13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Alleged Statement by Mr. Latham.
– Some days ago attention was called to a statement which was alleged to have been made by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham)in London, that at the forthcoming Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa, Australia would ask for no concessionsin regard towheat and wool. The. Prime Minister promised to communicate with the Attorney-General to ascertain what he had said. I now ask the honorable gentleman if he has ascertained whether the Attorney-General made thestatement reported, and whether it expresses the policy of the Government?
– Government policy is not customarily stated in reply to questions, particularly questions without notice. Before the Australian delegation leaves for Ottawa, the House will be informed of the general policy of the Government in regard to the matters to be discussed there, and honorable members will have an opportunity to express their views thereon.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether a successor to Mr. Gollan, formerlyChief Inspector of Excise, has been appointed? If no appointment has yet been made, will the Government have regard to the fact that the senior inspector of excise is the advisor of the Minister for Trade and Customs in regard to the price to be paid for grapes by wine-makers desiring to participate in the export bounty, and appoint a gentleman who thoroughly understands this important industry?
– The filling of the vacant position is at present under consideration, and obviously the qualification mentioned by the honorable member for Angas will have due consideration.
– According to a paragraph in the Canberra Times of today, the recent amalgamation of three departments will effect a saving of approximately £20,000, although, apparently, the salaries to be paid to the senior transferred officers will remain the same as before. Will the Minister for the Interior furnish the House with a statement of how the anticipated economies are to be effected?
– I understand that the economies resulting from the amalgamation of departments are estimated at approximately £20,000. The allotment of officers has not yet been completed, and until that has been done, the details asked for by. the honorable member cannot be furnished.
Trust Moneys - Motor Licence-Fees - Railway Revenue
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is not a fact that under the New South Wales law, moneys belonging to governmental boards and trusts, including superannuation funds, are paid to the credit of the State, and can be operated upon by the Colonial Treasurer ?
– That is certainly true of superannuation funds, but I cannot speak definitely of other trust accounts.
– Is it a fact that the public trustee of New South Wales, who is the custodian of the estates of deceased persons, is not paying money into the trust account in the bank?
– I understand that the public trustee is not making any payments into the hank at the present time. His funds have been regarded as part of the general accountof the Colonial Treasurer.
– I ask the Assistant Treasurer whether, pursuant to the resolution of this Parliament yesterday under the Financial Agreements Enforcement Acts, a proclamation relating to the payment of registration fees for motor vehicles in New South Wales has yet been gazetted ?
– The proclamation has been gazetted, and instructions relating to the payment of certain classes of State revenue to the Commonwealth will be issued to-day.
– Must motor registration fees now be paid to the Commonwealth Bank?
– No. The usual procedure in regard to the payment of motor licence-fees will continue. The fees will be paid by individual motorists to the appropriate State authority, which will be expected to pay them to the Commonwealth.
– If the proclamation issued to-day does not cover the whole of the classes of revenue specified in yesterday’s resolution as attachable by the Commonwealth, will the Government again consider the advisability of excluding item x, which relates to railway revenue ?
– The proclamation issued to-day relates to only some of the classes of revenue specified in yesterday’s resolution.
Mr.WATSON. - Newspapers report that the Government contemplates asking Parliament to adjourn this month for several weeks. Will the Prime Minister indicate the approximate date on which the present sittings are likely to terminate?
– The date of adjournment will depend on the amount of business to be transacted, and the progress made with it. To convenience honorable members, particularly those from the more distant States, the Government’s intentions will be announced as early as possible.
– Yesterday I asked a question regarding the extra amount of £30,000 paid to the Public Service owing to 1932 being leap year. I now ask the Prime Minister whether extra payments on that account were made to the AuditorGeneral and heads of departments; if so, will the Government insist that such amounts be refunded?
– I understand that the payments that were made, were made legally; but I shall look into the matter.
– I ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the PostmasterGeneral, if the Government has decided to give notice of its intention to terminate the agreement with Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited, by which that company receives 3s. of each listener’s licence-fee for the use of certain allegedly valid patents?
– No decision has yet been reached, but the relations of the Commonwealth with Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited are now receiving the serious consideration of the Government.
– Country users of public telephones complain that these conveniences are frequently installed in flimsy boxes outside post offices, and that conversations conducted in them can be overheard. Will the Government consider the substitution of more substantial cabinets ?
– I shall bring that suggestion to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
Distribution of Surplus Military. Clothing
– Having regard to the inadequacy of the clothing and boots made available bythe Defence Department to the Salvation Army and other organizations for distribution to the unemployed, and the fact that many people are without boots,will the Prime Minister consider the desirability of making a more generous distribution of military boots to those in need of them?
– I am not in a position to know to what extent the honorable member’s request can be complied with. He and other honorable members have asked questions of the Assistant Minister for Defence, who has furnished them with the facts. I suggest that they should be satisfied with the information they have received.
-Some time ago the Minister for Trade and Customs promised that the Tariff Board would inquire into allegations of restraint of trade in the iron and steel industry. I now ask him when the inquiry will be begun, and whether sufficient notice of it will be given to the public, so that other instances of restraint of trade, particularly in connexion with galvanized iron, may be brought before the Tariff Board ?
– The board is at the present time inquiring into galvanized iron. I shall obtain further information for the honorable member in regard to the matters he has mentioned.
– Is it not a fact that more inquiries have been made into the galvanized iron industry than into any other in the Commonwealth?
– I do not know.
– Will the Prime Minister obtain, and lay on the table of the Library, the file of paper’s relating to the employment some years ago of Mr. Jock Garden in the Defence Department, his suspension and subsequent dismissal?
– I shall look into the matter. If such papers exist, they will be made available.
– I have received a number of communications from educational institutions and booksellers, urging that the primage duty on books should be removed, and in view of the persistent attempts for the abolition, of the duty made when they were in Opposition by those who are now members of the Government or their supporters, I shall be glad to know if the Prime Minister can indicate when this will be done?
– The difficulties which confront us at the moment are at least as great as those which prevented the Government of which the honorable member was a member from doing what he asks shall now be done; but the primage duty and sales tax on educational works are under consideration.
– In view of the general public interest on the subject, can the Minister for External Affairs give the House any information concerning the present relations between China and Japan?
– It is reported in this morning’s issue of the Canberra Times that a truce has been signed for the cessation of hostilities between China and Japan. I sincerely trust that the report is correct. We have not yet received official confirmation of the newspaper statement, but our information indicated that a truce was imminent. Hitherto, there has been merely a cessation of hostili ties by mutual consent. A definite truce will enable negotiations to proceed for the final settlement of the dispute and the arrangement of a peace. The improvement of the relations between the disputants is, I think, due in no small measure to the resolution adopted by the Assembly of the League of Nations on the 30th April, urging that a conclusion should be arrived at as soon as possible.
-The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) has asked a series of questions, upon notice, regarding the buffalo fly pest. Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Tenders for Purchase
– Information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished at an early date, in reply to a question, upon notice, by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) regarding tenders received for the purchase of the Newnes shale oil plant and mine.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has asked a series of questions regarding unemployment relief in the Northern Territory and the Federal Capital Territory. The information is being obtained, and will be conveyed to the honorable member as soon as possible.
Discount on Treasury-Bills.
– Information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible, in reply to a question, upon notice, asked by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) regarding discount on treasury-bills issued by the Commonwealth on behalf of the State of New South Wales.
The following paper was presented: -
Defence Act - Royal Military College of Australia - Report for period 1st January, 1931, to 31st December, 1931.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911-1931.
Debate resumed from the 5th May (vide page 445), on motion by Mr. Lyons -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– After listening to the debate last evening, it is somewhat difficult, in the cold light of this early morning session, to approach the consideration of this bill in that spirit which should characterize the discussion of a subject of such national importance. I could not help thinking, sir, when you took your place in the chair this morning and surveyed honorable members opposite before proceeding to read prayers, that you felt that there was urgent need to pray for the good of the country, because their attitude last evening was entirely inconsistent with that of men who might be assumed to have at. heart the welfare of the Commonwealth. Throughout the debate yesterday their one purpose seemed to be to make political capital out of the unhappy plight of our people. Apparently, they would have the country believe that actually they have sponsored this measure and should be credited with all the benefits that may flow from it. In the present crisis one should hope to adapt Macaulay’s wellknown lines -
Then none were for the party;
Then all were for the State; that “none is for a party; allare for Australia.” But as I have stated, honorable members opposite have, up tothe present, been mainly concerned with making political capital out of the Government’s proposals. Yet we have only to recall recent events, to realize how unsubstantial are their . claims and uncertain their promises. A year or two ago their responsible leaders undertook, forthwith, to open the coal mines of New South Wales and, within a certain time, to solve the whole of ourunemployment difficulties. They had that opportunity when they were returned to power, but they fell clown on the job, and finally, when they were forced to the country, the people, in their wisdom, returned the party now in power. But there have been some changes in the ranks of honorable members opposite. We now have in this chamber a minority Opposition party which makes up with noise what it lacks in principle, but we may thank God that the House has still some sense of humour, and so does not take the semi-Opposition very seriously.
In the discussion of this bill it is impossible to avoid some reference to the effect on industry generally of tariff legislation, of industrial leadership and the awards of arbitration tribunals. Since all these are indissolubly linked with the problem, it is desirable to give reasonable latitude to honorable members, and to rely upon their good sense to approach the consideration of this important subject on fairly broad general lines. The Government must be given full credit for having brought down proposals which, while they may be regarded as palliatives to meet an urgent and difficult situation, will, at all events, give some definite relief. The amount provided for the relief of unemployment is relatively small, having regard to the magnitude of the need, but I suggest that we must look to private industry rather than to governments for the complete solution of the problem. One cannot, of course, avoid passing reference to the conditions that exist in the various States and particularly New South Wales, which has been suffering from wha’t may, to use a pun, be described as “ a blight of Lang duration “. Unfortunately, hitherto there has been altogether too much interference by governments in business activities, especially in New South Wales. Because of the attitude of the Government in that State towards industry generally, there has been an alarming flight of capital to other States, business enterprise has been stifled, and the progress of the State checked. Unfortunately, the effects of its pernicious policy are felt also in the other States._ In the task that lies ahead, all who desire the rehabilitation of industry must face the issues squarely. We should not hesitate to include “in this examination the effect on industry of trade union leadership and, if necessary, the part which awards .of arbitration, courts may play in the solution of our problem. We should not overlook, also, the effect of unemployment insurance..
– May we take it that the honorable member is opposed to the Lang plan?
– I should have thought that question unnecessary. The honorable member himself has, from time to time, “ suggested “ his opposition to the Lang plan, but his attitude, as indicated in. the division list, is not always clearly defined. To placate certain of his supporters he may be found, on occasions, among those to the right of the Chair, voting against the Lang plan;, on others, again to placate certain of his constituents, he may be seen on the left of the Chair, voting with the Lang party in this House.
– Does the honorable member suggest that to advocate the destruction of trade unionism is constructive criticism?
– I do not suggest the destruction of sane unionism; I fully appreciate its value to the community. But I do assert that insane unionism, because it is a curse to any country, should be dealt with firmly; the time has come to effectively stamp it out. There was a time when employers and employees - a time when the latter were led by sane unionism - were able to compose their differences, thus enabling industry to be carried on with some degree of continuity, but latterly the intrusion of the extreme element in. trade unionism has split the movement asunder. The definite object of this extreme element appears to be to drive a wedge between the people and, by sectional legislation, to create an atmosphere of hostility between employers and employees which can only result in even, more unemployment and greater misery among the people. I can give concrete instances of the manner in which trade unionism in New South Wales is now operating. Let me give one instance : Some time ago, an agitation was begun by union officials for preference to “ white workers “ who belonged to a union. Union officials took advantage of the depression and consequent unemployment to approach the court and ask that a State award that had been discarded in favour of a federal award should again be brought into operation. The federal award provided a basic rate of £1 19s. a week, whereas the State basic rate was £2 8s. a week. One might have imagined that the object of the union was to obtain for these girls the higher wage of £2 8s. As a matter of fact, however, these workers were engaged, for the most part, on piece work, and had refused from time to time to join up with the union, because they could see no advantage in belonging to an organization, which was run by a minority. The union officials played on the cupidity of the manufacturers to induce them to force their employees to join the union. Because of the industrial conditions obtaining in New South Wales, many employers saw their trade being taken from them by manufacturers in Victoria and elsewhere. Consequently, some of them whose ideals were not the highest, compelled their workers to join the federal union, and accept the lower rate of wages.
This problem of unemployment is not peculiar to Australia; it is world wide, and the only way in which it can be overcome is to bring the representatives of capital and labour together in conference, let them get their legs under the table, and discuss their differences as reasonable men. We know that unemployment is growing apace. The introduction of improved machinery is rapidly displacing workers, and the men put out are not being absorbed elsewhere. Some time ago I went through a large factory in which 50 or 60 persons used to be employed in packing. A machine, which cost several thousand pounds was installed, and this, with the assistance of only a mechanic and a girl, did the packing which previously furnished employment for a large number of persons. The installation of the machine may conceivably have resulted in slightly cheapening the cost of the articles packed, but the workers were thrown out of employment, and became a burden on the community. With the introduction of improved labour-saving machinery, unemployment must increase unless capital and labour are able to come to some understanding for the solution of the problem. The two parties must be prepared to give and take in the interests of the community as a whole.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) are unable to see any harmony between the primary and secondary industries in this country. I agree that, at the present time, no harmony exists. There is” a lack of harmony, not only between capital and labour, but also between capitalists themselves, as represented by primary and secondary producers. It is a shame that we should have in this country men of such narrow outlook that, for purely sectional advantages, they are prepared to maintain a condition -amounting practically to hostility between various groups of society. In this time of crisis we should forget that we belong to the Labour party, Country party, United Australia party, or any other party, and unite for the purpose of solving the problems with which we are confronted.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. McNicoll) said that one of the difficulties at this time was providing for those who are not only unemployed, but unemployable. The honorable member was affected by his experience with these men, as, indeed, any one with normal feelings would be. There is, however, a much greater problem even than that of the unemployable members of society, and that is how to find work for the young people who are now growing up. Because of the depression and general disorganization of business, no place can be found in industry for these youths, with the result that they are growing up without trades or industrial training of any kind. This should be the concern both of labour organizations and of capitalists,, because what is happening now will react to the detriment of industry for half a century. Thiscondition of affairs obtains because of the lack of vision of the socalled leaders of labour and leaders of industry.
The prevalence of unemployment throughout the world is reflected in the struggle for markets. It has led to a certain bitterness even within the Commonwealth itself, in which at least one State, by means of a trade marks act, has sought to check the free flow of trade across its borders. Moreover, as a result of high protective tariffs, definite illfeeling has been created between one country and another. It will probably be necessary at some time in the future to hold a world conference on economic matters, somewhat similar to the conference on armaments now being held at Geneva. The trade war, which finds its expression in high tariffs, can be just as harmful to the community as the form of war against which the conference at Geneva is seeking to safeguard the world. I can see in the Ottawa conference what ought to prove to be a temporary solution, at any rate, of our economic problems. If Australia, and the other countries within the Empire, are represented at that conference by men of vision, it should be possible to evolve a working plan for the benefit of all. Great Britain is the greatest market in the world, and that market offers almost unlimited scope for the expansion of Australia’s primary industries. Every pound’s worth of goods which we can sell in Great Britain represents a pound of real money coming into Australia. Great Britain’s average annual purchases of foodstuffs and materials for the years between 1925 and 1928 were as follows : - Goods produced within the Empire, £121,000,000; foreign goods, £219,000,000; foodstuffs alone were valued at £314,000,000. I have quoted the figures for average years, because they give a better idea of the market than figures for years of abnormal prosperity or abnormal depression would give. In 1031, Great Britain imported £34,000,000 worth of foodstuffs from Russia.
– The honorable member must connect his remarks with the bill.
– I am trying to show that if we could come to a common sense arrangement with Great Britain for the development of our market in that country, so great a stimulus would be given to industry in. Australia, both primary and secondary, that a great step would be taken towards solving the unemployment problem. Great Britain has already indicated that she is willing to treat with us on the subject. She has asked us to give her a fair share of tlie import trade we now do with the United States of America and other foreign countries. It ought to be possible to convince those Australian manufacturers who are engaged in uneconomic industries that it would be better to abandon their undertakings and allow us to import from Great Britain the goods they are producing. It would be better for Australia if these uneconomic industries, which have been built up behind high tariff walls, were discontinued.
Several honorable members who have referred to the employment councils have suggested what they ought to do in the constituencies which those honorable members represent. , The employment councils should concern themselves with national undertakings, not with parochial matters in the electorate of Reid, or else-, where.
– Does not the honorable member think that the municipal councils in the Reid electorate are of national importance ?
– They may have to undertake certain works that are of national importance. But a distinction must be drawn between such works and other tinpot proposals that are made purely with the object of gaining a political advantage for the honorable member by furthering his personal desires.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) last night put his finger on the pulse of this matter when he stressed the development of the country. He proved himself to be possessed of a vision far different from, that of his confreres on the other side of the House. He outlined proposals of national importance, which it would be well for the Government to consider in the spirit in which they were brought forward. Unless we develop this country and, by giving franchises, attract private capital to our shores, at the same time refraining from the passage of legislation that results in stifling and strangling those particular interests, we cannot hope to find a solution of this problem. If we allow those interests to develop this country, more work, naturally, will be provided, and those whom my honorable friends opposite represent will have greater enjoyment of the good things of life, which it is the duty of every man to endeavour to obtain. This question should not be viewed from a party stand-point. Honorable members are expected to bring forward constructive ideas, and should repress their desire to obtain political kudos. If that conduct be followed something constructive will emerge that will benefit the community as a whole. I have very much pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- Even if, as the last speaker suggested, the tone of the debate yesterday was not all that it might have been, it was certainly somewhat lowered by him this morning.. I have not heard an honorable member on either side of the House oppose the measure. I believe we are unanimous in the view that it must be passed. But surely we are entitled to exchange ideas as to the best means of utilizing the money that is to be made available, and of obtaining the best results from its expenditure.
A casual survey of the history of the efforts that are now being made, and that have been made during the last two or three years all over the world, in the direction of a revival of trade, should prove to every honorable member that private enterprise cannot succeed without the assistance of governments.
While supporting the measure, I am disappointed at the puny nature of the proposal. I qualify that by saying that I am hopeful that this is only the initiation of a systematic plan that the Government has in contemplation. If that be so, we can hope for a noticeable revival in our industries by the end of this year. It is not correct to say that the States are to be assisted to the. extent of £3,000,000, because half of that sum is to be provided by. the States. That is the amount which they would have expended had the Commonwealth not come to their rescue. Consequently, the advantages are not so great as one would anticipate from an examination of the proposal on paper. We, doubtless, all agree that the £15,000,000 or £16,000,000 that is now expended on sustenance is more’ or less wasted, in that, beyond providing for the immediate needs of the workless, it returns no material gain.
– Is not that figure exaggerated ?
– No. Yesterday, an honorable member opposite admitted that it had reached £15,000,000. Some months ago that was the point which had been reached, and I know that the majority of the States have since been spending a good deal more. The expenditure on sustenance should be diverted to reproductive works. If the Commonwealth confines its assistance to the amount provided by this bill, the effect will not be noticeable; but if a scientific and systematic plan is evolved to cover monthly grants over a period of one year, I am quite certain’ that it will give the stimulus that is necessary if private enterprise is to absorb many of the unemployed.
I am disappointed that, even after the experience of the last two or three years, the ideas of honorable members who support the Government have not changed one iota. We may differ in regard to economic theories, and may have been trained in different sociological schools, but the experience of the last two or three years should have tested those theories and left some impression on their minds. Let us forget our particular theoretical beliefs, and consider what has happened all over the world. The greatest brains have been concentrating on this particular problem, and every effort has been made to cope with it. Some of the arguments that have been freely used for several years have proved entirely fallacious. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) and the honorable member for Denison. (Mr. Hutchin), in very able speeches yesterday, asserted that the one thing necessary was to reduce wages and other costs still further, so as to make it possible for us to compete in the markets of the world. That is not borne out by the reports of the experts throughout the world who have been handling the subject within recent years. The statistics show that the output of primary production in Australia last season, and in that which preceded it, was the greatest in our history. Therefore, we are not suffering on account of an inability to produce sufficient wheat, wool and other primary products. The statistics also show that during the period referred to, the cost of that production was lower than it had been during the last two decades. The Statistician says that the efficiency of the individual worker has been greater, because of the economic pressure caused by the depression. That, of course, is logical. When a worker obtains employment, he puts forth his best efforts, because he knows that there are many others available and willing to fill his place. Professor Giblin says that it is quite evident that during the last two years the efficiency of the individual worker has increased by from 10 per cent, to 12 per cent. In a communication dated the 14th March last, he makes the following statement: -
It maj’ be reckoned that the fall in wage rates, as measured by’ the index of actual wages, lias been about 11 per cent, from the peak at the end of 1929 to 30th September, 1931 (last figures available). For these industries
He had previously mentioned several big industries - the fall in the cost of raw material is difficult to estimate, varying very much from one industry to another, but it may be guessed very roughly at 15 per cent. The fall in interest charges in accordance with the Premiers Plan is on the average 15 per cent. These three - wages, raw material and interest together, almost certainly average less than 15 per cent. - probably about 12-J per cent.
In another paragraph, he says -
On the other hand, there has been a considerable increase in individual efficiency of workers under economic pressure.
Therefore, the factors that have been said to be responsible for the depression do not now exist. Speaking generally, those that affect costs have altered to a greater extent than honorable members two years ago anticipated would be the case. At that time, honorable members of the Country party, quite honestly, and honorable members of other parties,, argued that if the growth of the unemployment figures was to be checked, it was necessary to bring down the costs of production. The costs of labour and material have decreased, the efficiency of the worker has risen, and the output of the primary-producing industries has been greater than ever before. Yet unemployment continues to grow, and the primary producers in certain of our agricultural industries have been working almost at a loss.’
– Almost wholly at a loss.
– Generally speaking, the position may be stated in that way. But it is ridiculous for one who has any knowledge of land values to speak in a general way of the wheatfarmers. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) knows much better than I dp that those wheat-growers who bought land many years ago at one-third of the price that has been asked for it within recent years, are doing very well.
– The honorable member should not have supported the wheat bounty.
– It was during the debate on the wheat bounty that I obtained this information; but none of us could conceive a scheme for isolating the few who were in that fortunate position from the majority who were not. I supported the wheat bounty because it aimed at the greatest good for the greatest number and because I knew that the growers generally were in. need of it, and that it was advisable that the people of Australia should help them to continue producing.
– The bounty should have been on an acreage basis.
– That might have been arranged, but apparently not one of us had the brains to overcome the anomalies that were in the way of such a scheme. It is not true to assert that the reason for our present position is that costs of production are too high. I have here the report of the sixteenth session of the International Labour Conference at Geneva, which was composed of representatives of all the leading nations of the world and dealt with the unemployment problem. It is significant to note that, since the fifteenth session of that same conference, in 1930, many of the great capitalistic leaders have abandoned the idea that it is necessary to reduce wages to regain financial stability; For the first time in history those people have conceived the idea that the workers of the world, who represent the greatest consuming unit in the community, are not only absolutely needed to produce commodities, but are equally needed to consume that which they produce. The extract reads -
A policy of wage reductions appears to the Office to he doomed to failure a3 far as international competition is concerned. Once the race towards poverty has begun, there is no end to it. Impossible as it may sometimes seem that there should be further reductions in a country which has a low standard of conditions of labour, this may still bc decided on in case of necessity produced by reductions in a neighbouring country.
Obviously, the policy of reducing wages is wrong. It was termed by that conference “ chasing the vicious circle that leads to poverty “. It is now generally admitted that the only way to restore confidence and stimulate trade is not to continue to press down wages, but to begin to make them ascend.
It will be remembered that the report that was issued last year by the experts who advise the Premiers Conference stressed the necessity to reduce wages and everything else. The experts declared that if all loyally did that, confidence would be restored, trade stimulated, and our unemployed gradually replaced in work. After eight or nine months’ experience that opinion has proved fallacious, and everything has gone just contrary to what was predicted by the economic experts, and now even Professor Gregory has abandoned that idea. Mr. Holman. - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) informed the House yesterday that the recommendation to lower wages was not adopted by the Premiers Conference over which he presided.
– This Government refused to countenance a reduction of 10 per cent, in connexion with those on the basic wage. Although that reduction has been consistently recommended by the experts, it has not to my knowledge been approved at any Premiers Conference. The fact remains that, whoever created the necessary psychology, the Arbitration Court reduced wages by 10 per cent., and other tribunals followed its example.
-r- Does the honorable member suggest that an all-round increase in wages would stimulate industry?
– It certainly would, but I do not suggest that expedient at the moment. I urge that we should in some systematic way provide the necessary credit, per medium of the Commonwealth Bank, to enable us to make a grant like this every month, for a year. That would give the community’” added purchasing power, bring about a demand for additional services, and encourage private enterprise to effect a revival of industry.
– Is that not inflation?
– It is, and the world is calling for inflation. Last year the committee of experts recommended that balanced budgets were necessary to restore confidence and bring about a business revival. The experience of the world since then has proved that theory to be wrong. It will be recollected that when we last discussed this problem the member for Corio (Mr. Casey) said that the phrase, “ creation of confidence “, had been successfully played upon during the last election, and that it had many interpretations. With that I agree. Unfortunately, the term was used by politicians - and I have no desire to be personal - to impress upon the people through the medium of the press that it meant confidence in individuals who happen to have charge of governments - in one personality against another. It was never intended that the phrase should be so interpreted. From an economic point of view, the phrase refers to the restoration of confidence in the minds of investors to encourage them to invest capital, and start undertakings. That condition can come about only from the knowledge that when commodities are produced there will be buyers to purchase them.
There have been many conferences such as the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) asked for, and for years I participated actively in them. X have sat in conference and debated these matters with Sir Hugo Hirst, Sir Arthur Duckham, and the best man that the party opposite could select.
– Did you discuss .price levels?
– We discussed every phase of the matter. It is interesting to recall that the opinions of those gentlemen coincide with those expressed by many honorable members opposite. They said, in effect, “Before the people of Australia can hope to improve the position, both employers and employees must bring clown their standards; both costs and wages must fall”. A good many people followed that advice. A few months ago, in reply to a statement by me, the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) declared that there are no living standards in Australia to-day. That is so. We have standards on paper, but notwithstanding them, scarcely any of our people are in work sufficiently long to enjoy them. I am certain that the real cause of ( our trouble’ is that we have so cut off the purchasing power of the greatest consuming unit in the country, that business has practically gone insolvent. The lesson that has been learnt is that the workers are not only necessary as producers but also as consumers.
– What has cut off that purchasing power?
– The world fall in prices and an enforced policy of deflation. When carrying on .the Great War we went to extremes in inflation. Since then “we have gone to extremes in deflation. The wise men of the World are endeavouring to secure some reasonable basis to which to return: Can. any honorable member quote one recognized economic authority in the world who urges still further deflation? Universally, the cry of our outstanding financial experts is for a degree of inflation.
– -No. They ask for economic equilibrium, which is neither deflation or inflation.
– I agree that they seek a stabilization point, but we are now 30 per cent, below what is generally regarded as stabilization point, and all advocate that, to reach that point, we must have some measure of inflation. It is only necessary to recall the last British budget. After months of argument the conclusion was arrived at that the only way that Great Britain could begin to return to an economic equilibrium was to arrest the deadly effect of falling prices, which came from deflation, and make prices ascent. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer said, “ We did not think the position was intolerable in 1928, when costs generally were 29 points higher than they now are”. No one thought then that it would be impossible to carry on. The Chancellor maintained that Britain must get back to a stabilization point. New credit- to the extent of £150,000,000 was made available to industry, to be absorbed gradually, . in order to stabilize prices at the level of 1928 or 1929. This is recognized as inflation, but sane inflation.
– What, influence would that have on the prices of exports?
– In the immediate future, export prices can scarcely be lower than they have been during the last few years, so that the position is not likely to act any worse. The primary producers of this country have made more money for themselves, and have done more to assist their country, when prices have been high than when they have been low. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) made an interesting speech, but he offered no solution of our problem. He told us what we all knew - that unemployment is prevalent, plant and machinery idle, railways in disuse, and that generally, industry is not thriving. We must do more than draw attention to these things; we must see that the wheels of industry are set in motion. There must be an infusion of new blood in industry. Valuable plant is lying idle, or is not being put to its full use, because thousands of men are out of work. The two things are interwoven.
– The honorable member suggested that an infusion of new blood into the body politic is necessary. How can that be done?
– It can be done in the form of credits released by our own Commonwealth Bank. Economists tell us that there are economic cycles; that periodically lean times come round. That is largely because the. capitalistic lea’ders of the world have re-capitalized their profits, turning them into dead capital. After the war, many small manufacturers who desired to expand their industries recapitalize( every pound of profit they had made, some of them even cutting down their domestic expenses to do so. The result has been an increase in both the size and the number pf factories; and now, when the next lean period has come round, they find themselves over-capitalized. Authorities, whom honorable members opposite once quoted against the arguments I put forward, now agree with me that wo must first revive industry. To that end government assistance is necessary. Had private enterprise been able to revive industry, it would have done so long ago.
– With a measure of assistance, private enterprise will re vive industry.
– In the House of Commons last week, it was said that a rise in world prices can come only with the revival of confidence-; that confidence can be restored .only on the basis of reborn trade; and that trade, in its turu, is the foundation of all prosperity. We must raise prices before we can create confidence; because investors are unwilling to make their money available to industry while prices are falling. Business men naturally buy in small quantities, and at a time of falling prices, only as fresh purchases become necessary. That policy has been pursued since 1929, with the result that trade and industry in all countries have been seriously affected.
– Does the honorable member believe in a policy of raising prices continually?
– No. We must aim at stabilization on an equitable basis. I believe in getting back to the 1929 levels, and by a controlled monetary system remaining there. In Great Britain and Australia it is suggested that prices should be stabilized on the 1928 or 1929 basis.
– The honorable member seems to suggest inflation by artificial means.
– I do not care whether or not it is described as artificial, so long as it is necessary. Leading economists now admit that there must be some period of inflation in order to arrest the deadly effects of deflation. I suggest that their advice is worthy of our most earnest consideration. These things are being said by economists the world over; they have been said recently at Geneva, in the British House of Commons, and, indeed, in every Parliament of the world which is facing this problem.
I hope that the Government will not stop with the granting of this measure of relief. We can expect an immediate result from the expenditure of this money, but if, after it has been spent, nothing further is done, we shall not have accomplished anything worth while; it will have been almost as useless as throwing the money away. Unless this step is supplemented by further action, private enterprise will not be able to revive industry. I suggest that the Government should’ proceed according to a plan covering a period of, say, a year, and that every month or six weeks the position be examined, in order that the best results may be obtained from the expenditure of the money. It is worth noting that the £150,000,000 to be expended in Great Britain will be spent on non-competitive works thus creating an added wage fund which will make a demand for goods and so result in a stimulation of private enterprise.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) spoke of the difficulties facing the primary producers of this country. For two or three years certain sections of our primary producers have faced great difficulties; but two sections of them - I refer to the dairy-farmers and the sugar-growers - have had no cause for complaint.
Statistics show that wage-earners and salaried employees comprise 80 per cent, of our population. Consequently they are the greatest consuming unit in the community, and, therefore, it is easy to understand that difficulties must necessarily arise when their income is cut practically in half. Since more than half of the agricultural products of Australia are consumed by Australians, we must endeavour to build up the purchasing power of those who comprise 80 per cent, of the home market. If wage-earners and salaried employees are out of employment to any considerable extent, we cannot expect our manufactories or our primary industries to prosper. At present 400,000 men and their dependants have no purchasing power ; others are only- partially employed; while the’ remainder who have had constant employment have had their spending power considerably reduced. These things have caused our factories to be idle, or working only part time, although overhead costs have remained almost as before. I favour a scientific form of inflation, in order to overcome the evils of deflation, and to make it possible for industry to revive. I hope, therefore, that some form of assistance will be provided from time to time. I shall vote for the motion, because anything which will assist those who are unemployed is acceptable to me. I trust that the results of this grant will be watched carefully, and that further grants will be made from time to time, in order that industry may revive, confidence be created, and our people again find full employment.
.- After having waited patiently for many months for the Government to fulfil its election promises that jobs would be found for everybody, the people of Australia will be bitterly disappointed at the proposals which we are how considering. The £1,800,000 which it is proposed to make available is utterly inadequate to meet the situation. It Wl 1 1 not provide regular employment for even a considerable fraction of our unemployed. The proposal is ridiculous as any kind of solution of our unemployed problem. Even the supporters of the Government in this House have said that this amount of money is like a drop in the ocean, and they have confessed to bitter disappointment that “ the Government has not done more than it is proposing to do. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) expressed regret that honorable members generally had not approached the discussion of this subject in an impartial spirit; but if he reads the Prime
Minister’s speech in introducing this bill, he will discover that that honorable gentleman showed a more bitter partisanship than any other honorable member who has participated in the debate. The Prime Minister could not resist the temptation to attack the Government of New South “Wales. Doubtless he did so in an endeavour to deceive the people of New South Wales, and to cover up the action of his Government in discriminating between them and the people of the other States. The Prime Minister said that the amount proposed to be voted was not greater than £1,800,000, because of the failure of the Premiers Conference successfully to deal with the problem of unemployment, but he did not say why the conference had failed in this respect. When an interjection was made during his speech, the honorable gentleman did not have the courage to say that the conference had declined to accept the proposal of the Commonwealth Government, because it was not willing to conform to the wages conditions which would attach to it. Although the honorable gentleman condemned the conference for refusing to accept the scheme of wage slavery which he submitted to it, he himself has been too afraid of the results that might follow to incorporate in this bill the wage conditions which will apply to the expenditureof this money. According to the Sydney Sun of the 14th April, the honorable gentleman said -
The participation of New South Wales in the £10,000,000 loan, which the Commonwealth will provide for works to absorb the unemployed, is dependent on Mr. Lang falling in line with the other States in observing the Premiers plan.
The honorable gentleman also said that -
The Commonwealth has received an assurance from the banks, that this money will be available, provided the plan is observed.
Yet we find that £1,800,000 of the money is being made available without any conditions being made as to the observance of the Premiers plan. The Prime Minister stated that he regarded the 10 per cent. reduction in “ real “ wages below the 1928 level as a minimum, and also looks upon the raising of the exchange rates as an essential part of the Economists plan. [Quorum formed.] The honorable gentleman’s speech in introducing this bill was undoubtedly designed to be a political offset against the failure of the Government to makeany adequate provision for assisting the unemployed of New South Wales’, for he realized the political effects of this proposal, which discriminates so adversely against, not the Government, but the people of New South Wales. He said that it would be absurdto go on the loan market for money with the New South Wales Government a party to the proposition, but I remind him that some months ago the New South Wales Government was prepared to put in hand very large public works in that State, on which the expenditure of £8,000,000 was contemplated, and that it could have raised the money without the assistance of the banks, or of the Loan Council.
– That money would have been spent in the city.
– I sympathize with the unemployed, irrespective of whether they live in the city or the country. When the proposal to which I have referred was made, the Loan Council placed obstacles in the way of its adoption. Surely honorable members realize that every loan that is raised must be backed by some security. If this proposed £1,800,000 loan is put on the market, it will be backed by the assets of New South Wales, as well as by those of other States. It is impossible to borrow money unless assets are offered as security. Even if honorable members opposite are not prepared to accept that statement, they must admit that the money which is to be borrowed is to be repaid out of revenue, and I remind them that two-fifths of the revenue of Australia comes from the people of New South Wales. It is apparent, therefore, that the people of that State will have tocontribute more than their fair share of the money necessary to repay this loan.
– When will they start repaying ?
Mr.ROSEVEAR. - This is money which the Commonwealth will raise, but the people of New South Wales will have to provide their quota of the repayments in the shape of Commonwealth taxation. Any one who takes an impartial view of the proposal to discriminate against the people of New South Wales must regard it as absolutely unfair, seeing that the people of that State will have to provide their proportion of the repayments.
Some honorable members opposite have said that it would be a step in the light direction if the money being spent in providing doles were applied to the construction of useful public works. The New South Wales Government has adopted that practice. I pointed out last night that local governing bodies and semipublic institutions, which will be affected by the resolutions which were then agreed to, that further New South Wales revenues should be attached, had provided work from loan money granted by the Government from unemployed relief funds. But the position throughout Australia is such that no government can now obtain sufficient money to provide work instead of the dole for all those who need assistance.
– The Queensland Government does it.
– The honorable member, and” the party to which he belongs, may be satisfied with the conditions under which the Queensland Government is compelling the unfortunate unemployed people to work ; but no selfrespecting member, and no party with any regard for humanity, could be satisfied with them. The wage rates for relief workers in Queensland, to which the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) referred last night, were disgraceful.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), and the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) suggested that, instead of spending money on doles, the various governments should make it available to farmers free of interest. The honorable member for Calare suggested that £4,000,000 of the £12,000,000 at present being spent annually in Australia on doles should be given to the farmers on loan, free of interest.
– Provided that the whole’ of it were spent on wages.
– I give the honorable member, that in.
– And provided, also, that it were refunded, so that it could be used again.
– I also give that in. But still the need would not be met.
– It would provide work for 50,000 people.
– But at present that £4,000,000 provides sustenance for 140,000 workers. What would become of the 90,000 who would be left unprovided for if the £4,000,000 were given to the farmers? The 50,000 and the 140,000 refer to workers only, andnot to their dependants. The 90,000 and their’ dependants would still need sustenance, and there would be no money to provide it. What is to become of the difference between the 50,000 who would be provided with employment and the 140,000 now receiving sustenance who would get nothing under the honorable member’s scheme.
Some honorable members opposite have suggested a loan of £4,000,000 to the farmers, whom they claim are in a position to borrow that amount and to repay it, but not to pay interest on it. That is what we have been preaching for the last fifteen months. It is not that persons are unable or unwilling to borrow money to provide employment, or that they are unable to repay the principal. Those prepared to use capital for rehabilitating industry are unable to pay the interest. We have contended all along that it is’ the burden of interest that is crushing the community. The payment of interest is the main burden not only of the farmer, but of every one engaged in industry. Honorable members opposite who will not admit. ‘ that interest charges are destroying industry, are the first to suggest ‘the raising’ of loans free of interest, to relieve the conditions brought about by the exorbitant interest charges being levied to-day.
– The whole of the Country party advocate loans free of interest.
Mr.ROSEVEAR. - Exactly. No selfrespecting man wants to receive the dole. A man wants work; but how is it to be provided? When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) suggested that employment could be made available by an extension of credits, an honorable member opposite interjected “ How much ?” During the war periodhuge loans were raised, and credits were extended. Nobody questioned the limit to which credit should be extended. When that section which strongly advocateda compaign of destruction was asked the limit to which credits should be extended, they replied that they required sufficient to ensure the successful prosecution of the war.
– That brought us into our present mess, and now the honorable member and those with whom he is associated advocate further inflation.
– During the war period it was not a question of what the nation could afford, or what assets it possessed as a security for the credit it obtained. The Government sought and obtained sufficient to ensure the successful prosecution of the war. When, now, we are asked what extension of credit is necessary to revive industry, we answer in an equally vague way: “Sufficient to carry on the fight to ensure the recovery of the people of this country.”
– We contend that we have had too much inflation, and we cannot stand another dose.
– It has’ been suggested by some honorable members opposite that interest-free loans should be made available to those engaged in private enterprise. A few days ago the same members trembled at the thought of broadcasting being brought under government control. They contend that government control destroys everything, and that industry can be carried on successfully only by private enterprise. Private enterprise is desirable, I suppose, when those engaged in it can show profits, but during periods of depression some honorable members opposite suggest that private enterprise should be subsidized from the amount which the Government propose to provide to relieve unemployment. We now find that private enterprise cannot keep the wheels of industry’ in motion, and provide work for the people. It is incapable of doing what its most ardent supporters contended that it could do. Its supporters now suggest that it should be subsidized out of public funds, in order that it may carry on. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) said that it is a sounder policy to impose taxation than to borrow. I quite agree with that contention. It is always a sounder and cheaper policy to tax than to borrow but there is a limit beyond which a government cannot go in the matter of taxation. Can the people stand addi tional taxation?
– We have reached the limit.
– I agree with the honorable member. Additional taxation would be injurious; it would not provide any benefit.
– The honorable member does not believe in additional taxation or borrowing, but the creation of money..
– Where did we obtain money during the war? If inflation was desirable during the war, it should be goodpolicy now. If money can be provided for purposes of destruction, surely it can be made available for construction.
– There is a limit to the creation of money.
-In reply to the honorable member and to the arguments advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Country party, that it is better to tax the people than to borrow, because the payment of interest is avoided; I may say that the burden of interest payments is such that taxation to meet it has been increased to a limit beyond which we cannot go. I presume that that is the reason why the honorable member for Gippsland suggested that we should use money which to-day is being taken from the community in the form of taxation to provide employment by making loans to the farmers free of interest. That is a good suggestion from the farmers’ view-point; but I doubt whether those who are at present unemployed would support it. The honorable member for Gippsland also compared the reduction of wages with the reduction of the interest paid to bondholders. He went to a good deal of trouble to show that the interest paid to bondholders had been reduced to a greater degree than wages. That may be so, but let me remind the honorable member of the fact that bonds always provide a regular return. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) said that 60 bushels of wheat were once equivalent to a certain amount of interest, but that it now takes 180 bushels to make the same payment. The suggestion was that while a bondholder received afixed r ate of interest a farmer was not in such a fortunate position. Those in receipt of interest from bonds are three times better off to-day than they were a short time ago. Wages certainly have been reduced, and as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has said, reduction of wages means reduction of the purchasing power of” the community, which is followed by reduced consumption. Purchasing power has been reduced by the reduction of wages, and this has brought about additional unemployment.
– There has been no real r eduction in wages.
– The honorable member may argue in that way; but if he had worked for wages as I have, he would realize that notwithstanding what economists contend there has been a real reduction. A reduction in commodity prices is always in favour of the bondholder, who has a fixed security, and a reduction in costs increases the value of his securities. The reduction of wages brings about unemployment. Has the community benefited by the recent reduction in wages? The wages of thousands have been reduced, and yet there are hundreds of thousands who are now not receiving any wages at all.
I next wish to discuss the manner in which it is proposed to spend the money to be appropriated under this bill. I am not concerned with the position in the other States; I shall deal more particularly with that in New South Wales. A committee, to consist of from five to seven members, who will offer their services voluntarily, is to be appointed by the Government. Could, say, five nominees of the Government, no matter who they may be or what qualifications they may possess, handle the distribution of the money to be spent in New South Wales? It has been said that the amount to be provided will be used to the best advantage, and that as much as possible is to be spent in wages rather than on material. I think we are all agreed on those points. But the proposed committee, however good its intentions or however competent its members may be, will have to study the requirements of the whole of New South Wales, and it is humanly impossible for any committee to decide the national importance of proposed works in all parts of New South
Wales. It is equally impossible for the committee, operating as it will do from Sydney, to determine whether the bulk of the money required for all these works should be spent on wages. Such a committee cannot discriminate between the requirements of different parts of the State, and determine which should receive prior consideration. Could any five honorablemembers of this House who are not resident in New South equitably distribute £600,000 in providing employment in that State? Could they distribute the money to the best advantage, as suggested by the Prime Minister? Could any such committee, consisting of men who probably have never handled the allocation of governmental or semigovernmental work, satisfactorily give effect to this policy when so large an area is involved ? The committee will not be conversant with local conditions or the nature of the work to be undertaken. Can it determine whether a workis of a national character and likely to be reproductive ?
– Does the honorable member object to the allocation of money to New South Wales ?
– Not at all; but I am pointing out the utter impossibility of any committee, the members of which have no knowledge of public works, trying to discriminate between the claims of one municipality and another, and between one class of work and another.
– That objection would apply to the other States as well.
– I am concerned more about New South Wales - a State with which I am familiar. The officers of the Public Works Department of New South Wales know the requirements in respect of public works throughout that State. They probably know of works which are half completed, and which could be completed by the expenditure of half of this money.
– They will be able to put those propositions before the committee.
– There is no guarantee that they would be accepted. What I complain about is the discrimination exercised under this bill against one State in favour of another, when the whole of the people of Australia will ultimately be called upon to foot the bill. I suggest that the whole of the money allocated to New South Wales should be handed over to the State Works Department, to ensure that it will he expended on reproductive works. No committee would be in a position to know all the facts that are at the disposal of the State department.
– We have had experience of the methods of the Government of New South Wales.
– Methods count for nothing. The State Government is not the only government that has employed bad methods, and I can give a few instances of questionable methods on the part of this Government.
– What about the legislation which the .State Government has introduced to force men into one union?
– The honorable member is taking a narrow and parochial view of the problem of unemployment.
– I want the people, not
Only of New South Wales, but of the rest of Australia, to have a share in this relief expenditure.
– There are about 400 shires and municipalities in New South Wales, and, if they share in the allocation to that State, they will receive about £1,500 each, but the distribution of the money in that way would not accord with the statement of the Prime Minister that it should be expended to the best advantage. This money should be placed in the hands of a responsible and experienced, authority, to ensure that it will be expended on reproductive works.
– Would the honorable member approve of non-unionists being given employment under this scheme?
– When it is a question of providing work or food for the unemployed, and allowing them to starve, I do not discriminate between one man and another. I do not discriminate between returned soldiers and other men when they are hungry. because, to -me, one man feels the pangs of hunger as much as another. The Government of New South Wales has had some experience of distributing loan moneys. At one time it was decided to give the municipalities an opportunity to obtain grants from the unemployment fund, so that the expenditure could be spread equitably over the whole of the State ; but it was found that some of the civic fathers were more concerned about lifting the burden of rates from the landlords than about providing work for the unemployed. Some of the municipalities, acting in the belief that they were to get money for nothing from the Government, reduced their rates so as to save to the ratepayers a sum equivalent to what’ they had received from the Government. If this money is to be given to the municipalities, I should like some guarantee that, they will not reduce their rates accordingly. This money is to be used for the purpose of giving greater relief to the unemployed, and, therefore, the expenditure should be carefully checked. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Dein) -has supported this Government in its efforts to deal with the Government of New South Wales for having defaulted; but last night he put forward the plausible plea that because certain municipalities were in a desperate position on account of some of their ratepayers defaulting, we should subsidize them to make up for the default of their ratepayers. Surely that is a remarkable proposal from an honorable member who is prepared to persecute the Lang Government for its default.
– I want the workless to be re-employed. Does not the honorable member agree with that?
– The Country party has asked for special assistance for the farmers. It might be a good idea for farmers who are in a desperate plight to obtain money from the relief fund, but what guarantee have we that they would spend the money to the best advantage?
– That is the function of the unemployment council.
– How could a council sitting in Sydney decide what works were necessary, and if works were put in hand, how could it supervise them to ensure that they would be reproductive? How could it ensure that the farmers in receipt of a portion of the grant would spend the money in wages and not in materials? We cannot deny that the people of New South Wales will be called upon to repay these moneys, because they must be repaid from federal revenue. After comparing the revenue derived from each State by the Commonwealth it cannot be said by any stretch of the imagination that the unemployed of New South Wales are to get an adequate share of the money proposed to be expended on unemployment throughout Australia. Last year the Commonwealth collected the following revenue from the various States -
No matter what securities are given for the raising of this money, no matter whether the credits of New South Wales are used, the money will have to be repaid from federal revenue. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
.-I ask leave to give notice that on Tuesday next I will move for leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Financial Agreements Enforcement Acts 1932, and for other purposes.
Honorable Members. - No.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister from giving notice that on Tuesday next he would move -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Financial Agreements Enforcement Acts 1932, and for other purposes; and
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a bill for an act to amend the Financial Agreements Enforcement Acts 1932, and for other purposes, from being passed through all its stages without delay.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . 29
Sitting suspended from 12. 53 to 2.15 p.m.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I support this bill. Indeed, I should like a larger amount of money to be made available. I have a very keen appreciation of something said during the discussion of another measure in this House a little over a year ago. On that occasion the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) condemned the proposal of the then
Government to issue fiduciary notes to the amount of £18,000,000, of which £12,000,000 was to be made available for expenditure by local authorities in the various States. That proposal was no more fiduciary than the one now under consideration. I welcome the bill, however, and with others sincerely trust that the Government, as we go along, will be able to provide further sums of money for this particular purpose. No doubt expenditure in this direction is more necessary than it was a year ago. The unemployment position has become aggravated. We are told by honorable members opposite that they are earnestly desirous of bringing about a solution of our difficulties in this regard by the method now suggested. One would imagine that it is so fundamentally sound as to produce a permanent easement of the present unfortunate position. The problem, however, cannot be solved by making money available, fiduciary or otherwise, for the purpose of employing people to produce more than can be purchased. There are not a sufficient number of people in the world to-day in a position to buy all the produce that the world can produce. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) has spoken of the effect upon industry of the advent of machinery. There is no doubt as to its effect upon the mass of workers in every country. On a former occasion, quoting an American industrial magnate, I pointed out that there had been an enormous increase in the production capacity of the unit in the American industrial field. The same change has been brought about in every other part of the world. Employers find it necessary to make use of the most up-to-date machinery obtainable to reduce production costs and give them a chance of making a living. The application of modern science in every branch of industry has led to the universal displacement of labour. The question of solving the problem of unemployment is, therefore, exceedingly difficult. We are told by the representatives of the Country party who have spoken during this debate that we must bring down the cost of production. In Cuba, the greatest sugarproducing country in the world, where adult labour can be employed for lOd. a day, and juvenile and female labour for 5d. a day, dozens of mills financed by American capital are now in the hands of receivers. There i3 no earthly hope of carrying on these mills in which the American dollars have been sunk. In Java and several other countries where sugar is produced, labour costs practically nothing. As a matter of fact, for the last two years the workers engaged in the sugar industry in Cuba have been working not for wages but for rations. Yet those who are in control of the mills cannot fulfil their obligations. Wages are not a big item in the cost of production, and a reduction of wages would not relieve the world position to-day.
The Government declares that it is anxious for private enterprise to play its part in providing employment. The action it has taken in regard to the tobacco duty has given a very definite setback to the movement it asserts is necessary so far as private enterprise is concerned.
By interjection two honorable members opposite made reference this morning to the Queeusland sugar industry. If that industry was so regulated that it produced only the quantity of sugar capable of being consumed in Australia, approximately 10.000 men would be deprived of their employment, to say nothing of the loss of capital invested in the industry at the suggestion, and on the advice of practically every member of this Parliament, who has been a Prime Minister. The general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company made that declaration before an investigation board dealing with this question. One difficulty experienced in the sugar industry is common to other industries, to which an impetus has been given by suggestions made by responsible members of this Parliament. The impetus thus given has led to an increase of land values. The only people who are doing well in growing sugar cane are those who bought their land when it was cheap and have retained it ever since, or have sold it at very high prices to persons, who did not understand the British language. These latter, as time has gone on, have become naturalized, but they now find that they are only possessors of their holdings on paper; they are not yet the actual owners.
If employment is to be increased, credit must be made available. Sir Robert Home, one of the leading members of the British House of Commons recently said that, by negotiation, or some’ other means we must get back to the 1928-29 price level and make some credits available to stabilize industry. Twelve months earlier, Mr. Theodore, Treasurer of the Scullin Government, had said that we must devise some scheme to get back to the 1928-29 price levels. Sir Walter Runciman, who is a member of the British Government, has gone even further. According to a cablegram published a few clay ago, he say3 that the cancellation of all war debts and reparations needs to be seriously considered. In 1919, Mr. Lloyd George warned the House of Commons that care would have to be exercised at the completion of the war, lest the infliction of too heavy an indemnity resulted in unemployment in the countries to which Germany would be indebted. He meant that Germany would pay its indemnity in raw or manufactured materials, and that to the extent to which these goods were brought into any country to which Germany was indebted, unemployment in that country would be aggravated. The evidence of that has already been amply displayed.
Honorable members on this side of the chamber are not the only people who are saying that credit must be made available to provide for unemployment. The great industrialists of America have come bo the same conclusion. Indeed a sum of £500,000,000 has been set aside as a credit to assist the industries of the country to provide “ employment. We shall have to follow the example of America in this respect, and all the countries of the world will have to got together at a round-table conference to determine to what extent the war indebtedness, which it is impossible for the nations to carry, may be wiped out.
We appreciate the fact that unemployment is acute, but it is useless to ask employers to employ additional hands to produce more goode. Already we have too much produce to dispose of. Yesterday the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) said that our need was markets. The only way in which to get those markets is to enable people to earn wages which will put them in a position to purchase the commodities produced in this country. According to the honorable member for Wentworth, we should depend more on Great Britain. I remind the honorable member that the British investors have a tremendous sum invested in foreign countries. If the people of Great Britain can get from those countries the goods they require, at prices lower than they would have to pay for goods from Australia, they will get them. They entertain no foolish ideas about patriotism in such matters.
– That is why the Imperial Conference must dictate the foreign policy of Great Britain.
– The Imperial Conference cannot dictate the policy of organized capital. On the other hand, organized capital dictates to the Parliaments of the world. We have had very clear expositions of that within the last year in this Commonwealth. British capitalists have £500,000,000 invested in the Argentine, and they will import from the Argentine the goods they require. The Consul-General for Great Britain in the Argentine told us last year that unless Great Britain was’ prepared to trade with the Argentine there would be nothing for that country to do but repudiate its obligations. The people of Great Britain are, therefore, trading with the Argentine in the hope, that they will get back what they have invested in the industries of that country. All countries are finding the load of indebtedness too heavy to carry.
There is no great possibility of providing employment for people at the present time because of the lack of purchasing power. Yesterday, when the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) was speaking, I interjected that Australia was our producers’ best market. The honorable member said that I did not know what I was talking about.
– Not for wool, as we cannot consume more than one-tenth of the quantity we produce.
– The honorable member is correct in saying that we have to sell our surplus overseas, but local consumers are taxed to enable our producers to sell overseas sugar and wool which it does not pay to produce at the present world’s prices. I contend that the local market is the best for our produce. If the 400,000 unemployed and their dependants were in the happy position of being able to buy the goods manufactured or the commodities produced in this country to the extent that they need them, there would be a much better market for Australian products at the present time. And if that condition of affairs existed throughout the whole world, the whole position would be altered. A reduction of wages is a stupid means of bringing about industrial equilibrium. It will get us nowhere in putting our industries on a sound footing. It ‘will only crucify our industries. Although wages in Java are only one-tenth of those in Australia -10d. a day for male adults and 5d. for women and juveniles - the sugar industry there is unprofitable. Because of the continued reduction of prices and the prospect of a further fall, people will not invest their money in undertakings, or purchase on a falling market more than their requirements from day to day. They fear that if they purchase heavily to-day they may lose through goods being cheaper tomorrow.
– If the honorable member would think of wages as purchasing power . he would alter his opinion.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) gave to-day the advice I have heard for the last 30 years - that employers and employees should meet round a conference table and settle their difficulties. I was an advocate in the Arbitration Court for the Australian Workers Union.
– That is the trouble.
– The trouble is that the suggestion for round table conferences is made in a voice tinged with party spleen by a man who is cocksure that he is right. I have always endeavoured to get the parties in industrial disputes to the conference table, and when representatives of employers and employees have met in that way, better results have been obtained than from the Arbitration Court.
– That is all that I have suggested.
– The honorable member and those whom he represents are the principal obstacles to the amicable settlement of the differences between capital and labour. The Labour party has desired conciliation for many years, but it was compelled to enter the political arena because the representatives of the employers would not meet the workers in conference, but urged them to send their representatives to Parliament to assist in framing the conditions under which they should live. The Nationalist party is just as full of class bias as it was in 1891. The workers are advised to meet their employers, at the conference table, but men like the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), would say to them when they assembled in conference : “ These are our conditions; take them or leave them.”
– That is the only way we shall ever get anything done.
– I am glad that the Government has introduced this measure of relief, but I hope that it is only a first instalment. Professor Brigden, who is now a member of the Queensland Industrial Board, and whose views on economic subjects honorable members opposite were wont to quote a few months ago, has declared that £18,000,000 of credit will have to be made available. That is exactly the amount suggested by Mr. Theodore when- he was treasurer. Professor Brigden, who admits that his views may be ahead of public opinion, does not care from what source the money comes, but states that the banks have more money now than at any other time in their history, and that the Government should compel them to make credits available to alleviate the awful distress that is daily increasing. I believe that he is right. A long article by him appeared in the Brisbane Daily Mail of the 23rd April, and I advise honorable members to read it. Honorable members opposite profess an abhorrence of inflation.
– Is the honorable member sincere, knowing the history of Germany and Russia?
– I am more serious than the honorable member was in the bombastic speech he delivered this morning. We know that Germany brought about inflation for the deliberate purposes of escaping its foreign liabilities. No responsible person in this community has suggested that Australia should do that ; but men of much greater eminence in the financial world than the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) are declaring that the nations will have to adopt a managed currency or limited inflation to put the world back on an even keel. Professor Cassel has declared that this is the only way out of the difficulties in. which the world finds itself. Addressing the Bankers Association at a gathering over which the Governor of the Bank of England presided, Professor Cassel said that the only solution was to make credits available to enable industry to re-establish itself.
– But on a different basis from the inflation advocated by the Australian Labour Party.
– Professor Cassel advocates the same policy as the Labour party, and enunciated it only a little later than Mr. Theodore proposed in this Parliament an extension of credits. Another great financial expert, Mr. Reginald McKenna, chairmanof the Midland Bank, made a speech a few days agowhich shows that he too is becoming converted to the idea of controlled inflation.
– He is aiming at stabilized currency.
– The policy is the same in the long run, whether we call it stabilized currency, controlled inflation, or extension of credits. Money must be made available to the extent required by the captains of industry if the evil of unemployment is to be removed. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) spoke yesterday of the costs of fencing material, and instanced a farmer who wanted to erect six miles of wire netting, but could not afford to do so because the price of the netting was excessive. In my own electorate men with sound assets are unable to get reasonable advances from the banks to do works that are urgently necessary. That does not apply to only the sugar-growers in my electorate.
– In the secondary industries considerable working capital is being returned because there is no use for it.
– And when the balance-sheets are examined we find watered stock and undertakings trying to earn interest on Capital that was never invested.’ This bill will not provide a solution of the unemployment problem; it will be a palliative and make the condition of the workless a little better than it is to-day, and for that reason I welcome it. I sincerely trust, however, that the Government will not stop at this, but will go right ahead to provide a much greater measure of relief, especially in view of the approaching winter.
. -Being a supporter of the bill, I had intended to record a silent vote, and should not have spoken but for the remarks of the honorable member, for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), whose statements call for some comment. The latter urged that the Australian market was the chief market for our primary products. Are we to infer from this that all those engaged in our wool, wheat and metal industries are to be thrown to the wolves? Are those great industries to languish and, possibly, be destroyed, merely to ensure the continuance of artificial conditions in fictitious prosperity for our secondary industries, some of which cannot be justified. Under existing conditions all of our great primary industries are working under most unfair handicaps. TheMount Morgan mine in the electorate of the honorable member for Herbert ought to be employing between 700 and800 men, and supporting, indirectly, a population of 3,000 or 4,000 persons. The ore values in that great property are estimated to be worth £2 10s. per ton, but the mine has been closed down, simply because working costs are too high. With the improved values for gold now ruling, satisfactory development of the gold-mining industry would take place but for the excessive costs of machinery and Arbitration Court awards. Already there has been a. gratifying im provement, due, entirely, to the increase in gold prices, there being now 2,000 more persons employed in the industry in Western Australia alone as compared with the figures for last year.
Unless industry generally can be assured of some profit, there is little prospect of a permanent improvement in our unemployment problem. The Wiluna gold mine in Western Australia is an outstanding example of the way in which the mining industry in this country has been handicapped. Recently the manager wrote to this Government, pointing out that, although the company had made every effort to obtain its requirements in Australia, the discovery of a new process for the recovery of gold, rendered necessary the importation of mining machinery, upon which the company was compelled to pay over £100,000 in customs duties. That, I suggest, is not the way to encourage industry.
The honorable member for Herbert has complained that much of the existing unemployment is due to the fact that bank credits are not being made available to industry. That, certainly, is not the correct diagnosis of our problem. Apart from the project for the bulk handling of wheat, which might be included in the category of reproductive public works, T know of no public undertaking that could be put in hand, so we must look to private enterprise to get us out of our difficulties. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports warned the country against any policy of wage reduction. I do not suggest that a reduction of wages would, of itself, help us very materially, because I believe a fair wage standard would be in the best interests of Australia. Too much political interference is, in my opinion, largely responsible for much of the trouble that has come upon us. For a great many years there has been altogether too much meddling by politicians with the industries of this country. It is impossible to restore prosperity merely by the passing of acts of Parliament. The people should realize that, for the future, they must depend more and more upon their own initiative. There would be ample money available in Australia for industry if there was a reasonable chance of profit to those willing to invest in any particular enterprise. At present that assurance is lacking, and it is a tragedy that a young country like
Australia cannot find employment for its relatively small population. This lamentable state of affairs, I repeat, is due almost entirely to the persistent interference by governments with industry.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) told us a little while ago that costs of production had been reduced. I do not agree with him, and direct hi3 attention to a paragraph in the speech delivered by Sir Otto Niemeyer at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held at Melbourne in August, 1930. Unfortunately his recommendations were wholly disregarded. The paragraph is as follows : -
There may be room for increased efficiency, but there seems to me little escape from the conclusion that in recent years Australian standards have been pushed too high relatively to Australian productivity and to general world conditions and tendencies. If Australia does not face that issue, she will not be able to keep even those standards which she might hope to carry by taking timely action, and she will see an inevitable increase in unemployment.
We are all familiar with the working of our Arbitration Court. It, unfortunately, destroys the true essence of good service. Whan a dispute arises members of a trade union cite their employers before the court, and, because the latter may make application for a revision of an award in a downward direction, and perhaps ask also for an increase in the hours of employment, the men go away from the court feeling that they owe nothing to the boss, and are determined to do their best to injure him by doing as little work as possible. In. this way industry is hampered, and the progress of the country retarded.
Our primary industries are in a bad way. Last year wheat was down to 2s. a bushel, wool has fallen 30 per cent., while metals, lead, zinc, and copper are almost unsaleable.
– Are wages responsible ?
– No ; world conditions. If the honorable member will examine the chart published recently by the Bank of New South Wales, in its monthly circular, he will find that the average price level for primary products at the end of December last had declined to 113, as compared with 176 in 1929 .whereas the price for manufactured goods, the products of our sheltered industries, had risen to between 18S and 190. This disequilibrium, which is due in, no small measure to political interference with industry, is one of the major causes of our present industrial and financial trouble. Mr. Hume Cook, the acknowledged champion of high protection in this country, has, time after time, asserted that costs of agricultural and other machinery in Australia have been reduced. He bases his figures on rates ruling in 1920, when, as every one knows, prices all over the world soared almost to the heavens. A well-known accountant in Perth recently furnished me with some interesting figures, showing how prices for commodities essential to our primary producers have risen since 1913. In that year, galvanized wire cost £15 10s. per ton as against £26 in 1930. Barbed wire in 1913 cost £16 10s., and, in 1930, £26. Rabbit-proof netting cost £22 in 1913, and £38 13s. in 1930. It is now £45 a ton.
The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) referred this afternoon to the statement made by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) that a farmer in his district would have purchased netting for his property if bank credits had been made available to him. Does not the honorable member for Herbert realize that the excessively high price charged for these essential commodities makes it difficult for any farmer to borrow money to carry out essential works? When Professor Perkins attended a conference at Canberra a year or two ago, to consider proposals for a sales tax on flour, he indicated directions in which prices could be reduced, and so give relief to our farmers, and went on to say that, if these reductions could be effected, he believed that our producers would be able to compete-in the overseas market, even with Russian farmers. Mr. Herbert Brookes, for some time Commissioner-General for Australia in the United States of America, at my request sent me some interesting particulars with regard to the workings of the United States of America railways up to 1929. I have always taken a great interest in, railways because, for a period of over six years, I was Minister for Railways in
Western Australia. Therefore, I can claim to know something about them. At the present time, the average wage paid to railway workers in Australia is not more than £3 15s. a week. Nineteen hundred and fourteen was the last year in which the railways of Australia as a whole showed a profit. Since then we have increased freights by 60 per cent., and lost on our railways over £70,000,000. This is a glaring example of the evils of political control. In the United States of America, the railway companies have to pay income tax to State and Federal authorites, and are still able to show a profit for their shareholders. In this country, we have to make good the loss on the railways by taxing the people. In the United States of America freight charges are from 25 per cent, to 35 per cent, lower than here, yet the average dividend return to shareholders from American railways is 4.98 per cent. Moreover, the average wage paid to railway workers in that country is 35s. 3d. a day, or more than £10 a week. Why are the results achieved in the United States of America and Australia so different? Probably the chief reason is that, in the United States of America, every employee knows that he has to give first-class service to his company, or he would not hold his job. In Australia, because of political interference, it is almost impossible to dismiss a man, no matter how lazy or incompetent ho may be.
– Does the honorable member advocate paying 35s. a day to Australian railway workers?
– No; but I am arguing that the rate of wages paid is not so important as some honorable members make out ; what really matters is the service given for the money received. If railway management in this country could be freed from political interference, conditions would show an almost immediate improvement. At present the railways are a heavy charge upon industry, anc! in that way are a contributing factor tow ards unemployment .
– Did not the honorable member say that the railway workers of Western Australia, during his term as Minister, were the best he had ever seen ?
– I was Minister for Railways in Western Australia for six years. During the first two years Ave reduced working expenses by £150,000, and I would not take the job on again for any thing because, in order to achieve that economy, we had to dismiss many men whom we were reluctant to let go. We reduced freight charges so that our revenue from that source declined by £150,000. We carried superphosphate on the railways for id. a ton, which was lower than the rate prevailing anywhere else in Australia. Wages were increased by approximately ls. a day, but no corresponding increase was made in freight charges. After doing all that, we were still able to pay to the Treasury, in the last four years, profits amounting to £660,000, besides paying working expenses and interest on capital indebtedness. We were able to do it because no political interference was allowed. There is no reason why, in a country like this, there should be such an enormous percentage of unemployment. Australia presents almost unbounded opportunities for development. Its soil is fertile; its climate permits practically anything to be grown. Our people are well educated and virile, as was demonstrated during the war, and the standard has not deteriorated. In ‘this country, the ill effects of the depression have been aggravated by political incompetence. I have the greatest” sympathy with many of the unemployed men whom I meet. They are fine, upstanding men, whose great desire is to obtain work, so that they may keep their homes together. Their present condition, is pitiable. I am glad that the Government proposes to do something to stimulate industry, and provide employment. Governments must understand, however, that’ we cannot, without courting disaster, run counter to basic economic principles which have ruled the world for centuries. To make possible any return to our old prosperity the cost of living and of production must be reduced.
In Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, a portion of the money raised is to be spent in building silos for the bulk handling of wheat. It is important that the silos should be built as cheaply as possible; otherwise they will merely become an added burden on the community. At our party meeting yes- terday, it was agreed to urge the Government to admit to this country, free of duty, the reinforcing steel, galvanized iron, &c, which will be used in the construction of silos. I trust” that the Government will be able to see its way to do this. At the present time, Australian industries enjoy, besides the natural protection of distance, a further very substantial protection due to the high exchange rate. If our local manufacturers received an assured order for the large quantities of materials required, they should be able to bring down their prices to the level at which similar material could be imported free of duty. In New South Wales, the bulk-handling appliances were installed at such a high cost that, for the most part, the farmers cannot afford to use them. I strongly urge the Government - to give this proposal favorable consideration.
.- This is a practical bill to enable work to be provided for necessitous unemployed. Honorable members opposite have seized the opportunity of its introduction to vent their pet theories about currency control and inflation, and, in the course of their speeches, they quoted freely from their favorite economists.
– They quoted only part of them.
– That is so; besides which, as we all know, economists differ. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), who has for years been associated with industrial matters, seems still to be groping about in an economic fog. He does not seem capable of grasping the simple, economic fact that you cannot take out of a pint pot more than you put into it. I have not heard any ‘honorable member opposite remark that it is essential to balance budgets, whether private, commercial, or national. While gazing at the distant horizon, they overlook what lies close to them. We know that there is a general world depression, and all reasonable men will admit that our monetary system can be reformed. There is nothing in the world which cannot be improved on. I have followed closely . the sayings of MeKenna and others, which honorable members opposite have quoted, but they quoted only what suited themselves.
Here in Australia we have a local problem, in addition to the world depression, which has brought about low prices, and necessitated a reduction in wages. Our national income is derived chiefly from the sale of wool and wheat, but the prices of those commodities have fallen to such an extent that it is no longer profitable to produce them. Yet if wages are reduced, honorable members regard that action as an attack on a particular class in the community. They have a class bias, and feel that there is one class which is determined to grind down to the lowest level those whom they regard as the workers. That is not so. I agree with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) that men who are engaged in industry should be paid the highest wages that can be taken out of it, but no higher than it can afford. To suggest that there is an easy way out, by inflation or other means of a similar character, is merely to delude the workers. Those who give such advice are the worst enemies of the workers, and exploit their ignorance. The definite problem is to make this country live within its income. “We are suffering from the folly of socialistic enterprises.
– When have’ we had socialistic enterprises %
– The railways are a socialistic enterprise ; and there are many other governmental undertakings that would be run much better by private enterprise. I could cite a number of them, but an example that comes to my mind is the making of motor car bodies by -the Munitions Supply Department. We have built up deficits, and contracted debts which we are now paying. Undoubtedly we are suffering from the aftermath of the world war. During that period, debts were contracted, and the burden, imposed by them has now to be borne by us. There is a move to cancel the war debts of one nation against another, and that may yet be done. But the settlement of our definite problem is quite distinct from the settlement of those that are far afield. Wages are no more sacrosanct than prices, and if the latter drop the former also must come down. _ The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) alleged that we on this side had never changed our views. I try to avoid party bias, and to adopt an
Australian attitude. I ask the honorable member to look at the other side of the picture, and to realize that some of the theories which he has been preaching for so many years have been proved fallacious. The only effect of exhorting men to demand more wages and to ignore economic facts has been to pull them down. Many persons are unemployed at the present time because it is unprofitable to engage them. We know that there are world economic cycles, and that not. even economists are able to suggest measures that will effect a complete cure. But we can apply palliatives, and many have been brought forward at different times by various parties.
Direct help will be afforded by the provision of the amount provided for in the bill on-a pound for pound basis in the case of all the States with the exception of New South Wales, which has a pariah government that will not co-operate in the scheme. The assistance thus rendered will be substantial. That cannot be said of many of the speeches that are made by honorable members opposite.
I wish to reply to a statement by a member of the Lang group, when I asked if he would approve of non-unionists being engaged on relief works. He assured me that he would, and added that he did not stand for preference to returned soldiers to a greater extent than preference to’ unionists. That may be his opinion, but it ‘is not the opinion of the party to which he belongs. For years, that party has fought for preference to unionists. The present Premier of New South Wales has withdrawn from the banking institutions of that State trust funds from which superannuation, widows’ pensions, and childhood endowment should be paid. Although this gentleman has the money in his possession, he will not make those payments, but tries to place on the Federal Government the onus for his failure. If he received a grant from the Commonwealth he would not expend it honestly, but solely for the benefit of the members of unions of which he approves. Only within the last two weeks, an attempt was made to force into the ranks of the Australian Railways’ Union loyal railway servants who are members of other unions to whose existence he objects.
By inference, the member of the Lang group to whom I have referred, said that he did not believe in preference to returned soldiers. I say, emphatically, that I do. That is the only preference for which I stand, and my reason is that I put patriotism before unionism. It is a sentimental preference.
I was hopeful that practical suggestions would be offered for the spending of this money, such as that which was put forward by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey). In the majority of cases, however, the speeches that have been delivered have been merely dissertations on the economic ideas of the honorable members concerned. I propose to mention two schemes which I consider should receive attention.
I have referred previously in this House to the manner in which the depression of the ‘nineties was tackled in Victoria. Labour colonies were established, at which men could report and be given work. They were paid a portion only of the rate fixed, the balance being banked for them, so that when ultimately they were absorbed in industry they had a certain sum to their credit. They were kept usefully employed, instead of being concentrated in unemployment camps, where they would have deteriorated physically and morally. I hope that the Commonwealth representatives on the councils that are to be set up will insist that any money allocated to unemployment camps will be expended upon works and not upon sustenance.
There is another scheme which is deserving of support. It is operating at the present time in Caulfield, a suburb of Melbourne, having been instituted by the mayor. Any citizen may apply to the mayor to have work done for him. That work may consist of repairs to property, gardening, or labouring. The men engaged are paid award rates, and the cost of the work is set off against the amount of unemployment tax that ordinarily the taxpayer concerned would pay. Thus, the individual householder is encouraged to provide employment, while men are taken off the dole and engaged in healthy occupations. It may be for a day, a week, or several weeks, but they feel that they are at least earning something. Within a week of the launching of that scheme, £1,200 worth of work was provided in that suburb alone. To the shame of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, it declared the scheme “ black “, and packed meetings at the Town Hall in an endeavour to have a decision, given against the mayor. But the local unemployed, among whom, unfortunately, -were many returned soldiers, frustrated the efforts of the Trades Hall and of the adherents of the Friends of the Soviet Union, the United Front against Fascism, and other communist auxiliaries, which I hope will be cleaned up when, the Immigration and Crimes Acts are amended. It cannot be denied that, under this scheme, large numbers of men have been employed in healthy occupations. Some of them were on the dole for as long as two years. Other municipalities are watching the experiment, which, undoubtedly, will succeed. I suggest that it be given the encouragement of the federal representatives on the unemployment councils.
The object of this bill is to expend money very wisely upon employment, and it has my entire support.
.- I am not surprised, but I am very much disappointed, a’t the amount of money that is to be distributed under this measure. We who sit on this side have no illusions as to the aim of honorable members opposite in endeavouring to patch up a dying social order. We realize that capitalism is in its death throes, and cannot last very much longer. We also realize that there is no permanent solution for the world’s unemployment problem.
This Government is taking a most drastic step by setting up an unemployment relief council in New South Wales, without consulting the Government of that State. It is a further encroachment upon State rights. To use a pet phrase of honorable members opposite, this Government “ repudiates “ the New South Wales Government in connexion with the spending of this money. Councils will be selected to distribute the money, and the chosen will reap the benefit while others will be turned away. I warn the Government that the time is not far distant when my party will occupy the Federal treasury bench. What will honorable members opposite say if the then Prime Minister, Mr. Lang, introduces such a bill as this, and gives the councils at Surry Hills and Granville a quota of the grant, informing the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), when they apply for assistance for their electorates that they must direct their appeal to the unemployment council, chosen by the Government. The Government is setting up a most dangerous precedent.
– It’s action is sound.
– The honorable member favours the scheme. I hope that I am here to see what happens should the time arrive when he has to appeal to the Lang Federal Government for assistance.
– Is the honorable member aware that there are 20,000 fewer unemployed now than there were in September last, also that £5,000 less is paid weekly in sustenance in South Australia.
– I did not know the exact figures, but I know that the Premier of South Australia has boasted that the wages paid in his State are the lowest in Australia, that the hours are longest, and that it is the highest taxed State in the Commonwealth.
Yesterday, in replying to an interjection of mine, the Prime Minister said that most of this money would be spent through the medium of municipal councils. I have a telegram from the Strathfield council, which is in an “ aristocratic “ portion of theReid electorate, reading -
Please make representation asking that Strathfield Municipal Council he granted £ 2,000 from unemployment relief fund to be expended in draining of park areas, and in making storm water channels. firth, Mayor of Strathfield.
I also have a letter from the Town Clerk, Merrylands, which reads -
At the meeting of the council held this week, consideration was given to the proposal of the Com mon wealth Government to make available a certain amount of money for the relief” of unemployment. As there is a large amount of unemployment in Holroyd, for which the council has no funds to relieve beyond a small amount of rates being slowly paid, I am to ask that you may interest yourself in an endeavour to obtain a grant of £ 10,000 for the relief of the unemployed in this municipality. The work would be of such a nature that80 per cent. labour would be necessary.
I am to ask that you may be so good as to give the matter your immediate attention, as the, case, you will agree, is urgent.
D. Hume, Town Clerk.
There are also other municipal councils in theReid electorate, including Auburn, Homebush, Bankstown, which embraces 39 square miles, and Canterbury, and I know that they could absorb the whole of the £600,000 allotted to New South Wales, and then not complete the works they desire to carry out.
I was pleased to receive an assurance from the Prime Minister in reply to another interjection of mine that it is intended that these moneys will be paid out under union rates and conditions. I want to ensure that the award rate of £50s. 8d. a week for municipal employees in New South Wales will be observed. I also desire that the municipal councils which receive portion of this money will neither ration nor dismiss any of their regular employees. On that issue the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Dein) agrees with me.
In conclusion, I regret that this grant is insufficient; also, it is impossible under existing conditions completely to solve our unemployment problem. The time is not far distant when a new order of society will be established, under which the hunger, want, and poverty which is now so rampant will disappear, destitution will be non-existent, and happy homes general.
– It seems to me that, of necessity, all honorable members must support this hill. Probably there will be further appeals from the States and we shall be called upon to pass other bills of this description, for these unfortunate people must and will be cared for until Australia can re-adjust itself to more normal conditions. I feel that, in agreeing to a bill such as this, honorable members are entitled to have some idea from the Government of what it proposes to do to render further measures of this description unnecessary. It must be obvious to all honorable members that this is purely a palliative. It deals only with the effects of the trouble, and is not making any genuine attempt to get down to the real cause of our difficulties. The bill is the outcome of the recent Premiers Conference at Melbourne, and it must be satisfactory to honorable members that that conference had some beneficial result. The discussions at that conference hinged on a recommendation from a sub-committee appointed by the Government. In my opinion, that committee’s report gave a reasonably correct diagnosis of the real cause of Australia’s difficulties. The report might have gone further in some directions. The House is entitled to know whether the Government intends to apply the remedies suggested in that report, or proposes to take any action at all to deal with the situation which faces us. Unless some definite attempt is made to get to the root of our troubles, we shall have a repetition of measures of this kind until the time comes when there will be no more money available for these purposes. We must decide between cause and effect; I am afraid that we have not always done that. The unemployment question is being discussed by governments and people everywhere on the assumption that it is the cause of our troubles, whereas, unfortunately, it is only one of the effects, the cause being much more deeply-seated. Before we can cure the evil which we s*e about us, we must seek the cause, and deal with it. While I have every sympathy with the unemployed workers, who are without any income, I remind the House that there is a large and important section, in the community which, although constantly and vigorously employed for a number of years, has received for its labour less than nothing. Their case gives a clue to the cause of our trouble. The persons comprising .that section have lost their equity in the holdings which they supposed were theirs; and in that fact we are given some guidance as to the real cause of our difficulties. I refer to our export industries, more particularly the two staple industries of woolgrowing and wheat-growing. I believe, that if we examine those industries carefully, we shall find the root of our trouble; and if we can devise means whereby they can be put on a sound footing, we shall not need to introduce, from time to time, measures like the one now before us. In the interests, not only of the unemployed, but of the whole community, I hope that the Prime Minister will give some indication of the intention of the Government in this direction.
Another major cause of our difficulties is the extravagant borrowing policy which has been followed in the past. In this connexion, I sound a note of warning. Many honorable members talk glibly about borrowing millions of pounds for this, that, and the other thing, notwithstanding that they must know tha* our borrowing policy has been largely responsible for our present financial difficulties. This bill will increase our national debt by £3,000,000. I do not wish to be misunderstood; my sympathy with the unemployed is as great as that of any other honorable member - but I wish to point out what I believe to be another of the major factors that has brought us to the position which now faces us. I say, unhesitatingly, that because our staple primary industries have been producing at a loss, and we have indulged in extravagant borrowing over a period of twenty years, we are now in difficulties. Already we are experiencing great difficulty in meeting our interest bill, and, therefore, it is difficult to see how we shall improve matters by increasing it. We must look back to see wherein we have failed, and then determine to readjust our finances to meet the altered conditions. We are where we are as the result of certain causes, some of which I have mentioned. I am disappointed with the bill, in that it presupposes that unless something is done along the lines that I have indicated, measures of this kind will be necessary from time to time. Are we doing justice to ourselves, the unemployed, or the community generally, by suggesting that when this £3,000,000 has gone, more money will be made available ? I am disappointed also that the Government has not stated definitely that the money must be spent on reproductive work; especially at a time like this; we cannot justify the borrowing of money for works which will not show good value for the expenditure on them.
Many useful and reproductive works could be suggested as an outlet for this money. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) made a number of suggestions which, apparently, the Government does not propose to follow. It is not too late for the Government to give consideration to his suggestions, or to consider others. There are many works of a definitely reproductive nature which could he undertaken with this money. For instance, the establishment of a bulk-handling system for dealing with our wheat would mean a saving of at least 3d. per bushel each year on the whole of the Australian wheat crop. This matter has been gone into thoroughly by expert committees in several States, with the result that I have indicated. This would be a definitely reproductive work. I trust that the Government will consider my proposal even at this late hour.
– There is no restriction of the class of work that may be put in hand. It only needs to be approved by the unemployment council.
– It seems to me that the Government is placing too much dependence upon the prospects of a rise in price of the staple products of this country as a means of overcoming our present difficulties. Increased prices for these commodities would help us somewhat, but we shall do well to remember that there are risks even with higher prices. In the 15-year period from 1915 t’o 1929, the wheat-growers received at country railway sidings- an average of 5s. a bushel for their wheat - a price that was not dreamed of two or three decades ago. The wool-growers also received phenomenal prices for their wool during the same period. It was because these high prices were obtainable that Australia was able to borrow so heavily overseas. Many of our present difficulties are the result of this heavy borrowing policy while prices were so high. If we are permanently to cure the ills from which we are suffering, we must take notice of what is happening in other parts of the world. Whether we like it or not, we cannot, in Australia, live simply to ourselves. It is essential for us to re-adjust our conditions to make them conform with world conditions. If prices remain low, and we desire to do the honorable thing - as I believe we do - we shall undoubtedly have to reduce the cost of production. Our primary producers are entitled to high praise for the superhuman efforts that they have made during the last two or three years to carry on their operations when the price they were receiving for their products was very much lower than production costs. In spite of this circumstance, however our volume of exports has increased. If every other section of the community would make sacrifices similar to those made by the primary producers, we should soon get out of our difficulties. I strongly urge the Government to take some steps to overcome the real causes of our difficulties, and to place our export industries on a basis which will at least return to the producers their production costs. If this were done, many of the troubles from which we are suffering would disappear.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Treasurer may, from time to time, under the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1927, or under the provisions of any act authorizing the issue of treasurybills, borrow moneys not exceeding in the whole the amount of one million eight hundred thousand pounds.
.- I move -
That all the words after the words “ the amount of “ be omitted with a view to insert iti lieu thereof the words “ three million pounds “.
The amount which the Government is proposing to make available for the relief of unemployment is totally inadequate to meet the position, and if honorable members are sincere in their desire to do something worth while they will support my amendment. With £1,800,000 the Government will not be able to provide more than eight days’ work for each person unemployed, yet we are told that the object of this measure is to assist the unemployed during the winter months. I know that some honorable members opposite are anxious to catch a train very soon, but if they desire to do so, they may leave now ; I intend to discuss .this matter properly.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member cannot move to increase the amount proposed to be made available.
– I must uphold the point taken by the Assistant Minister (Mr. Francis) and rule the amendment out of order.
– In that case, I move -
That the words “ eight hundred thousand “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ seven hundred and ninety nine thousand.”
I do so as a protest against the inadequacy of the effort which the Government is making to help the unemployed. It appears that honorable members would like to prevent me from taking this action simply because they wish to scramble off to the railway station ; but the welfare of the unemployed is of more importance to me than the meeting of the convenience of honorable members. The honorary Minister (Mr. Francis) rose to a point of order with the object of “ gagging “ me. A vote of £1,800,000 would be ridiculous as a means of meeting the situation. Unememployment is one of the most important problems with which Australia has to cope, and we should not hastily agree to such a hopeless ineffective proposal as the one now before us.
– I second the amendment. The members of the party to which I belong have been asked if they are opposed to the scheme for providing work for the unemployed. Of course we are not. The amendment of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has been moved as a protest, and gives honorable members an opportunity to say whether they are prepared to double the amount.
– I rise only to inform the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that I had no desire to gag him. Inorder to facilitate the passage of the bill I regarded it as my duty to inform him that under the Standing Orders such an amendment could not be moved by a private member. I do not propose to discuss the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James).
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - (3.) For the purposes of this section “ approved works “ means works which have been approved by an Employment Council) established by the State in which the works are to be carried out, on which there are two representatives of the Commonwealth nominated by the Treasurer…..
– I move -
That the words “ an Employment Council established by the. State in which the works are to be carried out, on which there are two representatives of the Commonwealth nominated by the Treasurer “, sub-clause 3, be omitted, witha view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the Government of the State “.
I desire to eliminate all reference to the employment councils proposed to be set up in the States, and to giveto the State Governments the right to decide how the money to be provided under this bill shall be expended. There is not the slightest doubt that the best results can be obtained only by utilizing the machinery available in departments under a State Government’s control. I understand that the Commonwealth Government intends to assist as far as is possible in dealing with the problem of unemployment; but if it appoints councils apart from the Governments concerned to deal with the expenditure of this money it will find that there will be no opportunity for co-ordination between the spending authority under this bill and the departments handling relief rations. We have already been informed by Government supporters that in some instances there has been duplication in affording relief. If that is so this proposal of the Government will result in an aggravation of that duplication. The provision of work should be left entirely to State departments. Similar conditions will exist in all the States, and unless my amendment is adopted some may take advantage of the situation. In view of the circumstances I have mentioned, I trust that the committee will support the amendment.
.- I second the amendment moved by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear).
Mr.gullett. - Why not let the unemployed have their money?
– The unemployed in New South Wales will not be jubilant when they find that only £600,000 has been provided for the whole of the State, and that it is to be handled by an employment council. As stated by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), it will be sufficient to provide only seven or eight days’ work, which will have to carry them through the winter. The Government is establishing a very dangerous precedent in setting up an employment council in New South “Wales, which will have more power than the Government of New South “Wales.
– So it should.
– The honorable member will find it difficult to justify that contention. New South Wales, as a sovereign State, possesses certain rights. I cannot see why a council which will not be responsible to any one, and which will, I suppose, be appointed by the Prime Minister, should have more power than a State Government or a municipal council. I enter my emphatic protest against the policy which the Government is adopting. I notice an estimable gentleman in the gallery this afternoon. I refer to the Reverend R. B. S. Hammond, who is in charge of a relief depot established in the metropolitan area of Sydney, and no one has done more than he to relieve unemployment there. I am certain that if that gentleman were asked whether he was in favour of the establishment of an unemployment council to supersede the Government, and even the municipalities, in respect of the apportionment of this money, his reply would be in the negative. We do not know what will be the personnel of the unemployment council. I understand that in the other States the Government may nominate certain members of the council, but who is to determine the personnel of the unemployment council in New South Wales ? The Prime Minister yesterday promised me that the unemployment council, when it is established in New South Wales, will not make any inroads upon the standard of wages prevailing in that State. As it is probable that this money will be expended through the municipalities, I ask the Prime Minister to ensure that his promise is carried out, and that every man employed by municipalities will receive the wage ruling for municipal council employees of £5 Os. 8d. a week. No supervision will be exercised over the unemployment council. It will function until the money is expended, and it is possible that it may attempt to break down the conditions of work and the hours of labour in New South Wales. I als:o want from the Prime Minister an assurance that the municipalities who provide employment under this relief scheme will undertake not to dispense with the services nor to ration one of their present employees. In the vast electorate of Reid there is more unemployment than in any other part of New South Wales. The Financial Agreements Enforcement Act encroaches upon the rights of the people of New South Wales, but not to the same degree as this legislation, which provides for the establishment of an unemployment relief council to supersede the Government of New South Wales.
– The object of the amendment is to enable the Government of New South Wales to participate in the Commonwealth grant to the same extent as the other State Governments of Australia ; but let me inform the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) that, under existing conditions, the Commonwealth is not prepared to make available moneys for expenditure by the Government of New South Wales. The amendment, if carried, would prevent moneys from being made available at all, because the State Government of New South Wales is not prepared to deal with the position on the’ same basis as the other State Governments. If no unemployment relief council is set up in New South Wales, no funds will be made available. Our intention is that the council shall be established and funds made available, but not through the Government of New South Wales. The honorable member for Reid has said that there is more unemployment in the Reid electorate than in, any other part of New South Wales, but there is probably more unemployment in that electorate than in any other part of Australia. That, undoubtedly, is a high compliment to the Government of New South Wales! I am anxious that this legislation shall be passed without delay so that .relief may be given to the unemployed in New South Wales and the other States. I would also inform the honorable member for Reid that no conditions are being laid down in this legislation. The money will be expended in accordance with the law of the State in which relief works are carried out.
.- If the amendment were carried it would mean that the Commonwealth Government, which is now voting £1,800,000, would have no say as to the class of works on which it is to be expended. I have always claimed that any money voted by this Parliament should be subject to its control. If the amendment is carried the clause will read, “ For the purposes of this section ‘ approved works ‘ means works which have been approved by the Government of the State “. The clause refers to the States of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. I am not prepared to support the amendment, because if it were carried, the Commonwealth would vote the money and hand it over to the States without having any voice as to its expenditure.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - put.
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Cameron.)
Majority . . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment put and negatived.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) For the purpose of granting financial assistance to the State of New South Wales, the Commonwealth may, out of the amount borrowed under* the provisions of this act expend an amount not exceeding Six hundred thousand pounds on approved works in that State to provide relief to personsout of employment.
. - I move -
That the word “may”, sub-clause (1.), be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall “.
I intend to move later to delete subclauses 2 to 7 inclusive. By this bill the Government is showing discrimination between States. It is provided under the bill that certain moneys “ shall “ be paid to the other States, but in the case of New South Wales it is stated in this clause that a grant “ may “ be made. Further discrimination is shown against New South Wales, because it is provided that an unemployment council shall be appointed in that State by the Governor-General. In the other States these councils will be appointed by the State authorities themselves. Under this proposal, the council appointed in New South Wales will usurp State authority, and, so far as I know, such action would be unconstitutional. It is wrong to set up a second authority in New South Walesfor the purposes of this bill. If the measure is passed as it stands, a precedent will be established for setting up federal authorities in any State to take over State functions.
.- This Government is so biased against the New South Wales Government that it announces that, unless it sets up an employment council of its own in New South Wales, to override the authority of the State Government, New South Wales will not share in the funds that are to be made available for the relief of the unemployed. I hope that that statement will be broadcast throughout Australia. I regret to know that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has supported the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in that attitude. Let the light honorable gentleman tell us what was done on the last occasion he made Commonwealth funds available for the relief of unemployment. I can give him some interesting information about how the jobs- were handed out. He wants the same slipshod method adopted in spending this money. I hope that the Government of the State will not be interfered with in this manner. It has the machinery at its disposal and the officers at its command for spending the money to the greatest advantage, thus ensuring, not only that the work is spread over the greatest field possible, but also that there is no duplication of the benefits arising from the expenditure.
Mr. LYONS (Wilmot- Prime Minister and Treasurer) [4.121. - In order to make it perfectly clear that the honorable member will .secure no political capital out of this move he has taken, however keenly he may be desirous of it, let me say that the Commonwealth Government will not make ..this money available through the Government of New South Wales, and that if honorable members succeed in destroying the provision for the setting up of a council, there will be no other means of making it available to the unemployed of New South Wales. In other words, honorable members will be robbing the unemployed of that State of £600,000,- We make money available to the other States subject to the definite condition that each State provides £1 for every £1 that we make available. Honorable members themselves have demonstrated the need for leaving the matter optional so far as New South Wales is concerned. One has threatened to test from a constitutional stand-point the ability of the Commonwealth Government to make £600,000 available for the unemployed of New South Wales.
– No. I was referring to the proposed council.
– The honorable member made it clear that the Commonwealth Government must be careful lest that test be taken. If we were stupid enough to use the word “ shall “ and then found that a constitutional objection could be taken by the Government 6f New South Wales or the group to which the honorable member belongs, and we were unable to make the money available, we should look jus as foolish as our friends in the corner. We propose to spend the whole of the £600,000 if we are permitted to do so, and there is no need to use the word “ shall “ except in regard to the other States. I am not prepared to accept any amendment.
.- The reference of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to the money made available last year by the late Government for unemployment works shows how little he knows of the subject. The money was made available for expenditure on federal works only.
– Tell us how the jobs were handed out.
– They were handed out in the ordinary way; in a very different way from that in which some of the jobs of the New South Wales Government are being handed out. The money was provided for federal public works, and the work done was controlled by our own works officers. In these circumstances, no employment council was required. The present proposal, however, is for joint works on a £1 for £1 basis so far as five States are concerned, and the Commonwealth has a perfect right to have a voice on the employment council along with the States; My party did not vote for the closure; but had honorable members in the corner been prepared to support their amendment by calling for a division, we should have voted against them in support of the maintenance of a council on which the Commonwealth Government should have some representation.
The present amendment is to take away the right of the Commonwealth Government to set up an employment council te distribute the amount allocated’ to New.
South Wales. The Commonwealth Government is not prepared to hand over any money to a State Government which is in default, and I challenge any one to say that that is wrong. I want to help the workless of every State of the Commonwealth to get their share of this work, but there is no guarantee that the workless of New South Wales would get any share of any money handed over to the Government of that State. I believe that this money will be spent on works. If it is not, I shall support the honorable members in an attack on the Commonwealth Government. But when I see that superannuation payments and pensions are refused by the Government of New South Wales on the paltry plea that £85,000 has been taken by the Commonwealth out of £1,000,000 of trust moneys, which have been withdrawn from the banks by the State Treasurer and put in the State Treasury vaults ; when I know that people are starving although they are entitled to superannuation payments from the State, I can quite understand why we could not entrust this money to such a government. I am fighting for the workless of New South Wales, and I want to see them get this money ; but if honorable members in the corner can show after the next few weeks or months that the Commonwealth Government is not spending it in a proper and legitimate way, and that its employment council is biased and is acting wrongly, I shall support them. I refuse to listen to all this humbug and hypocrisy about honorable members in the corner fighting for the workers when they ask forthe money to be handed over to the New South Wales Government. It is the Commonwealth’s money and not the State’s, and the Commonwealth is entitled to appoint an employment council to spend it in the State of New South Wales.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Cameron.)
Majority . . 20
Question - That the word proposed to be omitted (Mr. James’s amendment) stand part of the clause - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. Cameron.)
Majority .. ..29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- Mr. Chairman-
– As it is perfectly clear that the tactics adopted by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and his two colleagues in the chamber are intended merely to stonewall the passage of the bill and delay the provision of money necessary for the relief of the unemployed, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Mr. M. Cameron.)
Majority . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . 25
Question so resolved in this affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.-I desire to ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) whether, in view of the serious plight of the cattle industry in Australia, it would not be possible to provide for direct representation of pastoralists at the Imperial Economic Conference to be held at Ottawa. At the present time, cattle are practically unsaleable, and as the pastoral industry furnishes abig portion of Australia’s exportable wealth, something should be done to help it. The industry, if prosperous, is capable of providing a considerable amount of employment, and we should endeavour to obtain preference in Britain for Australian meat. Cattle grown in the western portions of Queensland arebeing sold at about £3 ahead, which does not pay for the cost of raising them. This matter was referred .to by the committee of experts “which reported at t:he Premiers Conference in Melbourne. In their report, they said that there was a gap of SO per cent, between prices and costs of production, and until that gap was bridged there was no prospect before the industry. The committee suggested that the problem should be attacked by increasing the exchange rate, but if we could obtain preference on the British market for our meat, the same object would be served, and the. industry would be saved.
Attention called to the state of the Bouse. There being no quorum present -
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 4.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 May 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1932/19320506_reps_13_134/>.