The balance of £290,000 necessary to make up the estimated total additional revenue of £1,500,000 is expected to be obtained from the reduction of the general exemption of personal exertion incomes from £300, diminishing by £1 for every £3 of the excess over £300 and vanishing at £1,200, to £250, diminishing by £1 for every £2 of the excess over £250, and vanishing at £750.
The reduction in the general exemption of personal exertion incomes will be provided for in the Income Tax Assessment Bill which is to be introduced. A special feature of the Income Tax Bill will be the consolidation of the original schedule rates of 1915 and all the existing super-taxes and additional and further taxes, except the special tax on property incomes, into one rate expressed in a simple formula for personal exertion and property incomes, respectively, and ascertainable in respect of any given amount of taxable income by a simple arithmetical calculation. The confusion resulting from the existing super-taxes and additional and further taxes, and the complexities of the curves of the second and third degrees caused by the existing formulae, has been a source of continual annoyance and trouble to the vast majority of taxpayers, and has, in its practical result, made them completely dependent upon the Taxation Department’s ready reckoners for the ascertainment of the extent of their liability for tax.
The Government, in its desire to eliminate, where practicable, any complexities in a system of taxation which is inevitably complex in its very nature, instituted inquiries into the possibility of obtaining a more simple rate without materially altering the result obtained under the existing system in the amount of tax assessable in any particular case. For that purpose, the Government obtained the expert advice of Professor Giblin who, on looking into the matter, expressed the opinion that the desired result could be obtained. The new consolidated rates are fully explained in Professor Giblin’s notes, which have been circulated among honorable members. It should be noted that the consolidated rates have been designed to incorporate all existing rates and super-taxes, &c, plus the proposed increase of 5 per cent. They do not, however, incorporate the proposed special tax of 10 per cent, on property incomes. The rate of tax on income from personal exertion is contained in the first schedule; and that on income from property is contained in the second schedule. To calculate in any particular case the amount to be added for the special tax on property incomes, it is merely necessary to add to the tax calculated under the second schedule 10 per cent, of the amount of the taxable income from property.
Honorable members will find attached to the circulated notes of Professor Giblin, two statements - Table “ A “ and Table “ B “ - which give a comparison, at stated amounts of taxable income, between the rate which would apply and the tax which would be paid if the old method of calculation were applied to the taxes proposed for the present financial year, and the rates which will apply and the tax which will be paid under the new method. The tables also compare, at stated amounts of taxable income, the taxes which will be paid, for the present financial year, 1931-32, with the taxes which were payable for the last financial year. 1930-31. The tax under the new method, as shown in the tables, has not been worked out to the last decimal point bence the actual tax payable under the proposed rates may, in some cases, differ to the- extent of a few pence from the -tax so shown. It will be observed that the rates under the old and new methods, respectively, differ in most cases only by small fractions of a penny, although here and there they approximate to, and even exceed, Id. for example, at taxable incomes from property of £500, £3,001, £5,000, £10,000 and £20,000. The differences are sometimes against the taxpayer, for example, at £500 and £3,000 taxable income from either source, and sometimes in favour of the taxpayer, that is at £3,001, £10,000 and £20,000 taxable income from either source. In the case of incomes from personal exertion the rates under the new method are, in general, slightly less than the rates under the old method. [Quorum formed.]
The effect of the . proposed rates is illustrated by two graphs which have been drawn up by Professor Giblin for the purpose of comparing, up to a taxable income of about £600 from each source, the graduation of rate under the old and new methods respectively. These graphs are also circulated for the information of honorable members. Two further statements have been circulated, one of which shows the effect of the reduced general exemption of personal exertion -incomes, and also compares at given amounts of net and taxable incomes from personal exertion, the tax payable at existing rates for 1930-31, and the tax payable under the rates proposed for 1931-32; and the other similarly compares the -tax payable on property incomes - including the special tax of 10 per cent. - under the existing and proposed rates, respectively. Apart from the excision of the provisions for super-taxes, &c, the new first and second schedules and the other aspects dealt with, the hill will be practically identical in form and contents with the Income Tax Acts 1930. It is merely necessary to point out that clause 5 of the bill replaces section 7a of the 1930 act, and that sub-section 3 of that section is omitted from clause 5 for the reason that it relates specifically ‘to income which was actually derived during the year 1929-30, and, therefore, has no function in any act which applies to income subsequently derived.
Professor Giblin has supplied these notes on the amended income tax scale -
The original scale of the federal- income tax of 1915 was carefully graduated, so that there were no abrupt differences of tax for incomes differing by a small amount. Successive amendments to the Income Tax Act have broken into the original graduation, and introduced marked irregularities. For example, the ta,x on £201 is 10 per cent, greater than the tax on £200. Again, the tax on £500 is £12 ls. 4d., but an additional £1 of income would increase the tax by £1 17s. New formula for the tax have been designed which will smooth out these irregularities, but preserve the variations in principle which have been introduced by amendments of the act. For example, the graduation from £200 on & made steeper than in the original scale, us provided by section 6 of the act of 1929 (No 30), and from £500 on steeper again, as provided by section 7 of the act of 1930 (No. 51.) ; and so on for other variations that have been enacted by Parliament. But the variation is introduced gradually so as to avoid sudden jumps. These formula? consolidate the successive additions to the original scale, namely -
Further tax on higher incomes;
Proposed further tax on all incomes; but do not cover the further special tax - on incomes from property, an emergency measure, which it is desirable to keep distinct from normal taxation.
The new consolidated scales make a new starting point for ordinary taxation, which in future years, can be decreased or increased by 5, 10 or 20 per cent., as the situation demands. The new scale for personal exertion is on the same principle as the original personal exertion scale. The rate begins at 3d., and increases l/160th of a penny for each additional £ of taxable income, so that the rate on £160 is 4d., and on £320, is 5d., and ou £1,600 is 13d. A smooth scale of this kind has now been adopted for income tax by all the States, except Victoria, where the taxa-tion scale still retains serious irregularities and anomalies. The principle of the original scale from property was to increase the steepness of graduation between £500 and £000, and case it ofl’ gradually for higher incomes as the limits of taxation were approached. This principle (together with the successive amending principles) ,is preserved in the new scale, bill is effected by a simpler method, which avoids the mathematical complexities of curves of the 2nd and 3rd degree. The calculation of the tax then becomes a matter of simple arithmetic. For three different ranges of income, formula! are used similar to that for personal exertion, in which the rate of tax increases by a fraction of a penny for each additional £ of income. The fractions are different for each range of income. The effect is to distribute the severity of taxation between groups of income substantially the same as under present legislation, and to give substantially the same revenue; but to do it in a simpler way and to avoid the sudden jumps which are given by the scale as it now stands.