House of Representatives
29 July 1931

12th Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and offered prayers.

page 4541

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH PUBLIC SERVICE

Five-DayWeek.

Mr BEASLEY:
WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

-Isthe Prime Minister aware that, owing to personal prejudice on the part of a senior taxation official in Melbourne, the five-day week isnot being applied to several departments to which it could be reasonably extended in accordance with the policy of the Government?

Mr SCULLIN:
Minister for External Affairs · YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP

– I am not aware of that, but I shall inquire into the honorable member’s statement.

page 4541

IMPORTATION OF STOUT

Mr McGRATH:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA

– I have to-day reserved the following telegrams : -

Proposal by the Minister of Customs to reduce the protective duties on stout in return for purchase by Guinness, of Dublin, of supply Tasmanian hops strongly objected to. Australian brewers use Australian hops, and have at Markets Department’s request refrained for years from using imported hops which they can buy of best quality for less than the price they pay for Australian. Brewers pay heavy excise duty and are large employers of labour under Australian conditions. These surplus hops were grown when it was obvious that there would not be a market for all of them, and the growers were warned of this. They arc sold to Guinness at half the price paid by local brewers in return for reduction in protection to local manufacturers. This in unfair and an invasion of the country’s settled protection policy.

Ballarat Brewing Company

Proposal by the Minister of Customs to reduce the protective dutieson stout in return for purchase by Guinness, of Dublin, of surplus Tasmanian hops is strongly objected to by Australian brewers, who have at all times used Australian hops and paid top price when they could have used imported hops and saved money. This industry pays large excise duties which should be considered by any Government which wishes to encourage Australian industries.

Mr. Liston is secretary of the united hotel-keepers, Victoria. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) whether the House will have an opportunity before adjourning this week to discuss the amended duties on imported stout?

Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– When the Estimates for the Trade and Customs Department are under consideration to-day, the honorable member will have an opportunity to discuss this matter in general terms. No protective duty has been removed from the Australian manufacturers of stout. The duty on imported stout is 3s. 6d.a gallon, and even when exchange was normal, Australian brewers considered that they had ample protection, and made no request for an increase of duty. The 50 per cent. surcharge and the rationing of imports of stout were introduced in April of last year, with a definite assurance by the Prime Minister that they were not protective measures but were merely intended to help to rectify the adverse trade balance. The Tasmanian growers hada surplus of 4,000 bales of hops for which there was no market. They represented to the Government that some of their former trade with Guinness of Dublin could be recovered if the surcharge and rationing were removed from imported stout. Negotiations resulted in an offer by Guinness to take the whole of the surplus of 4,000 bales of hops, and 1,000 bales annually from 1933 onwards. I am assured that this order will be worth £42,000 in English currency and £57,000 in Australian currency, to the Tasmanian hop industry. As exchange is over 30 per cent. against Australia the duty of 3s.6d. per gallon on imported stout should he ample protection for the local brewing industry.

page 4541

QUESTION

BANK INTEREST RATES

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Can the Prime Minister give to the House any information in regard to the obligation of the private banks to carry out their part of the financial rehabilitation plan? In the event of default on their part will action todeal with the matter be taken before Parliament adjourns.

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– I made a definite statement on this subject to the House last week. The Government has taken up this matter with the banks very determinedly, and I believe that they are arranging to take the requiredaction. I have invited them to confer with representatives of the various Australian Governments at the forthcoming conference of Premiers, if satisfactory arrangements are not. made in the meantime. Any action recommended by the conference will, if necessary, be referred to this Parliament.

page 4542

QUESTION

GOVERNMENT SAVINGS BANK OF NEWSOUTH WALES

Mr LAZZARINI:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I ask the Prime Minister whetherthe Government endorses the demands made by Sir Robert Gibson upon the Government of New South Wales, in regard to the taking over of the State savings bank by the Commonwealth Bank?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– The board of the Commonwealth Bank is in charge of that institution, and has the responsibility of negotiating an agreement with the commissioners of the Government Sayings Bank of New South Wales. In these negotiations the Government does not interfere, but an amalgamation of the two institutions cannotbe effected without the consent of the Commonwealth Treasurer, which means the consent of the Commonwealth Government. This is wholly a business transaction, and the intricate banking arrangements involved, and the consideration of assets to be taken over and liabilities to be assumed, are not the responsibility of the Government.

Mr MARR:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the Prime Minister able to state the terms submitted by the Commonwealth Bank Board to the Government of New South Wales, with respect to the taking over by the Commonwealth Bank of the State Savings Bank? By way of explanation, let me state that, according to the newspaper reports, the terms seem to be rather harsh-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon NormanMakin:

– Order! An honorable member cannot be permitted to make observations when asking a question.

Mr MARR:

– Can the Prime Minister submit to the House the actual proposals of the Commonwealth Bank Board for the absorption of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales?

Mr.SCULLIN.-Ishall look intothe matter, and ascertain whether the terms of the proposed amalgamationcan be placed before honorable members.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is it to be assumed that the proposals put forward by Sir Robert Gibson for the taking over of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, or its amalgamation with the Commonwealth Savings Bank, are in conformity with the Government’s policy with regard to thetaking over of State savings banks?Are the arrangements generally on the same basis as would apply to the taking over of other State savings banks?

Mr SCULLIN:

– The amalgamationof State savings banks with the Commonwealth Bank is a matter for arrangement between the respective governments concerned. The terms of the suggested agreement mustbe submitted first to the State Government controlling the savings bank which it is proposed shall be amalgamated. If that Government signifies its willingness to accept those terms the agreement must then be submitted to the Commonwealth Government.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT; UAP from 1931

– That is putting the cart before the horse.

Mr SCULLIN:

– It is the very opposite. Regarding the second part of the honorable member’s question, we cannot lay down any fixed rules for amalgamation, or say that the same conditions shall apply in all cases. I absolutely deny that, in regard to the negotiations between the bank authorities, I have taken any but an impartial attitude. I point out that the financial advisers and experts of the Commonwealth Bank would have to treat every proposal for amalgamation on its merits.

page 4542

QUESTION

UNEMPLOYMENT

Mr LACEY:
GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– The other day, in answer to a question, the Prime Minister stated that he would invite the various State departments to submit to the Premiers Conference a list of works for the absorption of the unemployed. Is that the only step that has been taken by the right honorable gentleman to relieve unemployment, or will the Commonwealth representatives submit to the conference any projects placed before them by members of this House?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– I should be glad to have a list of projects and suggestions to put before the conference. We have asked the State Governments to get into touch with the local governing bodies. The departments of the Commonwealth have also been asked to bring forward any concrete proposals that they have for submission to the conference.

page 4543

QUESTION

RUSSIAN PETROL

Mr CUSACK:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is the Government aware of the formation in Australia of a company for the purpose of providing Russian petrol at a price less than that obtaining to-day?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– I know nothing of the particulars concerning the suggested company, but if the honorable member desires, I shall institute inquiries into the matter.

page 4543

RUSSIAN TIMBER

Mr JONES:
INDI, VICTORIA

– The Melbourne Sun of the 28th of July, contains this paragraph -

page 4543

SOVIET DUMPING PROTEST

Country Party Bulletin’s Attack on Government. “ While Mr. Lung preaches and practises soviet ism in New South Wales, the Federal Minister for Customs (Mr. Forde) remains apathetic, while shiploads of Russian Soviet timber are being dumped into Australia,” says the weekly bulletin of the Federal Country party.

Is it true, as stated in that bulletin, that shiploads of Russian Soviet timber are being dumped into Australia, and has the Minister any comment to make on the reference to himself in that bulletin?

Mr FORDE:
ALP

– Any one who knows the facts is aware that I have been most active in safeguarding the Australian timber industry against importations of Russian timber. No shipments of Russian timber have been dumped in Australia. One cargo has been unloaded, but the invoice showing the value of that timber was not received in Australia until a few days ago. I have given definite instructions that delivery of that timber is not to be taken until I have been consulted. That timber has not been offered for sale, and there are no further shipments on the water. The Australian timber industry is being amply safeguarded. I hope, in the near future, to have from the Tariff Board a report as to whether this is a case in which the anti-dumping duty should be applied.

page 4543

QUESTION

RUSSIAN WOOL BUYERS

Mr GIBBONS:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Is it a fact that Rus sian agents in Australia are prepared to buy large quantities of Australian wool next season?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– I understand that Russian agents are large buyers of our wool. I am not aware of their intentions for next season, but if the honorable member desires I shall have inquiries made.

page 4543

FIDUCIARY NOTES BILL

Mr.CURTIN.- Does the Government intend to reintroduce the Fiduciary Notes Bill in order to carry out works which maybe approved at the Premiers Conference, and, if not, how are the proposals, if any, to be financed?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– The Fiduciary Notes Bill was introduced when we were unable to obtain advances from the banks. At that time we were informed by the banks that if certain measures were taken they would be prepared to carry the deficits of the Australian Governments and to make advances to industry. We are now taking up this matter with the banks.

Mr Lazzarini:

– In other words, the Government has surrendered.

Mr SCULLIN:

– It has not surrendered.

page 4543

QUESTION

PARLIAMENTARY RECESS

Mr BEASLEY:

– Has the Government definitely decided how long, in the event of the House adjourning this week, Parliament will be in recess?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– Parliament will adjourn when it has disposed of the business that I have previously indicated, and I propose to move that the House adjourn to a date to be fixed. That date shall be not more than five weeks from the date of adjournment, but Parliament may be called together earlier than that - it will depend upon the speed with which we transact the business at the conferences that are to be held. The Loan Council has important matters to discuss, and a Premiers Conference will also take place. In all probability, legislation arising out of those conferences will have to be prepared. If that can be done within four weeks the House will be called together at the end of that period, but it will meet not later than five weeks from the date of the adjournment.

page 4644

QUESTION

PETROL INQUIRY

Mr LACEY:

– If the proposal submitted to the last Premiers Conference for the appointment of a committee to inquire into the charges made in Australia for petrol and oil by the importing companies and Commonwealth Oil Refineries has not been agreed to, will the Prime Minister endeavour to bring it to finality at the next conference?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– A proposal was made to the last Premiers Conference for the appointment of a committe to inquire into petrol charges; but there was not sufficient time at the disposal of the conference to reach a decision. I have since written to every Premier asking whether hisState would be preparedto cooperate with the Commonwealth in the making of such an investigation. I pointed out that it was desirable that the fullest possible power should be given to such a committee. While the replies of some Premiers have indicated that they are in favour of the proposal, other replies have not been favorable. I have listed this subject for discussion at the coming Premiers Conference, and shall endeavour to have it finalized.

page 4644

QUESTION

EMBARGO ON REAPERTHRESHERS

Mr GREGORY:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that strong representations have boon made for the removal of the embargo on the importation of reaper-threshers? 2.Has the embargo been imposed in the interests of Australian manufacturers or in the interests of the primary producers?
  2. As it is recognized that this machine is almost indispensable for many crop conditions, will the Government reconsider its decision and permit this machine to be imported?
Mr FORDE:
ALP

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

  1. Representations have been made for the removal of the embargo on the importation of reaper-threshers, principally to enable the reaper-threshers made by one overseas company to be imported.
  2. The embargo was not imposed directly in the interests of Australian manufacturers or of primary producers. Reaper-threshers, and many other goods, are prohibited imports under a proclamation which was issued in April, 1930, for the purpose of restricting imports with a view to rectifying Australia’s adverse trade balance. In the interests of primary producers, the inclusion of reaperthreshers and other agricultural implements in the proclamation was made contingent on undertakings by Australian manufacturers that the prices of the implements concerned would be reduced during the term of the prohibition.
  3. The information available docs not support the suggestion that imported reaperthreshers are almost indispensable for many crop conditions, but on the other hand indicates that all requirements can be met by machinery made in Australia.

page 4644

QUESTION

TAXATION OF INSURANCE COMPANIES

Mr KEANE:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

Is it a fact that a life assurance company operating in Bendigo has recently increased its weekly premium on an industrial insurance policy from1s. to1s. 3d. per week, the reason given being that the increase was necessary on account of the increase in income tax ?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– It is regretted that the information asked for is not available in the Treasury. If the honorable member will be good enough to furnish additional particulars, the question of making official inquiries in the matter will be at once considered.

page 4644

QUESTION

TELEGRAPHIC, TELEPHONIC, AND RADIO FACILITIES

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

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. What is the greatest distance that a telegram can be sent in Australia?
  2. What is the greatest distance that a radiogram can be sent to and from Australia?
  3. What is the greatest distance over which a telephone conversation can take place in Australia?
  4. What is the greatest distance over which a wireless telephone conversation can take place from Australia to another country?
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. 2,350 miles radially; 7,213 miles actual route mileage from Cape York to Wyndham. 2.Radio-telegrams can be exchanged directly, i.e., without relaying, between Australia and England, and between Australia and Montreal. Messages for other parts of the world are relayed by cable or wireless beyond the terminals of the direct Australia- England and Australia-Canada circuits.
  2. 4,760 miles, i.e., the route distance between Cairns, Queensland, and Geraldton, Western Australia.
  3. Approximately 17,800 miles; i.e., from Sydney to Valparaiso, via London and Buenos Aires.

page 4545

QUESTION

TRAVELLING EXPENSES OF MINISTERIAL SECRETARIES

Mr GABB:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

What was the amount drawn as travelling allowance by the private secretary to the Assistant Minister (Senator Daly) from the 9th July, 1931, to the 21st July, 1931, both dates inclusive?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– No claim for travelling allowance for any part of the period mentioned has been received from the officer referred to.

page 4545

QUESTION

FINANCIAL EMERGENCY

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

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Will the interest charged by moneylenders be reduced under the Premiers’ plan of rehabilitation?
  2. If so, what will the maximum rate of such interest be?
Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The conference aimed at a reduction of interest by 22½ per cent. under all private contracts. Two methods of dealing with the matter were considered -

  1. The provision by statute of a general reduction of interest on fixed money claims to the extent of 22) per cent., reserving to the mortgagee or creditor the right to apply to a tribunal for relief from the reduction.
  2. The provision by statute of a tribunal to which the mortgagor or debtor can apply for relief owing to circumstances special to himself.

The method to be adopted was left for determination by the individual States as State legislation is involved. A draft bill to give effect to method (b) was agreed to by the conference. For further particulars, reference is invited to pages 100 and 116 of the report of the Premiers Conference.

page 4545

QUESTION

REDUCTION OF POSTAL SERVICES

Mr CROUCH:
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. How many postal services have been reduced or abolished in Victoria outside the metropolitan area duringthe last two years by the Director?
  2. Other than the semi-rural services of Glenroy and Blackburn, how many postal services in the Melbourne metropolitan area have been reduced or abolished inthe same period by the Director?
Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.

page 4545

QUESTION

SALES TAX

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis) has asked a series of questions regarding the exemption of wine from sales tax. The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.

page 4545

QUESTION

LIGHT HORSE INSTRUCTION

Mr CROUCH:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. How many times has the Camperdown drill hall been used since the 1st January of this year for parades of the light horse?
  2. Outside the instructional staff, what was the attendance at each parade of light horsemen ?
Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

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

  1. Ten.
  2. 8, 12, 17, 20, 14,18, 20, 14, 10, 20.

page 4545

QUESTION

NATIONAL DEBT SINKING FUND CONTRIBUTIONS- PUBLIC DEBT

Mr LEWIS:
CORIO, VICTORIA

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. What was the total sum from the Commonwealth and State Governments paid to the National Debt Sinking Fund in the financial year 1930-31?
  2. What redemption of national debt was made by the National Debt Commission during the year 1930-31?
  3. What was the gross increase in our public debt due to loans, deficits and sale of treasurybills during 1930-31?
  4. What was the net increase of our public debt during 1930-31 ?
Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– The attention of the honorable member is invited to the tables of public debt and sinking fund transactions on pages 95 to 123 of the budget papers recently distributed.

The information asked forwill be found on the pages set out hereunder -

  1. Pages 116 and 117.
  2. Pages 116 and 117.
  3. The increase in Commonwealth gross debt is shown in detail on page 98. The gross amount of new debt created by the States was £50,720,756, from which must be deducted redemptions totalling £11,044,220, leaving an increase in the gross debt of £39,676,536.
  4. Page 100.

page 4546

QUESTION

ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE

Salary of Commandant

Mr CROUCH:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

What was the salary of the Commandant of the Royal Military College in the years 1912, 1914, 1920, and 1930, respectively?

Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

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

page 4546

QUESTION

HUME DAM

Mr.J ONES asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

Has the closing down of the Hume Weir works been proposed?

Is it a fact that the carrying out of such a proposal would mean the throwing out of employment of over 500 men, many of them married and with families?

Has a sum of approximately £3,500,000 already been spent on these works?

Did the engineers representing the four contracting governments recommend the completion of the weir to the full capacity of 2,000,000 acre feet?

Is it a fact that expert engineering opinion holds that to cease operations now, and complete the work, say, in ten years’ time, would involve an additional cost of 25 per cent.?

Has the State Electricity Commission of Victoria offered tofind the interest on the additional capital required to complete the weir to its full capacity?

As the weir is a great national reproductive work, and in order that the millions of pounds already spent may earn interest at the earliest possible moment, and additional employment be given, will he consider the economic soundness and advisability of expediting the completion of the weir to the full capacity of 2,000,000 acre feet?

Has any decision been arrived at as regards the future work at the weir?

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

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

  1. The extent to which the construction of the works at the Hume reservoir can be carried on is dependent upon the provision of funds. This matter is receiving urgent consideration and will be dealt with at a meeting of the Loan Council in August.
  2. Yes.
  3. Expenditure to the 30th June, 1931, including that on acquisition of land, road, and rail deviations, and Bethanga bridge, was approximately £4,500,000.
  4. Yes, in 1920. Later considerations, however, given during the past year or so guided by the increased cost of construction, the limited funds voted for expenditure, and the difficulties in locating markets for the produce raised in the irrigation areas served have resulted in a decision to suspend construction when works essential for a capacity of 1,250,000 acre feet of water have been completed.
  5. No estimate has been prepared of the additional cost which would be involved as the result of closing down the works for a period of years. It is considered that any increase in cost would be offset by the saving in interest on capital which would otherwise be expended.
  6. A proposition on these lines was being investigated, but was not proceeded with, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria requesting that the matter be postponed for consideration at an appropriate future date.
  7. This was considered by Ministers representing the four contracting parties to the river Murray agreement at a conference held in February of the present year when it was decided “ That only such works at the Hume reservoir as are essential for a . capacity of 1,250,000 acre feet of water be carried forward continuously to completion, and that construction be then suspended. The question of extension beyond the 1,250,000 acre feet storage for either irrigation or hydro-electric purposes be further considered on a date to be mutually agreed upon by a majority of the contracting parties “.
  8. The future work at the reservoir is dependent upon the availability of funds. See answer to 1.

page 4546

QUESTION

WAR PENSIONS

Appointmentof Inquiry Committee

Mr SCULLIN:
ALP

– Yesterday the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) referred to a reply givento a question, upon notice, asked by him on the 23rd July as follows: -

  1. Has a committee been constituted under section 41 of the Financial Emergency Act?
  2. If so, what are the names of members of this committee?
  3. Has a time limit been imposed upon the committee regarding its report; if so, what is the date upon which it is required to render such report?

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

  1. Yes.
  2. Mr. C. Martin Farrow (Chairman), Federal President, Limbless Soldiers Association; Mr. A. J. Chambers, General President, Tubercular Soldiers Association ; MajorGcneral T. H. Dodds; Mr. G. W. Holland, President, Victorian branch, Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia; Mr. P. J. Lynch, Acting Federal President, Blind Soldiers Association.
  3. Yes; 14th August,1 931. I am advised, however that the committee expects to be in a position to furnish its report by the end of this week.

page 4547

QUESTION

ESTIMATES 1931-32

Additions, New Works, Buildings, etc

In Committee of Supply. - Consideration resumed from the 16th July(vide page 3993).

Department of Defence

Remainder of proposed vote, £45,746, agreed to.

Department of Trade and Customs

Proposed vote, £1,170, agreed to.

Department of Works

Proposed vote, £125,000.

Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [2.55].- The money proposed to be voted for this department is intended for expenditure under the River Murray Waters Act. It is stated in to-day’s press that the Government of New South Wales has again defaulted in certain payments. We are becoming accustomed to this sort of thing, for that Government is the most madheaded Australia has ever known. I wish to know what the Commonwealth Government intends to do in regard to the default of New South Wales in respect of its payments under the River Murray Waters Act. As honorable members are aware, extensive works are being carried out on the River Murray, under an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. I know that the Government of South Australia feels itself under a. considerable disability in this connexion, for it is required to provide the money for a quarter of the expenditure although it will not reap anything like the same benefits as Victoria and New South Wales, which are not only more populous States, but are also wealthier from ‘the revenue point of view. Does the Commonwealth Government intend to provide the money which, in the ordinary course, the Government of New South Wales would provide for this purpose?

Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP

– When this subject last came before the River Murray Waters Commission, which has control of the works being carried out on the river, the payments due by the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of South Australia and Victoria had been made, but an amount of £12,500 was outstanding from New South Wales. A request was made that the Commonwealth Government should find this money pending the meeting of the Loan Council, when consideration should be given to the subject; but the Commonwealth replied that it could only provide its own quota. A proposition is being put to the next meeting of the Loan Council for the raising of the money required for the current year’s work. In the meantime each Government must find its own quota of money to meet its own commitments.

Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield

– I should like to see this proposed vote reduced by £25,000. According to newspaper reports a meeting of Ministers of the Commonwealth and the States interested in this subject has been held at Albury within the last few days. It was there agreed that £500,000 was more than the Governments would be justified in spending on these works this year. But the Commonwealth Government is evidently asking for a vote on the assumption that £500,000 will be spent, and not £380,000, which was the amount agreed upon at the meeting to which I have referred. Before I actually move for the reduction of this item, I should like to hear from the Minister whose department is supervising this work what is the actual position. If £25,000 can he saved on this vote, it can be made available for important work somewhere else. It is not fair to ask Parliament to vote a larger sum than the Government intends to expend.

Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP

.- This department is being administered by Senator Dooley, with whom I have spoken in regard to this item. When it was set down, it was thought that£ 500,000 would be the total expenditure of the year; but it is now suggested that the expenditure could be reduced. The whole matter must come up for discussion by the Loan Council before a conclusion is arrived at, but eventually the item may be reduced to a much greater extent than is suggested by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker).

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– Will the sum needed be taken out of loan funds?

Mr SCULLIN:

– The Commonwealth Government proposes to provide its quota for this work out of revenue, but the State governments concerned require money from the Loan Council in order to pay their quota. The whole matter must be determined by the Loan Council. I assure honorable members that the Commonwealth Government will not pay more than its quota, and, if the amount provided in this item is more than sufficient, only what is necessary will be expended. If the other governments are in favour of £500,000 being expended, the Commonwealth Government will require the amount set out in this item.

Mr STEWART:
Wimmera

.- I hope that the Government will not favorably consider any proposal to whittle down this vote. Although the sum of £380,000was mentioned recently at a conference of representatives of the States concerned, many other works are associated with the river Murray water scheme. There are, for example, isolated locks, upon which money must be expended.

I am rather surprised that a representative from South Australia, who has shown such a keen interest in the development of the Murray Valley, should have brought forward a proposal to reduce this amount. If any proposal is submitted to the Premiers Conference in connexion with expenditure on works of a constructional nature along the river Murray, it should be for the increasing of the amount. Such work is of a developmental nature, and will provide employment.

Mr CURTIN:
Fremantle

.- The item contemplates that the economies effected in Commonwealth expenditure shall be used during this financial year for the discharge of the Commonwealth’s obligations in connexion with this work, although in previous years the Commonwealth Government has met this and other such obligations out of loan funds. It seems to me to be quite wrong that the capital cost of important national works should be financed out of what are really wage reductions and economies effected at the expense of those who are entitled to a normal income.

Mr Marr:

– This expenditure is providing work.

Mr CURTIN:

– Yes; but, instead of the money being provided out of the capital resources of the country, the work is to be paid for by the diminution of the earnings of the public servants. It is important that this Parliament should realize that that practice represents an entire change on the part of this Government in the method of financing important public works.

Mr Scullin:

– That is not so.

Mr CURTIN:

– What I say is correct. Previous governments have discharged the cost of the river Murray development scheme out of loan funds. This Government is faced with the obligation of continuing that work, otherwise the whole of the investment will be lost, and it is providing its share of this year’s obligations, not out of loan funds, as hitherto, but practically out of economies effected at the expense of pensioners and of the servants of the Crown.

I rose to point out this fact, so that the country may recognize that not only are the workers required to make an absolute sacrifice in order to balance government budgets, but their sacrifice is also being used as a contribution to the capital of the country. They should be entitled to draw interest on the amount involved just as any ordinary capitalist who financed a loan for the purpose of carrying out the work would be entitled to do so. The total interest cost of this work will be less than would otherwise be the case, because of the method adopted by the Government to finance it. As a general principle, I agree that the correct method to adopt is to pay out of revenue ; but I submit that the right way for the Government to finance its share of this tremendous work is in accordance with the principles of the Fiduciary Notes Bill, brought down by the Government some time ago, which was rejected in another place.

Honorable members opposite have no scruple about taking 2s. 6d. from the weekly earnings of old-age and invalid pensioners, in order to build the Hume Weir, and this Parliament, and this country, ought to recognize at last that the pensioners and public servants have had their incomes reduced in order to provide the means whereby this and other important national works shall be financed. That is the truth. This money is being found out of revenue, and has been provided by effecting a reduction of public expenditure. However much honorable members opposite would like to evade the fact, the truth is that this department will now cost the nation £90,000 a year less for administration.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Which is a very good thing.

Mr CURTIN:

– Quite so,but the Government is spending £120,000 out of revenue to meet the capital cost of this important work, not for the purpose of balancing the budget. When honorable members opposite were in power, they would have borrowed that £120,000, and paid6 per cent. interest on it in perpetuity. That is the programme and policy which they put into effect. This Government is not following that procedure. It has reduced the wages of public servants and the allowances of invalid and old-age pensioners, and is using the money so saved to carry out this work. The facts prove it, and I invite the country to take notice of them.

Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP

– The point raised by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) requires answering. He worked himself up into a passion during his denunciation of the Government for proceeding with theconstruction of the Hume Weir out of moneys allegedly taken from pensioners and public servants. We have no money in the loan funds at the present time, and if we did not use money from revenuewe would have to dismiss the men now working on the weir. It is better that we should have reductions all round than that a large group of workers should be put off. I have yet to learn that the honorable member for Fremantle favours the gospel of borrowing. The honorable member said that the last Government would have borrowed money at 6 per cent., but surely he does not suggest that the present Government should do the same. At any rate, it would not be possible for us to borrow money for this purpose.

Mr Curtin:

– I did not suggest that money should be borrowed. I approved of the emergency currency proposal, of which the Prime Minister also approved.

Mr SCULLIN:

– Yes; and when that proposal was introduced in the form of a bill, it was rejected in another place. The honorable member has no right to say that we are unnecessarily cutting down wages and pensions, when he knows that our proposal for obtaining credits by a fiduciary issue was defeated in the Senate. If he wishes to give expression to his opinions, he should at least stick to facts. If wo could raise money for the prosecution of this work we would do so, but in the meantime, we wish to provide employment for 500 or 600 men on the construction of the Hume Weir.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Department of Health

Proposed vote, £15,300.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– I should like some information in regard to the item -

New buildings, alterations and additions, and construction of launches and vessels, £1,300.

What vessels or launches does the department propose to build, or what does the Minister propose to do with this £1,300. I am concerned with seeing that such work as is done in this connexion goes to the Government Dockyard at Cockatoo Island, which is at present starving for want of orders.

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

– It is not intended to build any vessels this year. The item is worded in its present form, because the construction of vessels last year came under this heading.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Department of Transport

Proposed vote, £94,626.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– I draw attention to the item -

Construction of vessels for lighthouse purposes, £30,000.

Is it the intention of the Government to proceed with the construction of another lighthouse vessel, or is this money merely to complete the construction of the Cape Otway? I know that more than one vessel was required at the time that the Government decided to build the Cape Otway, and it may be that it proposes to commence work upon a second vessel.

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

.- It is not the intention of the Government to construct another vessel this year. The sum of £36,000 is required to complete the construction of the vessel now in hand. £120,000 was provided last year for this purpose ; £85,000 has been expended, and the vote of £36,000 is required to complete the vessel.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– In my opinion, this is a gross waste of public money. This vessel is to replace the Kyogle, which has been doing the work for many years. When the new vessel is- completed, it is proposed to sell the Kyogle, but if the Kyogle is fit to be used by a private purchaser, she must be fit to be used by the Government. This new ship will cost at least 50 per cent, more to build here, than the Government would have had to pay for an imported vessel. It was disclosed during the discussion of this subject some time ago that the New Zealand Government has obtained a better lighthouse vessel from Great Britain for £64,000, so that we are not justified during this time of depression in paying £50,000 more than necessary for the luxury of having this vessel built in Australia. If we imported the vessel, we could afford to pay the workmen employed in the construction of this new ship the basic wage for a year, and still save money on the deal.

Mr Keane:

– How does the honorable member know that?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– The statements embodied in reports presented to Parliament are inescapable. I realize that the vessel under discussion is half built, but it was a scandalous waste of public money to have embarked upon the project.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– As the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) suggests that the building of this lighthouse vessel involves a waste of public money, I ask if he contends that we should not maintain our lighthouses, in order that sea travel may he safe ? For the maintenance of the lighthouses, it was found, on examination by the department, that more than one vessel was required, even though the Kyogle were retained in the service. Let the honorable member consult his own conscience in deciding whether it is a waste of money to provide the necessary protection for the crews and passengers on the vessels that ply round our coasts.. The honorable member alleged that the Government set out to build the vessel in question at a time of depression when money was scarce. The logic of his argument was that all the workers who were employed on the construction of, the vessel, and those dependent upon them, should, metaphorically, be thrown- to the wolves by being deprived of the necessaries of life because of the depression. The building of this vessel provided a measure of employment for men who had followed that class of work for many years. The honorable member favours the maintenance of a navy for the protection of our shores, and for a navy the maintenance of a dockyard is essential. It should be remembered that hundreds of men have been specially trained at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard in shipbuilding, and they are entitled to continuity of employment, so far as it can be provided. This establishment should be maintained for naval purposes. Although the honorable member said that the position might be examined from the point of view that those workmen could be provided with the basie wage in some other activity, I point out that, for many months, the workers at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard have not received more than the basic wage, a general scheme of rationing having been applied to them. I do not know whether the statements of the honorable member are based on information supplied to him by an employee of the dockyard; but his remarks are diametrically opposed to the best interests of the country, and of the men engaged at the dockyard. If all public works were regarded as involving a waste of money, the workers employed in connexion with them would have to be placed on the dole. Are we to stop all government works throughout Australia because of the cry that . money is scarce? That would mean placing Australia at the mercy of overseas countries, because it would be necessary to import almost everything we need from countries that have no Consideration for Australia. Reference has been made to a vessel purchased by tho New Zealand Government, but no shipbuilding organization in any part of the world can do better work than that turned out in Australia. Vessels built at Cockatoo Island challenge comparison with any constructed elsewhere.

Mr Marks:

– The cruiser that we sent home to the Old Country won the admiration of the British Navy.

Mr BEASLEY:

– That is so. Every public man, particularly members of the National Parliament, should take a pride in shipbuilding activity in Australia, and do everything to encourage it, so that this skilled work may be available to the rising generations. Owing to our geographical position, we should bend all our energies to the development, to its fullest extent, of the shipbuilding industry.

Mr MARR:
Parkes

.-Though I admit that ship construction is of vital importance to Australia, and every member favours the building of vessels in this country, the cost of the work has to be considered, and, in my opinion, tenders should be called for. The Government has adopted the policy of giving Cockatoo Island Dockyard all the work that it can do at whatever price it likes to charge. It is well known in New South Wales, and particularly in Sydney, that this dockyard charges more for its work than any other shipbuilding yard in New South Whiles.

Mr Beasley:

– But it does good work.

Mr MARR:

– That is so; I entirely agree that the work put into the cruiser referred to by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) compared more than favorably with that in any other unit of the British fleet. But, as a member of the royal commission that inquired into (he operations at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard - the honorable member for Wentworth was also a member of the commission - I have no hesitation in saying that the charges made at that yard are altogether excessive. Although I do not approve of importing ships from overseas, because I believe that we can build them locally, I claim that tenders should be called to give private enterprise a chance to compete. Such a policy would meet the objection raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) to the throwing of workmen out of employment, because no less employment would be available if the work were carried out by private firms. The Cockatoo Island Dockyard enjoys many advantages that are denied to private companies; it pays no rates or taxes. I could give the Minister specific instances in which excessive charges have been made by that dockyard. The highest price tendered by a private firm for the overhauling of launches for the Quarantine Department was about £200, but, under instructions from the Government, the vessels were sent to Cockatoo Island, and the charge amounted to over £S00. If an industry can live only by unsound bolstering of this character, it should be closed. I believe in giving to our workmen all the jobs they can do, but as a check on extravagance, private engineering yards should have an opportunity to tender for the construction of ships. The Government should not continue to pay to Cockatoo Island dockyard prices far in excess of those at which private enterprise- could do the work.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– I did not suggest that anything should be done to jeopardize the lives of those engaged in the lighthouse service. The Public Works Committee reported that the Kyogle which is now engaged in this service is seaworthy; indeed, so” seaworthy is it that when the new steamer is completed the Government will sell the Kyogle in the open market. If the lives of government employees would be endangered by the continued use of the vessel, the Government has no right to sell the ship and so imperil the lives of others. 1 am not averse to our own workmen being employed on the construction of vessels, but such undertakings should be carried out on business lines. If Australian workmen are as competent as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) ha3 stated, why should a vessel produced by them cost £50,000 more; than the price at which a similar ship could be manufactured abroad and brought to Australia?

Mr James:

– Manufactured in China?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– No; I refer to the quotations of Harland and Wolff, of Belfast, and other shipbuilders in the United Kingdom. Had the order for the ship been placed abroad, £50,000 would have been saved to provide reproductive work for the unemployed.

Mr Beasley:

– On the dole?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– No ; I regard the dole as a pernicious system which, if continued long enough, will undermine the stamina of our people.

Mr Ward:

– The honora’ble member receives a dole.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) should know all about the dole, because he was receiving it before he entered this Parliament. The reckless waste of public money that is incidental to the construction of vessels at exorbitant costs is of no advantage to the Commonwealth, and in- the last resort does riot benefit the workers, although it provides temporary employment for a limited number of them.

Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle

.- When the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) speaks of the price at which vessels could be bought overseas, does he take into account the fact that in buying abroad we part with the purchase money for all time, whereas, when ships are built locally the money remains here to circulate amongst our own people? One of the destroyers bought abroad was defective, and new machinery had to be installed after the vessel reached Aus tralia. Further, cost was incurred by sending a crew to England to bring the vessel out. I remind the honorable member for Warringah that a previous government induced artisans to leave their ordinary jobs and engage in shipbuilding at Cockatoo and Walsh Islands, lt was generally admitted that five of the warships built in those yards were constructed better and more quickly than they could have been produced elsewhere. Unfortunately, the workers who were induced to give up their half-paid-for homes in other parts in order to take work at Walsh Island have been thrown out of employment through the closing down of the shipbuilding yards. The statement that ships cannot be built as well in Australia as elsewhere is so much humbug:

Mr Maxwell:

– No one has suggested that.

Mr WATKINS:

– That is the inference to be drawn from some of the remarks made this afternoon. Engineers., from abroad, who have had charge of Australian artisans, have declared that they are the most capable in the world.

Mr BELL:
Darwin

.- Year after year I have urged the need for the provision of a lighthouse on the east coast of King Island, and each year I have had to deplore the fact that no money has been placed on the Estimates for this work. The need for such a light is recognized by the Director of Lighthouses; but we are told that no money is available for the purpose. Only a few weeks ago I again urged the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) to provide money for this work, but my representations were not successful. These Estimates provide for an expenditure of £800,000, and I believe honorable members will agree that many of the works- provided for could better be postponed than the erection of a light for the protection of the shipping in Bass Strait.

Mr Maxwell:

– How much would the light cost ?

Mr BELL:

– I cannot say; but the expense would not be very great. Apart from the need to protect the regular services between Tasmania, King Island and the mainland, there is no light to guide ships passing between the north-‘ west coast of Tasmania and Melbourne and Adelaide. The adequate lighting of the coast for the protection of shipping is a Commonwealth responsibility; but, because only those who are concerned in the navigation of ships realize the danger of a long stretch of unlighted coast, the proposed work has never been sanctioned. I honestly fear that a serious disaster may occur through the absence of a light on the east coast of King Island, and the various governments which have refused to provide it will have to share the responsibility.

Mr WARD:
East Sydney

– I am not surprised at the disloyal utterances of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill). He stated that, before I entered this House, I was receiving the dole. Many honorable and worthy people are forced, by circumstances over which they have no control, to accept the dole.

Mr Beasley:

– It is no disgrace.

Mr WARD:

– It is not, and the honorable member for Warringah, who attacks the recipients of the dole, forgets the more fortunate circumstances of his own career. Not everybody is afforded the opportunity to accept a large sum of money, as a reward for staying out of public life temporarily.

Mr Bayley:

– On a point of order. Is the honorable member for East Sydney in order in discussing a matter that has no relation to the Estimates now before the committee?

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The honorable member for East Sydney is quite in order in replying to a personal remark that should not have been made; but I ask him to dispose of it briefly.

Mr WARD:

– I have no desire to pursue the matter further. ‘The remarks of honorable members opposite regarding ship-building in Australia are in keeping with their past utterances and actions. They say that they believe in Australian workmen being given the work that they are capable of doing; but we know that that is on the condition that our workers shall accept the low standards of living of the Chinese coolies, or of the workers of other cheap labour countries. They are not prepared to allow the Australian workmen to enjoy at least a decent standard of living. Cockatoo Island Dock yard is the only dock in Australia capable of docking the largest naval vessels on the Australian station. Many of the employees at that dockyard are highly skilled, some of them having had special training overseas. These patriots on the other side of the chamber, who are so greatly concerned about the finances of the country, are anxious to have work sent overseas to be done under cheap labour conditions, irrespective of the fact that we should thus deprive many of our highly skilled and other workers of their means of employment. Honorable members opposite did not hesitate to call upon these men to defend Australia and the Empire during the war, but now that this country is not in danger of invasion, they are asking them to bear more than their fair share of sacrifice in the general plan of rehabilitation, by depriving them of work, and giving it to the workmen of low-wage countries. I am anxious that the standard of living of the men employed at Cockatoo Island should be maintained; that it should not be lowered as suggested by honorable members opposite.

Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong

– I should like from the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. McNeill) some information with regard to the treatment that is being meted out to the occupants’ of war service homes. I have heard some heartrending stories about the drastic treatment given to some of these occupants. It is said that in one instance a returned soldier who was in arrears with his payments was ejected from his home, and that it is now occupied by a private citizen who is paying less rental per week than the soldier occupant was called upon to pay. If that is true,I consider that the treatment of the returned soldier occupant was altogether too harsh. The Government, as a landlord, can afford to be lenient. I am informed that a private landlord, to meet the altered financial circumstances of his tenant who was purchasing his home on instalments, reduced not only the payments per fortnight, but also the interest rate. Surely if a private landlord can exercise leniency, the Government can act similarly, andI believe that it has done so in the majority of instances. I hope that, if it can be proved that drastic treatment is being meted out to the occupants of war service homes, the Government will take steps to see that they are given at least a fair deal.

Mr LACEY:
Grey

.- There are many matters concerning the construction of this lighthouse steamer, which have not yet been touched upon. In the first place, I submit that the sum of £120,000 which is being expended on the construction of this vessel at Cockatoo Island will not entail any loss to this country. The price quoted to the Public “Works Committee for the building of a similar vessel in England was £64,000, but that sum did not take into consideration the adverse rate of exchange, the cost of sending a Government official to England to supervise construction, the cost of bringing the vessel when completed to Australia, or the cost of repatriating the English crew. Another phase which has been lost sight of is that the construction of this vessel in Australia keeps a number of our workless citizens in employment, and thus relieves this country of the necessity for paying them the dole. When ‘ all the costs incidental to the construction of a lighthouse vessel in Great Britain are taken into consideration, we discover that there is practically no difference between the price in England and that in Australia.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Nonsense. New Zealand obtained a vessel from England for £70,000, including all the costs that the honorable member has mentioned.

Mr LACEY:

– I repeat that there is little difference between the cost in Australia and that in England. It was stated i ii evidence before the Public Works Committee that a large quantity of material that had been taken from dismantled craft, such as wireless and electrical fittings, could be used in the construction, of this lighthouse vessel, and that if it were not used for this purpose it would soon be in a state of disrepair and of little value. In fact, if it were offered for sale to-day, there would be practically no demand for it. The Government was forced to provide a vessel to take the place of the Kyogle, because the cost of making that vessel efficient was prohibitve. It is abso lutely unfitted for the lighthouse service. It is obsolete and its maintenance costs are heavy. Fuel had to be sent ahead, because the Kyogle had not sufficient fuel storage capacity, nor has it the steaming rate required on the run. As it was uneconomical to keep the Kyogle in commission, it was decided to replace it with an uptodate vessel. If a small sum were expended on the Kyogle in making it seaworthy, probably a purchaser could be found for it. By keeping this work in Australia we shall assist, not only in maintaining Cockatoo Island Dockyard, but also in relieving unemployment. Ii has been proved beyond doubt that in respect of ship-building, Australian workmen are as efficient as workmen overseas.

Mr MARKS:
Wentworth

.- When this vessel ploughs the seas it will no doubt encounter some tempestuous weather. We have had some tempestuous passages in this debate, particularly in respect of the speech of . the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) who has been quite up to form, and has put spirit into a discussion which might otherwise have been dull. Therefore, our thanks are due to him.

One point which has been missed - 1 think the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) touched upon it - relates to defence. Cockatoo Island Dockyard has to be maintained, and it is an expensive proposition. We are groping in the dark a good deal to find excuses for keeping it in operation, and we have to continue to find those excuses, perhaps at too great a cost at a time like this. When the proposal for the building of this lighthouse vessel was before honorable members, I voted for it on the ground that we have to keep employed at Cockatoo Island a highly skilled technical staff. That dockyard has magnificent machinery, none better in the world for shipbuilding purposes. It is the only naval dockyard in this part of the Pacific. I admit that it cannot accommodate a modern battleship, but should one of the units of the British fleet come to these shores it could be repaired and work done upon it at the dockyard. We have at Cockatoo Island a naval staff capable of carrying out that class of work. Most of us will admit that this vessel has cost far too much, but against that we must take into consideration the fact that every penny expended upon her is expended locally. The expenditure of this money in Australia will keep men off the dole, and enable them to maintain their families in reasonable comfort. The money will be spent in Australia. Moreover, it should be remembered that a saving of £19,000 odd will be effected in exchange by keeping the money here. It is essential that we should maintain a naval dockyard in good order in Australia, not only for effecting repairs to our own ships of war, but also for giving attention to visiting naval ships. It is quite possible that the maintenance of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard is a matter that might come within the purview of the League of Nations under the special category of British Empire Naval Forces. At any rate, so long as we maintain a navy in these waters we must also maintain a dockyard. In my opinion, the expenditure of this money in Australia is justified. If the question arose again whether we should build a ship here or abroad, I would vote for it to be built here.

Mr JAMES:
Hunter

.-I support this item. I amnot surprised that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) and his colleagues arc opposed to it, for they have shown a callous indifference to the welfare of the men who go down to the sea in ships. The honorable member would doubtless like to see all the money that we have for shipbuilding spent abroad. Perhaps he would like to see it spent in the shipbuilding yards of Hong Kong, where Chinese coolie labour is employed.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– The honorable member knows very well that that is not correct.

Mr JAMES:

– It is regrettable that the shipbuilding industry of Australia has been allowed to languish. The Government should do everything in its power to stimulate this industry. Work should be provided for the Walsh Island Dockyard, as well as the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Many of my constituents work there in normal times. Hundreds of skilled mechanics, ironworkers, and men trained in shipbuilding are on the dole, because of the lack of encouragement to this industry. I believe that all the ships which trade on our coast should be built in Australia. The expenditure of the £36,000 necessary to complete the vessel under discussion is justifiable in every respect. The Government should prohibit vessels built overseas from trading on the Australian coast. I understand that this policy is enforced by the Government of the United States of America. We have placed a prohibitive duty on iron, steel, and certain other products, and there is no real reason why we should not prohibit foreign built ships from engaging in our coastal trade. The building of the cruiser Adelaide proved conclusively that Australian workmen can build’ ships equal to those built in any other part of the world. The workmen of Walsh Island are just as efficient as those of other dockyards in Australia. I do not place the workmen in one part of Australia on a higher plane than the workmen in other parts of it. We should encourage shipbuilding in Australia wherever it can be carried on.

The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has referred to the administration of the War Service Homes Department. I believe that a comprehensive inquiry should be made into that subject. Money has been wasted, and many returned soldiers have been carelessly treated by the department. Many returned soldiers have got into serious arrears in their payments, because of intermittent work or unemployment. These men received very little consideration from the previous administration, in fact many of them were callously treated by it. The Minister at present controlling the department has shown more consideration for these men than was shown to them by his predecessors. The capital value of the war service homes should be reduced. Although the value of house property has fallen, the men who are purchasing war service homes are still being called upon to pay at the old high rates. I understand that a proposal has been made that their interest should be reduced by½ per cent. Such a reduction would be quite inadequate.

Mr Hill:

– The purchasers of war service homes have always enjoyed a concession of 1 per cent. in interest charges.

Mr JAMES:

– I believe that they should be given a concession of another 1 per cent. Sometime ago I submitted for the consideration of the War Service Homes Commission, the case of Alderman Shakespeare, the mayor of Cessnock, who is a returned soldier. Although this gentleman has paid more than £300 off his home only approximately £110 has been allocated to the reduction of the principal; the remainder has gone in interest, sinking fund, insurance, &c. This gentleman, lite many others in Cessnock, and on the coal-fields generally, suffered sixteen months unemployment, due to the lockout in the industry, which obliged him to fall behind in his payments. The men who enlisted for active service were promised all sorts of things; but to-day they are being treated more harshly by the War Service Homes Department than they would be treated if they were in occupation of privatelyowned houses. Many returned men were ejected from their homes by the previous Government.

Mr Hill:

– How many were ejected?

Mr JAMES:

– I know of four who were ejected in my own electorate. I am glad that the Minister at present in charge of the department allowed these men to return to their homes.

Mr Hill:

– No one was callously thrown out of his home by the previous Government.

Mr JAMES:

– The facts are against the honorable member. Those who are paying rent for war service homes are being called upon to pay more than those who are paying rent for similar houses owned by private individuals. In the circumstances, I hope that the Government will take steps to have a comprehensive inquiry made into the administration of the department.

Mr.MARR (Parkes) [4.11].- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has made some statements in respect of the administration of the previous government which are inaccurate. For instance, he said that the previous government had treated returned soldiers in occupation of war service homes with callous indifference. I emphatically deny that statement. The honorable gentleman also made some reference to the policy of the previous government in regard to dockyards. I point out that the Government which I had the honour to support, wrote down the capital cost of Cockatoo Island Dockyard from £12,000,000 to £4,000,000 with the object of assisting it to maintain its operations. It has been said that we should not allow any ships built overseas, to trade on the Australian coast. I point out to honorable members that even if we buy ships overseas, we can pay for them with our wheat and wool. It is not necessary for us to send money overseas in payment for them. We expect overseas countries to buy our primary products, and we must therefore be willing to buy other goods abroad. Reference has been made to the successful building in Australia of the cruisers Brisbane and Adelaide, but honorable members know very well that we could not roll a single plate required for those ships. We have also had to buy abroad the plates and many other parts required for the lighthouse ship now being built in Australia. We must realize that freedom in international trade is a big factor in the maintenance of world peace. We cannot expect people overseas to continue to buy our primary products if we flatly refuse to buy anything from them in return.

The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) referred to the exchange aspect in regard to the lighthouse ship which we are now building, but that was not a factor when this order was placed.

Mr James:

– The honorable member has no time for Australian workmen.

Mr MARR:

– That statement is inaccurate. I am just as keen on Australian workmen and Australian workmanship as any other honorable member. If a motion were submitted approving of the construction of a vessel in Australia I should vote for it, with the qualification that tenders should be called.

Mr Marks:

– That does not meet the defence requirement.

Mr MARR:

– The honorable member knows that the capital cost of defence machineryat Cockatoo Island Dockyard has been written off, so enabling that dockyard to compete on a very favorable basis with private concerns. I agree with the honorable member only in regard to one type of machinery at Cockatoo Island; that of a special nature, to repair turbines. I have known vessels to come to Australia which could not be accommodated at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. They have had to go to Mort’s dockyard for attention. Why should not. those private concerns, which provide the sinews of war, be given an opportunity to compete with government-owned institutions? I make no objection to the Government calling tenders for the construction of * vessel, or for any other purpose.

Tho honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) said that if it were within his power, he would pass a law prohibiting vessels coming to Australia which were not constructed here. Carrying that argument to its logical conclusion, our British kinsmen might very well say to us, “ We will allow no wheat to be marketed in the United Kingdom except that grown here “.

I desire to ask the Minister in charge of war service homes whether the £42,000 provided under item No. 1, division No. 15, sub-division No. 1, is for the purpose of the maintenance of existing homes, or to construct new war service homes.

Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa

.- The development of Australia has been retarded considerably through the nation being cursed with public men of the type of the honorable members for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) and Parkes (Mr. Marr), who are always crying “ stinking fish “ with regard to Australian enterprise. They contend that everything that comes from overseas is perfect, while whatever is produced in Australia must be worthless. It was a government which they supported which commissioned Messrs. Kidman and Mayo to build wooden ships which, when reported on by the marine expert, were declared to be so unseaworthy that if they were to venture outside of Sydney heads they would go to the bottom like a stone.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the item before the committee.

Mr LAZZARINI:

– I am doing so, by’ combating statements that were made by honorable members opposite about a vessel that is being constructed by this Government. The claim is that Cockatoo

Island Dockyard charges too much for the work that it turns out. Honorable members opposite overlook the high quality of that work, and its durability. They omitted to refer to the fact’ that a previous government let a contract for many thousands of pounds for the construction of ships to men who should have been gaoled for criminally defrauding the nation. I remind them of a vessel which was recently completed by private enterprise, and intended mr the New Guinea service. When it put to sea it was proved to be thoroughly unsatisfactory, and it had to be taken to Cockatoo Island Dockyard in order to be made seaworthy. Had that dockyard not been in existence, the money expended on that vessel would have been wasted.

When this new lighthouse ship iB put into commission, the Government proposes to sell the Kyogle. The Kyogle is being withdrawn from the Western Australian lighthouse service because of it6 inability to stand much longer the stress of service in those waters. It is dangerous to continue it in commission. Yet that vessel will be purchased by private persons, and manned by foolhardy men, who will be forced to earn a living in that way. That should not be countenanced.

Honorable members opposite have said hew much better it would be for the nation df the vessels which we require were constructed overseas- That policy was put into operation by the Bruce-Page Government, when it sent nearly £6,000,000 to Great Britain to buy cruisers, at a time when “patriotic” British shipping companies were having the vessels that they needed built in Germany, by cheap labour, whilst British artisans were walking the streets unemployed. That is the kind of “ national “ spirit that animates honorable members opposite and those whom they champion. The Bruce-Page Government also purchased submarines that were constructed overseas, which could hardly make the journey to Australia, and which had to be reconditioned on arrival here.

Australia has learned to its cost the folly of building bridges by contract, and it is now realized that if satisfaction is to follow, it is advisable to have our vessels built at our own dockyard. Even though the cost may be greater, and that is questionable, our own product ia reliable and seaworthy, and safeguards the lives of those who man it. Private enters prise turns out slummed work. It is only necessary to recall the South African war, when private munition makers sent consignments of rifles, to be used by our men, the bullets from which would bit anything except the object aimed at.

It is for those very definite reasons that I and my colleagues support work being given to our own dockyards. I hope that we shall no longer hear antiAustralian sentiments such as those expressed by honorable members opposite, when items of this nature come up for discussion.

Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT

. -In reply to a question that was asked a week or two ago, the Minister informed the House that at the 31st May last, 531 war service homes had reverted to the commission, 294 of which were occupied by tenants. The honorable gentleman told us that those homes had been vacated for various reasons. In some cases their former occupants had moved to cheaper homes; in others they had decided that, to meet changed economic circumstances, it was desirable to share a home with another family, or to live with their parents, and so save rent. The Minister drew attention to the splendid record of the occupants of war service homes in continuity of their payments. Even in these troublous times the arrears, I understand, are less than 2 per cent. What I wish to know now is exactly how those persons stand who for years occupied war service homes, paid their instalments regularly, but finally had to abandon them for any of the reasons detailed above. In the event of the commission finding other occupants for the houses they have left, or selling them, will they be reimbursed the instalments that they have paid?

Mr LONG:
Lang

– I do not desire to delay the business of the House, I should not have participated in the debate had it not been for the remarks of certain honorable members opposite, who allege that the construction of a lighthouse steamer in Australia involves a waste of public money. They complain that the cost of £120,000 for that vessel is excessive, and that it could have been built overseas for £64,000. Before hon* orable members make such statements they should investigate the facts.. Au exhaustive inquiry was conducted into the construction of this lighthouse steamer, and numerous witnesses were examined, on oath, They included many practical men, well versed in shipbuilding. One naval expert was asked what this vessel should cost if constructed in Australia, and he answered about £96,626. A similar vessel constructed in England would cost £70,000, hut that would be the cost of the vessel at the dockyard, while £120,000 would be the cost of a vessel built here, and handed over to the Government. To the dockyard cost of a vessel built in Great Britain must be added the cost of exchange, which at the present rate, would work’ out at between £20,000 and £22,000. It would cost another £6,000 or £7,000 to bring the vessel from England to Australia, and to repatriate its English crew. The committee which inquired into this matter had before it Mr. Hastie, mechanical engineer in charge of ships in the Department of Public Works. In answer to a question by myself, he said that it would ordinarily cost between £6,000 and £7,000 to bring a vessel of this class from Great Britain to Australia. The difference of £50,000 between the cost of a vessel built overseas, and that of a similar vessel built here, would be partly accounted for by the fact that wages are higher here than in Great Britain. Taking British wages on a basis of 100, the index figure “for Australian wages, he said, was 187. Iron could be obtained in Great Britain direct from the mills. Seeing that the ship-building industry had yet to be established in Australia, he said that, in his opinion, it would be a good thing to have the ship built in this country, thus keeping the money here. The Australian artisan was just as good a workman as the overseas artisan. Australian workmen would be quite competent to handle such a job. I ask honorable members opposite whether Australian artisans are never to be taken into consideration when we are dealing with the expenditure of public money? The difference between the cost of getting a vessel overseas, and of building it here, is not worth consideration when we remember that by building the vessel here we shall be keeping the money, la

Australia. There is not much evidence of Australian sentiment among honorable members opposite. During this time, when we are all asked to pull together for the benefit of the country, there should be no suggestion that Australian workmen should not benefit from the expenditure of Australian money on public undertakings. I support the proposal of the Government to spend Australian money in the employment of Australian workmen.

Mr ELDRIDGE:
Martin

.- We should remember that Australia is a maritime nation.

Mr Stewart:

– She ought to be, but she is not.

Mr ELDRIDGE:

– If she is not, it is because of the conditions for which honorable members opposite stand, and which we have condemned this afternoon. Australia is an outpost of the British Empire, and of the white race in the Pacific. This continent which we occupy became ours largely as a result of the seamanship and courage of a very capable navigator, and I sometimes feel that the future possession by us of Australia will depend a great deal upon the capacity of our seamen. The Cockatoo Island Dockyard is the only one of its kind in this portion of the Pacific. I do not think that even on the American Pacific coast is there a dockyard to equal it. Proposals for the building of ships at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard should be considered, not wholly in the light of relative costs compared with dockyards overseas, but in the light of the desirability of maintaining such a valuable institution as this dockyard. If we are to consider shipbuilding and other industries only in the light of relative costs, why trouble about paying bounties and subsidies to private manufacturers to encourage Australian enterprise? Ifit costs more to build ships at Cockatoo Island Dockyard than we could buy them for overseas, we can at least regard the extra cost as something in the nature of a bounty to ourselves to encourage ship-building in Australia. One honorable member stated that the Cockatoo Island Dockyard was not subject to taxation, and for that reason was not working on the same basis as private enterprise. We should not overlook the fact, however, that no privately owned dockyard in Australia is required to carry such high grade equipment, or such extensive, expensive plant, and this offsets any advantage which the institution might derive from the nonpayment of taxes. Moreover, the government dockyard is not allowed to compete with private enterprise, although there are a hundred and one ways in which it might do useful national work. This dockyard should be regarded as a national institution of vital importance. Honorable members opposite, who have condemned the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, were strongly in favour of the construction by the British Government of a naval dockyard at Singapore; but it is characteristic of them that they should oppose anything of a similar character which is in the interests of Australian nationhood. Sufficient has been said by some members on this side of the House about the good work at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, but I am justified in touching upon it because I represent an electorate in which there reside, thousands of former employees of the yard now unfortunately unemployed, and some of the present employees. Thework done by this dockyard is of national importance, and since we have it and its valuable equipment, is it not sound policy for the Government to maintain it at full working capacity? Steps should be taken to enable the dockyard to compete with private enterprise. As a matter of fact, private yards very often turn to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard for assistance in their work which their plants are unable to handle. I understand that Cockatoo Island Dockyard is prohibited from doing private work because of an interpretation of the High Court involving a constitutional issue given in regard to the Bunnerong power house. Consideration of pounds, shillings, and pence should not be the determining factor in matters of this kind. In regard to shipping, perhaps more than in any other form of commercial enterprise, callous trafficking in human life has, in the past, been practised. It is only necessary to recall the splendid work done by Plimsoll, and how it took him long years of noble public-spirited effort before he could induce the House of Commons to safegard the lives of those who travel on the seas by requiring ship-owners to refrain from overloading their vessels. As a result of his work on behalf of humanity, in opposition to the grasping commercialism of the ship-owners, we are now all familiar with the Plimsoll mark which may be seen on every ship that sails the seas. I trust that the Government may be able to find more work for the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, so that, in addition to keeping the splendid mechanical equipment in full operation, the services of the skilled workmen and officers now and formerly attached to the yard may be fully availed of. The Government, in many instances, went to the expense of sending officers to acquire skill in. special work, and it is a tragedy that men possessing technical skill and experience of the highest order, should be turned adrift merely because it costs a little more to build ships in Australia than abroad.

I should like the Minister to supply honorable members with further details regarding the item of £42,000 in connexion with war service homes. I have no objection to the money being voted; I am merely seeking information. I find myself in disagreement with one or two speakers who have castigated the “War Service Homes Department for its administrative methods. I can only say - and I oiler this testimony with pleasure - that so far as my own experience goes, I have had nothing but satisfaction from the department. In many instances, families have been saved from calamity by the sympathetic and generous consideration extended to them by the Ministers in charge of the department, during the last few months, and their officers. Such action should be recognized, and, on behalf of my constituents and myself, I express deep gratitude to thedepartment.

Mr FRANCIS:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931; LP from 1944

.- I desire certain particulars regarding the policy carried out generally by the department in connexion with the insurance of war service homes. I wish to know the total amount that has been paid by occupants of war service homes in insurance premiums up to the present time, the amount paid out in connexion with losses from fire and other causes, the amount now standing to the credit of the fund, and also the conditions under which the insurance premiums are paid. I am of the opinion that this fund is becoming large, and the experience of the last few years should have convinced the department that it is now in a position to reduce the premiums which the occupants are called upon to pay. Many exsoldiers have told me that the amount charged is excessive for the type of bouse they occupy, in view of the care exercised by them. Will the Minister inform me whether it is possible to reduce the premiums?

Mr COLEMAN:
Reid

.- The budget proposals of the Treasurer contemplated a reduction of½ per cent. in the interest on advances for war service homes, and I wish to know whether an amendment of the act is necessary to give effect to the reduction. If so, when will the amending bill be brought down, and will it be passed before Parliament rises? I assume that an amendment is necessary, because the War Service Homes Act prescribes the rate of interest as 5 per cent. I object, formally, to discrimination under the Government’s policy with regard to the reduction of interest upon war service homes advances compared with advances to soldier settlers. In the latter case the reduction is to he 1 per cent. It has been contended that as the Government bears the cost of the administration of war service homes the reduction in interest should be less in that instance; but I believe that this advantage is more than counterbalanced by the large amount that has been written off advances to soldier settlers. It seems to me that it would be equitable to reduce the rate charged to the occupants of war service homes by 1 per cent. When the rate was fixed at 5 per cent., the borrowing rate that the Government had to pay was considerably lower than it has been in recent years, and it would be equitable to make a similar reduction in both instances. I should like to know when the reduction will be effected, and how it is proposed to bring it about. Is an amendment of the act necessary, and will the reduction take place from the beginning of this month, as in the case of other reductions?

Mr CUNNINGHAM:
Assistant Minister · Gwydir · ALP

– About some of the matters which have been mentioned by honorable members, I cannot at present supply the information that has been asked for: but I shall obtain it and supply it either at a later stage, or subsequently by letter. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) raised the subject of ejectments from war service homes. Since the present Government assumed office no ejectments have occurred in cases where the occupant is unemployed. When ejectment has been found necessary, this cause has been taken as the result of inquiries, and in the opinion of the department and the Minister the occupant has been in a position to make the payments required of him. The payments required for the purchase of war service homes generally are lower than those required as rental for similar houses anywhere in Australia. That is one of the reasons why the interest rate on these homes has .not been reduced to the same extent as the rate charged by private lenders is expected to be reduced. The rate originally charged to ex-soldiers was very much lower than that for which private enterprise would look as a reasonable return from an investment of this character. It must be remembered, too, that during the recent boom period private landlords received very much higher rentals for similar houses than have been charged for war service homes, and consequently private rentals are subject to greater fluctuations than payments under contracts entered into for the purchase of war service homes. I am informed by my predecessor, the Hon. Parker Moloney, that arrangements have been made for the reduction of the payments on these homes in conformity with the reduction of wages, and, therefore, no hardship will be inflicted then. In all the cases that have come before me in which a purchaser is out of employment, not one has been ejected; but in certain cases occupants of these homes have been in receipt of from £4 4s. to £5 12s., and even £6 a week, and yet have been in arrears in their payments over a period of years. I submit that it is unfair to those occupants who meet their payments regularly to allow others to escape their liabilities. The rate of interest at which the money has been provided for the building of these homes is low, a long term of years is allowed for the completion of the pur- chase, and the payments are in consequence relatively small. Thus, the occupier after he has lived in his house for a certain number of years, will become its owner, although his payments will have been less than would have been required to rent a similar house from a private owner. In the latter case, at the end of the period, he would have no equity in the property.

I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Eldridge) pay a tribute of appreciation to the department’s administration generally in connexion with the cases that have come under his notice. He said that the occupants of the houses had received sympathetic consideration.

Mr Maxwell:

– That is the general experience.

Mr CUNNINGHAM:

– Referring to the matter raised by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), I may say that no case of re-possession of the kind he referred to has come under my notice up to the present time. The usual arrangement in regard to the purchase of war service homes is a hire purchase agreement; the purchaser does not acquire an equity in his home until such time as the property has been paid for. In the great majority of cases where the account is considered unsatisfactory the amount of arrears would exceed the purchaser’s equity in the house. In making that statement I am guided by the particulars that have been placed before me regarding the contracts; the amount in arrears and the amounts paid off the principal.

Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT

– But there are probably cases in which there arc ‘ no arrears.

Mr CUNNINGHAM:

– If the honorable member will bring such cases under my notice, I shall be pleased to look into them. I would point out that in the early years of the repayments most of the money represents interest on the capital; very little goes to the reduction of the principal. It is only in the later years of the contract, after 50 per cent, or more of the principal has been repaid, that the greater part, of the annual payment is applied to the reduction of the principal, a relatively small amount being required for the interest payments. If the purchaser of a war service home undertakes to buy on the rent purchase system he has no equity in the property until he has paid off the whole debt. If an occupant has a title to his home as a mortgagor to the department, he has the usual rights of a mortgagor, and in that case the usual mortgagor’s equity. In the case of foreclosure, if there were a surplus when a house was re-sold, it would be paid over to him, but he would be liable for the payments due to the department up to the date on which the home was relinquished. We have had cases in. which the occupants have walked out of their houses, leaving the department to find out that the house had been vacated; but these, of course, are hopeless cases, and are not, I presume, of the kind the honorable member for Brisbane has in mind.

In reply to the question raised by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman), as to the difference between the rate of interest charged by the Commonwealth in connexion with war service homes, and that charged for advances for soldier settlement, the explanation is that the Commonwealthhas to pay the cost of administering the expenditure forwar service homes,whereas the money for soldier settlement is advanced to the States, and they bear the expense of administration. It has cost the States a considerable sum for administration, and they havewritten off large amounts for losses incurred in connexionwith soldier settlement.

The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) referred to evictions. I assure him that none have taken place under my administration in caseswhere the purchaser is unemployed. It is very difficult at times to know what to do with some of the occupants of these houses. In quite a number of cases the departmentwrites to the occupier for an explanation of arrears, and the letters are absolutely ignored. Sometimes the purchaser can not be seen, and the officers of the department, after vainly trying to make contactwith him, interview his wife who can give no satisfactory explanation. Because of such conduct, action has to be taken by the department to bring a number of these people to a sense of their responsibilities, but the policy of the

Government is that no final action shall be taken without the matterbeing referred to the Minister. I assure honorable members that, if any complaint of hardship is made to them because of action threatened by the department,I shall be prepared to let them have all the facts. I feel certain that there is a good deal of misunderstanding about these cases. We all have had experience of some complainants whowrite to honorable members, but state only half the facte. A few days ago I had to dealwith a man who is in receipt of a salaryof approximately £20 a week who will not pay his installments regularly and has ignored the demands of the department. Is it reasonable that the Government should be involved in the trouble and expense of continuallywriting to this person to require him to fulfil his obligations? If hewill not do the right thing, the department has no alternative but to evict him.

Mr Watkins:

– There are many cases of a different character.

Mr CUNNINGHAM:

– I assure honorable members that, if they hear of cases of alleged hardship, and they will bring them to my notice, I shall be prepared to go fully into the factswith them with a view to ensuring that the treatment extended by the department shall be as sympathetic as the circumstances warrant.

Sir STEWART:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– That is fair enough.

Mr CUNNINGHAM:

– I am con vinced that, in regard to the cases that have come under my notice to date, the department has not been callous.

Mr A GREEN:
Minister for Works and Railways · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The new vessel for the lighthouse service, to be christened the Cape Otway, is to be used on the north and north-west coasts. What the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) has said of theKyogleis quite correct. Because of her small bunker capacity, supplies of coal must be sent forward. This makes the vessel very costly to work, and altogether unfit for long voyages. The Cape Otway will be finished in September, and, therefore, the debate on the expenditure incurred in connexionwith it is too late to have any effect. When comparing the price quoted by the Cockatoo Dockyard with the cost at which a similar vessel could be built elsewhere, honorable members must take into account the large overhead costs at the dockyard, which the Government would have to meet in any circumstances. Making allowances for that factor, the work done there is cheaper than the actual figures indicate. TheCape Otway is a first-class job, and equal to any vessel of her class.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Commonwealth Railways

Proposed vote, £57,000.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

.- The amount to be provided out of revenue for Commonwealth railways is estimated at £76,250. The amount expended last year from loans was £61,657. I should like the Minister to explain the reason for the increase. There is also a line “less amount estimated to remain unexpended at close of year, £19,250 “, leaving a net provision of £57,000. If £19,250 is to remain unexpended, why is it included in the Estimates?

Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa

.- The proposed net vote of £57,000 is to cover expenditure on the transAustralian, North Australian, Central Australian and Federal Territory railways, Will the Minister explain on what works the money will be expended, and whether the provision is for new construction or maintenance?

Mr CUNNINGHAM:
Assistant Minister · Gwydir · ALP

.-The £50,000 for the trans-Australian railway is for ballasting, improvement of water supplies, and additional accommodation and facilities at Port Augusta and along the line. The amount of £21,000 for the Central Australian railway is for the improvement of water supplies, accommodation, and improved methods of locomotive lubrication. The whole of the expenditure is on capital account. The estimated total cost of the various works is £76,250. The total amount that can be made available by the Treasurer is £57,000, and the £19,250, about which the honorable member for Richmond is concerned, is the amount that has to be saved during the year over all the items.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– The Assistant Minister has said that, although the departmental estimate is £76,250, the Treasurer hasmade available only £57,000, and £19,250 must be saved. Will the honorable gentleman explain how the expenditure and the savings are to be allocated, what work will be done, and who will supervise it ?

Mr Paterson:

– Surely the commissioner and. the Minister will decide what works shall be omitted?

Mr LYONS:
Wilmot

.- The losses on the railway systems of Australia are one of the main causes of the huge deficits with which the various governments are confronted. Therefore, the Government should eliminate all expenditure that can possibly be avoided. The total revenue of the Commonwealth rail-; ways is only £334,000, and on top of the. huge expenditure for operating, management and maintenance, we are asked to find for new works £57,000, or approximately one-sixth of the total revenue of the system. The actual loss upon that railway system will be over £750,000. I know that many items of expenditure are absolutely essential, but the proposed expenditure upon the Commonwealth railways this year represents one-sixth of the total revenue from that source. The position is becoming more serious year by year.

Mr CUNNINGHAM:
Assistant Minister · Gwydir · ALP

– In reply to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) I understand that approximately half of the sum provided under this item will be utilized for ballasting purposes. We regret that it is impossible to make available a larger sum towards the improvement of the line and the provision of employment. The Railways Commissioner has informed me that as soon as money is provided he can give employment to a number of men on ballasting. This Government, in common with other Governments of Australia, has little money at its disposal. In fact all Governments, including that of New South Wales, are endeavouring to arrange with the financial institutions of this country for assistance. The expenditure covered by this item is to be provided out of revenue, and its allocation must necessarily be left to the Commissioner of Railways. He must at all times keep a certain sum in reserve for unexpected expenditure, such as in connexion. with washaways and breakdowns. The Leader of the Opposition- (Mr. Lyons) has referred not only to the loss sustained on the railways, but also to the proportion which this expenditure bears to the total revenue from the railways. I respectfully point out to him that the party with which he is now associated did a most idiotic thing when it paid a subsidy of £30,000 to a company to enable it to run an air service in competition with the Trans-Australian railway. That action has resulted in a loss of many thousands of pounds to the Commonwealth railways.

An Honorable Member. - Why don’t you cancel the contract?

Mr CUNNINGHAM:

– The honorable member would be one of the first to object if the Government tried to break the contract that was entered into between the Bruce-Page Government, which he supported, and Western Australia ‘ Airways. This Government cannot be blamed for the loss caused by the action of its predecessor. No doubt the BrucePage Government, in giving that subsidy, had good intentions. Its revenues were booming, and it evidently considered that it was justified in encouraging this branch of aviation.

Mr Lyons:

– I did not blame this Government for the loss on the Commonwealth railways. I merely pointed out that the position warranted our serious consideration.

Mr CUNNINGHAM:

– I claim that we arc doing all that is possible in that direction.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Postmaster-General’s Department

Proposed vote, £550,000.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– I should like from the PostmasterGeneral some information concerning the provision for radio stations, and the necessary equipment. It was proposed at one time to establish a chain of radio stations throughout the Commonwealth, but I understand that owing to lack of funds the scheme reached a stage at which the Government had decided to cancel, or to attempt to cancel, certain overseas contracts.

Mr GUY:
Bass

.- Earlier in the afternoon, I referred to the scant con sideration that had been given to the claims of Tasmania for communication with the mainland. I pointed out that Tasmania is the only State in the Commonwealth which is not linked with the other States by telephonic communication. In 1928, the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) stated in his policy speech that communication with Tasmania was woefully inadequate. Let me say that it has not improved since then. If anything, it is worse. The right honorable gentleman also stated that it was the responsibility of the Commonwealth to provide interstate communication, and he pledged himself, if his party were successful at the election, to install an efficient line of communication between the State and the mainland.

Mr Beasley:

– I moved a motion to that effect in this chamber, and it was carried.

Mr GUY:

– It was a direction of Parliament. In 1929, when the Labour party was successful at the elections, the policy speech of the Prime Minister contained the following paragraph: -

The policy which 1 outlined on behalf of tlie Labour party eleven months ago still stands, ::nd will be given effect to if we are returned to power.

Included in the summary of that policy speech are these words -

Steamer services to Tasmania to be established, and placed under the complete control of the Commonwealth. Wireless telephony for Tasmania, with telephonic communication between Western Australia and the eastern States, to be installed.

That promise was made in 1928, when the Labour party was unsuccessful, and reiterated in 1929 when it was successful. It was a definite pledge given on behalf of the Labour party. I was authorized by that party to make that promise to th* electors of Tasmania.

Mr Stewart:

– It was only an election promise. ‘

Mr GUY:

– According to my code of political honour, a promise should be carried out. I was authorized by the Prime Minister, and the Treasurer, to make that promise to the people of Tasmania. In fact, I had previously received a telegram from them asking me to resign my seat in the Tasmanian Parliament in order to contest the Bass seat in the

Federal Parliament. I consider that Tasmania has been badly let down. Definite promises were made, and no effort has been made to carry them out. I wish to be fair. I am not unmindful of the financial embarrassment of the Government to-day. Tasmania is prepared to bear its fair share of sacrifice, and it has tacitly agreed to tho postponement of an improved steamship communication. But it does object to the manner in which this Government has brushed aside its promise to provide telephonic communication between Tasmania and the mainland. That proposal was submitted to and recommended by the Public Works Committee. On the 25th of June last, I asked the Minister the following question : -

In view of the cessation of tho aerial mail service between tho mainland and Tasmania, and the inability of tho Government to subsidize tho service in order that it may be continued, and also in view of the fact that Tasmania has to rely during the winter months on the equivalent of three mails per week, will he cause the work of linking up Tasmania by telephonic communication, as recommended by tho Public Works Committee, to be put in hand with the least possible delay?

The. Minister replied - -.

Subject to Parliament approving of the recommendation of tho Public Works Committee, the work will be proceeded with as early as the financial position permits. The department realizes the importance of tho service, and is anxious that it should be established as early as practicable.

My complaint is that Parliament has not been given an opportunity to express its opinion whether telephonic communication should bc given to Tasmania in the same way as it has been given to the other States. We are isolated; we have no aerial service, because of the inability of the Government to subsidize one. We have to suffer the inconveniences of a curtailed shipping service during the winter months. Yet we are an integral part of the Commonwealth. The northern part of the State has a mail delivery three times a week - Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and the southern part has three deliveries a week - Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Since Tasmania has tacitly agreed to the postponement of an improved shipping service, I suggest that the Government might give favorable consideration to the pro vision of telephonic communication with the mainland.

Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa

.- The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy) has put forward the case for Tasmania. Let me remind him that that State would now be enjoying telephonic communication had it not been for the action of his leader and himself, among others, in opposing in caucus proposals that were designed to provide the Government with sufficient funds to finance that and other works. The honorable member and his leader are, therefore, responsible to a great extent for Tasmania’s present position. They held back in the traces when we were fighting in the caucus room for the adoption of proposals to finance the Government’s activities. The honorable member voted in favour of the continuation of the orthodox method of finance. He fell down on his job. While he sticks to his present policy Tasmania will continue to have only three mail deliveries a week, and inadequate communication with the mainland. The worse the depression becomes, the greater will be the curtailment of Tasmanian services, and the policy endorsed by the honorable member has tended towards deepening the depression.

According to the Estimates, a sum of £550,000 is to be expended by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, mostly in the cities on additions, alterations, new buildings, &c.

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

– -None of it will be spent on new buildings.

Mr LAZZARINI:

– It is distinctly stated in the Estimates that the money is, anions; other things, for expenditure on new buildings. s

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

– That is the usual heading under which this vote appears, but no new buildings are to be erected this year.

Mr LAZZARINI:

– It is stated in the Estimates that money is to -be provided for new buildings at Corowa, Edgecliffe, and other places. If this money is not to be spent on new buildings, it almost seems to me that an attempt is being made to put something over the committee. Even apart from new buildings, it is stated that additions and alterations are to be effected to buildings at Chatswood, Corowa, Petersham, &c.

Mr Paterson:

– But there is no a mount of money opposite those names.

Mr LAZZARINI:

– In his enthusiasm to defend the Government, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) will say almost anything. He has been a Minister, and must know that the money is, presumably, to come out of the £550,000. I have no desire to raise the issue of city versus country; I do not believe that their interests are in opposition. In my opinion, all sections of the community should pull together for the common good; but I protest against anything being spent on providing improved postal and telephonic facilities in city and suburban areas, while facilities which have been enjoyed in country areas for the past 50 or 60 years are being taken away. If it is necessary that men and women should go into the outer areas, and, in the interests of national development, endure hardships of which city dwellers have no conception, the Government should at least help them to the extent of providing adequate postal and telephonic facilities. It should certainly not take away any of the facilities they now enjoy. An adequate telephone service is essential in the outback, where it is generally the only means by which medical aid can be summoned in urgent cases. In the past the department followed the laudible policy of steadily improving country services; but it has now reversed that policy, and is whittling those services away. Where there was a mail service on three days a week, it is being reduced to two, and bi-weekly services are being reduced to weekly services. Sometimes mail services are being cut out altogether.

Mr FRANCIS:
Moreton

.- I desire to join in the appeal to the Minister for more sympathetic consideration for country districts, particularly in respect to telephone and postal services. I am inclined to think that the Minister and his department are expecting the country people to bear more than their share of the general sacrifice demanded at the present time. Some honorable members have much more serious complaints to make than I have, and, for my part, I desire to pay a tribute to the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs and the officers of his department in Queensland for the consideration they have extended to representationsI have made from time to time.I believe, however, that there is a general feeling throughout country districts in Queensland that the Government is not so sympathetic towards their interests as they have a right to expect. Telephone and mail services mean much to the people in the remote areas, and economies should not bear with undue weight upon country residents. The Minister should keep in mind the sacrifices which country residents are already making by virtue of their residence in isolated areas.

I observe that in this year’s Estimates the department has abandoned the usual practice of displaying side by side the votes for last year, and the amount actually expended-

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

– If the honorable member looks at page 3.77 of the Estimates he will see that the amount expended was £1,288,114.

Mr FRANCIS:

– Is there any reason for departing from the usualpractice ?

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

– The expenditure shown in last year’s Estimates was out of loan money, while that shown in this year’s Estimates is out of revenue. The two are not comparable.

Mr FRANCIS:

– Whether the expenditure is out of loan moneys or revenue, it should appear in the Estimates. This document is difficult enough to follow as it is, and if the system is to be altered at the will of the department, it is time that the whole thing was reviewed.

Last year, the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), whowas then Acting Treasurer, informed me that a definite sum of money had been set aside for a new building for an automatic telephone exchange at the post office at Ipswich.I ask the Minister what has been done with that money? A sum of £2,500,000 was appropriated for work of this kind, and if definite amounts were allocated for specific undertakings, what has been done with that money? The Minister has stated that, of the sum of £2,500,000 appropriated, only £1,288,114 has been spent, which leaves over £1,200,000 unexpended. Honorable members are entitled to some information as to bow that money has been disposed of. If it has been diverted to other uses, by whose authority was that done?

Mr LACEY:
Grey

. Honorable members representing country electorates have, of late, been besieged with protests from their constituents against the reduction of postal and telephone services. Departmental economies have been effected in the country to a greater extent than in the cities. I join with those who have already protested against this policy. The district which I represent has been well treated by the Postal Department in the past. That, perhaps, was because, when the big scheme for improving postal facilities was inaugurated, the member representing my electorate happened to be also PostmasterGeneral, and, no doubt, he was impressed with the need for increased facilities in country areas. Though my electorate benefited then, it is now suffering from the reversal of that policy, and country residents are being asked to make more than their fair share of the sacrifices required. Many suburban districts are still enjoying daily mail deliveries, while residents of country districts have to be content with a delivery once every fortnight.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch:
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA

-Order ! Although postal matters may be referred to under this item, the remarks of honorable members must be associated with the telephone service.

Mr LACEY:

– People in country districts are paying more than their fair share for the inadequate service that they receive.Where previously they had weekly mail deliveries, they now have a delivery only once a fortnight, while those who had two mails a week now receive a weekly mail. Before the department expends a large amount on new works, it should consider reinstating the facilities that previously existed in country districts.

Mr LYONS:
Wilmot

– I do not propose to allow to pass unchallenged the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) about the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy) and myself. The honorable mem ber for Werriwa declared that we were largely responsible for Tasmania not having adequate shipping communication with the mainland, because we opposed financial plans that would have made that possible. At the time there was no money available to enable the Government to inaugurate that service. The honorable member and those associated with him who demand that everything should be built in Australia endeavoured to force upon the Government an expenditure of at least £1,500,000 to provide the necessary shipping service. Naturally, I opposed that, and all the other stupid monetary propositions that have emanated from the honorable member. The Commonwealth Treasurer placed that scheme before the Tasmanian people at the last State election, and the very persons who desired the service rejected the proposal of the honorable gentleman, so that I am in line with the people of Tasmania when I refuse to accept the project. I hope that, in the near future, the Government will endeavour to help Tasmania in that regard. “When a member of the Government I did all that I could in the matter, and I give the Government credit for helping me along reasonable and sound lines. However, I know the financial position of the Government, and realize that it cannot do the impossible.

Mr Lewis:

– Then what was the honorable member for Bass crying about?

Mr LYONS:

– He asked for something to which Tasmania is entitled. As a result of the establishment of telephonic communication between Australia and other countries, every State in the Commonwealth can now communicate with practically every other part of the world, with the exception of Tasmania. Every city and town in the Commonwealth is linked up by telephone, with the exception of those in the island State of Tasmania. I join the honorable member for Bass in urging that it is not too much to ask that that State should be brought into line with the rest of the Commonwealth in this matter.

Mr JAMES:
Hunter

.- I notice that practically all of the items for the extension of telephonic communication concern metropolitan areas. Additions and alterations are to be effected at

Chatswood, Kogarah, Petersham, Sydney General Post Office, and the Sydney Parcels Post Office, while new buildings are to be erected at Corowa, Edgecliff, Sydenham, and theWynyard Square and Town Hall railway stations involving an expenditure of £550,000. It is most unfair to do that at the expense of country residents. Both my predecessor, Mr. Charlton, and I have urged that an official post office should be erected at Cardiff, but our representations have always met with a refusal. My request that a public telephone should be established at Pelton was also rejected. At any time one of the miners might meet with an accident, and it is necessary to have telephonic communication in order to call medical assistance promptly. Warner’s Bay is also in need of a public telephone, while I have urged that there should be an extension of the postal delivery at Birmingham Gardens. That has been refused. The postman goes along one side of the street, but will not deliver letters on the other side because it is out of the 1-mile radius.

Since this Government assumed office it has spent a considerable amount of money in advertising, urging the people “ to do it by ‘phone “. Yet, when requests are made for the installation of a public telephone which would produce revenue, they have been refused, “ financial stringency “ being urged as an excuse. I specifically cite the case of Mr. Burden, Coal Point, Toronto, who isagreeable to pay a reasonable charge for the installation of a telephone which could be used for business purposes. The department indicated that they would install the instrument if Mr. Burton paid for the erection of the necessary telephone posts. TheKurri Kurri Golf Links also need a telephone installed at the golfhouse. That application was refused, on account of the “ adverse financial position “. Last Monday I interviewed the Deputy Director of Post and Telegraphs in Sydney, who stated that if the club were willing to pay £30 for the cost of erecting the necessary telephone poles, the telephone would be installed. What a tragedy! Every facility is given to metropolitan and suburban districts, at the expense of country districts. When people are prepared to pay the rental and calls for a telephone service, their needs should be supplied. This proposed vote of £550,000 should be divided, with the object of having half the money spent in the metropolitan areas and half spent in the rural areas, including the Hunter electorate. Instead of that the money is to be utilized for the improvement of city services which are already better catered for than the country.

Mr PRICE:
Boothby

.- There are, undoubtedly, many anomalies in the regulations of the Postmaster-General’s Department. While I should like to see a good deal more money spent in the provision of urgent postal and telegraphic facilities, I can understand that, under present conditions, this is not practicable.

I notice that an amount of £504 is being provided this year for the payment of a radio inspector in South Australia. Is this a new appointment?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch:

– The honorable member is dealing with an item in the general estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and that is not in order at this stage.

Mr PRICE:

– I wish to say quite definitely that I am not satisfied with the manner in which wireless broadcasting is being controlled at present.

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

– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member must confine his remarks to the items in the Estimates before the Chair.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:

– I ask the honorable member to assist the Chair by confining his observations to the item specifically under consideration.

Mr PRICE:

– If I cannot now refer to the proposed appointment of a radio inspector in Adelaide, may I ask the Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green) for an assurance that he will look into the. complaints that have been made about the refusal of his department to broadcast the speeches at the recent meeting of the Citizens League in Adelaide?

Mr.RIORDAN (Kennedy) [6.5].- I notice that while a considerable amount has been provided in these Estimates for postal buildings in New South Wales, nothing is being provided for work of this description in Queensland. One can find a post office in nearly every street in our capital cities, but there are many country settlements without post offices. The department has refused application after application for the establishment of a post office at the new settlement of Chewko, in Queensland, where 150 people are engaged in tobacco cultivation. The same is true of other places. People are encouraged to go out into the unsettled areas with the object of doing developmental work, but are denied the ordinary facilities of civilized life. Many people in my electorate are living seven or eight miles away from n post office. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has complained because the department requires a golf club in his electorate to erect a couple of poles before it will grant telephonic facilities. In Queensland, many poles and miles of telephone wire have been erected at the Cost of the applicants for telephonic facilities. It appears to me that while the officials of the Postmaster-General’s Department are expert in regard to automatic telephones and city postal facilities, they know very little a,bout the needs of country districts. Not only is the department refusing to grant applications for new post offices, but it is closing up offices already in existence.

At Mein, in the division of Herbert, the post office has been closed, although 75 or 80 people live in the settlement. Post offices at Millaa Millaa, Malanda, Mount Isa, and Hughenden, in North Queensland, require new buildings. It is high time that more attention was given to the postal and telegraphic needs of the country. The present policy is causing decay in country districts.

Money has been voted on the Estimates for several years for a new post office at Hughenden, but I have tried in vain to get the department to out the work in hand. The other day I received a letter to the effect that a person who had stepped on the verandah of the present post office building there with the intention of entering the office disappeared through tho floor. At Hughenden, electricity is used to light all the private houses and business premises; but a person who desires to use the public telephone there has to take a friend along with him to light matches to enable him to find the number he wants in the tele phone directory. It is high time something was done to build new post offices at these places.

It is true that on my representations the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lyons), when he was PostmasterGeneral, provided a hurricane lamp for the people at Tolga, but” they had to supply their own kerosene, and when the glass of the lamp was broken on one occasion, they had to provide a new glass for it. I have been told by honorable members who represent other districts that I was lucky to get even a hurricane lamp.

In these .circumstances I cannot feel any enthusiasm about a proposal to spend a lot of money on a new post office at Wynyard Square, and other city centres, in expectation of the completion of the underground railway system. Half of this money should be spent in country centres. I hope the Government will revise its policy, with the object of granting better facilities to country districts.

Mr CULLEY:
Denison

.- I regret that provision has not been made on these Estimates for the provision of telephonic communication between Tasmania and the mainland. Tasmania is an integral part of the Commonwealth, and its people are just as much entitled to proper means of communication with tho other States as are the people of a mainland State entitled to proper means of communication with the people of another mainland State. When it was proposed to ask the Public Works Committee to report upon the provision, of telephonic communications between Tasmania and the mainland, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said that there was very little hope of this Government giving effect to any report that the committee might make. His statement has been borne out by experience. It is perhaps hopeless to ask the Government to do anything immediately to provide Tasmania with adequate means of communicating with the mainland, because the financial position of the Commonwealth is so unsatisfactory; but I must voice my protest against the treatment that has been meted out to this State. It would be of immense benefit to the business interests of Tasmania if tele phonic communications between that State and the mainland were provided. I sincerely hope, therefore, that the preelection promise of the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) in this connexion will be fulfilled as soon as possible.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle

.- Although special postal facilities are being provided for the new underground railway in Sydney, the claims of country districts are being neglected. Only to-day I received a refusal of a request for the provision of a letter-box near an ambulance station in my electorate. The granting of increased postal facilities should not be confined to the capital cities.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– Earlier in this discussion I directed a question to the Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green), but I notice that he is not now in the chamber. As the estimates with which he is directly concerned are of importance, he should be here.

Mr Scullin:

– I am representing the Postmaster-General at the moment.

Mr BEASLEY:

– I asked the Minister if he would state the intention of the Government with regard to the equipment of radio stations. . Some time ago a definite policy was laid down with a view to establishing a chain of radio stations throughout the Commonwealth, not only in the cities, but also in country towns. Owing to lack of funds it become necessary to cancel orders given overseas for the supply of the requisite equipment. The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) will recollect that some of the trade unions complained at the time that this equipment should be manufactured in Australia. I believe that a number of deputations waited on the Minister, and asked him to reconsider the matter, so that Australian firms might be permitted to manufacture the equipment. I think that the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Eldridge) caused a stir when he requested that the details of the overseas tender be made available. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lyons) is smiling at my remarks. He, no doubt, remembers the controversy that occurred on this subject. The sum of £550,000 is now being voted for new works, and the provision of radio stations and equipment is included among them. If the overseas contracts have been cancelled, is it intended to develop, even on a less ambitious scale than the original scheme, a chain of radio stations, and will the work be given to local manufacturers ? Wireless broadcasting promises to be of the utmost importance to Australia. If the people in the country are to be denied telephonic facilities, why not compensate them to some extent for that loss by the provision of more radio stations?

Mr Scullin:

– New stations are to be erected at Newcastle, Rockhampton, Corowa, Crystal Brook, and Perth, Western Australia.

Proposed vote agreed to.

TerritoriesoftheCommonwealth.

Proposed vote, £105,235.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– I notice an item, “ Department of Home Affairs - Miscellaneous Works and Services, £54,000.” What works does the Minister propose to go on with in the Federal Capital Territory?

Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong

.- A considerable sum has been spent on the construction of the road from Canberra to Goulburn. I do not quarrel with the expenditure of money on road-making generally; but, once again, I complain that a particular State has been picked out for road construction out of federal funds. Other roads in New South Wales and in other States are equally in need of repair or reconstruction. I notice that a further sum of £8,000 is providedfor the Canberra-Goulburn road. If the work is to be done within the Federal Capital Territory, I have no complaint; but, if the money is to be spent outside the Territory, I submit that the vote should not be allowed.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– We spent £34,215 on this road last year.

Mr FENTON:

– Yes, and I notice that £71,305 was allotted. Discrimination between the States in expenditure of this nature is unconstitutional.

Mr CUSACK:
Monaro · Eden

.- I draw the attention of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) to the necessity for putting the road between Yass and Canberra in decent order.

Although a portion of the road to which I refer is not within the Federal Capital Territory, it has been worn out by the excessive use to which it was put when Canberra was being built. The fact that this road is -in a worse condition to-day than forty years ago is a disgrace to this Parliament. Every small creek which crosses this road holds water on the road itself, although the creek may be dry on either side of the highway.

Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield

.- I hope that in no circumstances will the Government devote Commonwealth money for the maintenance of the Canberra Yass road. I travelled over it recently, and found it to be in much better order than most country roads in Australia. If an honorable member wants the road that leads to and from his own -home put in first class order, I hope that the Minister will pay no heed to his request. When the Minister replies to the question asked by Mr. Fenton, regarding the Canberra-Goulburn road, I hope that he will be able to give some indication whether the present vote of £8,000 for that road will be sufficient to put it in permanent order, apart from ordinary maintenance costs. The vote last year was £71,305, of which only £34,215 has been spent. If the additional vote of £8,000 is sufficient to complete the road, the work will be carried out much more economically than was anticipated. I support what has been said by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) about the profligate extravagance involved in building fine highways through country where there is very little traffic, and where the roads benefit chiefly local traffic, or, at most, the traffic of only one State. I hope that in addition to explaining the meaning of the item of £54,000 for miscellaneous works and services, he will give an indication of the object of the further vote of £21,000 that appears under a similar heading. The total vote for the Federal Capital Territory amounts to £90,500, and that is a big sum to be spent in a few square miles of country such as this Territory. There is not much evidence in Canberra of work in progress, or of works that ought to be carried out. So far as one can see, Canberra is already overbuilt. Even if it is considered impracticable to turn the place over to better use, it should, at any rate, be allowed to lie fallow for a while. We should not permit it to consume too great a portion of the taxes which are so hard to find in the taxpaying parts of Australia.

Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling

– The amount of £21,000 to be expended in the Federal Capital Territory, under the control of the Department of Home Affairs, includes £2,000 for parks and gardens to complete sections partially planted and to provide replacements - this is practically a re-vote; and £14,500 for forestry. The whole of this amount will be expended on unemployment relief. In the Federal Capital Territory we have been able to date to avoid paying the dole to residents, by giving intermittent employment on reproductive works; only to the travelling unemployed is the dole paid. The expenditure on afforestation may be regarded as definitely reproductive, because it will return an hundredfold to the people 30 or 40 years hence. Meanwhile, it provides much work for the unemployed, because 99 petr cent, of the amount is absorbed in labour.

Mr Fenton:

– Is the department planting only pinus insignis ?

Mr BLAKELEY:

– Principally pinus insignis and pinus ponderosa are being planted on the lower levels, but we have surveyed a lot of territory in the Cotter area which is eminently suitable for the growth of American redwood and Oregon. Oregon can be successfully grown at altitudes of 5,000 to 6,000 ft. with an annual rainfall of 60 inches.

Mr Fenton:

– Has any Oregon been grown- in the Federal Capital Territory ?

Mr BLAKELEY:

– A few specimens are growing in the Yarralumla plantation, but there neither the altitude nor the rainfall is sufficient. Improvements to farm houses, dairies, fencing, &c, will absorb £2,500, but these properties are tenanted and yield a return to the Commonwealth. Of the miscellaneous works and services under the control of the Department of Works, architectural and engineering services account for £11,500 and £43,100 respectively. The engineering services include an extension of the Western Creek sludge beds at a cost of £1,750; sundry minor water supply works to cost £2,000, and the duplication of the pumping plant at the Cotter river. The estimated expenditure of £10,250 represents a revote of last year’s item, which has not been expended owing to delay in the delivery of the electrical plant, plus an amount to cover the adverse exchange.

Mr Stewart:

-Whence has theunit been ordered?

Mr BLAKELEY:

– From the United Kingdom, I believe. City storm water drainage will account for another £3,500. The amount of £8,000 for the reconstruction of the Canberra to Goulburn road is a re-vote to complete the job started by the Bruce-Page Government.

Mr Fenton:

– How many miles of construction are involved?

Mr BLAKELEY:

– About ten miles, the whole of which will be surfaced, thus reducing maintenance costs. This vote will complete the road to the Federal Capital boundary. The Commonwealth has no responsibility for main roads outside Commonwealth territory, except through the roads grant to the States.

Mr Fenton:

– The last Government spent money on the Canberra-Goulburn road outside the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr BLAKELEY:

– The last Government was notoriously prodigal. The Canberra-Yass road within the Territory is in fair condition; the maintenance of it beyond the federal boundary is the responsibility of the Main Roads Board of New SouthWales, which has gazetted it as a main road. Having travelled over that road recently, I can confirm the statement of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Cusack) that if is in a shocking state. The Commonwealth has done its share by making a grant of money to the State for expenditure on roads, but the Main Roads Board apparently, has not been able to spare money for this particular work.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Resolved -

That there be granted to His Majesty to the service of the year 1931-32 for the purpose of additions, new works, buildings, &c., a sum not exceeding £829,077.

Resolution reported.

Standing orders suspended and resolution adopted.

Resolution of Ways and Means covering resolution of Supply reported and adopted.

page 4572

APPROPRIATION (WORKS AND BUILDINGS) BILL 1931-32

Ordered -

That Mr. Scullin and Mr. Chifley do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.

Bill brought up by Mr. Scullin and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.

page 4572

ESTIMATES 1931-32

General

In Committee of Supply:

The Parliament

Proposed vote, £64,400.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
War ringah

– Proposals were mooted some time ago for a re-organization of the catering services under the control of the Joint House Committee, and I think this committee is entitled to an explanation of why the proposals were notcompleted.

For the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works £1,709 is provided, and for the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, £1,461. These committees are entirely unnecessary at the present time, and their operations should be suspended. Here is scope for legitimate economy without inflicting hardship on anybody. At a time when we are reducing pensions and the salaries of public servants, because of the dire needs of the nation, it seems to me that Parliament will render itself liable to just criticism if it continues these two standing committees with their concomitant expenses when there is no work for them to do. There are no urgent works upon which the Public Works Committee can be asked to report, and in any case, no money is available for expenditure; therefore, we should avoid the cost of this peripatetic body. For the time being, at any rate, we can dispense with the services of the Public Accounts Committee also. The work that it might do could be transferred to departmental accountants and other officials. I submit that an economy in expenditure of at least £6,000 could be legitimately effected without doing any injustice to the Public Service or of impairing its efficiency in any way.

Mr JAMES:
Hunter

.- I direct the attention of the committee to the proposed vote of £950 for fuel for Parliament House. On the 2nd July I asked the Speaker a question on this subject, and in reply thereto he said -

The Director-General of Works was aware that quotations were being submitted both by the Controller of Stores and by Mr. Sweetnam, and, in fact, informed the Secretary of the Joint House Department that he considered the last prices quoted by the Controller of Stores were too high, and requested that no action be taken until further intimation from him.No further intimation has been received from him, and it was deemed advisable to give a trial order to Mr. Sweetnam.

The latest of several competitive quotations by the Department of Works was -

Coal, £2 10s. per ton delivered, less 2s. per dozen for bags.

Coke (30 to 33 bags to the ton), £3 4s. per ton delivered, less allowance for bags.

These prices were quoted on condition that assistance was given by the Joint House Stuff in unloading and stacking, and no intimation was given that prices would vary according to the market.

The prices being paid for the trial order to Mr. Sweetnam are as follow: -

Coal - Newcastle, from one colliery, guaranteed quality, supplied and delivered in bags, £2 12s. per ton.

Coke - (34 bags to the ton), £35s. per ton.

I have since been furnished with certain information on this subject, which indicates that the particulars supplied to the Speaker were misleading, and that an approximate saving of 6s. per ton of coke, and 5s. per ton of coal, could have been made by placing the order with the Controller of Stores of the Department of “Works. The communication which I have received - I do not intend to publish the signature unless it is essential - reads as follows: -

Further to the queries under the above subject which you were good enough to have asked in the House last week, and for which please accept my thanks, it appears to me that further details are now necessary in view of the fact that the replies by Mr. Speaker are most misleading, and convey a wrong impression of the actual facts.

Mr Crouch:

– I rise to a point of order. I submit that no honorable member may either say or read from a letter to the effect that a statement made by the Speaker is misleading.

Mr James:

– It was not a statement of the Speaker which was said to be misleading, but a statement in a report furnished to him by the Chairman of the Joint House Committee.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).It is not in order for an honorable member either to make or to read any statement which reflects upon the Speaker. I must ask him to withdraw that observation.

Mr JAMES:

– I withdraw it. I had no intention of reflecting upon the Speaker. I have spoken to the honorable gentleman about this subject, and he has not regarded my remarks as a reflection upon him. I am sorry that you, Mr. Chairman, will not allow me to quote further from the letter, because I believe the information in it would be valuable to the committee.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I have not ruled that the honorable member may not quote from the letter. I have merely ruled that he may not quote anything that reflects upon the Speaker.

Mr JAMES:

– In that case I shall read the letter. It continues as follows : -

The prices for coke supplied by the stores since the 5th June last were £219s. per ton net (that is after deduction of allowance for empty bags).

Coal, £2 12s. per ton net. This, of course, is for best Maitland coal. Happy Valley coal (as supplied by the contractor) can be supplied for £2 7s. 3d. per ton.

The Speaker admitted that the contractor’s price for coke is £3 5s. per ton net, and coal £2 12s. per ton net.

As the questions asked by Mr. James were not put until the 2nd July, it is hard to understand what the Speaker means to convey when he says that the last price quoted by the Department of Works was too high, when, as a matter of actual fact, the prices paid to the Department of Works during June was in the case of coke 6s. per ton less than that paid to the contractor from the 1st July, and with coal, although on paper the price is the same, as you can see above the department supplies best Maitland coal against the contractor’s inferior Happy Valley coal, which the department would supply at £2 7s. 3d., or4s. 9d. less than the contractor’s price.

Even admitting the answers given by the Speaker to be correct, the figures supplied show that a saving on coal of1s. per ton net was secured, but a gift of6s. per ton net was made to the contractor in the case of coke, and when it is pointed out that twelve tons of coke are supplied per week approximately, against only one ton of coal, where is the economy effected, and God knows, we hear, enough about economy when they are sacking some poor worker from his job.

In view of the statement by the Speaker that the contractor will make due allowance for any variation in prices on the market for coal and coke, I would .point out that at the very moment that the Joint House Department »vas making this present of (is. per ton for coke to the contractor, the department was supplying to the hotels and public offices from’ the 1st July coke for £2 17s. net, and coal £2 lis. per ton net, delivered, and if the Secretary of the Joint House Department had so desired, he could, on inquiry from the Controller of Stores, have arranged for supplies at the same prices. Yet by correspondence, this officer advised the Controller -of Stores that ho had mode an arrangement highly satisfactory to the Joint House Department.

With regard to the assistance to unload Government lorries stressed by the Speaker, it ‘ is necessary to point out that this is not always given, and neither is it required, and even when given it certainly involves the Joint House Department in no extra expense, because the employees of the Joint House Department are there in any case, and to use it as a lever to justify the giving of an order at Cs. per ton more (and on present figures 8s. per ton more) is from the point of view of economy, beyond my comprehension, and would seem to point to the fact that some hidden influence, in this particular instance, has been brought to bear on the Secretary of tlie Joint House Committee, .compelling him to ignore tho instructions as laid down by the Auditor-General in connexion with the expenditure of public moneys.

On a basis of a supply of twelve tons of coke, and one ton of coal Pcr week average to the Joint House Committee, they are paying in the case of coke £4 16s, more, and for coal 4s. 9d. more, or a grand total of £5 Os. 9d. per week more for fuel to the contractor than they would be paying to the department at current rates. Further, if added to this is the loss of revenue to the Government’s own lorries of £3 per week, it will be seen what a highly satisfactory arrangement this must be from the point of view of the Commonwealth Treasury, particularly as the plant and staff of the transport must remain tlie same in order to carry out efficiently transport services to the other departments.

In my previous communication to you under the above subject, I omitted to state that the contractor in question is not only an undischarged bankrupt, but is at the same time a real all-square-and-a-yard-wide Nationalist.

If we allow this business to be taken away from the Transport Department, we shall possibly bring about the retrenchment of some of the employees in that section. It is tragic to think that Parliament should make a present of from 4s. to 6s. a ton for this coal to an individual who is a “ dinky-di “ Nationalist, simply because all in the chamber are Nationalists, with the exception of the few in this corner.

Mr GABB:
Angas

.- I again protest against the vote for the parliamentary refreshment-rooms, which involves an expenditure on wages amounting .to £3,750. Twelve months ago I contended that, as there were two fullystaffed government hotels within half a mile of Parliament House, members of this and another place should have their meals at those establishments. No reasonable argument can be advanced against the curtailment of this expenditure. Honorable members would be afforded an excellent opportunity of exercising themselves if they chose to make the short walk between here and either of the hotels that I have mentioned.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– -And of getting pneumonia.

Mr GABB:

– There would be no danger of their contracting pneumonia, as a bus service is available to those who shirk the exercise. From the superabundance of motor cars that appears to exist for the enjoyment of certain individuals, those who desired could, no doubt, travel in one if the weather were inclement. I am afraid that it is not much use my protesting against this unnecessary expenditure.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!

Mr GABB:

– My remarks, should have some effect, particularly as so many honorable members were so eager to deprive old-age and invalid pensioners of 2s. 6d. a week.

Mr Keane:

– The honorable member voted for that reduction.

Mr GABB:

– And I am prepared to vote for this one. Honorable members should be equally logical, and assist me to save’ the country at least £3,000 of this £3,750. I make no apology for ventilating this matter. The trouble is that honorable members believe that they are a privileged class, who can mulct the taxpayers as they will, provided that they are not found out. When I have mentioned the opportunity to effect this economy I have been told, “ Oh, look at the prestige of the position !” I do not see anything derogatory in honorable members in going for their meals to either the Hotel Canberra or the Hotel Kurrajong. It has been said that all other parliaments have refreshment-rooms. I remind honorable members that in the State capitals there are no government-controlled hotels within half a mile of Parliament House. Some time ago we were promised that a report would be made regarding irregularities that were alleged to have occurred in connexion with the parliamentary refreshment-rooms. Why have we not seen that report? If wrong has been done, the transgressors should be punished. I notice that the grant in aid of the refreshment-rooms has fallen from £900 last year to £200 for the current financial period. What is the reason? Have economies been effected, or have leakages been stopped? We are entitled to know the truth.

Mr Keane:

– What does the honorable member want done?

Mr GABB:

– I want £3,000 of this £3,750 saved.

Mr Keane:

– How can that be done?

Mr GABB:

– The item covers thirteen employees, including cooks, four waiters, three kitchen assistants, and two cleaners. Already an adequate staff exists at the hotels that I have mentioned. It is unnecessary to retain this additional staff merely to conduct parliamentary refreshmentrooms.

I am glad that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) had the courage to bring up certain matters which directly affect the taxpayers. The trouble in this Parliament is that if a person is game enough to try to expose expenditure that he believes to be unwarranted, he receives black looks, and sometimes has unkind words directed to him. I do not think that anybody can justify the continuance of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in times such as these, when retrenchments are being made all about us. It may be asked where the officers of that committee could be placed. There is a secretary, a very efficient man, who could be attached to the Income Tax Department to catch those who evade lodging returns, and the remainder of the staff of that committee could be satisfactorily placed in other positions.

Similar remarks may be applied to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, the members of which sit for an hour or two before Parliamentmeets, and draw25s. for each sitting, in additionto their ordinary salaries. That sort of thing has been going on too long, and many of us have remained silent overlong. Now that it is imperative to effecteconomies whenever possible, the time has come to take a stand on these issues. Surely no one can defend the practice of honorable members who are in receipt of £800 or £900 a year being paid an additional 25s. for a sitting of a couple of hours, while waiting for Parliament to meet 1 This Government should take courage, and eliminate such anomalies. Last year the Public Accounts Committee drew almost double the estimated amount for travelling purposes. Its members visited South Australia and other States, and made inquiries that had been made many times before. I refuse longer to remain silent about such happenings. A man with any backbone must expose them, particularly when it is essential that we should make all reasonable economies. I know that if I move for the omission of any of these items, I shall not receive any support.

Mr James:

– The honorable member has not the courage to do so.

Mr GABB:

– Very well, I shall move that the item, “ Refreshment rooms”, be omitted.

Mr Bernard Corser:

– The honorable member has no chance if he does that.

Mr GABB:

– Then I shall select an item with which I have a chance. I move -

That the amount be reduced by £1.

My object is to bring about the abolition of the committees to which I have referred.

Mr MAKIN:
Hindmarsh

.- As the senior member of the Joint House Committee in this chamber,I feel it my duty to reply to the request for information that was made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), and to the statements of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). The present House Committee, which represents the interests of this House as well as of the other chamber, has been most painstaking in carrying out its duties. We have made every effort to effect economies. An investigation was made into the management and general conduct of the refreshment rooms, and while the report submitted did not specifically allege that anything illicit had been going on, it intimated that there was room for improvement in some directions, and that it should be possible to effect important economies. There was duplication of services in respect to the dining rooms, and this added to the cost. The work was re-organized so as to eliminate the duplication, and it is now being carried on more economically than ever before. This is disclosed in the Estimates, which show that the grant in aid has been reduced from £900 to £200.

Mr Hawker:

– Does that include salaries?

Mr MAKIN:

– No. It is possible that even the £200 shown in the Estimates will not be required. Honorable members can have no reason to complain regarding what has been accomplished by the House Committee. It was found that there were difficulties in the way of any drastic re-organization of the staff, because many of those employed are permanent officers.

Mr Gabb:

– They could be transferred to the hotels.

Mr MAKIN:

– That is true, but that is another phase of the matter. Until a week or two ago, the classification covering these officers had not been approved or gazetted, and it was not possible to make any alteration in staffing arrangements until this had been done. The House Committee could only effect what economics were possible without interfering with the staff. Honorable members will agree that considerable savings have been effected without reducing efficiency.

The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) suggested that the statement of the President of the Joint House Committee regarding the supply of fuel to Parliament House was inaccurate. I can assure him that everything in the President’s statement was entirely correct. I have the official file before me, and if honorable members desire, will lay it on the table of the House. No evidence in the possession of the honorable member could possibly refute the statements in the documents I have before me. I have a com- munication from the Controller of Stores (Mr. Francis.) giving the price at which coal was supplied, and I have another from Mr. Sweetnam, setting out the posi tion in full. The honorable member asked for particulars of negotiations up to 2nd July, and the communication from Mr. Francis is the latest that was received up to that date. It was written on the 13th May, 1931, and is as follows : -

Further to our price for the supply of Muswellbrook coal in bags, it will be noted that this has been further reduced since the 5th instant to £216s. per ton delivered, less 2s. per dozen for bags, which is approximately £213s. per ton net.

The letter from Mr. Sweetnam is dated the 13th June, 1931, and is as follows: -

My quotation for best coal, as per specification, supplied and delivered in bags, is two pounds, twelve shillings per ton (£212s.).

Quotation for Newcastle coke in bags is three pounds five shillings (£3 5s.) for 34 bags to the ton.

Quotation for Newcastle coke in bags, 30 bags to the ton, is two pounds eighteen shillings (£2 18s.).

These quotations include all handling.

Mr James:

– He does not say from what mine or mines the coal was derived. Mr. Francis states that the coal he was supplying was from the Muswellbrook mine.

Mr MAKIN:

– In an earlier letter Mr. Sweetnam gave particulars regarding the quality of the coal. He did not say that it wasMaitland coal; but he gave particulars of its calorific value. It is possible that the information in possession of the honorable member for Hunter is based on a letter forwarded to the Joint House Committee by Mr. Francis, and bearing the date the 3rd July, the day after the honorable member asked his question.

Mr Beasley:

– What induced the Joint House Committee to cease obtaining its supplies of coal from the Controller of Stores ?

Mr MAKIN:

– At first the price of coal supplied was fairly high. When Mr. Sweetnam started business here, he was naturally desirous of obtaining what patronage he could, and he put in a tender for the supply of fuel to Parliament House. The Controller of Stores then reduced his price. The committee felt that as Mr. Sweetnam’s tender had been instrumental in bringing down the price quoted by the Controller of Stores, it was only right that he should be given an order. We did not make a contract with him.

Mr Francis:

– I understand that the price quoted by the Controller of Stores prior to Mr. Sweetnam putting in a tender was 18s. a ton higher than tho price quoted by Mr. Sweetnam

Mr MAKIN:

– The Controller of Stores was supplying at £3 10s. a ton.

Mr Beasley:

– The Controller of Stores has to pay award rates, and observe working conditions as prescribed in the award, whereas this contractor can obtain the labour of unemployed men for a few shillings a day. He is therefore in a position to cut prices.

Mr MAKIN:

– Wc had a statement from Mr. Sweetnam to the effect that he is employing unionists on day labour, and he must, therefore, be paying award rates.

Mr James:

– Is it not true that the final quotation of the Controller of Stores was 4s. 6d. a ton less than Mr. Sweetnam’s tender ?

Mr MAKIN:

– If the honorable member wishes to go further into the matter, I shall place the official file at his disposal. I have here a letter dated the 3rd July from the Controller of Stores. It is as follows: -

Further to your memorandum of 1st instant in reply to mine of the 1Mb. ult. in regard to the supply of ,coal and coke for which we thank you. However, no information was contained in reply to our inquiry.

As we cannot recall any complaint by yon as to our service we can only accept it as being satisfactory.

Wo regret that you feel unable to disclose the price at which you are now obtaining supply- This information is always given by us to firms quoting for supply.

Our present price for coke is £2 17s. per ton dead weight, plus 5s. for cartage. less 2d. each for bags returned. Approximately 57s. per ton nett.

Coal (Muswellbrook) £2 9s. per ton dead weight, plus 5s. for cartage, less 2d. each for bags returned, approximately £2 lis. per ton nott.

We can supply cheaper coal if required, down to -10s. per ton. Quotation, for any coal will be forwarded if you specify the colliery from which supply is desired, or if you set out the physical test you desire the coal to he subject to. There is such a variation in the quality of coal that the practical test is the determining factor rather than the price.

What I have read furnishes an answer to the question raised regarding the supply of fuel.

Mr MACKAY:
Lilley

.- This is an appropriate time to discuss items of expenditure in connexion with the Par liament. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) is to bo congratulated upon his reference to the two Parliamentary Standing Committees. Having been a member of the Public Works Committee for about nine years, I can vouch for the excellent services that it has performed, and for the thoroughness of its staff. While I was a member of the committee, I advocated that the number of its members should be reduced. On looking through the Estimates I find that the Public Works Committee has an office staff of a secretary, a clerk, and a messenger. The total sum set down for salaries is £1,224, while £485 is provided for contingencies, of which £400 is for travelling expenses, making a total of £1,709. In addition to that, £1,600 is provided for fees for members of the committee. In the vote for the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, provision is made for the salaries of a secretary and a clerk, totalling £891, which, with contingencies, £570, makes a total of £1,461, and in addition, £1,600 is provided for members’ fees. I have the greatest respect for the members of both those committees, and I. believe that they do conscientious work. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) was slightly mistaken, because, if members of the committee do not attend the meetings, they do not draw fees.

Mr Gabb:

– I should think not.

Mr MACKAY:

– The point I wish to make is that those committees involve an expenditure of £6,370 per annum, and I think that, in these times of financial depression, the number of members on the committees should be reduced. The Works Committee now comprises nine members, and that is an unwieldy number. It is true that all the members do not regularly attend the meetings; but, if the number were reduced to five, the work would be done more expeditiously, and a considerable saving would be made. A similar remark applies to the Public Accounts Committee.

The honorable member for Angas has referred to the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms, and I endorse all that he has said. Oil previous occasions I have pointed out that the Government hotels in Canberra, which are fully staffed, could easily accommodate the members of this Parliament with three meals a day and a bed. At the present time, members are supplied with bed and breakfast at the hotels, and the country is put to considerable expense in providing the other two meals at Parliament House. T favour closing the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms as a dining establishment, but making them available to members for morning and afternoon tea. It is absurd for the Government to provide meals at Parliament House and at the hotels as well. It involves a duplication of staff which is unwarranted.

I am glad that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has referred to the coal contract with Mr. Sweetnam. As a member of the House Committee, I know something of the circumstances under which that contract was let, and I commend that committee for accepting it as that has compelled the department to reduce its price. 1 understand that the difference between the price formerly charged by the department and that now quoted, amounts to 18s. a ton, owing to the huge overhead .expenses that had to be allowed for under commission control. The cost could be reduced by letting a contract for the coal required for government hotels and other public buildings, as well as for Parliament House. It has been said that Mr. Sweetnam is employing non-union labour, but I know that that statement is not correct. I know nothing of the quality of the coal. If it is inferior I would not attempt to defend the contract, but I believe that the article supplied is giving full satisfaction.

Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa

.- Apparently some honorable members desire that the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms should be kept open for the supply of afternoon tea and liquor, because they do not patronize the refreshment rooms for lunch and dinner; but, if the services are to be reduced at all, I would advocate closing the rooms altogether. If the bar is to be kept open, and if tea is to be provided mornings and afternoons, as well as during all-night sittings, it would be more expensive than if the present arrangement were continued. Why should we cease providing luncheon and dinner because certain members do not take those meals at the

House, and force the staff to injure their health by being in attendance during allnight sittings?

So long as it is understood that the proposed reduction of expenditure on the two Parliamentary Standing Committees is to be confined to the fees and travelling expenses of members of those committees, and that the present officers of those committees will not be jeopardized in their employment, I am prepared to accept the proposal for the present year. In normal times, when Commonwealth works are under construction in the different States, and, perhaps, also in the Mandated Territory, the services of these committees are most useful. Although I was a member of one of the committees for a couple of months only, I am of the opinion that, they do good work, and that a considerable sum has been saved as the result of their investigations. At the present time, however, when practically no Commonwealth works are in progress, and when pensions have been reduced, we should not provide £1,600 for each of these committees, so that their members may get a little extra pocket money to compensate them for the reduction of their ordinary allowance. I believe that these committees are often used for “ buying off “ the opposition of members to certain proposals, and that they were appointed originally for that purpose. I am well aware of the fact that, when the committees do not sit, the members do not draw fees. I am prepared to vote for a reduction of the expenditure on these1 committees for the present year, and for next year, if the depression continues, as it certainly will if the present Government remains in office, and pursues itf present policy. On this matter I find myself in the extraordinary position of being in entire agreement with the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill).

Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley

.- For many years I have considered that thi membership of both the Works Committee and the Accounts Committee is too large. The Works Committee has nine members, and the Accounts Committee, ten.

Mr Lacey:

– Members of the committees have recommended that the personnel should be reduced.

Mr BAYLEY:

– When the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) was chairman of the Public Works Committee, and when I was chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, we suggested the reduction of both those committees. I do not belittle the work done by these committees. The scope of the inquiries of the Works Committee is limited; that committee can undertake only such inquiries as may be referred to it by the House ; but the Accounts Committee may inquire into any matters that it thinks should be investigated.

Mr Gabb:

– Is there no limit to the fees that the members may draw?

Mr BAYLEY:

– Yes ; they are limited to the annual appropriation. I have no hesitation in saying that the saving in public expenditure that has resulted from the recommendations of these committees has amounted to many times more than the cost involved.

Mr Gabb:

– Does the honorable member anticipate that the Works Committee will be able to make savings this year ?

Mr BAYLEY:

-No. There is little or no work for the committee to do; but there is much scope for the Accounts Committee, which is empowered to initiate any inquiry which it deems fit. If the membership of these committees were limited to seven, or even five each, their work would be more efficiently and economically performed. The Accounts Committee has initiated many investigations. I see in this chamber several honorable members who were associated with me on that body, and I feel sure that none of us has any apology to offer for the work we did. But the conditions at the present time are exceptional, and as we have found it necessary to reduce even oldage, invalid, and war pensions, we have an obligation to curtail, wherever possible, the expenditure connected with this Parliament. When the Works Committee was first established, accommodation was not available at Parliament House, Melbourne, and itleased offices in Collinsstreet. As the committee was divorced from the services and conveniences of Parliament House, the appointment of a special staff to assist it became necessary. Now, however, the committee is housed in this building, and as the services of the ordinary messengers are available, the retention of its own special messenger is not necessary. The Accounts Committee has never felt the need to appoint a messenger ; it has conducted its work with the aid of the secretary and a clerk, and if other services are required, the parliamentary messengers are called upon. We cannot dispense with the services of the officers of the Public Works Committee, but surely other employment can be found for them. I urge honorable members to vote for the reduction of the expenditure on these committees as an intimation to the Government that their membership should be reduced. I reiterate that these committees are necessary. Undoubtedly, the Public Works Committee has saved to the public Treasury many hundreds of thousands of pounds, and a similar claim might be made on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee. Nevertheless, the committees are unnecessarily large. Nineteen of the 111 members of this Parliament are appointed to the two committees.

Mr Riordan:

– We should wipe them out; they represent a bad system introduced by a previous government.

Mr BAYLEY:

– I do not say that they should be wiped out, but I hope that the Government will decide to move that their membership be reduced. Such a motion will have my support.

The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) criticized the parliamentary refreshment rooms. I would not like to see them closed,but when the Government hotels in Canberra are unable to pay their way there is no need for the refreshment rooms to provide heavy meals. Afternoon teas and suppers might be continued, but as all honorable members live at the hotels, they should take their regular meals there. Such a change might deprive a few men on the Joint House staff of their positions, but at a time when we have to cut down the essential services of the community why should we retain to ourselves privileges which are not necessary, and are not availed of by very many honorable members?

Mr Beasley:

– What about honorable members camping in this building altogether ?

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Too much of that is taking place now.

Mr BAYLEY:

– Only a small proportion of honorable members avail themselves of the refreshment rooms, but the expenditure upon them is almost as great as if the majority patronized them. When we are reducing pensions and Public Service salaries, we should set our own house in order as an example to others. I have every sympathy with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb).

Mr LACEY:
Grey

.- Anybody listening to or reading some of the speeches that have been delivered on these Estimates would form the opinion that the members of the standing committees have laid themselves out to make as much money as possible by way of attendance fees and travelling expenses. One would think, also, that the critics had never been candidates for appointment to the committees.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I have not been.

Mr LACEY:

– The honorable member did not criticize the committees, but many of those who did have been candidates in the party rooms for election to them. There is no need for a definite motion to suspend the activities of the Public Works Committee. That body cannot conduct any investigation until this Parliament has referred a proposed work to it. In the absence of such a reference the committee does not function. As a matter of fact, the last meeting of the committee was held on the 19th April, and during this year only nine meetings of the full committee have been held.

Mr Gabb:

– Has that committee ever met for an hour before the House met, and drawn full attendance fees?

Mr LACEY:

– I have never attended a meeting of the committee’ which lasted only one hour.

Mr Gabb:

– Well, two hours?

Mr LACEY:

– Yes ; but only when the meeting of the House prevented the sittings of the committee from being prolonged. On occasions it has met four times daily, and drawn fees for only one meeting. For fifteen meetings held in the last financial year members of the committee drew no fees.

Mr Gabb:

– Had the committee exhausted its vote?

Mr LACEY:

– Yes.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Then why claim credit for having drawn no fees?

Mr LACEY:

– The committee could have applied for a further appropriation, and probably would have received it, as previous committees did. Of the £2,000 voted for the Public Works Committee in the last financial year, an unexpended balance of £1,100 was returned to the Treasury, notwithstanding that for fifteen meetings the committee drew no fees. Yet the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) and others suggest that the members of the committee are avaricious, and grasp at every penny.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– If the committee meets so seldom, why are the services of a secretary and a messenger retained ?

Mr LACEY:

– The Government ha? seriously considered that matter during the last few weeks.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– There is also provision on the Estimates for a clerk.

Mr LACEY:

– The committee employe only a secretary and a messenger, and as it has not been functioning recently the services of these oificei’3 have been used in other departments.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– What is the messenger doing?

Mr LACEY:

– His services are used wherever they arc required in the Joint House Department. As an indication of tho work done by the Works Committee, I remind honorable members that, from the date of its creation in 1915 to the end of 1930, the total value of the work upon which it had reported was £26,586,000, upon which savings amounting to £5,000,000 had been effected.

Mr Bell:

– How arc those . savings estimated ?

Mr LACEY:

– I shall explain that. Some of the amounts claimed as savings were, it is true, effected by the actual disapproval of the work and the consequent abandonment of the project. Such were tho proposals to build a storage reservoir on the Queanbeyan river at a cost of £100,000, to construct dams for ornamental waters at Canberra at a cost of £912,481, and to provide wharfage facilities at Darwin at a coSt of £223,934. Other savings were brought about by the fact that after investigation the committee was able to suggest an alternative or an improvement to the proposed work. For instance, in respect of a proposal fo carry a water supply to the Flinders Naval Base, the committee, entirely ou its own initiative, suggested a source of supply which, until then, had never been mentioned by Commonwealth or State engineers. This suggestion was adopted, and resulted in a direct saving to the Commonwealth of £61,000. By suggesting an alteration of the work proposed to be carried out in the remodelling of the Customs House, Sydney, a saving of £10,481 was made. By a modification of an elaborate air-conditioning plant suggested for the City West telephone exchange, Melbourne, a saving of a capital cost of £3,000, and an annual payment of £300 was effected. A similar saving was made in connexion with the automatic telephone exchange, Hobart. The report of the committee had the effect of delaying the work proposed to be carried out at the HendersonNaval Base, Western Australia, at an estimated cost of £4,529,109, and subsequent events showed that such work was unnecessary; but that is not claimed as an actual saving. Other instances of more frequent occurrence in which suggestions for small alterations or modifications, effecting savings of from £300 to £400, help to swell the total savings in fifteen years to £5,000,000. Apart from actual savings, the committee has been able at times to give valuable advice to the Government of the day. For instance, it insisted on the disposal of the sewage of Canberra at a point three miles outside the city when the designer of the Federal Capital was strongly in favour of the establishment of a number of septic tanks at various points within the city. On another occasion the inquiry of the committee into a contract for the construction of wooden ships for the Commonwealth led to the discovery of certain structural defects, which would have made the vessels unseaworthy, and endangered the lives of the crews. At the same time it relieved the Commonwealth from a liability of £135,200. Sometimes the advice of the committee has not been sought, and at other times its advice when sought has been unheeded, and perhaps the finances of the Commonwealth have suffered in consequence. Within the former category are the alterations to Yarralumla House to fit it for a residence for the GovernorGeneral, and also the erection of the Prime Minister’s house. Within the latter category is the erection of the

Hotel Canberra, which establishment is so seldom fully occupied. Had the advice of the Public Works Committee with respect to many of the establishments in Canberra been followed, the cost ofthis city would not have been so great.

Mr Marr:

– It would have been greater.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– From whose report is the honorable member quoting?

Mr LACEY:

– I am quoting froma report which has been drawn up at the direction of the Public Works Committee.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Is it the report of the secretary of that committee ?

Mr LACEY:

– Yes. The committee inquired into the cost of roads recently constructed in Canberra and found that it was too high. Had that inquiry begun earlier, thousands of pounds would have been saved to the Commonwealth in respect of road construction alone.

Mr Bayley:

– The honorable member must admit that the personnel of the two committees is too large.

Mr LACEY:

– I agree with the honorable member, and the committee itself has, during the last twelve months, recognized that fact. Only recently a proposal to link Tasmania with the mainland by telephone connexion was referred to the committee, and, in the interests of economy, a sectional committee consisting of a senator who represents Tasmania, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Holloway), in whose district it was proposed that one terminal of the telephonic link should be established, and myself, as chairman of the committee, was appointed to make the investigation. We inquired into the project and reported to the full committee. As a result of economies, there was an unexpended balance of special appropriation for the year of approximately £1,100. It is true that last year the committee held fifteen meetings in the final month of the financial year, but let me point out that had the committee postponed its work until after the 1st of July of that year it would have been able, because of the new appropriation, to draw additional fees. Most of the members attended every one of those fifteen meetings, and the position is quite the reverse of what has been stated here this afternoon. I agree that the personnel of the committees is too large, and that they could function properly with seven members each. I propose to move, as an amendment to the amendment of the honorable member for Angas -

That the Government consider the introduction of legislation which would provide that the number of members on the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee be reduced in each instance to seven.

If that amendment were carried it would be a direction to the Government to introduce legislation amending the acts relating to those committees. At present the Public Works Committee is in a state of suspension, but at the same time its members are drawing no fees. Their ser vices can be called upon at any time. It may be necessary for the committee te investigate any proposed works that are approved by the Premiers Conference to be held within a week or two. As chairman of the Public Works Committee, I resent the statement that members attend meetings for the sake of drawing fees. The position is quite the reverse.

Mr Gabb:

– The honorable member canvassed a good deal to gain appointment to the committee.

Mr LACEY:

– I have never known the members of the committee to refuse to sit, if necessary, two and three times a day. As chairman of that committee I cannot allow this occasion to pass without stating’ the exact position.

Progress reported.

page 4582

TARIFF SCHEDULE (NO. 3) 1931

Customs and Excise Duties

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP

– I move -

That the Schedule to the *Customs Tariff* 1921-1930 as proposed to be amended by the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-sixth day of March, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-one, be further amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the twentyseventh day of March, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-one, 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* 1921-1930 as so amended. 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 tho Excise Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-sixth day of March, One thousand mine hundred and thirty -one, be further amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the twentyseventh day of March, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-one, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Territory for the Seat of Government, Duties of Exciso be collected in pursuance of the *Excise Tariff* 1921-1928 as so amended. This resolution has been introduced for the purpose of removing certain disabilities under which local petrol refineries have operated since the introduction of the resolution of March last. Certain amendments were then made to the items covering crude petroleum imported for distillation purposes, the object of which was to prevent the importation duty free of crude petroleum of high petrol content for distillation purposes. The Commonwealth Analyst had reported that certain crude petroleums at present being obtained in the United States of America were practically ready-made petrol, as they had a petrol content of 98 per cent. The March resolution fixed tho limit of petrol content of crude petroleum at 35 per cent, for distillation purposes; but my departmental officers, after further inquiry, found that this percentage was too low, and recommended that the limit of petrol content be increased to 70 per cent. I decided, however, to refer this and other phases of the duties on petrol to the Tariff Board, which in due course endorsed the department's recommendation that the petrol limit be fixed at 70 per cent. This motion which I am moving gives effect to that recommendation. The other amendments made to the March resolution by this motion are as follow : - >Crude petroleum for use as fuel - Petrol content limited to 15 per cent, instead of 35 per cent. > >Enriched crude petroleum of up to 70 per cent, petrol content for distillation - Now free. Formerly 2d. per gallon. > >Once-run distillate of up to 70 per cent, petrol content imported for purposes other than distillation - Now 7d. per gallon. Formerly *4id.* > >Amendment nf method of ascertaining petrol content of crude petroleum. As will have been observed, these amendments will operate as on and from the 27th March, ]931, and will therefore be substituted for the relevant items in the March .1931, tariff proposals. The object is to remove the disabilities under which the local distilleries - the Commonwealth Oil Refineries and the Shell Refineries - have been operating since the 27th March. Thu amendments are substantially in accordance with the recommendations made by the Tariff Board. Certain minor amendments arn also made by the excise resolution which I am moving, and these also will operate retrospectively to the 27th March, 1931. They provide for a. reversion to the flash-point method of testing petrol, and also for excise duty to apply only to those coaltar and coke-oven distillates produced i» Australia which are suitable for use n» petrol substitutes and which have a flash point of under 73 degrees Fahrenheit. A further amendment provides for turpentine substitutes produced in Australia when used for purposes other than thos* prescribed under departmental by-law to bo dutiable at the same rate of duty a* petrol. This duty does not, however, come into operation until to-morrow, when an increased duty on imported turpentine substitutes used for similar purposes will also operate. I also move - >That the Schedule to the *Customs Tariff* 1021-1930 as proposed to bc amended by the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-sixth day of March, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-one, be further amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the thirtieth day of July, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-one, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Territory for tho Seat of Government, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuano of the *Customs Tariff* 1921-1930 as so amended. > >That, excepting by mutual agreement or until after six months' notice has been given to the Government of tho 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. The object of this motion is to amend the rates operating under certain tariff items in order to give effect to preferences to Canada under the Canadian trade agreement. But opportunity is also being taken by the introduction of the motion to include five other items which are urgently in need of amendment. The items which are being amended for Canadian trade agreement purposes are Nos. 291 (i) and (j), which cover timber for use in the manufacture of boxes and cases. On undressed timber in sizes not less than 4 in. by 3 in. the British preferential and intermediate tariffs are being reduced from ls. per 100 super, ft. to free, but the general tariff will remain at ls. The general tariff on timber undressed, cut to size, for making boxes and timber undressed or partly dressed for making boxes, is being increased by 2s., making the general tariff rate in each case 14s. and 36s. respectively. The motion also makes a substantial ' reduction in the rates of duty on hoods other than panama, pandan, and those made of felt. The reduction in th, specific rate of duty on the hoods affected, that is, straw and fibre hoods, amounts to, per dozen, 27s. British preferential; 30s. intermediate; and 36s. general. The reduced duties will, however, afford adequate protection to the straw hatmaking industry of Victoria. An all-round increase of1s. per lb. which has been imposed on filament lamps, is in accordance with the recommendation made by the Tariff Board. It is generally know that these goods are being made in Australia at present, and representatives of the company manufacturing them have stated that it is essential that increased protection be granted. I have been advised that the rates suggested by the Tariff Board and imposed by this resolution will not afford protection, but can only be regarded as revenue duties. The Government has, however, given effect to the Tariff Board's recommendation, and proposes holding a further investigation into the subject between now and the time when the item will come up for discussion by honorable members. An alternate specific rate of1s., British preferential, and 2s. general, each, on wireless valves has been imposed for the purpose of giving effective preference to British manufacturers. Although a 15 per cent. preference was granted to British manufacturers under the old rate of duty, the actual average amount of duty paid on the British valve was the same as that paid on the Dutch valve by reason of the lower f.o.b. price of the latter. In reviewing the request submitted for an effective margin of British preference the Government was forcibly struck by the great disparity between the landed duty-paid price of valves and the retail selling price. In some cases the retail selling prices were four times greater than the landed duty-paid prices. In fixing the specific rates of duty the Government has paid due regard to this fact, and the changed rates should ensure an increased revenue of £20,000 per annum without in any way increasing the price of valves to the public. The Government proposes looking into certain other lines of goods where there exists a great disparity between the landed dutypaid price and the retail selling price, and it will not hesitate to impose increased duties for revenue purposes when the facts indicate that undue profits are being made. An increased duty is being imposed on turpentine substitutes imported for use as petrol substitutes. Since the increased revenue duties have been imposed on petrol, importations of turpentine substitutes have increased considerably. Inquiries made into the reason for these abnormal importations elicited the information that large quantities were being imported by a certain proprietor of a number of service stations in Sydney, and as he could not give any sufficient reason as to the uses to which turpentine substitutes imported by him were being put, the inference is that he is selling them in admixture with petrol to unsuspecting motorists. This trade has developed by reason of the fact that the duty on turpentine substitutes is only1d. per gallon, while the duty on petrol is 7d. per gallon. The new duty of 7d. per gallon on turpentine substitutes will render the practice of mixing it with petrol unprofitable, and will also protect the revenue. Provision still exists for paint-makers and other manufacturers to obtain their supplies of turpentine substitutes at1d. per gallon. The remaining item in the schedule relates to the duty on newsprint and printing paper n.e.i., tariff items 334c 1 and 2. The British preferential tariff is being reduced by £1 per ton, and these printing papers will now be admitted free under the British preferential tariff, except, of course, for primage duty. As importations of newsprint from Canada are entitled to admission under the British preferential tariff, they also will not be required to pay the £1 per ton as hitherto. This will be a further concession to Canada, in accordance with the promise made in Parliament on 14th July, and will make the Canadian-Australian trade agreement more acceptable to Canada. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 4587 {:#debate-28} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-28-0} #### ESTIMATES 1931-32 General *In Committee of Supply* (Consideration resumed) : The Parliament *Proposed vote,* £64,400. {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR:
Parkes .- The amendment of the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb)** cannot be regarded as a motion of censure on the Government, for these committees are appointed by Parliament, although, of course, the Government has to find the money to enable them to function. I freely admit that the committees have done good work ; but, under present conditions, it is certainly unnecessary that the Works Committee should continue to operate. It can Only work, as a matter of fact, if Parliament gives it work to do. The position of the Public Accounts Committee is somewhat different. The honorable member for Grey **(Mr. Lacey)** has pointed out that last year the Works Committee spent only £900 of the £2,000 voted to it, and returned £1,100 to the Treasury. He also referred to the good work that the committee had done. I admit this; but, on the other hand, if one desired to be critical, he could point to mistakes which the committee has made. To do so he would not need to go further than this House, some of the appointments of which are not nearly as convenient as they might be. One has only to consider the arrangements that were made with regard to the refrigerating chambers. On the one side were placed the boilers, on the other the ovens, with the refrigerating chambers between the two. Over the top of the boilers was erected a room in which were placed expensive billiard tables. The first time that the boilers were heated the billiard tables were put out of plumb,1 and the 001 tractors blamed. However, I do not wish to raise controversial points. If I did, I could refer to the action of a committee in going to the Northern Territory to report on the construction of telegraph lines. {: .speaker-KZ6} ##### Mr Lacey: -- Does the honorable member seriously state that the Works Committee went to the Northern Territory to inquire into the erection of a telegraph line? {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- Something like that. {: .speaker-KZ6} ##### Mr Lacey: -- The honorable member is in error. The overland telegraph line was established long prior to federation, and the Works Committee made no inquiry into any such proposition. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- I do not wish to raise controversial issues. I believe that the Government is just as keen on saving the country's money as is any individual hon.orable member. These committees have given of their best from time to time, but I hold that their members should make their services available free. I am of the opinion that committees could be appointed with advantage to investigate proposed legislation, and give Parliament the benefit of their views when the bills were presented. I support the amendment, not as a reflection on the Government, but as an indication that tho expenditure on both of these committees should be reduced, and as a reminder to the chairman of the Accounts Committee that instead of instituting further work his committee might cease its activities for twelve months. {: #subdebate-28-0-s1 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- For some time the Government has been considering the reduction of these committees, but many other important problems have diverted its attention. It is the opinion of Ministers that the membership of these committees is too large, and as soon as the opportunity occurs, the matter will be considered with a view to proposing a reduction. I ask the committee not to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb),** and suggest that the honorable member should withdraw his amendment on my assurance that the Government will investigate this matter. If an amendment were carried to reduce the vote, a considerable amount of work would be involved in reprinting certain pages of the Estimates, and that would necessitate a much greater expenditure than £1. Of course, if some honorable members desire that the committees should be abolished, the matter must, go to a vote. As the honorable member for Grey **(Mr. Lacey)** pointed out, these committees have kept down their expenditure, and it is always within the power of Parliament not to refer matters to them for investigation. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- There is a statutory provision that any proposed work estimated to cost more than £25,000 must be referred to the Works Committee. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Parliament has power to refuse to expend any moneys. As the amount of work to be done is small, the activities of the Works Committee will be negligible. That remark does not apply with the same force to the Accounts Committee. I believe that the solution of the problem is the reduction of the membership of these committees, seven being too many! I suggest that smother Minister or myself should take up the matter with the committees. If the amendment of the honorable member for Angas is not withdrawn, I ask the committee to reject it, on my assurance that the subject will have the attention of the Government. {: #subdebate-28-0-s2 .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN:
Reid .- In view of what has been said on this subject, I feel that I should say a word or two in relation to the activities of the Accounts Committee. First, let me say that I approve of its membership being reduced. At the- same time, I point out that when the Public Accounts Committee Act became law iti 1913 it provided for a committee of nine members, but the Hughes Administration increased the number to ten in order to give the Country party representation. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr Bayley: -- **Mr. Charlton,** then honorable member for Hunter, was put on the committee as its tenth member. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN: -- I understand that the number was increased in order to give the new party representation. I remind honorable members that the members of the committee consist of representatives of both chambers. One reason for the present number of members is to ensure a quorum. I give the lie to tho suggestion that the members of the Accounts Committee attend meetings simply to collect fees. Last year the special appropriation for the committee was £2,000, of which £1,300, in round figures, was expended, the balance being returned to Consolidated Revenue. That conclusively proves that the committee docs not sit just for the sake of making fees. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- "Will the honorable member explain why the committee expended £725 in travelling last year when its vote was only £4S0? {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN: -- I shall deal with that later. The Accounts Committee undertakes investigations which have the approval of the Government. To that extent its activities can be safely limited. Its secretary is at present engaged upon a government inquiry which is apart altogether from the activities of the committee. That proves that the experience that he has gained in connexion with the committee is of considerable value to the Government {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- What is that inquiry? {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN: -- It relates to hotel and transport charges in the Federal Territory. Under its act, the committee has power to initiate its own inquiries; but during this Parliament its time has been spent on government references. The inquiry into the finances of South Australia was instituted by a resolution carried at the Premiers Conference iD August of last year. The South Australian Government asked for a grant of £1,950,000, but having made its investigations the committee recommended a grant of £1,000,000. The Government accepted that recommendation, and provided for that amount in the Estimates, thereby proving that it thought the recommendations of the committee of value. The members of the committees inform their minds in the process of their investigations upon subjects concerning government finance, and to that extent become useful critics in this . chamber. The activities . of both committees have an educative influence upon their members, and give them a greater sense of their political responsibilities. These committees are the investigators of Parliament, and it is from that stand-point that they should be regarded. The suggestion that the committees should be abolished leaves my withers unwrung; but I believe that to abolish them would be a serious blow to Parliament. The Public Account* Committee was inaugurated as the result of a demand by honorable members for the examination of public expenditure. Another important inquiry which engaged the attention of the Accounts Committee was made into the finances of Tasmania. Recommendations were submitted to Parliament last year, which were welcomed by Tasmania, but, because of the financial difficulties that confront the Commonwealth, the Government was unable to give effect to them. Regarding travelling expenses, the Public Accounts Committee, when travelling in South Australia last year, followed an itinerary, provided for it by the South Australian Government. It went only where is was asked to go. Further, all of the members of the committee did not visit that State, and no unnecessary travelling expenditure was incurred. Under the Financial Emergency Act, the whole vote of the committee has been reduced. I do not propose to deal with the origins and functions of the Public Accounts Committee at this juncture, in view of the Prime Minister's suggestion, which I hope will be adopted by the committee. I merely point out that in Great Britain a public accounts committee has existed since 1861, and has earned the tributes of such great parliamentarians as Gladstone, Disraeli, Asquith, Lloyd George and others, who recognized the necessity for such a body to exercise some control over the nation's finances. It would be a retrograde step to abolish these committees at this stage. I agree that their scope could be restricted, and their membership reduced. There are often, however, times when there is need for a standing committee to deal with government references. It is a much more economical form of investigation than that by royal commission. If cost is the only consideration, I direct attention to the fact that during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, twenty-one royal commissions were appointed in the period beginning on the 1st January, 1923, and ending on the 30th June, 1929, at a cost of no less than £107,765, the average cost of each inquiry being £5,132. During the same period the Public Accounts Committee conducted sixteen inquiries at a cost of £19,556, the average cost of each inquiry being £1,222. The inquiry by a royal commission into the finances of Western Australia cost £5,681, compared with the £1,682 incurred by the Accounts Committee when making its inquiry into the finances of South Australia. The investigation by the Development and Migration Commission into the economic position of Tasmania cost £14,973, compared with that made by the Accounts Committee for £1,524. Those figures indicate that the committee's investigations have been conducted with due regard to economy and savings have been effected, as a result of its close scrutiny of the matters to which I have referred. {: #subdebate-28-0-s3 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I intend to persist in my amendment, in an endeavour to prevent fees being paid to honorable members who sit on these com mittees. It is not my purpose on this occasion to bring about a reduction of the vote for the refreshment rooms. The purpose of my amendment is to abolish the payment of allowances and fees to members of Parliament sitting on the Public Works Committee and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, and the amendment is confined to that alone. The chairmen of those committees have said that they and their fellow members are anything but avaricious. Well, let us assume that they are actuated only by a desire to render public service. That being so, and seeing that they have been able to render such valuable service in the past, they should be only too willing to sit on these committees without fee or allowance. I do not propose to be deceived by the window-dressing which has gone on here to-night. It may go down with the public, but if honorable members were courageous enough to say here what they say freely' in the party room and in the corridors regarding the Works Committee and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, the public would learn something very different from what it has been told to-night. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- What does the honorable member mean? {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- The Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan)** should know very well what I mean. Members of this Parliament are supposed to be paid for doing a full-time job. It has been claimed that the members of these committees are not avaricious; that considerations of pounds, shillings and pence do not weigh with them; that they are immolating themselves on the altar of duty. No doubt members of the Cabinet will claim the same, despite recent revelations regarding expenses, and the use of motor cars, matters, concerning which Ministers have consistently tried to dodge the issue. It has been claimed that the committees have been instrumental in saving a great deal of public money. A great many matters relating to the building of Canberra were referred to -these committees, but I doubt whether the work could have been characterized by greater waste and inefficiency if the committees had never functioned at all. Some honorable members now in this House sat on these committees in Melbourne when matters relating to Canberra were being inquired into. As one honorable member suggested, whatever economies the committees may be responsible for are more than offset by the extravagant expenditure which they have recommended at different times. The honorable member for Grey **(Mr. Lacey)** said that certain honorable members had not told their party that they were not candidates for positions on these committees. I do not know whether he was referring to me, but I may state that from the day when I voted against the salary grab away back in 1920, I knew that I was a marked man, and that I had no chance of getting on any committee. There was no need for me to say that I was not a candidate. If honorable members wish me to give details of the canvassing which has been done for positions on committees, I shall do so. Why all this hypocrisy? Everybody knows of the underground manoeuvring which goes on in the Labour party, and, I have no doubt, in other parties also, and yet it is said that honorable members are not avaricious. The honorable member for Grey threw out his chest and said, " Our committee sat four times in one day, and we only took one fee." I should think so. They were very lucky to get that. They did very well to get 25s. for sitting a few hours at a committee meeting, when all the time their parliamentary allowance was going on. The time is rotten ripe for Parliament to take action in regard to this matter. It is all very well for the honorable member for Grey to say that his committee has not met for so long and has handed back so much of its vote. If there had been any excuse for the committee to meet, it would have done so. {: .speaker-KZ6} ##### Mr Lacey: -- The committee could have sat this morning if it had liked. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- I am referring to what was done last financial year. The committee has the whole of this year before it, and it is not rushing the first fences. I hope that the Committee will express itself by a definite vote on this matter. If honorable members support my amendment they will be setting a good example to the country. If the present members of committees are not prepared to do the work without extra payment, I am prepared to make one of those who will do the work for nothing. If I have not as much brains as some of those at present serving on committees, 1 should be sorry for myself. Work done voluntarily in this way is more likely to be satisfactory than that done for a fee. I hope honorable members on this side of the House will stand up to what they have said to me in private. It is of no use honorable members trying to make the public believe that they are not concerned about the pounds, shillings and pence side of their job. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -Fifty of the 75 members of this House get extra payments. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- That is approximately correct. We are all concerned about the money, but some of us are also desirous of rendering faithful serviceto the country. If we are getting £800 a year to do a full time job, surely there are nine or ten of us in this House ready to serve on these committees without extra payment. {: #subdebate-28-0-s4 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
AttorneyGeneral · Batman · ALP -- In every community of men holding various political and social opinions, there is generally one at least who is prepared continually to thank God that he is not as other men; and whether he spends his time swinging the bag, or preaching the Gospel of the Pharisees, makes no difference to his character. There are men who, in their dealings with other men in Parliament, or in the club, or in the street, are prepared to play the man, and there are others who are, unhappily, only too ready to play the unctuous censor. For several days past it. has been my painful experience to listen to the honorable member for Angus retailing rumour, gossip and innuendo. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).I** ask the Attorney-General to connect his remarks with the amendment. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- The honorable member for Angas referred to the things he had heard spoken of in the corridors of this House; to the things which he could tell if he would; to what he had heard in the party room, and to various sorts of rumours, innuendoes and suggestions, unsupported by facts, which he has made the basis of his argument regarding the amendment he has moved. My purpose in rising was to call attention to the fact that, in a gathering of manly men, we do not act on rumour or gossip to the detriment of each other. We do not make unsupported suggestions regarding what may be said in the corridor. We do not base motions in Parliament on things suspected but not revealed; on things which take place at private meetings of the party. There are, happily, some things which are not done. And now I say to this honorable gentleman, seeing that he is supporting his amendment with suggestions of this kind as he has so frequently done - with what he could say if he would say, with the whisperings there - if he is a man, let him come out and state his facts, and not by suggestion and innuendo defame the Parliament of which he should be proud to be a member, but which he is seeking to defile from day to day by his unsupported innuendoes. {: #subdebate-28-0-s5 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley .- I cannot support the amendment as moved by the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb).** I am in agreement with the present chairman of the Works Committee, the honorable member for Grey **(Mr. Lacey),** and the chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman),** that the number of members on these committees should be reduced. The Prime Minister has said that he is not in a position to accept the suggestion of the honorablemember for Grey that the number should be reduced, but he has promised that the Government will give the matter its earnest consideration. With that promise I am content. I trust that the amendment of the honorable member for Angas will not be agreed to. {: #subdebate-28-0-s6 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb).** Unlike some honorable members who have spoken, I do not approach this matter with any heat. The proposal to suspend the operations of the committee for twelve months is to be commended; but, in my opinion, the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb)** should have gone a step further. I notice among the votes for the Prime Minister's Department. £3,000 for travelling expenses of Ministers despite the fact that they are all provided with gold passes. That item also should be disallowed. Despite the 20 per cent. reduction in all salaries, a full-time Minister will receive £1,520 per annum, and assistant Ministers £1,200, and surely it is not necessary to provide an additional £3,000 to be cut up among Ministers by way of travelling expenses. There is no justification for voting £2,000 as travelling expenses for the members of the two Parliamentary Standing Committees. Since the Government has decided to reduce the pensions of invalid and aged persons to 17s. 6d. a week, and to cut down by 2s. 6d. a week even those pensions which amount to only 5s. a week, we should not become heated over a proposal to prevent members already in receipt of £800 a year from recouping them selves of part of the loss due to the 20 per cent. reduction by collecting travelling expenses. If these members had any sense of decency they would forgo these perks. The honorable member for Angas is to be complimented on his courage in drawing attention to this matter. I would have difficulty in finding words to express my feeling concerning those who, while agreeing to the reduction of invalid and old-age pensions, and the reduction of the maternity allowance from £5 to £4, complain that members receiving £800 a year should be prevented from cutting up a few extra thousands a year in travelling expenses. Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** put - >That the question be now put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 40 NOES: 12 Majority . . . . 28 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question that the vote proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Gabb's amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 17 NOES: 0 N oes . . . . . . 34 Majority . . . . 17 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Proposed vote agreed to. Prime Minister's Department *Proposed vote,* £251,900. {: #subdebate-28-0-s7 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa -- I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister the urgent need to impress upon the Chairman of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank the desirableness of reconsidering the conditions imposed upon the New SouthWales Government for the absorption, by the Commonwealth Bank, of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. Mr.Francis. - This matter should be discussed under the Department of the Treasury. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- But I wish to put the position before the Prime Minister and I ask you, **Mr. Chairman,** if I shall be in order in doing so. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).Strictly** speaking, this subject might more fittingly be discussed under the Department of the Treasury, but as it affects Government policy, the honorable member will be allowed to proceed. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- In the discussion on this very grave subject, I wish to avoid saying anything that may engender heat, but I intend to protest in terms as strong as parliamentary usage will allow, against the dictatorial attitude of **Sir Robert** Gibson, and wish to impress upon honorable members the grave danger that threatens the financial structure of the Commonwealth. The conditions laid down by the Commonwealth Bank Board are such as would not be imposed by anyself-respecting Jew upon a needy client, and it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that they have been dictated by political considerations, and that the desire is to humiliate and destroy the Lang Government. Although **Sir Robert** Gibson is endowed with keen business instincts, he was not associated with banking until he was foisted into his present position by the Bruce-Page Government and continued in it by this Government. But that is another story. My present intention is to confine my remarks strictly to the terms laid down by the Bank Board for acceptance by the New SouthWales Government. The Government Savings Bank of New South Wales has been most unfairly treated. If the private banking institutions of this country had been called upon to withstand for one day a raid such as was made upon the savings bank for a month, they would have closed their doors immediately. The situation has now become so serious that people are becoming restive, not only in New South Wales, but also in the other States, and the fear is entertained in some quarters that if the existing depression Continues *mud* longer, depositors in other States will be forced to make such heavy withdrawals from government savings banks and private banks, that it will not be long before those institutions will have to close their doors. If such a situation is threatened, will this financial dictator demand of other State Governments the conditions which he has imposed upon the Government of New South Wales? I realize, of course, the limitations of this Parliament in this matter. I am aware that the Commonwealth Bank Board, which is the creation of a Nationalist Government, is in absolute control of our monetary policy; but the position may develop and become so intolerable that this Government and Parliament will be forced to take action. In many respects, the present crisis is much more serious than that which occurred in the 'nineties, because then the Government of New South Wales had absolute power over the currency and was able to take action to ease the situation. If it had been endowed with similar powers in the present crisis, I am convinced that the savings bank would not have been forced to suspend operations. To that extent, the Commonwealth must accept some responsibility in this crisis, because the instrumentality which could have averted it is the creation of this Parliament. The slender thread of faith is the only thing upon which government or private banking institutions depend for their solvency. If depositors or the people generally lose faith in the present banking system, we shall see a crisis of great magnitude, because the volume of banking business has grown to enormous dimensions in recent years. The private banking institutions are in an exceedingly serious situation, because they have on current account nearly £100,000,000, and the currency available to meet sudden demands does not exceed £30,000,000. I should add that current accounts in private banks are in a totally different category, from current accounts in a government savings bank. The former return to depositors nothing in the way of interest. On the contrary, the banks charge a certain amount per annum for the keeping of these accounts, and, in return, they are supposed to be able to meet every call demand immediately.. On the other hand, current accounts in savings banks return to depositors a certain amount per annum by way of interest, to earn which the bank authorities are obliged to invest the deposit sums in approved securities, which will return to the bank an amount sufficient to pay the agreed upon interest to depositors, and also provide for the working expenses of the institution. So serious is the position of the private banks that if a panic were created, disaster would overtake the Commonwealth in a very short space of time. If the Commonwealth Bank will not come to the aid of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales on terms' more acceptable to the Government of that State, how will it be possible for the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** to justify assistance from the Commonwealth Bank to the associated banks, should that be necessary to avert a financial crisis? And yet apparently that is to be done, because, when I spoke upon this subject some time ago, the right honorable gentleman intimated that, if a crisis should occur, the Commonwealth Bank would have to be empowered to print a sufficient number of notes to meet any abnormal demand. If such action is contemplated to buttress private banking institutions, a similar course should be adopted to save an important institution like the Government Savings Bank in New South Wales. My views on banking are well known to honorable members. If it were possible, I should have no hesitation in supporting a scheme to absorb compulsorily the government savings banks in all the States, for I am convinced that Commonwealth control of banking is the only sound policy. The Commonwealth Bank should either take over the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales or render it a reasonable measure of financial assistance on terms that will permit it to function again on the scale obtaining prior to its suspension. The whole of the resources of the Commonwealth should be utilized to avoid a banking crisis. I assume that honorable members are conversant with the terms submitted by the Commonwealth Bank to the Government of New South Wales, and that it is not necessary for me to refer to them in detail. All I need say is that, in my opinion, they are unnecessarily harsh. In the present parlous condition of our rural industries the position of the people on the land will be rendered desperate if theRural Bank is compelled to foreclose, and force off their holdings people who have received advances from it. A little while ago it was stated in this chamber that the wealth of Australia is £4,000,000,000.With all this wealth as a guarantee for the stability of the Commonwealth Savings Bank, surely an effort should be made to rehabilitate the Government Savings Bank ofNew South Wales. Whatever honorable members may think of the political events of the last few months, there should be on the part of all a definite desire to see that bank rehabilitated, knowing that if its existence is endangered other savings banks and private banks may also be affected. On other occasions I have expressed views hostile to private financial institutions, but I would devote all my energy, and all my time, to prevent an upheaval approaching in its intensity that of the 'nineties. History is valuable only for the lessons it teaches us. The history of the 'nineties must teach us plainly the lesson that we are now playing with gun-powder, and if we are not careful an explosion is not far off. It is the bounden duty of the Prime Minister and the Government to do all in their power to impress on the Commonwealth Bank Board the necessity for modifying the conditions it has laid down for the absorption of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, or at any rate for making them sufficiently reasonable that the State may still find it possible to accept them. {: #subdebate-28-0-s8 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS:
Moreton .- I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister, and particularly of the Minister for Home Affairs, the tardiness of the Commonwealth in dealing with the buffalo fly pest. During a recent visit to Queensland, I discussed this matter with the Minister for Agriculture and Stock, the Honorable H. P. Walker, M.L.A., who complained of the scant courtesy he and his Government had received from the Commonwealth Government and the Minister for Home Affairs. I regret that the Commonwealth Government has not seen its way to give financial assistance to the Queensland Government to enable it to prepare a buffer area by means of which the prevention of the spread of the pest may be attempted.Seeing that the buffalo fly first came into Queensland from the Northern Territory, which is Commonwealth territory, a direct responsibility rests on the Commonwealth Government. At any rate, whatever expenditure is involved in trying to check the further spread of the fly may justly be regarded as national expenditure. If the buffalo fly is allowed to spread without hindrance, it will reach down to the east coast, and many millions of pounds will ultimately have to be spent in trying to prevent its further spread and its ultimate eradication. The Minister for Agriculture and Stock in Queensland and the senior officers of his department have made an exhaustive examination of the problem on the spot. They have travelled for many thousands of miles through the affected area. **Mr. Walker** and his officers are cattlemen of life-long association with the cattle industry. They are, therefore, competent to give a judgment upon this particular problem, and after the thorough in vestigation they have made they are emphatically of the belief that a buffer area similar to that recommended in the report to the Minister for Home Affairs will be 100 per cent. effective in preventing the spread of this pest. I quote the following from the report of the Minister for Agriculture and Stock to the Minister for Home Affairs, to whom I am indebted for the copy which I am using - >The main consideration now is to devise a means whereby the further spread of the fly may be effectually arrested, and the fly prevented from infesting cattle in areas where the conditions of climate are more congenial to it than is the case in the Gulf country. In this connexion, four methods of control have been suggested, viz. - > >The establishment of a buffer area to the east and south of the infested area. > >The control of stock movements by directing stockalong certain routes where the climatic conditions are inimical to the existence of the fly. > >The spraying of stock prior to entry into clean country. > >The placing of the fly under bio logical control. > >Tho main consideration was the creation of a buffer area, the cost of creating which, although considerable, is in no way comparable with the loss of cattle, which is estimated will shortly be in the vicinity of £2,000,000 a year. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- Why does no"t the Queensland Government get busy? {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- In the report to the Minister for Home Affairs **(Mr. Blakeley)** the Queeusland Government has indicated what it has already done and what it is further prepared to do, but the Common wealth Government proposes practically to leave it to play a lone hand. If the problem is not tackled by putting into operation the proposal of the Minister for Agriculture and Stock, I am afraid that the fly will spread down the south coast of Queensland into the dairy-' ing country in the north and south coast areas and before long reach into New South Wales. In that case, the loss of stock and the consequential decrease of our national income would be colossal. The probable ruin of many of our producers in the pastoral and dairying industries is undoubtedly a matter of national concern. The Government of Queeusland has given every facility to the officer appointed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to investigate the problem on the spot, and has offered its full co-operation with the Commonwealth Government, pointing out tlie urgency of the matter; but so far as I can ascertain, there has not yet been any consultation between the Minister for Home Affairs and any State Minister on this subject. All that "the Commonwealth Government has done on its own initiative has been to propose, to treat the matter by biological control. This is only in the experimnetal stage. No definite result has yet been achieved from this method, although it is certainly full of possibilities, and on that ground the Commonwealth Government proposes to resort to apply it in dealing with the buffalo fly problem. It may be years before a satisfactory conclusion is reached. I quote the following report of the Minister for Agriculture and Stock upon this method : - >With reference to proposal *d,* the placing of the fly under biological control presents considerable difficulty. A great deal of work in the nature of research and investigation has been carried out by the Council for Scientific arid Industrial Research, but to date the information obtained is not sufficient to allow "of the design of a plan of biological control for this particular insect, although the results at this stage offer some promise of success being achieved later. Under the most favorable circumstances, it cannot be expected that the eradication of the fly will be possible by this means. Nothing more than a measure of control of the fly can be hoped for. The parasitic insects to bo introduced would al most bc capable of keeping the numbers of buffalo flics within restriction, and preventing the fly from occasioning any sevese injury to stock. My opinion is that to adopt this unsatisfactory method of dealing with a matter which may ultimately become a great national problem, is only baulking at the question, and that if prompt, and effective action is not taken to establish a buffer area it may later on be useless to do so. A buffer area would at least ensure - that the fly is prevented from spreading. The biological test, according to a statement of the Minister made available to the press, is as yet only in the experimental stage. No complete scheme has been worked out, and no possible relief can be expected for a number of years. Yet it was the only proposal put forward by the Commonwealth; the Queensland Government has practically been asked to play a lone hand in dealing with this big national problem. That Government and the pastoral and cattle men of Queensland are prepared to make their contribution towards the cost of a buffer area, and they urge co-operation and ask for the co-operation of the Commonwealth Government. I ask the Commonwealth Government to reconsider its attitude on this question, and to give a more satisfactory reply to the representation* put forward by the Queensland Government. I am satisfied- that that Government would welcome an opportunity to discuss the whole problem with the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** and the Minister for Home Affairs **(Mr. Blakeley)/** But a buffer area should be declared immediately, while the biological tests are being pushed forward, or, at any rate, until they prove to be successful. It will definitely hold up the onward march of this pest. This point is emphasized in the following extract from a letter sent by the Premier of Queensland (the Honorable A. E. Moore) to the Prime Minister: - > *In* this connexion I desire to stress the view that the damage which has taken place up to date through the buffalo fly infestation is infinitesimal compared with the damage likely to occur to the dairying industry if the fly spreads to the coastal areas cf Queensland and the southern States. As the cost of the buffer area now rendered necessary is quite beyond the capacity of the Queensland Government to defray, I shall be glad to learn what assistance, if any, is available from the Commonwealth Government in an endeavour to arrest the further spread of the flY in Queensland, and, if possible, entirely eradicate it. I urge the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs to re-consider their attitude to this great national question. The offer which this Government has made to assist in coping with this pest is useless for all practical purposes. It is not reasonable to expect the Queensland Government to play a lone hand in combating this pest. An agitation has been on foot for very many months to get the Commonwealth Government to take up this matter, and I ask the Minister for Home Affairs to consult with the Minister for Agriculture of Queensland immediately the House rises, with a view to giving effect to the proposal to establish a buffer area. {: #subdebate-28-0-s9 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy .- It is amusing to hear die honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** speak on this subject. His interest in the buffalo fly pest is very recent. He must realize that the eradication of the pest should have been undertaken by the Bruce-Page Nationalist Government years ago. To hear the honorable member talk about establishing a buffer area would also bo amusing if the subject were not so serious. Let me ask him what will happen to the cattlemen on the Gulf of Carpentaria and in the Northern Territory if a buffer area should be established. It must be apparent to the honorable gentleman that the taking of such a step would deprive the settlers in those areas of any opportunity of getting their stock to market. They will be expected to continue paying taxes, but will be prevented from selling their stock. The honorable member for Moreton has been a member of this Parliament for fourteen years, and so far as I know, he has never before taken an interest in this subject. If a buffer area is established, the Government should also establish meat works in the north iii order to ensure a market for the cattle raised there. Ever since this Government has- been in office it has interested itself in ways and means of eradicating the buffalo fly, but for a long while it could not get the Queensland Minister for Agriculture to do anything. The people engaged in the cattle and dairying industry in North Queensland have already been put to a lot of trouble, because of the fear of the spread of this pest. It is of little use for politicians to talk about constructing fences to keep back cattle infected with the buffalo fly, particularly if they expect the cattle-raisers to pay for the fences. But something effective will have to be done before very long, or this pest will cost the cattle and dairying industries of Australia, the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland - Government, and the general taxpayers a very large sum of money. The buffalo fly is now on Mornington Island, 32 miles from the mainland. It is three years since any cattle were taken to Mornington Island. It must be evident, therefore, that the fly is blown along on the wind. If it once reaches a railway terminal in North Queensland, the results will be disastrous to the dairying industry of thai State. I suppose that a Labour government will have to deal with this pest as it had to deal with the prickly pear pest. For many years Nationalist governments in Queensland talked about the prickly pear, but did nothing to eradicate it. That work was left for a Labour government to do. It appears to me that the honorable member for Moreton is trying to make a party political issue out of this subject. Notwithstanding his ignorance of it, he has talked a good deal about it. The subject is too big to be made the plaything of party politics. Un- - loss effective steps are taken to eradicate the pest, millions of money may have to be spent to protect -the dairying herds of Australia. I hope that the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government will set to work in dead earnest to prevent any further invasion by the buffalo-fly. {: #subdebate-28-0-s10 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling [11.41J. - liver since this Government ca'me into office it has displayed a keen interest in the important problem of the eradication of the buffalofly, for it has recognized that if the fly gets a footing in our settled areas the results will be disastrous to our dairying herds, particularly on the coastal belts. Immediately after the Government came into office it arranged a conference with representatives of the Queensland government and other interested paru.es at Brisbane with the object of formulating a plan of campaign against the fly; but the conference was abortive. Reports were obtained later from the officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Health Department, and the Home Affairs Department, which showed that the fly was spreading in an alarming way. Subsequently 1 arranged for the Premier of Queensland to meet me in Canberra while he was here attending a Premiers Conference, and we discussed the matter with the Director-General of Health, **Dr. Cumpston,** the Director of Veterinary Hygiene, **Dr. W.** A. N. Robertson, **Dr. Tiliyard, Dr. Mackerras,** and an officer of my department . We went into the matter very fully. The Commonwealth Government indicated that it was anxious to assist the Queensland Government to do everything possible to resist the invasion of the fly. After the Premier returned to Queensland, he wrote a letter to me to the effect that the Queensland Government considered the eradication of the pest was the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. With that contention this Government could not agree. However, it was arranged later that certain officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should visit Queensland and report upon the conditions. The survey which **Dr. Mackerras** then made showed that the fly was spreading very rapidly. The honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** has advocated the proclamation of a buffer area, but neither **Dr. Mackerras** nor **Mr. Walker,** the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, considered that that - action would be effective. In this connexion, **Mr. Walker** makes the following remarks in a report to the Premier of Queensland : - >The creating of a buffer arpa would necessitate prompt action being taken by the Go vernments, in respect to the evacuation of branded stoat. Tlie matter ul compensation of owners lui- the evacuation of their holdings is one that must be considered by both the Commonwealth and State Governments, and in the event of the existing legislation being found inadequate to satisfactorily co<e with this matter the introduction of special legislation would bo necessary this session of Parliament. Provision should be made for exceptionally heavy penalties in cases of infringement on the buffer, area. In considering the proposal to establish a buffer area, certain obstacles would be encountered and the matters enumerated below must be considered > >The length of the flight of which the fly is capable when assisted by favorable air currents. As stated by the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan),** Mornington Island is situated about nineteen miles from the mainland, and there are also twelve miles of salty marshlands which are of no value for agistment purposes. There is, therefore, a total distance of nearly 32 miles between Mornington Island and the nearest point of agistment. The only stock introduced on to that Island since April, 1929, was one calf ; but it was not until last December that the buffalo fly made its appearance there and caused such havoc among the dairy herds. **Mr. Walker's** report continues - {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The construction of boundary fences around the buffer area definitely proof to cattle and horses (the latter including a large number of brumbies that would be difficult to muster). It is estimated that there are 10,000 brumbies inside the proposed buffer area, and a similar number outside the area adjacent to the boundary fences. I have_also learnt that it should be an easy matter to destroy 76 per cent, of these animals, but the remaining 25 per cent, would be almost impossible to get rid of in a short space of time. It is also understood that there are large numbers of wild cattle in the proposed area which have not been mustered for some considerable time, if they have ever been mustered. 1. The effectual prevention of horsemen from traversing into or across the proposed buffer area. 2. The almost insurmountable task of effecting a clean muster of cattle and horses within a short space of time. Other factors have been brought under the notice of his Government by the Minister for Agriculture in Queensland, a perusal of. whose report will show the impossibility of establishing an effective buffer area. In view of the facts quoted, I cannot understand why the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** should quote only certain portions of the report. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- He said that such a buffer area would be 100 per cent, efficient. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- It could not possibly be so. Fully 600 miles of fencing would have to be erected in the proposed area in which it is estimated that there are 10,000 brumbies, and a similar number of clean skins, as well as ji number of buffaloes. Very substantial fencing would be required to keep the brumbies and clean skins in check, and a most formidable type of fence would be required to keep the buffaloes back. It is admitted by the Minister for Agriculture that it would be almost impossible to clear that territory of brumbies and clean skins. While one single beast remained in that area a li03t would be provided for the buffalo fly, which, during prevailing winds, would be carried where it could increase at an enormous rate. In addition, 12,000 square miles of territory would have to be policed, and it is impossible to estimate the cost of getting a muster, which would have to be repeated three or four times. Owing to the rough nature of the country, it would be practically impossible to clean out the country, and any improvements effected would be only of a temporary nature. Even a skeleton fence, consisting of two barbed wires and, perhaps, a single plain wire would cost £60 a mile, or a total of about £30,000. Even if such a fence were erected, the owners would have to be compensated for vacating their leases and for losses incurred in other ways, which would amount to from £50,000 to £100,000. If that expenditure were incurred there would still be the danger of from 10 per cent, to 20 per cent, of the brumbies and clean skins remaining. Policemen and black trackers would have to patrol the fence from one end to the other. Even if the buffer area were 50 miles in width, it is possible that with a favorable wind at 60 miles an hour the fly could be carried from one end of the buffer area to the other. The expenditure might be anything in the vicinity of £500,000, which would, in all probability, be wasted. Moreover, such a proposal has not been favorably reported upon by the expert advisers of the Commonwealth. What would be the opinion of a government, which, after having employed the services of Commonwealth and State experts, ignored their recommendations? Surely, it is not suggested that the flight of the fly could be prevented by the erection of a barbed wire fence. We might spend £500,000 and then find that this pest was still finding its way to the south. A government that adopted such a course now, in the light of the evidence available, would be held up to contempt and ridicule. {: .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr Eldridge: -- Should not this matter be studied from a different stand-point altogether? Should we not try to exterminate the fly by scientific methods? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- I shall deal with that aspect of the question later. Certain recommendations have been submitted for the consideration of the Government, which appointed a sub-committee of the Cabinet consisting of the Minister for Health, the Minister controlling the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and myself, as Minister for Home Affairs. This sub-committee made certain recommendations, which have received full publicity and have been brought under the notice of Parliament. Briefly, the recommendations of that subcommittee were that the Commonwealth Government could not, in view of the,.reports submitted by Commonwealth and State scientists, accept responsibility for the provision of a buffer area. Another of the recommendations was that meat* works should be established in the north, in order that cattle should travel in that direction for treatment rather than to the south. The Government considered that purely a State function. It was also suggested that cattle should be driven from the buffalo fly area into the semi-arid regions where there is a rainfall of under 21 inches, where the fly ceases to thrive, but that was another matter over which the Commonwealth Government could not possibly have control. ^ The transportation of stock over the Queensland railways is also a State function. The spraying of cattle when trucked, or when transhipped, is also a function which was recognized as being a State responsibility. After giving very careful consider ation to the report, the sub-committee unanimously recommended to the Government that it should not accept responsibility in any of the directions I have mentioned. The Government, however, made a generous offer to the Queensland Government to make available the services of certain scientists in the employ of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Health Department, and the Department of Home Affairs, and to advise upon methods of spraying. The Government also stated that it was prepared to extend its activities in the matter of biological control, and Professor Hansen, an overseas professor, who is at present working in Java, will, in the near future, proceed to Timor in an endeavour to secure a suitable parasite. At present a parasite known as " B.Z.", as well as twelve others, are being tested. Entomological stations are to be established on Mornington Island, at Armraynald, in Queensland, and at Burnside and Brock's Creek in the Northern Territory, each of which will be under the control of entomologists capable of studying the breeding and distribution of parasites. It is likely to be a costly undertaking and the work will take some time, but we hope that science will, eventually, be able to eradicate the buffalo fly. The Government, which feels that it has done everything humanly possible, cannot be reproached by the Queensland Government for any lack of activity. I can appreciate the extraordinary difficulty with which governments have been confronted in dealing with the buffalo fly pest. Many cattle-owners in the north pooh-pooh the idea of the buffalo fly being dangerous, because any suggestion in that direction results in their stock being held up. Quarantine has been broken as cattle and horses taken from the quarantine area have assisted in the distribution of the fly. In view of all the circumstances, the Government feels that it cannot accept the responsibility which the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** has endeavoured to place upon it. *Sitting suspendedf rom 1 1.58 to 12.30 a.m. (Thursday).* *Thursday30, July* *[Quorum formed.]* {: #subdebate-28-0-s11 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I desire to refer to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. {: #subdebate-28-0-s12 .speaker-K7U} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch: -- Under what item does the honorable member propose to do that? {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I submit that I am permitted to do so, under a ruling which was given this evening by the Chairman of Committees. When the matter was referred to him, that gentleman stated that it could be discussed on the proposed vote for the administrative section of the Prime Minister's Department. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The Prime Minister does not administer the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I insist on making my statement. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If the honorable member can show me under what item the Prime Minister's Department administers the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, I shall permit him to proceed. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- This matter was referred specifically to the Chairman of Committees, not to a Temporary Chairman of Committees. He, after deliberation, ruled that, us this was a matter of government policy, it could be discussed on the vote for the Prime Minister's Department, and he permitted the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** practically to confine his speech to it. {: #subdebate-28-0-s13 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- I am only a Temporary Chairman, but 1 have to exercise my own judgment. I repeat that, if the honorable member can point to any division in the Prime Minister's Department which is responsible for the administration of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, I shall permit him to discuss the matter. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I point to Division No. 9 - Administrative. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- I decline to allow the honorable member to proceed, on the ground that the Prime Minister does not administer the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. **Mr. ARCHDALE** PARKHILL.Then I move That the ruling be dissented from. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member for Warringah has dissented from my ruling, on the ground that the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales is included in the division " Administrative" of the Prime Minister's Department, and on the further ground that my ruling is inconsistent with the ruling given by the Chairman of Committees that discussion of this matter was in order. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I desire to speak to the motion. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- On a point of order. I submit that the motion must be decided forthwith. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I submit that I am entitled to give .my reasons for dissenting from the ruling of the Chair. {: #subdebate-28-0-s14 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The relevant standing order: -- No. 228 - states - >If any objection is taken to a ruling or decision of the Chairman of Committees, such objection shall be stated at once in writing, and may forthwith be decided by the committee; and the proceedings shall then be resumed where they were interrupted. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- On previous occasions, permission has been granted to honorable members to state their reasons for dissenting from rulings of the Chair. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.As I have no precedents before me, I have to be guided by the experience of the Clerk, and I am informed by him that the practice has been to allow a discussion to take place. The honorable member for Warringah may, therefore, speak to his motion. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I regret that it is necessary to take this action, but I consider that I am not being fairly treated. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I am not reflecting on you, **Mr. Crouch,** but am merely referring to the action that you have taken officially. My reason is that this matter was raised during the speech of the honorable member for Werriwa. The point was then taken that this question should be discussed on the vote for the Prime Minister's Department, or on that for the Treasury. The Chairman of Committees, after consultation with the officials, ruled that it was a question of Government policy, and, therefore, came under the administration of the Prime Minister's Department. That decision should, I contend, bind the House, including yourself, **Mr. Chairman.** The honorable ' member for Werriwa then devoted practically the whole of his speech to a discussion of the matter without any objection being offered by either the Prime Minister or any other honorable member. If there is anything that can be characterized as Government policy, I submit that it is the administration of the banking operations of this country; and surely such a matter comes under the guidance and the direction of the Prime Minister. The vote for the administration of this department amounts to ?60,166. Every question relating to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, as well as to banking generally, has been directed to and answered by the Prime Minister. It is "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel " to rule me out of order in the circumstances, and to ask me to wait several hours for the opportunity to bring the matter up in a disjointed way in a later debate. Every honorable member who pauses and considers, must agree that the subject of banking and of finance in the administrative sense is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister. He alone can say what is the policy of the Government in regard to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, and the taking over of savings banks generally. That is the question which is here involved. One would not expect any other Minister to reply to questions relating to the control of banking institutions and the conditions under which the Commonwealth Government is prepared to take over the savings banks of the different States. It is not a question of what has happened in the past, nor of responsibility in connexion with banking institutions. The whole issue is, what is the policy of the Scullin Government in regard to the taking over of savings banks ? I insist that I am within my rights in discussing this matter under the " administrative " vote for the Prime Minister's Department, because it is clearly a matter of government policy. That was the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. I submit that neither the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** nor any other member is entitled to challenge my right to do this. They heard the matter discussed for half an hour by a member of the committee, and no point of order was taken. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.What the Prime Minister might, or might not do, is irrelevant to my ruling. I have ruled that the honorable member may not discuss a matter which is not relevant to the Estimates under consideration. My duty is to see that the proceedings of this committee are conducted in accordance with the Standing Orders. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- The honora'ble member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** has moved to dissent from your ruling. Is he not entitled to state his case in support of that motion? The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I interrupted the honorable member, not to state my own views, but to prevent him from going beyond the scope of the motion. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Having dissented from your ruling, I am appealing, not to you, **Mr. Crouch,** but to the committee, and I am entitled, without being interrupted by you, to give the committee the reason why I dissent from your ruling. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member must confine himself to reasons for dissenting from my ruling. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I submit that it would not be competent for any member who heard the ruling of the Chairman of Committees, and the speech of the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini),** to say that I am out of order, because the honorable member for Werriwa dealt exclusively with the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. If any matter concerns the administration of the Government, surely its banking policy and the taking over of savings banks by the Commonwealth is such a matter. The Prime Minister alone can speak for the Government on a matter of this kind. For that reason, and the others that I have advanced, I am, I submit, entitled to discuss this matter. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- It is true that the Chairman of Committees ruled that the subject raised by the honorable member for Werriwa' was a matter of general policy which could be discussed when the Estimates of the Prime Minister's Department were under consideration, and it is equally true that neither I nor any other honorable member raised a point of order when the honorable member was speaking. I did not interrupt the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa, although I did not agree with the Chairman's ruling. I saw no justification for it. If the subject referred to could properly be discussed as a matter of general policy in connexion with the estimates of my department, any matter could be so discussed in connexion with these estimates. But I was willing that the honorable member should be allowed to speak on the subject raised, and I was prepared to listen also to the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill).** The Temporary Chairman is within his rights in ruling that the honorable member for Warringah is now out of order, and- 1 think that that ruling is unassailable. The fact that the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** was not challenged does not establish a right on the part of the honorable member for Warringah to discuss the same subject at this stage. I can readily understand that the honorable member for Warringah is smarting under a sense of unfair treatment when he recalls that the hon; orable member for Werriwa was allowed to make a speech on a certain subject, and that he is now denied a similar opportunity. But that is not the fault of the Government; it is due to the fact that the Chairman and the Temporary Chairman have given opposite rulings. We now have to decide whether the ruling of the Temporary Chairman is correct. *May* says - >No method has been established for obtaining in the committee a general discussion upon > >Mie administration of the expenditure sanctioned by the Civil Service estimates, and debate must be kept to the specific object of the grant which is placed before the committee. There is no item in the Estimates cover ing either the Commonwealth Bank or the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. The fact that I have answered questions dealing with a matter of general policy does not permit hon.orable members to discuss the Government's administration in considering the estimates of the Prime Minister's Department. I answer questions of general policy that may relate to all departments, but it would not be permissible, in dealing with the Prime Minister's departmental estimates, to discuss every subject that relates to other departments. Strictly speaking, I do not believe that honorable members may discuss the position relating to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales under any division of the Estimates. Honorable members have many opportunities of discussing matters of government policy, but they cannot do so on the Estimates. They may do it during the budget debate, on specific motions, or on motions for the adjournment of the House. I submit that honorable members must now confine their remarks to the items contained in the Estimates. x {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Why did not the right honorable gentleman take that point when the honorable member for Werriwa was speaking? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I was prepared to per mit a certain degree of indulgence in regard to the discussion of an important matter, and I was ready to extend that indulgence to the honorable member for Warringah. Although I could have taken that point at the time, I did not do so. I think, however, that the ruling of the Chairman was wrong. Had I taken such a point of order after allowing the honorable member for Werriwa to proceed with his speech, the honorable member for Warringah would have had a genuine grievance against me. We are not now dealing with a question of indulgence; we must decide whether the ruling of the Temporary Chairman is sound. It would be wrong for this committee to refuse to uphold the Temporary Chairman in what is unquestionably a sound ruling. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- There should be a strict sense of fairness applied to the consideration of the privileges of honorable members. When this matter was raised by the honorable member for Werriwa, and- a point of order was taken by an honorable member on the Opposition side, the feeling of the Prime Minister appeared to be that it was as well to dispose of the subject during the consideration of the estimates of the Prime Minister's Department. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- That is true; but that does not prove the ruling of the Temporary Chairman to be wrong. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- I always like to be treated fairly in this chamber, whether honorable members agree with me or not, and to be fair to others. I suppose no honorable member of the committee disagrees with the honorable member for Warringah more than I do; but in this case it seems to me that he has not received the same treatment as was. extended to my colleague, the honorable member for Werriwa. Apparently, if you, **Mr. Crouch,** remain in the Chair until we reach the Department of the Treasury, you may then repeat your present ruling, and no opportunity will be given further to discuss the matter. No doubt you have the right to rule as you think fit, but when the Chairman of Committees has declared that a certain form of procedure will be followed, those who subsequently take the chair should, I think, follow the precedent he has set. I noticed the honorable member for Calare **(Mr. Gibbons)** endeavouring to obtain the call following the honorable member for Werriwa, and I, too, hoped for an opportunity later to speak on the matter also. If the ruling of the Chairman of Committees is upset, no opportunity will be given to discuss the matter further. Therefore, I support the honorable member for Warringah. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I have stated my case, and my views have not altered, but I do not propose to 'waste the time of the committee by continuing with my protest." I, therefore, ask leave to withdraw the motion. Motion - *by leave* - withdrawn. {: #subdebate-28-0-s15 .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR:
Parkes .- I direct attention to the representation of Australia in the United States of America and ask the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** if he considers that we are getting an effective return for the expenditure incurred. I have no fault to find with the officers concerned, but I doubt that our representation is of any value to the Commonwealth. The officers who are employed there might be able to serve Australia more effectively if they were transferred to the sister dominion of Canada, and carried out duties on behalf of the Markets Department. Another matter about which I am concerned has to do with the administration in New Guinea. About twelve months ago, the Government, realizing the serious position that was developing in connexion with the price of copra, came to the assistance of the planters by declaring a moratorium for twelve months. That moratorium has been renewed recently. When it was declared, the price of copra was £14 a ton. To-day, the price is £11 15s., and if one subtracts from that amount expenditure on account of insurance, freight and other charges, amounting to about £7 a ton, the net return to planters is not sufficient to cover cost of production. Consequently, the planters arc in a desperate plight. They appreciate very highly the efforts of the Government on their behalf, but they wish me to remind the Prime Minister that they are carrying the whole burden of taxation in New Guinea, professional officers, business people and public servants not being taxed in any shape or form. They suggest that, in order to give relief, the very high export duty on copra should be removed. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch: -- The honorable member's remarks are out of order. The Prime Minister's Department is charged with the administration of New Guinea, but it has nothing whatever to do with the export duty on copra. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- I submit that since the Prime Minister's Department controls the administration of New Guinea my remarks are in order, because we cannot discuss the administration under any other department. I am aware that the Minister for Defence **(Mr. Chifley)** has been dealing with this question, and has given it his sympathetic consideration, but I hope that the Prime Minister will realize the seriousness of the position confronting the administration of New Guinea, and if possible give some relief to the planters. Another question to which I direct attention has relation to the shipping services under item 16, " Shipping and mail services to the Pacific Islands ". For some time, vessels other than those trading to Australian ports, have been visiting outports, picking up copra for transhipment at the main ports. Several German ships have come into the trade recently, and as these are manned by coolie labour, they are in unfair competition with vessels of the Burns, Philp line which observe Australian conditions, although not obliged to do so. These foreign vessels take copra from outports free to the mainports, and, at the same time, they carry German agents whose business it is to push the sale of German commodities as against Australian products. It has been suggested that a duty of 10s. per ton on all cargo picked up at outports would clear up the position and enable us to maintain an Australian shipping service under Australian conditions in the islands. {: #subdebate-28-0-s16 .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN:
Reid .- I associate myself with the remarks made by the honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Marr)** concerning our representation in the United States of America, and I suggest, apart from trade and customs representation, and perhaps Treasury representation in connexon with loan operations, the Government should consider whether it is necessary to maintain the New York office on its present basis. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- Is the departmental official now doing the work formerly done by the High Commissioner? {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN: -- Yes. The cost of administration has been substantially reduced during thelast twelve months, but my point is that, as our trade with the United States of America shows an adverse balance, there is no particular reason why we should maintain the office on an elaborate scale. We should concentrate upon Canada, where there is a reasonable prospect of building up increased trade. I also wish to know what further savings in our London representation, if any, have been effected. I direct attention to the misleading manner in which the Estimates of the Commonwealth have been presented for some years. , The need for uniformity between the practices of the States and the Commonwealth in the presentation of Estimates is urgent, both from a financial and from an economic standpoint, and I suggest that a conference beheld between Treasury officials with a view to ensuring uniformity in future. Because of the application of different methods, considerable difficulty was experienced at the recent Melbourne conference in arriving at a satisfactory basis for the purpose of a comparison between the respective estimates of the Commonwealth and the States. Our estimates do not disclose the true cost of departmental activities. I cite as one example the presentation of accounts in connexion with the High Commissioner's office. According to the Treasury estimates, the cost for 1931-32 will be £49,000. but when I conducted an inquiry last year in London, I discovered that the cost, in round figures, was £62,000, but associated activities cost another £61,000, so the total cost of London representation in that year was £124,000. Presumably, a similar result would be shown in these estimates if the cost of associated activities were added in an explanatory footnote, or in some other form, so that honorable members would know what is the real cost of our representation in London. In 1929-30 the cost, excluding the agencies-general and other nonCommonwealth activities, was £200,000. Somewhere in the neighborhood of that total would be shown in these estimates if all the revelant items were included under the High Commissioner's Office. For example, the estimates for the High Commissioner's Office do not include the cost of the liaison officer, whose salary is provided under the Department of the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr Marr: -- Have we still a liaison officer in London? {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN: -- Yes. Similarly, the salary of the trade and customs officer is shown under the Trade and Customs Department, and that of the veterinary officer under the Markets Department, while the High Commissioner's salary is provided under a special appropriation in the commencement of the Estimates. There are various other items which I do not wish to elaborate, but which all go to make up a further total of £60,000. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -What are the duties of the veterinary officer in London ? {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN: -- He is engaged on work in connexion with our export trade in meat. But there is also a dairy officer there, and a number of other Commonwealth activities. The point I wish to make is that, although these Estimates show the cost of the High Commissioner's Office to be about £49,000, the real cost, including the associated activities, isin the neighbourhood of £200,000. In 1929-30, the cost of our London office, including the representations of the States, was £312,000, or, if we deduct £69,000 for the Agencies-General, a total of £243,000. I think I am right in saying that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** has in the past criticized the manner in which these estimates are submitted; but time and matters of more importance have prevented him from taking the necessary action to have them presented in a way that would readily disclose the true position. In my report, I directed attention to the manner in which the salaries of 93 clerks, typists, storemen, messengers, telephonists, and assistants were shown, and suggested that it would be more helpful if the Estimates gave more details in the case of officers in receipt of salaries of £800 a year or thereabouts. Parliament is entitled to know how much these activities are costing Australia. The AuditorGeneral has, on more than one occasion, directed attention to the manner in which the accounts are presented, and has emphasized that the information should be shown in a way that could be readily understood by the general public. {: #subdebate-28-0-s17 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
Minister for Defence · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The suggested removal of the export duty on copra, mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Marr)** has already received attention. As the honorable member knows, the duty has been reduced from time to time, and consideration given to the possibility of raising taxation from other sources. I am aware that foreign boatshave, for some time, been engaged in trade between the outports of New Guinea to the prejudice of vessels of the Burns, Philp line, which is subsidized by the Government. Complaints have been made of this unfair competition; and recently it was suggested that, to meet the situation that had arisen, we should impose a tonnage duty on all cargo shipped from outports in foreign vessels which are trading in competition with the vessels of the Burns, Philp line. The whole question is now under review. It has been brought under my notice that restrictions of the character suggested have been applied, in relation to the same matter in other Pacific islands, and I am having inquiries made as to their result. {: #subdebate-28-0-s18 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava . -Of the £52,000 provided for Pacific mail services £8,000 is paid to Burns, Philp and Company for supplying a service to the Solomon Islands. The principal trade done by the steamers which maintain this serviceis the carrying of logs to Sydneyand Melbourne, where they are sawn into planks. But on the 20 th June of last year the Minister for Trade andCustom's placed a prohibitive duty on these logs, although similar timber from North Borneo was still allowed to come in at a 10 per cent. tariff. The company which is importing these logs from the Solomon Islands, which, forsomeinexplicable reason, . have been subjected to this prohibitive duty, is registered in Victoria. It is purely Australian ; all its shareholders are Australian; itscapital is approximately £100,000, and it spends at least £8,000 a year in wages. It buys Australian goods only for its white staff and native labourers. Yet it is denied an opportunity to import its timber except at a prohibitive rate of duty. On several occasions the Minister has been asked to rectify this anomaly, but all that he can promise is that when the item is under consideration in this chamber attention will be given to any representations that may be made to him. At present the company is importing logs and sawing them in bond under special permission, in the hope that the excessive duty will ultimately be removed. I trust that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Customs will give immediate attention to this matter, andnot wait until the tariff item is reached, which may not be until Christmas, or possibly March next. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Itwill comeup before then. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I hopeso.In the meantime, the company may have to wind up. The Minister for Markets hasmade an arrangement with Canada. Let him collaborate with the Minister for Trade and Customs to have the duty on timber fromthe Solomon Islands, which is also a British possession, brought into line with the duty on timber from North Borneo, or cut out the subsidy to the shipping company. {: #subdebate-28-0-s19 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- On page 23 of the Estimates is the item, " Travelling expenses of Commonwealth Ministers, £3,000". After the recent debates urging economy in all directions, and the reduction of the invalid and oldpensionto17s. 6d. a week, and in many instances to 5s. a week, we can hardly justify a vote of £3,000 to Ministers for travelling expenses. I, therefore,move- >Thatthe item " Travelling expensesof Commonwealth Ministers - £3,000 " be omitted. There are under the Prime Minister's Department several items for travelling expenses totalling in all £13,300, andat a time like this I think we should show our sincerity, or, at any rate, practice what we preach to the invalid and old-age pensioners, by asking Ministers to do without this extra £3,000. Despite the recent cut, Ministers with portfolios are still in receipt of £1,520 a year each, and Assistant Ministers receive £1,200. The £3,000 provided for their travellingexpenses could be devoted toa better use. It could be used to advantage by subsidizing the research that is now going on in an endeavour to extract oils from coal. If Lyon Brothers, who at their own expense are experimenting in that direction at Wallsend, were given some encouragement, I thinkthey could do good work for this country. In the past it has been our practice to give assistance to those who are searching for metals,and to make huge grants for oil-boring, but so far as the coal industry is concerned - {: .speaker-K7U} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch: -- The honorable member cannot dealwith that subject. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I am speaking upon scientific and industrial research for which provision is made in the Estimates of the Prime Minister's Department, and I hold that I am entirely in order in doing so. You -cannot bluff me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member is quite in order. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I rise to a point of order. The right honorable member used the words " You cannot bluff me ", which I do not think is a respectful way of addressing the Chair. 1 therefore ask that the words be withdrawn. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I submit that I did not address those remarks to the Chair. The honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb)** interjected, "Do not let him bluff you ". He was referring to the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin),** and I retorted that I would not let him do so. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Under those circumstances the honorable mem'ber may proceed. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- The Prime Minister is evidently anxious to get one over me so thai he can have me suspended. The coal industry is certainly deserving of assistance. Provision is made in these Estimates for assistance to mining and metallurgy, but there is no item for the coal industry which, as the Prime Minister knows, is in a languishing state today. It has been proved in other countries that oil can be extracted from coal on a commercial basis, and we are now importing oil to the value of nearly £16,000,000 per annum. I admit that £100,000 was set aside for the coal industry, but that money has now been transferred to the shale oil industry. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- That money was given for the repatriation of coal-miners, but at the special request of the coal-miners' organizations, it was transferred to the shale industry. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I recognize that the miners approved of its transfer to the shale industry, but at the same time 1 contend that it has been proved that the present methods of using coal are wasteful, arid that we should encourage th? establishment of research plants such a? that which has been installed by the Lyon Brothers -at Wallsend. The money provided for the travelling expenses of Commonwealth Ministers could well be devoted to that deserving establishment, the purpose of which is to conduct researches into the extraction of oil from coal. {: #subdebate-28-0-s20 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- The expenditure on the representation of Australia in the United States of America has been reduced from £11,000 to £6,000 a year. The details of this expenditure are clearly set out. The suggestion has been made that Australia would be better represented ' by an officer in Canada, but we have an. excellent representative in Canada, **Mr. McGregor.** Some proposals for changes in our representation in the United States of America are now receiving the consideration of the Government. The honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** and other honorable mem bers have referred to the amounts pro posed to be voted for travelling expenses. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- There is another item to which 1 intended to refer, namely, £2,500 as travelling allowance and salary for the secretaries to the Leaders of the Opposition. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The honorable member will see that certain amounts are provided in the proposed votes for every department for travelling allowances for Ministers and departmental officers engaged in public business away from their homes. If Ministers and public servants were paid salaries covering travelling allowances, clearly those salaries would be too large for normal needs. On the other hand, if the salaries were equitable for the work ordinarily performed, they would not allow any margin to meet additional expenditure incurred when travelling on public business. The amount spent in travelling allowances includes transport by motor car, and other means. This expenditure has greatly decreased in the last few years. The amount spent in the Prime Minister's Department under this heading in 1928-29 was £7,078; in 1929-30 it was £4,593, and last year it was £2,564. Although an amount of £3,000 is proposed to be voted this year. it. is not anticipated that it will all be used, for economies are being effected in every possible direction. Reductions are being made in the travelling allowance of Ministers and public servants. If honorable members think that travelling allowances should not be permitted in any circumstances, they should say so. If the present salaries are sufficiently large to include travelling allowances, they are too large for ordinary purposes, and should be adjusted. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- When an old-age pensioner has to travel to a doctor, he has to meet his costs out of *Iia.* 6d per week. I bow my head in shame when I come in contact with an old-age pensioner. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The honorable member probably has good reason for doing so. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- I have good reason for being ashamed of my associations with some honorable members of this Parliament. . {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The honorable member can easily remedy that trouble. There is plenty of room for him outside the Parliament. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- At any rate he says what he thinks. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- So do I. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- The right honorable gentleman sometimes says what he docs not think. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- That is not so, But I do not intend to become heated in discussing this subject. Every effort is being made to economize. {: #subdebate-28-0-s21 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley .I have argued for a number of years when the Estimates have been under discussion, that Australia should be represented in America by the most capable man available. I do not think that we need a trade commissioner so much as a person who could act as an ambassador for Australia to the people of America. We want a person in the United States of America who would endeavour to strengthen the bonds of friendship between these two great branches of the English-speaking race. Our representative should have his headquarters in Washington or New York, and he should interest himself principally in the development of friendly sentiment between Australia and America. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- Why does not America buy some of our goods? {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- It is our own fault that the balance of trade is so greatly in favour of America. My main reason for speaking at the moment is to draw attention to another matter. In the report on Australia House, which the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman)** presented to the Government, I find the following introductory paragraph: - >Under date 9th May, 1930, I received from the Right Honorable J. H. Scullin, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, the following letter: - > >The Government would be glad if, whilst in London, you would, in your capacity of chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Accounts, inquire into and report upon the organization of the High Commissioners Office and the activities associated therewith. I submit that the Prime Minister was not entitled to ask the honorable member for Reid to make his inquiry in his capacity as chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. The Public Accounts Committee Act provides that the committee may only function when a quorum is present, and it cannot be contended that the chairman alone constitutes a quorum of the committee. It would have been quite in order for the -Prime Minister to ask the honorable member to make his inquiry in his capacity as a member of this Parliament, but that was not done. The report presented by the honorable member was signed as follows : - " P. E. Coleman, Chairman, Commonwealth Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts." It should have been signed. "P. E. Coleman, M.P." {: .speaker-KZ6} ##### Mr Lacey: -- The honorable member had more status as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- That may be so ; but he had no right to act in that capacity. The Public Accounts Committee Act provides that the committee may appoint a sub-committee to do certain work ; but the quorum of the committee is four members. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- My report on Australia House does not purport to be a report of the Public Accounts Committee. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- If any ordinary individual picked up this report and read the signature to it, he would immediately assume that he had in his hand a report of tho Public Accounts Committee, be- cause all the reports of the committee have been signed by the chairman of it. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The honorable member is not now discussing an item in the Estimates for the Prime Minister's Department; he is discussing a matter which relates to the Public Accounts Committee. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I disagree with tho Prime Minister. I submit that I am discussing the affairs of Australia House, and the report which was made by tho honorable member for Reid in regard thereto. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- That is a technicality. The honorable member should have brought this matter up when the affairs of the Public Accounts Committee were under discussion. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I do not desire to labour the matter; but I hope that the Prime Minister will not regard his action as a precedent to be followed in the future. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The honorable member for Reid submited an excellent report, which enabled the Government to make a saving of £39,000. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I am not criticizing tho report; I am merely saying that the honorable member had no right to make his inquiry in his capacity as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- He had more authority as chairman of the committee. If similar circumstances arose, I would act as I did on this occasion. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I still maintain that the honorable member had no right to make this inquiry as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and that the Prime Minister had no right to ask him to act in that capacity. {: #subdebate-28-0-s22 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I do not regard the explanation of the Prime Minister of tho expenditure on the representation of Australia in the United States of America as satisfactory. The fact is that we have no commissioner in the United States of America at present. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I did not say that wo had. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The term used in the Estimates is " CommissionerGeneral." At present wc have merely an official secretary in the United States of America. The total expendi ture for this office set down in the Estimates is £6,518. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- That is not the full expenditure, for the expense incurred by officers of the Trade and Customs Department in America is covered by the vote for that department. **Mr. ARCHDALE** PARKHILL.That is so. In my opinion this expenditure is extravagant and entirely unwarranted at present. Australia has not derived any material advantage from the maintenance of this office in the United States of America at a cost of anything up to £2,000 per annum. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The largest item represents the rent of a property leased by the Government of which the honorable member was a supporter. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I cannot understand why £10,000 should be provided when, at present, we have no Commissioner-General in the United States of America. I direct the attention of the committee and of the public generally to this unwarranted expenditure, and I invite the right honorable the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** to intimate to the taxpayers the benefits, if any, which the Commonwealth is receiving from such representation. i; has been said that the Commonwealth should have a' representative in the United States of America to handle financial matters, but **Mr. J.** R. Collins, the financial adviser of the Commonwea th in London, was recently sent to the United States of America when investigations were conducted in connexion with certain Commonwealth loan proposals. Obviously, this office is not kept open to assist the Government in connexion with loan transactions. The amount of £103,000 is also to be appropriated to meet the expenditure of the present financial year for the Council for Science and Industrial Research, £71,000 of which is to be obtained from the trust account. A study of the items of expenditure in this department discloses that there is a remarkable similitude between the subjects invest gated by that council and the Department of Health. A close examination would disclose a good deal of over.lapping in the activities of those two departments irrespective of the extent to which they in turn overlap the activities of State departments performing similar functions. This is a clear instance in which Commonwealth expenditure can be materially reduced, and the disinclination on the part of the Government to exercise economy in this regard shows its incapacity and ineptitude in handling Commonwealth finance. {: #subdebate-28-0-s23 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa -. - I intend to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James),** as in the present circumstances an expenditure of £3,000 to meet the travelling expenses of Ministers is unjustified. During recent weeks, the attention of this Parliament has been devoted almost entirely to reducing pensions of invalids, the aged, the salaries of public servants, and the maternity allowance. From time to time we have been informed of the necessity for equality of sacrifice, but in this instance Ministers of the Crown who are in receipt of a substantial allowance, and. are also provided with free transport, will not make any real sacrifice. We have been informed that the finances of this country are in a precarious condition, and the banks are threatening the Government that unless economies are effected no further accommodation will be made available. While the Government has exerted its energies in reducing the payments in some instances almost to the last penny of those who can ill afford to make any sacrifice, its members who enjoy privileges which have never been experienced by these unfortunate people are to participate in an expenditure of £3,000 which is wholly unwarranted. Is it not- time that Ministers who have many facilities at their disposal, should make some sacrifice? Members of this Parliament, particularly those representing extensive electorates in Queensland and Western Australia, incur considerable expense out of their own pockets, and it is time that Ministers met their expenditure in the same way. One could give Ministers credit for some sincerity if they made some sacrifice; but it appears that, while. they are anxious to extract the last penny from the unfortunate pensioners, they intend to fight to the last ditch any interference with the rights and privileges which they now enjoy. {: #subdebate-28-0-s24 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** to delete the item of £3,000 for the travelling expenses of Commonwealth Ministers. The right honorable the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** said that, if I wished to be logical, I should move for the deletion of all travelling allowances. If every member of the Commonwealth Public Service received a travelling allowance of 30s. a day the position would be different. The Prime Minister must realize that there are many public servants, such as messengers, who receive a comparatively small salary, who could not be expected to meet their own travelling expenses. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Some public servants and others receive higher travelling allowances than Ministers. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- But Ministers are supplied with a gold pass, which enable* them to travel free of cost on the railways. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The cost of the fare* of public servants travelling on official business is also" met by the Government. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- There are not many who draw higher travelling allowances thar Ministers. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- I recently stated that 1 was opposed to any public servant in receipt of £750 a year or over drawing any travelling allowance. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- There may be two public servants, each drawing £750 or £800 a year, one of whom may have to travel on official business, while the other may not. Would it be fair not to gram an allowance to the one who has to travel on official business? {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- Not at a time when oldage and invalid pensions have been reduced by 2s. 6d. a week. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- If one officer has to travel on official business, and the other has not, we would not be treating the officer fairly who has to travel if we did not provide a travelling allowance. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- The Government would be treating him quite as fairly as it hat recently treated many other persons. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The honorable member is begging the question. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- I am not. I vish to deal with the Prime Minister's assertion that, if I wish to he logical, I should move for the deletionof all travelling allowances. Public servants in receipt of £4 a week should not be asked to make the same sacrifices as Ministers of the Crown, who, in some cases, receive salaries amounting to £4 or £5 a day. If it were proposed to cut out the travelling allowances of all government employees receiving £750 a year and over, I should support it. That would discourage Ministers, heads of departments, and other public servants from travelling unduly. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** made another statement which, in my opinion, was misleading, when he likened travelling allowances to gold passes. There is no comparison between the two, and the right honorable gentleman knows it. It is useless for him to try to throw dust in the eyes of the public, many of whom are aware of the facts. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Railway fares are a part of travelling expenses. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- The Prime Minister knows that they are not a part of travelling allowances. The right honorable gentleman is trying to " put it over me " and the public, that because I have a railway pass I am given a travelling allowance. I say that I have no travelling allowance. He cannot deceive the public in that way. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- It represents the fare that the honorable member would have to pay, and that he thus saves. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- When the right honorable gentleman says that it isequal to a fare I agree with him. But he cannot "put it over me" that it is the equivalent of the two guineas a day that he will be entitled to draw when he attends the Premiers Conference in Melbourne. He has recently made too many misleading statements in answers to questions; but in a debate of this character I have an opportunity to " come right up to him ". {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- If the honorable member wishes to return his gold pass, there is nothing to prevent his doing so, thus saving the Commonwealth £120 a year. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- I advise the Assistant Minister (Mr.Cunningham)not to be too free with suggestions regarding the return of gold passes. He may find before long that he will have the experience of returning his. In the existing circumstances, it would be a fair thing for Ministers to refrain from drawing travelling allowances. They would still receive from £4 to £5 a day. {: #subdebate-28-0-s25 .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr ELDRIDGE:
Martin . -At pages 37, 38, and 39 of the Estimates, details are given of expenditure in connexion with the operations of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. This is a section of the Prime Minister's Department that is well entitled to our careful consideration. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- And support. {: .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr ELDRIDGE: -- We shall see. The total expenditure for the year 1931-32 is estimated at £103,322. I understand, however, that none of this will be a charge on the current revenues of the Commonwealth; that there is in existence a trust fund which permits of at least £71,000 of it being expended therefrom, and that it is anticipated that the balance will be met from certain revenues and savings that are effected by the council. This council was brought into existence in 1926, and an amount of £250,000 was appropriated from revenue to establish the trust fund. Subsequently, there was another equal appropriation for the same purpose, making a total of £500,000. Up to the 30th June, 1929, the sum of £205,781 had been spent. The expenditure for the year 1929-30 was £99,867, and for the year that has just closed it apparently was £112,067. As an honorable member said earlier of the Australian representation in the United States of America, we are entitled to inquire what benefits the Commonwealth receives from this expenditure. We might, with advantage, here glance at the reports of the council. In the latest report, that for the year ended the 30th June, 1930, there appears the following sentence:- >The work of the council is being pushed forwardas fast as practicable in full recognition of the fact that the establishment of primary production on a more profitable basis is a vital factor in the present economic and financial situation of the Commonwealth, and in the restoration of prosperous conditions. That language has a very familiar ring. Another sentence is - >Whilst governments and the nation as a whole have their own role to play in the reduction of costs of production and in increasing efficiency, science can take an equally important part. But the report does not indicate the extent to which the activities of the council will promote that end. Its work is related exclusively to material factors. Its operations are devoted chiefly to plant industries, animal nutrition - not that of human beings; animal health - not that of human beings; and so forth. On the whole, without reflecting in any way upon the good work that the council may be, and probably is, doing, it may be said that there is evidence of extraordinary inconsistency in the expenditure of the vast sum that is involved, without any attempt being made apparently to consider even the overlapping with, for example, the Health Department, that a previous speaker referred to. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are being spent, and will continue to .be spent, without any attempt at reconstruction, either financial "or to achieve the general objectives of the organization as an agency of genuine science. This, I think, has been brought about chiefly by the fact that it is an organization which was based upon the reports of **Sir Frank** Heath, who was brought from England to this country by the previous Federal Government,- doubtless at a considerable fee. The initial report furnished *by* that gentleman bristled with such words as " scientific ", " industrial ", and so forth; but a sinister silence was maintained in regard to the human and social factor of existence, without which such words are barren of intelligent meaning, viewing larger aspects of life, and especially in the light of existing circumstances. Apparently the basic principle was that this organization should secure the confidence of every one in Australia and abroad, except the workers in industry, and their trade union and parliamentary representatives. It may be urged in defence of that gentleman, that this was not his business; but even if we concede this, it was certainly the business of those who were in office and in power at that time. To-day we have to consider whether, in view of the drastic cuts that have been imposed on the most defenceless section of the community, expenditure of this kind is justified. We are entitled to ask whether this is not another example of riotous extravagance that calls for immediate attention. It seems strange to me that while the Government has surrendered those principles which brought it into power, it apparently is either blind or indifferent to the equity of effecting economies in expenditure of this nature. Other honorable members have spoken of the necessity for a revision of items of this type, and I endorse their views. It would be idle to say that this country is not in need of some council of a scientific nature, and I should not like my remarks to convey the impression that I do not believe in tho application of scientific principles to the affairs of this country. But apart from the economies that might be effected directly, the time has surely arrived for insisting that the work of this council shall include social science activities bearing on the human factor in industry and society in general. I consider that a very good case can be made out for the establishment of consumer economics and home welfare organizations, such as have been established in the United States of America, and in several parts of Europe. One of the greatest of the controlling forces in the economic situation to-day is the purchasing power of the home-maker. Is not that something which is entitled to be given some semblance of scientific consideration? The true conception of Australia is, not merely that of a nation of 6,500,000 persons, but of a community of about 2,000,000 homes. About fourfifths of the nation's retail spending is in the hands of women, who are thus the ultimate controlling force in every avenue of production and distribution. The welfare of the child is inextricably bound up with a home life, which is satisfactory psychologically, materially, and spiritually, and is conserved and promoted only to the extent that its interests are fostered and directed with the fullest advantages of modern science in the most wise application of the laws of nature. The womanhood and motherhood of Australia would strongly support activities such as these. It surely is a tragic commentary on Australian civilization that there is no Federal Government agency to deal with these problems. Although Australian scientists have visited the United States of America, I have found no record of reports having been submitted to tho Commonwealth Government of the activities in that country in tho direction of the establishment of women's and children's bureaux, and the consideration of human and home economics. In that country problems concerning the welfare of the child are regarded as of paramount importance, as is shown by the conferences held there periodically. Some of these, including the "White House conference on child welfare, and motherhood problems, are of an international character, and have been conducted under the personal presidency .of the President of the United States of America. I suggest that, instead of passing estimates involving great expenditure on activities that are comparatively inconsequential, some attention should be paid to more constructive and socially urgent work, such as I have outlined, on which the ex- penditure would be better justified, t is difficult to find any infor.mation regarding the sessions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Apparently, only two meetings «f the full council are held annually. In view of the general desire for economy, the Government would be well advised to give careful attention to the activities of this body, with a view to effecting Savings of a real character and its entire reorganization. In its investigations, it should pay due regard to social science and the human factor in industry. {: #subdebate-28-0-s26 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Tarra · ALP -- It is due to the members of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that I should say that their work has proved of real value to. Australia. The expenditure contemplated for this year represents a decrease compared with last year. There will be no expenditure from revenue this financial year, because- £71,000 is being provided from the trust fund, and £32,643 has been contributed from outside sources. Another £14,000 has been received from outside sources since the Estimates have been prepared. {: .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr Eldridge: -- Is not this body working on a grant of £500,000? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Not now. The trust fund is almost exhausted. To show that the work of this body is of practical value to the country, I may mention thai the Empire Marketing Board has provided £5,071 for the investigation of animal health, the Australian Pastoral Research Trust £2,071, the Queensland Government £1,000, the United Graziers Association of Queensland £1,000, and the meat export industry £1,000. In addition to those sums, the Empire Marketing Board contributes £9,700 for the investigation of plant diseases, and £7,351 for entomological research. Other important items are - Rural Credits Development Fund, £1,000; Empire Marketing Board, £1,475; and Australian Pastoral Research Trust, £1,475, for the investigation of animal nutrition ; and the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission of New South Wales, £1,500 for horiticultural investigation. {: .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr Eldridge: -- Should a scientific organization, under the control of the Commonwealth Government, devote its activities exclusively to those subjects? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Probably not; but tlie discovery of improved methods of production is of assistance to the human family. The work done by this body in Queensland in the eradication of the prickly pear has more than justified all the expenditure incurred by it from its inception. {: .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr Eldridge: -- If no attention is paid to the social factor, what is the use of its work ? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The honorable member has asked for practical results, and, when I give instances of them, ho turns to another matter. The work of the council could be extended to other activities, but all that it accomplishes will be of assistance to the community in increasing production. The discovery of the *cactoblastis,* for the eradication of the prickly pear was of immeasurable importance. I believe from reports that the council is meeting with success in its efforts to cope with that noxious weed know as St. John's Wort, which is prevalent in Victoria, and if the success is as great as is promised, it will be of worldwide importance. The discovery of the cause of blue mould in tobacco will be of enormous benefit to that industry, and a similar remark applies to the water blister which affects pineapples. I have mentioned but a few of the investigations that have been undertaken by the council. When we find that organizations like the United Graziers Association of Queensland is contributing its cash to the work, it shows that great faith is placed in the labours of the council. It is true that many years may be spent before practical results are achieved in particular directions. But the results likely to be obtained are of such far-reaching importance that they will more than justify the expenditure involved. The suggestions of the honorable member for Martin **(Mr. Eldridge)** are worthy of consideration, and the Government regrets that owing to the financial position the activities of this body have been restricted. {: #subdebate-28-0-s27 .speaker-JVZ} ##### Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931 -- I am delighted to hear the statements of the Prime Minister concerning the valuable work accomplished already by the council. He mentioned that years may elapse before practical results are obtained in certain directions; but the members of the council are a most enthusiastic body, and they are giving their best services to Australia. I regret that the Government has found it necessary r,o restrict the expenditure on this work for the present year. Every new discovery made by the council will result in an enormous increase in Australia's productivity. Such investigations as those into animal health and plant diseases are of the utmost value to this country, and I hope that the Government will do its utmost to keep the personnel of this organization at its full strength. {: #subdebate-28-0-s28 .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS:
Calare .Too much importance cannot be attached to the work of this body. I point out that we have a staff of men in Canberra who are giving attention at the present time to the very matter that has been raised by the honorable member for Martin **(Mr. Eldridge). Sir Colin** MacKenzie and his staff are particularly interested in human muscular development. Scientists throughout the world have drawn attention to the failure of the nervous system of man to maintain a standard of strength sufficient to cope with the demands of modern life. I would like to see a greatly increased vote given to. the scientists, who are engaged by the council. I cannot allow the statement to go unchallenged that Australia is not paying proper attention to the physical development of the human race. We should give full credit to those who are doing valuable work for the community under unfavorable circumstances. I believe that some of these officers have voluntarily surrendered a considerable percentage of their salaries, and, in view of the importance of the branch, I consider that they should not have been included in the retrenchment scheme even at such a critical time as the present. {: #subdebate-28-0-s29 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava -- I was pleased to hear the criticism of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** of the remarks made by the honorable member for Martin **(Mr. Eldridge)** who displayed a lamentable lack of knowledge concerning the functions of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Other honorable members were similarly in the dark, one speaker even confusing the council with the Health Department, If honorable members had studied the bulletins issued by the council they would know that already it has saved Australia many millions of pounds in connexion with prickly pear and other pests, and would have realized also that, in the fulfilment of its functions, it will bring material benefit to wage-earners also. The staff is a comparatively small one for the immense amount of research work that is being carried out. I also remind the honorable member for Martin that the other members of the council's personnel he was worried about were scientists attached to our various universities. Their services are co-opted, and they meet twice a year to further the work of the council. Reference has also been made to the representation of the Commonwealth in the United States of America. Last year the CommissionerGeneral voluntarily retired from his position, because, in view of the difficult financial position that 'was then developing, he believed Australia could not afford to continue the expenditure, and in his report he admitted that Australia could not expect to derive much trade benefit from representation in the United States of America. The salary of the office has been saved by his retirement, and the duties are now being carried out with a minimum staff. Much time might have been saved in this debate if honorable members had taken the trouble to make themselves conversant with all the facts in connexion with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and our representation in the United States of America. {: #subdebate-28-0-s30 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong -- Although the pruning knife has been applied fairly heavily, I believe further economies are possible. Considerable expenditure on travelling allowances must, I assume, be incurred by the Governor-General, the Public Service Board, and the Auditor-General, but I believe it is possible to make further savings in allowances to the various departments. I do not intend to vote for the amendment, because I feel sure that the Government will do what is possible to improve the position in this respect. The cost of our representation in the United States of America has been reduced from £11,228 in 1930-31 to an estimated expenditure for this year of £6,518, or a saving of £4,700. I wish to pay my tribute to the patriotic action of the ex-Commissioner-General, **Mr. Herbert** Brookes, who resigned last year. He and **Mrs. Brookes** rendered signal service to the Commonwealth during the period of his appointment. I shall be glad if the right honorable the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** will furnish information with reference to the cost of Australia House for the years 1929-30 and 1930-31, together with the estimate of expenditure for this year. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- Why didn't you effect economies when you were in office? The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).Order** ! **Mr. Lewis** *continuing to interject,* {: #subdebate-28-0-s31 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member for Corio **(Mr. Lewis)** must cease interjecting, and apologize for his persistent disobedience of the Chair. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- In compliance of your wishes, **Mr. Chairman,** I apologize for any discourtesy which I may have shown to the Chair, but I contend that the hon orable member for Maribyrnong was deliberatively provocative. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- Further economies would have been possible if more assistance had been rendered by those honorable members who, to-night, are raising objections to the action of the Government. Australia would then have been in a much better position than it is today. {: #subdebate-28-0-s32 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP .- The figures asked for by the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fen ton),** with reference to the cost of Australia House for the three years mentioned, are as follow: - 1929- 30, £127,696; 1930-31, £103,661 ; 1931-32 - estimate - £88,813. These figures do not include interest on the cost of the site and buildings, which is the same for each year, nor is the receipt of rents, amounting to approximately £27,000 per annum, taken into account. The total estimated saving over the expenditure for 1929-30 is £39,749, representing a reduction of 30 per cent. Amendment negatived. Proposed vote agreed to. Department ofthe Treasury. Proposed Vote, £642,800 {: #subdebate-28-0-s33 .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS:
Calare .I understand that under this department we are permitted to discuss the position that has arisen in connexion with the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The** ruling given when the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** rose to speak earlier in the debate was that he could make passing reference to that subject, but that a second-reading debate would not be in order. {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS: -- Nevertheless, the honorable member for Werriwa confined his remarks entirely to the position of the Government Savings Bank. If this Parliament is to be the dominating factor in Australian monetary policy, it must take the necessary action to maintain- {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- On a point or order, I submit that a discussion of the affairs of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales is out of order in the debate upon this department. {: #subdebate-28-0-s34 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I already ruled to that effect; but have intimated that passing reference to the subject will be in order. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Upon what item in the Department of the Treasury does the honorable member for Calare **(Mr. Gibbons)** propose to direct attention in his observations concerning the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Considerable latitude was allowed to all honorable members in the general discussion on the Estimates, so it will not now be in order to deliver a second-reading speech upon the subject mentioned. {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS: -- That is the only matter which I desire to discuss, and ifI am allowed to make only passing reference to it, it will be impossible for me to do justice to the subject. I ask honorable members to recall the conditions which were responsible for the closing of the batik. No one can doubt that the ultimate fate of the financial structure of Australia is involved in the present crisis. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member for Werriwa was given permission to make a special plea to the Prime Minister for more lenient consideration than was being accorded to the New South Wales Government; but he was not permitted to enter upon a general discussion with regard to the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS: -- I wish to make a general plea to the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin),** on behalf of 8,500 rural clients of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, who are being forced into liquidation, and whose interests are being lost sight of in the maze of certain political and press controversy. There is a definite indication that, because no agreement has been reached between the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Bank Board, they will be forced into a liquidation. We have stepped over a cliff, and become crippled. At the present time this nation is verging- {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member has made his plea. I ask him now to deal with the items under this vote. {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS: -- I have practically said all that I wish to say. I want the Prime Minister to take into consideration the plight of these 8,500 men, who are being forced into liquidation because of thefailure to prevent the closing of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. {: #subdebate-28-0-s35 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I am not concerned atthe moment with the closing of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales; I am more concerned with the opening of the bank, and with seeing that its 500,000 depositors get a fair deal. They may reside in the State of New South Wales, but they are all citizens of the Commonwealth, and as such the Commonwealth Government owes a responsibility to them just as it does to all other citizens of the Commonwealth. Surely the Government has some policy to submit with regard to the taking over of the Savings Bank, and its relations to the Commonwealth Bank! I admit, as the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** said in reply to a question, that every case must be decided on its merits; but I hold that these 500,000 depositors in the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales should not be allowed to be the sport, so to speak, of **Mr. Lang,** on the one hand, and **Sir Robert** Gibson on the other. There may be some desire on the part of the Commonwealth Bank Board to discipline the Premier of New South Wales, but I submit that it should not be done at the expense of these 500,000 depositors. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member is now touching upon a debatable matter. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I hope that the interests of this great section of the community, who are the victims of circumstance, will not be lost sight of by the Commonwealth Government. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- How does the honorable member fix responsibility on the Commonwealth Government? **Mr. ARCHDALE** PARKHILL.These 500,000 depositors are electors of the Commonwealth as well as State citizens, and the Commonwealth is engaged in negotiations with regard to the bank in which their money is locked up. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- The Bank Board is carrying on those negotiations. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The Bank Board is subject to control by someone; it is not independent of the Government. The members of the board are appointed by the Crown. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member must not proceed on those lines. I trust that Ministers will not prolong this discussion by interjecting. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- I do not propose to let misrepresentations pass unchallenged. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -I have made no misrepresentations. I have stated ray views, and the Minister is at liberty to state his. During the course of a discussion on land tax valuations, certain remarks were made in reference to the Taxation Board of Review, which came somewhat as a surprise to me because from my association with the business community of Sydney, and from what I know of the work of the board, I believe that it. occupies a very high place in the confidence of, and is held in groat respect by, taxpayers generally. It is performing a very important and valuable function in connexion with appeals which do not inflict upon the appellants the heavy costs appertaining to appeals to courts. {: #subdebate-28-0-s36 .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR:
Parkes .- I should like some information from the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** in regard to the division "Coinage" £11,400. I was under the impression that the coinage of metal was under the control of the Commonwealth Bank, but the Commonwealth's outlay is apparently a charge upon the Treasury. I should like to know if the Treasury, and not the bank, takes the profit made on coinage? {: #subdebate-28-0-s37 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- The Treasury takes the profit. Under this heading there is an increase of £7,900. Increased coinage has been necessitated by the withdrawal by the public of British silver coins in order to gain advantage from the exchange position, and because the hoarding of silver has caused a depletion in the stocks held by the banks. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Will £7,900 be sufficient for the purpose? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Yes. Proposed vote agreed to. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I should like the committee to agree now to consider " Miscellaneous Services " under control of the Prime Minister's Department, and the Treasury and other votes under the control of the Treasury. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- I object to any change in the order of dealing with the votes. I am waiting, by arrangement with the Minister for Home Affairs **(Mr. Blakeley),** to discuss a matter under the vote "Home Affairs". The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).It** is within the discretion of the Government to move the postponement of the consideration of any vote. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I do not wish to adopt that procedure. I am merely asking for leave to have the vote " Miscellaneous Services " considered at once.I have been in the chamber all day and all night- {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- So have I. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The honorable member who has had experience as a Minister knows the duties that accumulate upon a Prime Minister. Some people who arc anxious to leave Canberra in the morning have been waiting all nightt o interview me. Leave granted. Miscellaneous Services *Proposed vote, under control of the Prime Minister's Department,* £96,800. {: #subdebate-28-0-s38 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- Provision is made for the payment of £2,093 to cover expenditure incurred in connexion with the recent inquiry into the sugar industry. It is a further indication of carelessness in the expenditure of public money. The report upon sugar was a report of partisans all of whom were engaged in the industry, and was therefore of no real value to the community. A report of real value to the public would have been a recommendation that there should be a substantial reduction in the price of sugar; but as the report recommended a continuation of the already excessive price of sugar which is levied upon every working man and housewife, I think the expenditure incurred was a waste of money. The inquiry was not such as to give the public confidence in those who made it, or to create the impression that it was a fair and square investigation of the sugar industry. I must protest against the action of the Government which has permitted the price of sugar to remain at the present exorbitant figure. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The** honorable member may not discuss that matter. No amount is provided on the Estimates under that heading for this year. {: #subdebate-28-0-s39 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS:
Moreton .- I should like some information about the item, " Assistance in co-operation with the States towards recovery of export coal trade ". An amount of £50,000 was provided for this purpose last year, and the expenditure is put down as £25,000. What has been done with this money to encourage the export coal trade? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I can answer the honorable member in a few words. The £25,000 has been placed in a trust fund. Claims amounting to about £6,000 have so far been made by New South Wales, in pursuance of an arrangement made by the former Prime Minister, **Mr. Bruce,** for the payment of1s. per ton on all coal exported, except to New Zealand. The remaining £19,000 is still in the fund to be drawn upon. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- The next item is, "Assistance in co-operation with the States towards employment of surplus coal-miners ". What is being done to absorb the excess miners? {: #subdebate-28-0-s40 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I cannot allow a discussion on these items for no money is proposed to be voted for these purposes this year. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Perhaps I may be allowed to observe that £93,000 of the £100,000 provided last year has been allocated for New South Wales, and £7,000 for Queensland, but nothing has been spent so far. The committee in charge of the fund is not making any disbursements until all the claims have been received. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- Will the Prime Minister undertake to expedite the making available of this money, for seventeen months have elapsed since the amount was first provided? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I will do what I can in that regard. {: #subdebate-28-0-s41 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; UAP from 1931 .-I move - >That the item, " World Conference on reduction and limitation of armaments, £2,000", be omitted. Seeing that Australia is already practically disarmed the Government can do no more than it has done to encourage international disarmament. Actions are better than precepts, and deeds are better than words in a matter of this kind. If this money is spent it will only provide another picnic trip overseas for a Minister. Four Ministers of this Government have already had a trip overseas at the expense of the taxpayers, and there is no justificationwhatever for sending another Minister abroad. I look upon these visits as holiday trips in the main, although I know that the Prime Minister will dispute this view. If the sending of another Minister abroad would do anything to encourage disarmament, something might be said in favour of the voting of this money; but Australia has already set an example to the world, and that is the best thing that she can do. It is remarkable how quickly the members of the Government took advantage of their office to take picnic jaunts abroad. I know that I have been making some pertinent - some honorable members called them impertinent - inquiries into certain matters, and perhaps Ministers are quite willing to get away from me; but I shall continue to object to the expenditure of public funds on travelling allowances, overseas picnic jaunts, and the like while the country is in its present deplorable economic condition. {: #subdebate-28-0-s42 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I support the amendment of the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb).** The visits of Ministers overseas are neither more nor less than joy-rides, taken at the expense of the taxpayers. The expenditure of money in this way cannot be justified while we have so many unemployed in our midst. If the Government would allocate this £2,000 for the provision of medicine and medical attention for the sick and suffering unemployed, it would be doing some good. I should like a little more information about the manner in which the £25,000 that has been put in the trust fund out of the original amount of £50,000 provided last year for the assistance of the coal industry, and referred to by the Prime Minister, is to be expended. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Claims may be made on this fund in respect of all export coal, for the money is to be used for the encouragement of our export coal trade. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I must again remind honorable members that they cannot discuss that matter, because no money is being voted for this purpose this year. {: #subdebate-28-0-s43 .speaker-JVZ} ##### Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931 -- I wish to discuss the item, " Inquiry into the sugar industry, £2,093 ". {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have already ruled that that subject- cannot be discussed. {: .speaker-JVZ} ##### Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931 -- We are prevented from discussing the item now because no amount is proposed . to be expended this year; the item did not appear on last year's Estimates; I should, therefore, like to know what opportunity will be afforded us to discuss it? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- It could have been discussed during the budget debate. {: .speaker-JVZ} ##### Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931 -- I should like some information about the Australian Inland Mission. We usually vote an amount for the support of this very admirable work, concerning which I am sure the Prime Minister must know a good deal. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- That item is not provided for in the Estimates we are now considering. {: #subdebate-28-0-s44 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I desire the Prime Minister to give me some information about the following items :- >Grant to Australian Empire branch of Empire Parliament Association, £250. Towards maintenance of Cockatoo Island Dockyard on nucleus basis, £42,000. Repairs to plant and buildings at Cockatoo Island Dockyard £10,000. What is done with the £250 voted for the Empire Parliamentary Association ? I understand that the Shipping Board has control of certain funds of its own for operations at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Is the amount of £52,000 provided in these Estimates an additional sum to be spent in maintenance and repairs to plant and buildings at the dockyard? If it is, it will be very acceptable at the present time. I support the amendment of the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb)** for the deletion of the item, " World conference on reduction and limitation of armaments, £2,000." The Government cannot possibly justify this expenditure at present. About two years ago the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton),** who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, attended a Disarmament Conference in London as the representative of the Commonwealth Government; but I have yet to learn that anything useful was accomplished at that conference. It would be useless for the Government to send a representative to another Disarmament Conference. Australia, as has already been pointed out, is already practically disarmed. In view of the attacks that have been made upon pensions, wages and social services in this country, we should insist that the expenditure of £2,000 in providing what would amount to a holiday overseas for a Minister, is entirely unwarranted. There has already been a good deal of criticism concerning the expenditure involved in connexion with the recent tripe abroal by Ministers. Public attention has already been focussed on the fact that the Prime Minister, who attended the recent Imperial Conference, had an opportunity to discuss, from an Australian view-point, the question of disarmament with other delegates at that conference. The Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** was also in London at the same time to discuss with other delegates at that conference certain trade matters affecting Australia and the dominions. The Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan)** was Australia's representative at the Tenth Assembly of the League of Nations,, and the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman)** was Australia's delegate at the International Labour Conference of the League of Nations. **Sir Robert** Garran, the Solicitor-General, and other Commonwealth officials were also members of the delegation. I bring these facts under the notice of the Prime Minister in view of the criticism which, undoubtedly, will be levelled against the action of the Government in proposing to send a representative to the forthcoming Disarmament Conference In view of the fact that quite a number of Ministers have recently visited Great Britain, the Government's proposed action in this instance cannot be justified, and I think it would be wise if this item of expenditure were deleted. {: #subdebate-28-0-s45 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- In reply to the honorable member for "West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley),** I may explain that a sum of £42,000 has been placed upon the Estimates to enable the Cockatoo Island Dockyard to continue its operations during this financial year. This amount is provided to supplement the earnings of the dockyard, and to keep the staff employed on a nucleus basis. An additional sum of £10,000 is also provided for the maintenance of plant and equipment. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Can that amount be used for repairs and maintenance? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- The £42,000 is to supplement the earnings of the dockyard and the £10,000 is to be used for the maintenance of the plant. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- But no vessels are at present under construction at the dockyard. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- That may be so, but it is a valuable asset which cannot bo allowed to go to disrepair. As a large amount of capital has been expended at Cockatoo Island, the Government cannot allow what is, perhaps, the most valuable plant of its kind in Australia, to get into a state of disrepair. I regret that a further sum cannot be made available for this purpose. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** also referred to criticisms which will be levelled against the Government for providing *£2,000* for a representative .of the Commonwealth to attend the forthcoming Disarmament Conference. It is quite true that there may be some criticism, but it will not be well-founded. Proposed expenditure is usually criticized, but that criticism becomes more acute during periods of depression. The honorable member has said that at least four Ministers have visited Great Britain on official business during the last twenty months, but he should realize that the circumstances have been exceptional. In connexion with the Naval Disarmament Conference the Government hesitated for some time before sending a delegate, but T was very pleased with the way in which the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr, Fenton),** who waa then Minister for Trade and Customs, represented Aus tralia at that most important gathering. Imperial Conferences are held once in every three years, and our representation at the last of such gatherings was the smallest and most inexpensive that Australia has ever sent. The honorable member also referred to the presence in London of the Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** who performed excellent work, not only in London, but also in Canada. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- I hope the right honorable gentleman does not think I was criticizing the work of the Minister for Markets. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- No, but the honorable member referred to the outside criticism which will be levelled against the Government, which. I am now endeavouring to meet. I know that it is easy to refer to such trips as picnics, but as one who has had some experience in attending such gatherings, I have no hesitation in saying that the work imposed upon Ministers on such occasions is of a most arduous nature, and cannot be regarded as in any sense a picnic. . The experience which Ministers gain abroad is of great advantage, but it' is belittling the services which public men render to their country to refer to the trips which they make as picnics. The Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan)** represented Australia at the last Assembly of the League of Nations, where Australia has, up to the present, always been represented. This will be the first occasion on which the Commonwealth has not sent a representative from Australia to the League. Although a Minister is not being sent, we shall be well represented. In view of our present financial position, it is the desire of the Government to effect economies wherever possible. The forthcoming assembly will be comparatively unimportant as compared with the conference to be held in February. This is the first attempt which the League has made to convene a general disarmament conference, and, if this Government stands for anything, it is for general disarmament. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- We have already disarmed. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- That is not so; but I hope that we shall soon see the day when we shall be able to adopt a policy of complete disarmament. As efforts are being made in that direction, we should show the world what we are doing, and induce others to follow our example. I do not propose to attend the conference on disarmament, nor has the Government decided who shall represent Australia, lt may not be possible for a Minister to attend. I agree with the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** that this is an important international gathering, and, as the party which I have the honour to lead favours world peace, the Government should be represented at the first international conference on general disarmament. Where there are armaments there is always the danger of war. The money spent on armaments would feed all the hungry people in the world, and by assisting to secure world peace we shall be helping those who are in need. {: #subdebate-28-0-s46 .speaker-KYH} ##### Mr PRICE:
Boothby .There is an item of £250 for repatriating distressed Australians abroad, upon which I should like some information from the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin).** During the three years I was in London, I came in contact with many Australians who wished to be repatriated. I should like to know how the proposed vote is expended. {: #subdebate-28-0-s47 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- This money is expended in assisting Australians who, being stranded in London, wish to return to Australia. In most cases money is available, after investigation, in the form of a loan, which is repaid by the friends or relatives of those receiving it. When those wishing to be repatriated have no friends to repay the -money advanced, it is paid in the form of a grant. Instances have occurred in which girls have left Australia to go to London to try their fortunes, and have eventually become stranded. When the parents of such persons are unable to pay their return fare, a thorough investigation is made, and, if the case is genuine, assistance is rendered. The money is usually repaid, sometimes over a period of years. {: #subdebate-28-0-s48 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava -- I hope that the proposed disarmament conference, at which I understand Australia is to be represented, will not be held. It may be most dangerous if the nations are brought together when Europe is in such an unsettled state. If Germany is to meet rival nations, who will be voicing their claims and ambitions, it would not take much to bring about another international conflict. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The conference has already been decided upon. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- It may yet fall through. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I hope not. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- If Germany makes certain claims which are refused by the other nations, she may withdraw from the League of Nations and claim the. right to arm herself, which may precipitate another war involving practically every other nation. Great Britain's armaments have been steadily reduced until the personnel of the British Navy is now 20,000 below that of the United States of America. Great Britain is the only nation which is in a weaker position than at the termination of the Great War. I suggest that this amount be not allocated, and that, if the conference does eventuate, the Prime Minister should delegate an Australian naval expert in the Royal Navy, or some other authority who is at present in Great Britain, to represent Australia at it. That would be. much better than having the Attorney-General posturing as he did at Geneva, and with no knowledge of the subject, informing the nations of the world that Australia had already disarmed. {: #subdebate-28-0-s49 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney -- I support the deletion of this amount. I am not so confident as some speakers of the benefits that might accrue as a result of our being represented at a so-called disarmament conference. There is no disguising the fact that some nations, particularly those who participated in the last Great War, desire a holiday in the matter of armaments, because they feel that they cannot help themselves; they have either to reduce their armaments to a minimum, or face national bankruptcy and internal disruption, such as Germany is experiencing to-day. But' in every country the scientists are devoting the whole of their time, not in the interests of humanity, to the preservation of peace, but to devising the most dreadful means by which human life may be destroyed. That proves conclusively that the nations are desirous not of preserving world peace, but of making the destruction of human life much cheaper by the use of poisonous gases, and the adoption of other hideous methods. 1 do not share the view of some honorable members that the last war was a war to end all wars. So long as the competitive system operates, and the capitalists of different countries compete with each other for spheres of influence, economic conflict eventually will lead to armed conflict. The only way in which we can move towards peace is by altering the social order under which we live.- So long as there is competition for markets we shall be faced with the possibility of war ; and it will be on a larger and more destructive scale than the last conflict. The Government's solicitude for the welfare of humanity, and the preservation of peace, can be gauged by turning to page 271 of the Estimates, where it will be found that only £500 is provided for subsidies and expenses in connexion with maternal and infantile hygiene, while the subsidy for cattle tick control in Queensland and New South Wales amounts to £44,450. That is a striking illustration of the attitude of the Government towards the preservation of human life. To-day human life is the cheapest commodity procurable. Conference after conference has been held for the purpose of bringing about dis-. armament. I notice that Australia's share of the expenses of the secretariat of the League of Nations amounts to £30,000. I have not yet seen any advantage accrue to this country because of its participation in these conferences. Some speakers have said that this will be a pleasure trip, or a holiday, for a Minister or some other person who is regarded favorably by the Government. I agree that that is exactly what it will be. I have do doubt of what the result will be, and I shall vote for the amendment with a view to saving this country £2,000. {: #subdebate-28-0-s50 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- It will be observed that the sum of £52,000 is to be spent on Cockatoo Island dockyard this year. In addition, the dockyard is being given a preference amounting to £50,000 in connexion with the lighthouse steamer that is being built there. Therefore, in effect it is being subsidized to the extent of practically £2,000 a week at the expense of the Commonwealth revenues. I consider that the public should be supplied with information as to the benefits that an conferred by the dockyard which warrant that contribution being made to keep it in existence. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** argues that the expenditure is justified, because a large quantity of valuable machinery would otherwise lie idle. I contend, however, that an expenditure of £100,000 per annum for the purpose is not economic, and cannot be afforded. Another aspect of the matter is that this subsidy, which is made with the taxpayers' money, enables the dockyard to compete with Morts Dock, and the enterprise of the State Government at Walsh Island, in which large sums that have also been contributed by the taxpayers are invested. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- The last Government almost leased Cockatoo Island Dockyard. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- It made a determined and vigorous effort to rid itself of this expenditure. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- In the final stages, the gentleman concerned did not come forward. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- Unfortunately for this country. It should be shown that there is justification for such a vast sum being taken out of the public revenues for this purpose. It ia true that the dockyard is in the electorate of the Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore)** ; but that is merely a coincidence. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- He is not responsible for this amount being placed on the Estimates.. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- And he will not be responsible for anything connected with the dockyard after the next election. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- The island is in my electorate {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- It is on the border of the Dalley electorate, and a merciful providence, or a wise discrimination, provides that every man who is employed there lives in that electorate. I strongly protest against £100,000 being taken from the public purse and dumped into this sieve at the present period of financial stress. No justification has been given for it. Such a wrong- should not be perpetrated on the people of this country. {: #subdebate-28-0-s51 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter -- I am not satisfied with the explanation that has been given by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** in relation to the reduction of the amount provided under this item. Although the desirability of preserving peace is everywhere proclaimed, all the European nations that sit in conference to consider the question of disarmament are preparing for future wars by building armaments as fast as circumstances will allow. At the present time, Germany is appealing for assistance to establish herself economically, but concurrently is building a number of new battleships. France, on the other hand, refuses to grant her assistance so long as she continues that policy. Tho Prime Minister claims that the expenditure on the repatriation of distressed Australians abroad is justifiable. 1 say that it is also justifiable to give some assistance to good Australian citizens who are starving in this country, and whose cases have been brought under his notice from time to time. He has absolutely refused to grant such requests, the pretext being that it is a matter for the States. If it is logical to say that those who are hungry and who desire medical attention are the responsibility of the States, it is equally logical to say that the relief of distressed Australians abroad is also a matter for the States, because those persons come from some State or another; or that they should be the responsibility of the country in which they are domiciled. An amount of £100 is provided for this year for the entertainment of visitors. Last year, the sum of £200 was appropriated, of which £182 was spent.- I do not suppose that these visitors are on the dole, or that they are hungry and footsore. Probably they are wellfed. It would be more fitting if we spent the £100 provided for their entertainment in feeding some of the hungry members of our community. The sum of £3,000 is set down to defray the expenses of an investigation into the tobacco-growing industry. I should like the Prime Minister to explain how that amount will be expended, and who the recipients will be. I notice that £343 was spent last year, and £150 is voted this year in connexion with the Premiers Con ferences. How is this money expended) Am I to understand that the salaries of the State Premiers cease when they attend these conferences? {: #subdebate-28-0-s52 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP .- The vote for £150 isnot for meeting expenses of Ministers, but it covers the travelling expenses of officers for the whole year. Last year the conferences were fairly frequent, and one lasted for three weeks. It is anticipated that the expenditure under this heading in the coming year will not be so heavy as it was last year. {: #subdebate-28-0-s53 .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr KEANE:
Bendigo .There is an icem of £3,000 in connexion with the British, Australian, "and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition; I would like the Prime Minister to inform the committee why that expenditure is necessary. While I strongly advocate world disarmament, I suggest that the proposed expenditure of £2,000 for the representation of the Commonwealth at the. forthcoming disarmament conference is unwarranted, in view of the fact that the Government has been compelled to adopt a cheeseparing policy. I understand that the Government contemplates sending a Minister or an officer abroad to attend this conference. {: #subdebate-28-0-s54 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP .- The item of £3,000 referred to by the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Keane)** relates to the Mawson Expedition which was undertaken before the present Government assumed office, when £10,000 was placed on the Estimates for the purpose. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Was not a private subscription received? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Yes, **Mr. MacRobertson** donated u large sum, and £3,000 is now required to make a final adjustment of the expenditure that has already been incurred. No new expenditure is involved. The Government expects that £2,000 of this sum will be contributed from outside sources, which will reduce the actual government expenditure to one-third of the proposed vote. It is also anticipated that a considerable revenue will be derived when the film dealing with the expedition is released. Question - That the item be omitted (Mr. Gabb's amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 9 NOES: 38 Majority . . 29 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Proposed vote agreed to. *Proposed votes,* (Miscellaneous Services under control of the Treasury, £744,050; Refunds of Revenue, £1,000,000, Advance to the Treasurer, £2,000,000) agreed to. Attorney-General's Department *Proposed vote,* £156,500. {: #subdebate-28-0-s55 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I ask the Attorney-General to furnish me with all the available information relating to the Commonwealth Investigation Branch in Sydney. I wish to know how many officers are employed, and who they are. I am particularly anxious to know whether a man named Longmore is still engaged as an investigation officer. He is the person who was responsible for "framing" Jacob Johnson, and providing the necessary faked evidence on which he was railroaded into prison for six months, to suit the political ends of certain individuals. What are Longmore's qualifications for his present position? How long has he been in Australia, and what have been his associations in other countries? It is common knowledge that he was a "Black and Tan " in Ireland, before he came to Australia, where he was pitchforked into a job as an investigation officer by the late Government. He has had a lot to say in public places about me, because of my efforts to expose his methods of securing evidence and he has used language of a nature that is sufficient to enablehim to be put in a place where he will probably be quiet for some time. What need is there for this Investigation Branch more particularly when it is said to be essential to reduce governmental expenditure. Can the Attorney-General furnish sufficient evidence to establish the necessity for the continued employment of these officers? So far as I have been able to ascertain, they merely serve political ends. If the honorable gentleman can give us information upon the points I have raised, we may be able to follow it up at a later stage, and in more favorable circumstances. {: #subdebate-28-0-s56 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney -- I also should like to know if an individual named Longmore is still in the employ of the Commonwealth investigation branch, which is controlled by a prominent " twisting " lawyer. With all these investigating officers on the job, it is strange that documents in connexion with the Jacob Johnson case should have gone astray, and no one can say where they are. {: #subdebate-28-0-s57 .speaker-KE4} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Keane:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA -- Order ! Did I understand the honorable gentleman to refer to the Minister as a "twisting" lawyer? {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- I have no recollection of the statement, **Mr. Chairman.** I hope that the Attorney-General will reply to the questions put to him by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley),** and tellus whether this " crook " - Longmore - is still in the employ of the department. Recently, when a newspaper representative took, or was handed documents from a government file, and used the information thus obtained, the Attorney-General's Department immediately took action against him; hut apparently it is quite unable to do anything for a man who has been " framed " and railroaded to gaol on corrupt, faked and false evidence. It is not even able to locate certain documents belonging to tho man in question. I hope that these papers will be produced at an early date. . {: #subdebate-28-0-s58 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I direct attention to the item, " Travelling expenses, £750," in connexion with the Secretary's office. Last year, the same amount waa provided, but the actual expenditure was £1,018. If last year's estimate was exceeded by nearly £300, the logical thing to do this year would be to place on the Estimates, not £750, but the higher amount expended last year, unless the Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan)** can show that the actual expenditure will be kept within the sum estimated. I am not clear whether- the item refei'3 to the Minister's private secretary, or to the secretary of the department. As the expenditure on travelling allowances in all the departments is very considerable, there should be the closest scrutiny with a view to effecting economies. {: #subdebate-28-0-s59 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I hope that the Attorney-General **(Mr.** Brennan) will answer the questions asked by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley),** so that, at a later stage, we may be able to discuss the Jacob Johnson case. When, he was in opposition, the Attorney-General, as well as the present Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore),** " slated " the previous Administration for- its action against Jacob Johnson, and claimed that he should get compensation for wrongful prosecution and imprisonment. {: #subdebate-28-0-s60 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- It is not in order for the honorable gentleman, at this stage, to refer to the Jacob Johnson case. The item upon which the honorable member is speaking has no relation whatever to Jacob Johnson or any other individual, but the honorable member will be in order in asking the names and number of officers in the investigation branch. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Then I ask if Longmore is still in the employ of the depart- ment. I should also like some information with reference to the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, to which there is reference on page 83. Usually provision is made for the coal tribunal, but that has been omitted this year, and in view of the possibility of a dispute occurring in the industry, it may be necessary to call upon the tribunal to function. {: #subdebate-28-0-s61 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .I direct attention, under the item " Copyright Office," to the present system of censoring books. Imported books are censored by the Customs Department, and without disparaging the officers concerned, I say that as they are not literary men they arc not competent judges of literature. Moreover, it is apparent that they make merely a cursory examination of the books submitted to them, with the result that publications of a kind that would not be printed in Australia are admitted and go into circulation. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I remind the honorable member that the censoring of books does not come under the department of the Attorney-General. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The Chair is only partly right, because the Registrar of Copyrights censors books printed in Australia. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- No. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I repeat that this is definitely the function of the Registrar of Copyrights. Australian books intended for publication are submitted to him, and if, in his opinion, they are not fit for publication, the copyright is withheld. In this way, Australian authors are placed at a disadvantage compared with American authors, because, as I have stated, imported books of questionable taste, for the most part American, are admitted through the customs, and are allowed to go into circulation, whereas an Australian publication has to survive a much stricter censorship, [f the Registrar of Copyrights were authorized to censor imported, as well as Australian books, the position of Australian authors would be much more satisfactory, and we should have a better class of literature in circulation. {: #subdebate-28-0-s62 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
AttorneyGeneral · Batman · ALP -- I shall have inquiries made into the matter raised by the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. "White).** As to the question raised by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** and mentioned by other honorable members, it is a fact that an investigating officer named Longmore is still on the staff of the AttorneyGeneral's Department. But it must not be assumed for a moment that the allegations made against him have been established, or even that there is, in the possession of the office, any evidence whatever in substantiation of those allegations. If the honorable member will turn to page 86 of the Estimates, he will find there information relating to the number of investigating officers employed by the branch, but I should add that two of the officers mentioned are no longer on the list. During the year, 7,729 inquiries were made. Some, of course, were of minor importance, but others were of considerable importance. Of these 304 were inquiries for missing friends asked for from Australia House; 220 were made for the Department of Trade and Customs; 195 for the Crown Solicitor; 3,648 for the Department of Home Affairs in regard to naturalization, admissions, and deportations, and 253 for miscellaneous reasons. I do not know whether in the political addresses made by the honorable member for East Sydney- **(Mr. Ward),** and the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley),** any other specific matters were mentioned about which information is desired. The subject referred to by both honorable members has been used repeatedly in this chamber, as it has been employed outside, for attacks upon my department ; and answers have been given at the appropriate time and place. At the moment I have nothing to add to what has already been said in that regard. With regard to the question put by the honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb),** the honorable member seemed to express some regret that the estimate for travelling expenses this year is far short of the previous year's expenditure. I can only assure him that it is an honest estimate. Under the vote " Miscellaneous Services " provision is made for the coal tribunal to which reference was made by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James).** Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Home Affairs *Proposed vote,* £217,400. {: #subdebate-28-0-s63 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- It is time honorable members had some information from the Minister for Home Affairs **(Mr. Blakeley)** regarding the redistribution of seats. For some time he has been threatening to make a statement on the subject, and it is possible that he may now be in a position to vouchsafe us some valuable information upon this important subject. I should like to know if the next elections are to be conducted under a new distribution, or upon the existing unequal electoral boundaries which are to be found in all the States. Generally speaking, the position is unsatisfactory, and I think a public statement as to the intentions of the Government is warranted. {: #subdebate-28-0-s64 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling .- The honorable member has asked for information with regard to the proposed. redistribution of seats. I regret that the matter has been unduly held up, but I am hopeful that shortly I shall be in a position to make a full statement as to the intentions of the Government in that regard. {: #subdebate-28-0-s65 .speaker-KZ6} ##### Mr LACEY:
Grey .- The figures relating to the average cost of living are compiled from the cost of living figures in certain towns, whilst other towns are excluded. This is a matter which has already been referred to the department, but has not yet been rectified. In this respect the people of Port Augusta, in which town a large number of railway employees are located, are of the opinion that they have been unfairly treated, but the reply of the department has been that they are not. Therefore, the Minister in his reply need not deal with the position at Port Augusta. There are, however, many other large towns in South Australia, particularly in Eyre's Peninsula, whose citizens think themselves unfairly treated by the way in which the average cost of living figures are compiled, and I should like the Minister to indicate whether any consideration has been given to their request that more towns should be included among those upon whose cost of living figures the average cost is compiled. {: #subdebate-28-0-s66 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling .- On many occasions the honorable member for Grey **(Mr. Lacey)** has made representations to me in regard to this matter of the cost of living figures; but I have informed him that at the outset, after careful investigation, a certain number of towns was taken as the basis, and at a later stage additions to the number were made. The figure thus arrived at has been accepted, generally without demur, except in isolated instances such as Port Augusta, and Eyre Peninsula. Up to date there has been no good reason for adding to the number, but I am constantly investigating various phases of the cost of living figures and shall continue to do so, and if I see that there is a definite need for increasing the number of towns used as a basis for compiling the average I shall certainly recommend an increase. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Defence. *Proposed vote,* £3,210,000. {: #subdebate-28-0-s67 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney -- I want to mention a discrepancy between the pay of officers of high rank in the Navy and ratings in the lower ranks. One item which shows a total expenditure of £830,000 for various rates, no details being given, is followed by an item under which the Rear-Admiral is paid £5 a day. I want honorable members to keep that in mind whileI read the following letter from a member of the forces on the lower deck : - Dear **Sir,** I desire to express my regret that, owing to the two following articles, I am unable to append my signature to this letter: - King's Rules and Admiralty Instructions, Article 18. - Political meetings or speeches are not allowed on board H.M. Ships or Establishments, and no parliamentary candidates or canvassers or political agents are to be allowed to visit H.M. Ships or Establishments. Any form of political activity on board H.M. Ships or in any Naval Establishments is prohibited. Consolidated Orders and Regulations for the Government of the Permanent Naval Forces of the Commonwealth, Article 179 (3). - Members of the Permanent Naval Forces are prohibited from making any statement to or for the press, or commenting publicly by speaking or in writing upon matters of public policy - Naval, Military, or Civil - without the written permission of the Minister for Defence. The lower deck as a whole are very sore and discontented at their inability, because of the foregoing articles, to voice any opinion whatsoever, and this discontent is intensified when an erroneous statement creates a false impression. The Minister for Defence stated that an able seaman's pay was £4 5s. 2d. per week. In direct contradiction to this the Naval Board in 1924 published a booklet entitled " How to join the R.A.N.", and therein gave the rate of pay for an able seaman as £2 9s. per week, plus 12s. 3d. per week deferred pay. This booklet also states that deferred pay can be forfeited for misconduct or if a man is discharged at his own request before expiration of his time; therefore deferred pay is really a bonus for good conduct and long service, and was instituted in lieu of the pension system of the Royal Navy. An able seaman's pay is 7s. per diem, plus 7d. clothing allowance; this clothing allowance entails the upkeep of a comprehensive kit, including bed and bedding. The Honorable Minister in his computation of our pay allows 2s. 3d. per diem lodging and living allowance, which we cannot understand, as the victualling allowance was1s.8d. per man, and has recently been reduced to1s. 5d. (the press states1s. 7d., Which is incorrect), so we presume the balance of the aforementioned 2s. 3d. is represented in our " Quarters " (bedding being already covered by clothing allowance). At any rate, this 2s. 3d. lodging and living allowance is not credited to us when we are ashore, Week-ends, &c. ; except when on annual leave we are paid the. victualling allowance of1s. 5d. per day, Which will not pay for one meal, let alone three and a bed. After three years good conduct man's time, an able Seaman receives a good conduct badge worth3d. and a progressive of 2d. per day. If an A.B. is married he receives 2s. per day marriage allowance and 6d. for each child, which makes his pay as follows:- Able seaman, married, one child - 7s. - Active pay. 7d. - Clothing allowance. 2s. - Marriage allowance. 6d. - Child allowance. Total - £3 10s. 7d. per seven-day week. Able seaman, single - 7s. - Active pay. 7d. - Clothing allowance. Total - £2 13s.1d. per week. Further, I would like to state that a man serving in the Fleet whose home is in Melbourne travels home on leave twice a year, the return fare being £56s., making a total of £10 12s., which is equivalent to about 7d. per day for the whole year. Roughly, 40 per cent. of the personnel of the R.A.N. are domiciled in Melbourne. Ratings from other States are in a far worse position. Understanding the financial emergency, we quite realize we should bear our share of the burden thrust on the community, but do not consider we should be cut any more than any other branch of the Federal Public Service. Hoping that this letter will receive due consideration, I remain, your obedient servant, I have no doubt that the Minister will be able to give me some information in reply to the statements in that letter, but the discrepancy between the payment of the men on the lower deck, such- as the able-bodied seaman, married, with one child, £3 10s. 7d. per seven-day week, and the rear-admiral at £5 per day, needs some explanation. More consideration should be given to the men on the lower deck. The pay of the different ranks from top to bottom should certainly be- equalized to some extent. On page 134, certain particulars are given of the expenditure at the naval depot and dockyard at Garden Island. I ask the Minister to tell us how the administration expenses on the island compare with the amount spent on wages to employees. It is well known that the conditions of the employees of the dockyard are not entirely satisfactory. Not much work is being done there just now, and a good deal of that which is available is being done by naval ratings, which is unfair to the skilled workers on the island. A very severe scheme of rationing is in operation there; for instance boiler makers and electricians are rationed one week in eight, moulders and coppersmiths, one week in two; engineeers, one week in four; pattern makers, one week in two; painters, one week in two; riggers, one week in eight; storemen, one week in ten ; and ironworkers' assistants, one week in six. In these circumstances it is desirable that some comparison should be made between the administrative costs and the actual working expenses. {: #subdebate-28-0-s68 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I, too, would like some information about the expenditure of this department, which I regard as the most extravagant of all our departments. Unfortunately, the manner in which the Defence Estimates are prepared makes it difficult if not impossible, for honorable members to obtain reliable detailed information. A system of grouping is practised which may be satisfactory to the department, but is certainly unsatisfactory to honorable members. I direct attention to the fact that the secretary to the department draws a salary of £2,000 per annum. Other high salaries are: - Defence Liaison officer in London, £2,000 per annum; Assistant secretary, £1,012 per annum; Finance secretary, £1,112 per annum; and Director of Works, £864 per annum. We all know that some extensive pruning has been done in this department in the last two years, with the result that its activities have been very greatly curtailed. Consequently, even though the secretary may have been entitled to a salary of £2,000 per annum two years ago, he cannot claim that amount at present owing to the extensive curtailment of the activities of his department. In any case, it seems to me that the payment of this salary to one man cannot be justified in view of the fact that the lower branches of the service are paid at the very inadequate rates mentioned by the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward).** When we refer to other pages of the Estimates for this department, we see that the policy of grouping has been carried out to a greater extent than in any other department. I have had some experience of this department, for when the present Postmaster-General **(Mr. A. Green)** was Minister for Defence he had to visit Western Australia on one occasion, and I had to deal with certain of the business of his department. It was a common thing for the officers to produce files for signature without any satisfactory detailed explanation. In fact, one had to demand details if he wanted any specific information. I shall now proceed to refer to particular items on the Estimates in respect of which I desire information. On page 139, expenditure amounting to £S30,000 is grouped in one sum. One item which is specified is " Rear-Admiral, £5 per day ". On the next page, which covers permanent naval forces, seagoing, I find the following rates of pay specified : - " Engineer captain, £3 15s. per day; engineer commanders, £2 17s. per day; engineer lieutenant-commanders, £1 18s. per day",1 and so on. Does the Government intend to maintain these high rates of pay to these officers in view of the fact that the men on lower rungs are paid such miserable rates? On page 121, provision is made for paymaster commanders at £2 12s. per day; paymaster lieutenantcommanders at £1 14s. per day, and so on. On page 123, an amount of £250 is provided for recruiting expenses. I. am not aware that any recruiting is being done at present for tlie naval service. On page 125, medical services are dealt with, but no details are given. On page 126 provision is made for the expenditure of £3,952 on the Royal Australian Naval College. 1 should like an explanation of how this money is to be spent. The details of the payment to the various officers should be given. It is not fair that votes should be bunched together in this way. "We have a right to know exactly what emoluments the officers of this department are enjoying. On page 128 an amount of £3,842 is provided for commanders, and £1,250 for lieutenantcommanders of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve. What is the pay which each of these individuals draws? On page 130 provision is made for captains, commanders, surgeon commanders, surgeon lieutenant-commanders, surgeon lieutenants, and so on, of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve, and the following note appears at the bottom of the page: - " Paid for services rendered at rates prescribed in regulations." Where are the regulations to be seen, and what do they prescribe? Provision is made on page 134 for the payment of £400 to a sub.inspector of police. "Does this officer work in connexion with the police organization of the naval dockyard? On page 140, an amount of £S,000 is provided for " payments in lieu of furlough." Why cannot the persons concerned take their furlough? If necessity arises for work to be done while they are on furlough, it could be given to other, persons, and probably help to relieve unemployment to some slight extent. On page 142, provision is made for the payment of well over £100,000 to brigadiers, colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors, captains, and lieutenants. I object to the- grouping of this- amount, and ask the Minister to give me the details of the payments to each individual officer. Provision i3 made on page 153 for the expenditure of £2,010 to meet the cost of certain professors engaged at the Royal Military College. Will the Minister state the amount which each professor receives ? Again, on page. 157, the salaries of ordnance mechanical en- gineers are grouped. On page 165 there is an item of £20,500 for the " maintenance and replacement of arms, armament, equipment and general stores." Can the Minister say what equipment will be required under this heading, and whether it will be manufactured in this country, perhaps in the electorate represented by the Minister, or is it to be imported ? {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- I rise to a point of order. I should like you to inform me, **Mr. Temporary Chairman,** whether a quorum is present when only thirteen of the total number of members at present in the chamber are awake. {: #subdebate-28-0-s69 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr: -Keane). - No point of order is involved. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- On page 172, the salaries of wing commanders, squadron leaders, flight lieutenants, and flying officers and pilot" officers are again grouped. That is also the case in connexion with sergeants-major, flight sergeants, sergeants, corporals and others in the Royal Australian Air Force. On page 179 provision is made for the payment of a salary of £2,000 a year to a controller-general of the munitions supply board. Is there any need for such a board at the moment? {: #subdebate-28-0-s70 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava -- As I have on previous occasions spoken at length on defence generally, I do not propose to detain the committee at this juncture. There are, however, several matters in connexion with civil aviation upon which I should like to obtain some information from the Minister **(Mr. Chifley).** Although the proposed vote for civil aviation has been reduced, I am pleased to find that it has not been cut too drastically. The amount provided will enable civil aviation to function fairly effectively, without which Australia would drop back in the race with other nations. In a country such as Australia, with its vast open spaces, it is absolutely essential to encourage the development of civil aviation in order to assist the transport of mails and passengers to the remote parts of the Commonwealth, and by that means bring those who live in a state of comparative isolation in closer contact with those in the more populous centres. The Aerial Medical Service, operating in Queensland under the control of the Australian Inland Mission, saves more lives by transporting the sick to receive medical and hospital attention than have been lost as a result of flying in Australia.. Aviation annihilates time and space, and its development will be of great assistance in establishing closer economic relations between these Dominions and s between them and the heart of this great Empire. As the Dominions grow and their power increases, aviation will be an important factor in securing' world peace. The people of Australia are now awakening to its possibilities. *[Quorum formed.]* I agree with the view expressed by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** that more detailed information should be made available in the Estimates. I have, however, been able to obtain certain data in regard to which I desire some information from the Minister. I am pleased to find that the contributions to aero clubs, which are carrying out such useful work in training pilots, and will be of considerable assistance in the matter of defence, are to be maintained. I notice that there is a disparity between the contributions paid to such clubs. In one instance £40 is paid for each pilot who qualifies, while to other schools only £20 is paid. I should like to know why private schools do not receive the same assistance from the Government as is received by aero clubs. In different parts of the Commonwealth, there are schools in which aviation is taught which have to meet their own overhead, and whose pupils have to pass the same tests; yet they are not receiving any assistance from the Government. As they are performing work similar to that of aero clubs, it is only reasonable that they should benefit by a subsidy such as is granted to such clubs. I notice that the amount of £80 is provided to meet the cost of certain club accommodation in Western Australia. The aero clubs with which I was associated, always paid for their own accommodation, and perhaps the Minister can say why the Western Australian club is on a different basis. I am aware that the Government was unable to grant a subsidy to Australian National Airways, which I am sure the Minister regretted. I realize that that company was rather ambitious in endeavouring to conduct an unsubsidized service from Brisbane to Hobart. The only two sections of that route which were a commercial proposition without a substantial subsidy were those between Brisbane and Sydney, and Melbourne and Hobart. Unfortunately, it was impossible for this service to operate without a subsidy. Germany is the most striking example of what can be done with the assistance of a substantial subsidy, and as that country is not now manufacturing aircraft for war purposes, it has concentrated upon civil aviation, in which she is leading the world. In Australia, flying can be undertaken almost any day in the year, and in a country 'of such distances, where there is in many cases an absence of railway or other means of communication, civil aviation should receive the greatest encouragement. It would have been a graceful act on the part of the Government to have assisted Australian National Airways, the founder of which, AirCommodore Kingsford Smith, is the greatest aviator the world has ever known. With a little assistance from the Government at the proper time, that company may have been able to carry on without suffering any loss by conducting a service over portions of the route on which it was operating. To afford the utmost assistance to aviation I suggest that, instead of civil aviation being under the direction of a controller of civil aviation, it should be under an air board, such as the Air Board, which looks after the defence side of aviation. A good deal of justifiable criticism has been levelled against the Health Department, because of the way in which its . activities overlap those of State Health Departments. I put forward the suggestion that the Health Department should be placed under the control of the Minister for Home Affairs, and the Department of Repatriation under the control of the Treasury. If that were done, a Minister would then be available to give proper attention to aviation. The Minister for Defence has sufficient to do in controlling the military and naval sections of his department. But civil aviation is not receiving the at- tention which such a modern science warrants. The Government should seriously consider the necessity of giving further attention to commercial aviation which, if linked up, an Australian service with Imperial Airways or with a Dutch company, would bring us in closer touch with the old world. An Assistant Minister could seriously tackle the problems on both the civil and military side of aviation, the line of demarcation between which is not great. The appointment of an Assistant Minister would not involve any additional expense, and a civil aviation board consisting of the present controller of civil aviation, the deputy controller, the superintendent of civil flying and the superintendent of aircraft should be appointed. Such a board would encourage aviation, and develop and give consideration to every aspect of its usefulness to the fullest extent. {: #subdebate-28-0-s71 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
Minister for Defence · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** raised quite a number of questions regarding amounts which are grouped in the Estimates. He mentioned an amount of £830,000 which appears on page 119 in respect of which it is impracticable to set out details required. One amount is for the payment of interest under regulations to the credit of a trust fund. It is unnecessary to supply details of expenditure of this nature, which are always checked by the Auditor-General's Department. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- These Estimates are presented for our information. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- If I supplied details, such as I have just referred to, they would not be of any benefit to the honorable member. Last year it was suggested by a number of honorable members that the details of the bigger salaries particularly should bo set out, so that they would have an opportunity of seeing what different officers were receiving. That practice has been followed on this occasion, and in that respect the Estimates are considerably improved. These matters involve a good deal of preparation, and the department can hardly be expected to give details of every item. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- There are lump sums for commanders, lieutenant-commanders, surgeon-commanders and surgeonlieutenantcommanders . {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member is now referring to the district staff, provision for which is to be found on page 128. The number of commanders on the staff, and the amount which they are paid, are shown. Those details were not given in last year's Estimates. We have even shown the number of boatmen, caretakers, messengers, storemen, labourers, and telephone attendants. Surely the committee does not expect us to give their salaries in detail. It is not possible to explain every small detail. I know that some honorable members are critical of the Defence Department, and say that it ought to be wiped out; but if that were done they would ask why we were putting off men. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Is this information available? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member could not be supplied with every detail without involving the department in tremendous expense. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Is the amount of £3,842 all that the five commanders receive; are there no other allowances? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I am not prepared to declare that I know every detail in regard to the allowances that men may get. {: .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr Eldridge: -- What is the reason for not specifying the amount of certain items under "Medical services" on page 125? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The only note that I have on the matter is, that provision is made for the salaries of the Director of Naval Medical Services, and the staff employed in the office in Melbourne. The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** questioned certain of my statements regarding the pay and allowances of the lower ratings of the Navy. I had already seen a copy of the letter that he received; apparently it was sent to a number of honorable members. One copy of it was received by the honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Holloway),** and I replied to it at length. Had I known that the honorable member for East Sydney intended to raise the matter, I would have kept the details by me. It has been said that deferred pay is liable to be lost as a result of bad conduct. That practice is no different from what obtains in the ordinary departments. Even in the railway services, if a man is dismissed for serious misconduct, he loses all superannuation rights. Without going into details, the position is that the pay and allowances are not to be reduced below £182 per annum. The figures that I quoted the other night were furnished to me by the accountant, and can therefore be regarded as reliable. The subject of rationing has been referred to. The position is that we have only a certain amount of money to spend. When it was proposed to reduce the staff at Garden Island, it was suggested to me by one or two unions that we ought to adopt rationing rather than dismissals. I gave sympathetic consideration to that, for the particular reason that men with many years of service who had only a couple of years to go would lose all the benefits of their furlough rights if they were dismissed. It is claimed, however, that the rationing has been too severe; and my officers in Sydney are meeting the unions with a view to seeing if some satisfactory arrangement can be come to. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- If the rationing was severe it would naturally follow that the dismissals would have been more severe. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- That is true. The degree of rationing varies from one in four in the case of coppersmiths to one in nine in the case of electricians. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- It was one in two in some cases. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It is perfectly true that if only two men were employed on certain work, and one was put off, the percentage would be high. In some callings, like that of coppersmiths, we employ only two or three men. But whatever has been done in the direction of rationing has had as its object the avoidance of dismissals. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** . also referred to certain high salaries that are paid. It cannot be argued that this Government is responsible for that. These men are permanent officers. In the case of salaries of £2,000 the reduction amounts to £450, which is very substantial. Reference has been made to the salary that is paid to **Mr. Trumble** in London. The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** has said that this officer is not a naval or military man and that, therefore, he is unsuitable for that particular position, whichought to be filled by a member of one of the services. I have heard the honorable member say on another occasion that only a man who was familiar with the Defence organization could make proper contact with members of the naval and military forces with whom **Mr. Trumble** has to confer in regard to different matters. The Prime Minister has explained previously that **Mr. Trumble** was surplus in Australia and that a position had to be found for him because, being a permanent officer, he could not be dismissed. Probably in other circumstances a member of one of the forces would have been appointed. The honorable member for West Sydney' directed attention to overhead expenses in connexion with the navy. I have had returns prepared showing the overhead expenses in Australia and elsewhere. It is true that the administrative expenses - if I may so term them - are fairly high compared with the total amount spent. I do not admit that they are tremendously high; but they are somewhat higher than in the British Admiralty. This matter is continually under review ; but after all, when there is a certain number of men for an equal number of permanent positions, what opportunity is there for retrenchment? {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Are they rationed as the others are ? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- So far, no permanent officers have been rationed, that practice having been confined to the temporary hands. Having had ministerial experience, the honorable member must know that permanent men are in a different category. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr Marr: -- Some officers have been rationed. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- They were rationed during last year to a certain extent; but, owing to the substantial cuts that have been made in every direction, rationing has not been adopted this year. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The civil officers were not rationed. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- That is so. The matter of overhead expenses is closely investigated whenever the opportunity offers, and reductions are made whenever that can be done within reason, and without causing injustice. Steps are now being taken to review the administrative expenses of Garden Island. The honorable member also referred to recruiting. A very small sum is involved in that item. Enlistments will be accepted only to make up any shortage below the strength of 3,300 in the permanent naval forces. I do not anticipate that very much expense will be incurred. I am unable to state the exact expenditure involved in the importation of materials from abroad, but nothing is being imported that can be made here, or done without. The high exchange rate alone does much to check imports. About £227,000 will cover the total amount, excluding exchange, that has to be sent abroad for various purposes, but there are certain naval requirements that cannot be met in Australia. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Will that principle be applied, so far as possible, to aeroplanes? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Yes ; the department will encourage to the utmost the manufacture of all its requirements in this country. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Will the Minister refer to payments in lieu of furlough? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Provision has been made for such payments to employees reaching the retiring age, or invalided from the Service, or retired under the reduction scheme, who have not been granted furlough. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- What is the position in regard to the Munitions Supply Board? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The operations' of that board have been continued, chiefly because it has been doing much outside work. The Maribyrnong factory has extended its activities to the commercial arena, and so has the Lithgow factory. The latter has produced 300 "talkie'" machines for the Western Electric Company. These are not made in Australia by any private firm, and an opportunity was thus afforded to keep the Lithgow men employed. Shearing-machine combs and cutters, which previously had to be obtained from abroad, are now being manufactured at Lithgow. The manager of a munitions factory now has highly responsible work to do, because, in addi tion to supplying naval and military requirements, he must be able to deal with orders placed by commercial firms. The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** has made reference to the fact that Noyes Brothers receive a 2-J per cent, commission as agents for the department for the sale of the brass sheets that are rolled at Maribyrnong. It is claimed by the honorable member that other firms should have the right to buy direct from the factory; but it must be remembered that the 2$ per cent, paid to Noyes Brothers relieves the department of all responsibility with regard to the collection of the sales tax, bad debts and advertising. Since the honorable member raised this matter, price-lists have been supplied to private firms. Since the selling agency has been given to Noyes Brothers, brass sheets are obtainable at a uniform price throughout the various States. Nearly all big companies appoint selling agents, and the department has merely followed the practice adopted in the commercial world. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Government could save that 2^ per cent. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- We could not get any firm in Victoria to take over the distribution of the output if other firms could buy direct from the factory. It was contended by the honorable member that other firms should have been offered the agency, but Noyes Brothers applied for it, and they were considered to be admirably suited for the work. The honorable member for Brisbane **(Mr. D. Cameron)** has remarked that the general defence vote has been cut down to such an extent that all services have been considerably weakened. I confess at once that the heavy reductions made in all directions have certainly brought the force to a point at which no further reduction of expenditure can be made, unless there is a general survey of the position to ascertain whether the skeleton force that we have can be better controlled by consolidating our strength on particular lines, rather than spreading our activities over a wide field. The honorable mem-ber also inquired concerning the ammunition stocks held by the department. {: .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- By how much have they been cut down ? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- They have been considerably reduced, and we are now receiving very little ammunition from abroad ; but, owing to the. development of our own factories, we are in a better position than ever before to meet a sudden demand for ammunition. Almost at a few days notice the reserve supply could be considerably augmented. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Are the mobilization stores being maintained ? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The supplies are not seriously depleted. The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** referred to civil aviation, and the granting of subsidies to private flying schools forthe training of pupils on the lines of the assistance given to the aero clubs. Naturally the Government is reluctant this year to spend money in the direction indicated, owing to the stringency of the financial position. The aero clubs were encouraged by the Government, because I felt, and I think that my colleagues agreed with me, that we are under a moral obligation to the flying clubs, which were encouraged by the previous Administration to go on with their work as an auxiliary to the defence forces. That is why I continued the subsidies to those clubs, and in more prosperous times the Government would be inclined to give similar assistance to private flying clubs. I am not in a position to disclose the position of Australian National Airways Ltd., but the amount previously guaranteed by the Government was substantial, and we could not, in view of the present state of the finances, guarantee a large sum of money in order to assist that company. The previous Government was subjected to much criticism for subsidizing private air services that were operating in opposition to governmentowned railways. I recognize the value of the services rendered by the company to which I have referred, and the development that has taken place as the result of its activities. . Therefore, we regret that economic circumstances have forced it out of business; but I do not think the Government would be justified in incurring the expenditure that would be necessary to enable it to continue its operations. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Are the wages of the workmen employed at Garden Island included in the" following item with regard to naval establishments : " General expenses and upkeep of dockyard and other services, maintenance of machinery and floating craft, and all other expenditure incidental to the Sydney Naval Establishments " ? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Yes. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Are other naval establishments included in that vote? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The item embraces all the naval establishments in Sydney. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Is not the amount of £35,157 provided for the officers at the Naval Depot and dockyard at Garden Island exceedingly high, in comparison with the money spent for wages at that establishment? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I think that the honorable member is suggesting that the administrative expenses are unduly large in proportion to the total expenditure. That subject has been under review, and I have stated on other occasions that I considered that these expenses are rather high. I can assure honorable members that they are being closely investigated, and if it is possible to reduce expenditure on the administrative side without doing injustice, it will be done. {: #subdebate-28-0-s72 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- Can the Minister give any information with regard to the amounts paid by the department to a number of gentlemen who, in their spare time, are associated with military organizations, and who, in their ordinary everyday life, occupy prominent positions in public affairs? I should particularly like to have a list of the names of such gentlemen in New South Wales. Mr.Chifley. - I assume that the honorable member is referring to officers in the militia. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- They may be in the militia,but they are drawing payment from the Defence Department. {: #subdebate-28-0-s73 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
Minister for Defence · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- If the information can be obtained without involving considerable expenditure, I shall be glad to let the honorable member have it. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr Marr: -- The honorable member for West Sydney can obtain the list at the Victoria Barracks. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I think it is generally known to honorable members that officers of the permanent forces are strictly forbidden to take part in any of the activities indicated by the honorable member for West Sydney, but officers in the militia are in a different position. They have full citizenship rights, and are entitled to exercise all their privileges as private citizens. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- I wish to ascertain if they are obtaining any remuneration from the Defence Department. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I think I can supply the information for New South Wales, and when it is available I will forward it to the honorable member. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Trade and Customs. *Proposed vote,* £498,000. {: #subdebate-28-0-s74 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I direct attention to the item relating to the travelling expenses of the Tariff Board. Last year the expenditure was £1,200 and the estimated expenditure for this year is £1,000. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The members of the board are paid travelling expenses at the rate of £2 2s. per day subject to a reduction of approximately 20 per cent. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- As the members of the Tariff Board receive very good salaries - the chairman gets £1,600 a year - £2 2s. a. day as a travelling allowance in addition to salary is altogether too much in view of our present difficult financial position. I therefore move - >That the item " Travelling expenses, £1,000 " be reduced by £500. If this amendment is carried, members of the board will still have ample. Since the Government is effecting drastic economies in every other direction it might very well agree to cut down the travelling expenses of the Tariff Board to at least £11s. per day. {: #subdebate-28-0-s75 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I should like some information from the Minister about the duty on timber and the duty on sewing machines. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).Order!** It is not permissible to discuss any tariff item. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The Minister for Trade and Customs said yesterday, in answer to my question with reference to Guinness's stout and hops, that tariff matters could be discussed under these Estimates. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- May not the committee discuss under the Estimates, any item that has been finalized ? {: #subdebate-28-0-s76 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- No. {: #subdebate-28-0-s77 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I invite attention to the items covering the salaries of senior inspector and the inspector of excise and sub-collector in South Australia. The salary of the former officer has been reduced from £732 to £630, while that of the inspector of excise and sub-collector has been reduced from £660 to £636, so that he is really now getting a higher salary than that paid to the senior inspector, who was £70 a year ahead of him last year, prior to the reduction. {: #subdebate-28-0-s78 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- Can the Minister inform the committee whether it is the intention of the Government to make any alteration in the present arrangement for the censorship of films? There are rumours current to the effect that one of the boards is to be discontinued and a new arrangement made for future censorship. {: #subdebate-28-0-s79 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .I suggest also that the censorship board, in censoring films, should consider not only morals, but also the accent of film artists in the talkies in order to, if possible, preserve the purity of the English language. Question - That the amendment (Mr. Gabb's) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 3 NOES: 42 Majority . . . . 39 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Proposed vote agreed to. *Proposed vote,* £183,000. {: #subdebate-28-0-s80 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angus .- I should like to know if the item £25,000 for the conveyance of members and others covers travelling by train and bus ? {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- Or by air? {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- Yes. I should like to know if it also covers the cost of bringing members by aeroplane to attend a meeting of caucus at Canberra, and the cost of hiring a motor car to rush an honorable member from Sydney to Canberra in order to ensure the inclusion of the honorable member for Dalley in the Ministry ? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Those expenditures are not included in the item. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- Was the aeroplane paid for by the party or by the taxpayer? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- It was not paid for by the taxpayer. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- I am satisfied with that assurance. {: #subdebate-28-0-s81 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- Would the Minister in charge of these Estimates make such arrangements in the federal members' rooms at Temple Court, Melbourne, that honorable members may conduct telephone conversations there in private? The only rooms in which such conversations are now possible are occupied by the Leader of the Opposition in this House and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. {: #subdebate-28-0-s82 .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
Minister for Works and Railways · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- When last I was in the federal members' rooms in Melbourne I noticed that there were telephones in all the rooms. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -But the smaller rooms are occupied by the leaders of the parties. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I shall look into the matter, and see if the provision asked for can be made consistent with economy. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Health. *Proposed vote,* £109,500. {: #subdebate-28-0-s83 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah .- I wish to draw attention to the excessive cost of the Department of Health and to the high salaries paid to some of its officers. In the third division, for instance, there are a senior medical officer at £1,020 and two medical officers who are paid £1,656. In the division of Marine Hygiene a divisional director draws a salary of £1,400. In the division of Industrial Hygiene another divisional director is paid £1,296. The director of Veterintary Hygiene draws £1,000. The Director of the division of Tuberculosis and Venereal Disease has a salary of £1,396; the Director of the division of Maternal and Infant Welfare a salary of £1,200; and the Director of the division of Epidemiology a salary of £1,396. Under the heading of School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the Deputy Director of Tropical Medicine is paid £1,030 ; and the Deputy Director of Bacteriology £1,100. Extraordinary expenditure is here incurred, but I venture to say that an examination of the work done by the recipients of these salaries will show that the Commonwealth is not getting a commensurate benefit. A tremendous organization has been built up in Canberra to do work which is being done in many of the States. This duplication has been going on for years, and no effort has been made to co-ordinate the activities of this department with those of State departments by means of which a considerable portion of this expenditure could be avoided. No attempt has been made to check the growth of this department. Like a snowball it has gone on increasing in size until it has reached alarming dimensions. At a time when economy is supposed to be the order of the day and retrenchments are necessary, and when this Parliament is being subjected to all sorts of criticism because of reductions already made, it is certainly wrong to allow this particular department to proceed blithely on its way building up an enormous expenditure and duplicating work which has for many years been undertaken with equal efficiency by the' various State departments. Apparently everybody's business is nobody's business. No effort has been made to prevent the duplication and overlapping of the health administrations of the Commonwealth and the States. The expenditure of the Commonwealth in this direction i3 continually increasing. I do not exonerate the Bruce-Page Government from blame in this connexion, but that is no justification for continuing our expenditure on the old scale. I urge the Government to take steps to put an end to the present serious overlapping. {: #subdebate-28-0-s84 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera -- There is, as the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** has said, serious overlapping of the work of the Health Departments of the Commonwealth and the various States. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- The Bruce-Page Government gave the Commonwealth Health Department security of" tenure. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I do not stand sponsor for all that the Bruce-Page Government did. I am not discussing this subject on party lines, but if the -honorable member for Warringah suggests that the Commonwealth Government has, intruded into this activity, I disagree with him. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I did not suggest that there has been intrusion; I merely urged that an end should be put to the overlapping that is occurring. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I agree that there is room for economy in this department. Tho health of the people should engage the attention of the Commonwealth Government, but everything possible should be done to ensure close collaboration between the Federal and State Health Departments. In view of the fact that we have even reduced pensions in an effort to balance our budget, we should try to eliminate all unnecessary overlapping. If the Minister for Health **(Mr. McNeill)** would, at the first opportunity, call a conference of the interested parties, I feel sure that some arrangement could be made to reduce' overlapping in this activity. {: #subdebate-28-0-s85 .speaker-JT7} ##### Mr McNEILL:
Minister for Health · Wannon · ALP -- Apparently some honorable members have not realized that the proposed vote for this department is £25,500 less than the vote for last year. Economies have been made in every possible direction, and though it may be practicable to reduce expenditure to a slight extent, no great savings can be made. In spite of the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill),** I can say with every confidence that the Commonwealth Health Department has thoroughly justified itself. Its officers in Canberra have done, and are doing, excellent work. This department set an example to the world in the use of radium for the treatment of cancer. It was the first to undertake this treatment on an extensive scale. Although its activities in this respect were undertaken against' the weight of medical opinion elsewhere, they have been thoroughly justified, for 41 per cent, of the patients treated have been cured. Everything possible is being done to reduce the overlapping of the Commonwealth and the State activities. The Central Health Council meets every year, and apportions certain work to the different States. Last year the Premiers Conference appointed' a committee to inquire into the subject of overlapping, and its report should be available very shortly. I assure honorable members that the Government will do everything possible to eliminate duplication and overlapping. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Markets. *Proposed vote,* £99,000. {: #subdebate-28-0-s86 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney -- I ask the Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** to explain why, although an amount of £5,250 is proposed to be. voted for the representation of Australia in Canada, nothing is being voted for our representation in the East. Wa have always been told that there is a large potential market for Australian products in the East, and this year we have sold a lot of our wheat there. It should be worth our while to do something to develop our trade with eastern countries. {: #subdebate-28-0-s87 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera -- The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** has touched on an important subject. I have never been in the East, but I do not know what the Australian wheat-growers would have done this year but for the sales of Australian wheat to China. We have always been told that the eastern market has great potentialities for Australia. Seeing that we sold such a large parcel of our wheat to China this year, we ought to be able to continue our trade there. It is unfortunate, of course, that the price of wheat was so deplorably low this year. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- It was the low price that enabled us to sell the wheat to China. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- There is, undoubtedly, some truth in that statement. Geographically we are favorably situated for trade" with the East. It is a natural market for 118. I urge the Government to take steps to discover and adopt the best method of representing Australia in the East. Countries like Canada and the United States of America have had" to seek foreign markets, and we shall have to do so. The people of other countries will not come to us and ask us for our products; we shall have to develop markets for ourselves. It certainly seems strange, in all the circumstances, that nothing is. being voted for the representation of Australia in the East. {: #subdebate-28-0-s88 .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS:
Calare .The Department of Markets is undoubtedly our Cinderella department; but I hope that our Cinderella will discover a prince in the East. If it had not been for the sale of our wool to J apan and of our wheat to China this year our producers would have been in a very unhappy position. Every country which has an exportable surplus of production, is. trying to develop trade with eastern countries, and we certainly should not neglect our opportunities Tn this direction. I do not suppose that there is a single person in Australia who knows what Japan's wool requirements will be next year. **Mr. Devereux** has already furnished us with advice from London as to the needs of Germany and Belgium ; but we know nothing about the needs of Japan. I should like the Minister to tell us definitely what he proposes to do with the object of developing a larger trade with Canada. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- We have a good man in Canada now. {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS: -- That may be so; but we are expecting to increase our trade with this dominion. Should we not be taking steps to increase our expenditure in that country with the object of enlarging our market? Will the Minister inform me whether the trade agreement with Canada has been finalized in every respeot? I hope that the Government will pay some attention to the possibility of extending the activities of this department so that we may open up markets abroad for- our surplus^ primary production. {: #subdebate-28-0-s89 .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH:
Corangamite -- I notice that an amount of £150 was spent last year on the representation of Australia in the East. What was done with that money? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It was spent in connexion with a conference which I called during the year ; but I shall-explain the matter further in my reply. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH: -- We should adopt an Australian outlook. The potential markets to which reference has been made are not in the East, as some suggest, hut in the North-west. There are also potential markets across the Pacific, as was disclosed by the information given by certain visitors from Chile who were in Canberra a few days ago. {: #subdebate-28-0-s90 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley .The position of Australia in having to find markets for its exportable surplus of primary products is so serious that every attempt should he made to improve our present marketing arrangements. After listening to the Minister **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** early last year, when he introduced a scheme for a commercial intelligence service, I hoped that something of a practical nature would be done. But I have waited in vain to hear any- thing from the Minister in regard to the proposals he then outlined. It is true that this Government has sent **Mr. McGregor** to Canada to carry out essential work, and so far as one can judge from reports, he has rendered excellent service. But Canada is not our only market. Last year, Parliament voted £4,000 for general representation and this year an amount of only £1,000 has been provided. Although £4,000 was voted last year, not one penny wasspent in finding new markets, and this year the Government is content to provide £1,000. Five or six weeks ago I read in one of the publications supplied to honorable members that **Mr. Maynard,** an advertising expert in Sydney, had said that many manufacturing firms in and around Sydney were confronted with the difficulty of disposing of their product and generally in making ends meet. They were not making sufficient to cover their out-of-pocket expenses, quite apart from their overhead. **Mr. Maynard** advised them to advertise, and despite the fact that their profits were decreasing, they increased their advertising bill by from 100 to 200 per cent., with the result that their businesses were soon in a flourishing condition. We must advertise our products, but in a more satisfactory manner than is provided for by representation of the nature covered by this vote. Individual firms can do much to advertise Australian products in the East and in other countries; but governments can do a great deal, because they have nothing to gain by furthering the interests of any particular firm or brand of goods. Only within the last few days, Professor G. L. Wood, Associate Professor of Commerce and senior lecturer in economics at the University of Melbourne, in a lecture on " The function of administration in economic development," according to a report in the Melbourne *Argus* of the 17th July, said : - >With exchange at 30 per cent. and the probability that it would remain there for a long period, Australian industries had an unprecedented opportunity to lay the foundations of a very valuable trade to the Bast. The exchange bounty represented for secondary industry almost the whole cost of the labour added in manufacture, but the Chambers of Commerce and Manufactures in Australia were slow to embrace the opportunities presented. Some may hold the opinion that the governments should do some of those things which the chambers of manufactures and others have failed to do. The only expenditure out of the vote of £4,000 last financial year was to cover the expense of a conference convened at Canberra. It is useless to vote money to serve the trade interests of Australia unless it is spent. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr Riordan: -- There is not too much to throw about. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- It would be far better to use it in some of the directions suggested by the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** than to appropriate it and not spend it. I trust that the Minister will give the committee information with respect to the commercial intelligence service which he propounded in the early part of last year, and also tell us what the Government proposes in the matter of finding markets not only in the East, but in other countries. {: #subdebate-28-0-s91 .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN:
Reid .I agree to a certain extent with the opinions expressed . by the honorable member for Oxley **(Mr. Bayley)** ; but a better method for those anxious to exploit overseas markets would be to encourage the pooling of the resources of those interested, and to send abroad direct trade representatives whose business it would be to sell their commodities in much the same way as the primary producers have done in connexion with the export of dried fruits. The exporters of that commodity after pooling their resources have made a determined attack upon overseas market, which has resulted in a tremendous increase in the sales of our dried fruits in Great Britain. That system places a responsibility upon those who have the goods to sell, and is better than to have the Government establishing elaborate overseas representation. Under such a system there would be collective representation in which the Government could participate in order to organize and encourage export in every possible way. That system has the advantage of creating joint responsibility, and of the assistance of a vigilant body operating in the interests of our export trade. I admit that the export control board system has not been a complete success, but that is due largely to the policy and methods of some of them. The Dried Fruits Export Control Board, in particular, has been successful, but the same cannot be said of some of the other export control boards. The onus must not be thrown upon the Government to create a demand overseas for goods which ' it is not in a position to supply. The gap can be bridged only in the way I have suggested. A marketing bureau should be established whose responsibility should be to study the possibilities of overseas trade, and to bring the data collected under the notice of local producers. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- That is now being done. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr COLEMAN: -- There is no coordination of our ' representation in London. There are a number of boards and members of the commercial intelligence service, dairy officers and veterinary officials who are more or less directly interested in stimulating Australian trade, but they should be grouped in order to control advantageously the whole of the interests concerned. {: #subdebate-28-0-s92 .speaker-JVZ} ##### Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931 -- I endorse what has been said by the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman).** It is the responsibility of the Government to assist in every possible way to find new markets, particularly in the East, for many of our primary products. It is, however, useless for the Government to send representatives to large consuming centres in other countries unless they can supply the goods they are endeavouring to sell. Our present trade representatives are not commercial travellers. There should be some connexion between the Government representative and those who have commodities to market. - Although, unfortunately, wheat-growers have been compelled to accept low prices for their wheat this year, its low price may be a blessing in disguise. Owing to the low price, Japan and China 0 have been able to buy large quantities of Australian wheat, and in future years they may continue to do so. The money expended in procuring representation in the United States of America, which is of little benefit, should be spent in establishing markets in the East. {: #subdebate-28-0-s93 .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
PostmasterGeneral · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- A few years ago, before leaving Australia on a visit to China, I communicated with several Australian manufacturers with the object of bringing their products under the notice of the consumers of that country. I wrote to a number of prominent biscuit and jam manufacturers in Australia, but the response I received was anything but gratifying, principally because Australia's exports at that time were in a fairly satisfactory position. When I made inquiries in Hong Kong, which is a British possession, which ought to give us some advantage in the matter of trade, I found that the Australian manufacturers were at fault, as is usually the case in connexion with British manufacturers developing new markets. In a sense, our prejudices are the same as theirs; that is to say, we manufacture what is undoubtedly a good article for the home market, but do not take pains to adapt it to the use of those to whom we sell it abroad. No amount of government representation will do anything to rectify that. At the time of which I speak, Germany, which had not then been beaten to her knees as she has been since, sent her own trade agents to China. Instead of being content to allow the work to be done by Chinese compradores, as the British manufacturers were, those agents learned the different Chinese dialects and sold the goods themselves in the various provinces. Practically the whole of the market for cutlery was monopolized by German manufacturers, who put up the different articles in fantastically designed cases to suit the requirements and tastes of the market. Very valuable work has been done in Canada by means of agreements, and that is the method that we shall have to adopt to obtain European markets so long as we continue the policy of protection. {: #subdebate-28-0-s94 .speaker-KYH} ##### Mr PRICE:
Boothby .The opening up of new markets would provide an excellent means of removing some of our, financial difficulties. Some years ago, when I was a member of the Parliament of South Australia, a representative was sent to Java and other eastern parts to inquire fully into questions con- nected with marketing. At that time we succeeded in placing quite a lot of South Australian flour in Java, and in addition did a substantial business in canned fruits. One of the difficulties that were encountered arose out of the fact that inappropriate labels were placed on the tins. The people in the East want to learn from the wrapping what the tin contains. These and similar difficulties, I believe, are gradually being overcome. It must be realized, however, that there is only a limited market in the East, because the people there are so poorly paid. I hope that the Minister will succeed in regaining the market that wo had for flour. The honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** has stated that quite a lot of our wheat is now being purchased; but it would be better if we were able to send that commodity in the form of flour, because the milling of it would provide employment for many of our people. I consider that we are not doing sufficient to develop the London market. The Minister should have appointed a live man as trade commissioner for Australia in England. I have written and spoken to the honorable gentleman in regard to this matter, and I mention it now merely in order that he may not overlook it. An effort should be made also to develop the Argentine market, where I believe there are available opportunities for the sale of our apples and oranges. Recently I have received letters from the Argentine making inquiries in this direction, and have spoken to the Minister in regard to the matter. {: #subdebate-28-0-s95 .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr FROST:
Franklin .I regret that no provision is made for improving markets in the East that we have endeavoured toexploit for years by the export of fruits, butter, meat and other products. The great drawback formerly was that there were no cool stores ; but at the present time a number of those are available for the storage of our products. There has been a good deal of criticism of the Minister's trip abroad, but I regard it as one of the most profitable of the whole delegation. I feel sure that a trade agreement with Canada could not have been secured by other than personal interviews with Canadian ministers. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr Bell: -- Guinness's were induced to take some of Tasmania's hops. {: .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr FROST: -- I notice that some of the Tasmanian papers say that that was only a " deal ". But for the wires that I sent away on the day when it became known that the " deal " was on, the hopgrowers would not have benefited. I should like the Minister to take a trip to the East, with a view to forwarding our interests there. I am a director of a cooperative concern in Tasmania, which this year sent to the East a number of samples of fruit juices and canned fruits, and I can say that there is a likely market there for a large quantity of our products. I cannot agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Boothby **(Mr. Price)** that we should send a trade agent to the Argentine, with a view to shipping our apples to that country. We have been misled in the past by persons who did not understand the potentialities of different markets. At the present time, the Argentine competes with Australia, because its season is the same as ours. It would be disastrous were we to encourage our fruitgrowers to send their product over there. We have been baulked in this way in the past in our endeavours to open up new markets. A few years ago, fruit was sent to the East, but because there were no cool stores to hold it, it had to be placed on the market immediately, with the result that those who consigned it lost heavily. Now, fruit is sent by every ship that sails, because it can be held in cool stores and distributed as the market requires it. The honorable member for Boothby said that the buying power in the East is not so great as in European countries. That is not so. There are as many wealthy people there as in Europe. The number of millionaires in Northern China is not fewer than in the United States of America. The market is available, if we can develop it. I hope that an endeavour will be made during the coming year to obtain that trade, which would be of great benefit to the whole of Australia. At the present time the market is practically monopolized by American products. Even in the mandated territory of Papua, which I visited some years ago, nearly all the tinned products come from the United States of America, yet that territory is within a couple of days' steam of Australia. The Minister would be quite justified in placing a considerable sum on the Estimates to open up these markets. {: #subdebate-28-0-s96 .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR:
Parkes .- I disagree with the statement of the last speaker that the placing of trade agents in the East will help Australian producers. It will be necessary. for the producers and manufacturers to combine for the purpose of maintaining their own representative in the East. The honorable member said that there were no cool stores in which goods could be placed; yet, in Singapore, Sourabaya and Batavia, one can purchase any foodstuffs that money can buy. The United States of America, of course, supplies most of the market at the present time. As has been pointed out, the Australian methods of marketing are unsuitable. American canned fruits are packed in 12 oz. tins, which can be sola at a cheaper rate than the 16 oz. tins sent from this country. Australian butter is packed in containers of the wrong size. In the East, butter has to be used as soon as the container is opened, because it rapidly deteriorates. Australian producers and manufacturers would have a good chance of developing a most profitable trade with the East if they would go about the business in a proper way. It is useless to send white travellers into the Eastern bazaars. The Chineses krani are in close touch with the Chinese bazaars. Fruit sent from Adelaide to the East, and costing 5-^d. per lb. f.o.b. Port Adelaide, was retailed at 2s. 4d. per lb.; but the growers on the Murray were debited with a loss of 16s. lOd. per ton, Because incorrect trading methods were adopted. The goods passed through so many channels that all the profits to the growers were absorbed. Biscuits are sold in the East, but they should be suitably labelled. It is said that when Arnott's biscuits were marketed there in tins on which was a picture of a parrot, the natives imagined that the tins contained pickled bird. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- That criticism is not applicable to the present trading methods. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- I believe that this business should be left entirely to commercial men. The Government should not interfere in trading matters except to assist in' the establishment of agencies. The firm with which ' I was connected years ago sent a man to Hong Kong and Shanghai, and he obtained sufficient orders for leather goods to keep the whole of the tanneries in Australia busy for at least twelve months. But the necessary hides for the manufacture of the leather were not available. Although the Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** did good work for Australia in Canada. I do not suggest that he should visit the East, because that is a big market that needs special attention by men who know, how to place goods on that market. We must pack our goods, not as we' may imagine they ought to be put up, but as they will appeal to the consumers in the East. {: #subdebate-28-0-s97 .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
Minister for Markets · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** took exception to the amount of the proposed vote for my department. Owing to the deplorable financial situation, this vote, in common with others, has had to be greatly reduced. As the honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Marr)** has said, if we had a dozen trade representatives in the East, and had not the full co-operation of the business community, success would not attend our efforts. Since the middle of last year a big improvement has occurred in the volume of our eastern trade, and it is ever increasing. The conference that I called recently in Sydney of business men interested in this trade was one of the most representative that has ever been held in this country. There were nearly 100 persons present, all the interests concerned being represented. The department^ was able to supply the members of the conference with all the available information relating to the East. Thousands of persons have availed themselves of the statistics which the department is able to furnish. The honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Coleman)** suggested the establishment of a bureau. I point out that we have a commercial branch of the Markets Department which answers the purpose better, and is well staffed, and is now collating all the available information required by those interested in overseas trade. The demand for this information is so continuous that tho staff has to work assiduously, and it rs rendering excellent service to the business community. Australia ought to have a trade representative, not only in the East, but in all other important countries with which we have a chance of trading. These representatives should not be mere bagmen, but their duties should be to arrange contact between the business houses where they happen to be located, and those in Australia. The honorable member for Calare **(Mr. Gibbons)** suggested that as the trade agreement with Canada has been completed, we ought to increase this vote in order to secure further business with that country. I may mention that the act recently passed for giving effect to the agreement will be proclaimed next Monday in both countries. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- How long will the agreement continue? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- There is no general limitation, but particular duties may be altered on either country giving six months' notice. There is one matter to which I wish to refer now for the information of honorable members. During the negotiations that I had with the Canadian authorities; it was suggested that there might be some disagreement among the consumers concerning the concessions with regard to currants and raisins. It will be remembered that on these items I secured an extension of the preference from £14 per ton to £18 13s. 4d. per ton, and endeavoured to resist any time limit. The Canadian Government suggested that it might be necessary to place a two years' limitation upon the preference granted with respect to those items ; but no definite decision was made until the agreement came before the Canadian Parliament, when the two years' limitation was inserted. I had not that information before me when putting the agreement through this chamber. I have been in touch with the Prime Minister of Canada regarding those two items, and he has promised me that the matter will he reviewed next session. The Dried Fruits Board in Australia, however, is of the opinion that in the next two years the 'Australian growers will secure the remainder of the Canadian market for those commodities. In reply to the honorable member for Parkes, I admit that the commodities sent out of Australia some years ago were faultily packed and graded. On my way to Great Britain recently, I learned that we lost the Ceylon market because of our ineffective packing and grading. I have seen 50 or 60 big stores in London, and in cities like Oxford, where Australian commodities are displayed for sale, and are meeting with a most favorable reception. Particularly owing to the service of **Mr. Hyland,** our publicity officer in London, Australian traders are receiving the benefit of the closest co-operation of the business "community of Great Britain. When attending an exhibition of our commodities, and when speaking from the platforms of picture theatres in Great Britain, for the purpose of stimulating interest in Australian trade, I found that there was a strong tendency to buy dominion goods. The honorable member for Parkes **(Mr. Marr)** will agree with, me that, as regards grading and packing, Australian goods are now well up to the Californian standard. I agree with the honorable member for Boothby **(Mr. Price)** that there is room for a trade representative in Great Britain and also in the East. Excellent publicity work is being done in Great Britain, but we could well do with a trade representative also. These are matters to which I have given a good deal of consideration, and, but for financial difficulties, I should have no hesitation in proceeding further along these lines. But we are using the resources of the department to procure and collate information desired by business people, and we now urgently need their hearty co-operation. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- The trouble is that departmental officers are not in a position to give business people information which is not already in their possession. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Business people are availing themselves largely of the information which is in the department, and we are keeping in touch with British representatives in all countries where development in trade relations is likely to occur, with a view to passing the information on to our business people. {: #subdebate-28-0-s98 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I understand that representations have been made to the Minister with reference to the despatch of a good-will trading ship to introduce our products to the people in the East. This matter was discussed at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in Sydney five or six weeks ago, when it was decided to equip a good-will trade ship on lines similar to the " Reso " train scheme, which has had such an important influence in introducing articles of Australian manufacture to people in the various States. The venture is being financed by a number of merchants and others interested in the development of Australian trade, and they have approached the Minister for assistance. I should like to know what stage has been reached in the negotiations. I also suggest that a number of officers of the Markets Department should accompany the trade delegations that will visit the East on this good-will trade ship so as to be thoroughly conversant with trade developments. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I understand that about 150 persons will make the trip, and while the Government will furnish all the information in the possession of the department, I am afraid that we shall not be able to give any financial assistance. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- As this good-will trade ship will visit Burma, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, China, and Japan, there should be important trade developments in the near future. Good work along these lines is also being done in Canada. I understand that the Dried Fruits Board is contributing a considerable proportion of the expenditure incurred in commercial representation in that Dominion, and it may be possible to have similar organizations in Eastern countries. British consuls always render valuable aid in this direction. About three years ago, when I was. at Weltevreden, I met a number of importers and wholesalers from Bataviaand other parts of Java. They had come to the western end of the island from Sourabaya to discuss trade matters, and gave me a considerable amount of information concerning faults in packing of Australian products. I passed this information on to the department. Some of our manufacturers make an excellent display, and put up their products in a most attractive form ; but if only 5 per cent. fail to reach what is regarded as a reasonable standard, it is sufficient to seriously endanger the trade of the remaining 95 per cent. I suggest, therefore, that stricter supervision should be exercised by the Customs Department, and that it would be a good plan if our trade agents also acted as liaison officers between vendors in Australia and buyers in Eastern countries. Any complaints could be brought to their notice, and representations made in the right quarter. In this way we could hope to reach and maintain a high standard, as regards not only the quality of our products, but also the manner of their presentation to Eastern customers. {: #subdebate-28-0-s99 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera -- It has been represented to me, in connexion with our export trade in frozen products, that we are at a disadvantage because freight charges from Australia to Great Britain are higher than those paid by New Zealand exporters. {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr Gibbons: -- That might be due to the exchange position. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I do not know, but I should like the Minister to ascertain the facts and see if this handicap upon our primary producers can be removed. It is alleged that New Zealand exporters of frozen mutton and lamb always have ample shipping space available, and that on many occasions Australian exporters are unable to secure the necessary space. This is a matter of considerable importance to our primary producers, because, owing to low prices for wheat and wool, many of our farmers are giving attention to fat-lamb raising, in which business there is still some semblance of profit. An endeavour is now being made to develop this trade, and it is probable that next season will see a substantial improvement in the export figures. This development will tend to steady prices in Australia. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- New Zealand freight charges may be lower than from Australia to London because the distance through the Panama Canal is slightly less. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The difference in distance should not be sufficient to account for the higher freight charges from Australia to London, because New Zealand exporters have to pay the Panama Canal dues. The Minister said a few moments ago that it should not be the function of the Government to seek new markets. I entirely agree with him. Our exporters should get out and hustle for themselves. In this connexion, I am reminded of the excellent example that has been set by the Australian dried fruits industry, in which I am interested. Honorable members will notice on page 247 the item : " Trade representation in Canada, £5,250 ". It may interest them to know that the dried fruits industry alone contributes £2,500 of that sum. All primary producers in that industry must derive a great amount of satisfaction from the knowledge that they are able in a spirit of self-help to carry their share of the load. The work done by the Federal Export Control Board is an excellent example of the fruits of our marketing legislation' Without it, it would have been impossible for the dried fruits industry to take such an important part in this business of extending our trade relations with Canada. They have developed markets, not only in Great Britain, but also in Canada, and they are doing what they can in regard to the East. They are showing a spirit of self-help, and co-operating with the Government in a way which I think is worthy of emulation by other enterprises. {: #subdebate-28-0-s100 .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I understand that New Zealand had an arrangement with the shipping companies, but whether it has expired or not I do not know. I frequently have meetings with the shipping members of the Overseas Transport Association. The week before last, I discussed the whole position with them in an endeavour to be sure that sufficientspace would be available for the cargo offering. We always endeavour to ascertain some time ahead the number of vessels likely to be required. {: .speaker-KV7} ##### Sir STEWART:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP -- What about the freight rates? Is there any difference between Australia and New Zealand? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I do not know that what the honorable member says obtains at the present time, but we are constantly treating with the shipping companies in regard to freight and rates. Proposed vote agreed to. Department of Transport. *Proposed vote.* £231,800. {: #subdebate-28-0-s101 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- In regard to the item for " Subsidies to voluntary organizations for the aftercare of migrants", I should like to know if migrants are still arriving in Australia, or whether the migrants referred to in this item arrived in the past but, having fallen on bad times, are being cared for by these voluntary organizations. {: #subdebate-28-0-s102 .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM:
Assist ant Minister · Gwydir · ALP -- The voluntary organizations referred to are working under agreements already entered into. The Salvation Army will receive £500; the New Settlers' League, Victoria, £200 ; the New Settlers' League, Queensland, £300; and the Welfare Council of New South Wales, £600. The honorable member is well aware that when the present Government assumed office it immediately took steps to curtail migration activities. There are no migrants coming here now at the instance of the Commonwealth. The money provided under this item is mostly required for the care of young migrants who possibly are coming out to join their parents. They are cared for by the voluntary organizations referred to until they reach their ultimate destinations. Proposed vote agreed to. Miscellaneous Services. *Remainder of proposed vote,* £155,400. {: #subdebate-28-0-s103 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- Provision is made for £500 for industrial tribunals under the Industrial Peace Act. I was under the impression that these tribunals had practically ceased to function, and that they functioned only in respect of the coal industry. I should therefore like to know why this £500 has been provided. {: #subdebate-28-0-s104 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
AttorneyGeneral · Batman · ALP -- This amount is the sum estimated as being possibly required in the administration of the Industrial Peace Act. One industrial board is now operating in Queensland, but the structure of the act remains, and this small sum has been provided contingent on its being required during the coming year. {: #subdebate-28-0-s105 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- Each Commonwealth election has usually cost over £100,000, but provision made on these Estimates is considerably reduced, and I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to send the Senate to the country before next June, and the House of Representatives at some time between June and December, thus bringing about two elections. **Mr.** BLAKELEY (Darling- Minister for Homer Affairs [7.25 a.m.]. - The substantial reduction from £118,000 to £93,000 in the cost of elections has been brought about by economies within the department and in the conduct and control of elections. Assistant returning officers have been reduced from £3 3s. to £2 10s., presiding officers and assistant presiding officers from £2 2s. to £1 15s., and poll clerks from £1 5s. to £1. Other reductions have been made in regard to the meal allowance and such like expenditure. The total saving on the remuneration of officers, &c., is £10,000, and in regard to meals and other allowances, £7,000.Whether the Senate or the House of Representatives goes to an election separately or whether both Houses go together, makes little difference to the cost of holding an election. The Senate election will be held next May. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -Will the Minister explain why £1,000 is provided towards the cost of an international map ofthe world ? {: #subdebate-28-0-s106 .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr A GREEN:
PostmasterGeneral · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- At a meeting of the international map committee, held in London in November, 1909, at which Australia was represented by **Mr. Cecil** Darley, M.I.C.E., it was decided to publish an international map of the world. The details of the method of construction were discussed, and certain principles were agreed upon, the whole of the proceedings being embodied in a report published in February, 1910. Owing to the outbreak of the war in 1914, the matter remained in abeyance until the 1st of May, 1924, when Cabinet approved of the participation by Australia. The work is of world-wide importance, the map showing all railways, roads, towns, harbours, forests, watercourses, mountains, &c. Practically all countries are contributing towards its production. Steady progress is being made with the preparation of the Australian section, and the sum of £1,000 is required to enable the work to be continued. I think that the total cost to Australia is £5,000. Honorable members may have noticed in Ministers' rooms sections of the map already produced, showing in detail Canberra, the southeastern portion of New South Wales, and portions of Victoria. Proposed vote agreed to. War Services Payable out of Revenue. *Proposed vote,* £2,507,840. {: #subdebate-28-0-s107 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- I ask the Minister for Defence to explain why the item, " Graves of Soldiers - Contribution to Graves Commission for Commonwealth's share of cost of care and maintenance " has been reduced from £94,950 last year to £13,738 this year. {: #subdebate-28-0-s108 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
Minister for Defence · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Under the original agreement with the War Graves Commission the Commonwealth Government undertook to pay £94,950 per annum for six and one-half years from April, 1925, to September, 1931. The amount of £13,738 proposed to be voted this year is the final payment under that arrangement. Proposed vote agreed to. *Proposed vote* (Commonwealth Railways, £530,900), agreed to. Postmaster-General's Department. *Proposed vote,* £8,846,500. {: #subdebate-28-0-s109 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera -- I direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral **(Mr. A. Green)** to the serious complaints that are being made about the curtailment of postal services in rural districts. I have received many complaints in this connexion, and so have other honorable members who represent rural areas. I recognize that it is inconsistent with economy plans for honorable members to demand extra services ; but there is a very bitter complaint, particularly in the sparsely populated areas in my electorate, about the drastic curtailment that has been made in their postal services. In many cases these curtailments have been made because of curtailments in the railway services due to the general depression; but I feel that a good deal more could have been done than has been done to meet the situation. I feel very sore about the whole position. Whenever a request is made for a new service the stereotyped reply is sent that the finances will not allow it to be granted. In many cases this decision is decidedly unfair to the people who are living outback. I suggest to the Postmaster-General that in cases where the services have been curtailed because of the curtailment in the passenger train services, the mail bags should be placed on convenient goods trains that may be running. I know that it is not the policy of the department to despatch mail bags on goods trains in normal times, but these are not normal times, and the department should cut through some of the red tape which is binding it to the practices of normal times. Arrangements could surely be made with the railway departments in the various States for the proper and careful handling of mail bags on goods trains going outback. A serious source of complaint in regard to the curtailment of our mail services is that the economy axe has fallen heavily on the people in the rural areas, but has not fallen on the people in the city and suburban areas. The environment of the people outback is very different from that of the people in the cities. City people enjoy two postal deliveries daily; and they have a post-office in every convenient place, and a pillar-box on practically every street corner. They are waited on hand and foot. If the economy axe must fall, it should fall on city and country people alike. If there is to be any discrimination it should be in favour of outback people. "When I made a complaint of this nature last year, the present Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** who was then Postmaster-General, said that if the city people were receiving better treatment than the country people, it was because the staff was available in the cities to render the ordinary service, and might just as well be working as sitting down doing nothing. That sounds plausible, but I suggest that instead of making two deliveries a day in all the suburbs, a delivery should be made in the morning in one suburb and in the afternoon in another suburb. It would not hurt city people if they had to go to the post-office for their mail matter like many country people have to do. I have no desire to make a personal attack upon the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, but' I feel certain that if he had any personal knowledge of outback conditions he would deal much more sympathetically with the applications made to his department in their behalf. I make the strongest possible protest against the infliction of economies on the country people alone. If justice were considered, the city people would be called upon to suffer before the country people. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The metropolitan areas have not been left alone by any means. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I cannot believe that the same economies have been made in the metropolitan areas as have been made in the outback districts, otherwise we should have heard a great deal more about it than we have heard. I could give instance after instance of most unfair treatment of the outback people. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- And so could I. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I am sure that honorable members on both sides of the committee who represent rural areas could make most serious complaints about the treatment of their constituents. In some country districts the postal services were better 50 years ago than they are to-day, while in the newer districts it is impossible for the people to get any adequate service whatever. In many cases the departmental officers admit the justice of the applications made to them, but they say that they cannot grant them because of the financial stringency. I suggest to the Postmaster-General that he should call the Director and the Deputy Directors of Posts and Telegraphs into conference and have a heart-to-heart talk with them on this subject. I cannot think that any of these gentlemen have ever lived in the outback areas, or they would be more sympathetic than they are. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- The Director has not lived in the outback, but a number of the Deputy Directors have done so. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART: -- If they have done so they have forgotten their experiences. They should bo sent outback for a month or two to find out just what the country people have to put up with. The present policy of the PostmasterGeneral's Department in this respect is causing the utmost resentment in the country districts and demands immediate revision. I trust that other honorable members who represent rural areas will corroborate the statements that I am making. {: #subdebate-28-0-s110 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy . -I had something to say on this subject last night. The policy of the PostmasterGeneral **(Mr. A. Green)** in the curtailing of the mail services of settlers in the rural areas requires immediate reconsideration. In spite of the interjection made a few minutes ago by the Minister for Home Affairs **(Mr. Blakeley),** I do not think that many of the Deputy Directors of Posts and Telegraphs have lived outback, and I am sure that the Director has never done so. The Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland **(Mr. Little)** has told me that he has never been farther north than Brisbane. I urge the Postmaster-General to regard these complaints as of the utmost importance. It is unreasonable that every application for a new service should be refused simply because the financial position is difficult. In Thornborough, a settlement in Northern Queensland, in a district in which there arc 200 or 300 residents, the work of the Postal Department was undertaken by a youth who was receiving only 15s. a week. The business in that office was not extensive, but owing to the department's policy of economy it was decided to close the office without any departmental pronouncement to that effect. Had the people in that locality been notified that it was the intention to close the office, they would have willingly contributed out of their own pockets the amount necessary to pay the wages of the postal and telephone attendant. At the Batavia diggings, which boasts of a population of about 75 persons, and which is about 75 miles distant from any other post-office, the office was closed, but the department eventually said that it proposed to reopen in a residence which it owned. The inspectors made certain inquiries, and ascertained that the residence had been sold, and consequently nothing further was done. There are also pack services costing in the vicinity of £130 a year, but many of these have been reduced or entirely withdrawn. Surely the residents in the outback portions of the Commonwealth, who do not enjoy any of the facilities of those in the more populous centres, should receive more consideration. Unfortunately, they are under the influence of those who have a " Brown " or at least a very dark out look, and until drastic alterations are made in the control of this department our complaints will not cease. Increases in postal and telephonic rates always affect the country people with greater severity than those in the cities. In many country districts group telephone services are in use. Subscribers are compelled to use the same wire, which results in cross talk and endless inconvenience. It is easy for the Government to use the economy axe to the extent it has been used in country districts, but it is time it dropped on some of those fortunate city dwellers who receive a mail twice daily, and are compelled to walk a few yards to their front gate in order to collect it. If they had to cover that distance only once a day they would have sufficient exercise. When travelling to Brisbane on Saturday last I saw the head of the Postal Department making his way to Brisbane to confer with the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, who will doubtless make recommendations for further reductions in country services, and in the name of economy will further smash the already inadequate facilities now provided. Residents in country districts have not representation in this Parliament comparable with those who live in metropolitan districts. During the last few years economies have been effected to such an extent that many of our country mail services have been seriously reduced, if not entirely dispensed with. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- The position is becoming worse. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- A representative in this chamber of a metropolitan constituency told me that some of his electors had to walk a mile or two to a post office, but in some of the districts in my electorate the people consider that they are exceedingly fortunate if there is a post office within five or ten miles of their home. In many cases boxes are placed on trees or posts, in which valuable mail matter is frequently placed. These have to meet the requirements of perhaps 20 or 30 persons, but no complaints are made. If a request is made for any alteration to the mail routes when new areas are being opened up, an offer is frequently made to contribute towards the extra cost. But to this the depart- ment will not agree. I have no knowledge of the Chambers of Commerce or any other such body making such an offer. At Chewko, in the vicinity of Mareeba, where land has recently been opened up for the cultivation of tobacco, additional mail facilities have been sought. There is the usual delay, and eventually a letter will be received to the effect that the inspector will visit this locality, and after such an inspection has been made, a further intimation will be given, that owing to the financial position it is impossible to grant the request. I strongly resent the treatment now being meted out to residents in country districts, who in the matter of mail services are entitled to more consideration than city dwellers. Some of these people in the out-back, who receive only a weekly or semi-weekly paper, do not complain of the conditions under which they are living. If the Governmentdoes not take immediate action in this matter it is my intention, on the motion for the adjournment each evening, to read every letter I" have received. I want **Mr. Brown** and his satellites to face up to the position, and to cease slashing the mail services in country districts. If people are to develop the back country they must be provided with reasonable postal facilities. As they contribute large sums in the form of taxation to keep a vast army of politicians and public servants in employment, they are entitled to the privileges enjoyed by others. Only last night I referred to the erection of new post offices at Chatswood, Killara, Sydenham and "Wynyard Square. Money is being expended in these localities, because those seeking additional facilities are able to get the ear of **Mr. Brown,** whom they may entertain from time to time at functions in Sydney. The unfortunate people in the outback districts who do not meet **Mr. Brown, Mr. Little,** or other departmental heads, have no means of bringing under their notice the conditions under which they are living. Some part of the amount of £500,000 which is to be spent in the erection of new post offices should be used to enable **Mr. Brown** and his deputy to visit the outback country. I should be willing to take them through my electorate, and after seeing the condi tions under which the people are living, I am sure that they would show more sympathy towards them. I trust that honorable members representing country constituencies will voice their protest in this matter. {: #subdebate-28-0-s111 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL:
Darwin .- I have waited for some hours for an opportunity to discuss the subject raised by the honorable member for "Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart),** and supported by the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan).** I am as mindful as is any other honorable member of the need for economy in the administration of government departments, and I know that the people in country districts realize the need for reduced expenditure. But it is the country which keeps the cities going, and has to bear the bulk of the disabilities resulting from financial stringency. "We have heard a good deal about the equality of sacrifice. These words fall very easily from the lips of Ministers, but in this instance there is no equality of sacrifice. Every Minister realizes that in the reduction of mail services and postal facilities generally, country residents are bearing more than their fair share of the burden. It is true that when the ex-Postmaster-General. **(Mr. Gibson)** was controlling the department the financial position of the Commonwealth was such that he was able to do what cannot possibly be done at the present juncture. In regard to extensions of telephones and mail services the country districts were then reasonably provided for. But now, when members write urging the need for a telephone line or mail service we are frequently told that the need for such service is realized, but owing to the financial position they cannot be provided. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- The worst aspect is the curtailment of existing services. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL: -- There has been a substantial curtailment of services although it has not affected my district very much, except where trains run less frequently than formerly. In small towns also the mail deliveries have been reduced. There has been, however, no curtailment of services in the cities and large towns. Letters are delivered twice a day in city and surburban districts. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- The department has to get rid of the mail matter. With only one service a day it would accumulate to an embarrassing extent. {: .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr BELL: -- I have no desire to indulge in party propaganda, but it is plain that the needs of country districts must be urged constantly if justice is to be done to those who are doing the real work of the nation. I do not blame the men administering the department. The Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Tasmania is sympathetic and understands the position, but he has not the funds to provide the services that are required, and he is governed by instructions from head-quarters. This is wholly a matter of Government policy. If the Government chooses to decide that real economies shall be effected in the urban areas, i'u order to allow reasonable services to be provided in the country, that can be done. That the Director and Deputy Directors have not lived out-back is immaterial; in the main these men know their jobs; but they are restricted by considerations of finance and Government policy. Some years ago the PostmasterGeneral issued a pamphlet stating the conditions under which telephone services would be provided in country districts, but that is of no guidance to-day to honorable members or to applicants for services. I want to be able to help the department as well as my constituents, and I should have definite information regarding the conditions under which telephone lines will be provided, and what will be expected of an applicant living a few miles off the main road or beyond the terminus of an existing line. I have always contended that it is not fair to require the applicant to bear the capital cost of his own line. At one period that was recognized and the department paid for the material and labour. Now, it is discouraging the extension of telephone lines, but if an individual is desperately in need of a service 'and cares to put his hands into his pockets, to pay for the erection of posts and miles of wire, the department will install a line. If the department insists that it cannot provide the same facilities as were given years ago, I want to know what the revised conditions are. If the Postmaster-General cannot make a complete statement on these Estimates, he should, in the interests of his department, have one printed, and circulated to members. I hope that the Prime Minister will take up this matter at an early date with the PostmasterGeneral, and the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, with a view to evolving a more sympathetic policy. The only policy that will satisfy this Parliament is one which gives reasonable treatment to those in the country districts, even if it involves some curtailment of the privileges of the urban population. For years the Postmaster-General's Department has paid a subsidy to Tasmania!) Steamships Proprietary for the carriage of mails between the mainland and the island. The amount paid by the Government is about £31,000, exclusive of an extra £6,000 or £7,000 for putting the *Nairana* into service for a few extra weeks. One condition of the contract is that during its currency the company may not increase the freights or fares without the permission of the Postmaster-General. This condition should have been a valuable safeguard. The company has been well treated by various governments, and because of the agitation of Tasmanian members, .it has been paid a substantial subsidy to carry mails and provide a better passenger service. But I believe that every application by the company for permission to increase freights and fares has been granted. Recently the shipping companies have had relief from the Arbitration Court; the wages of seamen, officers, and waterside workers have been reduced. I am told that the amount of the reduction, including the cost of living adjustment, is approximately 22 per cent. But freights and fares remain high, except for some slight reduction between certain mainland ports. This matter is of great importance to the Tasmanian primary producers. Has the PostmasterGeneral power to bring about a downward revision of freights and fares? If not, I shall seek to create an atmosphere which will compel the company to make a reduction. I hope the Postmaster-General will go into this matter; he has had power to prevent increased charges, and has not done so, no doubt because the company claimed that costs had increased. Now, costs have been reduced, and the PostmasterGeneral should be able to influence the company to adjust its charges accordingly. If he has power to insist upon a reduction of freights and fares, he should do so. {: #subdebate-28-0-s112 .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr KEANE:
Bendigo .I join in the protest by rural members against the curtailment of postal services. In justice to the Minister, I admit that some of the grievances of my constituents have been rectified during the last few days, but only after much correspondence and many personal interviews, lt will be generally admitted that the man in the country is in serious difficulties. Rural members have twice as much responsibility and worry as city representatives have; after all, urban residents have all the conveniences and many of the comforts of life. If a curtailment of postal services is necessitated by the state of the finances, first consideration should be given to the rural areas, to which the mail services are of prime importance. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- If the honorable member goes too far something will have to be said in defence of the city folk. {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr KEANE: -- Rural representatives have loyally supported city representatives in the past, and there should be reciprocal good feeling towards the man on the land,- whose job is undoubtedly the hardest. In my electorate mail services have been reduced. Where passenger trains have been discontinued, mails could be carried by goods train. I suggest that the Minister should look into that possibility. An instance of the small economies being effected by the department is the discontinuance of the lighting of the Castlemaine post office. For many years people have been accustomed to look for that light, and the loss of it is an inconvenience which is not warranted by the small amount of money saved. I admit that economy must be practised, but the Minister should see that it is so spread as not to place an undue hardship on the people outback. The man in the city enjoys a mail delivery twice a day, and if he desires to send a telegram he can do so at probably twenty offices between his home and his office. Rural populations, on the contrary, suffer many natural disadvantages, and are further handicapped by only limited postal and telephonic services even in prosperous times. {: #subdebate-28-0-s113 .speaker-JVZ} ##### Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931 -- The reduction of postal services in my electorate has been so serious that I cannot allow this occasion to pass without making a protest. I emphasize the statement of the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** that where train services have been reduced from four and six weekly to two weekly, the mail services have been curtailed accordingly. I am speaking now of towns of from 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants. The municipalities, when they have protested, have been informed that it is impossible to give a better service, and that if they are prepared to carry out an additional mail service without expense to the department they can do so. The people will soon revolt against such a position. If the same disabilities were placed upon the people in the cities they would immediately be up in arms. In my electorate small post offices, which have been in existence for nearly 50 years, have been closed down, despite the fact that protest after protest has been made against such action. We know perfectly well that the department is not doing this with the desire to place additional burdens upon the people in the rural districts, but ii should at least endeavour to formulate a policy under which the mail services generally will be equalized as much as possible. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral, in collaboration with his departmental officers, will give this matter favorable consideration. {: #subdebate-28-0-s114 .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS:
Calare .A matter which closely affects my electorate is the uncertainty of the Government's attitude with respect to the installation of dictaphones in country newspaper offices. Recently the Government gave this matter consideration and postponed its decision to abolish the use of these machines, and I enter my protest against its attitude. The dictaphone was introduced in the. country newspaper offices at the request of the Postal Department, but now that the use of that facility has enabled the country people to obtain news with a rapidity, which, to some extent, has interfered with the circulation of great metropolitan newspapers, influence has been brought to bear upon the department to compel the country newspaper proprietors to abandon the use of this machine. The country press, as an institution, has done more for the actual development of this country than anything else, and ite work has been facilitated by the use of the dictaphones. The Postal Department has suggested that the use of these machines should be abandoned, because it interferes with the revenue of the post office. It is just as reasonable to instruct the country press to revert to the telegraph system, and abandon the dictaphone as it would be to instruct the Railway Department to abandon the train service and to revert to the bullock dray. If the country newspaper proprietors have to revert to the primitive telegraph system, it will be a departure that should not be tolerated by us. I have heard the case made out by the representatives of the country press, and I say that it is absolutely unanswerable. They showed that the dictaphone was of greater advantage to them than any other 3y stern. In many instances, the country newspapers were obtaining the latest news in the evening and distributing it among the people the next morning. The country newspaper proprietors are business men, and they wish to know the final decision of the Government, so that if it is favorable they may develop their business to meet the requirements of modern society. I think that that assurance should be given to the country press. I come now to the actual postal services in my electorate. They are being abolished at a rate which, if continued, will abolish all the postal services in my electorate within 21 months. This policy of withdrawing postal privileges from "the rural dweller commenced during the regime, not of this Government, but of the Bruce-Page Government. I shall do my utmost - and from now the fight is on - to prevent any further curtailment of country postal facilities. The mail services of the people in the large centres of population could be considerably curtailed before they would suffer the disadvantages which the country people are now experiencing. The actual curtailment of services has not been fairly distributed among the community generally, and I protest against the inequality of sacrifice in respect of postal facilities that has been forced upon the country dweller. {: #subdebate-28-0-s115 .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY:
Oxley -- It *is* many years since so many members have risen to complain about the treatment meted out to the people by the Postal Department. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- I have been in this Parliament twenty years, and have never known the position to be different. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- From the time that the Bruce-Page Government made available large sums of money to the Postal Department, members have, until recently, been absolutely satisfied with the treatment given to both the country and city people. The officials of the Postal Department are the same to-day as they were then. The policy laid down is the same to-day as it was then ; but the financial position has changed. The Postal Department is a business department, and is expected to pay its way. It has its own sinking fund, and is responsible for the provision of money for that fund so that loans made to it may be repaid within a certain number of years. This Parliament has never been unsympathetic towards the people resident in the country, and neither has the Postal Department. Many of the districts to which tho honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** and other honorable members have referred, are, from the postal standpoint, most expensive to operate. Many a letter on which a twopenny postage stamp is placed costs 15s. or 16s. to deliver to the addressee. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Oan the honorable member prove that statement? {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- Yes. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Then I ask him to prove it. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I cannot do that now, but I can bring facts and figures to prove that letters are delivered to addressees in tho outlying portions of Australia at a cost of from 15s. to 16s. each. Such profits as have accrued to the Postal Department in the past have come from the people in the large cities. They have paid for their services and are entitled to them, but this Parliament, and the department itself, have never treated the Postal Department as a cold business proposition. Had they done so there would be few facilities. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- And no people outback. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- And, as the honorable member has said, no people outback. We realize that it is essential to have people in the country districts. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- We do not want charity. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I am not suggesting that. We realize that it is essential to have men and women in the outback districts, and tho department has, therefore, gone to considerable expense in providing them, as money has permitted, with postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Those people have made Australia. {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I do not deny that. Honorable members who represent city electorates have, during the last three or four years, fought the Postal Department just as strenuously as have honorable members who represent rural constituencies. Take my own case. For years a sum has been on the Estimates for the erection of a post office at South Brisbane. The honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** referred to the post office at Hughenden, where people fall through the verandah flooring because of its decrepitude. I should like to show honorable members the post office at South Brisbane. It is a disgrace to the department. I have 57,000 electors in my constituency, and only .three official post offices in the whole area. The honorable member for Kennedy has fewer electors than I have, but he has a far greater number of official post offices. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr Riordan: -- What are the respective areas? {: .speaker-JOG} ##### Mr BAYLEY: -- I am speaking of the business undertakings of the department and not of areas. I want honorable members who represent country constituencies to recognize that other people besides their constituents are affected by these economies. When it becomes necessary to economize, the department naturally has to cut out those services that have resulted in the greatest loss. It must be realized by all that the department is not making these reductions willingly. The sacrifice is general. There is not one member from a metropolitan constituency who has not received letter after letter from the department intimating that no money is available to effect alterations or improvements. {: #subdebate-28-0-s116 .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr CROUCH:
Corangamite -- It is too early in the morning for the honorable member for Oxley **(Mr.** Bayley) to indulge in joking. This is a matter of such great importance that I know that the Postmaster-General **(Mr. A. Green)** would regret it if the estimates for his department were passed without my drawing attention to the needs of the important electorate of Corangamite. I have no desire to raise the issue of town, versus country, but if country postal facilities are being curtailed because of financial depression, I should like to know why the cities are not similarly treated. I asked a question on notice as to how many postal services had been reduced in Sydney during the past two years. I was informed that there has been no curtailment of such services in Sydney, and that only two centres have been affected in Melbourne - Glenroy and Blackburn - which are practically country areas. It is all very well for the honorable member for Oxley to talk about . the Bruce-Page Government, and the alleged generosity of its Postmaster-General. I point out that during its regime there was a loss on the whole of the Postal Department activities of from £100,000 to £300,000 per annum, with the exception of one year. Now that we are experiencing bad times, why should the country centres be the only ones to suffer? It cannot be denied that discrimination has been shown. References have been made to the Castlemaine post office clock. I draw attention to that at Maryborough, which costs £9 10s. a year to light. I understand that it would not cost more than £4,000 per annum to light the whole of the post office clocks in the Commonwealth. I know that if I moved that the item covering the salary of the Director of Post and Telegraphs be eliminated, it would have the approval of honorable members. It should also gladden the heart of the Postmaster-General as it would enable him to get rid of the incubus. If I do so, will the honorable gentleman give me an assurance that the money so saved will be devoted to the lighting of post office clocks as before? The Postmaster-General remains silent. I am too meek; I make no threats and Ministers are therefore ' prone to leave my requests unnoticed until I exert pressure. It was stated by the Minister that the cost of lighting the Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide post office clocks will have to be borne by the respective municipalities. So far as I can gather that so far has not been done. Will the honorable gentleman assure me that the discontinuance of the government subsidy for the lighting of the post office clock at Maryborough will synchronize with the discontinuance of that for the lighting of the post office clocks in the three great metropolises that I have mentioned? As the Minister sits like a sphinx, in silence, without giving the slightest sign of a softening heart, I shall resume my seat. I have placed on record my protest against the unfair and unjustifiable discrimination between country and town. {: #subdebate-28-0-s117 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS:
Moreton -- I urge the Postmaster-General to be more sympathetic in his administration of post and telegraph services. I am not unmindful of the hard times through which we are passing, but I believe that unsympathetic treatment has been meted out to some country centres by the postal administration. In almost every direction postal deliveries have been reduced. I realize that the curtailment of railway services has had something to do with that, but the main feature is the change of government policy that has recently taken place. I am satisfied that the Deputy Directors of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland, **Mr. A.** Little, and his predecessor, **Mr. Christie,** have always been anxious to do whatever they could but they have experienced difficulty in carrying out their desires, because of the policy of the Government. I urge the Minister to reconsider this policy, and do everything possible to dispense evenhanded justice to both town and country. Mail deliveries mean much to country folk. They are the great link with civilization. I hope that this general appeal will cause the Minister to exercise that consideration and assistance to the country people to which they are entitled. {: #subdebate-28-0-s118 .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES:
Indi .- I realize that empty stomachs and absence of sleep are responsible to some extent for the irritation that has been displayed by certain honorable members. Notwithstanding the hour, I cannot let the oppor tunity pass without registering my protest against the curtailment of postal facilities in rural districts. In my electorate some districts have undertaken to pay the expense of maintaining their old mail delivery, it being necessary for business men to have these facilities. Apparently that has been used against other centres when they have asked that their postal facilities should not be curtailed. That is most improper on the part of the department. I am surprised that honorable members should confine their post office grievances to such minor matters as the lighting of post office clocks. The maintenance of adequate postal facilities in rural areas is of infinitely greater importance. Last year the Victorian Government received over £2,000 from miners' rights. As the cost of a miner's right is only 2s. 6d., it is evident that there are more than 16,000 persons in the country seeking for gold. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- What has that to do with the post office? {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- I shall show the honorable member. These prospectors are not searching for gold on the shores of Manly, where postal facilities are readily available. They are seeking the precious metal in rural districts, and it is hard if, after working all the week, they have to walk ten or twelve miles to get their weekly mail. Some considerationshould be given to these men. Recently the train service on one of the railway lines in my electorate was curtailed. Instead of the train going to the terminus of the railway it stopped about 80 miles back, with the result that the mails were delayed for two days. Let me compare the enterprise shown by city newspaper companies with the lack of energy displayed by the Government. When the train service was curtailed, the newspaper companies of Melbourne immediately made arrangements for the conveyance of newspapers from the temporary terminus to the railhead. At a very small cost the Postmaster-General's Department could have arranged for the mails to be carried by the same vehicle; but, on the plea of economy, it did nothing. The result is that settlers beyond the present temporary railway terminus can get their newspapers daily, but not their letters. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- That has happened repeatedly in rural districts. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES: -- A further effect of the Government's policy is to suspend or curtail the contracts for the carriage of mails from the railway line to towns some distance on either side. For the sake of an infinitesimal saving the Government has caused considerable inconvenience to outback settlers. Seeing that the newspaper companies made arrangements for the conveyance of newspapers the Government should have been prepared to utilize the facilities provided by them, and have arranged for the mails to be carried also. The policy adopted by the department in connexion with telephone services is also inexplicable. Recently a man in my electorate desiring telephone connection entered into a contract with the department to supply and erect the necessary poles and to pay his first year's rental. He fulfilled his part of the contract, but, on the ground of economy, the department said that it could not carry out its portion of the contract. It stated that there was no money available to pay for the wiring of the poles, and that linesmen who would have been employed to do the work were being put off. The honorable member for Corangamite **(Mr. Crouch)** said that he desired the Postmaster-General- to reply to the cases that had been brought before his notice. I want him to do more than speak; I want him to act- {: #subdebate-28-0-s119 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I have done my best to pacify those persons in my electorate who have suffered because of the Government's policy- of curtailing country mail services. I have not brought this matter up before, although I could have done so on motions for the adjournment of the House; but now that the appropriate occasion has arrived, nothing but the application of the " gag " will prevent me from urging the claims of country settlers in respect of postal services. It cannot be said that I am urging the claims of country settlers merely because Angas is a country district, because one-third of the Angas electorate is in the metropolitan district of Adelaide. I can, therefore, speak on behalf of both metropolitan and country electors. Excepting to the extent that they have been refused official post office buildings, the metropolitan areas have had no curtailment of postal services, whereas in country districts there has been considerable curtailment. Where previously there were two mails a week, there is now only one; where, until recently, there were three mails a week, there are now only two ; and where there was a daily mail there are now only three mails a week. It cannot be gainsaid that the country districts have had to bear the brunt of the economy measures adopted by the Postmaster-General's Department. I realize that the Government must practise economy, and with some success I have represented that viewpoint to the people in the country portions of my electorate. If I were asked where economies could be made in connexion with postal services in metropolitan areas, I should take the risk of offending some of my constituents by saying that economies could he effected by having a morning delivery in one portion of a district and an afternoon delivery in the rest of it. Unfortunately, that might mean dispensing with the services of some men ; but it would be better that metropolitan areas should have only one delivery a day than that the department should reduce the already infrequent mail services in country districts. Perhaps if I were to go through the department I could suggest other ways of effecting economies. I think, however, that the suggestion I have made is a fair one. The honorable member for Oxley **(Mr. Bayley)** suggested that the people in country districts were getting postal facilities beyond what they paid lor. The honorable member does not need me to tell him that the prosperity of this country is based on its agricultural, pastoral, mineral, and viticultural industries. The 58 per cent, of the population of South Australia resident in the Adelaide metropolitan district, and the similarly large proportions of the population of other States living in the other capital cities, depend for their livelihood on the scattered settlers in outback areas. It is not right that those who enjoy the greater comforts of the cities should be given every postal facility, while those on whom they depend have their already inedaquate services seriously curtailed. The statement of the honorable member for Oxley is unfair; it is one of the reasons which have led me to make this protest. I hope that something will be done for these country settlers, otherwise there will be no alternative to raising the matter night after night on the adjournment in order to bring home the facts to the Government. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- I will make one to do that. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- Something should be done to see that the sacrifice made necessary by the state of our finances shall be shared more equitably between the city and country than is now the case. {: #subdebate-28-0-s120 .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER:
Maranoa -- I agree entirely with all that country members have said regarding the curtailment of postal facilities. Reference has been made to the cost of delivering mails in outback districts, and it has been inferred that country mail services should, in consequence, be reduced. One honorable member mentioned that it sometimes costs as much as 16s. to deliver one letter. There are portions of my electorate in which it would probably cost several pounds to deliver one letter. In the area beyond Thargominda, and in the region beyond Birdsville, it would probably cost between £ 2Q and £30 to deliver a letter by special messenger. It is not fair to take the cost of delivering a particular mail and to divide that cost by the number of letters, and then to say that the cost of country mail services is too great. In the same way that the mountain streams feed the rivers on which large cities are built, so the country mail services, which convey, perhaps, only a few dozen letters, help to swell the volume of postal traffic which, eventually, reaches the big cities and is essential to the proper conduct of business. If there is *to* be any curtailment of postal services, it should not be in the country alone. In my electorate there has been one curtailment after another. The latest proposal of the Government is to eliminate the travelling post office on the western railway line of Queensland, which delivers letters to sidings. One honorable member said that postal services in country districts are worse now than they were 50 years ago. The travelling post office to which 1 refer has been in existence for 40 years If it is removed, we shall go back to conditions which existed nearly half a century ago. A few days ago I received a letter stating that the Postal Department had effected a saving in a certain district by arranging with a dairyman to convey the mails in the vehicle in which he carted his cream to the railway. Unfortunately, there was a falling off in his cream supply, with the result that there was a curtailment of the mail service. The mail services of a country should not be dependent on such things. I ask the Postmaster-General to see that country mail services are not curtailed. I realize that economies are necessary; but they should not be effected by interfering with country mail services. I heard some honorable members speak of the hardships of their constituents who had a mail service only once a day. There are very few places in my electorate where there is a mail service every day. The services are mostly once a week, and, in rare cases, twice a week. Even then, settlers have to travel 30, 40, and as many as 50 miles for their mail. I know one man on the South Australian border who runs a private car 40 miles to the station homestead with the mail. It is then taken up, and carried another 60 miles to the head of the government mail route, and carried from thence into the town. The Minister should issue instructions that mail services shall not be curtailed at the expense of settlers in the outback. If it is necessary to save money, it should be saved somewhere else. {: #subdebate-28-0-s121 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I trust that the Minister, in his reply, may be able to give full information regarding the effect of the latest economies on the staff of his department. That is an all-important matter to me. I am pleased, naturally, to support the request of country representatives for better postal facilities. {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr Hunter: -- We do not want better facilities; we merely wish, to bc left alone. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- I have had no complaints to date regarding postal facilities in my electorate; but, if the granting of requests of country members will result in providing more employment, I shall be very pleased to' assist them. It will be a welcome variation of the recent policy which has been the means of discharging thousands of employees from the postal service. *Sitting suspended from 9.5 to 1030 a.m. (Thursday).* Proposed vote agreed to. *Proposed vote* (Northern Territory, £133,680), agreed to. Federal Capital Territory. *Proposed vote,* £270,878. {: #subdebate-28-0-s122 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
"West Sydney -- I am in possession of much detailed information regarding the establishment of a hog farm in the Federal Capital Territory. To save time, I shall, with the permission of the committee, incorporate the information in *Ilansard so* the Minister shall have an opportunity to furnish, at his leisure, a reply to the allegations contained therein. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- That is an excellent idea. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- The information is as follows: - {: type="A" start="J"} 0. Dennis waa an experienced pig-farmer, and was chosen from a number of applicants (advertised for) to conduct the Canberra pig farm. The site was chosen by Brackcnreg on Woolshed Creek (which runs into the Molonglo River) and is between Duntroon Military College and the Kingston power house, and the area was about 125 acres. I am unable to recall what was the rent, but the definite inducement to Dennis was that he was to use (and to have for the mere carrying away) the kitchen edible refuse from the Commission establishments, and the piggery was to be erected and built on "the most modern, hygienic, and scientific lines, so that it would be a model ". The buildings, &c, were erected (not without material delays, but I have not the details), and the cost was about £2,500, and Dennis went into occupation and was carrying on though he had not signed any lease (nor for very many months, was a lease submitted for his signature), and, ultimately, when a lease was submitted for his signature would he accept or sign it as he said it differed very greatly from the conditions offered to him. As Dennis refused to sign the lease, the matter dragged on, because Brackenreg would not consent to Dennis having the conditions agreed on in the first instance, and, ultimately, Dennis was told he could sign that lease or get out. He refused to do either,- and then he had a visit from the veterinary surgeon **(Mr. McKay)** who informed Dennis that he must not feed his pigs on the kitchen refuse as it might breed disease, and he must grow food for them. Dennis protested and said that the very special inducement held out to him was the abundant supply of cheap pig feed which the kitchen edible refuse afforded, but the authorities insisted, and so Dennis fenced off more than half the area and put in a crop of maize. When the maize was a few inches above the ground - and his cultivation had been done very soon after he was told he must grow feed - a peremptory demand was made to know why he was not feeding his pigs on fodder grown for them. He said the demand was made personally by Brackenreg, and that he replied, " Don't be a- fool - its only a few weeks ago that I was told 1 had to grow feed, and it must have time to grow ". Brackenreg was very insulted, and claimed to be the great pig expert and a very scientific farmer, &c, and Dennis finally said that he was growing food as fast as he could and he must feed on the kitchen refuse until the feed had grown. Brackenreg said he could not possibly allow it, and it must be stopped at once. Dennis had saved a large quantity of stale bread from the refuse, and thereupon he stopped gathering the kitchen refuse, sold most of his pigs, and fed the remainder on the stale bread. The kitchen refuse began to accumulate as no one was carrying it away. Brackenreg asked Dennis, with much surprise, why he was not taking the refuse away, and Dennis replied, " Because you won't allow me to use it, it has no value to me, and I don't want it ". After some barneying, it was agreed that Dennis should cart the refuse to a destructor over near the Black Mountain, and should be paid £3 3s. per day for so doing, whilst a man was put on at £4 10b. per week to burn it with firewood bought and delivered at that site for the purpose. Dennis, by reason of the uncertainty of his tenure, never felt free to fully stock the farm, and when he had further reduced the num'ber of hi3 pigs (as above-mentioned) Brackenreg complained that he was not stocking the farm as he should, and that if he did not do so he must get out. Meantime, he continued to cart the kitchen refuse, and to draw £3 3s. per day, or 21 guineas per week, but he did not pay any rent. Next, he had another visit from the veterinary surgeon **(Mr. McKay)** in "the company of Brackenreg, and McKay straight out condemned the site, as it would he dangerous to public health, and would contaminate the waters of Woolshed Creek and the Molonglo River. Dennis said the pig farm had been granted to him on that Bite, the buildings had been erected, and the pig conveniences also erected, but as they were very deficient and not of practicable value as they were delivered over to him, he had spent a good deal of his own money in making them serviceable, and ho would not get out unless he got a better site, and at least equal conveniences. Brackenreg then invited him to accompany him to another site which he, Brackenreg. had chosen, adjoining the present abattoir. "Dennis went,. and Brackenreg pointed out its many advantages most of which Dennis declared were imaginary, and particularly that a lot more water would be needed, that he would not be able to grow crops there, and that he must be covered for his personal outlay in making the pig farm capable of use. Brackenreg, he says, promised that he need not grow pig feed on the new site, but could use the kitchen refuse and slaughter-house refuse, that the water would be supplied in sufficient quantities, and that everything would be suitable, but Dennis must at once get off the farm he was occupying. Dennis said he would stay where he was till he saw the new pig farm ready and fit for use and occupation, and an argument about this continued for many weeks -indeed, months, all highly profitable to Dennis who had virtually ceased to be a pigfarmer, and had become a well-paid carter of refuse. Again a visit from Brackenreg to the pig farm, and he alleged that the farm must be closed immediately as the pigs had swine fever. Dennis said, " That is untrue, and you cannot bring one competent man to support the statement. Those pigs are as healthy as you, and there is no swine fever about them. . . . Anyway, bring the veterinary surgeon along and see what he says ". Brackenreg insisted, and declined to send the veterinary surgeon along, saying it was not necessary for that ho had condemned them himself, and that was sufficient. A few days after this, Dennis was put off carting the refuse, so as he had no income, had not grown more feed, nor stocked more pigs in consequence of the uncertainty of his position, he decided to get out, and sold his pigs to the local butchers, who slaughtered them, and the meat was duly passed, it being perfectly healthy, and Dennis departed leaving some " Rosemary for Remembrance " in the shape of a large unpaid rent account, and an angry lands officer. In January, 1928, the following advertisement appeared in the *Canberra Times: -* " Federal Capital Commission. *Lease of Pig Farm.* Applications, closing at noon on Monday, 23rd January, 1928, addressed to the Secretary, Federal Capital Commission, Canberra, are invited for the lease of a pig farm at Canberra from persons competent to establish and efficiently run a piggery. The successful lessee will have the right to disposal of refuse from Federal Capital Commission establishments. Full particulars on application." Among the numerous applicants was **Mr. Alexander** Coles, of Bondi, Sydney, who had recently disposed of his pig farm at Yerranderie, near Camden. In March, 1928, **Mr. Coles** received a telegram from **Mr. Brackenreg,** Lands Officer to the Commission, advising that he was the selected applicant for the proposed piggery, and requesting his presence in Canberra for the purpose of establishing his bona fides, as well as to have a general conference in regard to the proposal. In April **Mr. Coles** arrived in Canberra, and **Mr. Brackenreg** explained that the Commission wished him to continue on Dennis' farm until a new piggery was established. **Mr. Coles** had, however, heard that swine fever had broken out on Dennis' farm, and he refused to have anything to do with that area. It was then agreed that a new farm site should be chosen outside the city area, and after inspecting several places, the present one was chosen. The reasons which decided **Mr. Coles** on selecting the present site were assurances given by **Mr. Brackenreg** and Colonel P. Owen as follow : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That the proposed new city abattoirs would be established immediately on the adjoining lot, and town water supply would be extended to it. 1. The new sale yards would adjoin the abattoirs. The only objection pointed out by **Mr. Coles** to the proposed area was the absence of an adequate and permanent water supply, the visible supply of water being, in his opinion, inadequate for the needs of 500 hogs such as the Commission stated they would make provision to accommodate there. This objection was, however, definitely met by the gentlemen named with the assurance that the abattoirs would be erected forthwith, adequately supplied with town water and from which the piggery could secure connexion should local water prove unsuitable or inadequate. Upon this assurance **Mr. Coles** decided to go on with the proposition. Before returning to Sydney, on his first visit **Mr. Coles** had a conference with **Mr. Brackenreg** and the Colonel at the Commission offices, when he was shown a memorandum which had been furnished the Chief Commissioner, setting out the whole proposal, together with an estimate of cost. Copy of which is as under - " The Development Committee has for some time had under consideration the establishment of a hog farm with the dual objective of disposing of wet garbage from Canberra, and the establishment of a source of supply of swine to the abattoirs for the marketing of good pork in the Territory. The earlier deliberations were directed to the selection of a site, bearing in mind location within the proper zone, shelter from winter winds, water supply, suitable soil for raising crops, and proximity to the proposed abattoirs. In these deliberations the number of swine which it was thought would be on the farm was 500, and it was thought that the number might eventually extend to 1,500. During the deliberations of the committee several authorities were consulted, who have given their view, for instance - The Commonwealth Department of Health **(Dr. Robertson, Director of Veterinary Hygiene).** Department of Agriculture, New South Wales **(Mr. A. F. Grey, Senior Piggery Instructor ) .** Metropolitan Meat Industry Board of New South Wales **(Mr. J. B. Cramsie, Chairman), in addition to the responsible** officers of the Commission. A prospective lessee - **Mr. Coles,** of Sydney - was also consulted. The site finally concurred in by the committee is shown on the accompanying blue print, is to the northward of the industrial zone, and *six* hundred yards north of the site of the proposed abattoirs. One of the difficulties to overcome was the supply of water in sufficient volume at a location necessarily remote from the city services. Water supply will eventually be carried to the abattoirs, but in the meantime, to avoid heavy capital outlay, the site selected is not far from a goodspring, which will afford sufficient water for the purpose. That, however, involves a capital outlay, part of which is for water reticulation, inherent to the establishment of a pic farm on any site anywhere. The site, although having a westerly aspect is fairly well protected by the natural growth of trees. There is area of arable soil sufficient for the disposal of any effluents, and for the raising of some crops suitable for pig feeding. All the authorities consulted concurred in the site being a good one. The actual layout of the farm was the subject of discussion with **Mr. Grey, Dr. Robertson** and **Mr. Coles.** Certain general principles have been observed as to drainage and orientation, and subject to some recent comments by **Dr. Robertson,** which however, do not materially affect the estimate of cost.Plans of the structures and a layout of the building, sties, paddocks, &c., have been prepared on the basis of the farm starting with500 hogs. In preparing the drawings consideration was given to the Grafton plans. Every endeavour has been made to keep the cost as low as possible, consistently with premises which can be kept in proper condition and cleanly. The estimated cost is as under - The total estimate of £4,338 includes a cottage, for which it is assumed a rental would be charged. The erection of a cottage on the sitewas the subjectof discussion by the committee, and the view held was that that matter should be finalized with the lessee, it being thought that the lessee might prefer a cottage in the most northern extension of the residential area, distant over two miles. There would be an advantage for a household in obtaining food supplies, and schooling for children, and in general environment, in living in this area, instead of right on the spot. Under such circumstances the lessee would require living accommodation alongside the farm premises for such labour as he might employ. If the cottage is omitted from the total estimate, the farm premises, accessory structures, water supply, fencing, Ac, would cost £3,528. The committee is supported in its recommendation that the farm should be established forthwith by all the governmental authorities consulted, and it was gathered that **Mr. Coles** would be willing to take a -lease, although the committee was not, at the time of interview with him, in a position to state what capital outlay would be involved. I understand that he is still in touch with the Lands Officer. Deputy Chairman, Development Committee." After perusal, **Mr. Coles** agreed to the suggestions therein contained, and **Mr. Brackenreg** assured him that in order to ensure expedition, day labour would be employed, and the cost would be about £4,000 as mentioned in the memorandum. Further, that when the piggery was complete, it would represent one of the most modern, hygienic piggeries in the Commonwealth. **Mr. Coles** was then informed that a deposit would be necessary as proof of his bona fides to carry on the proposition when complete. Five months later he paid a deposit of £120, the arrangement being that rental would be 5s. 6d. per acre on 120 acres, plus7½ per cent. on constructional work done by the Commission, and was assured that he could at once proceed to order his stud stock for delivery in three months' time. On returning to Sydney, **Mr. Coles** ordered from Messrs. Fairchild and Clutterbuck, of Tinamba, Victoria, 50 sows and 2 unrelated boars, at an average price of £8 per head - total, £416. He then proceeded to Tinamba and selected his purchase, arranging for delivery within three months - or before the end of July. He also arranged for the sows to be stinted in order that they may be in pig on arrival at Canberra. Towards the end of June, 1928, **Mr. Coles,** not having heard further from Canberra, decided to visit the city and see what progress was being made with improvements on his farm. Upon arrival he found that nothing had been done, and failing to interview **Mr. Brackenreg** returned the same night to Sydney. He then wrote that gentleman from Sydney inquiring how the work was proceeding, and what had happened since they last met. By arrangement, **Mr. Coles** met **Mr. Brackenreg** in Sydney, when the latter explained that the Commission had, owing to unforseen circumstances, not been able to proceed immediately with the hog farm improvements, but everything was then well in hand for an early start. Not having heard further from the Commission, **Mr. Coles** again visited Canberra during August, and found that not even a surveyor's peg had been placed in the ground. He called at the Lands Office, but was told that **Mr. Brackenreg** was too busy to see him. On returning to Sydney he instructed his accountants, Messrs. Johnson, Edwards and Company, of Wynyard-street, to write the Commission complaining of the unfairness of their delay to their client, while at the same time inquiring how matters stood and when the farm would be ready for occupation, since it was intended to form a company to promote the industry. The Commission expressed regret at the delay experienced, but gave definite assurances that the pig farm project would be taken in hand immediately. As a result of official delay in developing the pig farm, **Mr. Coles** had to cancel his original order for stock and re-order again for future deliveries. **Mr, Coles** paid his third visit to Canberra in October, 1928, and discovered that the farm had not even been surveyed - it was still in the same condition. He interviewed **Mr. Brackenreg** and, accompanied by two interested friends from Sydney, met Colonel Owen, Messrs. Brackenreg, Casboulte, Mousett, Fleetwood and others on the ground. A conference followed when, after consultation with all the officials present, **Mr. Brackenreg** stated, in reply to a direct question asked by **Mr. Coles,** that accommodation would be ready for a consignment of pigs within six weeks. On returning to Sydney **Mr. Coles** requested the stud master in Tinamba to have his second consignment of pigs ready for delivery about Christmas. During the third week in December, **Mr. Coles** paid his fourth visit to Canberra, and found that the land had been pegged by surveyors and fencing started by day labour Realizing that nothing could be done, he returned to Sydney, but returned late in January to ascertain what progress was being made, He found that a **Mr. Codzon** and two others wore engaged laying down foundations for a pig pen. A conversation followed with **Mr. Codzon,** during which **Mr. Coles** learned, for the first time, that the Commission had abandoned its original intention of having the improvements carried out by day labour and had called for and accepted a tender for executing one line of fattening pens only. **Mr. Codzon** stated there were a dozen other contracts yet to be let to complete the work, but the Commission only had sufficient money available to permit his contract being proceeded with. In any case, even if the whole were let at once, it would take months before the work could be completed. **Mr. Coles** returned to Sydney, and instructed his accountants to write a further protest to the Commission, with a request for a definite date when the farm would be ready for occupation. The Commission replied, definitely promising that occupation would be given in March, 1929. Accordingly, arrangements were made to cancel No. 2 deferred delivery of pigs, and a new order given for a similar number to be delivered during March. A prospectus was issued for the formation of the The Canberra Hog Farm Limited, to commence operations during March, 1929, with a nominal capital of £15,000, of which £5,000 was definitely assured to promote the enterprise. Between January and March, 1929, **Mr. Coles** paid two further vists to Canberra for the purpose of making progress reports to the promoters of the intended company. During the first visit he found the first line of pig pens was well on the way to completion, and a second line had been commenced, but nothing had been done in regard to housing accommodation, boiling down plant and outdoor shelters for the pigs: Thesecond visit was made one week before the date the Commission had definitely promised delivery. He found that both lines of pens were nearing completion, but the homestead had not been started and no foundations laid for the boiling-down station, while much had yet to be done before stock could be placed upon the property. Owing to the fact that the Commission had again failed to keep its word as to the date of completion and delivery of the farm, those intending to join the company decided to withdraw their support. The Commission was notified by **Mr. Johnson** that, while it was his advice to **Mr. Coles** that he should proceed against it for damages, his client was still willing to carry on if the Commission would immediately complete the farm. But in any case, it was **Mr. Coles'** opinion that the existing water supply on the farm would at no time be sufficient for stock requirements. Despite legal advice to the contrary, **Mr. Coles** arranged with the stock master in Melbourne to cancel his No. 2 deferred order for stock and to accept a similar order for future delivery. Correspondence proceeded between **Mr. Johnson** (accountant), the Commission, and **Mr. Maund** (solicitor), during April, May, June and July in regard to the pig farm proposition, concluding by **Mr. Coles** receiving the following letter from **Mr. Brackenreg,** dated the 30th May, 1929:- Dear **Sir,** I was sorry you had to leave the other day before I saw you; I was very busy at the time. It is noted that you have called on the Cyclone people regarding the order for gates. The order was placed with our Controller of Stores yesterday, so that it should be in the company's hands in a few days. I am arranging for work on pens to commence on Monday or Tuesday next. Everything is proceeding satisfactorily; it is a very fine turn-out, and I hope you will be very successful and happy there. **Mr. Coles** promptly visited Canberra to verify **Mr Brackenreg's** statements, but found there was not a single water or feed trough on the farm, many vital essentials were lacking, including no floors or backs to pig shelters, no workmen's quarters, no farrowing rails, that the digester boiler was second hand; n umber of coppers inadequate for sterilization of food and pump at the alleged spring, or water hole, was damaged, and would not work. On his reporting this to Sydney, **Mr. Johnson** brought under the Commission's notice the inaccurate nature of **Mr. Brackenreg's** written representations. As a result of this letter Colonel Owen interviewed **Mr. Johnson** (accountant), in Sydney, and requested patience. The Commissioners were doing their best, and it would only be a few days when the farm would be ready for occupation. During July the stock master in Victoria advised **Mr. Coles** that he could no longer hold the pigs (No. 3 lot), and unless delivery was immediately taken they would have to be disposed of by public auction. **Mr. Coles** inspected the farm a fortnight after Colonel Owen's visit to Sydney, and found that although the troughs had been delivered to the farm they were not in position, but that there was a limited supply of water on the farm, and that a start could be made in a limited way. He accordingly saw **Mr. Brackenreg,** who, apparently believing that the eighteen months delay and expense imposed on **Mr. Coles** had crippled him, demanded a bank reference, or guarantee, that he was in a position then to carry on the farm. This resulted in another visit by **Mr. Coles** to Canberra, this time accompanied by his solicitor **(Mr. Maund),** when the Commission withdrew its demand for a guarantee, and promised to send a draft lease to Sydney for completion, subject to certain special conditions - one asked for being a guaranteed supply of at least 1,000 gallons of water per day from the farm spring. This guarantee was not given, but a clause added setting out that if the local water supply failed, water could be supplied to the farm, providing lessee paid 50 per cent. of cost incurred. This lease was executed by **Mr. Coles** during August. When **Mr. Coles** was certain that delivery of the farm could take on a definite date, he requested the Melbourne stock master to defer delivery of No. 3 lot of pigs, but was informed that his consignment had been catalogued for public auction at the Melbourne show sales on 29th September, 1929, and if he wanted any he would have to be present and bid to secure them. This **Mr. Coles** did, paying as much as £40 for sows he had originally contracted to purchase for £8. The consignment purchased by **Mr. Coles** comprised 25 brood sows in pig. **Mr. Coles** officially took over the farm on 1st October, 1929, and the stock arrived early in November. In November he purchased from Victoria a further lot of store pigs for fattening purposes. They were consigned with a clean bill of health from both the Victorian and New South Wales authorities. On arrival they were placed in the outdoor shelters of the farm, which, at that date, were still incomplete. Heavy rain fell a day or two after their arrival, and, having no adequate shelter, they contracted pneumonic enteritis, and a majority had to be destroyed, only 20 per cent. surviving. In this connexion, it is interesting to note that on 19th June, 1929, **Mr. Coles** informed **Mr. Brackenreg** in writing, in reply to an inquiry of his of 17th June, 1929, "that it was essential to have the pens floored and ends boarded." Moreover, owing to faulty construction, rain water ran into the pens off the semi-circular roof instead of outside -a defect that was not remedied until twelve months after occupation. When **Mr. Coles** was discussing terms of the lease,he learned that improvements carried out by contract had cost £6,700, instead of £4,300 as originally estimated, while the farm was still incomplete. Under the lease he undertook to collect daily the edible garbage from all government institutions according to schedule attached to the lease. These comprised over 30 houses and institutions, of which less than halfexist to-day. The Commisison had been paying £2,000 to contractors to have this garbage removed. Thus **Mr. Coles** relieved, and still is relieving, the Administration of that cost. The supply of garbage when the lease commenced approximated 3 tons per day, and was worth the cost of removal for pig feed. To-day, and under existing conditions, the quantity does not average half a ton per day, but the same removal charges have to be borne by **Mr. Coles,** while the value of the garbage as pig feed is much less than the cost of collection. From a source of profit it has become a source of loss, and therefore a direct charge against the farm. The water supply, originally intended to provide for 500 pigs, has never warranted the keeping of 50 pigs, while on occasions it has totally failed. This has taken place in the slimmer months of 1930 and 1931. In 1930 several pedigreed sows in pig died from thirst, and when **Mr. Coles** applied to the Commission for town water, as provided for in his lease, he was informed, " It has nothing to do with the Commission; it is your pigeon." Ho had to consult the police, who in turn had to threaten the Commission with proceedings under cruelty to dumb animals before the Commission moved in the direction of re-adjusting the pump to obtain a small supply still in the water hole. In 1931, water was supplied from town mains, and the Administration charged **Mr. Coles** £6 per week for 1,000 gallons per day over four weeks - or a total amount of £25 6s. 7d., being 50 per cent. of the total charges. If the farm had been fully stocked the water supply would have cost **Mr. Coles** £30 per week during the dry period. On 18th December, 1930, regulations under the Public Health (Piggery) Regulations were gazetted. These provide that the proprietor of any registered piggery in the Territory " shall provide a sufficient and constant supply of fresh water," for drinking and cleansing purposes. Penalty, £100. It also provides for suitable drainage being attached to each feeding trough. Although **Mr. Coles** paid his registration fee, a certificate has not been granted to him, nor can it be under existing conditions. Nor, at times, can the edible garbage supplied from the hotels be sterilized, as provided for in the lease, because of shortness of water. In order that there should be no doubt but that the Commission was fully acquainted with **Mr. Coles's** opinion that the water supply would prove inadequate, it is interesting to quote the following letter sent by him to the Commission on 18th July, 1929, paragraph 13:- " There are also doubts as to whether the water supply, completed at a cost of £500, will be adequate, as on my inspection last week there were only 3 feet of water in the spring (about 250 gallons) notwithstanding the fact that I had been assured that it never failed, and was quite sufficient to provide the water to meet all my demands. I respectfully state my opinion that this spring will not at any time be sufficient to meet my requirements." In view of ( 1 ) the incomplete state of the farm when taken over; (2) inadequacy of water supply to stock upsufficiently to balance commitments; (3) shrinkage of edible garbage, and, therefore, pig feed; (4) losses sustained through inadequate shelter for pigs; (5) general uneconomic conditions imposed by the lease, as well as those prevailing onthe farm; (6) high rent; and (7) the staggering losses sustained by the lessee as a result of eighteen months' enforced idleness and travelling expenses, **Mr. Coles** was compelled to ask for an inquiry during March, 1930, with a view to his being awarded compensation and redress. A general inquiry was allowed in March, 1930, and was conducted by the Commissioners, and as a result a drainage system was placed in operation on the farm; shelters were floored and boarded, and certain of the pig troughs were cemented in. Although the alleged spring had been proved to be a dud, several hundreds of pounds were wasted in trying to increase the flow of water. A rebate on the first twelve months rent was also granted, but no reduction in future rent. As the inquiry failed to give the lessee the relief and compensation he desired (a full statement of which was supplied to, and at the request of, the Chief Commissioner, by **Mr. Johnson,** for and on **Mr. Coles's** behalf), the Third Commissioner **(Dr. Alcorn)** sought the advice of two world experts in regard to the general conditions and possibilities of the farm. They were **Mr. W.** H. Potts, late principal of Hawkesbury College, and **Mr. David** Stead. These reports are in the hands of the Minister, and copies are being procured. As the inquiry afforded the lessee no real relief he found it necessary to execute a deed of arrangement with his creditors with the result that the farm has been carried on for the past twelve months under that deed. The trustee of the estate has been continuously impressing upon the Minister and the administration generally, the urgent need for a review of the rental and provision for an adequate supply of water. Finally the administration was advised three months ago that unless clemency and help was shown towards the lessee, **Mr. Coles'** estate must be wound up. Four letters sent to the administration during that period remain unanswered, while a fifth has been acknowledged with an intimation that the rent would be reduced from £500 to £250 during the next six months - the next year to revert to the full rent charged. (See letter.) This offer is totally inadequate. Over £4,000 have been lost to date by the lessee and his supporters as a result of what the lessee claims to be unadulterated misrepresentation. Over £10,000 of public money has been spent on the farm and it is still incomplete. The object of the farm, viz., to supply Canberra residents with an adequate supply of edible pork at reasonable rates has not been realized and that through no fault of the lessee. As all appeals for a fair deal have been sidetracked by the administration, a demand is now made for a public and independent inquiry into the whole matter. The fact is that **Mr. Coles** has given proof both of his bona fides and ability to make good if given a fair chance. He has held on tenaciously to his job of winning through to success and can be relied on to make good if only given a fair deal. In March of this year a world's record and two Australian records were made upon the farm in regard to pork production when a litter of eleven pigs from one sow attained the phenomenal weight of 2,506 lb. within six months, while the second record was created this week, with another litter of eleven pigs attaining the record weight of over half a ton in fifteen weeks. The results of these records have brought forth favorable comment from world-wide authorities with innumerable inquiries for stud stock of the same breed from pig farmers all over the Commonwealth. If **Mr. Coles** should fail through official mismanagement and apathy then it must react against the public in many ways. First, the capital cost will have to be written off; second, the Commissariat Department will have to find at least £1,500 per annum, now saved it on the collection of garbage by **Mr. Coles;** third, the public will have to continue to pay high prices for pork, when, if given proper water facilities, **Mr. Coles** could provide all Canberra's requirements in pork at 8d. per lb. as against1s. 3d. at the present time, and fourth, a necessary local industry will be destroyed capable of giving permanent employment to four men. What is required is a scheme for conserving surplus water now running to waste. This could be done for an outlay of less than £500. A further £500 would complete the farm in a way that would enable the original estimate of accommodating 500 pigs on the farm being realised. In any case and under all circumstances the rent charged should be set off against the known cost of garbage collection. The Government should not seek to have it both ways. The Public Accounts Committee would be the best tribune to submit the whole question to, and if that be done it does not require the mind of a seer to foresee that the result must be a damning indictment against the past and present administrations, and, perhaps, the discharge of some incompetent officers employed by them. Proposed vote agreed to. *Proposed votes* (Papua, £42,043; Nor- folk Island, £3,500), agreed to. Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to - >That the following resolution be reported to the House: - > >That, including the sum already voted for such services, there be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1931-32, for the several services hereunder specified, a sum not exceeding £21,995,891. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted. *In Committee of Ways and Means:* Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** proposed - >That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1931-32, there be granted out of the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund a sum not exceeding £19,586,111. {: #subdebate-28-0-s123 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS:
Wilmot .I move- >That the amount be reduced by £16,506,919. The purpose of the amendment is to grant Supply for only three months instead of twelve months. This proposal is made in view of the extraordinary circumstances existing in Australia to-day. The statement has already been made, in anticipation, that an amendment of this character is unprecedented. It may be; but many unprecedented things have been done recently. The financial condition of the nation is without precedent in Australian history. The circumstances in which the Government is carrying on are unprecedented. The Government is giving effect to a plan for the rehabilitation of the nation's finances with the assistance of the members of the Opposition, and in spite of the hostility of members of the Ministerial party. Those circumstances are extraordinary. I do not suppose that ever before in the history of Australia a government has been compelled by force of circumstances to jettison its own financial policy, substitute the policy of the Opposition, and give effect to it with the aid of the Opposition in spite of the hostility of members of the ministerial party. We, who are in opposition, have been associated with the financial rehabilitation plan from its inception. We assisted in formulating it, and we are now helping the Government to carry it out. We shall continue to assist the Government until the plan is completed. Honorable members may laugh ; but the fact is that this amendment will give to the Government sufficient time and Supply to give effect to that plan. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- What is the purpose of the amendment? {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- To defeat the Government. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- There is no intention to defeat the Government, and, apparantly, there is no prospect of doing so; but we contend that, as we were co-partners in the formulation of the plan, the partnership should be continued while the plan is being carried out. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- That does not answer the question : What is the purpose of the amendment? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- The Government should regard Parliament as being responsible for the adoption of the plan, and equally responsible for the completion and sue- cess of it. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr Mackay: -- Moreover, the Prime Minister asked for the co-operation of the Opposition. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- That is so. Previously the full responsibility rested on the Government and its supporters; but if the Government had depended upon the support of its own party it would not have dared to submit this plan to Parliament. It could do that only with the co-operation of the Opposition. Surely, therefore, it is right, and, indeed, a mere act of courtesy, that the Government should recognize that, with the exception of one small faction, the House is acting as one party in connexion with this plan. The Government does not need, at this stage, Supply for twelve months. We want to be able to see from week to week how the plan is working out. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- " We?" What has the honorable member to do with it? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- But for the support of the Opposition the plan could never have reached its present stage. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Was not the honorable member returned to support the present Government? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- I was not returned to support a policy which had not been placed before the electors. The Government has somersaulted in respect of its financial policy. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- So has the honorable member. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- I have not, but these recriminations avail nothing. We are anxious in the interests of the country, to see the plan carried to a successful conclusion. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** has stated that the Government will ask the House to adjourn merely for a few weeks. I accept that promise because I know that the right honorable gentleman will honour it, but we of the Opposition are not so confident regarding the attitude of the ministerial party We know that it subscribes to a policy different from that which the Parliament has adopted, and the outside organizations, including the recent Labour Conference, determined that that policy should be pursued. The Opposition has supported the policy that emanated from the Premiers Conference, and I desire to make clear that we shall resist every attempt to substitute for it the policy of inflation to which the Government was committed a few months ago. Having helped the Government to place on the statutebook a policy in accordance with the rehabilitation plan, we want to be in a position to check any attempts to vary it. I may be told that without refeusing Supply for a full year we could still prevent the Government from retracing its steps. But once the Government has been granted Supply for twelve months it, and not the Parliament, is in supreme control of the destinies of the country. {: .speaker-K7U} ##### Mr Crouch: -- Did not the honorable member announce his decision to refuse Supply before last Saturday's conference in Melbourne? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- Yes; I mentioned the Labour Conference merely as an additional reason for the precautions I am taking. The Labour organizations had announced their attitude earlier. I give to the Prime Minister credit for having resisted their efforts, but I do not know how long his resistance oan continue. The Opposition has no confidence in a policy of inflation. Possibly, as on other occasions, the Government will delay action until this Parliament has no alternative but to agree to measures with which it does not agree. For instance, when the proposal to export £5,000,000 worth of gold to London was brought forward, the financial position had become so acute that we had no alternative but to agree to an expedient to which we had previously signified our uncompromising hostility. We are entitled to do what we can to safeguard the policy for which we stand, and for which the Government to-day also stands. That is all that we are doing. We have no guarantee that the other policy of the Government may not be introduced. Only yesterday the honorable member for Fremantle **(Mr. Curtin ) criticized the Prime Minister for withdrawing that other policy, and the right honorable gentleman turned to him and said, " If the honorable member will indicate to me how we can achieve that policy," the inference being that if there were some method of giving effect to that policy it would be adopted. We do not believe in that policy, and we do not want any opportunity given for its introduction. I say that frankly and honestly. It may be said that this amendment, if carried, will prevent the completion of the plan. I submit that it will not.** {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- What would be its effect? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- That is for the Prime Minister to say. In moving this amendment, I am adopting no hostile attitude to the Government. The position is that the leaders of the united party in this chamber, and in the Senate, interviewed the Prime Minister, and appealed to him to accept their suggestion. There was no hostility shown at all. In the past crises have occurred, and they will continue to occur. This Parliament is not the only trustee of the people. The State governments are equally responsible, and at least one of those States has not acted up to the promise that its representative gave at the last Premiers Conference in Melbourne. Another crisis may develop at any time, and in that event this Parliament as a whole should have the right to deal with it. I claim that right, as representing the Opposition for the reason that we have been parties to the present plan and are partners with the Government in its efforts to achieve it. Therefore if a State Government takes any action which jeopardizes the success of the plan, we claim an equal right with the Government to deal with it. We have, for the time being, given up' all opposition to the Government because of the plan. We are just as much concerned with it as is the Government, and we claim the same right to deal with it whatever the circumstances may be. The plan is practically complete so far as this Parliament is concerned. Within a few hours it will be disposed of, but only with the assistance of honorable members on this side of the chamber. I move this amendment on behalf of the united parties. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- The honorable member is holding up the business of this chamber. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- I have no wish to waste the time of the committee. I have done everything within my power to facilitate the plan of rehabilitation. I have done nothing to hinder the Government, and if it will accept the amendment it can depend upon the support of the Opposition in regard to the plan. Even if the amendment is not accepted by the Government, we shall still stand behind the plan. There is no necessity to pass the whole of the appropriation at the present juncture. Only on rare occasions has the Appropriation Bill been disposed of within a few weeks of the beginning of the financial year. I admit that it is desirable in normal circumstances to pass the Appropriation Bill early in the financial year, but in the special circumstances existing to-day, we are compelled to watch the operation of the plan. If Supply is granted for three months, that will enable us to complete the plan, and at the end of that period supply can be granted for the remainder of the financial year. The following list shows the dates upon which previous appropriations have been passed - Generally speaking, the Appropriation Bill is passed fairly late in the year, and in some cases altogether too late. In the light of existing circumstances, there is no necessity to pass Supply for twelve months, and I appeal to the Government to accept this amendment. {: #subdebate-28-0-s124 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I have clearly indicated on a number of occasions that the Government will not accept an amendment of this description, and I repeat that statement now. I shall give to honorable members good reasons why the Government should not accept the amendment, which, despite all the camouflage with which the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** surrounded it, is calculated to do one thing only, and that is to humiliate the Government in the eyes of the people of Australia. The proposal is to reduce Supply after this committee has agreed to the Estimates. Such an action is unprecedented in the history of this Parliament. On numerous occasions the Estimates have been delayed, but in every instance, so soon as the committee has approved of the various items of expenditure as set out in the Estimates. the House has passed the Appropriation Bill. There is a sound reason why there .should be limits to the amount granted under a Supply Bill. Parliament has a perfect right to control the national purse. I agreed with that principle when I was in opposition, and I agree with it now as head of the Government. Parliament must limit the supply granted by it under Supply Bills, because those bills are brought down before the Estimates have been passed. When the Estimates are passed, however, the Appropriation Bill is introduced and passed. Any Government that desires money to meet expenditure which has not been submitted to Parliament must be content with a limited Supply. Hence this Government recently asked for one month's Supply only to enable it to carry on until all the items of expenditure for the financial year had been agreed to by Parliament. The Estimates have now been agreed to, and the usual course is to pass the Appropriation Bill. There has never been a departure from that practice. We are living in a time of stress, but we have passed through other abnormal periods, and never before has the practice of passing the Appropriation Bill immediately after Parliament has agreed to the Estimates been departed from. The Leader of the Opposition has said that it is quite usual for the Estimates to be submitted to Parliament late in the year, but I remind him that, to some extent, it has been the practice to bring down the Estimates early in the financial year. I have before me a similar list to that which he read, showing the dates upon which previous appropriations have been passed. On some occasions the Appropriation Bill has been passed as early as in August, and on other occasions not until nine or eleven months of the financial year have elapsed. Does the- Leader of the Opposition suggest that we should now have three months' Supply, and at the .end of that period another three months' Supply, and so on until the end of the financial year ? The Estimates can be considered in another place only in the form of an appropriation bill, and, if the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition is agreed to, they cannot be passed by another place; they must be held up. Honorable members opposite have talked a lot about restoring confidence in the people., but how can we restore confidence in this country unless we bring down the Estimates early and obtain the appropriation for the financial year? It is the boast of the right honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** that' he was the first Treasurer in recent years to bring down the Estimates early in the financial year. Only in the most extraordinary circumstances should a government delay for more than a month the introduction of the Estimates and the Appropriation Bill. If, instead of obtaining appropriation for the financial year, the Government introduced Supply Bills at threemonthly periods, the departmental expenditure would hot be authorized until months after it had been incurred. Such a practice would not he sound finance, and would not tend to restore confidence in the people. At this critical time in the history of Australia, when we are asking the bondholders of Australia to agree to a conversion loan of £556,000,000, the Leader of the Opposition, in moving his amendment, has placed a stigma upon this Government. He has said, in effect, that it cannot be trusted, that if it gets twelve months' Supply it . will go into recess and play ducks and drakes with Commonwealth revenues. The Leader of the Opposition talks about his responsibility. I have acknowledged the help that we have received from all sections in this chamber in giving effect to this plan. We have taken a course of action that has been most distasteful to us, but we have taken it honestly. I believe that there is no one in this country, whatever may be his view of the plan, who has any doubt about the bona fides of the Government with regard to it. It ill becomes the leader of a party which talks of being a partner in the plan, to throw mud at the Government, and to say, "We cannot trust the Government ", the inference being that the people must not trust us. What chance have we of converting loans amounting to £556,000,000 if that stigma is accepted by the Government, especially in the light of all the propaganda that has preceded it? As the head of the Government, I would not attempt, in such circumstances, to appeal to the people to support that conversion. This is an attempt to wreck the plan. I have been watching events, and reading carefully the statements that have been made in the last two or three days. One that is typical of many, was made by **Mr. Bruce,** who was the head of the Government that left us this problem to solve. Last Tuesday's press contains a report of an address that the right honorable gentleman delivered to the electors at Bunyip, in the Flinders electorate. He then said that " it was unthinkable that the Senate should consider any proposal that the House should adjourn for twelve months." Who has suggested an adjournment for twelve months? It is the suggestion of honorable members opposite, and of these gentlemen outside, that this Government wants to rush into recess for twelve months. I have made the definite statement that before this House rises I shall move for its adjournment to a date to be specified, the only qualification being that **Mr. Speaker** may call us together at an earlier, not a later, date. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he accepts that statement. Let him, then, do so. On the next occasion also I am prepared to adjourn to a date to be fixed. I believe that Parliament should retain control over its sittings. The Leader of the Opposition suggests that wo would be in complete and supreme control, and that the Parliament would have no say; that we might change our policy and introduce something that he does not like. How could we do that without meeting Parliament and passing the necessary legislation? All this talk to the contrary is mere piffle. Let us look- at the record of this **Mr. Bruce,** who talks about this Parliament going into recess for twelve months. He was Prime Minister from the beginning of 1923 until the end of 1929. In 1923 Parliament sat for thirteen weeks, in 1924 for 25 weeks, in 1925 for thirteen weeks, in 1926 for 24 weeks, in 1927 for seventeen weeks, in 1928 for eighteen weeks, and in his last year for twelve weeks. Imperial conferences were held in only two of those years. During 1930. notwithstanding the fact that I attended an Imperial Conference in that year, we sat for 28 weeks; and in the seven months of this year that have passed, we have sat for twenty weeks. We intend to go on sitting. All the recess that I am asking for at this stage is, at the most, five weeks. I shall not have one week's holiday myself, because I shall be attending the Premiers Conference and meetings of the Loan Council, or shall be engaged in formulating the legislation that will arise out of them. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** says that the plan is complete. I say that it is not complete, but that so far as the Government is concerned, it will be completed. There are others to come into it, in addition to those who have already been reduced;- there shall be no mistake about that. If the plan is not completed we shall test the issue before the people of this country, and see that it is. We have put our hand to the plough, and are not going to turn back ; not because we like what we are doing, but because we have been forced into doing it. The Leader of the Opposition contends that we have been forced to adopt the policy of the Opposition. I deny that that is so. The Opposition has never put forward a policy for a conversion loan embodying the general reduction of interest. All that the Opposition ever suggested was to reduce governmental expenditure, to restore confidence. It claimed that if that were done, interest would automatically fall. Interest could not automatically fall on the £556,000,000 worth of loan securities. When asked what was the purpose of this amendment, the Leader of the Opposition said, " We want to watch the working of the plan week by week". So, also, do we. He then went on to say, " If we grant you too much Supply you will not meet Parliament; so we' shall grant you three months' Supply". Thus, he is not going to watch the working of the plan week by week, but quarter by quarter. I tell the honorable gentleman that we do not want three months' respite. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- You will not have three months under the amendment. You will have only two. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- In any case, we shall not be in recess for two months. The honorable gentleman talks about co-operation. This is not co-operation. Again and again" the statement has been made, " If we grant Supply Ave shall lose control, because Parliament will rise for twelve months. We want to watch the plan, and we wish to make sure that the budget does not slide ". The Government, surely, has shown unmistakably its earnestness in watching the budgetary position! We have done much that is distasteful to us. We intend to see that the plan is completed; but we are not going to ask the people of this country to show confidence in us while this stigma rests upon us. After all, it is the Government that is responsible, although the Leader of the Opposition may claim all the responsibility that he cares to assume. I have been prepared to co-operate with him or with anybody else in this national crisis. I have sat quietly under the sneer of some of my erstwhile friends that I have joined forces with the Opposition. L have stood taunts of that nature for months. I would be prepared to co-operate with anybody to help this country through the crisis with which it is faced. But because we have done that, we are not going to have our noses rubbed in the dust; our opponents are not going to be allowed to keep the chains on us. This is an unworthy proposition, and it has emanated from persons outside of this Parliament, who do not want to see the plan com pleted, as it is likely to touch them. I have learnt more than the honorable member suspects. I have heard the stories that have been going the rounds. I know some of the influences that are behind certain members of another place. We shall resist those influences, as well as this attempt to humiliate the Government. If it were true that this is the policy of the Opposition, and that we have adopted it, why try to thwart us? That is what is being done. I am inclined to think that the Leader of the Opposition does not realize what he i3 doing, and that there are more astute minds than his behind this move. I invite honorable members to consider the consequences of this action in the present vital period of Australia's history. We are embarking upon something that is unprecedented in our history. We are proposing to put through the greatest Debt Conversion Loan that the world has ever known. Nothing approaching it has ever 'been attempted in Australia. I have joined with the Leader of the Opposition, and the head of our great financial institution in an appeal to the people to have confidence in the Government of Australia. It is the Government in which they must have confidence, whatever that Government may be. Yet, on the very eve of that appeal, the Leader of the Opposition, who is a member of the National Appeal Committee, makes the statement that he cannot trust the predominant partner in this scheme. I say to the honorable gentleman, that if this move is successful, the Conversion Loan is finished so far as we are concerned. He cannot have it both ways. An appeal to the people to trust the Government and to restore confidence cannot be made while a dagger is held behind the back of the Government, and the argument is used that we cannot be trusted. The Leader of the Opposition claimed that his party was entitled to take this stand. It is entitled to do so only if it can become the Government of this country. If it can command a majority in favour of this amendment, it can become the Government when it has obtained sufficient support in the country. This is one of the most vital amendments that has ever been moved in any Parliament. No more vital amend- ment could be moved than one to reduce the amount in an appropriation bill by 75 per cent. No self-respecting government in any civilized country in the world would accept such an amendment as other than a motion of want of confidence. The Leader of the Opposition says that it has been moved in a spirit of co-operation. Probably he believes that that is so. Such an idea has been pumped into him by cleverer people than he ; and it is those people who are behind this move. The Government will treat the proposal as vital wherever it is put forward. It will not leave this Parliament until this stigma and humiliation have been wiped out. We shall not attempt to go out to the people with this hanging over us. Had it been suggested that we might adjourn the discussion of the Estimates with a view to meeting the views of honorable members, the atmosphere would have been different. There is now an atmosphere of suspicion and of criticism, the idea being that the Government cannot be trusted with twelve months' supply after its Estimates had been embodied in the Appropriation Bill. We refuse to be placed iu such a position, and shall treat the matter as vital. {: #subdebate-28-0-s125 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
Gippsland -- The Country party does not see eye to eye with the Leader of the Opposition on this matter. The honorable gentleman has moved to amend the Appropriation Bill. The Estimates having been passed through the Committee of Supply with the concurrence of the Opposition, it was apparently recognized that they were framed on what is known as the Melbourne plan, for the consummation of which the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, and the Leader of tho Opposition in the Senate have accepted joint responsibility. To my mind, the action now taken is sufficiently unusual to warrant the Government in regarding it as a challenge. The Leader of the Opposition must have realized before he moved his amendment that the Government would regard it as such. That being so, it is evident that he must have so intended it. A fortnight ago, I moved as an amendment that the first item on the Estimates be reduced by £1, in order to direct attention to the necessity that exists for removing customs sur-taxes and of reducing customs duties generally, with the object of lowering the cost of living and of production. When I moved that amendment I did not expect that it would be regarded as a censure motion, and I did not intend it as such. I took that step as the only way open to me, to focus attention upon certain things which members of the Country party felt must be done; otherwise, the plan, in our opinion, would be incomplete. How did our friends of the official Opposition regard my motion? Let me quote the following extract from the Melbourne *Argus,* of Monday last, under the headings " **Mr. Paterson's** Amendment. Why it was not supported - United Australia Party Explains " : - >The amendment was accepted by the Ministry as a motion of want of confidence. To have passed it would have put the Ministry out of office. Parliament was considering a plan to meet n national emergency. Members of the Opposition generally are pledged to assist the Ministry in putting into effect as soon as possible the substance of the plan that was agreed upon at the Premiers Con- ' ference in Melbourne. That plan is a first step in the work of national rehabilitation. Its success depends upon prompt action by the Commonwealth and State Governments. Che result of defeating tlie Ministry, in cooperation with. **Mr. Paterson,** would have been to wreck the plan. To support an amendment having that effect, even though many members of tho United Australia party might have been prepared to accept the actual words of the amendment, would have been to run the risk of national chaos, and would have involved taking an unfair advantage of the position of the Ministry. To abstain from voting would have shown lack of courage. The Opposition was prepared to accept the responsibility of voting against tho amendment, nut because it believed in the Ministry, but because it was not a proper occasion on which to defeat the Ministry and interfere with the national plan. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- We have gone a long way since then. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- I submit that if the amendment, w'hich I submitted a fortnight ago, and which, I repeat, I did not regard as a motion of censure, put the realisation of the plan into such danger that the United party felt it to be its duty to rally behind the Government - not because it loved the Government, but because it valued the plan, and feared that my motion, if carried, might jeopardize the plan - how much more must an amendment to reduce the appropriation for the year by £16,000,000; moved in circumstances which appear to me to involve full appreciation of the fact 'that it would be regarded as a challenge, put this plan in jeopardy? To my mind, it is idle to say - and it has 'been said 'by interjection already by one **Dr two** members of the official Opposition - that the plan legislation is complete; that it has reached a position in which it cannot be assailed. Is it complete? It is true that we have passed legislation with respect to that plan, measures for the reduction of pensions, and the wages and salaries of public servants. That part of the plan is in actual operation. There is, however, another part of it equally necessary and important, and that relates to interest reduction. It is true that this House has also passed that legislation; but it is not yet in operation. We are waiting for one State to pass the Debt Conversion Agreement Bill. All the States have signed the agreement, but all the Parliaments must ratify it before we can proclaim the Debt Conversion Act which is based upon the agreement. After we have proclaimed it, three weeks must elapse, during which time those who wish to dissent from conversion may do so. A great deal may happen in that three weeks to ensure either the success or the failure of the conversion loan. I recall that, at the Melbourne conference, a committee was appointed, consisting, of three gentlemen who were to work together to make the conversion loan a success. They were entrusted with the task of making a- joint appeal to the better nature of the bondholders. These were the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin),** the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** and **Sir Robert** Gibson. What kind of co-operation are we likely to get if one member of the committee puts another member out of office before the co-operation is begun? {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- There will be no danger of that. The honorable member will save the situation. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- I can assure the Leader of the Opposition, for whom I have the greatest respect, that the party to which I belong cannot be accused of having any special liking for the present Government. We are taking this action merely because we believe it to be right at this particular juncture. If the Go* vernment were put out by this means at this time, it would put an end to any co-operation that could be looked for in regard to the conversion loan, and the situation that would arise could be described only as Gilbertian. It appears to me- and I speak for the whole of my party on this occasion - that by turning the Government out at this juncture, the Opposition would Unwittingly forge a deadly weapon to be used by opponents of the plan. I would like to submit these suggestions to members of the Opposition. It appears to me that if they give them consideration they must feel that this is not the right time to take the proposed step. Many things would be said by opponents of the plan if this were done. I do not suggest that these statements Would be true, or that many of them would have foundation in fact. For my own part, I believe that the members of the official Opposition are as earnest in their desire to carry out this plan as are any other members of this Parliament. But things would be said, and when mud is thrown a certain amount of it sticks. It would be stated, for one thing, that the Opposition was only anxious - - {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Is the honorable member going to start mudthrowing ? {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- No ; it would be said that the Opposition was only anxious about one side of the plan - the part already in operation. It would be pointed out by opponents of the plan that the. Opposition was the particular party to the plan which stressed the voluntary aspect of the conversion loan. Much would be made of that. It would he said that the Opposition was not keen about penalizing those who did not desire to convert. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Why say it? {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- I am going to show what those who desire to put the plan into operation would be up against, and what they would have to refute, if the Government were put out of office at this time, and I submit that I am justified in making these statements. It would be said that the selfish bondholder - and we know that they are not all selfish, by any means, for many of them are most patriotic ; but some of them have a good deal of the old Adam in them - it would be said that the selfish bondholder, . whose only reason for converting was a fear of, possibly, worse things to come, might be encouraged to dissent by the hope that a new government might be more lenient to him than the present Ministry. It might also be said that certain banks, which have not yet announced all-round reductions on advances, might be encouraged to delay longer in the same hope. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Hear, hear ! {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- I do not charge the official Opposition with any of these things. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- But the honorable member is doing it. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- I believe that the Opposition is as anxious to put the whole of the plan into operation as I am. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- Yet the honorable mem- > ber's words will be used in an attempt to prove the opposite. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- Every one of these things would be said. It is our duty to consider the matter with our eyes open, and realize what we would have to refute. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- The honorable member is inviting the saying of these things. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- lt does not matter that they may have no sound foundation ; they would be said, and the answer to them, I suggest, would not be- believed by the man whose salary or pension has been reduced, while the bondholder is still in mid-air. The whole scheme would be in danger if a general election and the voluntary conversion loan happened simultaneously. If the Opposition is not prepared to accept my arguments, I appeal to it to accept its own arguments as published in last Monday's *Argus* which I have quoted. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- Which the honorable member would not accept. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- The Leader of the Opposition seems to suggest that there is a similarity between my motion and his own, but there is a fundamental difference. Mine was not intended as a challenge; his, apparently, is. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- The Prime Minister told the honorable member that he would accept it as such, and yet he refused to withdraw it. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- I refuse to regard it as such, and having moved it, I determined to stick to it. If we dismiss the Government by means of a motion of this kind to-day, each and all of these factors that I have mentioned must come into play to render' uncertain the prospects of a successful, nation-wide conversion. We are right in mid-stream at this very moment in putting the conference plan into effect; we have not yet completed the job. There is a wise old proverb to the effect that it is not a good thing to change horses while crossing a stream. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned in his speech the fear he had that the Government would perhaps reintroduce its former proposals for the inflation of the currency. I am as much opposed to that as he, and my reply is that there is still the same means of resisting that as there has been up to now, namely, the majority in another place. Nobody in this Parliament can accuse me of having exhibited any undue affection for the present Government. I told the Ministry eight months ago that Australia could not remain solvent as a nation, unless we reduced our expenditure by. 20 per cent. I waa hotly criticized, and, indeed, condemned, by the Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore)** for that statement. Then came the time when the Government realized that there was no escape from doing this very thing; it had to eat its own words, and it did so. It agreed with all the States to do certain very hard things, and, as the Prime Minister said, it had put its hand to the plough, and, so far, had not turned back, despite tremendous criticism. The official Opposition, as has been stated several times by its leader, was a partner to the arrangement. The views of the Country party when that plan was put into effect were not sought, and we, as a party, if we had wished, could have regarded ourselves as free to please ourselves in the matter; we were not pledged to the plan. But some months ago, before the plan was evolved, I told the Government, on behalf of my party as did also the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of his, that if it would take its courage in its hands, and make the necessary though unpopular reductions in governmental expenditure, we would stand behind it, and take our fair share of the responsibility. I frankly admit that I did not expect the Government to do that. But it has done it, and the Country party is prepared to make good its promise to support the Prime Minister until he has completed his task. We do not regard the task as yet finished. I repeat that we do not do this because we have any special liking for the present Government. We disagree with it on fundamental matters, especially with its economics, and at another time we shall cheerfully assist to turn the present Government out. I tell the Prime Minister this quite frankly; but we shall not do it at this particular period when the Government has half finished a thankless task in which we are supporting it, and in doing which it has received more kicks than commendation. The Country party asks from the Prime Minister a definite assurance that, when Parliament resumes, so soon as any pressing legislation arising out of the plan has been disposed of, full opportunity will be given to discuss the tariff in both Houses. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I have given that assurance, and I shall repeat it later. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON: -- Given that assurance we are prepared to support the bill, and to honour our promise to help to make the conversion loan a success; but we are not prepared to take part in any move which might endanger the plan which emerged from the recent Premiers Conference. {: #subdebate-28-0-s126 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
AttorneyGeneral · Batman · ALP -- I do not know that the speeches delivered by the right honorable the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** and the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson)** leave very much to be said by others; but I have to acknowledge that in this matter there is something more in the minds of individuals than is involved in government solidarity. There rests upon the Opposition, and upon every member of this chamber, a responsibility to hig constituency, and I believe honestly that every well-wisher of the plan, and every well-wisher of his country, will regret profoundly that this amendment has been moved this morning by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons).** I say this in all sincerity. The Deputy Leader of the Country party has, with becoming candour, pointed out that, in due season, he will renew the fight which he and the members of his party have carried on against the Government and its policy. We expect that. We expect so much also from the Nationalist party. And it is natural that it should be so, because of the many matters mentioned here which, from the point of view of each party are considered vital. There is a world of difference between the policy of the Opposition, the policy of the Government, and the policy of the Country party. I think we all realize that the success which has attended our efforts in connexion with the colossal task to which we are committed has been due, so far mainly, if I may say so without offence to the Opposition, to the extraordinary efforts and skill of the Leaders of this Government - the right honorable the Prime Minister and the Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore).** But, having done that, we do not forget that it has also involved action on our part. Although the task is distasteful and, on the face of it, incongruous with the policy of the Labour party as a whole, we have acted throughout in the defence of those interests which, in a very special sense, we have always been called upon to defend, namely, the interests of the wage-earner, the pensioners and others who are least able to defend themselves. We were working in defence of those interests before this plan was adopted, and while inevitably we were driven back, we have not surrendered though we have given ground, and it is our proud boast to-day that, as a government, we are seeking to serve with determination and courage the best interests of those whose welfare is, in that special way, in our charge. In the fulfilment of this task we have been made the target for a bitter attack - some of it sincere and honest, some of it poisoned and dishonest. We have been held up before the electors as a government that has deserted its friends and its principles, and has made dishonorable alliances. We have not done those things. We realized the great responsibility that was involved when we accepted the obloquy of appearing to desert principles which we hold sacred, and which have been made to appear more so by the interested criticism of those who, outside, and, I fear to some extent inside, this Parliament, have valued more the passing applause of those to whom they look for applause than the interests of the country as a whole. But I do not wish, on this occasion, to make an attack on anybody. We have reached a stage at which, I hope, the great majority of honorable members desire to make this monumental work a success, because we realize how critical is the position in which we find ourselves, but from which we hope to emerge triumphant. Accordingly, we have looked round, and have extended the hand of friendship and cooperation to those who, in the past, have not worked with us, and to some who will not work with us now. But that is not our fault. We believe that we are serving the best interests of those who have the first claim upon us - the best interests of the majority of the people of Australia, and we hope to maintain to the limit the rights of our citizens. In doing this, wo are prepared, for the time being, to lay aside all thoughts of party conflict, and to work with any one who is willing to co-operate with us in serving this high ideal. {: #subdebate-28-0-s127 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
I agree with the sentiment expressed by the honorable the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan · Warringah [11.40 a.m.]. that this matter can be discussed without any bitterness. The action by the Opposition is perfectly straightforward. We believe that we are doing the right thing, and are prepared to go right ahead. Unnecessary heat was imported into the discussion by the right honorable the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin),** who talked so excitedly about humiliation, and the support which he has received from this party in a perfectly genuine way. He can afford to take this stand, so long as he can play off the Country party against the official Opposition. But were he now in that position which he occupied on so many occasions during the last few weeks when, outside his Cabinet, he had only seven of his own party supporting him, when he never knew where his own whip was, or where the members of his party were, he would accept the support of the Opposition with the utmost cheerfulness and avidity. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- He would be taking a risk. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The right honorable gentleman is taking no risk now, because he has had an assurance of support from the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson).** Because of this feeling of security the the right honorable gentleman felt at liberty this morning to indulge in mock heroics. He spoke of humiliation ! Was there ever a government, within your knowledge, **Mr. Chairman,** that has suffered more public and parliamentary humiliation than has been imposed on this Government lately? Its vacillation regarding vital issues has been characteristic of its leader throughout this crisis. Although the Country party intends to support the Government upon this occasion, the Deputy Leader has definitely intimated that his party will do its utmost to eject the Government from office when it considers the time opportune to do so. The Prime Minister does not regard that as a humiliation. On the contrary, he sees in it some hope of continued existence as the Leader of this Government. The Attorney-General said just now that, in order to give effect to the economy plan, Ministers had eaten the leek. Of course they have, and they have had their noses well rubbed in the ground. Accordingly, it ill becomes the Prime Minister to talk about humiliation at this stage. He spoke of the need for confidence, and told us that this Government, trusting in the confidence of the people, was going forward with the conversion loan proposal, and that it would be successful, because the Government had the confidence of the public. This Government has not the confidence of anybody in Australia. Have honorable members of the corner party and the people they represent any confidence in this Government? Has the great United party any confidence in it? The thing that the people of Australia would welcome more than anything else, even at this critical stage, would be the removal from office of this Government. Its defeat at the hands of the majority of members in this House would be an incident that would induce an unmistakable display of confidence by the people of Australia in the soundness of this country. I have listened to the abject apologies of the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson)** for what he did last week, and to his explanation that he did not mean his amendment to be a vote of censure. Although he was told that it was so regarded by the Government, he was prepared to go on with it. He was ready then to put the Labour party out of office, and he will try again, he says, as soon as he feels inclined. Yet he has the cool effrontery and audacity to-day to blame the United Australia Party for doing exactly what he did. Is the honorable member's attitude logical ? s Is it even fair? I submit that to every right thinking honorable member it is contemptible. Putting aside the apologies of the Deputy Leader of the Country party, and his declaration that he did not intend his amendment to be regarded as a vote of censure, and the fact that, although he was told by the Government that it was a vote of censure, he still persisted in going on with it, with the paltry support of five followers, what sincerity can be attributed to the honorable member's attitude, or that of his party at this particular juncture? I heard with surprise his statement that he intended to apply to honorable members of the United Australia Party certain epithets, or adverse criticism. He took great pains to explain that he did not mean them, and that they were not true, yet he went on with them. He actually said that they could not rightly be applied to this party, but that mud would be thrown, and he then proceeded to dip down into the gutter to scoop up huge handfulls of mud and hurl it at this party, prefacing his action by hoping that none of the mud would stick. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- I said that when mud is thrown some of it always sticks. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I accept the honorable member's correction, which is infinitely worse than the remark I attributed to him. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** need not have introduced the name and utterances of the ex-Prime Minister, **Mr. Bruce.** On countless occasions, in this House and on public platforms throughout the country, the Prime Minister has declared that no government can be held blameworthy for the present position of the Commonwealth, and that we are suffering from a world-wide depression. He made that statement in his budget speeches and in the Ashfield fiasco. He has repeated it in every speech he has delivered throughout the country. Yet, because he has now some temporary support, he is prepared to swallow anything in order to retain office. The Government has asked for Supply for twelve months, but the people would have held the Opposition in this Parliament to be absolutely recreant to its trust if it gave the Government twelve months' Supply. The fact stands out as clear as the top of a mountain peak that the people do not trust the Government. Five out of six men chosen at random in Martinstreet, Sydney, or Collins-street, Melbourne, would say that the present Government should not be trusted with twelve months' Supply. The attitude of the Opposition is, therefore, a reasonable one in the circumstances, and particularly in view of' the assistance it has given to the Government to carry out its programme. It has played the game. Not for one instant has it ever considered the party aspect. First and last and all the time its consideration has been for the interests of this great country. Whether its action to-day be right or wrong, it is solely dictated by the interests of the Commonwealth. It is doing what it thinks is best in. those interests. {: #subdebate-28-0-s128 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP -- The honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** is condemned by his own word. He says that not one person in the community trusts the Government, yet. as a member of the Nationalist party, he said some weeks ago that the bondholders could trust the Government in the £556,000,000 conversion loan. The step taken to-day by the Opposition is most despicable, they having declared that they are parties to the rehabilitation plan. The Prime Minister hit the nail on the head when he said that we have to look behind this move to find the astute and designing minds that are dictating it. There are certain men who are prepared to wreck the plan, a*nd even the conversion loan, to regain seats in Cabinet, and as the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson)** has said, there are some bondholders who believe that if they can overthrow this Government they can avoid making certain sacrifices under the plan. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr Riordan: -- It would enable the banks to escape. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Yes, it would enable the banks to escape their responsibility, and avoid the reduction of Interest they are to be called upon to bear under the Premiers' plan. In yesterday morning's *Age* appeared the following sentences : - >In the existing circumstances, and after these months in which the Government has abundantly demonstrated its courage and its earnestness, any effort to thwart it would be the acme of party churlishness. Those Senators who are known to have been most active will doubtless think better of it. Some of them, indeed, might exercise their memory and challenge their conscience. They were once members of Governments whose persistent indulgence in recess attained to the dimensions of a scandal. In the" year 1927 the Rationalist Government had Parliament in session for little more than three months. In 1929 the Federal Parliament did not function during two-thirds of the working year. Men who were prominent Federal Ministers then are credited with being arch-conspirators in the plot designed to embarrass and humiliate a Government which is bravely struggling to cope with difficulties which the (government of these former years did much to create. If the current rumours prove to any degree true, they will constitute a most discreditable display of party intrigue. Happily, some of those senators who arc widely believed to be involved have the grace to show themselves somewhat ashamed; and, though willing to wound, are to-day less disposed to exhibit the malevolence of last week. The Australian people will hope that there are senators sufficiently capable of. rising above the mean- temptation to pick a quarrel with the Government. It would be madness to precipitate a struggle, but, if the Senate were misguided, a struggle there would be. No Government having so much good strenuous work to its credit could be expected to submit tamely to the futile indignity arrogant senators think to impose upon it. Most people are aware that some of these senators are secretly longing to enjoy power, are secretly fretting because they are not at the centre of the picture. They will be wise to keep their ambitions in check a while longer. The Australian people are in no mood to be tolerant of intrigue while their country continues in financial danger. The *Age* is not a Labour newspaper; it has always been a Liberal newspaper, but in a national crisis it is prepared to rise above party intrigue, and, certainly, above the intriguing that is now going on in another place to defeat the Government, in order that certain persons may get back into power. We know that certain persons were for a long time in office, and that they are prepared even to wreck the whole plan in order to conceal the real motive behind the step taken by the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber to-day. As has been said by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** and the Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan),** the present Government has been obliged to do things most obnoxious to it. It would never have done them if it had not been impressed by the fact that the country was passing through a grave national crisis, and that if the Premiers' plan was not adopted, ensuring the payment of pensions and Public Service salaries, a more substantial evil would have fallen upon both pensioners and public servants. We have taken our political lives in our hands in accepting this plan. We realize that by doing so we must inevitably encounter much misunderstanding and criticism. Certain honorable gentlemen opposite have told us that they were prepared to help us to put the plan into effect; but now that we are half-way across the stream, so to speak, they want to throw us overboard. They think that this is a good opportunity to defeat the Government, and are doing all they can to bring that about. Is this because they fear that they are not getting enough limelight? Do they think that they are not getting enough kudos for their action in supporting the rehabilitation plan? They are undoubtedly trying to stick a dagger into the Prime Minister, while pretending to be a party to the plan. Perhaps they are doing this because they realize that the action the Government has taken is being acclaimed throughout the country as bold and courageous, and in the best interests of the Commonwealth in this hour of grave financial crisis. It is well known that all the members of the Government and many other members of the Labour party who are supporting this plan are doing so Vt the possible cost of political extinction. But we realize that the plan must be supported if the welfare of the people who sent us here is to be our prime consideration. The Labour party has not thrown overboard its policy, nor has it given up any cherished Labour principles; it has postponed them for the time being, realizing that under the existing circumstances they cannot be put into operation. We had to face facts and we simply decided that in a time of national crisis, such as this is, it is better to pay 17s. 6d. per week to our old-age and invalid pensioners and a reasonable salary to the members of the Public Service than to court financial ruin and national bankruptcy, with the inevitable result that ten times more people will he thrown out of employment. I am astonished at the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** for I gave him credit for being sincere in his desire to see this plan put into operation; but he has not taken the high stand of the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson),** who is not prepared at a time like this to sacrifice the interests of the community in order to stab the Government in the back, and thereby wreck the plan. I, and every member of the Government, and of the Labour party, intend to support the Prime Minister's attitude on this amendment. The Opposition will make a great blunder if it forces the issue to an election, for it will thereby undoubtedly seriously endanger the success of the conversion loan. I urge the committee to vote against the motion. {: #subdebate-28-0-s129 .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER:
Maranoa -- I support all that the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson)** has said on this issue. The statement which he made was considered by the members of the Country party and endorsed in every respect. I regret that some heat has been imported into this debate, for there was no need for heat. I regret, also, that the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** saw fit to cast aspersions on the motives of the Deputy Leader of this party. Everyone who knows our Deputy Leader knows that he is incapable of doing anything that is mean or contemptible. Yet a fortnight ago when he moved a certain motion in this House, it was said that he was doing something mean, and now that he has taken action in the opposite direction it is being said that he is doing something contemptible. Such statements are not conducive to orderly debate and the peaceful settlement of a dispute. It has -also been said that the Prime Minister is trying to play off the Country party against the official Opposition. That is a ridiculous statement. Everybody knows that we have practically nothing in common with the Labour party, except the policy involved in the financial rehabilitation plan, while we have very much in common with our friends who sit on the same side of the chamber as we do. Nevertheless, when the Government is acting in a way which we regard as sound and desirable, it is our bounden duty to support it. If we did not do so, we should be dishonest. 1 entirely repudiate the suggestion that the Country party is actuated on this occasion by ulterior motives. We are supporting the Government because we believe thai it is the right thing to do. To-day we must be above party, and act only for the good of the country. No one can truthfully say that either I or the Deputy Leader of the Country party have any love for this Government. I have opposed the Labour party throughout my political life, and it has invariably opposed me and given me no quarter. I suppose that so long as I remain in politics I shall oppose the Labour party. There is, therefore, no reason why I should " smoodge " to the Government, or why it should " smoodge " to me. My reason for supporting it on this occasion is that I think that it is acting wisely in the best interests of the country. It was stated quite clearly by the Deputy Leader of the Country party that our action in supporting the Government on this occasion was not to be construed as an intention to support it on every occasion. We shall fight it whenever we think it proper to do so. The honorable member for Warringah used a statement of the Deputy Leader of this party to that effect as a reason for attacking him and his party ; but he was quite unreasonable in doing so. It is proper that we should support the Government when it is doing what we think it ought to do; and it would be equally proper fbr us to fight it and do our best to turn lt out of office when it is doing something that we are opposed to. When that time comes, as it must come sooner or later, because the policy of the Labour party is different from our policy, we snail certainly fight the Government and do our best to defeat it. But while it *h* doing what we wish to have done, we must support it, if we are honest. We will fight the Government and attempt to put it out of office only when it is taking some action which we regard with disapproval. The honorable member for Warringah practically said that we would stab the Government in the back when an opportunity presented itself to us to do so. That is not the way the Country party fights its battles. We never stab people in the back, nor do we stand in ambush with a gun in our hands to shoot our enemies as they pass by; we fight fairly and openly. We shall not fight the Government at a time when it is doing its best to give effect to a policy which we have advocated for a long time, particularly as in doing so it has incurred the wrath and enmity of many of its own supporters and has torn its own party to tatters. The Government is acting courageously. We have no reason whateVer to question the purity of its motives, and we shall therefore, support it. There will be no stabbing in the back by the Country party. We aro sincere- in our desire to see the rehabilitation plan brought to a successful issue. We also wish to see the conversion loan successfully floated. It must be apparent to everybody that the loan could not be successfully floated during an election campaign. Such a campaign would be inevitable if the Government were defeated on this amendment. In my opinion the official Opposition has chosen a wrong time and a wrong issue on which to attack the Government. We are prepared to grant the Government the supply desired. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- For how long will the Country party be willing to grant Supply? {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER: -- I ask that the honorable member for Warringah should not provoke me too much for I have a lot of documents that I could read if I wished to do so. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- The honorable member may read anything he likes about me; in fact, I challenge kim to do so. {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER: -- I am sorry I made that remark. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Go on ; spill the beans. {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER: -- I regret that I said what I did. Honorable members unfortunately do say things in the heat of debate which they are afterwards sorry for. I was led into making the remark about the honorable member for Warringah, because he attacked the motives of the Deputy Leader of my party, and abused him personally and politically. As I have already said, my deputy leader is incapable of doing a mean thing, either politically or personally. I endorse all that he said in his speech, and I will oppose the amendment. {: #subdebate-28-0-s130 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa -- Another sham fight is being staged. It might appear that this amendment was sprung on the committee, but the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson)** has shown that that is hot so, for he has just delivered what amounted to a written speech, and has admitted that his extended notes were submitted to the Country party and approved by it. This proves that it was well known by most honorable members opposite that this amendment was to be moved. I therefore liken this debate to a sham fight, in which the contestants dress up in military uniform, equip themselves with bayoneted rifles, but carefully put corks on the ends of the bayonets so that it will be quite certain that nobody will be hurt. The honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Hunter),** who has just spoken, and the honorable member for New England **(Mr. Thompson),** and the honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** are always asking the members of the group to which I belong why they do not throw the Government out of office. Here is an opportunity for them to help us to do so, but they have shown that they will not accept it. The plain fact is that honorable members generally have not the courage to face the country. The honorable member for Maranoa has given the show away. The Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan)** waxed eloquent and sarcastic this morning. Like the Prime Minister, he had a great deal to say about the interests of the country. I repeat a remark that I made a few days ago to the effect that **Dr. Johnson** was quite right when he said that every act of treachery against a people was accompanied by a declaration that it was being taken in the interests of the country and for the country's good. He defined " Patriotism " as " the last refuge of a scoundrel ". The Attorney-General talked a lot about honorable members who criticized this Government because they desired to win the plaudits of the crowd; but no one plays to the gallery more than he does. I may make some bitter remarks in a heated debate, but I could not, like the Attorney-General, bury myself in the library and, in cold blood, think out terms of invective and abuse to hurl at my opponents. Only a person with the cold-blooded mentality of the honorable gentleman could do that kind of thing. I, and other honorable members of this group, may make unwarranted remarks during the heat of a debate, but no one is more ready than we are to withdraw them a moment later. What has the Prime Minister to worry about? The Opposition has compelled the Government to accept its policy. The Government has been so humiliated that I wonder it is not devoid of all sense of shame. It is acting the part of the cat which, in pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for the monkey, had its paws burnt. In this instance it is the Opposition that wants the chestnuts. No one is hungering more for office than ' the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** who knows that he is playing with the Prime Minister as a cat plays with- a mouse. The Opposition is now ready to swallow the Government, which in the end will have no escape. The Governhas allowed the Opposition to drag it down the hill; but what is it now to do? The Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan)** referred with great emphasis and emotion to those prin- ciples which he says he holds so dear ; but will the Minister tell me of one which he has not sacrificed for the sake of office? Not one shred of any of those principles which he once so readily espoused is left. They have all been completely shattered. The Attorney-General has bartered his principles for the sake of office. This Government has bartered those principles which the Labour party has always cherished as sacred for a few months' occupance of the treasury bench. The Government is now getting what it deserves. The chickens are now coming home to roost. So far as I can see, this Government will continue to submit to humiliation after humiliation. The right honorable the Prime Minister, with all the eloquence and fire which he could command, said that he would accept the challenge of the Opposition, as the Government of which he is the leader could not allow itself to be humiliated. He said : " We will go to the country." What did the right honorable gentleman do in connexion with the Fiduciary Notes Bill, which was discussed some time ago in this chamber, and then rejected by another place. The Prime Minister said that if that measure were rejected in the other branch of the legislature, it would 'be again submitted to that chamber in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, and if again rejected, his Government would appeal to the people at the earliest possible moment. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- The Government will not be further dictated to in another place. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The Government which the honorable member supports is merely hanging on to office, and has not the courage to stand up to the declarations of its Prime Minister. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- I intend to do so in this instance. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- We shall soon see where the honorable member stands. {: .speaker-KYX} ##### Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931 -- I shall take a firm stand. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- I am glad to have that declaration from the honorable member, whose word I shall accept. {: .speaker-K8G} ##### Mr Cusack: -- Has the honorable member himself the courage to stand up to the declarations he makes? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Cusack)** apparently does not know what courage means. Like a cockatoo on its perch, he uses words the meaning of which he does not understand. He has not the courage to stand up to his declarations. I predict that if the course now proposed is adopted in another place, as it is likely to be, the Government will not go to the country. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Will the honorable member oppose it? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The party to which the honorable member belongs is now in the position in which the members with whom he is usually associated were last week. It is useless for the group to which I belong to say what we shall do. Apparently the Government has too many friends. Having a surplus of support in this chamber, it can in the corridors arrange sham fights as it has done this morning. The members of the Country party are merely playing up to the crowd outside, and their actionin this instance is contemptible in the extreme. The Attorney-General, in referring to the crowd outside, hurled insults upon his electors. Mr.Cusack. - Has not **Mr. Lang** broken pledges? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The brain of the honorable member is as dead as those of the people from the cemeteries, who voted for him. I should like to ask the Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan),** whois playing up to the plaudits of the crowd, if he did not attain his present position and place on the votes of " the crowd " to which, when far away from his electorate, he now so Contemptuously refers? It is the electors of Batman to whom he is responsible. They are the persons who placed him where he is, and gave him position and power which he is utilizing in a most discreditable way. Of course he is entitledto refer to his electors in that way if he so desires;but I believe that when lite opportunity arises, they will have as much contempt for him as he now has for them. During the twelve years I have been in Opposition, or on this side of the chamber, I have fought for those ideals and principles which I have always enunciated, and that I shall continue to do so whether a Labour or Nationalist government is in office. Several hours have been wasted in a display of mock heroics. The attitude of the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** who spoke with some fluency, the eloquence of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin),** and the contempt of the AttorneyGeneral **(Mr. Brennan)** are so much humbug. We know that the AttorneyGeneral was only playing up to the crowd, and that he engaged in a sham fight merely for the benefit of those whom he hopes will support him. The amendment which will be rejected in this House may be carried in another place; and I shall watch with interest to see what action the Government will then take. {: #subdebate-28-0-s131 .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong -- It would appear from the statements made in this House and upon public platforms that the Government is responsible for the financial plan adopted at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers to assist this country in its present difficulties. A good deal has been said on this subject, and without taking undue credit to myself I may say that I was always very keen upon the reduction of the interest on advances and overdrafts, as by that means greater relief could be afforded to this community than even by the reduction of interest on loans, which, of course, has a beneficial effect on the budgetary position. I wish to quote from an official document to show how this scheme was evolved. The official report of the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers shows that a sub-committee of the Loan Council was appointed to make certain recommendations. If some members of this Government had had their way, that sub-committee would not have been appointed, but because the Premiers were in a majority they appointed three members of the Loan Council to draw up and submit a report. That committee consisted of the Hon. J. P. Jones, Minister for Public Works in Victoria, who was the chairman; **Mr. L.** L. Hill, the Premier of South Australia, and **Sir James** Mitchell, the Premier of Western Australia. Sections in the report which was prepared with the assistance of a number of experts and "which is dated the 25th of May, 1930, read- {: type="i" start="i"} 0. A 20 per cent, reduction in all adjustable government expenditure as compared with expenditure for the year 1920-30. 1. We are of opinion that, with the reduction mentioned in ( 1 ) a conversion of the whole of the internal indebtedness in Australia is possible at a reduced rate of interest equivalent to a reduction of 20 per cent, as compared with 1929-30. This would stive a relief to the budgets of this item of government expenditure proportional to the reduction suggested for the other items. 2. It is important and possible to bring about an immediate and progressive reduction of private interest by arrangement between the Associated Bunks, Government Savings Banks, and other institutions. 3. In our opinion and from information gathered it should bc possible, if the steps suggested in items (i), (ii), and (iii) are effected, to raise a substantial loan in London towards meeting unavoidable current commitments. Wherein lies the boast of this Government that it formulated the policy which Parliament has been discussing during the last few weeks, and which has been embodied in certain measures which with the assistance of the Opposition have been passed By both branches of the Legislature? I do not intend to make any excuses here, or on the public platforms of this country. I wish to discuss this matter calmly and dispassionately in order to place the position fairly before the people. The right honorable the Prime Minister mentioned humiliation, but that word should not be found in the right honorable gentleman's vocabulary. {: .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr Frost: -- Why not? {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- The honorable member should not ask why. The Prime Minister said that the submission of this motion - I am taking his own words - was equivalent to " rubbing his nose in the dust ". He would not tolerate that sort of thing! Yet, to state the position plainly, some persons have gone so far as to rub his nose in the mud.. {: .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr Frost: -- Traitors like the honorable member. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- The honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Frost)** is another. He is abusive because he realizes how precarious his position is. I am prepared to face my electors to-morrow, and I hope that every other honorable member would do the same. I would have the utmost confidence in regard to the outcome. It is the bad policy of the recent past that prevents us from having confidence in the Government. We believe that this scheme, in the propounding of which the Opposition has played a part, should be policed throughout. In the light of certain decisions that have been come to outside, it is hard to tell what may happen to the Government that now occupies the treasury bench. More than one Labour conference has recently declared its unflinching opposition to its propositions. Therefore, the Opposition is right in taking this precautionary measure of refusing to grant twelve months' Supply. Supply for a quarter, or for even two months, will enable the government of the country to be carried on. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- This is a further example of our co-operation in giving effect to the plan. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr FENTON: -- There is no doubt about that. I believe that if the people of this country realized that there was a prospect of an election at an early date, that- would be one of the greatest aids to the successful flotation of the conversion loan. Confidence would be restored, because the people would know that they would have an opportunity of replacing the present administration with one that they could trust. It can be said of the Leader of the Opposition that " Joe Lyons can be trusted; he will stick to his word, and fight for it ". I was surprised, therefore, that the Prime Minister should say that this honorable gentleman is being led by cleverer people than himself. The right honorable gentleman himself has been led by one who is cleverer than he. I am prepared to take my stand on what I have done in the past, and on what I propose to do to-day. I believe that we are taking the right action, and that that will be realized by the sober-thinking section of the community. Whatever action may be taken in another place, I am certain that it will have the very solid backing of the people of this country. I have no fear on that score. I could have remained in the Government, but I preferred to leave it because I did not trust the man who was re-instated as Treasurer. That is my position to-day, and it has been my p081 tion right through the piece. Whether that honorable gentleman be guilty or innocent, it was not right to re-admit him to the Cabinet. I shall have no hesitation in voting for the amendment. {: #subdebate-28-0-s132 .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP .- The honorable member who has just resumed his scat stated that he was prepared to go before the electors at any time. I suggest that, as he entered this Parliament pledged to support the Prime Minister whom he has abused to-day, he should have consulted his electors before deciding upon his present course of action. That would have been decent and honest. Because he has shown himself incapable of acting in that way, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to leave him to his electors. Mr.Fenton. - I challenge the Minister to oppose me in Maribyrnong. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- A Labour man has already been selected to oppose the honorable gentleman, and he will " wipe the floor " with him quite easily. There is no need for anybody else to bother. I contest a seat only when the Labour men and women in an electorate select me to run. In the honorable member's electorate, those men and women who sent him here have now selected another man, and We can rely upon them to deal with the honorable gentleman when he goes before them. It ill becomes him, before meeting his electors, to say the very unkind things that he said to-day in regard to his former leader. It was left to men who are more honest than he is to say that they would accept the word of the Prime Minister. The Leader of the Government can afford to ignore the honorable member's jibes. The people of this country know the right honorable gentleman for what he is, and nothing that is said about him by honorable members opposite will cause them to think any the less of him. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** put his case without indulging in the abuse to which the honorable member for Maribyrnong has resorted ; but there was a remarkable inconsistency between his utterances and those of the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill).** The Leader of the Opposition denied that he wanted to embarrass or to belittle the Government, or to make it difficult for the Prime Minister to enter upon the campaign in support of the conversion operation; but he was followed immediately by the honorable member for Warringah, who could not get away from one remark, which he made over and over again. He seemed to be almost incapable of saying anything else. That remark was that no one trusted the Government, or had any respect for it. If that is the honorable member's belief, he should appeal to his leader to withdraw from the conversion campaign upon which he proposes to embark with the Leader of the Government. It would be interesting to know whether the Leader of the Opposition agreeswith the honorable member for Warringah that the Government is not trusted by the people. If he does, the honest course for him would be to withdraw from the campaign. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- The people are the government of this country, and they have confidence in themselves whatever party happens to be in power. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It is good to have the assurance of the Leader of the Opposition that he does not agree with the irresponsible utterances of the honorable member for Warringah. That honorable member jibed at the Prime Minister, and said that he was glad to havethe support of the Opposition while the Government was endeavouring to put the plan into operation. The Government stands to-day exactly where it has stood since the plan was first mooted ; but where does the honorable member stand? The Government wants to see every part of the plan carried out. It has stood for things that are distasteful to every honorable member on this side. But we found ourselves in the position of having to implement the plan, and we did so willingly. We have shown our preparedness to take all the risks associated with the restoration of the financial stability of this country. Having examined every alternative that was placed before us, we decided that this plan would pull Australia out of the bog in which it was floundering. We advocated the reduction of the old-age pensions to 17s. 6d. a week rather than see old-age pensioners placed in the position of having to accept 12s. a week. Those who opposed that proposal could offer no alternative ; and they cannot deny the accuracy of what I have stated. Public servants and others who have had to suffer a small cut would have been subjected to a much bigger one had the plan not been given effect. Therefore, I say to the honorable member for Warringah: we stand exactly where we stood when he supported us. But where does he stand? We are standing foursquare, not only for those things that were distasteful to us, but also for the principal portion of the plan, which is to secure relief from interest charges on behalf of the primary producers, the business community and the people as a whole. That measure of relief has been too long denied to them. It is remarkable that difficulties should arise when we have reached that portion of the plan. I say candidly to honorable members opposite that there is grave suspicion of collusion among themselves and certain outside parties to break down the plan at this very vital stage. No portion of the plan is more vital than that which pro,vides for the reduction of interest, so as to give relief to the great mass of the people of this country. Why is it that, having reached that stage, unprecedented action is taken in this chamber ? *Sitting* *suspended from 1.45 bo 2.15* p.m. *(Thursday).* {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I do not believe that the action taken by the Leader of the Opposition represents his own considered opinion. If it does, it shows a lack of judgment on his part. There is more than a suspicion that this attempt at a hold-up by the Nationalist party was planned by the Leader of the Opposition in another place. There is a suspicion that it was devised in collusion with certain outside interests, which are adopting an attitude at this stage that does them no credit. I think that the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber has been used as an instrument to implement this sinister scheme, the idea being that, if it succeeds, well and good, and, if not, the Leader of the Opposition must take the discredit of it. In my opinion, the hand behind it is that of the Opposition Leader in another place, who is in collusion with outside interests. Those of us who know him, realize that he is the most disgruntled and sour individual in politics, because he has been out of office during the last twenty months. He is prepared to go to any length to. use the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber to further his own ends. Perhaps the most pitiful argument advanced this morning was that of those honorable members who endeavoured to excuse their attitude by saying that somebody else, 8 week or so ago, had done the same thing as they were now doing. One is reminded of the school boy, who, when he has done wrong, endeavours to avoid punishment by saying that another boy has committed a similar act. The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** sought to excuse themselves by remarking that the Deputy Leader of the Country party had submitted a similar amendment a week ago. {: .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr Stewart: -- But the Country party was not consulted regarding the plan, and it did not commit itself to it. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Apart from that fact, members of the Nationalist party know that what was done by the Deputy Leader of the Country party was a common thing; he moved for the reduction of an item in order to draw attention to a particular matter ; hut this amendment is' unprecedented, and it is capable of only one interpretation. The Prime Minister told the Opposition that he did not intend to ask for a long recess. He has said time and again that the adjournment will not extend over more than five weeks. Whatever may be the reason for the tabling of the amendment, the action taken brands its sponsors as the would-be destroyers of the plan, and there is more than a suspicion that the Nationalist party is acting on behalf df outside interests that desire to prevent its successful operation. {: #subdebate-28-0-s133 .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
New England -- I much regret that the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** saw fit to submit this amendment, especially since the members of the Country party were not consulted about it. We were merely informed that the Opposition intended to -table it. {: .speaker-KIB} ##### Mr Long: -- There appears to be disruption in the ranks of the United party. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- The Country party has never joined the United party; we have merely assured that party of our support in any action contemplated by it which, in our opinion, would benefit Australia. This amendment is of such grave importance, that the Nationalist party should, at least, have paid the members of the Country party the compliment of conferring with us, not to see how far we might embarrass the Government, but to determine the best course to pursue to promote the welfare of Australia. I cannot imagine at a time like the present any worse tactical move than that which has been taken by the direct Opposition when the rehabilitation plan, which is attracting the attention of all sections, has just been launched, and when members on both sides have committed their political fortunes to it. The Leader of the Opposition appears to have committed a prodigious political blunder, and has not given the members of my party a chance of considering carefully the probable result of his action. With two points that the Leader of the Opposition insisted on I totally disagree. I do not wish to import any heat into this discussion, because it would be dangerous for us towrangle over this plan. It is a pity that the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** did not continue his speech on the note with which he began it. The Leader of the Opposition based his case upon the definite statement that the plan was the plan of the Opposition. His other point was that it was the duty of the Opposition to police the plan, and he was strengthened in that contention by the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton),** the tenor of whose speech was that the sole motive of the Leader of the Opposition was to see that the plan was policed. I maintain that the Opposition never heard of the plan until it was formulated at the Premiers Conference. If the Opposition did know that it was being evolved, and that it was to embody the final scheme of reconstruction, its knowledge was kept a deep secret from members of the Country party. I venture to suggest that the majority of the members in the Nationalist party did not know what the details of the plan were until they were published at the Premiers Conference.I do not know why the members of that party wish to father this plan when they have no sound claim to having originated it. Everybody knows that the Country party was not represented at the Premiers Conference. We have often been accused of a desire to promote our party interests at the expense of the rest of Australia. My answer to that criticism is that, although we had every reason to feel that we had been practically ignored in regard to the gigantic task of financial reconstruction, we decided that, as the plan had been adopted by the Premiers Conference, and by all the great parties in Australia, we, too, would stand behind it. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- We have been consistent in the matter. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- We comprise the only party that has been consistent in our support of the plan.I think that the proceedings in this House in the last few weeks will show that the Country party has not receded from the patriotic position which it assumed when it committed itself to the plan. We do not claim to be responsible for it, and we do not desire to police it. The proper authority to do that is the present Government, which has assumed responsibility for it. All that the Opposition has been asked to do is to assist the Government to inaugurate the plan. While the present Government remains in power it is the only authority that has any right to police it; therefore, I consider that the Leader of the Opposition has based his motion on utterly untenable premises. In the first place he claims that it was the plan of the Opposition. {: .speaker-K9H} ##### Mr Gardner: -- Could it have been agreed to without the help of the United party? {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- No; but that party, and the Country party, gave an undertaking that they would support it, and up tothe present stage we have honorably carried out our promise. The Government has admitted that it cannot carry out the plan without our support, and that makes it essential that we should " play the game " by the Government, because it was realized, after various other schemes had been explored, that this was the only possible way of averting the financial collapse of this country. I accepted the Prime Minister's assurance that the only motive that actuated him was the desire to avert financial disaster, and the Country party has not sought to make political capital over the matter. Certain honorable members on the Government side did not, at any time, support the reductions included in the plan for the restoration of financial stability. They may say that they could go to the country at any time and secure the endorsement of their constituents for their attitude. I admit, too, that they could put those honorable members who do support the general scheme in a difficult position so far as a portion of their electors are concerned.I am not under any delusion in regard to this matter. I believe that it will be extremely difficult for many honorable members to satisfy their electors in regard to all that has been done in connexion with this plan. As I have said, the plan is the production, not of any particular party, but of this Parliament. Therefore, it is not fair that any one section of the House should endeavour to persuade the people that the plan is their particular scheme. Responsibility for it rests upon the whole Parliament. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- That is exactly what I said. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- But the honorable gentleman has gone further; he has, in effect, declared that he is not prepared to trust this Government to give effect to it. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- I admit that quite frankly. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- Then why did the honorable gentleman, some time ago, give the Prime Minister a definite assurance that his party would loyally co-operate with the Government in giving effect to it? The motion before the House implies a lack of trust in the Government; a proclamation to the people that something has happened to make the members of the party which he is leading dissatisfied with the attitude which the Government is likely to take up. No member of this House can say truthfully that the Government is likely to default in the carrying out of the plan. In the absence of such evidence, it is impossible for the Leader of the Oppo sition to justify his declaration of lack of trust in the Government's bona fides. Although it is true that honorable members on this side brought pressure to bear upon the Government to reduce expenditure, nothing was ever said about the reduction of the interest burden until that proposal was dealt with at the recent Premiers Conference. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- That is not so. The matter was mentioned by the honorable member for Wilmot in a number of speeches delivered before the holding of the conference. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- I admit that the matter was mentioned in that way, and 1 believe that the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson)** was the first to foreshadow the plan which was adopted by the conference, because he was the first to declare definitely that nothing short of a 20 per cent. reduction in all governmental expenditure would meet the situation. But, as an Opposition, we did not at any time consider the practicability of a proposal to consolidate the whole of our internal debts into a new issue of securities bearing a lower rate of interest. That scheme emerged from the Premiers Conference, and was adopted by the party to which I belong, and other sections of the Opposition, as an inescapable part of the general scheme of reconstruction. We realized that it would not be possible for us to approve of and advocate a reduction of pensions, Public Service salaries, and other forms of governmental expenditure unless we were prepared to go a step further and approve also of that part of the scheme relating to the reduction of the interest burden. Accordingly, we have no right now, at this critical stage, to make a gesture which may be regarded as an invitation to the people to withdraw their confidence, not only from the Government, but also from the Parliament, because surely it is obvious to all that if now we withhold cooperation in giving effect to the plan, the public will believe that members of Parliament as well as the Government are not to be trusted. Isuggest, therefore, that the course adopted by the Leader of the Opposition is an extremely dangerous one. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- Has the honorable member heard that SenatorColebatch has declared that it will now be said that this move is part of a conspiracy with the banks in Victoria? {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- I have no information about the action of the banks in Victoria towards the plan, but I hope that it has no relation to the move made in this House this morning. The banks in Victoria have dealt a severe blow at the plan, and if they persist in their present attitude, it will be practically impossible for those members of this House who support the plan to go out and fight for it. But it is now too late to retreat. Since the plan has- been approved by both Houses, surely honorable members will not now discredit themselves by indulging in party warfare. Whatever we may lose by the surrender of political advantages, in our advocacy of the adoption of the plan, we will more than make up in the long run by the knowledge that wc have played the game, not only to the Government, but also to ourselves and the people whom we represent. If we allow party bitterness to intrude at this critical stage in our history, very few of us will survive an appeal to the people. Our places will be taken by others who will have no political sins to answer for, and who, for that reason, will make a wider appeal to the electors. I think it is necessary to utter this word of warning to those who approve of the dangerous course that has been adopted by the Leader of the Opposition. This morning the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** again twitted members of the Country party with being always ready to make a demonstration in a sham fight. The honorable member, like the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** appears to be obsessed with the idea that members of my party decline to join issue with other parties in anything but a sham fight. I believe also that one member of the corner party has declared that I made overtures for concerted action against this Government. I emphatically deny that allegation. In any case, such overtures would be foredoomed to failure. Moreover, because members .of the corner party have," on more than one occasion, lately, revealed themselves in their true colours, wc do not wish this Government to bo put out of office. I do not see what we could gain by joining forces with the Lang group to challenge the Government, and certainly I would not think of doing so while the Government is endeavouring to give effect to a plan which has our endorsement, and which I believe to bc in the host interests of the people. Even if I had an opportunity to eject this Government from office with the assistance of the Lang group, I would not take advantage of it because members of the corner party are the political creatures of the revolutionary Australian Labour Party Executive in New South Wales, and stand for the destruction of all that we hold most dear in public life. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- Tho honorable member voted with us on the tariff. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- That is not so; the honorable member and his colleagues voted with the Country party. I deny that members of the Country party at any time wished to ally themselves with members of the Lang group for the purpose of putting this Government out of office. I should be extremely sorry to see members of that party on the treasury bench. The honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** this morning made a most poisonous attack upon the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson).** Knowing the honorable member for Gippsland as he does, I was sur-' prised that the 'honorable gentleman should have allowed his political venom to destroy his sense of political decency. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I merely returned to him what he gave to me. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- I dispute the accuracy of that statement. The honorable member for Gippsland, as I am sure all honorable members who heard him will admit, spoke temperately, and with a genuine desire to prevent the intrusion of the bitterness of party politics. But it was his duty to direct attention to the seriousness' of the step which had been taken by the Leader of the Opposition, and it was obvious that the task which he had set himself was extremely distasteful. Nevertheless this did not prevent the honorable member from making a bitter attack upon the Deputy Leader of my party, charging him and his following with a desire to engage freely enough in sham fights, but never in a real one. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- I did not say that; the remark was made by the honorable member for Werriwa. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- I regret if I have improperly credited the honorable member for Warringah with the interjection, but I know he has made that charge against our party on other occasions. The honorable member did, however, say that we were now the allies of this Government. We are tothe extent that the Government adheres to its pledge to give effect to the rehabilitation plan, and I think we need offer no apology for our support under those conditions. We cannot, therefore, be accused of being the allies of the present Government, any more than honorable members on the other side can be accused of being allies of the Nationalist party. The object of the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** was to make out that the Country party had changed its political tactics, and for the time being, was virtually part and parcel of the Labour party. That is not so. We believe that the present Government, with its knowledge of the situation, is best equipped to carry out the task of rehabilitating the finances of this country, which has been thrust upon this Parliament, and that a new Government, lacking in experience of the present situation, would not be similarly equipped. Indeed, we think it would be a disaster if the present Government left the treasury bench before this task is completed. It will take a long time to carry out that task, and although it will be the duty of this Parliament to see that the period is not unduly prolonged, it must give the Government a reasonable chance. In the meantime we do not expect the Government to introduce any measures likely to meet with violent antagonism from this side of the chamber. It is true that we opposed the Government's fiduciary notes policy, because we did not believe in it, and in fact regarded it as a much more dangerous method of solving our financial problems than any other method yet put forward. The Government realized that it had no chance of getting away with that policy, and dropped it. In doing so, I think it displayed courage. At any rate we should not ridicule it or humiliate it or, as some have suggested, " rub its nose in the dirt ", because it has done so. It takes some courage to admit that you are wrong. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- The Government does not admit that it was wrong on that occasion. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- By not persisting in its policy the Government admitted that it was impracticable to carry it out. When a Government says that it does not propose to go on with certain bills, advancing no reason other than that it does not consider that it is practicable to do so in the present situation, I think we ought not to pursue the subject further. In any event the Government has intimated that it will not bring forward its fiduciary policy again during the life of the present Parliament. I take that to be the meaning of the assurance given by the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- Have we had that assurance ? {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- In reply to questions, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that the Government had no intention of again bringing that proposal forward. As a matter of fact the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** specifically asked the question. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- But I did not get that answer. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr Hawker: -- The Prime Minister did not say that. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- My interpretation of the Prime Minister's words was that in view of the fact that the Government had adopted this plan, and was depending on all parties in the House for help in getting it through, it undertook not to introduce its fiduciary notes policy during the life of the present Parliament. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- The Government says that it has not dropped that policy. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- We should regard it as a breach of faith so far as the plan is concerned, if the Government reintroduced its fiduciary notes policy. At any rate, the Country party will reserve the right to oppose that legislation, and any other measure which it considers inimical to the plan or to the welfare of Australia. Should the Government intro- duce tariff duties which we consider too high, we shall reserve to ourselves the right to oppose them, even to the extent of bringing about the defeat of the Government. We do not agree with the present high tariff. We say that it is iniquitous, and is causing a tremendous amount of damage to industry. We shall at every available opportunity stress that view. {: #subdebate-28-0-s134 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-28-0-s135 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney . -I have witnessed this demonstration to-day with a fair amount of amusement, because, when the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** had spoken, it seemed quite clear that the position of the Government was secure. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** has been accused of moving his amendment in the interests of people who are outside this Parliament. I am not in a position to say whether that is correct or otherwise. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- It is entirely incorrect. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- I feel, however, that the underlying motive of the Opposition is to demonstrate to the public that it will still retain a guiding hand in the application of the Premiers' plan. In the final stages of the Premiers Conference, when these decisions were being arrived at, leading members of the Opposition were called in, and, from what I can gather, were given a status equal to that of the Premiers and leaders of the Commonwealth Government. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -- They had no vote at that, conference. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- At any rate, they had as much influence as anybody else at that conference. The point at issue to-day seems to be: To whom does the plan belong? I think we can dispose of any claim on the part of the Government very quickly. A perusal of the bulletins issued by it a few months ago shows conclusively that, at that time, its policy was entirely the opposite to this plan. Ministers stated in fairly strong language that in no circumstances would they surrender to the ultimatum of the Commonwealth Bank Board that salaries, wages, and pensions of all kinds must be cut before the board would give any financial assistance to the Commonwealth Government. The declaration of the Government, in which it refused to accept that ultimatum, is conclusive evidence that, up to a few months ago, the Premiers' plan was not the Government's plan. Indeed, we can safely say that the Leader of the Opposition is responsible for a large portion of the plan, because, when he was Acting Treasurer of the Commonwealth in October last, his policy was on lines similar to what has been incorporated in the plan. He says himself that his proposals at that time were net so drastic as those which have been put before us by the Melbourne conference. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- The honorable member for Wilmot did not make his proposals public. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- Caucus was informed that the Ministers who were away at the time concurred in his proposals; but he met with such opposition that he was prevented from giving effect to them. Tracing events down to the present time, we can come to no other conclusion than that this plan is acombination of the proposals of the present Leader of the Opposition and those of the banking institutions. I believe that the purpose of the move by the Leader of the Opposition to-day is to demonstrate that his party is still desirous of maintaining the same grip upon the plan that it has had up to the present time. The Government cannot deny that effect could not have been given to the plan if it had not been for the support of the Opposition in this House. The *Hansard* division lists indicate how few were the supporters of the Government who voted for it. The Government depended entirely on honorable members opposite. Those honorable members, therefore, can rightly sustain their claim to maintain their hold upon something with which they have been associated prior to the Premiers Conference and from then to the present time. Of course, the Prime Minister in the strongest language at his disposal has denounced the Opposition for its move to-day, saying that the purpose behind it is to wreck the plan, and we gather from the Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** what is meant by the suggestion that the plan will be wrecked. There is said to he a move on the part ofbanking institutions in Victoria that are now being called upon to reduce their rates of interest to prevent any further effect being given to the plan, now that wages and pensions have been cut, so that they will not be called upon to reduce these rates. But honorable members onthe Government side who use that argument should themselves give serious attention to their own consciences. They have agreed to all the other reductions proposed in the plan, but have no guarantee from the banking institutions that they will reduce interest rates. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- The door of escape has been left open to the banking institutions. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -They have been given a way out. Effect has been given to all the other parts of the plan. Although we were told that the plan in all its parts was to operate simultaneously, this Labour Government is cutting pensions and wages, knowing all the time that it has no grip at all upon the financial institutions. The obligation rested on it before it gave effect to any part of the plan to see that all interests, particularly the banking interests, bore their equal responsibility. The people least able to defend themselves have been adversely affected ; their remuneration has been arbitrarily reduced, whereas others have been allowed to work out their reductions in their own way and in their own time. As a matter of fact, there is considerable doubt whether they will ever give effect to their cuts, and according to the Government the move of the Leader of the Opposition to-day is to provide them with a loophole of escape. The Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson)** followed closely upon the Prime Minister, but, of course, the Prime Minister already knew the intentions of the Country party. He knew that the Government was safe. That is why I look upon this move with amusement. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- The Country party did not communicate with the Government in any way. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- The Government communicated with the Country party. {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser: -- It did not. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- It does not matter very much. The real test of the sincerity of the honorable members of the Opposition and the supporters of the Government will occur in the Senate, and we shall watch the proceedings in that chamber in the next twenty-four hours with a lively interest. I noticed that when the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Fenton)** was speaking, some honorable members on this side of the committee accused him of treachery ; but if those honorable members are to-day supporting the so-called rehabilitation plan they have no right to charge the honorable member for Maribyrnong with treachery unless they are willing to admit the justice of a similar charge against themselves, for the honorable member did in October last only what they are doing now. The Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan),** in the abusive speech which he delivered, accused certain honorable members of playing for the plaudits of the crowd outside. For my own part, I would far rather gain the plaudits of the crowd outside, as they arecalled, who are responsible for my political position, than accept the plaudits of my political enemies, and the backing of a press which almost always is totally hostile to the Labour movement. I have no doubt that the Attorney-General was glad to accept the applause of the banking institutions when he agreed to advocate the adoption of this plan. But I remind him that the large industrial organizations of Australia, which are principally responsible for the existence of the political Labour party, have, during the last two months, made many declarations in condemnation of this plan. Only a few days ago the Prime Minister attended a conference of the Labour party in Melbourne, which, despite his defence of the plan, declared itself to be totally hostile to it. There is no doubt about the attitude of the rank and file of the Labour movement towards this plan. I am afraid that some honorable members consider that after they have been elected to this Parliament they can bring to bear a greater degree of intelligence upon the problems of national finance than when they were private citizens. For this reason, insufficient as it is, they are inclined to regard with scorn any opposition to their own views. I do not adopt that attitude. I realize that the rank and file of the workers, because of the adverse circumstances which they have to meet day by day, are more fitted to form a fair estimate of the effect of this plan upon their own circumstances than are honorable members of this Parliament, and for my part I intend to be guided by the views of the rank and file of the workers. As I have said, the test of the sincerity of honorable members of the official Opposition and the so-called Labour supporters of this Government will be determined when the attitude of another place is known. The plan is being supported by the traditional enemies of the Labour party, and by a few honorable members who were elected as pledged Labour men. In these circumstances, it seems to me that the electors might well exclaim, like Mercutis, " A plague o' both your houses." {: #subdebate-28-0-s136 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- I am very sorry that the members df the Country party have intimated that they are not prepared to support the amendment. A week or two ago I was one of the few members of the official Opposition who supported an amendment 'of the Deputy Leader of the Country party **(Mr. Paterson),** the object of which was to improve the fiscal system of the country. I am prepared to support any section of honorable members which desires to take effective action in that direction, even though some risk may be incurred thereby. It is a groat pity that intriguing interests outside of this House have been able to cause some degree of estrangement between the various parties which sit on this side of the committee in opposition to the Government, for I believe that we should be able to cooperate in a very large measure. The honorable member for New England **(Mr. Thompson),** in his speech, said that political tacticians outside of the chamber were bringing influences to bear upon the parties which sit on this side of the chamber. It will be very unfortunate if highly desirable financial and other reforms designed to improve the economic position of the country are delayed on this account. The Prime Minister made a tremendous lot about having his nose rubbed in the dirt, and so on. He said that had the Government been asked to delay the [160 consideration of the Estimates for some little time, he would have been prepared to consider the proposal; but that he could not submit to the humiliation of having the Appropriation Bill passed in sections, as it were. That, he said, was intolerable. But the right honorable gentleman had certain unofficial warnings some time ago that a move, of this kind by the Opposition was probable, and he could then have intimated that he was prepared to consider meeting the Opposition in some way. The fact that he is now riding the high horse is no reason why we should give him a blank cheque for the next twelve months. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr Cunningham: -- The honorable member knows very well that a blank cheque will not be given if the Appropriation Bill is passed, for the Government would not be able to spend a penny outside of these Estimates. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER: -- I know that there would be some restriction on the Government; but I remember that the Prime Minister signed an agreement in Melbourne about this time last year, in which he undertook that his Government would effect substantial reductions in expenditure. It is true that the expenditure of the Government has not exceeded the amount voted in last year's Estimates; but it has been guilty of wilful neglect to fulfil the terms of the Niemeyer agreement. In consequence of the financial drift that has since occurred, additional treasury-bills have had to be issued, and a large amount of our gold has had to be shipped abroad. If the Government did not spend more than was voted on the Estimates last year, it certainly spent a great deal more than it was justified in spending in view of the changed conditions of the country. If the Prime Minister had given effect to the agreement which he signed last year, it is possible that we could have overcome our difficulties by making a 10 per cent, cut in adjustable government expenditure, instead of the 20 per cent, cut which we have now been forced to make in order to prevent a total collapse. Not only did the Prime Minister fail to give effect to the August agreement of "last year, but he has also failed to carry out the antiinflation policy which he advocated in certain cablegrams which he sent to his former colleagues while he was ra. England. So far from doing that, the right honorable gentleman, when he returnedto Australia, actually reconstituted his Cabinet and allowed those who were his firm supporters in his absence to be turned out of office in order that Certain inflationary schemes could be submitted to Parliament. It is proposed that fiduciary notes should be issued. This had a serious effect upon the finances of the country, and severely shook the confidence of the people. The *Sydney Morning Herald* of the 27th July, published a table detailing the Australian banking aggregates. It showed that the issue of Commonwealth notes increased from £33,464,328 at the 30th June, 1930, to £46,795,724 at the 31st March, 1931, and to £51,160,531 at the 30th June, 1931. This serious increase in the note issue was necessaryin order to meet the needs of the Commonwealth and State Governments. Although we have not yet reached the statutory limit of our note issue, we are coming dangerously near it. This is revealed by figures published in to-day's issue of the *Sydney Morning Herald,* which indicate that our note issue has been increased by another £500,000, and our gold holdings have been largely reduced. It is the duty of honorable members to do everything in their power to prevent a continuation of this financial drift, and that is one of the objects of the amendment. The honorable member for New England **(Mr. Thompson)** said that if the Government introduced another fiduciary notes bill the Country party would regard it as a breach of faith; but if we reach the statutory limit of our note issue it will be' extremely difficult to prevent the issuing of more notes. If this amendment is agreed to, it will make it extremely difficult for the Government to give effect to any inflationary ideas that it may still desire to put into operation. The only way in which Parliament can prevent the continuance of the drift in Commonwealth finance is by retaining some control over appropriation. It was not until we were approaching the end of the financial year that the Government, realizing that it would need Supply, began to consider the plan proposed by certain State Premiers. The Government then dropped for a time its Fiduciary Notes Bill, and entered into negotiation with the State Premiers,and eventually adopted what is now known as the Melbourne Agreement. The right honorable the Prime Minister said that if Parliament keeps control over appropriation it will place such a stigma upon the Government that the approaching Conversion Loan it not likely to be the success which we all hope it will be. The right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that if the course proposed by the Opposition is adopted, the public will have much more confidence, as the Parliament will still retain control over appropriation. The Government, which is being supported by some of our occasional friends, would be able to act as it desired, and may destroy the public confidence, which is so essential to financial stability. The credit of the Commonwealth, which has been seriously affected by the actions of One government, depends now upon the course to be followed by the States and the Commonwealth. If the right course is followed our position will be assured. I believe that the Conversion Loan will be a complete success, because the people of Australia, realizing that Parliament is exercising its proper authority, will convert their holdings. I emphatically deny that behind this amendment there is the slightest attempt to evade the reduction of interest. {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- The honorable member made a similar remark in connexion with the Wheat Bill. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER: -- I have never declared myself in favour of a compulsory pooling system ; every one knows whereI statid on that subject. The reduction of interest is largely a matter for the State Parliaments. If the banks do not reduce interest in accordance with the undertakings they have given, the State Parliaments have sufficient power to deal with them effectively. The bill introduced by the Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore)** earlier in the session, provided only for the reduction of interest on new holdings. I have not the slightest doubt that if the banks donot act fairly in this matter, the State Parliaments will take action to secure the interests of those whom it is their responsibility to protect. But if this Parliament does not retain control over the spending power of the Executive, the difficulties will become greater than they are to-day. If the Country party assists the Government in defeating this amendmend, I trust that the representatives of the States in another place will insist upon Parliamentary control over the finances in order to ensure the stability of the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-28-0-s137 .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM:
Assistant Minister · Gwydir · ALP -- Owing to the extraordinary action taken by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** I feel impelled to speak to this amendment, though I have no desire to delay the committee, particularly in view of the fact that we have gone through an all-night sitting, and that a great deal of business still remains to be done. A lengthy discussion on the amendment means that honorable members who have to travel long distances in order to reach their constituencies will be considerably inconvenienced. No one can deny that the Leader of the Opposition has adopted what is a most extraordinary attitude at this particular juncture. He was a party to the agreement formulated at the Melbourne conference; he knows that the success of the Conversion Loan means a saving of £6,500,000 in the internal Government interest burdens of the taxpayers of Australia, and that the adoption of that plan and the reduction of interest rates by the private banks means the saving of millions of pounds to homepurchasers and men on the land. If the policy of the Leader of the Opposition is followed in another place a general election must follow. This would mean delaying for a considerable time the proposals now in hand, as a new government would not be bound by the decisions of the Melbourne Conference, and in any case could not function promptly on a matter of this nature immediately after a general election. In a leading article in the *Sydney Morning Herald* of yesterday, which is read so extensively by honorable members opposite, the following paragraph appears: - >A general election to-day would throw everything overboard and create chaos at a moment when Australia's new hope for prosperity has been brought into the foreground. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Why not read it all. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- What I have read is a complete statement, and if further confirmation is requiredI refer the honorable member to an article which appears in the same newspaper, written by **Senator Colebatch,** who emphasizes the fact that the Opposition is pledged, so far as its leaders can pledge it, to support the Government in bringing the Melbourne plan into operation. Yet, at the most vital moment this act of treachery is taken by the Leader of the Opposition and those who oppose the Government. These are the gentlemen who will be responsible for vitally affecting the interests of business men, home purchasers, persons with overdrafts at the bank, landholders and the 400,000 unemployed in Australia to-day who are looking to this plan to relieve them from the unfortunate position in which they are placed by the general depression. I cannot understand the point of viewof the Leader of the Opposition, who is allowing himself to be led this way at a time when his name of "Honest Joe", if it stands for anything, should stand for honouring his undertakings in connexion with the Melbourne Conference decisions. He cannot possibly reconcile his past actions with the amendment he has moved. I say emphatically that if honorable members search the history of this Parliament they will not find an instance in which similar action has been taken in connexion with the appropriation resolutions. The Leader of the Opposition is attempting to defeat this party whose co-operation in this plan he sought and which he expressed a desire to assist. His attendance at the Melbourne Conference, his agreement with what was decided on, and his assistance in passing the measures based on the Melbourne plan, surely indicate that he wishes it to reach fruition. The recent statements of Victorian representatives of the great financial institutions in this country have indicated that the interest reduction proposals embodied in the plan are a bitter pill for them. It is well that the people of Australia should realize the position. Personally, I would not be affected by the breaking down of this plan, so far as it proposes the reduction of interest, but there are thousands of persons to whom a reduction in interest is of vital importance. Honorable members opposite have emphasized from time to time that a restoration of confidence and the creation of an atmosphere of security is necessary. A new government would not be pledged to the Melbourne plan. Mr.Ward. - We hope not. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I have heard many stories from the members of the group of which the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** is a member. His leader said that the members of this party should search their consciences in this matter. I ask them if **Mr. Lang** should not also search his conscience. He is a party to the agreement, but by his present actions he is striking a more severe blow at the workers of New South Wales than could possibly be struck by any one here. He has been forced to realize, as this Government realized long ago, that neither the Commonwealth nor any individual State can stand out and carry on. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Did Lang agree to cut pensions ? {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- He has to provide for relatively few pensions. I say most emphatically that he has done much worse than that. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- That is not true. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I speak without heat in this matter. The honorable member seems to be blind to everything but the faults of this Government. Did not the presentPremier of New South Wales attack the unemployment tax of 3d. in the £, imposed by the Bavin Government, and is it not a fact that when returned to power he increased the rate from 3d. to1s. in the £? {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- Was that not to save trade unionists' wages? The Assistant Minister should tell the whole truth. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- How can you save wages by taxing them? Those are the facts. Did not the State Executive of the Australian Labour Party of New South Wales, to which **Mr. Lang** and his disciples in this chamber owe allegiance, order him by a vote of thirteen to eight to drop the Lang plan and adopt this plan ? {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- No. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Is it not a fact that for some weeks past this gentleman has been pleading with the Commonwealth Government and the Loan Council to find him sufficient money to prevent the State from defaulting in its payments to public servants and others? I will pay **Mr. Lang** this tribute. He has been the only man in Australia whose policy has been responsible for closing a bank with the consequent distress suffered by those who have been cut off from their hardearned savings. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; LANG LAB from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- That is a lie. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I ask that that remark be withdrawn. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- I shall not withdraw it. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).I** ask the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** to assist the Chair in maintaining order. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- I rise to a point of order. Can the Minister take advantage of his position- {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- There can be no debate. Does the honorable member intend to withdraw the remark to which exception has been taken. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- I withdraw it. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I can understand why members of the Lang group allow their feelings to run away with them. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- Your Leader and Deputy Leader, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, went out to close the bank ; and they did it very effectively. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- I deny that absolutely. I can supply the honorable member with information, so far as the events leading up to the closing of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales is concerned. I do not exculpate Messrs. Bavin and Stevens from the charge of having commenced a run on that bank. That run, however, was not sustained, and confidence in the bank was restored; but a fresh run commenced immediately following the announcement by the Premier of New South Wales that he would not pay overseas interest. I say emphatically that he did that without consulting his Ministry or his party, and must accept the responsibility. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I cannot allow the Assistant Minister to pursue that line of argument further. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- Surely I can make passing reference to it? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member has made passing reference to it. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- The Government has been condemned because it has rejected the Lang plan and adopted this plan. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I can allow no argument upon my ruling. I require the honorable gentleman to refrain from further discussing the matter. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- That will depend upon whether he is out of order. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! I do not require the assistance of the AttorneyGeneral. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- If that is your ruling, out of respect to you I accept it. {: .speaker-KVU} ##### Mr Thompson: -- Are we to understand that the Government Savings Bank of New SouthWales cannot be referred to? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- I have allowed incidental reference to be made to it. The Assistant Minister has been given as much latitude as any other honorable member. {: .speaker-K88} ##### Mr CUNNINGHAM: -- The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** concluded his remarks by saying, " A plague o'both your houses ", showing that he and his colleagues intend to " sit on the rail ". That attitude is all very well for people who have no responsibility and who will not accept any. But this Government is charged with the responsibility of carrying on the affairs of the Commonwealth, and to do that it is necessary to make arrangements in this Parliament for the meeting of statutory payments on the due dates, otherwise the country would he discredited. Under the financial agreement, for which we were not responsible, we have to assume responsibility for debts that have not been paid by the States. This Government, in its relations with the Commonwealth Bank, occupies the same position as any private individual, and in the face of reduced revenues it has had to cut its suit according to its cloth. It is ridiculous for honorable members who sit in the corner to say that the Government has gone on bended knees to the financial institutions, that it has sacrificed its principles, and that it has betrayed Labour, because it has been obliged to agree to terms that have been forced upon it by circumstances over which it has had no control. I ask those honorable members, where is the logic of their attitude in condemning us for doing what their champion, **Mr. Lang,** is also doing to-day? I have no doubt that this action is just as distasteful to the Premier of New South Wales as it was to members of this party. But why should we be condemned and he be lauded as the champion of the people for doing exactly the same thing? That is the most illogical and ridiculous position that one could possibly imagine. What could be more farcical than the expulsion from the New South Wales State Labour party last week of eighteen men for not supporting the Lang plan, by a body that immediately afterwards carried a resolution directing **Mr. Lang** to abandon that plan and to adopt the plan of the Premiers Conference? It is easy to imagine where this country would find itself in a very short space of time if we acknowledged rule of that description. To deal properly with the problems of Australia, the Commonwealth Government should be untrammelled and the States should be wiped out at the earliest possible moment. To-day the Commonwealth has to assume responsibility for expenditure in which it has no direct voice. Any State to-day can carry on a wild orgy of spending. It need not make provision for its overseas interest payments, which thus automatically become the responsibility of the Commonwealth. The task of this Government has been made heavier because of the defaulting tactics of the Premier of New South Wales. We have had to shoulder the responsibilities of that State because, under the financial agreement, we have been tied up with the States, over whose policy we have no direct control. A considerable portion of the debt that we are carrying to-day was built up during a period in which there was semi-political control of the Commonwealth Bank. That semi-political control enabled **Mr. Watt** and **Mr. Bruce,** as Treasurers in the Hughes Government, and later **Dr. Earle** Page, to finance on wrong lines. They were enabled to build up huge debts both in Australia and overseas. Then the prices of our primary products overseas fell substantially, and this Government found itself shouldered with a tremendous responsibility and faced with reduced revenues. We had not that semi-political control that would have enabled us to extend credits and thus ease the burden upon the shoulders of our people, consequently, we have had to meet our commitments from current revenue obtained by means of very heavy taxation. I regret that during the fourteen years of Nationalist misrule in this country, when there were bounding revenues and when the highest prices ever paid were received for our wool and wheat, adequate steps were not taken by means of taxation, the tariff and the control of exchange, to effect a reduction of our external and internal debt. This Government is endeavouring to-day to clean up the mess that was left to it by its predecessors. The fact that it has been prepared to co-operate with the States in an endeavour to obtain a solution of the difficulties confronting Australia, should prove to those honorable members who have a mind of their own that at least it is entitled to be given a fair run in the working out of the problems before it. I trust that the attitude of honorable members in this chamber will be reflected in another place - which, I believe, at the instigation of financial interests, is trying to embarrass and to destroy the Government, thus causing a breakdown of the plan, to which thousands of our people are looking as the agency through which relief may be afforded from the depression in which we find ourselves. {: #subdebate-28-0-s138 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP; UAP from 1931 **.- Mr. Chairman-** Motion (by **Mr. Brennan)** put - >That the question be now put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 40 NOES: 18 Majority . . . . 22 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question - That the amount proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Lyons's amendment - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath . ) AYES: 19 NOES: 34 Majority . . 15 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Motion agreed to. Resolution reported and adopted. {: .page-start } page 4695 {:#debate-29} ### APPROPRIATION BILL 1931-32 *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Scullin** and **Mr. Parker** Moloney do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill brought up by **Mr. Scullin,** and passed through all stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 4695 {:#debate-30} ### OPPOSED BUSINESS AFTER 11 P.M Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to - >That Standing Order No. 70 - Opposed business after 11 p.m. - be suspended for the remainder of this week. {: .page-start } page 4695 {:#debate-31} ### GOLD BOUNTY BILL (No. 2) Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. {: .page-start } page 4695 {:#debate-32} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1931. {:#subdebate-32-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 22nd July (vide pages 4215 and 4260), on motions by **Mr. Scullin** - >That the bills be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS:
Wilmot -- I believe that honorable members are now in a frame of mind which will enable them to proceed expeditiously with the legislation that remains to be passed to complete the financial rehabilitation plan. I regret the necessity for the imposition of the increased tax which these bills involve. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- It is worse than any tax ever imposed. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS: -- I agree with that remark. This tax was introduced by the Government when I was a member of it. and I have no excuse to offer on that score. It was imposed reluctantly by the Government, and I was particularly loth to support it, because I have long recognized that heavy taxation confers no real benefit upon the community, but rather hampers trade and industry, and checks prosperity. Industry already has to carry heavy income tax, land tax, and the unemployment' taxes imposed by the various State parliaments, and however irksome these taxes may be, none is so burdensome as the sales tax. From its inception, it has created difficulties, and has operated in a vexatious way, because of the lack of understanding of it on the part of the Government and the people. The measure was rushed through, in the first instance, and it caused misunderstanding throughout the length and breadth of the country. From the day it was imposed, rulings had to be issued by the Commissioner of Taxation on the many points that were raised, which were not anticipated before the introduction of this legislation. As the budget figures show, the amount of revenue yielded by the tax is not so great as was expected. Generally, the tax has proved most unsatisfactory, but I recognize that it is inevitable that we should not only continue to impose it, but should increase the rate from 2½ per cent. to 6 per cent. That alone is sufficient to indicate the unfortunate financial position of Australia. I had hoped, from the beginning, that the time might soon come when the whole matter could be reconsidered, and the taxpayers relieved of this additional burden, but that hope is not likely to be realized for a considerable time. All that we can do is to endeavour to make its incidence as equitable as possible. Representations have come from various sections, particularly traders, as to the effect of the tax, and one hopes that full consideration has been given to them by the Government. The Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore)** and also the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** have declared that an undue increase in the number of exemptions will mean a reduction of revenue, and render necessary an increase in the rate. We should also consider the probable effect of this further taxation upon industry, and unemployment. Every section of the community has been asked to make some sacrifice, but I suggest that it would be extremely unwise to add to the burden already resting upon our primary producers. The expert committee of Under.Treasurers, appointed by the Loan Council to report upon the possibility of restoring budget equilibrium, made a number of recommendations, and added this special comment with reference to the sales tax and primage duty - >The sales tax might be raised to (i per cent., and tho primage duty to 10 per cent., with care that in both cases basic foods arc exempt, and possibly also the important goods which are direct instruments of production, such as machinery, fertilizers, cornsacks, &c. The Prime Minister has been urged to give some relief to our .primary producers in these taxation measures, and a special plea has been made for exemptions in connexion with the jam and fruit canning industries, which are suffering severely from the present depression. Every investigation that has been made into taxation methods has pointed to the need to encourage the expansion of our primary industries, which will be severely handicapped by the imposition of extra primage and higher sales tax. Figures which have been prepared by those associated with these industries show that while fruit and sugar separately were exempt under the old rate of tax, the sugar content of jam and canned fruit, as well as the fruit content, were both subject to taxation, and in the case of jam the tax was greater than the actual amount paid to the primary producer for the fruit contained in the tin. Other products, including butter and condensed milk, which come into competition with jams and canned fruit, are exempt from the sales tax. Another primary industry, of major importance is mining. It has been established that costs in this industry must be reduced if it is to sur- vive overseas competition. To this end strong representations have been made that mining machinery shall be exempt. I trust that serious consideration will be given to this request so that steps may be taken to further expand the industry, and widen the area of employment. In considering the effect of these taxes upon industry generally, we are, I think, inclined sometimes to overlook the actual burden represented by certain definite rates. For example, the sales tax of *2* per cent, under the present act is paid on the total of value for duty, including the 10 per cent, statutory addition, plus the duty paid and primage 4 per cent., plus 20 per cent, of such total, and represents 3.41 per cent, on free goods. An average has been taken out over a representative range of merchandise landed in Australia during the past six months, and it has been found that the average sales tax payments amounted to 5.02 per cent. The proposed sales tax increase from *2i* to 6 per cent, actually means that free goods will be subjected to a sales tax of 8.71 per cent. There are very few items now free of duty. All cotton goods being subject to 5 per cent, duty would incur a sales tax duty of 9.11 per cent. Every additional 5 per cent, duty paid would mean .40 of 1 per cent, added to the sales tax. The following table shows how the sales tax at the new rate of 6 per cent, operates upon the cost of certain imported goods after giving effect to the provisions which require certain additions to be made to the invoice value of goods for duty purposes: - *[Quorum formed.']* The following table illustrates the effect of the proposed new rates of sales tax and primage on apparel: - This table shows that £4 8s. primage and £6 16s. lOd. sales tax, or a total of £11 4s. 10d., is paid on £100 worth of apparel imported, under the existing rates of primage and sales tax. Under the 6 per cent, sales tax and 10 per cent, primage proposal, the payments would be £16 18s. Id. in sales tax and £11. in primage, or a total of £27 18s. Id. These figures are, to say the least, staggering. Dealing now with goods generally, the rate of duty of 5 per cent., and sales tax of 6 per cent, on invoice value, mean an -actual tax of 11 per cent, on every £100 worth of goods. Because of the present difficult financial position, we are now obliged to adopt taxation schemes which, in ordinary circumstances, would not be entertained by any government. We should, however, remember that the purpose of the plan is to re-establish confidence among all sections of the people so as to ensure a release of credit for investment in industry, and the employment of our people. If the taxes imposed are of such a character as to be a burden upon industry, we shall not attain our objective. Although I do not see how it is possible to avoid this further taxation at the present time, I consider that the Government might have given more consideration to the probable effect of these increased rates upon industry generally. The estimates of revenue from the original sales tax were not realized. This was due partly to tho depression, and partly because of the adverse effect of the tax upon industry. The rates are now being substantially increased. I am afraid that the higher taxes will re-act unfavorably upon industry, and that the revenue will fall short of the estimate. In the past the Government has frequently been compelled to revise its Estimates in order to achieve the financial equilibrium which it sought. Having had some experience of the officers in the department who are dealing with this matter, and having no doubt as to their ability, I realize that it is idle for me to pit my estimate of the revenue likely to be secured against theirs, but notwithstanding their knowledge of tho situation, and the facts at their disposal, the present circumstances of the country have made it difficult for them to give an accurate forecast of the revenue likely to be derived from this source. I fear that from this tax we shall not get the revenue anticipated. In that case we shall have to come "back to Parliament for a revision of this taxation. For the burden of taxation on industry will become so great that it will have a reactionary effect upon the revenue of the country. I had hoped that we could reach the stage at which we could do away with the sales tax altogether, but the object of this tax is to spread the burden, so that every section of the community will pay week by week throughout the year according to its ability to do so. With the exemptions proposed we are possibly getting as near as we can to equity in that regard. According to the Prime Minister, the Government has already given very serious consideration to the representations made by various industries ; but even now, if a sufficiently good case is made out, I hope that it will not be refused consideration. I hope the Prime Minister will not refuse to listen to suggestions made in committee. We must accept the bill, but I hope that the Government will not ask us to accept it in all its detail. {: #subdebate-32-0-s1 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy .- This bill means an addition of 6 per cent, to the cost of living, and with the basic wage about £3 a week many people will find it difficult to live. If the revenue derived would be the means of providing additional employment, one could have no complaint against the measure; but an increase in the sales tax will not bring about that result. It is probable that no industry in Australia has provided more employment than has the mining industry. To-day, however, with explosives, which can be bought for 30s. a case, in America, costing 70s. at Cairns, though the protective duty is not more than 15s. per cent., and with mining machinery which is absolutely necessary for producing gold from lowgrade ore bodies costing considerably more than it ought to, because of high rates of duty, I am afraid that there will be a decrease of employment in mining enterprises. The man who is willing to prospect a likely piece of country is handicapped at the outset if he has to pay 70s. a case for gelignite, and the mining companies are likewise handicapped by the fact that they have to pay exceedingly high customs duties on machinery which is not obtainable in Australia. Furthermore, the price of the metals they produce is exceedingly low. I am very much afraid that, so far as Queensland is concerned, the industry must practically cease. Construction work in every direction throughout the Commonwealth has come almost to a standstill. Government loan expenditure on works has dropped from many millions of pounds to nothing. What is to become of the workers? Under this bill the purchasing power of their earnings is seriously decreased. Australia's position will become worse instead of better. *[Quorum formed.]* Whether the sales tax will produce the £12,000,000 required to provide for unemployment and assistance to necessitous farmers or whether the money will be raised by a loan, I do not know. Up to date we have seen jio move in the latter direction. This amount is required to balance the budget, but what has become of the £12,000,000 provided in the plan for the relief of the unemployed and necessitous settlers? In regard to the bill clause 2 proposes to strike out the words "in an amount not less than £25, and not more than £1,000," and to replace them by the words " in such an amount not exceeding £1,000 as the Commissioner considers reasonable." The provision relates to owners of small businesses, and I am anxious to know if the amount to be charged for registration is to be left to the discretion of the Commissioner. It is very difficult for people in small towns to get into touch with government officers, particularly Federal Government officers. When the sales tax of *1* per cent, was first imposed » great irritation was caused to small business people, because they could get no information regarding the tax. I think that persons who are required to register should be informed by circular what is expected of them under the new legislation. It is plain that the Leader of the Opposition is now inclined to run away from what a few weeks ago he claimed to be his own baby. There is now a lot of back pedalling on the part of many who formerly supported a sales tax. From reports to hand, I am inclined to agree with those who say that the Premiers' plan is doomed, to failure. The Leader of the Opposition hopes that we will not he obliged to come back to this House and pass legislation in order to secure further revenue. I can understand the anxiety on the honorable member's part, because he has a very unpleasant recollection of the last occasion, when he had to come back to Parliament. It was when he and the honorable member for Maribyrnong began strutting the political stage, putting into operation a portion of this plan. The main thing the honorable member did not like was his inability to interest the members of his party in it. I recollect the night he left the caucus, with the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Fenton)** hot-foot at his heels, calling, " Joe, Joe ; don't go." To-day the Leader of the Opposition declares that he cannot accept the word of the Government in connexion with this legislation, but, just before the close of last year, he was himself making strenuous efforts to put a portion of it into effect. The boys in caucus were too strong for him, and every time they looked like scoring a win over him he acted on the policy that " he who fights and runs away may live to fight another day." {: #subdebate-32-0-s2 .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER:
Maranoa .- The object of this bill is to increase the sales "tax by 6 per cent. Everyone agrees that this is a. form of taxation which is passed on, and, therefore, ultimately affects the cost of living. ' The figures quoted by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons)** show that by the time the goods will reach the consumer the taxwill amount to considerably more than 6 per cent., although the people will expect to pay only 6 per cent. It has been suggested that in order to avoid this, a turnover tax at a lower percentage should be charged by means of stamps. But there would be great difficulties in applying such a scheme. It would become most cumbersome in the case of small sales at Id., 1½d. and 2d., and so on. It would be almost impossible to get stamps to cover these small amounts. If this taxation is to be retained, and that seems unavoidable at present, the earlier in the process of trade in which it is put on, the better it will be for the Government from a collecting point of view, and for the taxpayer from the paying point of view. We have had twelve months' experience of the working of this tax, and it has been shown to be so easy to collect that I doubt whether any government will ever abandon it, It is much more easily collected than income taxation, because books have to be kept in such a way that they can be easily checked by a checker. The person who pays the tax compiles his own return, makes his own assessment, and pays the cheque. The percentage eaten up in collection must, therefore, be very much smaller than the percentage eaten up in the collection of income taxation. One of the greatest inconveniences of this taxation is caused by the provisions of the regulations and rulings with relation to the quoting of certificate numbers. It may be that a person telephones a manufacturer or wholesaler and quotes his certificate number in ordering goods, if he is the holder of a certificate under the Sales Tax Act. Certain regulations apply to him in this connexion, but the onus is always on the seller to determine whether the person who quotes a certificate number is acting correctly. ' When a person quotes his certificate number, he is not charged the sales tax. There are cases, of course, where the registered buyer may be forced under the act not to quote his certificate number, but in most cases he is not prevented from doing so; yet the onus is always on the seller. Taxation specialists have suggested a good way out of the difficulties created in this connexion, although for some reason the Taxation Commissioner has hitherto shown no intention of adopting it, notwithstanding that the adoption of' it would probably mean a saving of several pounds a week in some businesses. I know of business men who are involved in extra expenditure of £7 or £8 per week in bookkeeping through the imposition of this taxation. The suggestion of the taxation specialists is that the registered person shall be required invariably to quote his certificate for all his purchases, whether for material to sell again or for expense purchases. If this were done, many difficulties could be avoided, for the commissioner could keep a list of registered . persons, and make it available to the general public. The result would be that in the course of. time the manufacturer would know who were registered persons, and who were not. If he did not know, he could easily find out. It is suggested that under this scheme the first seller or manufacturer should not bc charged sales taxation, but that the registered buyer would be liable to pay it on all the materials used in his business, whether for re-sale, maintenance, or otherwise. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Not on his ingredients. {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER: -- No; the idea is that he should pay on nothing that he buys, hut on everything that he sells. He could later re-charge the taxation to his customers. Taxation paid on his ordinary materials for use on the production or selling side of his business, and taxation imposed in respect of overhead, could be shown in special columns in his books, and could, ultimately, be included in his sale price to the retailers. If this system were put into operation a great deal of bookkeeping could be eliminated. I do not know why the Taxation Commissioner has not seen fit to adopt this proposal, which was first made to him nearly a year ago. It is certainly necessary that some method should be devised of reducing the bookkeeping involved in the imposition of this taxation. There would bo no danger of the Government losing anything ; in fact it would be much more likely to get more than it is getting under the present arrangement. I /ish now to make a few observations in regard to the regulations and rulings which have caused a good deal of opposition to this method of taxation. At present there is no appeal against a regulation or ruling provided that it clearly comes within the purview of the act. In my opinion provision should be made for affected persons to be supplied with more detail in this connexion. The department should, as soon as possible, issue an indexed booklet of all the rulings to date. I also consider that provision should be made for the exemption from this taxation of certain transactions which are sales in a legal sense, but not sales in the sense that the layman understands the term. For instance, a man may own certain assets in a business, and he may desire to convert the business into a company. He may convert £5,000 worth of assets which he holds as an individual into 5,000 shares in a company, and he may be the company. There is actually no sale in the ordinary sense, although there is a transfer of assets from private ownership to company ownership. Such a transaction is liable to sales taxation, and, in my opinion, it should be exempt from it. If this point can be covered by regulation, I hope that the Government will issue a regulation in regard to it; but if an amendment of the act is necessary to meet it, I trust that the Government will introduce such an. amendment. Transactions such as I have described are not sales in the ordinary sense of the word. I am glad that the Government is making provision for the amount of sales taxation in respect to all transactions affected by this legislation to be shown in the invoice covering the transaction. That is a highly desirable amendment. Hitherto, it has been a common practice for this taxation, to be included in the cost of the goods. The result of this has been that the buyer has frequently not known for certain whether ho has paid taxation at 2£ per cent, or at some higher percentage. In Queensland the buyer is protected by a State Act which insists on what the present bill now demands. If the amount of taxation is shown clearly at the foot of each invoice, buyers will be much more satisfied. Under the existing "conditions, big buyers have been able to take advantage of sellers, for they have been able to disregard any amounts specified for sales taxation because competition has become so keen. Small men cannot, of course, hold the manufacturers up in this way. Under the existing conditions there is no doubt whatever that a larger amount is often included for sales taxation than is justified. I am afraid that the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White1)** was misled to some extent by a reply given to him in all good faith by the Prime Minister respecting the application of sales taxation to old contracts. Thu right honorable gentleman said, I believe, that old contracts were exempt from the new taxation, but would continue to be liable to taxation at the rate of *2i* per cent. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I have received a ruling from the Taxation Commissioner on that point, which cleared the matter up for me. {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER: -- There is power to impose the extra amount of taxation. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The legal officers and the Commissioner have ruled that the old rates shall prevail. {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER: -- I do not think that that is so. I think there is some misunderstanding. There is a further desirable proposal to reduce the security below £25. In many country towns there are bakers, soft drink manufacturers, and others who have been compelled to make fixed deposits for £25 with the bank as a security against the payment of the tax, when in many cases the total amount of sales taxation for the year would not amount to more than £6 or £7. I consider it desirable to dispense with the limitation of £25, with a maximum amounting to £1,000.' I heard the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** say that there are many persons in the business who are unaware of their liability to pay the sales tax. I am sure that there are many blacksmiths, soft drink manufacturers, and bakers in small country towns who, until they receive an intimation from the department, do not know that they are liable. I also know of persons who did not know that they were liable until a prosecution was lodged. To-day, there are many people who do not know that they are liable. There is another provision to which I wish to refer. Tho Income Tax Commissioner does not allow the amount paid in sales tax as a deduction from income, as he contends that the amount of tax can be added to the price of the goods. That may sound all right. If a tax of £6 is imposed on £100 worth of goods, the selling price would be £10C. A seller, in compiling his income tax return, would not show the value of the sale as £106 only, but as £106, less £6, leaving the net amount of the sale at £100. There may be a number of cases where, owing to special circumstances, such as keen trade competition, the seller is actually carrying a certain amount of the taxation. For instance, instead of charging £106, he may charge £103. In that case, the Commissioner of Taxation would say that he was only to deduct £3, thus making the sale price of his goods £100, with the result that £3 is being paid by the unfortunate seller, who is not allowed to make that deduction. That is entirely wrong. In selling £100 worth of goods, a person may have sold them for £103 to include, say, half the tax, but what would really happen would be that he had sold them for £97 with the whole tax, £6, included, making £103 in all. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Would it not be shown that way ? {: .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER: -- No. I have a letter from the Commissioner of Taxation to the effect that the seller is not allowed to do that. If a seller is wise, he will say that he can show anything in writing. There is power to compel a seller to produce particulars in writing before a deduction is allowable. A person carrying a certain amount of taxation has to reduce the price of his goods by the amount of that tax. Supposing a person sells £100- worth of goods and carries the whole of the sales tax, he has to pay income taxation on the full amount as he is not allowed to deduct the tax. But in reality he has reduced the price, of the goods and sold them for £94 and charged a tax of £6 to make up the total. The ruling given on this should be amended. It cannot be denied that the price of goods has been reduced by the amount of the tax, which the seller is carrying. A person can, in certain circumstances, appeal with respect to the value placed upon goods; but that is the only instance in which he has the right of appeal. I contend that under this measure taxpayers should have the same right of appeal as they have under our Income Tax Act. {: #subdebate-32-0-s3 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- This measure which, I understand, is a part of what is known as the Premiers plan, provides for an increase in the sales tax from 2^ per cent, to 6 per cent. I should not like to bo charged with the responsibility of checking 'the accuracy of the figures quoted by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** which resemble a Chinese puzzle, and show conclusively the extent to which the Government is drifting in its desperate and ineffective attempt to restore financial stability. The contentions of the Leader of the Opposition may be justified, but I view the whole proposal with a good deal of suspicion. His speech was similar to those which he has delivered on other measures, based on this so-called plan, as he again said that this is a bill which no one favours, but which will have to be accepted. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -Is this a portionof the plan ? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- I understand that it is. I should not be surprised if in a few months' time the Government finds that its revenue is insufficient, and then the rate may be increased to 8 per cent. The action of the Government consists of draining the national reservoir without making the slightest attempt to replenish it. This measure will have a most depressing effect on trade in this country, and further prevent a rehabilitation of economic and financial security. Apart altogether from that aspect of the question, the measure is wrong in principle, and is contrary to the main canon of taxation, that taxation should be imposed only upon those who are best able to bear it. This tax will have to be paid principally by the poorer section of the community, for whom the Government does not appear to have any regard. The introduction of this measure is due, not to our financial position, but to absolute dictation by the. banks.. Economically the measure is unsound, and although the Leader of the Opposition said it was a measure for consideration in committee, I do not believe that it is. likely to be amended. If pressure is relieved in one direction, it will be increased in another, and instead of this bill providing a means to assist in establishing budgetary equilibrium, it will result in budgetary depression. I realize that those honorable members who excuse their action in supporting the measure will eventually admit their mistake. The financial proposals introduced by the present Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** when Acting Treasurer, were found to be totally inadequate, and this measure is now brought into operation in an attempt to relieve the position. A drug addict cannot be cured' of his evil habits by taking more of his drug, nor can a drunkard become temperate by increasing the quantity of intoxicating liquor he consumes. Our position cannot improve by increas ing an obnoxious tax. For the reasons I have indicated, I intend to oppose the second reading of the bill. {: #subdebate-32-0-s4 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- When the first sales tax bill was introduced I directed the attention of the Government to certain anomalies, and now that the rate of the tax is to be increased. I shall repeat some of the objections I thenraised. The imposition of this tax definitely increases the cost of living at a time when we have reduced salaries and pensions. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- All basic foods are exempt. My. WHITE.- That is not so, as. I shall show the right honorable gentleman. The bill provides that pastry isexempt, but cake is not. The principal act has been amended to exempt certain kinds of biscuits, but scones, crumpets and buns and other such articles of food, which are used by the poorer sections of the community, including working girls, are taxed. It has been stated by pastry-cooks that it is impracticable to add a fraction of a penny to the price of the commodities they are selling. In this connexion, I will read the following letter from the Caterers' Association of Victoria:- >Pastrycooks manufacture scones, buns, crumpets and small fancy pastries, and the Commissioner has ruled that these are taxable. These goods are sold retail by the manufacturers in their shops, and90 per cent. of the sales do not exceed an amount of 9d. In fact, the people who buy scones, buns, crumpets and small pastries buy in sixpennyworth and threepennyworth. There is no possible hope of the pastrycook passing the 6 per cent. sales tax on to the purchaser of these goods, because there is no coin of the realm small enough to charge them with. Six per cent. sales tax on sixpennyworth of scones or buns would amount to·36 of a penny, and it cannot be passed on. These goods generally make up the lunch of thousands of school children and many workers. That answers the Prime Minister's interjection that basic foods are not taxed. The cost of living must increase correspondingly, and the poorer people will thus be penalized. It is rather a ludicrous anomaly that a ham sandwich is taxable, but if the ham is put on one plate and the bread on another neither is taxed. This is the most irritating legislation that has ever been inflicted on a suffering public, and now that it is under review, its application should be entirely altered. In. spite of the difficulty that has been mentioned by the honorablemember for Maranoa, the application ofthe stamp tax to the last retail sale definitely could be brought about.This has been done in continental countries, and if it were done here, a good deal of accounting and book-keeping would be saved. Thetax was a considerable impost evenat 2½ per cent., but the increase to 6 per cent. represents a raising of it by 140 per cent. Many protests have been made regarding the reductions that have been made in salaries and in other directions, but what of the burden that has to be carried by the business world, which already is severely hampered, and many of the members of which are faced with insolvency? A stamp tax, if instituted, would remove many of the existing difficulties. I repeat that this taxation was not unanimously agreed upon as part of the plan. On the contrary, twoundertreasurers definitely protested against any increase in the sales tax and the primage duty. Therefore, we should be perfectly justified, even though we support the plan generally, if we opposed this increase in the sales tax, because it will definitely result in raising the cost of living of persons whose earning capacity has been reduced. Although the trading community suffer from, and find it very difficult to pay the tax, they are prepared to accept it. All that they ask is that it be made as simple as possible in its application. Some months ago I asked the Treasurer whether he would request the department to issue a compilation of the rulings in regard to the act. It is an astonishing fact that there is scarcely a person in any business, or even in the department Who is able to satisfy inquiries about this tax. The reply of the department is " See the *Argus"* - or some other newspaper - " of such and such a date". It is difficult enough to find the money to pay the tax, without having tosearch old newspaper files to ascertain how the Commissioner has interpreted the regulations. It is high time that a complete compilation of rulings was made, so that no doubt Oruncertainty would re main. As the honorable member for Maranoa has said, many traders have only just discovered that they are liable to thetax and they are experiencing difficulty in paying the amount thatthey owe. This bill is a distinct improvement on the measure that was brought down last year. As it proposes a higher rate of tax, it was necessary to insert certain provisions that were then rejected. I am pleased to learn that it is to be made compulsory to show the plussage at the foot of the invoice. Previously that was optional. When the rate was 2½ per cent., many traders were prepared to pay rather than argue concerning it. In future there will be no possibility of hiding it. It is a very fortunate firm which earns 6 per cent. in these difficult times. After all, this is a tax on turnover, not on profit. Firms that are struggling along with big stocks, of which there are thousands, are anxious to liquidate those stocks even at cost price. The 6 per cent., however, will still have to be paid even if goods are sold at cost pride of less. Another alteration that is deemed necessary is that 30 days be allowed for payment. Originally it was intended to make traders pay the tax seven days after the month's transactions were completed, but as the result of a protest by the Opposition the time has. been extended to 21 days. Even that is far from satisfactory. Ordinary business practice, except in chain and cash stores, is on a monthly basis. In the case of some big firms, such as those that deal in oil and sugar, it is cash in 30 days. The usual monthly practice averages approximately 45 days, for if goods are bought on the 1st or the 2nd June, the statement is issued on the 1st July, and need not be paid until the end of that month. Similarly, goods bought on the 30th June would be invoiced on the 1st July for payment on the 31st July. In difficult times, such as those through which we are passing at the moment, a firm will give almost any terms in order to obtain business, even to the extent of sending goods on consignment on the basis of settlement within 60 or 90 days. Wholesale houses that have country storekeepers on their books experience the greatest difficulty in collecting their accounts. They may have to carry storekeepers for six months, or even longer. Yet the Government insists upon the payment of the tax on these goods within 21 days. I have received from the Victorian Merchants Association a protest in the following terms : - >We strongly urge that a clause be included whereby this tax would be made payable at the end of the month following delivery of goods. Our reasons for this are as follows: - In the first place, we do not receive payment from our customers until the end of the month at the earliest, and, in many cases, in the country, wc have to carry the tax on our books for many months. > >You will readily understand that this amount becomes, in course of time, a very considerable load for us to bear, and is costing us the; bank rate of interest until paid. Under the present trade conditions, you are quite aware that we have an enormous amount of money stationary on our books, and this extra tax is something which we do not think is intended should bc borne by us. Protests have been received also from the Chamber of Manufactures, the Hardware Association, and practically every other trading body, all of which agree that at least 30 days should be allowed for the payment of the tax. Seeing that the Government is increasing the tax so greatly, it should at least make it fall as lightly as possible on the people who have to pay it. The honorable member for Maranoa has said that a ruling which was given by the Taxation Department to me as well as to the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn),** is wrong. I asked the Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore),** and later the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** whether contracts for sales that were definitely entered into prior to the 11th July - the date on which the increase was enforced - would hold good at the old rate. The reply of the local branch of the department was in the affirmative, provided that the order had definitely been written, and the goods were in existence. If the department is going back on that ruling, a serious situation will confront a number of firms 'who have been informed that it would hold good. I hope that the Prime Minister will clear this matter up in committee. Another matter that will require adjustment concerns builders. I have received from the Builders Exchange in Melbourne a telegram asking that some provision" be made for builders to pay for their supplies at the old rate in cases where they were engaged on contracts prior to the increase coming into force. That is only fair. If they can pay at the old rate on houses that they are building, the subcontractors and the merchants who supply the materials also should be allowed to do so. Otherwise, the additional 3£ per cent, may more than offset the profit likely to - be made. Newspapers, which generally are the property of big companies, are not to be taxed; but periodicals, which, in many cases, are run by small publishing houses and printers, will be liable for not only the additional sales tax, but also the higher primage rate, because the paper that they use is different from that used by newspapers. This matter, I suggest, might well be cleared up. As the Prime Minister has stated, this is essentially a committee bill. I hope that it will be made as easy as Possible in its machinery provisions, so that the business community, which already is harassed by taxation and regulations, will feel it as little as possible. {: #subdebate-32-0-s5 .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle .- Of all the taxation measures that have been introduced in this Parliament, none have been brought forward in such a way as this, nor have they been so mischievous in their effects upon the tradespeople and other sections of the community. It will be remembered that when this tax was originally brought in it was specially stated that it would be imposed at the source, first upon the manufacturer, and then on the importer, on the one sale. But after it had been working for a while, although the promise was made that it would be policed, timber merchants and others openly added the tax to their accounts. In Sydney, some small millinery businesses work up hats for individual customers. They purchase the material from the importers, not at the lower rate given to an ordinary manufacturer, but at the higher rate. Those who made up an average of two or three hats a week were subjected to this taxation. Fresh meat is not liable to this tax, but when placed 'between slices of bread, and sold to shop and office girls for midday lunches meat is taxable. The application of the act has not only been irritating, but has forced a, number of small people out of business. I do not think k is right that, in giving effect to any plan, we should carry on as we are doing under this particular legislation. We have reduced wages, and thus lessened the purchasing power of the people; yet, under this measure we shall increase the prices that they, will have to pay for the articles of food and clothing that they require. The Government should have policed this legislation,' as originally promised, and should have prevented the tax from being passed on to the poorer classes of the community. I hope that the sales of sandwiches for midday lunches will be exempt from the tax. The employees of large firms now club together and purchase their sandwiches in large quantities. It was never contemplated that a tax of this nature should be part of the rehabilitation plan. {: #subdebate-32-0-s6 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- When this measure was introduced last year, I think we all anticipated that, with its complications and anomalies, it would prove a veritable nightmare to ordinary business people, and it has certainly proved so to most honorable members. I wonder how those who have been responsible for the administration of this legislation have managed to survive the last twelve months. The increase in the tax from 2-J per cent, to 6 per cent., which we" are now considering, is naturally causing the business community a great deal of anxiety, and, notwithstanding the statement of the Prime Minister^ **(Mr. Scullin),** that food prices will not be affected in any way by this increase, I fail to see how it can do other than increase the cost of living and of production. Therefore, it must delay the financial and economic recovery of the nation. I have previously contended that the most feasible and businesslike method of bridging the gulf between receipts and expenditure, after the economies that have been agreed upon have been given effect, would be by lifting the tariff embargoes placed upon the importation of certain articles. This could he done without putting one man out of employment, or inflicting hardship upon a single manufacturer. Last year I submitted an amendment in a sincere effort to do away with an anomaly which the Brisbane Merchants Association had pointed out to me was created under the present sales tax legislation, in arriving at the basis of the value, for the purpose of tax, of goods imported by a retailer, and similar goods imported by a wholesale merchant. The amendment that I then submitted was supported by the then Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Latham),** and other honorable members, and on the Prime Minister giving me an assurance that this anomaly, which the Commissioner of Taxation admitted, would be removed, if possible, in another place, I withdrew my amendment. But the anomaly was not removed, and I would like the Prime Minister to take some steps to deal with the matter even at this stage. I have received the following communication from the Brisbane Merchants Association, dated 6th July last: - > *Re* Sales Tax. - You will recall that last year, when the above bill was before the House, you were good enough to take up the matter of the anomaly which exists in arriving at the basis of value for sales tax on goods imported by a retailer and similar goods imported by a wholesale merchant, and, as an amending act is shortly to be introduced, we are asking your kind assistance in dealing with the above matter. We are enclosing for your information a concrete case furnished by one of our members which shows that the -wholesale merchant has to pay in sales tax 38.4 per cent, more than the retailer on exactly the same item. This, of course, is not only an injustice to the merchant, but, as he passes the tax on, is a still greater injustice to the small retailer, who has to compete with the larger retail houses. No remedy which would involve merchants in having stocks in their warehouses, some of which had paid sales tax on importation and some upon which sales tax has to be paid when sold, would be practicable. An amendment which is suggested in the attached memorandum, namely, that the basis upon which the retail importer pays sales tax should include every cost of importation, as well as a percentage for profit, seems the only practicable and satisfactory one. The concrete case referred to, showing the discrepancy between the sales tax paid by a retail importer through the customs, aud that paid on a sale by a "wholesale importer, is as follows: - Apparently it is as well that the amendment moved -by me last year was not accepted, because I understand that it would not have overcome the difficulty. The Brisbane Merchants Association further points out - >The only amendment which occurs to us as at all practicable is that importers who pay their sales tax through the customs should be required to pay same on invoice value plus freight, f .o.b. charges, marine Insurance, buying commission, bank exchange and landing charges in Australia, plus duty and primage, and with an addition of 20 per cent, over all for profit . . . > >It may be pointed out that since the matter was debated in the House lust year, the anomaly mentioned has been made more serious by the fact that bank exchange, which is not included in the value upon which the importer pays, but is in the value upon which the wholesale merchant pays,' has increased by more than 25 per cent. I hesitate to move an amendment to the measures before the House, because the matter is so complicated that I might urge an alteration which would not be fair and equitable; but I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will indicate whether anything can be done to remove an admitted anomaly. I desire to refer briefly to a communication which I have received from the university of Sydney and the Queensland university in connexion with the sales tax and the increased primage duty on library matter, as well as upon such materials as scientific apparatus, which these institutions are obliged to import from abroad from time to time. The Prime Minister has pointed out that, if this House insists upon exemptions other than those Which have been agreed to after the fullest consideration, such action will make it necessary to increase the present rate of the sales tax. I cannot help feeling that the Universities have a definite claim to special consideration. University libraries should at least be placed on the same basis as public libraries, which are now exempt from this taxation. I believe that an arrangement has been made between the University Libraries of Sydney and Melbourne and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library whereby books required for the Canberra University College, and books asked for by honorable members, may be procured from those institutions. I cannot see that there would be much loss of revenue if the books of all universities were exempt from the sales tax. I have received innumerable telegrams, urging the exemption of all books, magazines, and periodicals. Various libraries in Queensland, the School Teachers Union, and the School of Arts Association, and the Queensland Booksellers Association, urgently request that, owing to the financial depression, the books that they have to import into Australia should be exempt from the tax. I would like to know what the loss of revenue would .be, if all such books were exempt, so that in the committee stage I may move an amendment to the bill. There" are other matters to which I might refer, but I think they can better be dealt with in committee. I again ask the Prime Minister to see if some action can be taken to remedy the anomaly to which I have directed attention, to exempt all books, magazines and periodicals, and, if possible, place university libraries on the same footing as public libraries, which, as I have shown, are exempt from the operation of these taxes. {: #subdebate-32-0-s7 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I have never been in favour of this form of taxation; hut since it has been engrafted upon our taxation system, it is now my duty to see (hat, in its incidence, it does not press too heavily upon any particular section. At the committee stage, I intend to submit a number of amendments, which I hope will be accepted by the Prime Minister, who will be in charge of the proposals. When the original sales tax measures were before this House, there was considerable argument about the desirableness or otherwise of entering the sales tax at tho foot of the invoices. I endeavoured to persuade tho Government to agree to this proposal, but was unsuccessful. It was contended that there might be certain constitutional objections, and, following the Government's decision not to sanction this procedure, a number of wholesale and retail firms introduced altered business systems, under which they were able to include the tax in their price-lists. Now that the Government has decided to insist upon the amount of the tax being added to the invoice, those firms will be obliged to scrap all their price-lists, and attach to the foot of their invoices the amount of tax chargeable. They regard the alteration as unfair, and point out that it will inflict upon them a great deal of business inconvenience and expense. It is contended, further, that it will operate unfairly in the case of a considerable number of small storekeepers in the suburbs of our capital cities, and in country towns, because the majority of these business people sell low-priced articles at fixed retail prices, and it will be impossible for them to recover the tax by charging increased prices for their goods. This will apply particularly to haberdashery, ribbons, confectionery, small grocery lines, household hardware, and chemical goods. It is also argued that those firms which adopted special business systems under which the price-lists included the *2* per cent, sales tax, will now merely add the additional 6 per cent, to their present prices. These views are being canvassed generally in business circles in connexion with these measures. It is stated that the proposed change will give further protection to manufacturers at the expense of retailers, and that if merchants' profits are further reduced, many may be placed in a difficult position. As the Government insisted on the amount of the sales tax being included in the purchase price, it should now consider the position of those traders who obeyed its instructions. In committee, I propose to submit an amendment, the purpose of which will be to make the procedure optional. I cannot see how any great hardship _will be inflicted on traders generally, and as the Government originally insisted that tho tax should not be placed at the foot of the invoice, traders should not now be put to the additional expense of introducing new systems and of revising their price-lists to comply with this later decision of the Government. Another amendment which I propose to submit when the bill is in committee, is to deduct from income tax assessments the amount paid as sales tax. This proposal has been considered by various taxpayers' associations, but as it is a matter for the committee stages of. the bills, I shall not say more about it at present. {: #subdebate-32-0-s8 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I feel inclined to oppose the whole of these measures unless the Government is prepared to give some relief to coal-miners by exempting explosives. The miners purchase their explosives from the company, which will now add the increased sales tax of 6 per cent, to the price charged. Representations have been made to me by the combined miners' organizations that explosives should be placed on the list of exempted goods. Metalliferous miners are in a more favorable position. Miners, except those working on tribute, are provided with explosives by the company, which does not pass on the tax. In the case of coal-miners, however, the explosives are sold to the employees by the company, and each fortnight the amount of the sales tax, which, at the higher rate will be approximately 8s. $d. a fortnight extra is deducted from the miners' pay. {: .speaker-KNP} ##### Mr Maxwell: -- Can the honorable member say how much the tax will be per head? {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Coal-miners work in pairs, and each pair of men use about 10 lb. of explosives per day in hard sections of the mine. When I was engaged in mining, not long ago, the cost was1s. a lb., and there has recently been a slight increase of the price, but taking it at1s. a lb., with detonators at 3d. or 4d. each, the powder bill for two men is approximately 14s. a day. Sales tax of 6 per cent. on 14s a day equals10d. The fortnightly pay of two men is thus reduced by 8s. 4d. or 4s. 2d., for each man. That is an additional hardship on men who undeniably have suffered greater hardship than the average citizen of the Commonwealth. Recently, they went through a long, drawn-out struggle. They were locked out. Their only sin, if it were a sin, was a desire to obey an award of the Federal Arbitration Court. Eventually, they were starved into submission, and had to submit to a 12½ per cent. reduction of their earnings. When it was suggested to the Prime Minister that the explosives used by men working in mines on contracts or tributes should be exempted from the payment of sales tax, his reply was that the tax does not amount to more than 5d. a day per man, and is, therefore, only a small matter. It represents, however, the price of a loaf of bread, and it is a penalty which is imposed upon the minersand upon no other class of worker. They cannot deduct from their income tax this sales tax payment because their earnings are from personal exertion. They are called upon to pay sales tax before they receive their earnings. When I approached the Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore)** on the matter, he suggested that it should be brought up in committee, and that, in all probability, provision would be made for the exemption claimed. Although the Prime Minister does not feel disposed to give any consideration to their request, I hope that he will view the matter in a different light when he learns of the additional hardship these miners will be called upon to endure under the provisions of this bill. Question - That the bills be now read a second time - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Norman Makin.) AYES: 45 NOES: 3 Majority . . . . 42 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. {: .page-start } page 4708 {:#debate-33} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILL (No. 1) 1931 *In committee:* Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to. Clause 3 - >Section 18 of the principal act is amended. > >by omitting sub-section 8 and inserting in its stead the following subsection : - {: #debate-33-s0 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- I move - >That after the word " amended " the following paragraph be inserted: - (aa) by inserting in sub-section 1 after the word "shall" the words "if sold by wholesale." The amendment is drafted to cover firms which do both a wholesale and a retail trade, but whose business is predominantly wholesale. Under the present regulations such firms pay tax on the selling price of all goods. They are thus placed at a disadvantage compared with competitors who are predominantly retailers. It was a sufficiently serious matter when the tax was 2½ per cent., but now that the rate has been increased to 6 per cent., it may have the effect of closing certain branches of certain businesses. I understood that the Prime Ministerhad a proposal to cover the point. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Yes. It is provided for in another clause. Amendment - *by leave* - withdrawn. {: #debate-33-s1 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I move - >That after paragraph ( *b* ) the following new sub-section be added: - " (5a.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, in the case of any prescribed goods manufactured to the order of individual customers, the sale value shall be an amount ascertained in such manner as is prescribed, but not exceeding the amount for which the goods are sold." This is the point I explained on the second reading. It is intended to cover the case of tailors who make suits to order. Amendment agreed to. Clause also verbally amended and, as amended, agreed to. Clause 4 - >Section twenty of the principal act is amended - > >by inserting, after the words "sale value of - the following paragraph: " (aa) goods sold to the Government of the Commonwealth or the Government of a State where the Commissioner is satisfied that the goods are for the official use of a government department, or of an authority which is completely controlled by, and the expenditure of which is exclusively borne by, the Government, and are not for re-sale, and where, in the case of goods sold to the Government of a State, an arrangement has been made between the GovernorGeneral and the GovernorinCouncil of the State for the collection and payment by the State of sales tax upon the sale value of all goods sold by the Government of the State, and by every such authority established under the law of the State, in the conduct of an enterprise which, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is a trading enterprise;" ; and > >byinserting in paragraph (e), after the word " and ", the word" the ". {: #debate-33-s2 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .-I move - >That after the word " Government ", fourth occurring, paragraph *aa,* the following words be inserted " or for the use of a university ". Some universities are not wholly maintained by governments. I do not desire to labour this amendment, for I am certain that the purpose of it is clear to honorable members. {: #debate-33-s3 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minis ter · Yarra · ALP -- I regret that the Government cannot accept the amendment. We have had many applications for exemptions which are far more justifiable than this one. We have been asked to exempt books for libraries and for educational purposes, but if we did so, the revenue would suffer to the extent of £60,000.I have every sympathy with those who wish books to be exempt from sales taxation; but the granting of exemptions must inevitably have the effect of substantially increasing the rate of tax. {: #debate-33-s4 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS:
Wilmot .- I trust that the Government will give some consideration to the advisableness of exempting from sales taxation books for educational purposes. We have always prided ourselves upon the fact that education in Australia is free; but in these days the burden involved in the purchase of books which is placed on parents of children who are attending schools, from the primary grade upwards, is extremely heavy. Surely the revenue would not suffer very seriously if educational books were exempt. The parents of children attending our schools are the best citizens that we have, and we should not place any burdens upon them which can be avoided. As one who has had experience as a school teacher, and as a Minister in charge of a State education department, I know that the cost of school books has increased very greatly in recent years. I therefore hope that the Government will give further consideration to my proposal to exempt books for educational purposes. {: #debate-33-s5 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- While I am quite ready to admit that the importation and sale of certain classes of books could be entirely prohibited with advantage to the public, I believe that something should be done to make books needed for educational purposes available to the people at the lowest possible price. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I ask the honorable member to consider the difficulty of framing a definition to cover books for educational purposes. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- They could be described as " books designed exclusively for teaching purposes in universities and schools ". I would not be willing to exempt books for university purposes unless books for school purposes were also exempt. Amendment negatived. {: #debate-33-s6 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- At the request of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Latham)** I move - >That the following paragraph be added to the clause: - "(c) by inserting after paragraph (g) the following paragraph: - *(ga)* goods which a taxpayer has manufactured and treated as stock for sale by retail prior to the first dayof August One thousand nine hundred and thirty and subsequently sold by retail ' ". I understand that if this amendment is agreed to, it will have a retrospective effect. It is for the Prime Minister to say whether he can see his way clear to accept it. I am sure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would not put forward a proposal unless it contained considerable merit. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- To accept this amendment would involve refunds of revenue to the extentof nearly £750,000. The Government, therefore, cannot accept it. Amendment negatived. Amendment (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to - >That after paragraph (b) the following be inserted " ; and > >by adding at the end thereof the following sub-sections: - " (2.) Where the Commissioner is satisfied that the average amount of sales tax which, but for this sub-section, would be payable by any manufacturer is not, or would not be, in excess of Three pounds per annum, the Commissioner may issue to the manufacturer a statement in writing to that effect, and, while the statement remains in force, sales tax shall not be payable under this act upon the sale value of the goods manufactured by that manufacturer. > >Provided that, in cases where a manufacturer has on hand goods in respect of the purchase or importation of which he has quoted his certificate, the Commissioner shall not issue a statement to him under this sub-section unless he pays the amount of sales tax which would have been payable in respect of the sale or importation of those goods if he had not quoted his certificate. " (3.) Any statement issued in pursuance of sub-section (2.) of this section may be revoked at any time by the Commissioner by notice in writing to the manufacturer.". Clause also verbally amended, and, as amended, agreed to. Clauses 5 to8 agreed to. Clause 9 - >After section 70 of the principal act the following sections are inserted. {: #debate-33-s7 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I move - >That the following new sectionbe inserted: - " 70b. - (1.) Where, before or after the commencement of this section - > >a contract has been made for the erection of any building or for the performance of any other work, and, under the terms of the contract, the person undertaking the erection of the building or the performance of the work (hereinafter in this section called the contractor) contracts to supply the material to be used in connexion therewith ; and. > >after the date of the contract an alteration has taken place in the rate of sales tax, as the result of which the cost of supplying the material is increased or reduced, then, unless the contract contains express written provision to the contrary or it is clear from the terms of the contract that the alteration of the rate of tax has been taken into account in the contract price, the contract shall be altered as follows: - > >If the cost of supplying the material has been increased, the contractor may add to the contract price an amount equivalent to the additional amount payable by him for the material (other than material which remains the property of the contractor) as the result of the alteration of the rate of tax; > >If the cost of supplying the material has been reduced, the party liable to pay the contract price may require the contractor to deduct from that price an amount equivalent to the amount by which the cost of supplying the materia] (other than material which remains the property of the contractor) has been reduced as the result of the alteration of the rate of tax. (2.) Where the contract price is altered in pursuance of this section, the contractor shall deliver to the party liable to pay the contract price a statement in writing showing the amount of the increase or reduction of that price, and containing prescribed particulars of the items affected by the alteration of the rate of tax.". Representations have been made to the Government by the Master Builders Association with the object of exempting from the new taxationcontracts entered into before the proposal to increase the sales tax was announced. It was pointed out that unless relief of this kind were granted, many builders would be forced into the Bankruptcy Court. The association submitted alternative proposals to the Government, the first of which provided for a rebate of the extra taxation, which could not be adopted; and the second of which provided for the passing on of the additional imposts. The association will be quite satisfied if the Government accepts the second alternative, and it is prepared to do so. Amendment agreed to. *Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m. (Thursday).* Clause also consequentially amended and, as amended, agreed to. Clause 10 (Regulations). {: #debate-33-s8 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS:
Wilmot .- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Latham)** has forwarded to me a communication, a portion of which I wish to bring under the notice of the right honorable the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin).** It concerns a request for an exemption from the application of the sales tax. It reads - . In the hope that it may be rectified, I desire to bring under your notice what appears to be an unjustifiable charge made by the reporting branch of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, for transcript of shorthand notes of proceedings in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The ordinary charge for transcript is 3d. per folio per copy, or1s. per folio for six copies, and a further reduction is made for a larger number of copies when required. Since the passing of the Sales Tax Act last year,2½ per cent. has been added to the accounts rendered by the reporting branch; but as the added impost did not represent a very large amount of money, no particular exception was taken to the charge. Since the introduction of the amending bills, however, the reporting branch has adopted the practice of adding6 per cent. to the ordinary charge presumably to cover the sales tax though not so stated. This is a material advance on the already high cost incurred both by employers and labour unions for transcript of Arbitration Court proceedings. I am not aware that the department will be liable to pay tax under the amending bills, and the charge is, therefore, unwarranted and should be discontinued. . . If the Attorney-General's Department does not pay the sales tax it is scarcely justified in increasing charges to the extent mentioned in the letter. {: #debate-33-s9 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I understand that in order to meet the position the basic charge is being reduced by one-sixth, and, therefore, those who require a transcript of shorthand notes of proceedings in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court will actually receive them at a lower rate in spite of the sales tax. {: .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr Lyons: -Will the department pay the tax? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- Yes, but the price of the transcript of the notes is to be reduced. Clause agreed to. Clause 11 - >The first schedule of the principal act is amended - > >by inserting at the commencement of the list of goods contained therein the items - {: #debate-33-s10 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I move - >That the item " Brattice and explosives used by contract workers in the mining industry " be inserted. Brattice is a cloth extensively used in the coal-mining industry for ventilation purposes. In its absence the air in a mine will not circulate sufficiently to provide the necessary ventilation. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Do the miners have to provide it? {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Is it provided by the owners under the Coal Miners Regulation Act, and as its use is imperative it should not be subject to the sales tax if it is desired to assist this industry. When speaking on the second reading, I foreshadowed this amendment, and also directed the attention of the House to the hardships experienced by miners owing to the fact that they have to meet the additional cost, resulting from the imposition of the sales tax on explosives. A pair of miners using 10 lb. of explosives with detonators have to pay 14s. a day to which 6 per cent. has to be added, which brings the amount up to 14s. 10d., or, in other words, a reduction of10d. a day in their earnings to that extent. At the end of a pay period the return per pair of miners is consequently reduced by 8s. 4d. That is a hardship which should be removed by the Government. Exemptions are provided on firewood, coal, crude and fuel oil for the production of power, which means that the owners of industry who use these products do not have to pay the tax, while the miners whose duty it is to win the coal from the bowels of the earth, have to pay the tax on the explosives they use. Explosives are absolutely essential in the production of coal or other minerals, and should be treated in the same way as fuel used by the owners of industry in the production of other power which is exempted. It is grossly unfair that this Government should exempt commodities used by the owners, and at the same time impose a tax on commodities used by the miners. Wine, which I suppose, is consumed chiefly by the employing class, is also included in the list of exemptions. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- A heavy excise duty is imposed on wine. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- The coal-miners who have recently suffered a reduction in wages should receive the same consideration in the matter of the sales tax as the coal-mine proprietors. It may be said that explosives are a big item, as they are used extensively in the mining industry; but other mining operations are not in the same position as the coal-mining industry. With the exception of metalliferous mining on tribute, the men employed in most of the metalliferous mines are paid a daily wage. In such cases the owners purchase the explosives, and consequently pay the tax, while in coal-mining the coal-owner purchases the explosives, and when charging them up to the coalminers, includes the sales tax. The sum of £50,000 has been provided to assist the coal-owners to obtain additional export trade, £25,000 of which has been placed in a trust fund to be allocated at the rate of1s. per ton on the actual quantity of coal exported. The Government's proposal savours of assistance to him that hath, while the poor unfortunate coal-miner who has suffered a reduction in wages, is to be compelled to pay the sales tax. For sixteen months they had to submit to a lock-out, and in addition have had a reduction of 12½ per cent. is their wage. The action of the Government in reducing the salaries of public servants by 20 per cent. will in all probability result in private employers adopting the same attitude. I have no desire to ridicule the idea of assisting the mine-owners by the payment of a bounty of1s. a ton to capture the overseas coal trade as I recognize the export trade in coal requires building up; but it is only reasonable that miners, who have to use power in the shape of explosives to obtain minerals from the earth, should be given this exemption. {: #debate-33-s11 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I point out to the honorable member that it is not possible to distinguish between explosives that are used for mining purposes and those that are used for other purposes, nor between explosives that are sold to a miner, and those which the owner does not ask the miner to buy. The whole field of explosives has to be surveyed. It has been worked out that the cost of the sales tax which is added to the price of explosives used in hewing coal, amounts to about id. a ton. On the honorable member's figures it is more than that, but still is less than½d. a ton. The honorable member figured out that the cost to two men who worked together would be 10d. a day. He estimated that two men would hew with machines approximately 25 tons a day. On the basis of 2s. 6d. a ton, their earnings would be £3 2s. 6d., while on the honorable member's figures, the tax would come to 8s. 4d. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- The price prior to the reduction was 2s. 5d.11/16ths. There has since been a 12½ per cent. reduction. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN: -- That would bring it down to 2s. 2d. a ton, which would amount to approximately £3 a day. The honorable member went on to say that the cost of the tax in the case of each man would be 4s. 2d. a fortnight, assuming that they worked ten days. On that basis each man would earn £15 a fortnight. There are cases of equal, if not greater, hardship under the sales tax as well as under other taxation. We are not using a feather duster on the people of this country. We are dealing with a very grave emergency. We have endeavoured to exempt from the tax basic foods that effect the cost of living of the mass of the people, and to a very large extent we have succeeded. ' The exemption of this item would mean a loss of revenue amounting to over £15,000; and if the whole of the exemptions sought were granted, the loss would be well over £750,000 per annum. I am not lacking in sympathy towards the miners, but there are stronger claims that we have had to reject. {: #debate-33-s12 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- I intend to support the amendment to exempt explosives used in mining. The £15,000 which the Prime Minister says would be lost, is an over-statement. I presume that that figure relates to explosives that are used for every purpose. I consider that the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** has made out an unanswerable case. I could quote figures to show the right honorable gentleman that the treasury could obtain perhaps £200,000 if the timber, coal and fuel that are exempt, were made subject to the tax, although I will not support the sales tax on such items. There is a question of abstract justice that has to be considered, quite apart from the amount of revenue involved. If the Government is working on the assumption that coal, fuel and oil are basic commodities, because they enter primarily into the manufacture of the goods .on which the tax will be levied, I cannot see how those things which are used by the miners could be exempt. The mineowners buy the explosives in the first place. They hold them in secure places, and supply them to the miner, deducting the cost from his wages. A record of the transaction has to be kept. Only a distinguishing mark would be necessary to indicate the explosives that were sold to miners, and that should be exempt from the tax. No difficulty would he experienced in tracing every such transaction. Possibly, only a couple of thousand pounds at the most would be lost if the amendment were agreed to. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The amendment does not limit the exemption to the explosives used in coal-mining. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- The honorable member for Hunter drafted the amendment hurriedly. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- The different transactions could not be policed. It is estimated that £12,000 of the £15,000, to which I have referred, applies to explosives that are used for mining purposes. It could not be limited to coal-mining. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- I do not want to limit it to coal-mining. But there is a difference between explosives that are used in coal-mining, and those that are used in metalliferous mining. When other articles that are used in the production of coal are exempt, it is only reasonable and just that the explosives used by the miner also should be exempt. Miners are obtaining so little work at the present time that a deduction of 6d. from their wages means depriving their wives and children, not of some luxury that they could do without, but actually of something that they should have. Within the last twelve months, coalminers have been getting only two or three days' work a fortnight, and sometimes even less than that. If the industrywere flourishing, and the miners were working ten days a fortnight and drawing from £6 to £10 as the Prime Minister says, I would not worry about this impost. There is not a miner on the south coast who has worked full time since I have been the representative of that district.- That dates back to long before the commencement of the depression. Within the last couple of years, not a miner has averaged four days a fortnight, and some of them have averaged only one day reckoned from the weeks when the mines actually worked. In those circumstances, the loss of even 5d. or 6d. is a real hardship. A couple of shillings a fortnight may not seem much to honorable members, but its loss causes real concern to these men. The Prime Minister ought to meet us in this matter. I feel sure that the loss of the small amount involved would not cause the plan to break down ; but it would be a small concession to men who have had a very hard row to hoe. During the last four years, no man in any industry in the Commonwealth has had such a rough spin as the miner has had. The conditions are becoming worse every week, and it is not fair to impose this extra burden. {: #debate-33-s13 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy .- For some considerable time, I have made representations to the Treasurer in regard to the price of explosives in Australia. Last May, I asked a question on the subject, and the Attorney-General **(Mr. Brennan),** who was acting for the Prime Minister, promised that certain inquiries would be made, and that I would be furnished with a reply. Up to date that reply has not arrived. In the intervening period, however, I have been in touch with the honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Holloway),** who at the time had charge of labour and industry. That honorable gentleman wrote me a letter saying that he would request **Mr. John** Gunn to make inquiries respecting the substantial difference that exists between the prices of Australian and American explosives. I believe that Nobels are the only manufacturers of explosives in Australia; yet the price charged for the local explosive is altogether too high compared with that charged for the American. The price of metals is abnormally low, and the mining industry has been at a low ebb since 1920. Yet, it provides employment for a considerable number of men. With the aid of explosives, miners can prospect rich patches in old " shows ". Even with tin, copper, silver and lead at their present prices, a considerable amount of employment is- provided at places like Mount Isa, but an extra 1,500 men will probably be reduced to the dole in Western Queensland, as a result of putting the Government's financial plan into operation. If the mining industry is burdened with additional taxation, as surely as night follows day, disaster will overtake it. A bounty of ls. per ton is given to the coal-owners on export coal, and if £10,000 were deducted from the £50,000 now received by them by way of bounty, the Government would be able to remove the sales tax of 6 per cent, to be imposed on explosives for industries other than coal-mining. I notice that a number of exemptions are provided for under the bill, such as road metal, furnace slag, gravel and sand. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Only in the case of municipalities. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- The companies own- . ing the quarries that produce those commodities practically live on the ratepayers; but the miners, under great difficulties are carrying on a valuable producing industry, and they are not able to meet the proposed increased sales tax. If the mining industry received as much encouragement from governments as has been given to the butter and sugar industries, it would soon become equally valuable to the community. Timber, boxes, bibles, cheese, coal, kerosene, cream, crude and fuel oil, crude tar and a hundred and one other articles are on the exempt list. Yet an industry which is at a low ebb is to be called upon to pay an unjust tax of 6 per cent. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I point out to the honorable member that we have exempted the whole of the output of the coal-mining industry, and that is a tremendous concession. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- I have been dealing with the mining industry generally. I cordially support the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** to afford relief to the Cinderella industry of Australia. {: #debate-33-s14 .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle .- I support the amendment, because it would be unfair to apply the sales tax to explosives required for mining operations. Much of the expense incurred in coalmining in New South Wales is caused by the provisions of the State Mining Act, which requires the owners to provide brattice for the ventilation of the mines. Reference has been made to the quantity of explosives used in mining a ton of coal; but I point out that that cost is but a fraction of the total expenditure incurred by miners. Coal-miners in 95 cases in 100 are contractors. They have to provide their own light, and, in most cases, their own explosives. They must also supply tools, and these articles are subject to the sales tax. We exempt mining timber which the mine-owners are compelled to provide in order to keep their properties safe. Yet the Government is unwilling to exempt one of the commodities used by the contracting miners in the production of the coal. Australian timber used in mining operations is exempt from the sales tax, particularly in coal-mining. In the large metalliferous mines, Oregon timber is employed. It is easy for the Prime Minister to say that, if the men do not work the mines, they will not have to pay the tax. Explosives are used more extensively today in the big mines than they have been in the past, and the Government should be prepared to exempt this commodity. {: #debate-33-s15 .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES:
Indi .- I join the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** in urging that explosives for gold-mining should be placed on the exempted list, because this will be a direct incentive to those who are engaged in the search for gold. The Victorian *Y earBook* for 1930-31 states that the revenue obtained from miners'' rights in Victoria for that year amounted to £2,062, and as miners' rights cost 2s. 6d.' each there were last year in Victoria 16,496 holders of miners? rights searching for gold in the backblocks and among the hills. A plug of gelignite three or four inches long costs, in some country towns, 3d., so if a man is working off gold and uses three or four plugs of gelignite to open up some rock the cost for the gelignite alone is ls., and as a coil of fuse costs ls. 9d., and detonators 12s. 6d. a tin, it will readily be understood that this business of searching for gold in hard ground might easily prove very costly. I hope that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** will give the request further consideration, and agree to place this commodity on the exempted list, at all events as far as the gold-mining industry is concerned. Within twelve months, the Commonwealth Government shipped overseas gold to the value of £27,000,000, and as the average annual yield in Australia is under £2,000,000, that year we sent away thirteen years' gold production estimated on the present average yield. Recently, we exported an, additional £5,000,000 worth, and if two similar shipments of a like amount have to be made in the near future practically the whole of our currency will be on a fiduciary basis. I am not sure that our position then will be any the worse. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will give sympathetic consideration to this appeal. {: #debate-33-s16 .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr FROST:
Franklin .- This request from various members interested in the mining industry is interesting, but not very convincing. If explosives used in, say, the coal-mining industry arc placed on the exempted list, the case for the inclusion of explosives of gold-mining will be strengthened, and the Government might as well lift the tax ofl all explosives for mining purposes, because explosives are largely used by men working in metal quarries, and even by our primary producers for 'the clearing of heavily timbered land. I have every sympathy for the miners. I worked for some considerable time in a mine myself, and I know that the men earn all they get. But I remind the House that the same urgent appeal can be made, and has been made, in respect of other industries, but the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** has told us plainly that if our requests were granted the loss of revenue would be too great. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr Jones: -- Name one of those industries ? {: .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr FROST: -- We made representations to the Prime Minister for the exemption of the canned fruit and jammaking industries. Sugar and fruit, separately, are on the exempted list; but the product in the form of jam or canned fruit is liable to be taxed. {: #debate-33-s17 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- The Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin),** in his reply this evening, stated that it would be difficult to check the amount of explosives that is used in the mining industry. That remark was not quite correct, because the mine-owner, in his returns for taxation purposes, is expected to show expenditure incurred for explosives used by the company and by contract miners. The right honorable gentleman also urged that if the request were granted the resultant loss of revenue would be too serious. I have suggested that the exemption apply only to contract minei'3 who are compelled to buy their own explosives. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- But all the explosive is purchased by the mine-owner from the manufacturers, and the tax is paid at that stage. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Yes ; but he hands it on to the consumer - the contract miner. If shift-workers in the employ of the company use explosives then the right honorable gentleman is correct, and the owner does pay the tax. I do not suggest that the Prime Minister has deliberately imposed this taxation upon the mining industry, but the provision could not have been drafted with greater precision if it had been left to mine-owners themselves. Timber, which is largely used in the mining industry, is on the exempted list, so why should not explosives be treated similarly? But timber is a charge upon the owner of the mine; it has to he paid for by the boss. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Does not the honorable member realize that assistance to the industry is a form of assistance to those who are employed in it? {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I admit that assistance in that form indirectly benefits the miners, but if the Prime Minister wishes to give substantial relief to a deserving section of the workers, he will also place explosives for mining on the exmpted list. The case for it is unanswerable. {: #debate-33-s18 .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr ELDRIDGE:
Martin .- I heartily support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James).** One cannot but admire the robust philosophy and whole-hearted efforts of both the honorable member for Hunter and the honorable member for Newcastle **(Mr. Watkins)** to voice the claim they are making on behalf of the large body of industrial workers they represent. They have put up a very sound case for this amendment. The honorable member for Hunter has been particularly sound in the arguments he has advanced in an effort to persuade the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** that, despite the difficulties surrounding a wholesale exemption in respect of explosives, there are many reasons why those who come within the contract terms of mining activities may equitably.be exempted. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I shall be glad to give consideration to that aspect of the matter, and I promise to look into it; but there are administrative objections to the amendment. {: .speaker-KDJ} ##### Mr ELDRIDGE: -- We might risk them. The people engaged in this industry have had a very dark and trying experience. The man who hews coal takes enormous risks. His life is constantly endangered.Without him coal could not be produced. The suggestions put forward by the honorable member for Hunter to overcome the difficulties mentioned by the Prime Minister justify the granting of this concession. We always understood that King Cole was a merry old soul, but for a long time King Coal has been a very sad old soul. The approval of the Prime Minister to this amendment might transform him into the merry old soul King Cole has always supposed to be. If that should happen, I have no doubt he would call for his pipe and other comforts, and for his fiddlers five - the members of this group, who are only too glad to put in a word for him on this occasion. {: #debate-33-s19 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney .- I support the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** in his plea on behalf of the people he represents, and with whom he has worked for many years. No one knows the coal industry better than does the honorable member. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** has mentioned that there would be difficulty in administering the concession asked for. The right honorable gentleman is guided by the knowledge of departmental officers, who are, no doubt, efficient in their particular spheres, but cannot be expected to possess & practical knowledge of the application of a concession of this kind upon allindustries likely to be affected. Their very competence in their departmental work connotes a limited practical experience. Any advice that they can give a Minister upon the difficulty of administration of any matter must be purely speculative. Particularly is this so in the case of an absolutely new tax. Plenty of evidence could be adduced to prove that it is almost humanly impossible to police this sales tax, even in its present form, and I claim, therefore, that the Prime Minister has not answered the arguments advanced by the mover of the amendment by raising an objection based on the difficulty of administering it. No difficulty is anticipated in policing the exemption of crude oils and such like lubricant's, and there should likewise he no difficulty in policing the exemption of explosives used by contract miners. In any case, why should the difficulties of administration be raised only in respect to the articles which the honorable member for Hunter is seeking to have exempted? The Prime Minister has said by interjection that assistance for the mining industry by the medium of the concessions given to the owners means assistance to the workers engaged in the industry. That argument might just as well be applied to the reduction of men's wages. Such a step would very likely assist any industry. We know, however, that the effort of Labour has always been to secure for the worker a greater share in the distribution of the profits made by industry. If we carried the Prime Minister's argument to the fullest extent, all efforts on the part of Labour to improve the lot of people engaged in industry by bettering the conditions or increasing wages would be contrary to the interests of the industry concerned. Such a contention is, of course, ridiculous. Surely some means can be devised for helping this large section of workers! Perhaps the Prime Minister will give his assurance that he will inquire into the administrative difficulty. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I have already said that I shall do so. It presents difficulties ; but, if there is any possibility of giving the matter favorable consideration it will have it. I must be given time in which to make that investigation. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- The workers in all industries to-day are suffering great hardships, and, no doubt, it is difficult to pick out one section of the community for special commiseration, but we must admit that the section engaged in coal-mining has had a particularly bad time. Their occupation is one in which they suffer risks which do not touch other workers, and any means we can apply towards easing their burden or towards making their wages go as far as possible should be applied. Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. James's amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Thechairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 8 NOES: 36 Majority . . . . 28 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Amendment (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to- That after the word " bibles " paragragh ( *b* ) the words " and scripture portions " be inserted. {: #debate-33-s20 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- I move - >That the item " Binder twine " be inserted. This Government has lightened the burden of primary producers even to the extent of exempting kerosene from the operation of the sales tax, and I think that the omission of " binder twine " from this schedule must have been an oversight. Binder twine is an essential material which primary producers must use for harvesting their hay and for other purposes. Seeing that kerosene for use in traction engines has been exempted, I think that it is not unreasonable to ask that binder twine shall also be exempt. {: #debate-33-s21 .speaker-KV8} ##### Mr STEWART:
Wimmera .- I support the amendment. Binder twine falls within the same category as chaff bags, cornsacks and the like, for it is a jute fabric. As the honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. Hawker)** has pointed out, it is indispensable for the harvesting of hay. {: #debate-33-s22 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- It appears to me that the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Stewart)** and his friends opposite wish other honorable members to treat with every sympathy those engaged in the industries in which they are interested, but they are not prepared to extend sympathetic consideration to miners, and persons engaged in other primary industries. The attitude that they adopt irritates me. I would he quite willing to eliminate -sales taxation altogether, but, on account of the inconsistent attitude of some honorable members opposite, they cannot expect much sympathy. Their vote of a few minutes ago shows that they are animated by sectional interests. They were not willing to vote in favour of relieving the men who delve in the depths of the earth of a slight impost, but they expect us to help the farmers every time. {: #debate-33-s23 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I regret that Icannot accept the amendment. Every new exemption creates a large number of anomalies. If this proposal were agreed to, the revenue would suffer to the extent of £10,000. {: .speaker-L1C} ##### Mr Lewis: -- Sewing twine is exempt. Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Hawker's amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Keane.) AYES: 15 NOES: 28 Majority . . 13 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. {: #debate-33-s24 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS:
Moreton .- I move - >That the item " Arrowroot " be inserted. When the original sales tax proposals were being dealt with I appealed to the Treasurer to add arrowroot to the list of exemptions, but he said that he was unable to do so at the time. Subsequently I repeated my request to him, and I have on numerous occasions asked that arrowroot should be exempt from this taxation. The Treasurer intimated to me on one occasion that when the sales tax measures were being reconsidered, he would regard favorably my representations in respect to arrowroot. The arrowroot industry is not extensive. I suppose that the total annual value of the production would not be more than £12,000. About 800 persons are engaged in producing arrowroot. The margin of profit in the industry is so small that the imposition of sales taxation at the rate of 6 per cent. would probably render the industry entirely unprofitable. Flour made from wheat is exempt from this taxation, but flour made from arrowroot is not exempt. Arrowroot biscuits are exempt, but the arrowroot from which they are made is not exempt. Arrowroot is a very important food for children, invalids and others. The Prime Minister has pointed out when application has been made for other exemptions that they could not be granted because the loss of revenue would be too great; but that argument is not applicable to arrowroot, for the total production is very small. This industry is carried on only in my electorate, but if it is encouraged it will no doubt extend. In view of the promise that the Treasurer made to me some time ago, I confidently ask the Prime Minister to accept this amendment. {: #debate-33-s25 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I regret that I cannot accept the amendment. If we exempt arrowroot we shall have to exempt a number of other commodities. {: #debate-33-s26 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP .- Some days agothe Government promised that it would furnish honorable members with a list of all the commodities for which exemptions have been asked, and intimate which applications could be accepted. I understood the Prime Minister to say that a list of the appli- cations for exemptions and also a list of the exemptions actually granted would be made available to honorable members. So far as I am aware, that has not been done. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I did not undertake to give a list of rejected applications, as that would involve unnecessary expense; but I promised to supply honorable members with a list of the exemptions granted, which are being inserted in the bill as we proceed. I omitted to circulate the list mentioned by the honorable member. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- If we knew what items had actually been considered by the department, it would save considerable time. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- They have all been considered; but special attention will be given to applications which have not already been brought under the notice of the Government. {: .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- I should like to know what exemptions have been asked for, so that when amendments are moved we shall know whether they are new applications. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis).** {: #debate-33-s27 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP .- Arrowroot has received full consideration, but it cannot be included in the exemption. If we once open the door, a number of similar applications would be made which could not be logically rejected.I have here the file containing the applications which have been rejected, which would take some hours to read. Question - That the word proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Francis's amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Keane.) AYES: 10 NOES: 36 Majority . . 26 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. {: #debate-33-s28 .speaker-F4O} ##### Mr LYONS:
Wilmot .- On the 10th July, the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Forde)** submitted certain resolutions providing for the imposition of primage duties, under which materials used in the manufacture of spraying preparations are exempt. Apparently, there was some reason for exempting these materials, which are used in production, and if the Prime Minister wishes to be logical, such materials should also be exempt from the sales tax. Bluestone is used, not only in connexion with spraying operations, but for pickling wheat. The original tax, quite apart from the increased rate, increases the price of spraying preparations, and, therefore, must have an important bearing upon the cost of production. {: #debate-33-s29 .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS:
Calare .- I trust that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** will give favorable consideration to the request submitted by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons),** the object of which is to prevent any further imposts being placed upon primary producers who use sulphate of copper in pickling wheat and also for making a spray for fruit trees. Arsenic is another preparation used for combating pests, and if the cost of these preparations is further increased, primary production may be retarded. {: #debate-33-s30 .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr HILL:
Echuca .- I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Lyons).** Last week when I made inquiries from the Treasury in regard to this matter, I was informed that the sales tax is not imposed on the raw materials used in the manufacture of sprays, but that the tax is imposed only on the manufactured sprays. The sales tax should not be imposed on bluestone or any other ingredient used in the manufacture of spraying preparations. {: #debate-33-s31 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- No tax is imposed on the ingredients used in the manufacture of sprays, but only on" the finished product. Bluestone was considered amongst other commodities, but it was not included because the list of exemptions is already sufficiently formidable. I shall, however, look into the matter in order to ascertain the amount involved. {: #debate-33-s32 .speaker-KHG} ##### Mr HILL:
Echuca .- The Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** said just now that he had been busily engaged in adding various items to the list of exemptions; and he gave reasons for their addition. I should like to help him to add one or two more, and to give reasons why they should be added. I therefore moves - That the item " Canned fruit, jam " hi inserted. I wish to illustrate the operation of the sales tax on canned fruits, based on the average Australian retail prices per dozen, less cash discount. The basis of the tax on apricots, based on a price of 8s. a dozen, less a cash discount of 2-J per cent., would be 7s. 9£d. The old sales tax of 2-J per cent, represented 2-Jd. a dozen, equal to £1 6s. 3d. a ton of fresh fruit. Under the new tax of 6 per cent., the amount per dozen will be 5½d. equal to £3 3s. a ton of fresh fruit. The basis for sales tax in the case of peaches, based on a price of 8s. a dozen, less a cash discount of 2-J Der cent., would be 7s. 9-Jd. The old sales tax would amount to 2¼d. a dozen, equal to £1 ls. a ton of fresh fruit. Under the new tax, the amount will be 5-Jd. a dozen, equal to £2 103. 6d. a ton of fresh fruit. The basis for sales tax on pears, based on a price of 9s. a dozen, less a cash discount of 2£ per cent., would be 8s. 9¼d The old sales tax would amount to 2£d. a dozen, equal to 19s. a ton of fresh fruit. Under the new tax, the amount would be 6d. a dozen, or £2 5s. 6d. a ton of fresh fruit. Last year, the suppliers to two of the largest canneries in Australia, excluding Shepparton, received only £5 a ton for peaches, pears, and apricots. That was probably the finest fruit in the world, and was picked specially for processing purposes. On jams, the 2-J per cent, tax averaged about lOd. a case of 1-i-lb. jams, equal to 45s. a ton on the fresh fruit used. If the increase of 6 per cent, applies, it will mean 2s. a case of four dozen tins, or £5 8s. a ton on the fresh fruit used. Compare this with the £3 a ton paid for plums, and the £4 paid for peaches, apricots, and quinces, and it will be seen that the increased rate will inflict a tax of more than the original price per ton payable to the grower of jam fruits. The Prime Minister said, earlier, that it was not proposed to tax basic foods. I believe it can be said that jam is a basic food to-day. It has become an absolute necessity on the daily menu. As a matter of fact, the list of articles obtainable on dole tickets, in some States, includes jams. We can see the effect if the 6 per cent, tax is passed on to the public. It appears to be an impossibility to obtain an extra price for jam from people who to-day are depending on dole tickets for their existence. To my mind, the whole thing seems to be an atrocious injustice. Definitely, if the tax on canned fruits is passed on, the demand for these products will be decreased immediately. No jam manufacturer or canner to-day can stand extra taxation, and in all probability an attempt will be made to pass on the tax. I am exceedingly doubtful whether the purchasing power of the people will enable sales of canned fruits and jams to continue at anything like the rate required to keep in employment tlie workers who are now engaged in our factories. I should like to quote a few statistics in regard to jams. In the case of the cheaper varieties that are used in every "home, such as apricot, peach, plum, and quince, each ton of .fresh fruit delivered from the orchard produces, on the average, 212 dozen tins, each containing lb. of jam. There are 4 dozen tins in each standard case sold in Australia. Therefore 53 cases, each of 4 dozen 1^-lb. tins, are produced when one ton of fresh fruit is added to one ton of cane-sugar and made up into jam. An extract of the average selling prices of jams on which sales tax has to be paid at 6 per cent, shows that 6. lid. a dozen will be collected on the 212 dozen tins of jam which are the out-turn from one ton of fresh fruit. This means a sales tax of £5 8s. on each ton of fresh fruit used in jam-making. In most cases, fruits which are used for jam, such as .plums and apricots, are sold for about £3 or £4 a ton. The taxation on the more expensive jams, such as raspberry and black currant, is slightly heavier per ton of fresh fruit, because of the higher sales value. The average tax on these varieties is about 7d. a dozen on the 212 dozen tins to each ton, which is equal to £6 3s. 8d. a ton of fresh fruit; consequently, the berry fruit-grower is also very badly hit. I have no berry fruit-growers in my electorate; but in the southern parts of Victoria and in Tasmania hundreds of tons of berry fruits are grown. A fair overall sales value for each ton of jam in the usual l£-lb. cans would be £90 a ton. Reliable statistics give the annual consumption of canned fruits as 18,250,000 cans for the six years up to 1929. In 1930 the consumption fell to 15.750,000 cans. In 1929, about 22,000,000 cans were distributed; so that there was a decrease in 1930 of 6,250,000 cans, which was equal to 28 per cent. Unquestionably the attempt which was made to pas3 on even the 2-J per cent, sales tax last year, made a great difference to the housewives, many of whom erased canned fruits from their buying lists. The effect will be even more serious under the 6 per cent. tax. I do not believe that the Australian consumption of fruits in 1931 will exceed 12,000,000 cans. Unfortunately, I have not the statistics for 1930 and 1931 -in relation to jams; but the evidence contained in the report of the sugar inquiry committee discloses a very serious decline in the consumption, equal to 6 J lb. per head of the population, or a total of 41,000,000 lb. less than would have been consumed had jams been available to the housewife at a fair value. To add 6 per cent, to the sales value of jams, in view of the decreased spending capacity, is to invite a still further decline in the consumption. Yet, if the additional tra *it* persisted in, the manu- facturers will not be able to bear it, and will endeavour to pass it on, with serious consequences to the fruit-growers. I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to another primary product. There is no tax, and rightly so, on the products of milk, such fis cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, preserved milk, powdered milk, &c. Nor is there a tax on dried, fruits. In one of the large factories in the Goulburn Valley, on the 'one side apricots, peaches and pears are processed and canned; while on the other side, the same fruits, but not of as fine a quality, are put through dehydrating machines and turned out as processed dried fruits. Because they are dried, they are not liable to be taxed; but in the case of the prime fruit, which is processed and canned, this-heavy impost has to be borne. Canning fruit is in a special class. It is grown almost exclusively for canning purposes. It is perishable; but so that the consumer may have the equivalent of fresh fruit all the year round it must pass through a preserving process. Because it is preserved, it is taxed; although other processed articles are allowed to go free. I hope that the Prime Minister will give this matter his earnest and serious consideration, because it affects a very large and deserving body of primary producers. {: #debate-33-s33 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- This item has given me more concern than any other request that I have received. Tho honorable member for Echuca **(Mr. Hill)** has approached me in regard to the matter, and in addition a number of requests have been made and letters received urging that it be considered. It would have been considered more than favorably but that the loss of revenue would amount to £145,000. That is too serious a loss to contemplate. It is an industry that one would feel inclined to encourage; but if we open the door there will be requests on behalf- of tinned honey, golden syrup, treacle, fish and many other things. I am sorry that I cannot accept the amendment. {: #debate-33-s34 .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr FROST:
Franklin .- I support the honorable member for Echuca **(Mr. Hill)** in hig efforts to assist primary producers. In my electorate is one of the largest jam making factories in the southern hemisphere. About 2,000 men are employed in this establishment in the season, and about 10,000 tons of jam fruit are dealt with annually. The proposed sales tax will reduce the market for jam. Commodities such as preserved milk are exempt from the tax.Fresh fruit and sugar also escape it, but when these two commodities are combined in the form of jam, the tax is applied. The demand for jam is decreasing each year, because the price of sugar has been raised of late years, owing to the special protection received by the sugar industry of Queensland. {: #debate-33-s35 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- I am prepared to support the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Frost),** and the honorable member for Echuca **(Mr. Hill),** although they are inconsistent in their attitude on this measure. When they were asked by members in this corner to support the exemption of explosives from the sales tax, they declined to do so, because they had no special interest in the mining industry, although precisely the same principle was involved. The National Parliament is no place for parish pump politicians, who are chiefly interested in their own electorates. {: #debate-33-s36 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney .- I object to the imposition of the sales tax on any article, because this measure is part of the " Premiers' plot." We were told that there was to be equality of sacrifice. The invalid and old-age pensioners, and the workers have already suffered a reduction of 20 per cent. in their incomes, and since they comprise the section which eventually pay all taxes they are required to bear a double impost, in order that sufficient revenue may be obtained to give the international financial interests overseas their pound of flesh. The sales tax represents an attack on the cost of living, and that is tantamount to a tax on the workers' wages, the relative value of which depends upon their purchasing power. Therefore, I intend to vote against every clause of this measure. Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Mr. Hill's amendment)- put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 15 NOES: 29 Majority . . . . 14 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. {: #debate-33-s37 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
PrimeMinister · Yarra · ALP .- I move- >That the item " Hydraulic power " be inserted. The honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Long)** brought this matter under the notice of the Government. Owing to an oversight, the amendment was not included in the bill. Amendment agreed to. Amendments (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to- >That after paragraph(h) the following paragraphbe inserted: - "(ha) by inserting at the end of the item commencing with the word ' Milk ', the words, ' or any food containing not less than ninety-five per centum of milk or milk powder'". > >That, after the word "Pastry", paragraph (i), second occurring, the following words be inserted : - " scones, bread sandwiches, buns,". {: #debate-33-s38 .speaker-KFW} ##### Mr GUY:
Bass .- I appreciate the Government's desire to obtain additional revenue, and I realize that the greater the number of exemptions granted, the smaller will be the amount of revenue received; but I wish to renew the claim that I made to the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** last year for the exemption of a certain commodity. The granting of this request would not seriously reduce the revenue, because only a couple of hundred pounds are involved. The commodity which I desire to have exempted is mutton birds, which are captured on Flinders Island, in Bass Strait. These birds are collected by halfcastes, who earn their living chiefly in this industry. Calculated on a yearly basis, the incomes of these individuals would not exceed £1 per week. The present sales tax of 2½ per cent. has made their living a particularly precarious one; but, if the tax were increased to 6 per cent., they would be ruined, and the industry would pass out of existence. Undoubtedly, the men now engaged in it would be reduced to the dole. The amount of revenue collected in sales tax on the 2½ per cent. basis is about £100, and if the tax were increased to 6 per cent., it would be about £240. Basic food stuffs and primary products are on the exempted list, and although the mutton bird may not, strictly speaking, be regarded as a basic food, the business of mutton birding is a primary industry on Flinders Island, and the only process they go through is that of being salted, which evidently brings them within the scope of the tax. Mutton birding, so far as the islanders are concerned, is their primary industry, and numbers of them are absolutely dependent upon it for a livelihood, just as much as is the man engaged upon the land in the production of cereals or meat. I hope that the Prime Minister will give sympathetic consideration to my request. {: #debate-33-s39 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I have a letter dealing with the subject referred to by the honorable member, but I have not the figures showing the amount involved or to what extent the granting of the application may affect a similar application for poultry. I shall look into the matter before the bill goes to another place and see what can be done. {: #debate-33-s40 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- Before the committee disposes of this clause, I should like the Prime Minister to indicate whether any decision has been reached with regard to the exemption of metal, blast furnace slag, gravel and sand for road-making, sold to a public authoritycharged with responsibility for the formation and maintenance of public roads. During the second-reading debate I inquired of the Prime Minister, by interjection, if these commodities would be placed on the exempted list, and he said he could not give a ruling off-hand. I raise the question now in the hope that the right honorable gentleman has had time to examine the position and, if roadmaking material is not on the exempted list, I suggest that the necessary amendment be made to the bill. Representations have been made on this subject to me by the Municipal Tramways Trust of Adelaide, which is a public body. {: #debate-33-s41 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- The exemption will apply to public bodies that are really carrying out Government work, but will not apply to trusts or boards running tramways for profit. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 12 agreed to. {: #debate-33-s42 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- I move - >That the following new clause be inserted: - 10a. Notwithstanding anything contained in the Principal Act, sales tax shall not be payable under the said act in respect of a sale other than in the ordinary course of business or trading, either by way of reconstruction, merger, amalgamation, or walk-in-walk-out sale by anyperson, firm or company, to any other person, firm or company, of plant or machinery which is acquired by such lastnamed person, firm or company, for use as plant or machinery and not for re-sale." This proposed new clause is intended to cover the acquisition of plant and machinery by a company or firm which, owing to business depression, has been forced to reconstruct. In such circumstances, the sale of plant and machinery is a sale to the company itself, and sales tax should not be payable. The honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** has just handed to me thef ollowing telegram, which has a direct bearing upon this matter : - >Sold my newspaper business for amalgamationExaminer. Sales Tax Commissioner claims tax on plant and goodwill, the former over 20 years old. Can tax be claimed in those circumstances? The reply from the Secretary to the Treasury is in the following terms - >With reference to attached telegram, if purchaser is registered person under Sales Tax Act, tax is correctly chargeable on plant, but not on goodwill. I do not expect the Prime Minister to accept at once the proposed newclause. but I have submitted it in order that he may have an opportunity to consult with the taxationofficials and, if it is not correctly drafted, the necessary amendments can be made. {: #debate-33-s43 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- The honorable member was good enough to give me a rough draft of the proposed new clause, and I asked the taxation department to examine the proposal. The departmental view is that plant and machinery purchased by a manufacturer is subject to sales tax, which is payable by the vendor. When a company reconstructs and a new company buys its plant and machinery from the old company, the new company is not permitted to quote its certificate of registration for the purchase, so that the selling company, being a registered person under the Sales Tax Act, is taxable on the sale. If the new company were to purchase new plant and machinery from some other source, the vendor would be taxable on the sale, and would pass on the tax to the purchasing company. When a reconstructing company sells plant and machinery, on which sales tax has been passed on to it, it receives a rebate of that tax from the tax payable on the sale by it of the plant and machinery; but not exceeding the latter amount of tax. I think that, to a large extent, meets the position which has been stated by the honorable member. If it does not, I shall have a look at the amendment, and if it is an equitable proposition, it can be re-drafted and considered when the bill is in another place. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr Hawker: -- I accept the explanation of the Prime Minister. Proposed new clause negatived. Title agreed to. Bill reported with amendments. {: .page-start } page 4724 {:#debate-34} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILL (No. 2) 1931 *In committee:* Clause 1 agreed to. Clause 2 (Sale Value of Goods). Amendment (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to. That the words "by omitting sub-section 3 be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-section : - insert " - Provided that where goods are sold by retail by a registered person who has quoted his certificate when purchasing the goods the sale value of the goods shall be the amount which would be the fair market value of those goods if sold by him by wholesale, but if the Commissioner is of the opinion that the amount set forth in any return by the registered person as the sale value of any such goods is less than the amount which would be their fair market value if sold by wholesale, the sale value shall be altered by the Commissioner to the value which, in his opinion, would be their fair market value if so sold, and the altered value shall be the sale value of the goods for the purposes of this Act. ; and Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 3 agreed to. Clause 4 consequentially amended, and, as amended, agreed to. Clause 5 agreed to. {: #debate-34-s0 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP .- I move- >That the following new clause be inserted: - " 2a. After section five of the principal act the following section is inserted: - 5a. Where a registered person has quoted his certificate in respect of goods purchased by him prior to the eleventh day of July, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-one, he shall be entitled, in respect of any sale of those goods by retail made by him on or after that date to a rebate of tax of the difference between the amount of tax payable by him in respect of that sale and the amount of tax which would have been payable if the rate of tax payable in respect of such sale had been two and one-half per centum of the sale value of the goods.' ". This amendment is designed to grant relief to wholesale merchants who have obtained all their trading stock without payment of sales tax at the customs on their imported goods, or without having sales tax passed on to them in respect of their purchases. These merchants are obliged to pay sales tax on all their sales on the actual sale prices whether those are wholesale or retail prices. Wholesale merchants whose wholesale sales are less than 50 per cent. of their total sales obtain their stocks subject to payment of tax at the customs on their imports, and to having tax passed on to them on their purchases, but they are not required to pay additional tax on their sales by retail. They merely pay additional tax on their sales by wholesale. The trading stocks which those merchants had on hand on the 11th July, 1931, will have been subject to sales tax at 21/2 per cent. Additional tax of 31/2 per cent, will now be payable only on the wholesale sales made out of that stock. In regard to retail sales by those merchants, they will be in the same position as retail sales by exclusively retail merchants. But, in the case of the wholesale merchants whose wholesale sales predominate, they will be required to pay 6 per cent, tax not only on their wholesale sales, but also on their retail sales. In order to place the retail sales by those merchants on the same footing as retail sales by exclusively retail merchants, and by wholesale merchants whoso retail sales predominate, it is now proposed to provide for the allowance of a rebate of the additional tax of 31/2 per cent., which is payable on the retail sales out of the stocks on hand at the 11th July, 1931. It is considered that this course is the simplest for the purpose of effecting the desired end. Proposed new clause agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported with amendments.' {: .page-start } page 4725 {:#debate-35} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILLS (Nos. 3and 4) 1931. Bills reportedfrom committee with co nsequen tialamen dmen ts. {: .page-start } page 4725 {:#debate-36} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILL (No. 5) 1931 *In committee :* Clause 1 agreed to. Clause 2 (Sale value of imported goods). {: #debate-36-s0 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- Last year I drew attention to the fact that this clause contained an anomaly in connexion with the sale value of goods imported by a retailer or a wholesaler. I should like to know now if there is any possibility of removing that anomaly. {: #debate-36-s1 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP .- I am afraid that the anomaly can be removed only by increasing the percentage added to goods imported by retailers. It certainly places some traders at a disadvantage compared with . others, because an arbitrary rule has been adopted to add 20 per cent, to the import value of anything imported by retailers. In some cases it may be higher, and in other cases lower, than the value added in the case of goods imported by wholesalers. However, I shall have the matter looked into with a view to seeing whether an alteration is possible. Clause agreed to. Clause 3 verbally amended and, as amended, agreed to. Clause 4 (Amendment of the schedule). Amendment (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to. That the following item be inserted: - " Agricultural and -horticultural seeds not covered by any item in the Customs Tariff 1921-1930;". Clause also consequentially amended, and, as amended, agreed to. Clause 5. The following amendments to the principal act shall be deemed to have commenced on the, date of commencement of the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. *5),* 1930: - . . . Amendment (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to- >That the following new paragraph he inserted : - (aa) section6a inserted in the principal act by section 3 of this act; and Clause agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported with amendments. {: .page-start } page 4725 {:#debate-37} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILLS (Nos. 6 to 8) 1931. Bills reported from committee with consequential amendments. {: .page-start } page 4725 {:#debate-38} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILL (No. 9) 1931 Bill reported from committee without amendment. {: .page-start } page 4725 {:#debate-39} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILL (No. 1) 1931 Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to. That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 3 and 9. *In committee* (Recommittal) : Clause 3. Section18 of the principalact is amended. . . . Amendment (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to- >That the following new paragraph be inserted : - " (aa) by inserting at the end of subsection (1.) the following proviso: - > > Provided that where the goods are sold by retail the sale value of the goods shall be the amount which would be the fair market value of those goods if sold by the registered person by wholesale, but if the Commissioner is of opinion that the amount set forth in any return by the registered person as the sale value of any such goods is less than the amount which would be their fair market value if sold by wholesale, the sale value shall be altered by the Commissioner to the value which, in his opinion, would be their fair market value if so sold, and the altered value shall be the sale value of the goods for the purposes of this Act.' ". Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 9 - >After section seventy of the principal act the following sections are inserted : - 70b. - (1.) In the case of a sale of goods by a taxpayer by reason whereof he becomes liable to pay sales tax, the taxpayer shall state upon the invoice delivered by him to the purchaser in respect of the transaction the amount of sales tax payable in respect thereof. > >Penalty: One hundred pounds. {: #debate-39-s0 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I move - >The the word " shall " proposed new section 70b, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " may ". The object of this amendment is to give traders the option of stating the amount of sales taxation at the foot of the invoice, or of including it in the price of the goods. After the passage of the sales tax legislation last year many traders were put to considerable expense in altering all their prices to comply with the law, and unless they are given the option which I am now proposing to provide they will be obliged to again alter all their prices. The present system is giving comparative satisfaction. If the traders are allowed the option that I desire them to have, business will be facilitated. The activities of small storekeepers, particularly those who sell haberdashery and small drapery lines, will be helped. Moreover, if the option is granted there will be more competition among the shopkeepers, and this may have the effect of causing some firms to pay a portion, if not all,of the taxation, which would, of course, result in the public being charged lower prices for their goods. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- Does the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** propose to accept this amendment? {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- No. {: #debate-39-s1 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT -- The president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia has recently written to the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** with the object of ascertaining whether sales tax may be deducted in preparing income tax returns. I quote the following paragraph from their letter : - >The Commissioner of Taxation has recently ruled that the taxpayer will be able, under certain circumstances, to deduct the tax from his financial figures, but in other cases proofs will be required before its deduction will be admitted. It would be inequitable were business houses called upon to pay income tax on sales tax.I would therefore strongly urge that it be made clear by legislation that sales tax is a deductible item in trading and/or profit and loss accounts before the ascertainment of taxable income. I understand from the officials of the Taxation Department in this connexion that the Commissioner of Taxation has ruled that while sales tax is not a permissible deduction in an income tax assessment under the Income Assessment Act, the majority of persons who are liable to pay taxation will not be required to pay income tax on the amount of sales tax paid by them. I quote the following statement of the position as set out in the commissioner's ruling: - >Persons liable to pay sales tax may be classified as follows: - (1) Those who add the full amount of tax to the sale price; (2) those who add portion of the tax to the sale price, and bear the balance themselves; (3) those who do not add the tax to the sale price, but bear it wholly themselves. In the first class of case the tax does not form part of the sale value of the goods, which is to be shown in income tax returns. In the second class, the actual amount of sales tax passed on is to be excluded from the income tax returns, which should include only the actual amount for which the goods would have been sold but for the sales tax actually passed on. Any person who falls within either of these two classes must submit with his income tax return a certificatethat the prices at which he sold the goods upon which he was required to pay sales tax included that tax. The certificate will be required to show, *inter alia,* the percentage included in the sale price in respect of sales tax, e.g., whether it was the full percentage of 2½ per cent. or something less. It will also be required of the vendor to show that the purchasers to whom he sold the goods were aware and agreed to the inclusion of the tax in the sale prices, and of the percentage being so included. In any case in which satisfactory evidence of the above is not forthcoming the department will refuse to allow any deduction in respect of sales tax in the income tax assessment. In regard to the third class of case, the taxpayer must include in his income tax return the actual sale price of the goods, and is not entitled to any deduction in his income tax assessments in respect of sales tax absorbed by him, as the Income Tax Assessment Act does not permit the deduction. Persons in this class may overcome the position by endorsing their invoices that the price charged for the goods therein is net, after deducting 2.439 per cent. discount, and adding sales tax at 2½ per cent. on the discounted price. Provided this endorsement appearson all relevant invoices, the taxpayer is entitled to deduct sales tax when ascertaining the total sales to be shown in his income tax returns. > >I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether he will confirm this ruling? I should also like to receive his assurance that this amendment making it mandatory for the taxpayer to state upon every invoice the amount of sales tax payable in respect thereof will enable its deduction to be made on income tax returns. {: #debate-39-s2 .speaker-KIO} ##### Mr HUNTER:
Maranoa .- I am glad that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Scullin)** has refused to accept this amendment. I gave certain reasons in the earlier debate on this measure why the amendment which the Government has made to the bill should be adhered to. I pointed out, among other things, that under existing conditions a person who bought £100 worth of goods could be charged £106 or more for them. Actually, he had no means of ascertaining exactly how much sales taxation had been charged to him. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr.D. Cameron) has now given another reason why the amendment of the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** should not be agreed to. If the amount of salestax is stated clearly at the foot of invoices, it may bo deducted for income tax purposes; but it would not be possible under the present regulation to allow such deductions if the amount of such taxation were not clearly shown. {: #debate-39-s3 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- The Government cannot accept this amendment. Interested parties havebeen invited to express their opinion on whether the amount of sales taxation should be shown at the foot of invoices, and while there is not unanimity of opinion on this subject among retailers, the manufacturers are keenly desirous that the method set out in the bill shall be adopted. Amendment negatived. Bill reported with a further amendment. {: .page-start } page 4727 {:#debate-40} ### SALES TAX ASSESSMENT BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1931. Reports adopted and bills read a third time. SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1931. Bills (on motion by **Mr. Scullin)** read a second time and passed through their remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 4727 {:#debate-41} ### COMMONWEALTH PUBLIC SERVICE BILL (No. 2) {:#subdebate-41-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-41-0-s0 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP -- I move- >That the bill be now read a second time. This amending measure enables the Government to appoint a chairman of the Public Service Appeal Board in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Hobart, where the retiring chairman has previously conducted appeals. The passage of this measure will expedite the hearing of appeals, and will also save about £700 annually. I understand its provisions are acceptable to the parties concerned. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and - *by leave* - passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 4727 {:#debate-42} ### DEBT CONVERSION AGREEMENT BILL Assent reported. {: .page-start } page 4727 {:#debate-43} ### SOUTH AUSTRALIA GRANT BILL 1931 Message recommending appropriation reported. *In committee:* (Consideration of Governor-General's message). Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to. That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of the bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for the purposes of financial assistance to the State of South Australia. Resolution reported; Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted. *Ordered -* That **Mr. Scullin** and **Mr. Blakeley** do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill brought up by **Mr. Scullin,** and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 4728 {:#debate-44} ### WESTERN AUSTRALIA GRANT BILL 1931 Message recommending appropriation reported. *In committee:* (Consideration of Governor-General's message). Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to. That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for the purposes of financial assistance to the State of Western Australia. Resolution reported ; Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted. *Ordered -* That **Mr. Scullin** and **Mr. Chifley** do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill brought up by **Mr. Scullin,** and read a first time. {: .page-start } page 4728 {:#debate-45} ### FEDERAL AID ROADS BILL 1931 Message recommending appropriation reported. *In committee:* (Consideration of Governor-General's message). Motion (by **Mr. Scullin)** agreed to. That is is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes ofa bill for an act to authorize the execution by the Commonwealth of agreements between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to the construction, re-construction, maintenance, or repair of roads, and to make provision for the carrying out thereof. Resolution reported; Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted. *Ordered -* That **Mr. Scullin** and **Mr. Chifley** do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill brought up by **Mr. Scullin,** and read a first time. House adjourned at 11.10 p.m. (Thursday).

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 July 1931, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1931/19310729_reps_12_131/>.